Power tower exercises for the upper body


15 Best Power Tower Exercises

A power tower fitness station is a very non-complicated piece of equipment that provides various workout options without using weights. Therefore, all power tower exercises have one important thing in common – they are all pure body-weight exercises. This immediately implies that they’re all compound (multi-joint) movements that leave no muscle behind.

If you decide to use the power tower in your training this post will be useful to you. Here you’ll find detailed instructions for the most common exercises performed on a power tower.

You can build a perfect upper body workout from these 15 basic exercises, providing you do them correctly & with sufficient training volume (i.e., sets & reps).

The fact that the only weight being used is that of your own body shouldn’t be viewed as a disadvantage. Even the simplest body-weight exercise can be easily modified to challenge any fitness level and can be progressed or regressed to meet your individual needs, reducing the risk of injury. Yes, if you’re not strong enough, lifting your own body-weight may prove difficult. However, all of these exercises have either easier versions that you can do, or have ways you can assist yourself using bands.

Power tower back & biceps exercises

Chin-ups/pull-ups are great for building muscle in our entire upper bodies, and are also excellent for stimulating biceps growth, especially if we do them with an underhand and/or neutral grip and a full range of motion. This will stimulate your biceps growth much more than any other typical biceps exercise like barbell or dumbbell biceps curls.

Power tower pull-ups

Power tower pull-up is an exercise that gives shape to your back and builds strength in your entire upper body. Pull-ups are particularly good for those strapped for equipment or space because all you need is a sturdy bar or beam that will support your weight.

You can either jump or use a step to reach the power tower pull-up bar. Grasp the upper handlebars
roughly with an overhand grip (both palms facing away from you), slightly wider than shoulder width. Before starting the pull-up, make sure you are hanging still, and not still swinging from getting into position. At the starting point, your arms should be completely straight.

power tower pull ups exercise

Pull yourself up, lifting your chest toward the bar as you pull. Use as little momentum from your lower body as possible. When your chin is at handle level, you have done a complete rep. Slowly straighten your
arms to lower your body back to the starting position.

What if you can’t do a single pull-up?  Almost all coaches will recommend using a band wrapped around your knees – resistance band assisted pull-ups. The tension in the band will help lift your body while you drag yourself towards the top position. Also, you can start with negative, or eccentric reps: jump to the top position of the move and lower yourself as slowly as possible for two or three reps. Once you can make a single “down” rep last 20-30 seconds, you should be able to manage at least one quality pull-up.

Power tower chin-ups

Power tower chin-ups mainly work your back, but also strengthen your shoulders and biceps. The difference between pull-ups and chin-ups is minimal – no more than a grip change. However, this simple feature affects the nature and the difficulty of the exercises. Chin-ups are slightly easier to perform since you get the assistance from your biceps. You’ll probably be able to do slightly more reps of this move than the pull-up.

Simply jump or use a step to reach the pull-up bar. Grasp the upper handlebars roughly shoulder width apart with both palms facing you (underhand grip). Straighten your arms. Before starting the chin-up, make sure you are hanging still, and not still swinging from getting into position. At the starting point, your arms should be completely straight.

Power tower chin-upspower tower chin ups underhand grip

By bending your arms, pull yourself up toward the handles until your chin is about level with your hands. Pause briefly and lower yourself back down to the bottom position, still keeping a firm grip on the handles.

Too hard for you to handle your own body weight? Make this exercise much easier using an extra thick or wide resistance band that hooks over the handles and provides support.

Power tower neutral grip pull-ups

Most power tower fitness stations will have handles for a wide grip, overhand grip, or a palms in
parallel grip – palms facing together (in bodybuilding terminology we call this neutral grip). So in order to do this power tower exercise you will choose the last grip – neutral grip. By holding the handles with your palms facing each other instead of towards you will put more focus on your biceps, forearms and the front of your shoulders. However, this exercise still mainly work your back muscles.

Grab parallel-grip chinning handles on your power tower fitness station. Begin by hanging straight down to the floor with your arms extended. Let your legs hang straight or you can bent them at the knees with your feet crossed at the ankle.

Power tower neutral grip pull-ups

Start pulling yourself towards the bar until your chin is about level with your hands. Pause for a moment at the top before slowly straightening your arms to lower your body back to the starting position.

Too hard for you? Make this exercise much easier using an extra thick or wide resistance band that hooks over the handles and provides support.

