Power Rack Squat Rack Guide
updated December 1, 2018
- Pro tip: Make sure to read til the end of the article for a special offer
I was planning to max out on the front squat the day my partner decided not to show for our 7am training session in my basement gym. In a weak moment I considered switching to light leg day. But then I saw the power rack beckoning me.
“Come on - man up! I’ll be your spotter!”
So, I did
.And it did.
In fact that power rack has proven to be the best training partner I’ve ever had. It never sleeps in and it will always catch me when I fail. Makes me sorta’ glad that I made the extra investment over a standard squat rack.
The power rack is without a doubt going to be your most important, and most beneficial purchase that you make for your home gym. This piece of exercise equipment will take your home gym to the next level and then some.The Power Rack is an incredible piece of exercise equipment for men and women alike. The versatility of it will blow your mind. It can be used for aerobic exercise training doing Crossfit like workouts or strength training to gain massive muscle all over your body.
A month ago, I was weighing up whether to go for a power rack or a squat rack to complete my home gym set-up. February be you’ve got that same power rack vs squat rack issue going on in your brain.
Let me share my experience in overcoming the squat stand vs power cage dilemma to help you make the smart choice.
If you want to pack on muscle, your two big moves are going to be the squat and the bench press. They will pack mass onto your frame quicker than any others.
Your home gym needs to be equipped with a hardy rack that will allow you to perform these two vital exercises safely and securely.
We’ve explained everything in detail below. But if you’re in a hurry and just want to know what the best Power Rack for a home gym is, we've made it simple for you by choosing the products with the best total value, best overall (regardless of price), and most affordable.
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.
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.
Squat Stands vs Power Rack: Which Is Best?
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.
The following considerations will help you to decide between them:
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.
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.
Our Top Power Racks
We’ve scoured the market to find the most versatile, hard working, safe and cost effective power racks available today. Here are our top picks:
A Brief Overview of the Top Squat Racks with Bench Press
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.
The Top 12 In-Depth
Power Rack Benefits
Why a Power Rack is So Much Better Than Other Gym Equipment
Basically, no other type of gym equipment provides a complete body workout the way a Power Rack does. Nothing else compares!
Without a doubt, once you purchase and start using your Power Rack on a regular basis you will come to realize what an outstanding piece of equipment it really is. No other piece of gym equipment can get you the same results a Power Rack does.
Power Rack Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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
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.
Smaller Options to Consider Over a Power Rack
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.
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. Love it? Read our best squat rack with bench press review article.
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.
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.
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 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.
That being said, the very best squat rack bench press combo unit on today’s market 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. The Valor Fitness BD7 rounds out our top 3 favorite bench / squat combination racks.
It is a full feature power cage that is very sturdy and comes in at an extremely affordable price point.
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.