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Power Rack Training


The big steel cage placed in front of the mirror at your gym is good for a lot more than just squatting in safety. Yes, the power rack with those adjustable side bars can give you a spot, but the real ‘power’ comes from utilizing those side bars to reduce the range of motion of an exercise in order to increase strength at specific points of a lift. If used properly the power rack can be a very intense method to increase strength and build muscle that will transfer to full range of motion repetitions. Stubborn plateaus can also be broken following this protocol.

 

After several initial full-range of motion warm up sets the fun begins. Start raising the side bars to decrease the range of motion, but also increase the weight to heavier loads than your body is accustomed. A lot of exercises can be done from a ‘dead stop’ off the bars. Training this way for short cycles can dramatically increase strength and power. During ‘Power Rack Training’ cycles the same methods can be applied to exercises using cables and the Smith Machine. Some of the accessory exercise can also include range of motion manipulation by playing off the ’21’ method most common used for curls, but here we will apply to a variety of exercises and rep ranges. This involves 1/3 bottom partials reps, 1/3 top partial reps, and 1/3 full range of motion reps for each set.

 

Maximize Safety and Recovery

 

This type of training should be done for short microcycles of a week or two at a time. It can be very intense and demanding on the body. Strong efforts should be made to allow muscles to fully recover. Follow these tips to maximize safety and recovery.

 

  • Nutrition: Eat in a nutrient dense calorie surplus to build muscle with protein ranging from 1.0 to 1.5 grams per pound of body weight. Proper nutrition is needed to build quality muscle.

 

  • Warm Up: Take time to warm up before intense weight lifting. Five minutes on a rower or treadmill will do the trick. Follow that up with a few yoga moves for the lower back or shoulder mobility work depending on the workout.

 

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids while working out. Stay fully hydrated.

 

  • Rest Longer: Since this is a muscle building microcycle that involves some relatively heavy lifting rest longer between sets. For all the bigger muscle groups and compound lifts take up to 2 minutes if necessary. The goal is to recover enough so you can lift big again.

 

  • Post Workout: Take advantage of your hard work and have a fast digesting whey protein shake immediately after lifting. Then try to eat a quality meal 45-60 minutes afterwards. Extra supplement considerations when building muscle would include creatine and glutamine.

 

  • Sleep Well: Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. This is when real recovery happens. Setting devices aside several hours before sleep has been shown to increase quality of sleep.

 

Basic ‘Power Rack Protocol’ (P.R.P.)

 

  • Two initial sets are done through the full range of motion not using the side bars. The first of these is a warm up set using lighter weight. All other sets are to failure with strict form adherence.
  • Add the side bars, but low enough so you can still do very near full range of motion reps. These reps all done from a dead stop off the side bars. Don’t allow muscles to rest between reps, but keep them activated.
  • Raise the side bars by one notch (reducing the range of motion) and increase the weight. Do these reps all from a dead stop off the side bars.
  • Depending on the exercise raise the side bars once again and increase the weight. These reps are done off the side bars as well.

 

 

Here is a sample week long microcycle using Power Rack Training protocols.

 

Microcycle: Power Rack Training

Purpose: Muscle and strength builder

Length: One week

 

Day 1: Legs

 

  1. P.R.P ‘Dead Stop’ Squats: 8 sets

2 sets of 12 reps (Full range of motion)

2 sets of 8-10 reps (Use side bars at lowest squat position. Lift from a dead stop.)

2 sets of 6-8 reps (Raise side bars 1 notch. Just above parallel.)

2 sets of 4-6 reps (Raise side bars 1 notch. Top partial reps.)

(Note: After the two initial sets all reps are done from a dead stop at the bottom.)

 

  1. Leg Press: 3 sets of 21’s, 15’s, and 9’s

(Note: Use the 21 concept. Do 1/3 bottom partials, 1/3 top partials, and 1/3 full range of motion.)

 

  1. Leg Extension: 3 sets of 21’s, 15’s, and 9’s

 

  1. Seated Leg Curl: 4 sets of 21’s, 15’s, 12’s, and 9’s.

 

  1. Seated Calf Raise: 4 sets of 21’s, 15’s, 12’s, and 9’s.

 

 

Day 2: Back and Biceps

 

  1. P.R.P Rack Pulls: 8 sets

2 sets of 12 reps (Full range of motion not touching side bars)

2 sets of 8-10 reps (Use side bars below knee. Lift from a dead stop.)

2 sets of 6-8 reps (Raise side bars 1 notch. Just above knee.)

2 sets of 4-6 reps (Raise side bars 1 notch. Top partial reps.)

