Power Rack Exercises (Workout Programs You Should Be Doing)

Your brand new power rack has arrived. You've got it set up along with a few power rack attachments, and you are ready to work out. At least, you thought you were. A power rack can be an excellent tool in your fitness journey, as long as you know which exercises you perform on your new rack.  

If you don't know what exercises to do on your power rack, it's no better than any other piece of equipment. In the guide below, we will go over a few power rack exercises you can start doing right away. 

1. Barbell Squats  

Doing a barbell squat without a power rack is next to impossible if you want to lift a heavy weight. There is no safe or practical way to get a loaded barbell into the starting position outside of using a power rack. Barbell squats will help build and strengthen just about every muscle in your lower body. 

How To Perform: 

  • Set your barbell on the safeties at a height that matches the bottom of your squat. 
  • Load the bar with an appropriate weight. 
  • Squat down and position yourself under the bar, with the bar across your upper back and feet flat on the floor. 
  • Press the bar off the safeties by driving through your heels until you arrive at the standing position. 
  • Lower back to the start. 
  • Come to a complete stop at the bottom and allow the bar to settle on the safeties before starting your next rep. 
Power Rack Exercises (Workout Programs You Should Be Doing)

2. Barbell Overhead Press  

The Barbell Overhead Press is a monster upper-body exercise, and it offers a ton of bang for your buck. The overhead press targets your deltoids, triceps, upper pecs, and shoulder stabilizing muscles. It will also work your core, glutes, and hips. 

A good barbell overhead press enhances your ability to reach overhead, improves posture, and builds a more aesthetically-appealing upper body. 

How To Perform: 

  • Set a barbell level with your upper chest.  
  • Grab the bar, so your hands are on the barbell slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.  
  • Take two steps back from the rack and stand with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart.  
  • Before initiating the press, contract your lats, brace your abs, and tuck your chin.  
  • Press the barbell and drive it directly overhead.  
  • Once the barbell is overhead, tighten your shoulders and shrug slightly, pushing your head through the bar. 
Barbell Overhead Press

3. Barbell Shrugs  

The barbell shrug, or shoulder shrug, is an excellent move to target your traps. Shoulder shrugs are very difficult without a power rack because moving the barbell up and down is uncomfortable. A power rack also lets you lift much heavier weights because you don't have to lift them from the floor. 

Always choose a suitable weight that allows you to lift your shoulders to the chin level. 

How To Perform: 

  • Stand up straight with your feet at shoulder width. 
  • Hold a barbell with both hands in front of you using a pronated grip. 
  • Your hands should be a little wider than shoulder-width apart. This will be your starting position. 
  • Raise your shoulders up as far as you can go as you breathe out and hold the contraction for a second. 
  • Return to the starting position and repeat. 
Barbell Shrugs

4. Barbell Row  

Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups are excellent exercises, but they can also be difficult to perform. Unassisted Pull-Ups are often nearly impossible for new lifters or anyone who carries a lot of body weight. The Barbell Row is more accessible but still a great relative strength builder. 

How To Perform: 

  • Set up for the bent-over barbell row similar to how you would for a deadlift, but with your hands about shoulder-width apart.  
  • Drop your hips, straighten your back, and lockout your elbows.  
  • Lift the barbell off the floor, so you're hinged over about 45 degrees. 
  • Rest the barbell right in front of your thighs.  
  • Squeeze your abs and row the barbell to your belly button, leading the row with your elbows.  
  • Keeping your shoulders down, squeeze your shoulder blades together at the apex of the movement to engage your upper back muscles.  
  • Hold the top portion of the bent-over barbell row for a second and then lower the weight with control.  

Learn More About - T Bar Vs Barbell Rows

barbell Bent Over Rows

5. Barbell Bench Press  

The best place to perform a barbell bench press is inside a power rack, especially if you don't have a spotter. Without a spotter, the bench press becomes a hazardous exercise if you want to lift heavy. A power rack makes the bench press much safer because it is there to catch the bar if you fail your rep.  