Power tower chest & tricep & shoulder exercises

Dips are a great exercise to work your chest, shoulders, and triceps. If you have difficulty doing them, set up a box underneath you so you can support your weight or try doing assisted dips using resistance band. And remember, dips are the best exercise there is for building massive triceps.  In order to have a well developed chest, performing chest dips is a must! Chest dips are an excellent alternative to the decline barbell/dumbbells bench press.

Power tower triceps dips

Situate yourself on a power tower dip station so that each hand is on a dip bar, arms fully extended and elbows locked. Your palms are  facing in (neutral grip). Your body should be hanging between the dip bars. Keep your legs and the bottoms of your feet pointed straight down to the ground, tighten your abdominals and glutes, and keep them tight throughout the movement.

Power tower triceps dips

Keeping your arms close to your body, bend your elbows and slowly descend (minimize the amount of forward lean) until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Push yourself back up until your arms are straight, elbows unlocked. It is very important to keep arms pinned close to the body throughout the exercise to keep the stimulation in the triceps. Keep your head up at all times to prevent you from leaning forward. Note that leaning forward makes this more of a chest exercise than a triceps exercise. To help you maintain an upright posi­tion, look up throughout the exercise. The more upright you are, the harder you work your triceps.

In the lowered position, you may quickly touch your flat feet to the ground, but keep the weight on those triceps muscles; don’t go too deep and do not rest.

If body-weight triceps dips are too difficult for you try doing assisted dips using resistance band – this variation allows you to practice dips without having to lift your entire body weight.

Power tower chest dips

The more the chest (torso) is angled forward during the exercise, the more the inferior fibers of the pectorals are used. Conversely, the more vertical the chest, the more the triceps brachii will be used. Furthermore, your head position is critical. Here you want to keep your chin down near your chest.

Grab the parallel bars of a power tower dip station and lift yourself so that your body weight rests on your hands. Keep your arms straight but not locked. Bend your knees and cross your ankles.

Power tower chest dips

Keeping your elbows close to your sides, lower your body for a count of three seconds until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Be sure to keep leaning forward or the exercise focus will shift more to your triceps. Also, the wider your grip, the more the exercise will work the chest, and the less it will work the triceps.

Again, if body-weight chest dips are too difficult for you try doing assisted dips using resistance band – this variation allows you to practice dips without having to lift your entire body weight.

Power tower incline push-ups (press-ups)

Power tower incline push-ups are easier than the flat push-ups but they still teach you to keep a strong core, so it’s a much better way to progress to the full move than doing push-ups on your knees.

Begin in the press-up position. Lower down, keeping your elbows tucked in to your body (elbows pointing back rather than to the sides). Get into a press-up position with your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart, on a box, sofa, table or wall. Keeping your abs braced, lower your body until your chest touches the surface your hands are resting on. Then press back up.

Power tower incline push-ups (press-ups)

Most of the machines comes with fixed bars, but there are a few which let you increase or decrease the level of the bars. It is really useful since you can raise or reduce the resistance.

Power tower abdominal & core exercises

Power tower allows you to perform different knee and leg raises that are very powerful moves for core strength. These exercises are better than the abdominal exercises we usually do on the floor, such as crunches, sit-ups and others because the resistance is much higher.

Forearm supported straight leg raises

While you can do leg raises hanging from a power tower pull-up bar this soon becomes wearing on the hands. In this case it’s a good idea to use a hanging leg raise chair of a power tower (ab/dip station). This will take the stress away from your hands and place it where it should be – in your abs. The leg raise chair has a cushioned backrest and support pads to rest your forearms on as they take the weight of your body with your legs hanging below.

Place your elbows and forearms on the padded bars, with your hands in front of you, and grab the handles at the ends of the bars. Your back is against the back rest. Keep your legs extended (your knees should be soft rather than locked) and together. Your entire body is completely straight. This is your starting position.

Forearm supported straight leg raisesKeeping your legs straight, lift your legs up as high past parallel with the floor as possible by flexing at the waist while rounding your lower back to bring your glutes forward and up.

The key with the leg raise is to roll the hips up and around, bending from the waist rather than only raising the legs. Since one of the major functions of the abs is to bring the rib cage closer to the pelvis, if you simply raise the legs by bending only at the hip joint, you’ll only use the abs isometrically (without moving). By rolling and raising the hips up and around, you will more strongly involve the abs and you’ll get a more effective workout.

Also be careful not to swing your legs out in front of you as you’ll be using your hip flexors and momentum to get you where you want to be rather than engaging your abs.

