The term “home gym” can mean a lot of things, but when you picture an at-home setup based in physical fitness, you probably conjure up images of a filled garage with weight plates, dumbbells and, of course, a power rack in some far-off corner. These metal structures are a staple in any strength training regimen, allowing for plenty of muscle-building modalities with the added safety and stability built right into their silhouette.
But as is the case with all home gym equipment, not every power rack is constructed the same. From the steel used in manufacturing to the included safety components and beyond, there are certain factors to consider before adding one of these gargantuan structures to your home gym setup.
What to Look For in a Power Rack
Now, a power rack might seem like a pretty standard piece of fitness equipment at first glance, but much like barbells, there’s more to the structure than meets the eye. When looking at a power rack for your personal fitness needs, you should consider quality-based components like the structure’s makeup and mobility, as well as its potential for additional gear.
Most power racks will be constructed from steel, which provides exceptional rigidity and stability in comparison to other metals out there, but that steel can vary in terms of its durability. 11-gauge steel is the most durable due to its thicker composition than other, higher-gauged options. This can allow for higher weight capacities for weight plate storage and barbells at the racked position — i.e., your equipment is primed for more serious strength training sessions. If you’re concerned about how well your rack will hold up when placed under a heavy load, look for a rig that’s constructed from 11-gauge steel.
With that said, however, power racks constructed from 12-gauge, and even 14-gauge steel can typically withstand loads of 500 pounds or more, which should be more than enough for the typical fitness enthusiast. Power racks featuring this thinner steel can also be cheaper than their beefier competition, so it’s all about weighing which factors are most important to your training.
Fixed vs. Moveable
Now, a power rack is not the most mobile option of fitness gear, due to its larger footprint — and the fact that these structures can house hundreds of pounds of weight at once. With that said, though, some power racks are more maneuverable than others when it comes to setting up your home gym. Squat stands, for instance, take up less space than full power racks, and thus, are lighter in profile. Some racks even come with added wheels, making rearranging your garage environment much easier.
What you gain in flexibility, however, you lose in terms of stability. Most power racks, especially those with shallower interior depth, should be bolted to the wall or mounted to the floor for premium security. You’ll notice how stable your rack is when racking and un-racking the barbell, and trust me, there are few scarier instances when you rack a heavy squat post-lift and suddenly feel the entire structure rock forward. In my opinion, fixed power racks are the safer option here, but if you’re someone that needs to move equipment around often, or don’t have a secure training atmosphere, then moveable racks can be worth it — as long as you have other security features like blocks and bracing in place.
When speaking on a power rack’s versatility, you’re commenting on the additional add-ons available, meaning, what other fitness equipment can be set up across the structure. Some of the racks featured in this roundup can also serve as a pull-up bar, dip station, lat pulldown and more. If you’re tight on space, it can help to have one structure that doubles — and triples — its use through these additional pieces. Be wary, though, of adding all these features in one shopping cart — these add-ons, while convenient, can seriously pump up the price.
The Different Styles of Power Racks
When you search for a power rack, you’re likely to come across three terms: Power Rack, Half Rack and Squat Stand. While these are all similar in the fact that they’re all static structures designed to hold a barbell for squat training and other modalities, there are some differences that could impact your buying decision.
Squat stands are the smallest structures of the three, taking up the least amount of space without as much versatility. These structures are mostly intended for barbell squats and benching modalities, yet some offer pull-up bars and other add-ons. Because of the simplified construction, however, these are the least stable option. I’d recommend squat stands for those just wanting a squat rack, or those more experienced in serious weight training.
Half racks are the next step up and the first style implementing the cage structure often associated with power racks. These rigs typically feature less depth than full-sized power racks, thus carrying a smaller footprint. The open cage and heightened stability make this a great pick for novice garage gym lifters, especially those tight on space.
Power racks are the largest of the bunch, providing a full cage structure and premium stability. This style of rack offers the most versatility thanks to the added metal used in construction and can be great for those dedicated to strength training. Full-sized power racks, however, are an investment, both in space and cost, so make sure you have the room before purchasing.
How We Tested
As with any large piece of fitness equipment, testing out power racks can be a little difficult due to available space. While I didn’t have a warehouse full of squat racks at my disposal, I have had experience lifting in these impressive racks across my years of strength training. I’ve made mental notes regarding each rack’s positive features, as well as the build quality showcased in each silhouette. Additionally, it takes one session lifting in a poorly-constructed rack to make you think about the positive, more enticing options out there.
Now, brace yourself, load the bar and get ready to dive into these quality power racks built with performance in mind.
Titan Fitness T-3 Series Power Rack
Whenever I step foot in a gym and see the rigs are Titan T3s, I immediately know I’m in for a good training experience. The 11-gauge steel is damn tough and can take some serious weight, both on the rack and in storage capabilities. I also appreciate the fact that this rig features Westside hole spacing at the bench and clean zone, or one-inch spaces between holes as opposed to the standard two inches.
You can choose which depth is right for your home gym needs — the T3 is available in 24-inch or 36-inch depths — but be aware that if you want to use this for barbell squats, an extra purchase will be necessary. Pin and pipe bars are sold separately, albeit for less than $55.
