How To Use A Power Rack
How To Use A Power Rack
Over the years, we’ve spent countless months, years – decades – attempting to unlock the secret to strength. Now, with an abundance of information, theories and techniques at our fingertips, it can be tricky to know what really works – and what really doesn’t.
Anyone who has spent time looking into building mass will know the basics, and for the past six months, has probably been living in beginner gains bliss – wondering what the fuss is all about as they build biceps like a boss.
Unfortunately, however, this steep incline soon plateaus and when you realise your usual routine isn’t getting you any serious results, it can be both perplexing and frustrating.
So, where do we go from here?
HOW TO GET STRONGER
As you may have already discovered, getting some serious gains under your belt comes from applying your knowledge. You need to take control of the factors contributing to defining and repairing muscle.
We all know this is easier said than done.
But there are few things you can do to make sure all that hard work doesn’t go to waste:
• Build your routine around compound exercises – this means doing exercises that target a range of muscles all in one go, like squats. You can either use a Squat Rack or a Power Rack to do bench presses, deadlifts, rows and power cleans – to name just a few.
Not only are these more efficient, but they also help you accrue the most muscle mass, as every aspect of it is being trained. Focus on being precise and balanced with your movements to maximise your workout’s potential.
• Do low reps of high weights – muscle hypertrophy or building muscle mass is all about doing a low amount of reps (1-5) with a weight load that’s high enough to make you fail on the last rep of your last set. If you fail at the end of each set, you can end up overtraining.
This will compromise your muscle gains as well as your overall health. Training to fail on the sixth rep of the sixth set on a 6x6 workout will allow you to apply cumulative fatigue. This is near failure on each set, but not complete failure until the very last rep.
• Target your weak points – it’s always difficult to start at the bottom – especially when you are progressing so much with other exercises. However, although you think they might, no-one at the gym actually cares how much you’re lifting. So take the time to target those weak points for better, overall strength.
• Increase the resistance – it’s really important to keep track of how much you are lifting and for how long, each time you work out This means you’ll know how much to increase it by next time you train. If you keep lifting the same amount of weight – no matter how heavy – your gains will plateau if you don’t up your weight load.
• Nutrition – as much as some of us would love to live off a diet of doughnuts and marshmallows, unfortunately, we can’t. Having a body that not only looks good, but also functions well, is about giving it what it needs to be able to grow and repair. This means high quality protein, vegetables, fruit, low GI carbs and water.
• Variety is key – your body is brilliant at adapting. Keep it second guessing by mixing it up so you can maximise the amount of fat burnt and muscle gained.
WHY POWER RACKS ARE SO IMPORTANT
The way you train will ultimately dictate what muscle you build and how much. This means precision training is key to getting you that step further each time you work out. Especially after you have reached the initial progress plateau.
That’s where the power rack comes in. Using a cage to train is going to really help in several ways:
• You can use free weights rather than machines – using free weights allows you to address any imbalances that you might have, as well as allowing your body to move in its own individual way.
By doing this you’re not only optimising your exercises, but you are also helping to train all your stabilising muscles that are also used in lifting weights. Using free weights is excellent for targeting some of the more neglected areas and weaker parts of your body.
• You can set your own power rack up at home – gyms aren’t for everyone, especially when you train every day. The grind, the queues, the bad etiquette – and the expense. If you have the space for a power rack at home, then you have the space for a full body workout. You can train any time, using your own set up and your own equipment – easy.
• Get to your point of failure, safely – power cages have safety bars which means you can reach your point of failure safely. These can also help you target weaker points and further train your muscles, by beginning and ending at a variety of heights as you go along.
Avoid any near misses with death and do away with the unreliable drop and rolls with these helpful spotters. They will catch the weight on your natural point of failure – helping you to train safely as well as strengthen.
• You can build up your strength from scratch – new to weight training? Power racks will support the weight so that you can concentrate on your form as you go. And if you need to, you can also train with just the bar. A 7ft barbell usually weighs between 17-20kg so this is a good amount to get your form right – whether it’s squats, bench presses or deadlifts.
• You can train alone without needing a gym buddy – used to having someone there to spot you? By using a power rack, you can set up the safety bars to the right height for you, so no need to fit in with anyone else’s training schedule.
• You can do a variety of exercises and work your whole body – strength comes with working your full body. Unlike most machines at the gym, the power rack is an all-encompassing piece of kit. With the addition of a weight bench, it will allow you to squat, press, row, lift, pull down and dip.
WHAT OTHER EQUIPMENT DO I NEED?
If you’re planning to use a power rack at home, there are a few essentials which you will need to be able to do a full body workout.
• A Weight Bench
• A 7ft Olympic Weight Bar – this is the only bar we recommend when using a power rack as the others are too small for you to be able to load safely
• Some Olympic Weight Plates
And of course, any other pieces of equipment you need to pad out your home gym. You can read more information on building your own garage gym.
WHAT WORKOUTS CAN I DO WITH A POWER RACK?
The Mirafit Power Rack is a guaranteed staple of the home gym. The frames have been expertly designed to be able to handle a high impact workout, providing support and safety when needed.
The spotter bars can be adjusted so that you can make sure weights don’t fall on you during training, and the solid construction allows you to squat, press – and often pull up too – while remaining sturdy.
Cable upgrades are available for some power racks but you need to be careful with these as installing one on your power cage could stop you from doing flat bench presses. You will however be able to do more rows and lat work.
You can find out more about our weight benches in our product help centre.
Some of the exercises to do when using a power rack are
• Bench presses
• Bicep curls
• Pull ups (depending on the type you get)
• Barbell hip raises using the bench
When using a power rack, it’s best to start out by doing your compound exercises and then move onto your isolation exercises afterwards. Isolation exercises fully fatigue your muscles, so doing these first will mean you won’t have any energy left to do those vital compound exercises.
Supersets are also a great training tool – ideal for gaining strength and burning fat.
WHICH POWER RACK?
When choosing a power rack, you’ll want to consider size, how much weight you’re lifting and what muscle groups you want to focus on.
Take a look at our Garage Gym Buyer's Guide for a detailed comparison.