Power Rack / Squat Rack Review & Ultimate Shopping Guide

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If you’re serious about working out at home, then you’re going to want some form of a power rack or squat rack in your garage gym in order to get the most out of those workouts. You’ll need somewhere to rack the bar for overhead presses and heavy squats, and you will need something with safety spotters for when you bench press and squat so you can confidently go heavy when alone. You also need a pull-up bar, and those are already built into a power rack. So, call it a power rack or power cage or squat rack; call it whatever you want; just so long as you own one.

When it comes to buying power racks there are many different manufacturers and varying levels of quality available. Some racks have tons of available features and add on options, and some have very few. There will be features you know you want, and there will also be things you may not have thought of yet. I’m going to show you a lot of different power racks, cages, and squat stands in this article, and also give you some things to watch out for when shopping for one; all with the goal of improving the chances of you getting what you want & need the first time around.

Last updated: May 2018 – minor revisions and price checking/adjusting. Added the Force USA My Rack & Rep PR-5000 Power Rack

Table of Contents

  • Will the rack fit? – Check not only for the necessary floor space but also make sure to not choose a rack higher than your ceiling will comfortably allow. Remember to factor in head clearance for pull-ups.
  • Will it really fit? – Also, consider the equipment space needed. Are you left with ample space around the perimeter of the rack? Can you move around the rack to load/unload the bar? Will the bar rub against the wall? Remember that the Olympic bar is over 7′ long.
  • Does the manufacturer offer the accessories you want? – Doesn’t matter how many accessories they have if they don’t have the ones you care about. Some have dozen of accessories, some have only a few, and the worst have none. In a number of cases, the accessories are cross-compatible.
  • Is it the right size? – If you’re a tall guy, don’t buy an 85″ high rack. If you’re unusually short maybe don’t buy a 108″ high rack. Consider all the dimensions; depth (the space between uprights where the bar will travel), the height, and the width. Generally, the less it costs (the cheaper the rack), the shorter and narrower it is.
  • Does the rack offer anchor holes? – There are only a handful of power racks that are not intended to be anchored to the foundation or a lifting platform. If you perform kipping pull-ups or want to attach a dip station, you should probably make sure you can anchor the rack down somehow.
  • Is the rack easy to use and adjust? – Some standard equipment is annoying to use. For instance, the pin and pipe safety system are what you get with a number of racks by default. It’s slow and horrible to use, and you will probably upgrade sooner rather than later to spotter arms, straps, or drop-ins. It’s usually cheaper to select the options that you prefer when you buy rather than adding it later.
  • Does the rack have a stabilizer?Most power racks are designed to be anchored down. Despite that fact, some racks have a stabilizer that runs along the bottom rear of the rack that keeps the rack stable when it’s not anchored. These bars are a hindrance and get in the way of both your feet and your bench. Make sure this stabilizer is either not present, is removable, or is thin enough to almost be flush with the ground.

Rogue's optional and completely removable stabilizer bar. You will probably hate this bar so make sure it can be removed on the rack you choose

Example of Rogue’s stabilizer. It is unnecessary and removable when anchored.

  • How is it shipped? Make sure the parts fit where you want to assemble it. Some racks are in pieces, others are completely welded except for the cross-members. Are you able to get those parts through doorways, curved stairs, narrow hallways, etc?
  • How much is shipping? Racks are big, heavy, and can be expensive to ship, and they tend to ship LTL freight. You may find one with a price you like but the rack costs half as much more just to ship. Some retailers ship certain units for free. Double-check on that shipping rate before you get too attached to any particular rack.
  • Do you care where it’s made? Many will argue this point, but there is a difference in quality between American-made racks and the cheap imports; the “knock-offs.” If you settle for a cheap import (and you’ll know one when you see one), just be aware that you are indeed sacrificing durability, functionality, and maybe even some level of safety.