How To Perform: 

  • Planting your feet on the floor with your knees bent.  
  • Arch your back, ensuring your buttocks and upper back are firmly against the bench.  
  • The barbell should be roughly over your eyes.  
  • Hold your breath and "pull" the bar out of the rack, so it's directly over your shoulders.  
  • Bend at the elbows and lower the barbell toward your chest. 
  • Once the barbell touches your chest, pause briefly and aggressively drive it back to the starting position.  
Barbell Bench Press

6. Inverted Rows  

An inverted row is an excellent move if you want to build a strong back. Rows are easier to perform than pull-ups, but that doesn't make them less effective. Instead, you can do more reps, so the inverted row is a great move to add muscle to your back. And an inverted row is a great way to prepare yourself to do pull-ups or chin-ups. 

How To Perform: 

  • Set your barbell high enough, so your body isn't touching the ground when you grab the bar with both hands and extend your arms and legs. 
  • Lay underneath the bar so it's in line with your chest.  
  • Grab the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.  
  • Extend your legs in front of you with your butt on the floor. 
  • Raise your butt off the ground and create a straight line from your head to your toes.  
  • Pull with your arms and squeeze your shoulder blades together to row your chest to the bar.  
  • When your chest reaches the bar, hold for a second and slowly lower yourself back down.  
Wide Grip Inverted Rows

7. Rack Pulls   

The rack pull takes away the leg push part from the deadlift, so it focuses 100% on your back. Rack pulls also allow you to lift heavier, so you can really build muscle with this exercise. Because you lift heavy, rack pulls are also excellent for your grip strength.  

How To Perform: 

  • Setup your barbell at about knee height. 
  • Assume a regular deadlift grip and stance.  
  • Brace your back and pull the bar close to the body with the lats.  
  • Drive your feet through the floor and push your hips forward to pull the barbell from your knees to hip height.  
  • After you've set the back and hit a strong hip extension, keep the lats contracted and hold the weight for a second at the top. 
Rack Pulls

8. Pull-Ups/Chin-Ups  

Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups are two of the absolute best exercises out there. Virtually every power rack comes equipped with the necessary handles so that you can work your lats, traps, shoulders, and biceps right away. Pull-Ups are done with palms facing away from you, and Chin-Ups are done with palms facing you. They are both excellent measures of relative strength. 

How To Perform: 

  • Start with your palms facing away from you or toward you, depending on whether you are doing a pull-up or chin-up. 
  • Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.  
  • Once your grip is set, retract your scapula slightly to create a firm foundation to begin. 
  • Begin the move and think about pulling the bar to your chest so that the elbows drive into your back pockets. 
  • Don't stop until your chin is over the bar. 
  • When you make it over the bar, stabilize your body and lower yourself to the start position maintaining control of the movement. 

Also Check Out - Lat Pulldowns Vs Pull Ups

Regular Pull-Ups

9. Dips  

Dips are the squat of the upper body. Dips target a wide range of upper-body muscles, including your shoulders, triceps, and chest muscles. If your power cage doesn't have a dip handle, you could buy one separately or suspend gymnastic rings from the power rack to use as dip handles. 

How To Perform: 

  • Stand between the dip bars and set your hands on them. 
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and squeeze the bar. 
  • Flex our elbows and lower your body, keeping your torso upright. 
  • Descend until your elbows are bent 90 degrees. 
  • Drive through your palms to raise your body back to the starting position.  
  • Your torso should be nearly vertical, maybe a slight lean forward. 
Dips on power rack

10. Hanging Leg Lifts  

Hanging leg raises are an excellent exercise for your abs, especially the lower abs. Power racks are perfect for them because they have a pull-up bar.  

How To Perform: 

  • Stand directly under the pull-up bar and raise your hands overhead.  
  • Once you have your grip, allow a few moments to pass in a dead hang to minimize swaying.  
  • Now, set the shoulder blades back and down, squeezing the legs together. 
  • Keeping your legs together and straight, raise them until they are 90 degrees. 
  • Each rep should be performed, so the final squeeze of the abs is beyond 90 degrees of hip flexion. 
  • Return your legs to the starting position, maintaining control of the movement. 
Hanging Leg Lifts

Power Rack Exercises To Target Specific Muscle Groups

Your power rack allows you to target just about every muscle group without the fear of injury (as long as you use proper form and a suitable weight). If you train without a spotter, this is absolutely essential. With that safety comes added peace of mind, allowing you to add extra weight to the bar or push through that last rep because you know you won't end up under the barbell. 

