21 Power Rack Exercise Ideas

When some people buy a power rack, they often only have two exercises in mind – bench press and squats. However, a power rack offers much more versatility than you originally thought it would. I will try to list a few exercises in this article and how to perform them correctly. Let’s start with the most common ones and different variations available.

1. Squats

Feet shoulder width apart, with toes slightly pointing out outside. Your knees follow your toes when going down or standing up. Breathe in before you start squat and tense all the muscles in your body so that you would be prepared for the lift.

2. High Pin Squats

Who knew that your safety bars could have a purpose other than catching you when you are out of stamina. If you are struggling to lock out the lift then this exercise is a must for you. It allows you to load a bit heavier weight and work on your lock out.

3. Medium Height Pin Squats

Opposite to high pin squats, medium pin squats can be extremely useful if you are struggling to move the weight from the bottom. Set the safety bars just above your 90 degree angle and when you squat down stop for a second. Use lighter weight for this exercise.

4. Lunges with a barbell

Feet shoulder apart, take a big step forward and your knee until the opposite knee is 5 cm from the ground (or you can touch the ground if you think that your form won’t suffer), step back and you’ve completed the lunge! Alternate between legs to prevent any muscle imbalances. The reason you are performing this exercise inside the power rack is for additional safety.

5. Calf Raises

This can be done in two ways: seated calf raise and standing calf raise. Now the standing calf raise is a bit trickier as you will try to balance the barbell as you will perform this exercise on a calf block or a block of timber. Seated calf raises are bit safer,

– Lower the safety pins down to around knee high.

– Place the barbell on the pins

– Load it up.

– Wheel your bench around

– Place the Calf Block or timber block on the ground (where your feet will go)

Now you have a Seated Calf Raise. The exercise is pretty simple. Just roll the bar on your knees (use a pad or a towel if you want to) place the front of the foot on the calf block and lift the barbell up. Try to go all the way down and all the way up (you want to fully extend and contract the muscle)

6. Bench Press (narrow, medium, wide grip and which muscles you are hitting)

Probably one of the most complicated exercises there is because there is so much that can go wrong. Unlike deadlifts or squats whre you can always drop the bar if you have failed the lift, in bench press if you drop the bar you might not be able to get out of it. That is of course if you are not using your power rack’s spotter arms.

Have a read about how to bench press, there are a lot of things that go into the perfect form during bench press.

7. Incline Bench Press

The perfect angle for the incline bench press would be between 35-45 degrees, anything over that and you will shift the load to your shoulders. Anything under and you will use the middle chest.

– Set the bench to a right angle.

– Lay down on the bench with your feet flat on the ground. Arch your back and retract your shoulders.

– Grip the barbell at a medium width (your arms should bend at 90-degree angle when you are bringing the barbell down to your chest)

– Lower the bar to your sternum. Choose lower weight first, until you get used to the movement.

– Once the bar touches your chest, drive the barbell up. Push with your whole body. This way you will be able to control the barbell throughout the whole movement much easier.

8. Decline

– Lock your legs at the end of the decline bench and slowly lay down.

– Use a medium grip for this exercise. (Your arms should bend at 90-degree angle when you are bringing the barbell down to your chest)

– Slowly bring the barbell down to your lower chest.

– Once you touch the chest drive the bar forward and breath out. Squeeze the chest at the top of the movement.

– Note: Don’t bounce the bar of your chest. Don’t let the bar come too far forward. Use light weight until you get used to the movement.

9. High Pin Press for chest (top sticking point)

High Pin Bench Press is a great exercise to strengthen your triceps and forearms. If you are struggling to lock your elbows out, this exercise will help you fix it.

– I grip the barbell at the same width as my competition grip.

– Adjust the spotter arms to a correct level. The movement should be around 1/3rd of your bench.

– Because you are starting at a negative position, take your time to tense your body and press.

– You will be able to use higher weight than your normal bench press.

– Squeeze your chest and hold the barbell in the locked position for a couple of seconds.

– I used it as an accessory exercise, perform 3-5 reps per set.

10. Low Pin Press for chest (bottom sticking point)

– Pin Height should be 2-3 cm off your chest.

– Use your competition grip for this exercise.

– I recommend using lower weight as this exercise removes the eccentric phase of the bench press.

– Barbell should be directly above the position where you normally lower the weight.

– Set up is the same as your flat bench press – arch your back, tuck in your shoulder blades, place your heel behind your knee.

– Leg drive is extremely important as it will allow you to drive your traps into the bench and remain in the correct position.

– Push with your whole body and lock out the elbows at the top.

– Hold the barbell at top for 1-2 seconds.

– When you lower the bar to your chest, place it on the pins and hold for one second before starting the next repetition.

11. Seated Shoulder Press

– Try to perform this exercise with no back support. Use lower weight and focus on your form.

– If you have shoulder injuries set bench at approx. 80-degree angle.

– Set up J-Hooks at correct level, so you wouldn’t have to hyper extend your shoulders.

– Grip width – 90-degree angle when your forearms are parallel to your upper arm.

– Bring the barbell down to your collarbone slowly as you inhale.

– Lift the barbell up to the starting position as you exhale.

12. Seated Shoulder Pin Press

This exercise is used to improve locking out strength for Over Head Press.

– Set the pins at shoulder level while seated.

– If you don’t have shoulder mobility to perform this exercise set the bench at around 80-degrees.