Power Rack vs Squat Stands

There are two typical reasons why someone would consider purchasing a squat stand over a power rack. First is the budget. Yes, you can get a squat stand for less money than a power rack. However, for squat stands that offer pull-up bars and safeties, the price difference isn’t really that great; as I’ll show you below.

The other reason people look for squat stands overpowers racks is because of a perceived lack of space for a full rack. The fact is that a squat stand takes up more space than you may think… or rather, power racks can take up less space than you may think. Look at the image below.

Footprint and price difference between a squat rack and smaller power rack

The squat stand on the left (the Rogue SML-2) has a footprint of 48″ x 49″ and sells for just over $600 with the spotter’s arms. The power rack on the right (Rogue RML-3) has a footprint of 30″ x 49″ and sells for $755. So while the power rack costs about $150 more, it does take up less space, is more stable when anchored, and has more accessory options.

So it’s one thing to prefer a squat stand for some reason or another, but don’t automatically assume you have to settle for one because you’re working with limited space. Look at some of the smaller power racks and half racks before you commit to a squat stand. If you are not sure which to go with, check out a discussion on this topic here.

Commercial Squat Racks

I suggest avoiding squat racks. A power rack is a much better purchase in so many ways

True commercial squat racks offer almost no versatility. They take up more space, cost more money, but offer no safety adjustments or pull-up bar. Total waste of money.

I’m not a fan of squat racks for a home gym. When writing this article I couldn’t find a single squat rack that had adjustable safeties for anywhere near the price tag that would warrant buying it over a power cage. Freemotion Fitness makes a squat rack that adjusts for $1300. There is no reason to spend that kind of money and not get a pull-up bar or to not have the option to bench or adjust for height. Squat racks are for commercial gyms.

Buy a power rack or squat stand, not a commercial squat rack.

Basement Gym?

I have one exception to my position on commercial-style squat racks, and that is for the few of you out there that have a basement gym rather than a garage gym. Some basements out there have incredibly low ceilings, and a standard power rack is just not going to work out. I have also started to keep my eyes open for ‘basement-appropriate’ racks so that you’re not stuck with only the “classic” squat stand option. Jump to Basement Racks!

Folding Racks

There are a number of wall-mounted folding racks on the market now that serve as full-size squat stands when set-up, yet fold away in mere seconds and take up very little floor space so that you can still pull your car in. These folding racks are strong, affordable, and can be somewhat versatile. In an effort to not over-crowd this already long-winded article I opted to make a separate page for these folding racks, and you can see that here.

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Full-Size Power Racks Review

This section is made up of your standard, full-size power racks. Some will have six uprights and some will have four. The rear two of the six-upright units being for plate and accessory storage. What separates these from the half racks and squat stands further down the page is the fact that you usually work out inside these racks, and outside of half and squat racks. Full racks also tend to require more floor space, although that is not always the case.

Powerlifters and those who enjoy just happen to enjoy heavy-duty accessories will want a full-size rack over stands or half racks. Accessories such as the adjustable Monolift, nylon safety straps, reverse hyper attachments, and lever arms require a true power rack, not a stand. Those with tons of plates and chains will benefit from a rack with six uprights.

King Rogue Racks – the R6 and RML-690 Power Rack

The Rogue Classic R6 Power Rack and RML-690 Power Rack

The Rogue Classic R6 Power Rack (left) and RML-690 Monster Lite Power Rack (right) – $1495 and $1568

Of the three base models of Infinity power racks from Rogue (R3, R4, and R6), the Rogue R6 has the largest footprint. This beautiful rack is essentially an R4 with two extra uprights for plate storage. The extra uprights eliminate the need for a separate piece of equipment for plates, bands, and chains. Having that storage onboard also makes getting the weights on and off the bar quicker and easier, as they are just inches from the bar.

The multi-grip crossmember is standard equipment on the R6

The Rogue Multi-Grip Crossmember.

