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Power Rack Training

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Bodybuilding and Fitness Newsletter 6/8/2022

Power Rack Training For Maximum Muscular Development

by Anthony Ditillo

I shall endeavor to work out two very result producing routines which can be used by most fellows to the best advantage. Routine number one consists of the following exercise movements: the bench press, the press behind neck, the bent over row, the upright row and the parallel squat. We shall begin the routine with the bench press first because of its great popularity and also because it should be the cornerstone of any bodybuilder's routine along with the squat. A medium grip should be used and there should be no back arching during the performance. Begin with one set of ten repetitions for a warm up and then increase the weight and perform seven, once more increase the weight and now you jump to five reps. Keep at it with a weight you can't possibly handle for more than five reps, and perform three additional sets with this weight. When this becomes easy, merely increase the weight for the five repetition sets. The press behind neck is next and in this movement you should use a rather wide grip. The bar should be placed at just about your hairline in the back of your neck and I would advise here the same repetition and set scheme as in the bench press; that is, one set of ten for a warm up, one set of seven with a bit more weight, and finally four sets of four or five reps per set. The next movement, the bent over row, should not be performed on the power rack. It simply does not feel very comfortable using the rack and so I suggest you switch to the conventional 'free type' of movement; just be sure that you don't revert to sloppy style just because you are not using a rack. To be fully effective as a muscle building medium, this movement must be performed slowly and correctly. Don't hunch your back while pulling the weight up. Don't swing the weight up in an attempt at using more weight very quickly, for this will not build your back up any faster buy it might give you a nasty back strain which you will not soon get over. In performing the bent over row, I advise you to use a close grip and to pull the weight into the lower abdomen. It seems to activate the lats better.

The last upper body movement we have in this particular rack work routine is the upright row. This is a very important movement for the skinny bodybuilder, for it enables him to fully work the arm muscles without having to sacrifice additional time and sweat in arm specialization and also it will work the back muscles and the deltoids quite hard and certainly rewarding. The bar should be placed at crotch height and a close grip should be use. The bar should be pulled up to the height of the upper pectorals. There should be no kicking of the thighs during the operation and no hunching forward of the upper body. To fully feel and appreciate this movement a strict performance is a training necessity. As I mentioned earlier, the same repetition scheme should be used for all the exercises in this routine. That is, one set of ten for a warm up, then one set of seven and finally four sets of four or five reps using all the weight possible. The final movement on our agenda is the parallel squat. You have never squatted if you have not squatted out of a power rack! This MUST be the severest type of repetition squatting in existence. First of all, you place the squat bar at parallel height. Then you squeeze yourself under the bar. You will find at first that you can't even come close with your usual squatting poundage. This is because you usually squat from a standing erect position so that there is a slight rebound at the bottom and this rebound helps to overcome the hardest part of the lift, getting up with the weight when coming out of the rock bottom position. However, when rack squatting, you can begin each repetition from just this hardest position, the bottom position. And I also assure you that your legs will respond like they never have before. Additional thigh shape and size can be realized in a very short tome of you are willing to work very regularly and very hard. The repetition and set scheme should remain the same, and once again I urge you to try to use the heaviest weight possible for each set of required repetitions.

The second routine is a takeoff of the first, only we have reduced the exercise movements down to just three: the bench press, the bent over row and the parallel squat. This routine can be most effectively performed on the power rack and its simplicity and its ease of operation shall save the bodybuilder much time. The rep scheme should be somewhat more severe in its scope since you are only using three movements and by doing so it is almost certain that you will be able to recuperate much quicker than when spending your energy on more exercises. You should begin with one set of ten reps for a warm up Now increase the weight to a poundage you can barely handle for six reps. Once more increase the weight of the bar so that three reps are all you can possibly manage. You should try to perform five sets with this weight. When this is possible, you then should increase the amount of weight in each of your sets so as to keep a close watch on your up and coming muscular power. After this, set the pins and the bar at the exact height of your particular sticking point and perform three or four sets of three to five reps from this position so as to force additional work on the involved muscles just where they need it the most. Yo should use a medium grip in the bench press, a close grip in the bent over row, and a medium foot stance in the parallel squat. This is because you are using the power rack for primarily bodybuilding results and not merely to see how much you can possibly lift, as is the case of the power lifter and Olympic lifter. Let me repeat, these two routines are geared at bodybuilders, primarily the ones who are underweight. I am sure that if a weight gaining diet is followed while undertaking these routines, the trainee will produce the greatest weight gain of his entire life and his power will jump to its all time high. Such is the value of power rack training.