You don't need a power rack to do every exercise known to man, but it will allow you to do the most important ones without fear of injury. Below are exercises that will target each major muscle group: 

  • Abs: Hanging Leg Lifts 
  • Legs: Barbell Squats 
  • Arms: Dips 
  • Chest: Barbell Bench Press 
  • Shoulders: Overhead Press 

Weekly Power Rack Workout Program (Ideal Training Split)

The great thing about owning a power rack is that you can get in an excellent workout in a short amount of time. Committing yourself to working out for about an hour, 3-5 days a week will get you outstanding results. 

If you chose to work out three days a week, an ideal split would be back and biceps on day one, chest, triceps, and shoulders on day two, and legs and core on day three. Here's what that could look like for you: 

Day 1 - Back and Biceps 

  • Rack Pulls 
  • Pull-Ups 
  • Inverted Rows 

Day 2 - Chest, Triceps, Shoulders 

  • Barbell Bench Press 
  • Dips 
  • Barbell Row 
  • Barbell Overhead Press 

Day 3 - Legs and Core 

  • Barbell Front Squats 
  • Barbell Back Squats 
  • Hanging Leg Raises 

The number of rounds and repetitions you perform will vary based on your existing ability and overall fitness goals. Speak to a fitness expert to find out what is right for you. Add in a day of cardio and mobility to the routine above, and you'll be hitting your fitness goals in no time! 


Are Power Rack Workouts Essential For Home Gym Training?

If we had to design a home gym from scratch, the first thing we would buy is a power rack. We've reviewed a lot of fantastic equipment, but the power rack gives you the most bang for your buck. In all honesty, a power rack may be the only piece of equipment you need. With a few simple power rack attachments, you can perform all of the exercises listed above and more. 

Those exercises are essential to any workout because they will work every part of your body. From barbell squats to pull-ups, your power rack will strengthen and tone every muscle group. 

And power racks are for everyone, not just people who want huge muscles and strength gains. The exercises listed above are great for people trying to lose weight and burn fat as well. 

Related Article - DIY Power Rack For Home Gyms


Frequently Asked Power Rack Exercise Questions  

Can you get big muscles with just a power rack? 

Power racks allow you to train nearly every muscle in your body in complete safety. Power racks make up for the lack of a spotter, so you can use your power rack for huge strength and muscle gains. 

What's the difference between a squat rack and a power rack? 

Power racks are very similar to squat racks, except a power rack has more pieces and attachments. Power racks allow you to execute more exercises and are preferred if you work out without a spotter because of the added safety features. 

Read More - Power Rack Vs Squat Rack

Which power rack should I get? 

There are so many excellent power racks on the market. One of the best is the Rep Fitness PR-4000. It is a heavy-duty, 1,000lb commercial-grade power rack featuring 3x3" 11 gauge steel with 1" hole spacing through the bench zone and 5/8" pinholes. The PR-4000 power rack has excellent features, unlimited expandability, great quality, and endless customizability, all at a very fair price. 

Which power rack exercise on our list offers the best full body workout? 

If we had to pick only one power rack exercise to do for the rest of our life, it would be the barbell squat. A squat is a movement pattern we engage in daily, so we need to practice the motion.

Squats burn calories, strengthen your quads and glutes, and boost the production of muscle-building hormones. Squats also work the muscles in your upper body, everything from your upper and middle back to your lats, traps, rhomboids, and rear delts. 


Conclusion

Once your power rack arrives, you'll want to start working out right away. With the power rack workout plan and exercises listed above, you can do just that. The power rack exercises listed above will hit just about every muscle group in your body, so get started today! 

Last Updated on July 10, 2022