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Jim's Bodybuilding Guide - Intro
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Home Gym Exercise Equipment

Choosing a Home Gym Guide - 1
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Total Gym Review
Total Gym Models Compared
Power Rack Review
Power Rack Exercises

Weight Lifting Power Rack Review

Part 2: Power Rack Lifts and Exercises

Okay, this article is getting a bit longer than originally planed. :) So, now I'm making a part 2 about power racks. If you missed part 1: weight lifting power rack review, click here.

We've already talked about the setup of a power rack, which is pretty simple, so lets take a quick look now why this setup is so useful in your workouts. Keep in mind, the power rack is geared towards individuals who are after strength and muscle gains more than anything else.

With a good set of weights and a flat/incline/decline bench, there are many lifts and exercises you can do with the power rack. We'll just cover a few of the main ones that can really benefit from the power rack - without needing a spotter: bench press, squat, and standing press.

Power Rack Exercise: The Bench Press

Everyone knows the bench press is the king for building pecs, and if you didn't know, you know that now. ;-) But for many people who prefer to workout at home, having a spotter becomes a big issue, and it becomes even more difficult getting the most out of you chest workouts without a spotter. The power rack solves this problem in a big way, although not 100%. Nothing can really ever replace an experienced spotter (workout partner).

When I do my workouts, I prefer to have a partner to spot, so I can go to failure for most of my sets. You really can't do that by yourself, you'd end up getting crushed somehow. ;-) But with the power rack, you can actually push yourself to failure. It won't be as effective as having a spotter, but it still does a nice job.

Set the 2 safety bars on each side to a height that's just at about your chest level when lying flat on the bench, and adjust the weight holder hooks to a height that's about 2 notches up from the safety bar, so your arms need to bend somewhat to lift the weights, but at the same time, doesn't require too much effort. (I hope I'm not confusing you... kinda hard to explain.) This is so that you don't waste so much energy just getting set to start your set. I recommend you test the height of the 2 safety bars by placing the barbell (without weights), and lying flat on the bench to see if the height is good enough. Adjust accordingly.

The reason you place the 2 safety bars just a tiny above your chest level while lying down is so that you allow the maximum range possible for each rep, and at the same time, when you're at failure, the weight doesn't crush you to death, but is stopped by the safety bars. After you complete your set, get up, and place the weights back on to the weights holder. (Can you imagine trying to start the next set with the bar just above your chest?

Now you see why the power rack is one of my favorite apparatus for workouts.

Power Rack Exercise: The Squat

The squat is another one of the best multi-joint power lifts you can do. Normally, you'd have a tough time doing squats (with a heavy load) without a spotter. With a power rack, you can do squats with a relatively heavy load without a spotter. You'd just set it up similar to how you setup the bench press.

First you need to set the safety bars to a good height. Get into a squat position and squat down so your knees are bent at no more than about 60 degrees. Then set the safety bars at a height just slightly below shoulder height. This allows you for a full range motion squat, and still have the safety bars to catch the weights.

Then standing straight up, adjust the height of the weight holder hooks to just a little lower than shoulder height. This setup on the power rack allows you do to squats with a heavy load without having a spotter present.

As for the standing press, it's the same idea, so I'll be lazy and skip it.

Of course, the power rack combined with weights and a bench allows you to do all types of exercises other than the few listed here, with this setup, you can target every major muscle group in your body either with multi-join power lifts or isolated single muscle reps. It's extremely versatile and I think by far the most effective home gym setup for real muscle and strength gains.

You can order a power rack and bench online, but I don't recommend buying the weights online. Because weights aren't a high cost item, the shipping costs are probably gonna cost you almost as much as the weights itself. Also remember that you need olympic style weight set to go with power racks.

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