It goes without saying that the power lifter and the weight lifter will benefit tremendously from the correct type of training on the power rack. However, to be utilized to the fullest, the power rack work that is to be performed must be of a specialized nature. For quite a long time, most fellows thought that a basic bulking routine would suffice. That is, they would use heavy weight, high sets and low reps just as in the two routines I have just outlined for the bodybuilder. However, the strength lifter requires a different type of training scheme. Why? Because he is interested in increasing mainly his three competitive lifts and he cannot possibly dissipate his energies on various movements which will make him appear very massive and pleasing to the eye, but in the long run which will hamper his three lift potential. For instance, it can be argued that supplementary exercise movements such as incline presses, half squats, high deadlifts, can and should be used regularly by competitive lifters, buy I for one do not see where this is necessary. But before you fellows misunderstand me, let me continue. What I am trying to say is that instead of supplementing the training routine with different assistance exercises why can't the trainee simply use the same movements but use sectional training? For instance: Jim is a power lifter. He uses the power rack two times a week and once a week he works up to his one rep limit on the three power lifts using the "free" competition style. On Monday Jim performs the three power lifts on the power rack. He places the bar dead on the chest for his bench presses and he adjusts his bar for parallel position of his squats. The deadlift is performed in the usual competition style since this lift begins with the weight on the floor, hence it begins at the bottom position (the hardest part of ay lift). On this training day Jim follows the 'increase the weight of the bar and decrease the repetitions performed per set' training philosophy. His highest poundage will find him using approximately 80 per cent of his true one rep limit. On Wednesday Jim still continues to train on the rack. However, on this day he will place the bar for each lift at his most difficult position, at the sticking point. He will perform one set of ten reps for a warm up ant then he jumps to one set of about seven reps. Then once again he jumps the weight to a three rep limit and finally he will perform five singles with a weight that is 90 per cent of this one rep limit. By working out of the power rack and starting from his particular sticking points, Jim has still used his three competitive basic lifts but he has used them in a different way and hence is not bored in performing them. On Friday Jim will not use the power rack. He will once again perform his basic three lifts but this time his workout will consist of mostly single attempts with a limit weight and possibly an attempt at a new record. In this way Jim not only incorporates both regular and rack training in his weekly regime hence he does not have to worry about the possibility of the use of the rack destroying his coordination or his lifting timing, but he has incorporated only the three main lifts which he competes in yet he has utilized the rack work in such a way so as to enable the lifts to become in essence "assistance exercises" while no energy is wasted on different movements to enable the lifter to combat training boredom. Now do you understand what I meant when I stated that it wasn't necessary to use any other lifts that the 3 lifts which the lifter competes in? Because, you see, the usage of the power rack will enable the lifter to utilize many various positions in performing his thee main lifts. Such a training philosophy of using both the power rack and conventional methods for training for the three power lifts or even the three Olympic lifts should aid just about anyone in increasing his lifting or bodybuilding potential. What the bodybuilder must remember is that the rack work he is involved in is most effective when combined with a bulking up period of increased caloric intake. He should make his training schedule relatively short but very, very heavy. For his particular usage, the "sliding pole rack is best. The powerlifter and Olympic lifter should also utilize the rack, but they should use it in conjunction with conventional methods so as not to lose their sense of timing or coordination when lifting in competition. They should stay away from various different exercises and should concentrate on using mainly their three competitive lifts but from various positions throughout the week on the rack so as not to suffer from training boredom. So as you should be able to plainly see, rack work will aid just about anybody. And any initial difficulties you may experience when first becoming initiated into this specialized type of training will prove itself well worth the suffering when you realize that in the long run you are going to become very heavily muscled and exceptionally strong in a very short while.

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