8 Power Rack Exercises You Should Start Doing Today! (2023)

Posted By Body-Solid on Apr 24, 2019

This is a guest post from James Cousins ofSmart Fitness Results.


Besides dumbells, barbells, and plates, a power rack is one of the essential pieces of equipment any gym can have. Power cage, as it is also known, allows you to exercise safely, while performing heavy compound free-weight exercises, even without a spotter.In this article, we will talk about the best power rack exercises you can do, to fully utilize this great piece of iron. Let’s go!

(Video) Full-Body Squat Rack Workout | Ashley Horner

#1 Barbell Squats

Performing barbell squats, either front or especially back, is almost impossible to do without power or squat rack.(The difference between a power and a squat rack is that the squat (half) rack has only two pillars, with bar catchers only attached from one side. Power rack has four posts, and bar catchers are fixed on both sides, providing better stability. If you can, always opt for a full rack.)The reason why is simple—how would you load a barbell, and then place it behind your neck without something to hold it for you? Without a power rack, it’s impossible to do heavy squats.However, even if you could load yourself, doing squats without a power rack would be extremely unsafe. Always make sure to set up safety pins at the correct height.Do a squat with just a barbell, and see where it stops at the bottom position. Place the pins a little lower than that. The idea is for them to catch the barbell, as soon as you give up on that last rep.This will prevent injuries, but also potential property damage, as heavy barbell won’t fall on the floor. See how to squat without destroying your knees.

8 Power Rack Exercises You Should Start Doing Today! (1)

#2 Rack Pulls

While the only “big lift” exercise where the power rack is pretty much useless is the deadlift, this piece of equipment can be used for its closest cousin—rack pulls.As you can see from the name, you need a rack to do rack pulls. You set up safety pins just below, above, or at knee height, and you pull the bar off the pins (or off the rack), and there you go, those are rack pulls.Although this looks like a crippled deadlift, rack pull is actually an awesome exercise. It entirely takes away the leg push part from the deadlift, and all you have left is 100% back.Rack pulls also allow you to lift heavy, and you can really build muscle with this exercise. They hit back muscles hard, and are an excellent option for developing upper back and traps too. Because you lift heavy, rack pulls are also excellent for your grip strength.

(Video) The ONLY 5 Barbell Exercises You Need for Muscle Mass 👌

#3 Bench Press

Even if your gym has a separate bench with bar holders for this exercise, you should perform the bench press inside a power rack.The reason why is simple—safety. Without a spotter, the bench press is a dangerous exercise, at least if you want to do it properly, which is to lift heavy. Having a loaded barbell towering over your head and chest is not the smartest thing you can do while trying for your personal best, alone.A rack corrects this, as it is there to catch the bar if you fail your rep. Roll an adjustable bench under it, and place the safety pins just above your chest level. The idea is for them to catch the bar as you fail, just above your chest so that you can squeeze out without any broken ribs.Besides the regular and incline bench press, you can use the power rack to perform “dead” bench press. This is a rack pull version of bench press.You set up pins just above your chest, and then place the bar on it. With every rep, you lift the bar off the pins and put it back on, essentially lifting “dead weight” without any spring or momentum.

#4 Inverted Row

The inverted row is the best bodyweight exercises you can do for your upper back (and biceps), period. However, although bodyweight, it is hard to perform without a power rack.The idea is to fix a barbell on safety catches or J-hooks. It should be high enough for you to go under it, holding the bar with your hands fully extended, hovering just above the floor. Then, you pull yourself to the bar, trying to touch it with your chest. You will realize that this is much harder than it seems.When you get stronger, you can make the inverted rows harder by placing your legs on a bench. Once that becomes too easy, you can hold a plate over your stomach or chest.However, this exercise should be more about volume than lifting heavy; use it as an accessory for your pullups and barbell rows.

(Video) 4 Back Exercises to BLOW UP your back muscles in the Power Rack

#5 Military Press

Doing military press (or barbell shoulder press), which is the best shoulder muscle builder, outside of the power rack is possible, but it’s not convenient. A power rack lets you place the bar just at the right height, which will allow you to easily lift it off, and put it back once you finish the set.Although the military press has an “escape mechanism” as you can just drop the weight on the floor if you feel like you can’t lift anymore, it’s a good idea to set up bar catchers just below shoulder height.That way you will lessen the injury risk, and the bar won’t slam on the floor. Also, knowing that you have catchers in place gives you peace of mind, and you will be able to lift more.

