Fitness Gear Pro Half Rack / Full Rack – 2021 Reviews
When building a killer weightlifting gym in your garage, fitness gear pro racks are essential. These racks are designed to offer a secure launching pad for squats and bench presses, and help make loading and unloading the bar quick and easier.
They are also the safer option when working out alone. Almost all designs are built with a set of failure bars to catch the weight to prevent injuries. Failing under a heavy squat is pretty scary- even if you have a spotter. Plus, they are an excellent place to store your weights if you haven’t invested in a weight stack just yet.
In this guide, we have gathered some of our very favorite fitness gear pro racks to keep your workouts safe and engaging and help you push heavier weights.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 20 hours of research
Can use as a squat rack
High and low cables with pulleys
Doubles as a weight storage rack
8 Best Fitness Gear Pro Half Racks
1. Marcy Cage System
Can use as a squat rack
High and low cables with pulleys
Doubles as a weight storage rack
Some lifters may need more resistance capacity
Although not as big a name as Weider or Total Gym, Marcy makes a versatile range of home fitness equipment at affordable prices. This one wowed us with its stability and features.Read more
The steel frame will last forever and won't buckle under your most intense workouts. Powder coating adds to the frame's integrity and also keeps everything looking fresh and clean. Resistance is from free weights, with up to 220 pounds. You can also store up to 675 pounds of free weights, dumbbells, and kettlebells in trays and on pegs attached to the cage.
Typically, home gym pulley cages use weight stacks with plates and pins. The Marcy will appeal to those of us who prefer the more traditional feel of iron. Pulleys located in low and high spots let you work out your back, shoulders, arms, core, and legs--an entire gym worth of whole-body benefits. Squats are simple, and you can use your favorite barbell when you perform them. The cage is nice and roomy, so you get the freedom of movement to promote functional training.
Marcy offers an incredible 2-year limited warranty on the home gym cage when you buy from them.
2. Fitness Reality 810XLT
Easy to adjust
Works for deadlifts
Versatile pull up bars
Difficult to assemble
What we love more about this design from Fitness Reality is that it boasts a simple and strong design that clocks in at an affordable price point. It has adjustable features that accommodate not only a wide variety of users, but also a wide variety of lifts. You are able to adjust the placement of the catch bars for a personalized workout, and it can even be used for bench presses and even deadlifts.Read more
The most important feature of this simple design is that it is built strong and sturdy. It is able to accommodate up to 800 pounds of weight, making it the ideal choice for powerlifters. The catch bars run all the way to the floor, making it easy to use for safe deadlifts that won’t run the risk of damaging your floor under a failed set.
A small feature that many users really appreciate is the included pull-up back along the top. This bar provides users with the standard pull-up grip but it also has parallel bars to change up your pull-up routine to hammer curls that work a wide variety of muscle groups. The frame is also wide enough to accommodate any standard weight bench to make it safer to engage in bench presses without a spotter.
The best part about this sturdy design from Fitness Reality is that it comes in at a super affordable price point. It may not have all of the extra bells and whistles as some of the other designs we have seen, but the strong and simple design makes it the perfect fit for lifters that want to push heavy weights without draining their bank account.
3. Power Rack
1,000-pound weight capacity
Included weight storage pegs
What we love most about this design is that it offers a strong and sturdy cage to lift safely even without a spotter, and also includes a pulley system for varied workouts. This design costs a little bit more than other simple designs out there on the market, but the innovative design allows for more push-pull movements to provide a total-body workout in one simple machine.Read more
The most important feature of this cage is that it has adjustable pegs that allow the user to find the perfect launching (and potential failing) point. This makes it safer for taller or shorter lifters to launch at the perfect point for their build and allows for a higher failing point that can help cut down on injuries.
We also love that this design includes a rear pulley system to help to engage those smaller stabilizing muscles. Users can load up plates onto the dual pegs, and the lower curl bar is great for standing curls or bent-over rows. It also boasts a top bar which is ideal for lat pulldowns and chest presses.
If you are in the market for something that is a little more versatile than many of the standard racks out there on the market, this design is well worth the slightly higher price tag. We love that it includes a weighted pulley system for supplementary lifts, as well as adjustable pegs to accommodate a wide variety of users.
