Power Rack Squat Rack Guide
updated January 17, 2019
- Pro tip: Make sure to read til the end of the article for a special offer
No matter how advanced, how expensive, or how big your home gym has become... it will NEVER be complete with out a power rack.
I like to keep things simple here at GarageGymBuilder, simple and to the point.
So I'll just get right into it. If you want to save yourself a lot of time and headaches, the Rogue R4 is the go to rack 99% of home gym builders. You can definitely find racks with more features, like the Rogue R-6, or less expensive, smaller options like the RML 390F, but if you're looking for the overall best value power rack, you'll definitely want to check out the R4 from Rogue Fitness.
Now if you'd like to keep shopping and see what else is on the market... I've included every rack you should consider below, with a brief analysis. If it's not here, it's probably not worth considering.
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If you're in a hurry, check out our top 10 ranked Power Rack Comparison Chart
Best power racks and squat racks by Price
PRICE RANGE: $1000
PRICE RANGE: $600 - $700
PRICE RANGE: $500 - $600
PRICE RANGE: $300 - $400
PRICE RANGE: $200 - $300
PRICE RANGE: $100 - $200
Top 10 Best Power Racks Review
Power Rack Frequently Asked Questions
What Other Equipment Will I Need to Buy?
Housing the Power Rack is one thing, but you also need to think about all the other equipment that goes along with it. You are going to need to make space for weights and other sorts of equipment that goes around the Power Rack.
Remember the barbells are Olympic Size, which means they’re quite long. I will write more here later but for now, check out our FAQ that should answer most of your questions in terms of equipment you'll need, and which options are best. See FAQ HERE
How to choose a Power Rack?
What to Ask Yourself When Deciding on the best home power rack for you?
A Power Rack workout plays a significant role in any exercise program. But before you make this kind of investment and purchase a top rated power rack, you need to take certain things into consideration.
Do I Have Enough Space?
To determine whether or not you have enough space you need to measure the Power Rack you have your eye on. Then carefully measure your floor space to see if the Power Rack will fit there.
Don’t forget to measure the height of your room up to the ceiling, as a Power Rack is no small piece of equipment.
If your ceiling isn't high enough it just isn't going to work, especially since you need to have room enough for your head to fit above the Power Rack when you do chin-ups and pull-ups.
Do I Have Space For Additional Equipment?
You can’t have all this equipment rubbing against your walls. Think about whether there is adequate space in your room for the bar to be lowered onto the rack. If not you would have to move around awkwardly carrying heavy weights and bars.
So picture how you will actually be using all the equipment and make sure you have ample space for everything.
It can be extremely annoying to go to all the trouble and expense of buying a Power Rack, only to realize after its all set up that you’re missing some of the most important accessories.
Do your homework ahead of time, reading all the information on the different Power Racks so that you make the right choice. Make sure the one you choose includes all the accessories you want before you actually make your purchase.
How Can I Tell Which Size is Best for Me?
The correct size Power Rack will be different for a man over 6’ 3” than for a woman under 5’ 5”. Again do your homework ahead of time to make sure you do not choose one that is either too small or too large.
Look at all the dimensions and make sure that the squat cage is large enough for you. The shorter and narrower it is, the lower the price usually. But don’t let price be a consideration when determining the correct size for you.
Can I Anchor My Power Rack to the Floor?
If you plan on doing chin-ups and pull-ups your Power Rack had better be solidly anchored to your floor. However not every Power Rack has this option, so you decide how you’re going to use it and make sure you’re going to be safe.
How Easy is It to Use and Adjust?
Before you make your purchase make sure you know exactly how to use a Power Rack and that you’re able to easily make all the adjustments. Some come with a safety system that uses pins and for some people adjustments are difficult to make.
Do your homework reading all the reviews online and see what real users have to say about the ease of use.
Does the Power Rack Come With a Stabilizer?
Some Power Racks do not need to be anchored to the floor and instead may come with a stabilizer bar. At times this bar can be annoying, as it seems to be in the way and can possibly cause an injury.
You must look to see if the Power Rack you are thinking about has a stabilizer bar and if so look at it carefully and consider whether you want it or not. If it isn't removable or at least flush to the floor, you may want to pass.
Shipping a Power Rack
This is a huge piece of equipment. Because it’s so heavy and cumbersome, it can be very costly to ship. You also have to consider how you’re going to get it inside.