 

  1.  Wide Grip Pulldowns: 3 sets of 21’s, 15’s, and 9’s.

 

  1. Machine Row: 3 sets of 21’s, 15’s, and 9’s.

 

  1. Smith Drag Curls: 2 sets of 15 & 12 reps, then 2 sets of 10 & 8 reps with a shortened range of motion using the side bumpers and increased weight.

 

  1. Incline Curls: 4 sets of 21’s, 15’s, 12’s, 9’s.

 

Day 3: Chest, Triceps, Delts

 

  1. P.R.P. Bench Press: 8 sets

2 sets of 12 reps (Full range of motion not touching side bars)

2 sets of 8-10 reps (Use side bars right above chest. Lift from a dead stop.)

4 sets of 10,8,6,4 reps (Raise side bars 1 notch. Top partials.)

 

  1. Machine Flys: 2 sets of 12-15 reps full range, then 2 sets of 10-12 reps with a reduced range of motion.

 

  1. Incline DB Flys: 3 sets of 21’s, 15’s, 9’s reps.

 

  1. P.R.P. Standing Military Press: 6 sets

2 sets of 12 reps (Full range of motion not touching side bars)

2 sets of 8-10 reps (Use side bars at shoulder level. Lift from a dead stop.)

2 sets of 8 & 6 reps (Raise side bars 1 notch. Top partials.)

 

  1. Seated Side Lateral Raises: 4 sets of 21’s, 15’s, 12’s, 9’s reps.

 

  1. Machine Reverse Flys (rear delts): 3 sets of 21’s, 15’s, 9’s reps

 

  1. P.R. Standing Overhead DB Extension: 2 sets of 10-12 reps full range of motion, then 4 sets of 6-8 using a side bar to reduce the range of motion.

(Note: The final two sets are done from a dead stop off the side bar.)

 

  1. Pushdowns: 2 sets of 15-20 reps full range of motion, then 2 sets of 12 & 10 reps with a reduced range of motion.

(Note: On the final two sets lower the cable attachment so you are lifting from a mid-range dead stop on each rep. Control the negatives so there is a gentle landing between reps.)

 

 

Day 4: Legs in Reverse

 

  1. Standing Calf Raises: 3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps (full bottom stretch), then 3 sets of 10, 8, 6 reps off the ground from a dead stop.

 

  1. Seated Calf Raise: 3 sets of 10-12 reps (full bottom stretch), then 3 sets of 10, 8, 6 reps done explosively from a flat surface.

 

  1. Hex Bar Calf Raise Walks: 4 sets of 24 steps.

(Note: Load up a hex bar and walk on the balls of your feet with your calves activated.)

 

  1. P.R. Sumo Deadlifts: 2 sets of 12 reps off floor, then 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps using the side bars at the lowest level.

 

  1. Lying Leg Curls: 6 sets

2 sets of 10-12 reps full range of motion

2 sets of 8 reps (reduce range of motion)

2 sets of 6 reps (further reduce range of motion)

(Note: Adjust the machine to raise the starting point after the initial 2 sets.)

 

  1. Cable Front Squat: 5 sets of 21’s

 

 

Day 5: Full Upper Body

 

  1. P.R.P Incline Barbell Press: 6 sets

2 sets of 12 reps (Full range of motion not touching side bars)

2 sets of 8-10 reps (Use side bars right above chest. Lift from a dead stop.)

2 sets of 6 and 4 reps (Raise side bars 1 notch. Top partials.)

 

  1. P.R.P Bent Over Barbell Row: 6 sets

2 sets of 12 reps (Full range of motion not touching side bars)

2 sets of 8-10 reps (Use side bars and lift from a dead stop.)

2 sets of 6 and 4 reps (Raise side bars 1 notch. Top partials.)

 

  1. P.R.P. Close Grip Bench (triceps): 6 sets

2 sets of 12 reps (Full range of motion not touching side bars)

2 sets of 8-10 reps (Use side bars right above chest. Lift from a dead stop.)

2 sets of 6 and 4 reps (Raise side bars 1 notch. Top partials.)

 

  1. Side Lateral Raises: 2 sets of 10-12 reps full range of motion, then 2 sets of 8-10 reps from a dead stop of 30-40 degrees.

(Note: On the final two sets using benches or racks to lift the dumbbells from a dead stop around hip height.)

 

  1. Seated Barbell Curls: 4 sets of 10-12 reps

(Note: Don’t allow the barbell to rest on your knees. You will be performing top half partial reps.)

 

 

Annihilate to Motivate,

Michael Wittig, ISSA CPT

Natural Pro 3x Champ

IG: @WittigWorks

FB: @WittigWorks

WittigWorks.com

Instantized Creatine- Gains In Bulk

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