Easy to adjust
Rear dip handles
Small and compact
Limited weight capacity
This half-rack from Merax is great for those that don’t have a lot of room (or money in their bank account). Users love that the frame of this design is small and mighty. It works for a wide variety of basic powerlifting routines, as well as supplementary lifts as well. Plus, the ability to make quick adjustments makes it great for drop sets as well.Read more
What makes this half-rack unit is that it is able to be adjusted in a variety of ways. Users have the ability to widen or narrow the frame to accommodate different styles of bench presses. It even has a pair of dip bars along the back for quick supplementary lifts on your off days.
We also love that this design has a smaller frame than many of the full-size racks out there on the market. Even though it is much smaller, it is still a great tool for squats and bench presses. The only downside to a smaller design is that it cannot store as many weight plates, and it has a weight capacity of just 550 pounds (which is half as much as full racks).
Despite the lower weight capacity, this is a great option for lifters that need a strong and secure rack that comes in at a much more affordable price tag than many of the full-size designs out there on the market. What we loved most about the Merax design is that it is super easy to adjust, and accommodates a wide variety of lifts.
5. Marcy Stack
Built in rowing machine
No horizontal bench presses
Here is another offering from Marcy, with a multigym design for seated presses, leg curls, lat pulldowns and more. With a resistance of up to 200 pounds comes from a weight stack, you can quickly adjust your level of resistance with the pin. Marcy had safety in mind when it designed this stack gym. You get padded vinyl on all seats, pads, and rollers.Read more
Those pads include comfortable stability for your hands, arms, knees, and ankles. The pec deck tower lets you work different muscle groups by facing different directions, just like the pec units< at a commercial gym. There is even a metal cover on the weight stack and a lock to secure the stack in place, all for added safety. Construction is 14 gauge steel tubing, with industry standard powder coating. Weight plates are covered in vinyl, protecting both your hands and their own structural integrity in case you somehow get into trouble while adjusting the weights. The redundant safeties and ability to use very little weight make the stack suitable for kids and anyone who is new to strength training. Rounding out the bonus features, you can adjust the curl piece for any arm size, work your whole lower body with the leg attachment, and row to your heart's content with your hands in almost any position.
1,000-pound weight capacity
Resistance band loops
Pull up bar
Adjustable catch bars
Difficult to assemble
We were immediately drawn to the sharp yellow and black powdered-coated finish of this design from HulkFit. This design not only looks sharp, but it is also able to handle a higher weight capacity than many of the other designs out there on the market. Plus, it boasts additional features to help you engage in supplementary lifts for a full-body experience.Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this design is that it boasts a frame that is able to accommodate an impressive 1,000 pounds of weight on its solid-steel frame. We love that it has strong steel adjustable catch bars that you can switch out quickly to transition from bench presses to squats.
What makes this frame truly unique is that it boasts a pair of loops that allows you to affix resistant bands to add a higher challenge to your workouts. It also has a pair of varied-grip pull-up bars along the top to fit in some bodyweight exercises on your off days!
If you are in the market for something that is affordable, versatile, and built like a tank, this design from HulkFit is a great choice. We love that it is able to handle a high weight capacity, and includes helpful features to help you get the most out of your workouts.
7. LX Free
Six helpful accessory attachments
Padded nonslip safety grips/pads
Pushup assist attachment
Little information about the company is available
Back pad is smaller than the average lower back
A rigid fixed frame lets you do pull ups, dips, and a few other core moves using your own bodyweight and three sets of height adjustable bars. Safety and stability come first, with thick steel tubing for the frame. The foam rubber handles are tightly compacted, nice and firm with just the right amount of give when you place your hand on them.Read more
All the grips have nonslip material, too, so you can focus on your strength training without having to worry about balancing.
The upper chin up and middle dip bars move up and down the sides of the frame on this power tower. That means more versatility, and also accessibility for people of different heights. The push up assist handles, close to floor level, are fixed but also feature grips and padding. A small back cushion lets you push in and do leg raises with your chest and abs doing all the work.
The rubberized feet on the ends of the parallel bottom braces will protect your floor, but you still may want a pad under the Power Tower since your whole body weight rests on it during use.
8. Lifeline C1 Pro
Accommodates over 1,000 pounds
Great for squats and deadlifts
Deep catch bars
Easy to adjust
Looking for the best of the best and willing to spare no expense? This design from Lifeline offers everything that skilled bodybuilders or powerlifters need to increase those gains and is gimmick-free. This solid steel frame provides lifters with a high weight capacity, adjustable racks, and deep and sturdy catch bars that can be adjusted for not only squats but deadlifts as well!Read more
The most notable feature of this design is the ability to make small adjustments to the rack and catch bars. Many designs have few adjustment holes that don’t allow users to make small adjustments to the placement of the bars. We also love that the hooks run all the way to the ground, making this rack ideal for deadlifts as well!