Parallel bar knee raise

Place your forearms on the padded bars, with your hands in front of you, and grab the handles at the
ends of the bars.

Flex your knees and hips 90º or more and raise your legs while maintaining this position, so that your torso rolls up, lifting the lumbar region. The idea is to bring the pelvis closer to the chest. Breathe in as you lower your legs and out as you raise them.

power tower parallel bar knee raise

Oblique knee raises on a power tower ab station

Another variation on the standard leg raise works the obliques.

Start off by stepping in between parallel bars and placing your arms on the rests allowing your legs to hang and extend down below you.

Slowly lift your knees up to one side as high as you can. Do this by curling your mid-section from the bottom up, not simply by lifting your knees. Squeeze your lower abs and obliques at the top of the movement for a one-count. Slowly lower and repeat on the opposite side.

Oblique knee raises on a power tower ab stationIn other words, go for the normal bent knee raise but as you raise your leg twist your body to the side so that at the end of the movement your feet are sideways on and perpendicular to the floor.

Power tower hanging knee raises

This power tower exercise is a good movement to build strength for straight-leg hanging raises (instructions below).

Hang from a bar with your legs fully extended.

Use the muscles of your lower abs to raise the knees to the chest, letting the hips move forward as the knees pass the 90-degree angle. Your feet should hang down below your knees. Then lower them in a
controlled motion back to the starting position. Repeat.

When your legs are fully extended at the bottom of the movement, don’t rest down there—bring the legs right back up for the next repetition.

Power tower hanging knee raises

Power tower straight-leg hanging raises

The leg raise works the front of your abdominal muscles, as well as the sides of your abdominal muscles and your hip flexors. This is a great exercise for strengthening your entire abdominal area, and is particularly useful for flattening the lower portion of your stomach.

Hang from a power tower pull-up bar with your legs fully extended.

Power tower straight-leg hanging raises

Using your lower abdominal muscles, raise your legs, keeping them straight (knees unlocked) until they are perpendicular with your upper body (90-degree angle). Then lower them in a controlled motion.

You can also try to raise your legs (knees unlocked) past the 90-degree angle until your feet are level with your chin. But it is OK if this is too hard for you.

Hanging hips-ups

Start by hanging from a bar with your legs fully extended.

Rotate your hip clockwise, raise your knees perpendicular to your body, then raise your hips toward your rib cage. Lower your knees back to starting position. Repeat the movement to the opposite side. Continue the movement until you complete your set.

This exercise will increase your oblique activation.

hanging knees up obliques

Hanging toes to chin-up bar

Start by hanging straight down from a power tower pull-up/chin-up bar with a shoulder width grip. Palms can be underhand or overhand (recommended).

With knees just slightly bent raise your legs up until they touch the pull-up bar, while actually curling your pelvis as well.

Hanging toes to chin up bar on power tower

Power tower hanging windshield wiper

Grasp a pull-up bar with an overhand grip.

Take a deep breath and contract your abs to raise your legs all the way up with a slight bend in your knees. You body should now look like a “V”. Slowly lower your legs to one side (about 90-degrees) while keeping your torso facing upward. Raise your legs back up to the starling position and then lower them to the other side.

Power tower hanging windshield wiperPerform this exercise only if your power tower station is stable enough. Lowering your legs to one side may cause potentially dangerous situation.

Power tower sit-ups

In order to perform this exercise you’ll need a power tower that comes with adjustable sit-up bench.

Set your bench to the desired decline (if the power tower bench is adjustable) and secure your feet in the pads. Start the movement sitting all the way up, looking straight ahead. Place your hands either across your chest (easier) or with your fingertips at your ears (more difficult).

Without moving your hands, lean back on the bench until your upper back touches the bench at the bottom position. Make sure that you are only touching, not settling. Sit back up, pulling yourself up with your abdominals and hip flexors.

Power tower sit-ups

The key point here is to raise the torso while slightly rounding the back to better focus on the rectus abdominis. So you should definitely avoid keeping the torso rigid throughout the movement.

Putting it together: power tower exercises

More or less those are the exercises that the power tower can offer you. Power tower exercises can be an incredible way to work out if you use them to their full potential. They’re hard to start, but as you progress, you will see really big improvements, with functional strength increasing too. Power tower workouts should be, for the most part, full-upper-body workouts. Even if you are a beginner you will be able to perform all these power tower exercises effectively with the use of some useful tips and tricks.

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