Rack Training For Beginners
by Bill March
It is important that all lifters, especially beginners, do a variety of movements to improve both strength and form. Use of a power rack will help achieve some of what you desire in strength and power, however, form work is a must for the beginner. Your form should improve right along with your strength and power, and working on lifting form should always be done first, before any rack work or any other exercises. If you do your form work after the rack work you will find that you are not only too fatigues to do justice to the form work, but will lack the flexibility and speed needed to do the movements correctly. Also, form work at the beginning of the workout serves as a warm-up for the heavier power rack training.
Along with the form and power rack training you may want to include a few extra exercises – ones that you feel will help to develop strength in areas you feel need extra work. I recommend that you limit the number of extra exercises to four a week and perform not more than three sets of five reps per exercise. I suggest that you use a poundage that allows you to perform the five repetitions but is heavy enough to really make you work. Stay with the low reps and sets. You want to build strength, not just pump yourself up. These extra exercises are good but the most important thing is to train hard on your form and the power rack. If you are tired after your form and rack work, it won’t hurt to miss doing the extra exercises. These extra exercises are secondary to the form and power rack training. Do not tax yourself with these extra exercises just because they are on your routine. If you are fatigued and have to push yourself to get them done, forget the extra exercises for that day. Don’t defeat the purpose of rack training by overtraining.
As in advanced power rack training, you will include three press positions (bottom, middle, top) and three pull positions (bottom, middle, top). Instead of performing three squat position, you will do quarter squats on the rack and regular squats.
You must experiment to find the exact position that is best suited to you. The positions should be where your three weakest positions are in the press and pull. For example, if the second part of your pull starts to get hard at hole 10 on the power rack, then start the second or middle pulling position from hole 9. This is done so that when you are pushing or pulling you will be working within the weakest range of that particular area. This method will build strength from start to finish. As the poundages you handle increase, the range of movement you will be able to move the weight will decrease. Don’t let this worry you.
It isn’t necessary to push or pull against a pin. As long as you push or pull the weight as high as possible and hold it there for 12 seconds, you will be getting all the work needed. To start with, you should use a weight that is well within your limit. Don’t start off with your limit your first training session, but start low and gradually increase the weight until you reach your limit after about six or eight weeks. Then take a week off and start low again.
Power rack training is one of the best methods of training you will use during your lifting career. But, it is only as good as you make it. You must give it a fair trial. You must be willing to do what the routine calls for and then stop, even though your workouts seem short when compared to the routines followed by some of your friends. Concentrate so you can support the weight for the 12 second hold. Train, don’t strain. If you come to a weight you can’t handle, don’t pass out trying to lift and hold it, but instead drop the poundage back and stay with the lighter weight for a few days until you are strong enough to increase the poundage and still perform the exercise properly.
Following is an outline of the routine described in the preceding text. Work into it slowly and good luck.
Press: form work with 40-60% of limit.
Regular squats: 5 to 7 sets (including warmup sets) of 5 reps.
Power rack training: Bottom pull, middle pull, top pull, bottom press, middle press, top press. Each position is performed for one exertion only and held for 12 seconds.
One extra exercise of your choice: 3 sets of 5 reps.
Same as Monday except: Do snatch form work instead of press. Two extra exercises instead of one. Do quarter squats on power rack instead of full squats. The quarter squat should be for one exertion, holding just off the pins for 12 seconds after the weight is lowered from a standing position.
Same as Monday
Same as Tuesday
Work out on the three Olympic lifts.