8 Power Rack Exercises You Should Start Doing Today! (2)

#6 Pullups and Chinups

People often forget that almost every power rack has at least one pull-up bar built into it. This is an excellent opportunity to superset one of the best exercises while you are using a power rack for something else.Because power racks are useful for so many exercises, the chances are other people at the gym want to use them too. It’s a much better idea to squeeze in one more exercise while you are already there, then to have people wait for you to finish all sets before moving to pull-ups.

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#7 Good Mornings

While good mornings are a bit more advanced, as they require greater hamstring flexibility, they are still one of those often neglected old-school movements, incredible for building posterior chain muscles. Do them, but make sure you start light and slow until you perfect the technique.A squat rack allows you to perform good mornings safely. Just see how far you can go down the movement, and place the safety pins at that level. This will remind you not to go below that limit, at least until you build up more flexibility and strength. You can lower the catches after that.

#8 Hanging Leg Raises

Hanging leg raises are one of the best movements you can do for your abs, especially the lower portion. They are tough too, and if you aren’t doing them already, you will find them challenging.A power rack is perfect for them, as it has a pull-up bar. Not only that, but the pullup bar is actually at a correct height, allowing you to fully hang from it (at least if you aren’t too tall), something a pull-up bar mounted on a doorframe won’t allow.There are two options—doing leg raises with your knees bent (easier) or legs fully extended (harder). Once you master these movements, you can start doing “windshield wipers” and trying to touch the bar with your toes.By then, you will already have an awesome 6pack, as it takes an incredible amount of strength to pull off those movements.

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What Not To Do In A Squat Rack—Biceps Curls!

No curls at the squat rack! Unless you have one at home of course.Guys, you can do biceps curls anywhere, so there’s no reason why you should do it in a power rack. You are taking up space for other people, who want to do exercises like the barbell squat. A power rack is the only place where you can do barbell squats, at least safely. Where to safely do barbell curls? Try the rest of the gym. Be S.M.A.R.T. in your training.

8 Power Rack Exercises You Should Start Doing Today! (3)


As you can see, power racks are very versatile. The exercises we mentioned above are just some of the options you can do inside a power rack. What’s more, each of those exercises has several variations, making power racks the go-to piece of equipment you will probably use the most often.Because of this, power racks are one of the first things you should buy for your home gym, after dumbells, plates, and barbells. While it doesn’t seem that way at first, especially considering how much space they take, power racks are essential, and no good gym can go without one.If you go to a commercial gym that has one, use it as often as possible, it will help you build an impressive body. If your commercial gym doesn’t have a power rack, then find a better one. That’s it from us, just keep lifting, and stay strong!For more in-depth guides on power rack exercises visit smart fitness blog.

(Video) DO THIS to Lose Weight Before Xmas - Start Now! | BEARDED IRON

About The Guest Author

Hi, I’m James and I own and manage Smart Fitness Results. I am a fitness fanatic and enjoy helping people achieve their fitness goals in a faster and more effective way. Together with experts in the fitness world, we provide informative information to help our readers improve their fitness and diet programs. Hope you enjoy the articles!


What exercises do you do with a power rack? ›

The power rack is a great tool, because it allows you to lift heavy weights safely. Unlike traditional machines in the gym, the power rack is extremely versatile. You can use it for back squats, front squats, shoulder press, deadlifts, bench press and heavy rows. It's like a playground for lifters.

What are 8 good exercises? ›

Add these expert-approved exercises to your workouts today.
  • Deadlifts. The deadlift is a compound exercise that has you lifting heavy weight off the floor by bending at the hips and standing back up. ...
  • Push-ups. ...
  • Pallof press. ...
  • Inverted row. ...
  • Split squats. ...
  • Dumbbell squat to press. ...
  • Squats. ...
  • Kettlebell swing.
18 Aug 2022

What are the three power exercises? ›

The main lifts are the main compound exercises for any powerlifting or strength training workout program. The Big 3 are the squat, bench press and deadlift. Learn how to perfect your technique and lift more weight than ever by clicking on each exercise below!

