power rack training
If your goal is to get stronger, the power rack could be the key. The next time you go into a gym look over into a corner and see if you notice a metal rack with an Olympic Barbell held up with metal pins. Chances are you've seen this piece of equipment but have avoided it. In actuality, this simple machine has been a big reason that so many athletes have increased their strength over the years.
The beauty of it is that it takes up little space. And as long as it is made of moderately heavy duty steel and has 4 pins, it should suffice. The main reason for the number of pins is critical. If you're training solo and don't want to worry about the weight crushing you're chest during a failed attempt, the 2 safety pins could save you to tain for another day.
Now let's get to the purpose of the power rack. Okay, you've been doing benches and you're attempt once off the chest is going smoothly until you reach the halfway point before lockout. Now you've reached a "sticking point". One way to correct this problem is to get on the rack and set your pins at your sticking point, then load the bar up and work your benches from that point to your lockout. Doing reps in this isolated area will not only help your strength but will also build your confidence.
Now let's tackle the squat. I used to have a real problem coming out of the deep position about halfway up. I think most squatters have this fear that they're going to fail with the weight. By the way, if you're doing squats by yourself and not on the power rack, make sure you have a spotter. You'll be awfully embarrased if you have to dump the weight in a crowded gym. Anyway, my solution was to set the pins about halfway up and just work one area. Also, make sure you use all 4 pins, setting 2 of these a little lower just in case the other two fail.
Another reason we use a power rack other than security, is if you're coming back from an injury and starting to rehab. Say you have a knee injury and are just getting back to the gym. Instead of attempting full squats, set the pins only down to a specific position above the that area hurts and do partials. The last thing you need to do is aggrevate the injury. Something to keep in mind, we always are going to be a little hesitant training after an injury. Don't be foolish in thinking you can pick up where you left off. The last thing you need is to damage the muscle area you're trying to rehab.
There's another exercise that lifters have done for years on the power rack. It's an old school movement that involves isometric-isotonics. Take the bench press for example. By the way, here's another reason for the 4 pins. Set 2 pins about the halfway position and the others just shy of lockout. Now put a weight on your bar that you can handle fairly easy and push the bar against the top set of pins. Try pushing for 8 to 12 seconds with as much effort as possible. Keep in mind, you're only moving the weight a short distance. You might wonder how much weight to use. Rule of thumb,if you can hold the weight easily for 12 seconds, add more weight. If you can't hold it for 8, take some off.
You should always remember to do one warm-up set using a full range of motion before loading up the power rack. You're going to be working full out on the rack so concentrate on flushing the blood to the muscle.
As far as reps and sets, you can probably get by with 3 sets and as far as the number of repititions, try touching the pins on your first and second rep, then holding the weight against the pins for the third one. I wouldn't make this part of your everyday workout. Probably not more than once a week. You'll be taxing your muscles and they'll need time to recuperate.
So you see, there are alot of uses for that old metal rack. The next time you're wondering how to add power, keep it in mind.