Fringe Sport Floor-Mounted Power Cage
If your strength training workouts take on an emphasized vibe of “hanging and banging,” you need a rack that can withstand some torture. This sturdy power cage from Fringe Sport is more than ready, boasting a weight capacity of 1,000 pounds. Convenient plate horns at the side also give this stable structure some storage capabilities, too, at no additional cost.
With the impressive load capacities built right into this rig, however, the brand strongly recommends bolting this behemoth down for optimal stability. This makes sense, though — if you’re squatting hundreds of pounds, the last thing you want is to have your rack lurch forward at the end of your lift. If you’re not at these gargantuan totals, you could potentially get away with an unmounted setup, however.
Rep Fitness PR-1100 Power Rack
Power racks can easily topple the $500 mark, as seen in this list, but don’t think that cheaper options aren’t worth your time. The PR-1100 from Rep Fitness is more than capable of withstanding any training session thanks to its rigid steel construction and nearly four feet of interior cage depth. Additionally, the pin and pipe safety bars feature an extended profile, allowing you to rack the barbell outside of the cage for bench and pull movements, although the brand still recommends using J-hooks to preserve your barbell’s knurling.
The lone hiccup in this otherwise standout structure? Rust. Many athletes have noted that if stored in a humid environment, like an improperly-insulated garage or basement, this power rack can develop rust over time. This deterioration can compromise the security of the metal, and might not be the most visually appealing, either.
Sorinex Off Grid Rack
Power racks don’t always need to have a large footprint, and this minimalist rack from Sorinex is the perfect example of that notion. With two rack sides that can be customized to your desired width, the Off Grid Rack is prime for those DIY enthusiasts aiming to build their perfect home gym setup.
Outside of the customization — Sorinex still recommends a minimum 41 inches between each column — the Off Grid Rack also boasts a Peak bar storage, which turns any Olympic barbell into a pull-up bar while doubling as a convenient storage space. If you opt for this sleek, affordable setup, though, make sure to have the right tools available. If you want some added depth between you and the wall, you may need to add some bracer boards, adding some construction projects to your otherwise normal training regimen.
PRx Performance Men’s Elite Home Gym Package
Whereas the Off Grid Rack is definitely DIY, this all-encompassing setup from PRx Performance is more of a turnkey option. With included barbells, weight plates, benches and more, the Elite Home Gym Package is a great option for at-home athletes wanting everything at once. I really like how the rack folds up onto the wall, which gives this rig a convenient storage component while still creating that durable aesthetic.
With these perks outlined, however, I don’t recommend the Elite Home Gym Package for everyone. While it can be a great starter set, not everyone will need the included hardware like medicine balls, plyo boxes and more. There are other, cheaper options out there, and when you get more involved in gathering gear, you’re able to parcel a package together that truly fits your needs at similar prices.
Rep Fitness PR-4000 Power Rack
If I were to build out my ultimate home gym, this is where I’d start. With a bevy of customization options, including a slew of available colorways, no two PR-4000s are alike. I like the available options for safety features like J-hooks, squat straps and others, and the add-ons like a dip station and lat pulldown rig give this build that premium vibe.
As with any power rack offering this much personalization, though, you need to be mindful of your budget before checking any of the boxes in the builder module. Each component or feature adds to the cost, and you can easily get into expensive figures if you’re not careful. For example, the price above showcases a bare-bones power rack with an 80-inch height, 30-inch depth, weight storage (with horns), standard 1.25-inch pull-up bar, pin pipe safeties and flat sandwich j-cups. Even before adding a dip station or more specialized safety components, you’re looking at over $1,400.
ForceUSA MyRack Folding Power Rack
Folding power racks can be great for those tight on space, but oftentimes, need a mountable wall for optimal usability. This folding MyRack from ForceUSA works just as well as a standalone rack as it does when mounted, offering up even more versatility. Add in its 2,000-pound (storage) weight capacity and you’re looking at a serious training structure.
The ForceUSA MyRack Folding Power Rack also boasts 10 available attachments, adding to its training capabilities. Unfortunately, though, those add-ons include safety components like J-hooks and spotter arms, since these aren’t included in the base packaging. Still, if you don’t have ample room to house a normal power rack, this fold-up design can be the perfect solution to maintain your strength goals.
Rogue SM-2 Monster Squat Stand 2.0
If you just looked at the build statistics of the SM-2 Monster Squat Stand, you’d probably think you’re reading about a full-scale power rack. Appearances be damned, though, this monstrous squat stand packs all the stability features of a full-fledged rig in a space-saving profile. I’ve struggled to find a weak point in this squat stand’s structure, even just loading a barbell with 1,000+ pounds for rack pulls, never once noticing a budge or compromise.
If I had to give this squat stand a negative, it’s the fact that you can’t incorporate as many add-ons as a regular rack would house. The structure’s silhouette simply doesn’t allow for additional features like a dip stand or pulldown module, which is less a knock on this Rogue option and more so on all squat stands. Still, however, the SM-2 Monster does offer add-ons like the ever-popular Rogue Ohio Power Bar, plates and more for a well-rounded buying experience.
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