What are the big 5 lifts? ›

Try these “Big Five” lifts today to kickstart your weightlifting journey:
  • Squats.
  • Deadlifts.
  • Bench press.
  • Barbell row.
  • Overhead barbell press.
27 Jul 2017

What is the number 1 best exercise? ›

1. Walking. Any exercise program should include cardiovascular exercise, which strengthens the heart and burns calories. And walking is something you can do anywhere, anytime, with no equipment other than a good pair of shoes.

Which is the mother of all exercises? ›

Push-ups are an essential part of every bodyweight workout routine. The mother of all exercises strengthens the muscles in your shoulders, arms and chest. There are countless variations, from the classic Army Push-up to the Plyo Push-up.

What are the big 3 lifts? ›

When it comes to the popular “Big 3” lifts—squat, bench, deadlift—the unfortunate truth is that many athletes are simply not good candidates for those particular lifts. This is especially true for big and tall athletes.

What is an example of power activity? ›

Jumping with weights or throwing weights are two examples of power training exercises. Regular weight training exercises such as the clean and jerk and power clean may also be considered as being power training exercises due to the explosive speed required to complete the lifts.

What is the king of all lifts? ›

Deadlifts. By that fact alone, the deadlift is king. Of the three major compound lifts, the deadlift is the only movement that occurs within one motion, not two.

What lift builds the most muscle? ›

The Top 7 Muscle Building Exercises
  • Squats. Squats are the king of all muscle and strength building exercises. ...
  • Deadlifts. ...
  • Dips. ...
  • Pull Ups. ...
  • Bench Press. ...
  • Overhead Press. ...
  • Rows.

What are the golden 5 exercises? ›

The five basic exercises bench press, deadlift, squats, shoulder press and pull-up are generally known as the big 5 of strength training. Due to the adjustability of the resistance, the lat pull-down is often used instead of the pull-up.

What are 10 exercises? ›

Why these 10 exercises will rock your body
  • Lunges. Challenging your balance is an essential part of a well-rounded exercise routine. ...
  • Pushups. Drop and give me 20! ...
  • Squats. ...
  • Standing overhead dumbbell presses. ...
  • Dumbbell rows. ...
  • Single-leg deadlifts. ...
  • Burpees. ...
  • Side planks.

What are the big 6 exercises? ›

Get Fit and Stronger With These Big 6 Compound Exercises
  • Deadlift. The deadlift is one of our big posterior chain hinging movements. ...
  • Vertical Press: Overhead Press. Grab the bar at about shoulder width, more or less. ...
  • Vertical Pulling: Lat Pulldown. ...
  • Horizontal Pulling: Horizontal Cable Row. ...
  • Horizontal Pushing: Bench Press.

Is a power rack all you need? ›

Do I really need a power rack? The short answer is yes, you do. If you want to uplift your home gym capabilities to enable you to lift heavy free weights without needing a spotting partner, then you must add a power rack to it. The power racks are versatile, they can be used to perform more than a dozen exercises.

Can you get big with just a power rack? ›

With a power rack, you can train virtually every muscle in your body in complete safety. If you miss a rep, your power rack will stop you getting pinned during bench presses or stapled during squats. However, power racks are more than just substitute spotters. You can also use a power rack for big training gains.

Do rack pulls make you stronger? ›

Rack pulls can increase your pulling strength and grip strength. By strengthening muscles in your forearms and back, the rack pull can increase your grip and pulling strength for more challenging deadlift variations and other compound exercises like the bench press and pull-up. 3.

Which exercise is best for belly fat? ›

Some great cardio of aerobic exercises for belly fat include:
  • Walking, especially at a quick pace.
  • Running.
  • Biking.
  • Rowing.
  • Swimming.
  • Cycling.
  • Group fitness classes.

What is the single most fat burning exercise? ›

Running is the winner for most calories burned per hour. Stationary bicycling, jogging, and swimming are excellent options as well. HIIT exercises are also great for burning calories. After a HIIT workout, your body will continue to burn calories for up to 24 hours.

Is there 1 exercise that works the whole body? ›

The burpee is the ultimate strength-boosting full-body exercise. Burpees help you scorch fat, rev up your metabolism and get you conditioned like no other exercise.

How long does figure 8 take to work? ›

The program is designed to target your core through dance moves inspired by Latin dance, including merengue, salsa, pasa dolbe, and jive. It takes 8 weeks to complete the program and is split into 3 phases: Learn, Burn, and Sculpt. You can watch the exercise videos online, on the Body FX app, or on DVD.