The R6 is built using industry-standard 2″ x 3″ 11-gauge steel, and 5/8″ hardware for both assembly and the optional accessoriesThe R6 comes with a ton of plate storage (8 horns, to be exact), 2 different pull up bars including the multi-grip bar (shown above), protective J-cups, band pegs, spotter bars, and it also has Rogue’s famous Westside hole pattern (or 1″ hole spacing through the bench region). The total footprint of the R6 is 52″ W x 81″ L, and it is 90″ tall. Retail price is $1495.

The Rogue RML-690, on the other hand, is more or less a beefier, sweeter looking version of the R6. Rather than 2″ x 3″ steel, the 690 is assembled with giant 3″ x 3″ 11-gauge tubing, making it an ideal choice for institutions, commercial gyms, etc. This thing is so sturdy and massive that it does not even require bolting to the floor or a platform. Other than the steel, the rack is essentially the same; although this one does not come equipped with the multi-grip pull-up bar. It still has the Westside hole pattern. Retail price is $1568.

Not everyone has the space for such a large rack, but if you do I seriously suggest putting either of these racks on your list. These racks are solid, and I do not think there is another company on the planet that makes as many accessories for their racks as Rogue does; dip station, spotter’s arms, landmines, reverse hyper, and on and on I could go. If for one reason or another you don’t think this is enough rack for you, try the full-on Monster RM-6!

Legend Fitness 3133 Power Cage

As with all Legend exercise equipment, you really can’t go wrong.  Made with 3″ x 3″ steel tubing, the Legend 3133 Power Rack is 88″ high and has a large 60″ x 68″ footprint. It has a standard 2″ hole pattern, J-hooks, pipe safety system, pull-up bar, and built-in plate storage.

This cage, as with all Legend Fitness equipment, is made-to-order; meaning you get to pick your frame color but you have to wait for production. A large accessory variety is available for this Legend power rack; a dip attachment, spotter’s arms, step-up attachment, landmines, band pegs, two-tone paint, and more. It will get expensive fast though.

Legend 3133 Commercial Power Rack

Legend Fitness 3133 Power Cage – Made in the USA with an MSRP of $1400’ish + freight

While definitely a tough, commercial power rack, I’m not a fan of this rack when compared to the R6 by Rogue. My main reason is the R6 has the 1″ hole spacing (Westside) through the bench and pull region rather than 2″ from top to bottom, and that’s a fantastic feature! Also, there is a 6 to 8 week lead time on Legend gear. Now it used to be that you had to go with a commercial vendor for colored racks, but now even Rogue offers the RLM-690 in a multitude of colors – and that is a hell of a lot nicer looking rack.

Vulcan Standard 3×3 Power Rack

The 3×3 Standard Rack by Vulcan Strength is very similar to the Rogue RML-490 that I will cover following this unit. It uses 3″ x 3″, 11-gauge steel tubing that’s assembled with beefy, 5/8″ zinc-plated hardware. It’s also power coated, comes with safeties and J-cups, and has a very similar footprint.

Vulcan Standard 3x3 Power Rack

There are a couple of things that set this rack apart from the Rogue. For starters, the feet of the Vulcan Standard is 9″x9″; a massive footprint that will allow you to use this unit without anchoring in most cases. Of course, you can still anchor if you plan to use accessories that require anchoring; the holes are there.

The Vulcan also has 2″ hole spacing up all four sides of each upright which gives you a lot more versatility when using attachments. You are not limited to using only two sides of your rack like with so many other units; including the vast majority of Rogue racks. It’s priced at only $999, and shipping is included. There is also a decent variety of accessories available from Vulcan, as well as compatible accessories from other vendors. Solid rack option.

Rep Fitness PR-5000 Power Rack w/ Storage

The Rep PR-5000 is a 3″x3″, 11-gauge power rack that is clearly modeled after the Rogue RML-690. The PR-5000 has 1″ accessory holes like a Monster Rack does, but the inside depth is a little shorter and all the hardware is all still 5/8″, so it’s not quite a Monster. Does it matter? Not really when you consider that this rack sells for $1200 instead of the ~$1600 that the Monster Lite sells for, or the near $2000 of the Monster.

