Power racks are the main piece of any commercial or home gym. The reason for their high status in the lifting world is that they build muscle gains like no other piece of equipment can by allowing you to move heavy weights.
In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the absolute best power rack exercises to include in your gym routine.
Top 10 Power Rack Exercises
Barbell Back Squat
Barbell back squats are the best overall movement you can do for your lower body and overall nervous due to the sheer amount of heavy weight you can move at once.
Set up your safety bars so that they line up with the bottom of your squat
Load the barbell with your desired weight
Unrack the bar by placing it on your upper back and slowly walk back
Brace your core and lower yourself down, like you are sitting down
Drive up by exerting force through your feet
Barbell Bench Press
The barbell bench press is essential if you want to develop an aesthetically appealing upper body. Bench presses can be great exercises when performed correctly.
Set the power rack up so that the safety pins are just below your chest
Lay on the bench and pin your shoulder blades back
Unrack the bar by gripping it around shoulder width
Slowly lower the bar toward your chest
Exploded upwards while maintaining a tight grip
Barbell Overhead Press
The barbell overhead press, also known as the military press, is an incredibly challenging but rewarding exercise. If you want to develop a wide look around your shoulders while working your upper pecs at the same time, this is the lift for you.
Set the barbell so at about the same height as your upper chest
Tighten your shoulder stabilizing muscles along with your core
Grip the bar around shoulder width and unrack
Plant your feet and drive the bar up
Slowly lower the bar down toward your chest
The rack pull allows you to move lots of heavy weight by removing the bottom portion of the deadlift. With the bottom portion gone, lots of the weight is transferred to your back. This exercise also really helps improve your grip strength.
Setup your barbell so that it is at knee height
Go into your regular deadlift grip
Tighten up your scapula and upper back
Drive up using your back and core
The barbell row is infamous for building a thick back. The row along with pull-ups will assure that you never need any other back exercise.
With your hands at about shoulder width, lift the bar into a deadlift position
Get your body into position: Knees bent and torso at a 45-degree angle
Drive the bar back by thinking of pulling with your elbows
Slowly lower the bar back down
Pull-ups and chins ups are a necessary staple for anybody trying to grow their back. Virtually every power rack or squat rack has a pullup bar included with a variety of grips as well.
With your hand slightly outside of your shoulders, grip the bar
Pull yourself up by thinking about pulling with your elbows
Do not stop until your chin is over the bar
Keep your core tight and do not use momentum
I really like inverted rows because they are a closed chain movement. If you are new to the gym or lack core strength, barbell rows can be very easy to cheat or injure yourself on.
This movement removes all the guesswork and helps you feel much more stable.
Setup your barbell so that your body is not touching the ground if you hang with your arms extended
Lay under the bar at about chest level
Extend your legs and maintain a rigid core
Pull with your elbows and squeeze your upper back as you lockout
The Romanian deadlift is the best glute and posterior chain builder in my opinion. I also find that this exercise translates very well to squats and deadlifts as well.
Set the bar so that it is just above your knees
Grip the bar and walk it out
Slowly lower the bar by hinging your hips
Knees should be slightly bent
Lower just past your knees
Hanging Leg Raises
Hanging leg raises are an absolutely brutal ab builder. You really feel this movement in your lower abs and can even add weight if you are strong enough
Start by assuming a dead hang from a pull up bar
With little or no bend in your knees, raise your legs in the air until they make a 90-degree angle
Squeeze your abs at the top of the rep
Make sure to keep your legs close together during the exercise
Incline Barbell Bench Press
The incline bench press really works your upper chest and triceps better than any other movement. The benefit of the power rack here is that you can really push past failure and adjust your incline angle.
I think most people will prefer a slight 15-degree incline. This is more than enough to target your upper chest.
Sit back in the bench and tighten your back
Grip the bar at shoulder width
Unrack it and lower it toward your chest
Power Rack Exercises For Each Body Part
If you have access to a power rack, you can basically target everyone single muscle in your body with complete safety assuming you use proper form.
If you are just looking for a quick overview of each main muscle group, here is a quick breakdown for power rack training:
Chest: Bench press
Shoulders: Overhead press
Legs: Barbell squat
Back: Barbell row
Arms: Curls and Dips
Sample Power Rack Workout Program
The beauty of power rack exercises is that they they are all generally compound exercises. This means that for each exercise you are likely working for 2-3 muscle groups at a time. You can mix and match as you see fit, but we are going to suggest a standard routine based on a 3-day full body split
Hanging leg raises
Incline bench press
For sets and reps, it all depends on your goals. If you want to really go after strength, stick to 5-8 reps. If you want to grow in size more, target the 8-15 rep range more.
Also, remember that this is just a starter program. Mix and match if there are some exercises you like more than others. The genius of power rack workouts is that you can add variety very easily.
Do I Need A Power Rack For My Home Gym?
Power racks are really essential if you are trying to get a good workout in at home. If you are just starting to dip your toe into the home gym world, I cannot recommend getting a good power rack enough.
The reasoning is incredibly simple: compound exercises build muscle better than any other movement. Staples like the bench press, squat, and shoulder press are essential if you want to build muscle.
We understand that power racks can be a little pricey if you are trying to get a new one. If that sounds like you, you always have the option to build one as well.
What is the difference between a power rack, a squat rack, and a squat stand?
This is a common point of confusion. Essentially in order of most features and adjustments to least, it goes power rack, squat rack, and then squat stand.
You can basically do all of the key lifts on any of these but power racks tend to be safer and have more features.
Can I get big and strong with only power rack exercises?
Yes, of course.
For decades, most bodybuilders worked out using only the exercises we mentioned in this article.