Is Figure 8 good for beginners? ›

Warning to beginners: This IS an intense workout if you have not been active for some time. Jaana Kunitz alternates between very fast, intense dance moves to more intermediate pace combos to mimic high intensity interval training.

Is 8 exercises per workout too much? ›

The ideal number of exercises per workout session is 3-4 exercises. If you select your exercises appropriately and train them with sufficient volume and intensity, this will be more than enough to make great progress. This means: Focusing on an 80/20 split of compound to isolation exercises.

What are crazy 8s workout? ›

Crazy 8's is a core Design Sprint method. It is a fast sketching exercise that challenges people to sketch eight distinct ideas in eight minutes. The goal is to push beyond your first idea, frequently the least innovative, and to generate a wide variety of solutions to your challenge.

What is an 8 by 8 workout? ›

Here's how it works: You will select three or four exercises per muscle group and perform 8 sets of 8 on each exercise. Yes – that's 24 to 32 sets per body part! You will work two or three muscle groups per session and rest only 15 to 30 seconds between sets.

What is the king of upper body exercises? ›

Many coaches consider the Bench Press the “King” of upper body exercises – with its unique ability to isolate chest, shoulders, and triceps, and allow heavy loading for these muscle groups.

Which exercise is considered the king of all strength exercises? ›

The squat is one of the most popular lower body exercises and is often referred to as the “King of Exercises.”

What are the 6 foundational lifts? ›

The 6 Fundamental Movements
  • Push (Push ups, Bench press, Shoulder press, Sled Push)
  • Pull (Rows, Lat pulldowns, Hamstring Bridges, Sled Pull)
  • Hinge (Deadlifts, Single leg RDL's)
  • Squat (Squats, lunges, lateral lunges, step up's)
  • Loaded Carries (Farmer carries, Waiter walks)
10 Apr 2018

What are the big 4 exercises? ›

Though there are thousands of different exercises we could do in the gym, barbell training comprises just four exercises, the so-called “Big Lifts.” These compound movements — the squat, press, deadlift, and bench press — should make up 90% of any athlete's strength program, regardless of their level of advancement.

What are the 4 core lifts? ›

In the world of absolute strength, squats, bench presses, deadlifts and overhead pressing form “the core four.” These four lifts are the ultra-basic lifts.

What exercise improves power Why? ›

Box jumps are a perfect power building exercise since they teach your body to create a large amount of force and power from a static, isometric position. As you gain in strength and power, you can increase the height of the box to continue making progress.

How can I improve my first power? ›

5 Tips for Improving Power
  1. Body Control is Essential. ...
  2. Don't Use Too Much Weight. ...
  3. Don't Do Too Much. ...
  4. Power Moves Are Typically Not Beginner Moves. ...
  5. Exercise Selection Should Match the Goals of the Client. ...
  6. Explosive Push-Up.
  7. Squat Jumps. ...
  8. Box Jumps.
7 Apr 2022

Why are power exercises important? ›

Power training can help develop stronger, more resilient connective tissue; specifically tendons, ligaments, fascia and joint capsules, which reduces the risk of injury from sprains or strains. This fast and efficient workout was designed to enhance total-body power output and increase lean muscle mass.

Who is the queen of exercise? ›

Strengthening these muscles allows for easy movement and prevents injuries. If the squat is king of all exercises, then the deadlift is the queen.

What was Arnold Schwarzenegger's Max lifts? ›

He is known for lifting insane weights even while training for bodybuilding and aesthetics. In his training program “blueprint to size” Arnold reveals his unofficial gym records to be a 247 Kg Squat, 226 Kg Bench Press and 322 Kg Deadlift.

What are the big 7 lifts? ›

The 7 Most Important Lifts
  • 1 The Deadlift. The deadlift is first on the list for a reason. ...
  • 2 The Clean & Press. It's a great exercise to increase power, strength, and size. ...
  • 3 The Squat. ...
  • 4 The Chin-Up. ...
  • 5 The Walking Lunge. ...
  • 6 The Push-Up. ...
  • 7 The Dip.
28 Jun 2019

Can you develop muscles after 60? ›

Repeated research has shown that, through weight training, men and women in their 60s and beyond can grow muscles as big and strong as an average 40-year-old.