Rep Fitness PR-5000 Power Rack with plate storage and multi-grip pull-up

Why is the Rep PR-5000 so much less than the Rogue racks? Well the Rep is an imported product, and the quality of steel and hardware; while not bad; just won’t match that of the Rogue racks. Again, not sure it matters in this case because a) 3×3 racks with 1″ accessory holes will not fail, and b) Rep still blows away super low-quality imports like Titan and other Wal-Mart brands. In other words, if you want a rack this big and the cost of this Rep is more feasible than something nicer, have at it.

Alternatively, you can buy the PR-5000 without the weight storage for about $800. It is not a bad price, but not nearly as sweet of a deal as the storage unit. See my review of this rack here.

Rogue RML-490C Power Rack

The Rogue RML-490C is the beefier, colored version of the classic Rogue R-4. Instead of using 2″x3″ 11-gauge steel like the Infinity line, the RML series (Rogue Monster Lite) uses 3″x3″ 11-gauge steel. This upgraded steel makes for a heavier-duty and more stable rack; both in reality and in appearance.

The new Rogue RML-490C Power Racks Review

There is an RML-490 that is offered in a black powder coat for about $100 less ($983 versus $1075) and they both have the same technical specifications, but there are some cosmetic differences (other than the obvious color choices). For instance, the 490C uses black zinc hardware instead of bright zinc, and the rear cross member is a classy black nameplate with ‘ROGUE’ stamped in stainless steel.

In terms of accessories, all standard Monster Lite accessories work with the 490C, and they look pretty badass too since the accessories are typically black and match the hardware.

RML-490C Frame Colors - 10 currently available

All of Rogue’s newer colored racks are beautiful and really make a gym pop. Just about all Monster Lite racks and stands can be had in color these days.

Rogue R-3 and RML-3 Power Racks

The Rogue R-3 Power Rack is one of Rogue’s Westside-inspired power racks and is easily one of their best selling products. The R-3 is the smallest rack in the Infinity line in terms of needed floor space; it has a footprint of  34″ x 53″ and rises 90″ above the ground. It’s made with the standard 2″x3″ 11-gauge steel, is assembled with 5/8″ hardware, and ships with a pair of J-cups, pin and pipe safeties, double pull-up bar, and four-band pegs. Because it’s a Westside rack, it has 1″ hole spacing through the bench and clean zone.

Rogue R3 and RML-3 Power Racks side-by-side review

The classic Rogue R-3 (left) and the beefier RML-3 (right). Prices start at $695 and $755, respectively.

The R3 is a well-known rack and has found homes in thousands upon thousands of garage gyms, affiliates, and schools across the country. It’s compact, durable, and affordable, and there are countless accessories available for the Infinity line. The R-3 should definitely be on the shortlist for all garage gyms with limited space and/or budget. Keep in mind that it’s recommended that you anchor the R-3 to a platform or your foundation.

Rogue Monster Lite RML-3 Power Rack

The RML-3 Power Rack is the Monster Lite version of the R-3. Made with 3″ x 3″ 11-gauge steel, it’s basically just a beefier, heavier-duty version or the R-3. It comes with all the same accessories, has the same footprint, and still has the Westside hole pattern. It also looks a bit cooler. Just about everything that applies to the R-3 applies to the RML-3 – although the accessories are not cross-compatible.

[R-3 Conversion Review]

Rogue RM-3 Bolt Together and RM-390 Flat-Footed Rack

Even beefier than the R-3 and RML-3 covered above, the RM-3 Bolt Together and RM-390 Flat Foot are as solid as they come. Both of these racks are variants of the standard RM-3, and like all Rogue Monster racks, they use thick 3″ x 3″ 11-gauge steel for the uprights and are assembled with massive 1″ hardware. Monster racks also have the heavy-duty add-ons that are not available on lesser racks; including mono lifts, safety straps, drop-ins, and more.

