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Power Rack Training, Part 1: The Bench Press!

Power-rack training is one of the best ways to help increase strength and rehab from injury. I've been using rack training for almost a month and it has helped a whole lot on other exercises. Let me explain what it is.

Part 1 | Part 2

Power rack training is one of the best ways to help increase strength and rehab from injury. I've been using rack training for almost a month and it has helped a whole lot on other exercises. Let me explain what it is.

Power Rack Training Overview

Power rack training involves the use of a power rack, obviously. With this, you can focus on your weaker areas of your bench, squat, and deadlift. For the bench, you can do mid-rack or lockout bench. The mid-rack will work the lower half of the bench press - the part of the bench the everyone has problems with.

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When I started doing this, my lower half of the bench has improved. My bottom strength is better. I've recently done up to 285lbs in mid-rack.

Bench Press: Mid-Rack

Here's how to do the mid-rack. Set the rack hooks just above mid-bench. Then set the pins above the rack hooks.

You should pick a weight (something that is 60% of your regular 1 RM) and do 3 sets of 3, but on the third, you should hold it against the pins on the rack. Your goal here is to hold it for 12 seconds and add weight.

What Does "1 RM" Mean?
One Rep Max.


Enter the amount of weight you can bench (in pounds) and the number of reps you can lift it for.

If you hold it for 8 seconds, stay at the same weight. If you hold it for less than 8 seconds, go down in weight. Go up in weight only by ten pounds. Once you do this, the mid-part of the your bench should be stronger.

Everyone has heard of bench lockouts. Bench lockouts work the upper-half of the bench... the lockout. Some benchers have problems locking out. Doing lockouts will assist this. Set up the rack with the pins at regular height. This way you start from mid-range to lockout. You do not need the use of the rack hook because the bar will sit on the pins for safety.

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Some says that a lifter should use a weight that is a little more than 100% of your 1RM, but to get used to it and to build up lockout strength, you should use a weight that's 70% of your 1 RM. Same as the mid-rack bench, 3 sets of 3 reps and hold it on on the third on with your elbows slightly bent so you don't put all the weight on the joints. I've also done these and my lockout is stronger now because of it.

Also you can supercharge your bench press by doing rack training with close-grip bench press. You can use the lockout and mid-rack close-grip benches. By doing this, you can strengthen your triceps even further. Also, while doing rack training, try exploding out of the bottom from either mid-rack or lockout on the bench.

Close-Grip Bench Press Close-Grip Bench Press

Click Image To Enlarge.
Close-Grip Bench Press.

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Explosive Strength

I went to a bench competition and sat through a seminar with my hero, strongman Bill Kazmaier. He mentioned that utilizing explosive strength will help to move that bar through the sticking point.

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Using controlled breathing helps on these as well. You'll be surprised what 'power breathing' can do to your bench. Take that breath in when getting that bar down to you, and blow that air out when you explode out of the bottom.

Next month, I'll discuss the use of rack training for the squat and deadlift. Until then, add power rack training to your bench/chest regimen.

If you are using the bench program from my previous month's article ("Surefire Way To Increase Your Bench"), I highly recommend you to do these next. Also, inquire about my new strength report, which is great for any strength athlete or powerlifter. Until then, stay big!

Part 1 | Part 2