What exercise activates the most muscles? ›

Squat. The squat is the king of all exercises. Squats hit most muscle groups in the body, with emphasis on the core and large lower body muscles. The more muscle mass and motor units recruited during an exercise, the better the exercise for burning body fat, and the squat is the best of them all.

What builds muscle the fastest? ›

Below are 10 of the best ways to build muscle quickly:
  1. Eat Enough Calories. ...
  2. Train With Weights Over Cardio. ...
  3. Train with Heavy Weights. ...
  4. Lift Light Weights, Too. ...
  5. Train a Muscle to Near Failure (Most of the Time) ...
  6. Don't Always Train to Failure With Very Heavy Weight. ...
  7. Supplement with Creatine.

What is the 123 workout? ›

A long-time favorite of coaches and trainers, the 1-2-3 method is as simple as it sounds: You'll perform 1, 2, and 3 reps of an exercise. But you'll concentrate only on your form—not how much weight you can hoist or how many reps you can bang out.

What do you need a power rack for? ›

The power rack (also known as a squat rack), is one of the most versatile inventions in the history of weightlifting. It can unlock a massive array of exercises, but most importantly, it allows you to do the three main compound movements: squats, bench press, and deadlifts.

What is the purpose of a power rack? ›

A power rack (also known as a power cage, squat cage or squat rack) is a piece of weight training equipment that functions as a mechanical spotter for free weight barbell exercises without the movement restrictions imposed by equipment such as the Smith machine.

What exercises work with squat rack? ›

Best squat rack exercises
  1. Squats.
  2. Shoulder press.
  3. Bent-over rows.
  4. Romanian deadlifts.
  5. Good mornings.
17 Aug 2022

Is a power rack worth it? ›

Power racks are just one form of exercise equipment and no home gym “needs” one. If you want the ability to perform power and strength training exercises from your home, then a power rack is a smart choice though. Without a doubt, they provide the safest and easiest way to perform squats and other power lifting moves.

Is a power rack safe? ›

1) Added Safety

As mentioned ahead a power rack is the safest option when it comes to heavy equipment for home or gym training. A power rack features a wide base, catch bars, and a high weight limit of up to 1500 lbs. These power rack features eliminate the need for a spotter.

How much should I spend on a power rack? ›

The median price of a high end power rack is $1,200. You can spend over $7,000 on a rack of this quality. But it's also possible to buy a 3×3” 11 gauge steel power rack for under $600.

Do I need a rack to do squats? ›

Bottom line: you can back squat without a rack, but only if you're using weight that you can easily clean and press overhead and onto your shoulders.

Do you need a spotter with a power rack? ›

While you can bench press without a spotter, we wouldn't recommend it — especially not for anything heavier than “warm-up” weight. It's simply too dangerous. The safest way to bench press without a spotter is to utilize a lifting rack or stand that has adjustable safety pins, spotter arms or safety bars.

How long will a power rack last? ›

Power racks are designed to last for years, if not decades. These aren't delicate little pieces of electronics like a laptop that begin to crack and fail after a year or two. They are a steel frame purposefully built to handle a lot of weight and a lot of use.

How tall of a power rack do I need? ›

The average height of a short power rack built for a low ceiling application is 72”. You'll want at least 6” above the rack for fit, and if you plan to use the pull-up bar at the top of the rack, you'll want 12”-18” to allow for headroom.

Is a power cage better than a squat rack? ›

If training space and budget are no issues for you, a power rack is better because it is sturdier and has more safety features. However, a squat rack is sufficient you are in a position where you need to relocate equipment often, have a small training space, or can't afford a power rack.

Can I do squat rack everyday? ›

Anyone looking to improve their squat (and improve the muscles that the squat develops) will see big benefits to squatting every day. And if you're even a little more advanced, you'll likely be able to handle a routine that calls for squatting every day.

What should you not do in a squat rack? ›

6 Illegal Exercises at the Squat Rack Station
  • Behind the Neck Presses. Murphy calls this movement “the rotator cuff killer.” He says that you would be stronger and healthier by doing standing presses with the bar in front of you, not behind. ...
  • Anything Seated. ...
  • Overhead Tricep Extension. ...
  • Upright Rows. ...
  • Kipping Pull-ups. ...
  • Curls.


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