Rogue Bolt Together and Flat-Footed RM3 Power Racks Review

On the left, the Rogue RM-3 Bolt Together, and the Flat-Footed RM-3 on the right. Starting at $1050 and $1200.

The RM-3 Bolt Together is intended to ease transport and installations in tighter locations that wouldn’t allow fully welded rack pieces to fit through; like stairs to a basement. It comes standard with laser etched numbers for each hole, a pair of UHMW J-cups, and a pair of pin and pipe safeties. The uprights can be ordered in three heights (90″, 100″, 108″), and you’ll get to choose all of your cross-members. It even ships with two Monster wrenches for quick assembly. It’s a sweet, space-saving rack with no max load capacity.

The RM-390 Flat Foot is for those who cannot anchor their rack down for some reason but still want a slim and beefy power rack. This rack uses the same steel and hardware as the RM-3 but sits on top of the Monster Squat Stand base; which has four giant 3″ x 3″ rubber feet. This set up keeps the rack from shifting excessively and also protects flooring. These rubber feet add nearly a foot of depth to the footprint but the rack itself offers the same area to work out in. A lot of the same upgrade options are available for the Flat Foot model.

Vulcan Flat Foot 3×3 Power Rack

The Vulcan Flat Foot is a new economy rack offered as an affordable alternative to the RML Flat Foot models, and as a comparably priced but much higher-quality upgrade to the Titan X-3 Flat Foot Rack. While still more expensive than the Titan X-3 ($650 versus $515), the Vulcan isn’t made with pig iron, and it includes in the price a multi-grip pull-up bar; which all but equalizes the price if that’s an accessory you care about.

Vulcan 3x3 Flat Footed Economy Power Rack

The Vulcan is made with the same 11-gauge, 3″x3″ high-quality steel as the RML line. It has 10 mm thick gussets at the base and uses quality 5/8″ hardware (making it compatible with other brand’s accessories). Unlike the Titan, the steel is not B-scraps, the hardware isn’t the cheapest possible brass stuff, and the welds are professional. This rack is the ultimate to have your cake and eat it to unit – the compromise between expensive and junk.

It’s worth pointing out is that you can add this or any Vulcan rack to a bar+bumper set at a discounted price; $100 off in the case of this Flat Foot. By going that route you actually are paying Titan prices, only on a much better rack. Also, you get a real bar and the best plates in the industry, and it’s all discounted and shipped for free.

Force USA ‘My Rack’ Modular Power Rack

The Force USA Power Rack is a modular power rack that has similar dimensions to a basic power rack like the Rogue R-4 or Vulcan 3×3 Rack but is very different in the way it is built and sold to us. A rather interesting power rack to say the least; a My Rack may very well be the best way to stretch your budget and build out an entire, customized garage gym without spending a ridiculous amount of money.

ForceUSA My Rack Modular Power Rack

The Force USA My Rack is a flat-footed rack measuring 47″ wide, 55″ deep, and 87″ tall. It is made with non-standard 12-gauge, 2.4² tubing, it has optional anchoring holes, extended Westside spacing, built-in bar storage, and has a very low base price of just $499.

The idea behind the My Rack is that for $499 (shipped) you purchase the base only. That is to say, you get the uprights, the base, and the stabilizers – nothing else. What makes this a clever and economical idea is that you get to choose everything else that you want from the beginning, pay only for what you want, and have no redundancies like you would with other brands. For instance, you can choose to buy the basic J-cups for $60 if that’s all you need or you can buy the sandwich cups instead (rather than in addition to).

Same goes for the pull-up bar and safeties. If you want a standard, straight pull-up bar then you can choose to buy that. If you’d prefer to buy one of the many multi-grip bars that would just replace the straight bar, then why ever pay for the straight bar? Don’t want to buy those default pin and pipe safeties because you know you’ll want spotter arms or straps, well with this rack you just pick the one you want from the beginning. Pretty solid idea.