13. Board Press

Board press is ideal to get used to handling heavier weight before you go for your personal best. Since you are going to be using heavier weights I recommend using spotter arms or ask your mate to help you out.

Use 2-8 cm board depending on which part of the lift you are struggling with.

Three options for board press. You can either use bench blokz (they wrap around the barbell), ask your friend to hold a board on your chest or use paper tape to secure the board unto the bar.

– Set your spotter arms or spotter bars at the correct height.

– Your form and set up is the same as in the flat bench press.

– Lower the bar unto your chest and allow the weight to sink into your chest.

– Pause the lift for the second at the bottom and top of the movement.

– Repeat for 1-5 repetitions.

14. Bent Over Barbell Rows

It is far easier to perform bent over barbell rows on a power cage or half rack. By setting up the j-hooks at your preferred height you eliminate the deadlift part of the lift.

– Grip the barbell at shoulder width.

– Un-rack the barbell.

– Bend your knees a little bit, lean forward, keep your back straight.

– Bring the barbell down so your arms would be straight.

– On the upward movement, bring the barbell to your stomach.

– Try to keep your elbows tucked in throughout the whole repetition.

15. Assisted deadlifts

Rather than using weight plates to perform assisted deadlifts, try using your power rack!

You have two options: J-Hooks or Spotter Bars. I recommend using spotter bars as they will provide you with additional safety in case you fail the lift. Most of the power racks (at least ours) have rubber strips on the spotter bars to protect the barbell. So you don’t have to worry about smashing your barbell even during a heavy drop.

16. Multi-Grip Chin Ups

Most of the power racks have either built in Chin Up Bars or offer them as an optional accessory.

On a multi-grip chin up bar you have so many different grips which will target different muscle groups.

I recommend using a wider grip chin up if you want to built bigger and thicker back.

Most people are using reverse grip to do pull ups. It’s perfect if you want an alternative biceps exercise but if you want to focus on your back I recommend using a forward and a bit wider grip.

Always focus on your form. Last thing you want is muscle imbalances. To make chin ups easier use a resistance band. Just wrap it around the top of the chin up bar, put your knee through the resistance band and fire away. Try to perform 8-10 repetitions. Once you get to 10 try using a lower resistance band until you don’t need one anymore.

17. Barbell Shrugs

– Set your J-Hooks or Spotter Bars at around knee height.

– Grip the barbell at shoulder width.

– Keep your arm straight.

– Bring your shoulders up as far as you can, hold the contraction at the top for a second.

– Slowly return to the starting position.

Your shoulders should move in a straight line. Rotating your shoulders can aggravate or cause a rotator cuff injury.

18. Upright barbell rows.

– Grip the barbell at shoulder width

– Use overhand grip for this exercise.

– Keep your back straight.

– Your elbows should always be higher than your forearms.

– Raise your elbows to the sides as you lift the barbell up.

– Try keeping it as close to your body as possible.

– Continue to lift the bar until it nearly touches your chin, or as close to your chin as your shoulder mobility allows.

– Lower the barbell slowly to the starting position.

19. Biceps curls in squat rack of course

Who would have thought that you can do biceps curls in a squat rack?

– Set the J-Hooks at most comfortable level.

– Grip the barbell at the shoulder width.

– Tuck your elbows in.

– Try to keep your elbows in the same position as you bring the barbell up.

– Lift the barbell up until the nipple line.

– Slowly bring the barbell down to the starting positions.

– Perform 8-12 repetitions.

20. Dips

Dips is one of my favourite accessory exercises. Great thing our power racks come with them or you can get them as an optional extra. You have two different variations of this exercise:

Triceps Dips

Chest Dips

The form would be identical for both of these exercises. The only difference is whether you are leaning forward (chest) or upright (triceps). You can either use resistance bands to make it easier or a dip belt to increase the resistance.

– To get into starting position hold your body at arm’s length.

– For triceps dips keep your body upright throughout the whole movement.

– Slowly lower downward up until your forearms and upper arms are at around 90 degrees.

– Once you hit the 90-degree mark push yourself back into the starting position using your triceps.

– For dips focused on chest lower yourself downward leaning forward at around 30-degrees.

– Your elbows should be flared out slightly until you feel the stretch on your chest.

– Once you hit the 90-degree mark push yourself upwards

– Squeeze your chest at the top of the movement.

21. Good mornings

You have two options to perform this exercise. Standing good mornings and seated good mornings.

Standing good morning focused more on your hamstrings while seated version targets your lower back a bit more.

Standing good mornings:

– Set your J-hooks at around shoulder height.

– Keep the barbell at the rear of your shoulders (if you will use high bar position the bar will roll unto your neck, which is not too comfortable)

– Keep your back straight and your shoulder pinched together.

– Your knees should be bent by a fraction.

– Start by bending your hips and move them back

– Slightly arch your back.

– Slowly return to your starting position.

Seated good mornings:

– I use a bench for this exercise however you can also use a box.

– Set the spotter bars at correct height (safety first)

– Normally I would set the J-hooks at shoulder height, so I could un-rack the bar with ease and then sit down.

– Once seated straighten your back, keep your knees in front of you.

– Push your hips out and slowly begin to descend.

– For the first few reps don’t go all the way down, allow the muscles to stretch gradually.

– Which each repetition slowly go deeper until you are parallel with the spotter bars.

– Stay tight throughout the move movement.

– Pause just above the spotters and reverse the movement until you are back into starting position.