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Power Rack & Squat Rack Review

Power Rack & Squat Rack Reviews

A power rack is the perfect foundation for your home gym, and now is the best time to get one. It's a great investment in your strength training that's going to serve you for years. Fortunately, it doesn't have to break the bank. The best power rack for you comes down to some fundamentals you're looking for. 

How our power rack & squat rack review is organized

Take heart that we've got the very best power racks representing the nation's leading manufacturers. You don't want to settle for a cheap but rickety product imported from China, and we don't want you to either. So, we don't even waste our time researching and adding those! And as a real store, we're not just trying to get credit for sending you somewhere else to buy your rack. In our power rack review, we present the key points including features of the racks as well as accessories. At the end you can see our favorite racks based on our research, experience and customer satisfaction!

Are you new to weight training with power racks?

If you've never owned a power rack before, you can do well with the basic features and a moderate weight capacity of a few hundred pounds. You're most likely interested in incrementally adding weights to give yourself some challenging squats, dead lifts and bench presses. In general, beginners can do well with a rack for less than $700, often considerably less. In general, you will want a relatively roomy work space, a strong frame, fine height adjustment and a safety bar. That will give you plenty of challenge to gradually and holistically increase your core strength.

Full, half, squat or combination?

Squat racks are technically in a different category, but we've included them here. If you're specifically interested in doing squats or dead lifts, then a squat rack might be perfect for you. Half power racks or cages are essentially a stand with a connecting bar at the top. You can adjust the height of the weight supports just as you can with a full rack. You don't necessarily have self-spotting bars or j-hooks, since safety bars can't connect across the cage to the other side of the frame. The top bar can be used as a pull-up or chin-up bar which gives you one advantage over a squat rack, which is open at the top. Then there are full power racks, of course, aka a cage because they are enclosed with four thick metal beams. Full racks give you maximum safety, weight exercise options and weight capacity. For serious body builders or very competitive athletes who want the moost intense workout possible, a full power rack is an absolute must.

Comparing basic features of power racks

Work space - this refers to how much room inside the rack you have to work with. You want to allow for a free range of motion an an incline/decline bench. If you have extra attachments, such as a lat machine, usually placed in the back, then that's just one more reason to have some room.

Weight capacity - definitely something to think about for ambitious lifters. It's pretty straightforward, but you might be surprised to know that even lower priced power racks can be impressively strong and have a high weight capacity, thanks to decades of innovation from our manufacturers. While the thickness or gauge of the steel matters a lot, some racks have especially good structural advantages. For example, bolted plates, elbow connectors and thick spotter bars. These add stability and ruggedness to even lighter racks, so pay attention to these little details.

Types of weight support - Half racks and squat racks usually have j-hooks or pegs to hold your barbell, and they might have longer j-hooks as a safety spotters. Full length safety spotter bars fully connecting across the cage are ideal, because wherever you drop the barbell, something's there to catch it. Still, you can get some pretty accommodating j-hooks or pegs for weight support, often included in the standard price of the product. Between j-hooks and pegs, we tend to prefer pegs but it's a matter of preference. Pegs are usually easy to take in or out and lock into the graduated frame.

Really, the flip side of needing a high weight capacity is that you will also need to take greater safety precautions. Fortunately for as much weight as a good power rack can support, it can also take on a lot of weight to protect if that situation comes. Unless specifically stated otherwise, you can apply the posted weight capacity of the frame to the capacity of the safety bars, which makes total sense. The spotter bars are just as adjustable, robust and supported as the rest of the power cage.

Chin-up bar

Nearly every power rack will come with a chin-up or pull up bar. Just like a power tower, a power cage can help you easily do this form of exercise. However, cages have a higher weight capacity, which applies to the pull up bar. They also tend to not shake as much which is plus.

That said, not all pull up bars are the same. If this is an important feature for you, then look for knurled or rubber gripped bars with different angles. That way you can target different muscles using palm up or palm down exercises. The weight capacity also comes in handy when you are wearing a weighted vest or chain weights on your shoulders. For even more added dimension, some people like to wear gravity boots, which allow you to do fully inverted sit ups. That requires trust in the strength and stability of your power rack, so if that interests you then get some good weight capacity!

Plate and accessory storage.

Racks usually don't come with barbells or plates, but you can score a rack with built in horizontal bars to hold your plates when you're not using them. The minor trade off is that holding the weights cuts down the weight capacity to an extent, but it's not a big deal. The racks that can do this are generally very tough in the first place. You just have to make sure that the plates will fit on the holders, and most of them will. If you have existing plates or are interested in plates from a manufacturer that doesn't make the rack you're interested in, we'd be happy to help match the right rack to your weights or vice versa. 

Some power cages take storage to another level. Without even buying higher priced attachments, you can start holding and using simple accessories to give you more dimension to your exercises. Some racks have pegs not only for weight support but for securing a resistance band. If you've used resistance band before, then you know how effective they can be for targeting different muscles. You can set the pegs and band at any position on the cage. Then you just pull them up to the side or down to feel the burn all throughout your arms.

Dip Stations

Nearly every rack comes with a pull up bar, but you can also get a dip station. These are simply sets of horizontal, gripped bars coming off the side. You can't do vertical knee raises becuase you won't have a cushioned back support, but regular dips are another great form of body weight exercise. Dip stations are a smart use of real estate on power racks.

What about power rack accessories?

A lot of customers are interested not just in the racks themselves but what kind of accessories can come with them. We've touched on this before; if you're really focused on a few exercises, then a squat rack or half rack could be perfect for you. Though when it comes to accessorizing, power racks are the way to go. Let's take a moment to delve into the most popular kinds of accessories. These are things you might not get today, but down the road they are really nice to make a part of your exercises.

Lat Pulldowns

Lat pulldown attachments are relatively easy to set up with powre cages that allow them. Space wise, they're great because the weight stacks minimally intrude on your work space. You can usually have the option of both an Olympic and standard weight stack. Lat workouts will give you more functional strenght and an even bulkier, well-rounded build.

Workout benches

Often sold as an accessory, weight benches are of course crucial to exercising with a power rack. These don't have to be expensive, but we prefer a good incline/decline bench to use in conjunction with graduated power rack frames. It's generally a good idea to get a bench and power rack by the same brand so you know they can fit ideally.

Ab slings

As you're bulking up your upper body, don't forget about your abs. Shredded abdominals are aesthetically pleasing but give you fantastic functional strength for daily life. Ab slings, sometimes called "gut busters", attach to the top of your rack and allow you to slip your elbows in. Ab slings might be the ideal way to work your abs, since they allow completely full and natural movement. Using this type of product would be really hard to do without a great power rack to attach them to, so ab slings are just another great addition to really make the greatest investment in your holistic health and strength!

Best Power Racks by Price

Under $500: Best Fitness Power Rack

$500-$1000: Xtreme Monkey 365 Power Rack

$1000-$1500: Quantum Fitness QWT-108 Power Rack

$1500 and above: PowerMax AE Power Rack

Best Squat Racks by Price

Under $500: PowerMax Portable Squat Rack

$500 - $1,000: BodyCraft Half Cage Squat Rack

$1,000 - $1,500: Quantum Fitness Squat Rack with Plate Storage