Full range of options and accessories for the Force USA My Rack

Aside from the necessities like the J-cups and pull-up bar, Force USA also offers other add-ons including a lat attachment, dip bar, plate storage, band pegs, and my favorite accessory by far, the cable crossover attachment! You can literally turn your power rack into a full gym.

Titan HD Imported Power Rack

I get asked about this rack often enough that I figured I should just add it and talk about it. The Titan HD is basically an imported copy-cat of the Rogue R-3, and for significantly less money. The specs on paper are almost completely identical, but the quality is literally night and day. There is a lot wrong with this rack that can’t be seen in an image.

The Titan HD vs the Rogue R3 Power Rack Review

It wants to be an R-3, but it’s not.

I found an excellent video review of this rack. This fellow has both the Titan HD and the R-3 and he compares both of them side-by-side. It’s alarming how inferior the Titan is to the R-3. So much so that the reason the guy has both racks is because he’s replacing that Titan with the R-3; the rack he probably wishes he had picked up in the first place. I suggest that you watch this video before you blow your cash on this poorly designed power rack.

If you don’t want to watch a 20-minute video, here are some of the key points. Titan J-cups can scratch your barbell, the safeties are hard to use and will probably eventually break, and the rack isn’t powder coated; just spray painted (it will rust). The pass-through plates on the cross-members and pull-up bars are all razor-thin and do not sit flush with the uprights, there are only four total anchor holes (one per foot rather than three per foot), the steel will be dimpled in some locations from being drilled rather than laser cut, the steel is low quality, and the list goes on and on.

Update: In Titan’s defense, they have responded to customer’s complaints on some of the easier to fix issues. For instance, UHMW is used instead of rubber slabs on J-cups, and the washer was removed from the spotter’s arms. The fact remains, however, that it is literally impossible for Titan to match the quality of the American rack builder’s using the steel they use and paying the Chinese the low labor costs that they do.

I personally won’t use Titan’s racks or rack accessories – but if I’m being completely honest it’s not even the rack itself that concerns me. Sure their equipment is made using the lowest quality, cheapest steel available in Asia but even pig iron is strong enough for a power rack. Rather it’s the accessories that scare me. Scrap iron and sketchy welds are not what I want to see on my J-cups and spotter arms. I simply won’t mess with that, but you certainly can.

Valor BD-11 Economy Power Rack

I’ve decided to include one full-size economy rack as a way to sort of illustrate why I prefer the mid- to high-range power racks. I selected this Valor rack out of the hundreds of cheap, imported racks because if you straight up can’t afford an American-made rack and you are inevitably going to buy an import, at least this is one of the better options. It is not perfect, but it will do until you need and can afford better.

Valor Pro Fitness BD-11 Power Rack

The Valor BD-11 Power Rack does have a lot of features for its low, under $500 price tag. It comes with two pairs of bar catchers (makeshift J-cups), a set of safety rails, a wide pull-up bar, and four standard 1″ plate storage horns. This rack also has a base rather than feet, so you won’t need to anchor it. There are no band pegs included, nor the ability to even use them if you have them already, but Valor has a hefty selection of accessories including a lat cable tower; which many people seem to desire.

The BD-11 made from thinner steel than all the other racks in this guide, but this is typical of imported power racks. It’s 12-gauge steel versus 11-gauge, and while that might not seem like much on paper, you will feel a difference. Now even though 12-gauge isn’t the weakest steel that’s used for Chinese power racks, it does impact the max capacity. In this case, that capacity is 500-pounds on the catchers, 800-pounds on the safeties and 400-pounds on the pull-up bar.

So in terms of function and affordability, it’s not awful, but it does have some drawbacks. For instance, the bar catchers suck and should have just been J-cups (image below). Also, paint and decorative chrome is not durable, so this whole rack will chip and rust with use. The storage pegs are useless – you cannot have these mounted and loaded if you intend to use the rack, as the stored plates will be in the way. Finally, the Valor BD-11 lacks Westside (1″) hole spacing. Don’t dismiss that Westside spacing – it’s a huge feature.