Before you buy, ask:
- How they intend to ship it.
- Will it come in parts that need to be assembled once inside your home?
- Or does it come all in one piece?
- If so how will it fit through your doorways?
- What will the shipping costs be or do they provide free shipping?
If the cost of shipping the Power Rack is going to be nearly as much as you’re paying for the rack itself, you may want to reconsider.
What else should I pay attention to when buying a Power Rack?
Here are the essential points to look out for when buying a power rack . . .
Remember that it’s not just the height of the rack that you have to account for. You will probably be doing overhead pressing work as well as pull ups. This requires extra headroom. For that you’ll need high ceiling along with a high rack that allows you to stand while do overhead presses (7.5 feet or higher).
When it comes to your pull up and chin up work, you need enough clearance so that your head can get above the bar.
You need to be sure that your rack is able to handle the force that you will be throwing around. All racks have a max weight rating. For beginner, look for a 500 pound rating, while more advanced trainers will want at least a 1000 pound capacity.
As a bonus, look for a rack that has weight pegs to allow you to rack your weights. This will also act as a stabilizing factor for the rack.
Band training is an increasingly popular form of weight training. Band pegs allow you to conveniently hook bands onto the rack when doing your squats and presses.
Hole spacing on the uprights does make a difference. The cheaper racks will generally have 2 inch spacing. This doesn’t allow you to get very precise in your bar placement. One inch spacing is much better. The ideal is to have what is called Westside spacing. This involves having one inch spacing through the bench press zone and one inch spacing above and below that area.
Remember, that the shorter the spacing between holes, the more you are able to work precisely to your body measurements.
Most power racks will provide you with a single pair of j-hooks. J-hooks are the hooks that the bar sits on before you lift it off the rack. The better racks will provide you with a second set, so you can have two bars set up at the same time.
Having an extra pair of pins will also allow you set up a restricted range of workout motion.
Power racks vary greatly in their inner workout dimensions. The minimum width of the rack will determine how much room you have to move around. Certain exercises, like wide stance squats will require more room so you need to account for that. As a guideline, you really don’t want less a 40- inch minimum width. It would pay to measure the width between the outside of your feet when squatting at your max width to make sure that you won’t be cramped.
You also need to make sure that the room inside the rack is sufficient to allows you to do exercises like flys on a bench within the rack – and to drop them without smashing into the sides of the rack.
Power Rack Alternatives
If it turns out that your house will just not accommodate the size of a Power Rack there are other alternatives. Should you buy a Smith Machine or perhaps a Bow Flex?
Well, I wouldn’t recommend those if you are aiming for good results. Keep in mind that nothing provides better results than using free weights.
Best Half Racks
For those without a high ceiling this can work well. It is shorter than a Power Rack and a lot less expensive. But if you need a pull-up bar, you’re out of luck with this piece of equipment.
If you are interested in trying out a Half Rack instead check out the Rogue HR-2 Half Rack.
The Rogue HR-2 Half Rack is an abbreviated version of the full on Rogue rack that is ideal for confined spaces and restricted budgets. This rack has a 2 x 3 inch base, topped by 3 inch by 3 inch, 11 gauge steel uprights. There is plenty of walk in room to perform your heavy lifts. Rogue allow you to choose the height of your uprights, with options between 90 and 108 inches o9n the front uprights and 70 and 90 inches on the back ones. A pair of Monster Lite j-cups are included as standard, as is a 43-inch single skinny pull up bar.
Your purchase of the Rogue HR-2 Half Rack is protected by Rogues lifetime warranty.
The truth is this is not much different than a Power Rack with the barbell attached. It seems safe to assume this would be even safer than a Power Rack, but it’s really not.
The other downside to this piece of equipment is that it is dramatically less effective in getting results than free weights because the user isn't working the stabilizer muscles trying to keep the bar level. We honestly do not recommend this piece of equipment at all.
The Marcy Combo Smith Machine is full home gym set with a smith machine as its central piece. It also features a cable cross-over, pec dec, flat, incline, decline bench and chin up bar. The smith machine glides very smoothly and locks out effectively. This unit also has a very solid frame along with aircraft quality cabling.
