Hey everyone, this thread consists of photos and a review for Ralph Crepinsek's Hydraulic Power Hooks, which he will make to your specifications to fit your power rack: 1500lb.com Mine is a 3x3 Sorinex Base Camp rack. Crepinsek also manufactures his own line of specialty bars and power racks.
The bottom line is that I'm going to hate traveling in the future and training without this piece of equipment. Doing squats without a walkout in my very own rack is like Christmas come early twice a week. Mr. Crepinsek's hydraulic hooks inside a power rack combine the best features of a monolift and a power rack:
-Safety straps/bars in case of a miss or for working to failure
-Hydraulic jacks allow height changes for fully loaded barbell (over 1000 lbs can be moved)
-Allows squat training without walkout and bench training without a heavy partial barbell pullover
-Can be used with or without a spotter. Working solo, you get under the bar, push it up, and the hooks swing away on the counterweight to begin the movement. I did heavy squats on my own last week without the walkout beginning the sets, and walked the barbell forward to end the set. With a partner, he or she just pushes the hooks forward against gravity while you're in the up position to rack the barbell without walking it in.
-Allows use of chains and bands without any forward or backward drag when the bar is unracked
-Optional rollers (highly recommended) make centering a loaded bar easy.
I've used this rig for back squats, yoke bar squats, front squats, Zerchers, and bench press.
This is what was included in my order:
-2 custom Sidewinder J Hooks with bolts (these are attached to the rack with bolts, so changes are not as quick as with a typical drop in J hook. I don't really change my starting height for bench press though, so it's not too big a deal).
-2 Sidewinder 20" Hooks
-1 Full beam, custom length
-2 counterweight arms (the pieces that protrude perpendicularly from the full beam and cause the hooks to rotate away when the bar is unracked)
-2 vehicular hoist hydraulics
-2 brackets securing the hydraulics to the uprights
-2 rolling carriage pieces with rotating sleeves for the counterweighted full beam
-2 small levers to adjust the hydraulics
To move the hooks up, you remove the safeties and pump the hydraulics to extend the pistons and make the carriage roll up the uprights. To lower the hooks, I set my hitch pins at my desired height for the bottom of the carriage, and release the hydraulic pressure valves (slowly) until the carriage lowers and is resting on the hitch pins. Then, I put the hex bolt through one of the carriage holes as a safety measure. The way I'm doing it is a bit OCD. The hydraulics could hypothetically lose pressure and cause the carriage to drop, and using two steel safeties on each side is just a gesture of redundancy for safety.
I made a couple of minor modifications on the assembly. I placed some strategic velcro patches to protect the paint from barbell scratches and from the minor impact of the counterweight swinging forward. I threw in some washers where the bolts are long enough to distribute the tension better. In one of the photos you'll see some paint scratches I made in my mad dash to get the thing unwrapped and installed.
Like almost all of the gym equipment I've accumulated, this thing came with absolutely no assembly instructions, either written or illustrated. Situation normal. I copied mine based on the website photos.
If you're on the fence, do yourself a favor and buy one. If you're training with heavy squats, your spine will thank you for not walking backwards with a heavy weight, torquing your vertebra forward and side to side. I've been squatting weights with this equipment that I wouldn't be able to with the necessity of a walkout.
Notwithstanding the ergonomics factor, it's just the coolest piece of gym gear I own.