It also hosts a few very important features that will make your life a lot easier. The rear of the unit offers three tiers of plate holders that are ideal when you need to quickly load and unload the bar for drop sets. It also has a top pull-up bar that is great for supplementary lifts, and it can accommodate well over 1,000 pounds!
The C1 from Lifeline is a great option for serious powerlifters. It is able to accommodate a high weight capacity and allows for small micro-adjustments to the height of not only the rack but also the catch bars that makes lifting heavy without a spotter at home incredibly safe. It may cost a little bit more than most, but we feel that it is worth every penny for those that are serious about hitting a new PR on the regular!
Criteria Used for Evaluation
A machine that can't accommodate everyone is seriously limited.
Nowadays, with every company under the sun offering health and fitness products, it is hard to think of any gear that you can't adjust for yourself. Yoga mats? Maybe. Even a fixed aerobic step comes with blocks you can put under it for a more intense cardio workout.
So, to earn our respect and the highest rating, any given piece of equipment had to distinguish itself with an extra dimension of adjustability.
As far as individual freedom of movement goes, it is tough to beat a cable machine. Every cable machine, even a lower end model, lets you experience as many planes of motion as you want. The only problem is that some cable machines won't adjust for extra tall or shorter than average users. Since we believe everyone deserves a chance to get fit, this was something we took into account.
Just like when you paint using a ladder, you don't want to sit or stand on a workout machine unless you're confident it can support you.
Humans come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of fitness. And that's okay. It is the fitness industry's job to meet us at whatever starting point we choose. It isn't the other way around. You should never have to contort or compress your body into weird angles just to get a leg workout, or whatever.
We prioritized machines that can support 300+ pounds of user weight in this buying guide. That was more important, for us than even the level of resistance. Those of us who need progressively more weight can look for machines with greater than 200 pounds of available resistance. Or, many of the best home gyms come with upgrade ability.
If you are going to give s piece of equipment a hard pass, it should be because it doesn't meet you halfway. You have the ability to shop around and find something that will fit you like a new sneaker.
Depending on your goals, an abundance of features may not be for the best. That's because, after a certain point, extra features add cost without adding value.
What good is a four-way leg station if you get all the leg strength you want from bodyweight squats or dumbbell lunges? Is it worth it to invest in six different attachments, each with its own price tag, if you never actually use them? We don't think it is.
The best pieces of equipment are the ones that place options over excess features. If you want to do more chin-ups than anyone on your block, you may be able to use a simple sturdy tree limb. You probably wouldn't want to, but you could.
So when we look for our next piece of gear, we can swipe past those luxury models that can do more than the average user will ever possibly need.
A good bench will support you so you don't have to work harder than necessary to lift the weight.
A bench that doesn't do that will set you up for injury and burnout. So will a pec deck, rowing machine, ab tower, or virtually any other structure that provides resistance training.
Even body weight machines, like the Power Tower, have to be supportive. You need those handles and bars to hold yourself up, so your arms and core muscles grow.
In this buying guide, we looked for equipment that can work in partnership with you. We all need something that will work with us, not make the work of getting fit even harder than it often is.
Functional fitness is the new norm.
What we mean by that is that single muscle group exercises are falling by the wayside. Why do arm curls, dumbbell rows, and lunges, all in one workout, when you can hit all those muscle groups at almost the same time using a multi-gym?
Functional fitness also has to do with the movements and resistance you move. For example, no human will ever need to lift 400 pounds from a seated position with their knees. We aren't saying leg curls and extensions have no value, just that a little restraint is in order.
So the machines on our list, the ones that made the cut, are the ones that are versatile enough to keep you interested without giving you a lot of unnecessary or potentially harmful exercises.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Plenty of die-hard gym lovers swear they will never give up their free weights. It's a respectable position, not something we would argue about. But we would like to push back against the idea that free weights are superior to weight stacks, simply because it encourages the belief that weight stacks aren't real weight training.
Weight stacks can do a better job of targeting specific muscle groups. You may need strong biceps for hitting softballs. A weight stack lets you do that, and it is easier making adjustments than it would be with a dumbbell.
Perhaps the greatest advantage to weight stacks, especially for beginners, is that you are not as likely to get injured. Weight stacks discourage hyperextension and encourage proper form, just by design, in a way dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells don't.