This is fundamentally an open Power Rack really. It is slightly smaller, but keep in mind it isn't as safe as a Power Rack and this is because they don’t usually come with pins. When they do, they aren't adjustable.
The top of the line squat rack really doesn't hold a candle to a Power Rack.
This is another option that would be smaller than a Power Rack. But, they tend to be unstable and have been known to tip over if the user isn’t careful. They also do not come with safety pins.
But people have used sawhorses instead of safety pins and I suppose there are other types of equipment that could serve this purpose as well. For more information check out our article on the differences between squats vs power racks.
Best Squat Stands (2019)
If you simply don’t have the room, or the budget, for a full power rack, there are some great squat stands out there worthy of your consideration.
With 12 different peg settings, this affordable squatting option can also be used for benching and shoulder pressing. The York FTS also provides two plate storage pegs.
The York FTS is an impressive entry level squat stand for novice lifters that will offer safety and reliability as they master their technique.
Squat Stand vs Power Rack
The Squat Stand
A Squat stand is a device specifically designed to support the weight when you are performing variations of the squat movement. It consists of two adjustable metal stands which support a barbell.
You position yourself under the bar and lift it off the stands before stepping back and performing the exercise. After the last rep, you replace the bar on the stands. There are a huge number of machines which mimic the execution of a squat using the squat rack.
Many bodybuilders and powerlifters prefer to use a squat rack with a free weight because it increases balance, works the stabilizer muscles of the core more effectively and feels more natural.
Squat Stand Positives
A quality squat stand will cost you between $300-500. This is easily less than half the price of a power rack of comparable quality.
A squat rack has a relatively small footprint in comparison to a power rack. A typical squat stand will fit into a corner whereas the power rack requires at least a cubic meter of space and a rather high ceiling to accommodate it.
The Power Rack
A power rack (or power cage) is a device which is designed to allow for spotter free safe weight training using a loaded barbell. It consists of four upright metal posts connected by horizontal framing to form a cage.
Two of the uprights feature catches for the bar to sit on at a variety of heights. There are also two horizontal bars which can be set at various heights as safety stoppers for the bar being lifted.Many power racks also feature extra stations to allow for a wider exercise selection. Typically these will include a chin up station and a dip station.
If you are looking to equip your home gym, you need to ensure stability and safety when working out. As squats are the undisputed king of weight training movements, you clearly need either a power rack or a squat stand to make your gym complete.
Power Rack Positives
Power Racks were specifically designed to be used with free weights. When you workout with free weights you can become stronger and build more muscles than by working out on a machine alone.
When working out with free weights you are required to use your primary muscles as well as your stabilizing muscles. Using both a Power Rack along with free weights will give you much better results than just using the machine alone.
Power Racks have safety pins on each side that can be set according to your needs. They are there to stop the barbell in the event that something doesn’t go as planned. This safety feature allows you to do your workout without needing a spotter.
If something happens, you can just let go of the bar and the pins are there to catch and stop it. You’ll simply be able to walk out from the rack, or slide out if doing bench pressing type movements.
Power racks are generally far more robust and sturdy that squat stands. When you are going into the heavy zone, you need to have utter confidence in your equipment. The power rack will give you that assurance more readily than any squat rack.
To have a good workout you will want to be doing a lot of different exercises. The squat rack will allow you to do squats in all of its manifestations.
Inside a power rack, however, you can perform squats, along with deadlifts, bench presses, inverted rows, dips, chin ups, rack pulls, upright rows, barbell curls along with many other movements.
If you want to gain muscle mass and build strength you will want to include squats in your workout. Without having a power rack it is nearly impossible to get the bar up and on your back.
But what’s worse, trying this could lead to an injury because you might use an improper method or form. But by using a Power Rack, squats and other exercises can be performed quite easily.
Disadvantages of a Power Rack
Make no mistake a Power Rack is an incredible piece of equipment for getting great results from working out. It’s a winner when it comes to a home gym. But to be honest there are some problematic issues that people need to consider.
This is a huge piece of equipment to have in your home. You will need a large room to house it and all the other equipment that comes with it. Your ceiling must be high enough to give you head room when doing pull-ups and chin-ups.
Because it’s a given that you will have to buy more equipment, the total cost of a Power Rack will be more than you would spend on many other pieces of workout equipment. Power Racks are more costly than a squat stand would be on its own.
