Do Power Towers Build Muscle?

Do Power Towers Build Muscle?

The power tower is a piece of exercise equipment used to perform common bodyweight exercises.  Many of us envision that the only way to build muscle by doing heavy weight lifting.  We see and read everywhere that we must lift in order to become muscular.  This is far from the case.  People have been building muscle for decades without lifting heavy weights or using special equipment by doing bodyweight exercises.  Exercise equipment wasn’t even invented until the 20th century.  Using your own body weight as a resistance tool can help you sculpt and tone your body without weights or equipment.  The power tower helps you to target your upper body using your body weight.

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A power tower, also known as a knee-raise station or captain’s chair, usually has four workout areas.  The first is a pull-up bar, useful for doing a variety of pulling exercises.  Pull-ups and chin-ups target back muscles from all angles.  These exercises will also help tone your arms and core.  The second area, dip bars, are designed to work the triceps and shoulders, as well as the chest.  The third area is the push-up bars.  The raised bars give you a greater range of motion than you would have to do push-ups on the floor, thus allowing you to reach more muscles more effectively.  The final area is the vertical knee raise station which will have you doing leg and knee raises to work your core.  These four areas give you a complete upper body workout.  

These exercises are hard, especially if you’re a beginner, but they will help you break down muscle fibres and build muscle quickly.  If you are a total beginner, you might want to invest in a set of resistance bands to supplement your power tower workouts.  As your strength increases, you will need to use the bands less and less.  The type of exercises you do using the power tower keep your muscle fibres aligned at a more natural angle than typical gym machinery.  This lowers your risk of injury.  Because all power tower exercises are compound exercises, meaning you work for more than one muscle group at a time, you burn more calories in a single workout.

What makes the power tower super-attractive for home-gyms is that they don’t take up a lot of space.  Made in many different sizes, one is sure to fit in almost anyone’s home.  They target abdominal muscles, chest, shoulder, back, and arms, giving you a total body workout in only one piece of equipment.  Whether you want to lose weight, maintain your fitness without the gym, or solely increase your muscle mass, a power tower is a great option.  The ergonomic design of the power tower makes them less likely to cause injury than other high-intensity exercises.  Because you can work so many muscle groups using one, it offers you a chance to replicate a gym workout without owning multiple pieces of equipment.  

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Gaining muscle is dependent on many factors, including genetics, nutrition, your workout program, and rest schedule.  Genetics give you your basic body type.  Some people are naturally slim, some are naturally more muscular, and most people are somewhere in between.  Since we can’t change the body type we are genetically predisposed to, however, let’s focus here on the factors we can alter to help you build muscle.

Nutrition is crucial to changing your body, regardless of the type of workout you choose.  You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.  Seeing lasting change is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise.  We won’t go into excruciating detail here, but you can follow some basic nutritional principles to help improve muscle gains.  Focus on eating non-processed proteins, vegetables, fruits, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.  Keep portion sizes reasonable, and don’t overfill yourself.  Eat when you’re hungry, but keep snacking to a minimum, and don’t eat out of boredom.  Eating protein before exercise has been shown to help maintain or increase muscle size, reduce muscle damage, and boost muscle building capabilities by releasing amino acids into the bloodstream.  Any healthy protein source eaten within a few hours of your workout session will do the trick.

Rest is also key.  Muscle-building exercises inherently break down your muscle fibres.  That’s the whole point and the mechanism through which your body builds muscle.  Most muscle is actually built in your sleep.  So, it’s important to keep track of which muscle groups you’re working on and avoiding working on the same muscle groups two days in a row.

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So, if you have a power tower and are making progress building muscle, how do you ensure that you keep building muscle?  If you’re only lifting your body weight, your body will adapt.  This is why beginners often see huge gains but hit a plateau at some point.  Since you’re not increasing the amount of weight being lifted, you have to modify your workouts differently as you would when lifting dumbbells.  Once your muscles adapt to your current level of resistance or exercise, how do you modify a power tower workout to keep increasing your fitness level?  You can do this in several ways. 

  • Increase the number of sets or reps you are doing
  • Increase the intensity of your exercise, or take shorter breaks between sets
  • Use more callisthenics in your routine or change your bar grip to make it harder
  • Use one arm at a time instead of two

You can also get a bench with your power tower if you want to combine dumbbell exercises with your bodyweight exercises and change things up.

The effectiveness of a power tower workout at building muscle depends on a variety of factors, but the equipment itself is perfect for muscle-building.  It’s definitely worth considering for your home gym.