If you've been a follower or fan of mine for a while, you know I love to strip. Weight stripping, strips sets, and stripping the rack are techniques I use quite often. These methods allow for a wide variety with limited setup (and space) and can help you add muscle mass, solve problems, fend off boredom, and break your personal best. Adding in these exercises and techniques won't make you tons of money on a paysite but will add fun and more options if you have limited equipment in your home gym.
Strip the Rack Rows
If you're afraid to scratch the paint on your rack, Strip the Rack Rows are not for you! If you view your rack as a tool and are willing to use it to get a stronger back, these rows can improve your deadlift. Many lifters can't keep their lats locked in when deadlifting, so the bar drifts away, resulting in a missed lift or a lighter weight feeling more difficult than it should be. Strip the Rack Rows will help you keep in a better position when done correctly.
Strip the Rack Rows will force you to pull back with your weight on your heels, much like a deadlift but with less potential to fall over. Not only will you be leaning back, but you will also be pulling the bar back into you from the start. Keeping the bar as close to the center of gravity while deadlifting is of major importance. So if you find yourself looking like a candy cane or the bar is way out in front of you, add this exercise into your training for a better deadlifting position.
Strip the Rack Overhead Press
I stole this one from John Meadows. It is not the same as using a smith machine as it does add some stability. The angle of this setup also allows you to drive your head through easier for a type of loaded stretching and improved upper back stability via serratus activation. Sets of 8-12 reps work great, and on occasion, a strip set can make for a huge pump in the shoulders. The key to this exercise is to drive into the rack while driving up. Driving into the rack will cause more resistance, so focus more on driving into the rack before adding more weight.
Strip the Rack Tricep Extensions
I get some elbow pain and some snaps, crackles, and pops when doing standard extensions. On the other hand, Strip the Rack Tricep Extensions leave me feeling like I had worked my triceps without the discomfort. These can be done with normal straight sets or as strip sets like this video. Just like the other strip the rack exercises, you must push into the rack for additional resistance. I have only used a straight bar but giving the long EZ curl bar might be worth a shot.
Weight stripping has been around for a long time. It started when lifters would lower heavy weights, and their partners would pull off a plate or a quarter from each side. The lifter would then explode to the top. This contrast provided good results, but it was a pain in the ass. It required two training partners who could time it correctly. After some time, weight releasers were invented. For whatever reason, they disappeared, collected dust, and this is where we stand today. I pulled mine out years ago to yield great results.
If you read the article Use Weight Releasers for a Better Bench, you know they can make your dynamic effort bench, for lack of a better word, dynamic. I believe this has to do with post-activation potentiation, but you can read about that in the previous article. With multiple ways to use the weight releases, I will not again cover the same application of the same tool in depth.
You'll use the releaser on the first rep of six, eight, or ten rep sets, then perform the same number of sets as the target reps. Use in place of traditional dynamic effort work. These cycles are done as either 6x6, 8x8, or 10x10. In the off-season or mass training cycle, run these cycles for more weeks in a row.
Start with six sets of six reps at 66-70 percent. This percentage should be light enough that on the last set, you can perform extra reps. Feel free to do as many as you can on that last set. If you complete all of the sets, next week increase the weight slightly and continue. If you do not make all the prescribed reps, lower the weight on the next workout and start with the next cycle. Move from six to eight to ten and back to six.
Sample Cycle for a 300-Pound Bencher
Week 1 - 205 6x6 ~68%
Week 2 - 215 6x6
Week 3 - 225 6x6
Week 4 - 235 (Not all reps were completed)
Week 5 - 185 8x8
Week 6 - 195 8x8
Week 7 - 205 (Not all reps complete)
Week 8 - 155 10x10
Week 9 - 165 10x10
And this continues until you miss and then start over with sets of six. When coming back to sets of six, start with 210, 220, and then 230 to break your record.
These are also great for deloads. Try waving up over three cycles and then start over after the twelve weeks. Every fourth week perform your rep work. If you get all the reps add weight and continue on the next deload. If you miss, drop the weight and up the reps/set to the next increment.
The example would look the same as above, except the weeks would be listed as week 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, and 36. This is a longer build but works great as it gives you more rep work through regular training cycles.
Strip sets, often referred to as drop sets, reduce the weight when near failure to extend the set out even longer. You can strip off bands, chains, or bar weight. Any barbell exercise can be done this way. When using chains, you can set the weight to always be the same at the bottom and harder at the top. Chains also allow you to do push-ups and lunge strip sets. No matter what you are taking off, strip sets will challenge you. Two to three drops per set should be sufficient for most people's needs.
Chain Strip Sets
This is a brutal chain strip set that Dave Tate performed back in 2013. Using the EZ chain loaders allows his training partners to pull off some chain when he's near failure so he'd continue his set. These sets will extend the work quite a bit and will push you just as much mentally as they will physically. Dave was four months post hip replacement, so don't get bent out of shape at his box height. He has always squatted high, and now he has a legit excuse.
Reverse Hypers® suck. High-rep Reverse Hypers® suck even more. Then there are 100-rep drop sets. Those are just sadistic. If you want to knock out your reps in one set, then give these a try. It may elicit a very strong sense of soreness the next day. Just be warned.
To be a good home gym stripper, you won't need to change your name to Cinnamon or slather yourself in glitter. It will, though, require tenacity and grit. Chasing strength and muscle mass comes with hard work. These methods above will challenge you and may solve the exact problem that is holding you back from a bigger total.