Started Starting Strength at a gym today and when I came to the presses, I discovered that the power rack didn't have holes on the outside of the vertical members, meaning a loaded bar could only be inside the rack's frame.

Pressing inside the rack wasn't possible as the bar would hit the top members of the rack.

Now as I was only starting out, I could clean the bar up into the right position, but I fear as my press needs more weight, this won't be possible, or if possible, take available energy away from the upcoming presses.

I looked around the gym and could find no other piece of machinery to load a bar up at sternum height, and be able to walk under the bar to dislodge it.

I then checked out the only other two gyms in proximity, and they too had power racks that didn't allow a bar to be held on the outside the frame.

What's the solution here?


There are several different approaches I have found to deal with this very problem:

  1. Get your own squat rack for your house.
  2. Clean the bar from the floor.
  3. Get a spotter to help you.
  4. Use the bench press barbell rack so you are only cleaning from waist up.
  5. Use the steinborn lift.

Each of these has their own pros and cons, and you'll need to evaluate what is best for you given your circumstances.

  • 4. sounds very reasonable to me.
    – VPeric
    Nov 4 '12 at 15:50
  • @VPeric I actually tried that for a while, and honestly I found it more awkward than cleaning from the floor. Nov 4 '12 at 17:38
  • @DaveLiepmann Yes, your mileage may vary and some of these will be more awkward than others. I found it to be more comfortable by adding a dip for more momentum right before I clean from the waist.
    – Moses
    Nov 5 '12 at 4:10

I'd double check the rack to be entirely sure the pins can't be set outside the rack. Maybe I'd ask someone who works at the gym. Maybe the rack has holes on the side, and the pins can be turned backwards?

But let's assume you can't get a rack at chest height where you can press. Switching gyms is a fine option that sounds closed to you. Buying a power rack or squat rack could work too. But I'd probably just power clean the weight first.

I've had success with one clean followed by multiple presses. It's not particularly draining, since the weight you're pressing should be so much less than the weight you can comfortably clean. I've even found, as some trainers have noted, that cleaning the weight gets me better prepared to press it.

  • 2
    The ratio of weight from clean to press was my first thought reading the question too - you should always be able to clean quite a bit more than you can press for multiple reps. Interesting, however, that someone starting Starting Strength would know how to clean!
    – G__
    Nov 4 '12 at 16:10
  • Good point - I went by Wiki which had the clean starting in workout #2, but I've just checked the book and I should be substituting the deadlift for the first few weeks.
    – jontyc
    Nov 6 '12 at 4:49
  • I had a look this morning, Dave, and unfortunately the pins can't be adapted. The owner said just do seated shoulder presses inside the rack (but with no back support). This doesn't sound too good to me, it hurts me just visualising the bend forward to grab the bar.
    – jontyc
    Nov 6 '12 at 4:53
  • @jontyc That's a maximal bummer situation, hombre. My condolences. Nov 6 '12 at 4:57

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