How to Perform the Incline Press Inside Power Rack
The upper region of the pectoral muscles is sometimes underdeveloped in power lifters, or others who focus primarily on the flat bench press for chest development. Even power lifters need to develop the upper pectorals because it increases total bench press strength and prevents injury. And for the general lifter or bodybuilder it is important for aesthetics and total development.
One exercise that helps develop the upper pectorals is the incline press. This, like the bench press, can be done with a barbell or dumbbells. It can be done on a bench designed for the incline, a combination bench where the bench itself can be adjusted for an incline, or a stand alone bench that can be adjusted for the incline and placed inside a power rack. The incline should be between 20 and 40 degrees to get the most upper pectoral involvement.
To perform the incline press, place the bar in the rack or on the rack of the bench and load the appropriate weight. Lie down on your back on the inclined bench. If doing the lift in a power rack, place the safety bars about an inch below the bottom position of the lift. If performing it on a regular bench make sure to have a spotter you can trust. Grasp the bar firmly at about shoulder width (slightly wider will stress the pectorals more, while slightly narrower will focus the stress on the shoulders and triceps more.) Extend the arms until the weight is clear of the rack and then bring it out over the upper chest. This is the starting position for the lift.
Slowly bring the bar down to the upper chest, just below the clavicle. Due to the position that the bar touches the chest it is important not to bounce the weight. Once the weight touches the chest, press it up and slightly back until it is over the chin in a natural upward motion. Some people, to keep the tension on the muscles, do not fully lock their elbows out at the top and immediately begin the downward motion again as soon as the bar is within an inch of lockout. Whether you lock out or not, perform the upward and downward motion in a smooth controlled manner. Repeat this for the desired number of repetitions.
If doing the exercise with dumbbells, the motion and angle remain the same, except the weights are brought together at the top to get a tighter contraction and increase the range of motion. The barbell allows a little more weight to be used, but the dumbbells allow for a wider range of motion and a little more inner pectoral involvement. Either way, don’t let the upper pectorals lag behind, make the incline press an integral part of the total chest workout.
How to Perform Pullups From a Squat Rack
The pull up is an often underutilized exercise. Besides the dead lift, it might just be the best back developer around. For some early bodybuilders, their entire back workout consisted of pullups. For a heavier lifter, or someone who has not developed a solid base of strength, pull-ups can be tough at first. Partial pull ups or pull downs can be substituted until the strength is developed to do a pull up.
Pull ups are done from an elevated bar. Many squat/power racks come with a pull up bar incorporated into them. Pull up bars are also available that fit over doors or bolt into the wall. If the bar is not high enough to keep the feet from touching the ground in the bottom position, the knees can be bent. Pull ups can be performed with an overhand or underhand position. The overhand position targets the upper lats and upper back, while underhand pull ups hit the lower lats and biceps more.
To perform the pull up grasp the bar slightly wider than shoulder width for overhand pull ups or at or slightly narrower than shoulder width for underhand. You might have to stand on a box or stool to reach the bar. Once your hands are positioned on the bar, lower yourself down so your arms are fully extended and you feel a stretch in your back. You are now positioned to begin the pull up.
Start the pull up by pulling your shoulder blades back and downward as you begin to pull with your arms. Pull yourself up toward the bar in a smooth fashion until your upper chest is just below the bar. Hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then slowly lower yourself to the fully stretched position again. It is important to go through the full range of motion on each repetition, although a few partial reps at the end are okay to fully blast the muscles. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
For those who can not complete a full pull up, partial reps will help build strength. Assisted reps are also helpful to build up strength in these muscles. Provide a little help with your legs, just enough to complete the rep, on each repetition, gradually reducing the amount of help the legs provide. Before long you will be doing full repetitions with no help. No matter what you do to get this exercise into your routine, don’t neglect it, it could be the difference between a good back and a great back.