One of the most feared and avoided exercises is the barbell squat and your power cage is a perfect piece of equipment to provide safety and support. Squats target multiple muscle groups including quads, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals and calves. Termed as the "king" of all exercises it works more muscles than most popular exercises and the addition of weights/plates can make it more effective to increase overall strength and muscle.
One of our favorite websites/programs for Squats education is StrongLifts. They have done an an amazing job of putting together information for squat technique, safety and common issues. Their core program is called 5X5 and we encourage that you take a look if you are looking to build muscle or just want to try something new. When starting with any new exercise, technique and form are more important than the weight you can lift. Believe us, no one is judging. Start with a dumbbell, weighted bar or kettlebell and progress up once you are comfortable with the movement. As you start adding plates to the barbell, any deviation from the correct form can lead to injury, so please take it slow and steady.
Bench PressOne of the more traditional exercises on a power cage is the bench press. This primarily targets your upper body (chest, shoulders and triceps mostly). Start off with lying on your bench with your eyes under the bar. Grip the bar with a full grip which means you wrap your thumbs around the bar. Squeeze it hard enough so that the bar can't move in your hands. In terms of bench grip width, start by placing your pinky inside the ring mark on the bar (break in the knurling). Your forearms should be perpendicular to floor when the bar touches your chest. Just like any other exercise, start with the bar and work on technique.
Body Building has a great guide on how to bench press including common issues that can cause injury. Link: https://bbcom.me/2N0vll6.
Rack Pulls are a variation of the deadlift but performed from an elevated height. It targets the same muscle groups including glutes, hamstrings and back but is ideal for those who cannot deadlift from the floor. Start off by picking a height on your power cage and move the safety/dip bars to the desired height. Keep in mind that most safety and dip bars have a weight capacity so please consult your manual. The lower height, the more you will involve the glutes and hamstrings.
Once the bar is in position, grip the bar shoulder width apart. Push your hips back and keep your back straight while looking forward. Lift the bar by driving your hips forward and straightening your knees. Pull back your shoulders at the top of the lift and then reverse the movement down.
Barbell Rows are one the most popular back training exercises that focus on your upper back, lower back, hips and arms. Form is incredibly important because barbell rows are easy to cheat and can easily cause back pain. Stand with the bar over mid-foot in a medium stance that is slightly wider than your hips but narrower than shoulder width. Grip the bar just outside the width of your knees. You can widen or narrow the grip depending on the muscle groups you want to focus on. A great resource is Built with Science who provides a deeper look at muscle groups. You can also switch between an underhand or overhand grip. Next unlock your knees while keeping your hips high. This will help to keep your back neutral and not round out. Pull the bar up against your chest and return the bar to the floor. It's important that you want your upper back to do most of the work. If you feel that your hips are more engaged, it is a sign that you have too much weight on the bar.