Looking for a good Squat Rack with Bench Press combo?
Our favorite squat and bench rack combination is without a doubt the Rogue 90-Inch Monster 3 x 3 Power Rack. This heavy duty beast features 3 x 3 inch high grade steel framing, Westside hole spacing and comes with a multi grip pull up bar.
The Powerline PPR 200X olympic bench and squat rack also impressed us, with its high end specs, generous interior room and reliable safety supports. The best value rack we found was the Valor Fitness BD7.
It is a full spec power rack that allows you to perform squats and presses with absolute confidence and at a price that won’t break your budget.
To make it easy for you to compare the Top 10, we’ve rated each weight bench with squat rack on a scale of 1-5 in terms of price and durability. We’ve also given an overall rating. In the following section, we’ll go in-depth on each product.
Power Rack Training Tips
Get your Upright Settings Right
Getting the right height setting for the bar is critical to working out with proper form. This is a lot easier if your power rack has numbers alongside the holes on the uprights. If it doesn’t you may want to use a marker to put numbers in yourself.
Take note of the hole settings for key exercises such as squats and bench press.
Ensure that the j-hook are locked into the holes securely. You want the j-hooks to be sitting slightly lower than the top of your full range of motion. This will ensure you are not completely locked out when your start the first rep.
You want the safety bars to sit a little lower than the bottom of the range of motion.
The saddles should rest just a bit lower than the top of the range of motion, so that the knees and elbows do not quite lock out when you start the exercise. This will give you the protection you need without compromising full range of motion.
Ensure the Rack is Stable
If the power rack is fitted with plate holders, load them up before you start training. This will provide you with a lot of added stability.
Ensure that the rack is sitting on a flat, level floor. Rubber stops for the corners of the uprights will help to keep the sides level.
Tighten all of the bolts securely before you start using your new power rack. The lower the gauge of metal used for the beams and uprights, the stronger that metal is.
Bench Press Settings
Your j-hook setting on the bench pores is vital to making sure that your form is on point. If it is too high, you will have to overreach to unrack the bar, which will force you to untuck your shoulder blades.
Position the bench so that you are unracking the bar in line with your upper chest. You should then bring the bar down in a slight reaching movement so that it finishes at your lower chest.
The bench should be positioned in the middle of the rack when you are bench pressing. Depress your shoulder blades and open up your chest, keeping your elbows back. This will take the focus away from your anterior deltoids and onto your pectoral muscles.
Use the rings on the barbell as a reference for your grip. This will take away the need for a perfectly even bench. Too much of an uneven setup though will still place harmful forces on your body. I suggest marking it off on the floor, if you can, on where to place the bench
Set the j-hooks so that your knees re slightly bent when you unrack the barbell. Setting it too high will force you up onto your toes, which will put you at a disadvantage when you start squatting.
If you fail when pushing out of the hole, push your hips forward and tip the bar forward nd onto the safety bars. The safeties should be set so that this is a natural, risk free process.
Do not send the set by resting them on the safety bars unless you have actually failed a rep. If you are able to push through to complete the rep you should absolutely do so.
Partial Range of Motion Settings
A Rower rack allows you to set up some exercises for partial range of motion exercises. This allows you to work with greater weight than you can use for a full range of motion on an exercise. It can be useful to help you to break through a sticking point.
When setting up your power rack to perform partial range of motion, you should not limit the range of motion too much. As a general rule keep two upright setting between the j-hooks and the safety bars.
The choice between Power Racks vs Squat Racks will generally come down to money and space. If you have enough of both then opt for a Power Rack.
If you’re limited in terms of space, go for a premium squat rack that offers some accessories and that is sturdy and safe.
The best power rack on the market right now is the Rogue R4, providing you with ideal home gym dimensions and maximum rigidity.
Our #2 pick is the Rogue 90-Inch Monster Squat Rack, with its 3 x 3 inch high grade steel framing, Westside hole spacing and generous interior spacing.
We were also very impressed with the Powerline PPR 200X power rack, which provides plenty of cage room and offers superior level of support and rigidity.
My name is Jim Roose. I'm a former competitive power lifter and gym owner. I've bought millions of dollars of fitness equipment over the last 20 years. This site is my way of giving back to the fitness community that's done so much for me. Every article on here is carefully researched and written by me. Leave a comment if you have any questions.