Finally, we say weight stacks are an appropriate replacement for free weights, if you want to switch, because you can change the resistance more easily and can learn to use new weight stacks faster.
Since so many of the machines on our list offer core strengthening benefits, it is a good time to talk about how not to work those abs.
Basically, the less your spine moves, the better. We are big fans of planks because the strength comes from immobilization. Side planks are good, too, but not always necessary if you just want to ward off illness and injury.
Sometimes, at the gym, we see people twisting their legs and trunks around, doing all sorts of crunch variations. Those moves are extraneous. There is really no functional benefit to moving in a way you never would in daily life. For example, if you need to change a tire, you aren't going to remove the old tire by lying on the ground, sliding the tire onto your belly, and shimmying your spine around until the tire comes off the wheel well. We are functional fitness devotees here and, more than that, proponents of healthy spines.
So stay away from ab exercises that force you into unnatural positions. The humble dip, plank, and sit up regimen is as much as most of us need.
Other Factors to Consider
Hard work comes with the territory if we want to increase and maintain our level of fitness. There is a fine balance in pushing out that next bench press (with a spotter) to reach a new level, but doing it in such a way that you know you won't be injured.
Uncomfortable equipment encourages injury. That's because, if you are focused on holding your body in a way that you hope will lessen the discomfort, you aren't focused on making each rep count. So we always prioritize comfort. Even a World's Strongest Man competitor is allowed to wrap his hands before he deadlifts a truck body.
We talk about range of motion quite a bit. It is important because a limited range of motion at the gym only leads to problems outside the gym.
Just as important as moving through the whole plane, though, is stopping when you need to stop. As we have said before, multi gyms and similar machines are good at preventing hyperextension.
Even a pulley or cable, which gives you total freedom, will have limits and will prevent you from moving it in a way that could hurt you or damage the equipment.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Can the pulley cables get twisted?
Yes. This is possible on even high-end machines with aviation level cables. It is usually because the pulleys are not able to spin as they should. You should check the pulleys periodically, when the machine is not in use, to make sure they spin properly.
If they don't, you may be able to put a thin coat of multi-purpose oil on them. Don't do that without checking the user manual, though. Not all pulleys are designed to be lubricated.
In the case of a completely twisted and unusable cable, you can remove the cable from the assembly and let it lie on the floor overnight so it can straighten itself.
If you have a problem with the cables, pulleys, or weight stack, and aren't sure how to fix it, call either the manufacturer or a reputable service company. If you have to pay for a repair, past the warranty period, that is still better than having a machine you can't use.
q: Is something like the Power Tower superior to body weight exercises?
We think so, simply because it gives you several core exercises to choose from, without you having to get down on the floor. Getting up from the floor can be a workout in itself, especially if you have any back or knee issues. Also, just knowing you can do an array of exercises can be enough to keep you motivated.
This is not to say that a Power Tower or similar unit it indispensable. You can make significant strength progress from old fashioned planks and other simple moves alone.
q: Can resistance band units take the place of actual machines?
Maybe, but it depends on the resistance bands. A low priced set of cords and straps is not going to give you the results of a multi-gym, but it isn't supposed to. The resistance bands that attach to doors, or whatever, are there to bridge the gap between more strenuous workouts, or to keep you active when you are out of your routine.
On the other hand, a properly used TRX suspension system, which is just a technologically advanced resistance band set, can give you amazing results without the use of any benched or weight stacks. We think, as usual, that the best set of resistance bands is the one that fits your needs and helps you get from where you are to where you need to be.
q: Why do we call cable machines functional fitness gear?
Because doing cable exercises favors those muscles we use the most in our daily lives, and also provides a natural and unobstructed range of motion, as opposed to some machines that can lock you in. It isn't that weight stack machines are wrong and cables are right, just that they exercise your body in different ways.
We think a mixture of time on multi gyms, cable machines, free weights, and body weights are the best bet for overall functional fitness, in most cases.
q: Do I need all the extra attachments for my new multi gym?
It's always up to you, but our gut feeling is to say no. If you are looking to build upper body strength, you will probably purchase something that can target those muscle groups in the first place. Thinks like preacher curl attachments are great for athletes in certain sports, but not always for the general fitness oriented user.
And don't forget, if you decide you need more options, the attachments will be there later for you to buy.
- Cable Machines Compared to Free Weights, Health and Wellness Website ,
- Functional fitness training: Is it right for you?, Consumer Medical Info SIte ,
- 8 Tough Exercises for Your Abs That Won’t Hurt Your Back, Fitness Magazine ,