Standard 11-gauge J-cups versus economy post-style bar catchers

The verdict? Strong lifters need an 11-gauge rack. 500-lbs on the hooks and 800-lbs on the safeties is too low for someone will a 400-lb squat. Remember that max capacities are for static loads, and a failed rep is not always controlled. Also, Valor doesn’t have any hardcore accessories, and compatibility with Valor and the American companies does not exist. It’s a fine beginner rack, and maybe even into the early stages of an intermediate, but it is not an end-game unit by any means. Still, I’d rather see you with this Valor than a $200 unit from the chain store.

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Half Racks

Half racks have very little inside depth, but they still have four uprights like a normal power rack rather than two like on squat stands. It’s best to think of a half rack as a glorified squat stand in that they’re slightly more stable and they offer plate storage. As with squat stands, all the work is done outside the rack, and exercises that utilize safeties usually do so with a pair of spotter’s arms rather than the pipes or straps.

Half racks really do not offer smaller footprints than standard power racks. However, a half rack is a space-saving alternative to power rack with plate storage in that a power rack would require six uprights (like the R6 at the top of the page). So if your goal is to have your rack and storage in one compact unit, a half rack is the way to go.

Valor Pro BD-58 Half Rack

The Valor Pro BD-58 is an interesting half-rack option. It’s basically an imported variation of the HR-2 that I’ll discuss next. A lot of accessories that would cost extra with Rogue’s HR-2 are included with the $800 price tag of the BD-58.

Valor Fitness Pro BD-58 Half Rack - about $700

The Valor is made with 11-gauge steel, comes with spotter’s arms, two hooks for storing your barbells, and has six 10″ plate horns for plate storage. These horns are spaced far enough apart that every one of them can hold 450 mm discs (the largest plate diameter basically.) Additionally, there is a multi-grip pull-up bar, and 2 pairs of resistance band pegs.

Drawbacks to this half rack include lighter-duty J-cups than you’d find on a Rogue or similar racks, short overall height of 85″ (pull-up bar looks to be about 83″ according to schematic), no other accessory compatibility, and a complete lack of customer reviews. Since the cups clearly aren’t 11-gauge like the rest of the rack it does make me wonder about those spotter’s arms, but at least they don’t look dangerously thin in the pictures.

While not as high quality as an American rack, this one at least looks better than the typical import. Not bad. Be sure and compare features to the other half racks listed – especially the HR-2.

Update: this increased in price by $100, making it much less appealing than it was before.

Rogue HR-2 Half Rack

The HR-2 is a half-rack that can be purchased as a whole unit, or as a conversion kit for a Monster Lite Squat Stand (SML-1, 2, or 3). As I was saying in the half rack introduction, this is a squat stand with two extra uprights for plate storage. The HR-2’s footprint is the same as it is for the SMLs: 48″ x 49″. Height varies by model, of course.

The Rogue SML-2 conversion to the HR-2 Half Rack

On the left is the SML-3 Squat Stand, on the right is the HR-2 Half Rack. The conversion kit runs $245, or the complete half rack can be purchased for $655+.

Assuming that you don’t already have an SML Squat Stand, the HR-2 sells for $655 for the 92″ high rack and $725 for the 108″ high rack. The height of the rear uprights is 70″ and 90″ respectively. The HR-2 is a Monster Lite, so the uprights are 3″ x 3″ 11-gauge steel and the hardware is 5/8″. The rack comes with a pair of J-cups and pull-up bar, but spotter arms and/or safety bars, and plate horns are extra.

If you do already own one of the SML Squat Stands, the conversion kit starts at $245 with all of the same upgrade options for safety and storage. Like the SML squat stands this unit does not need to be anchored; which is really cool.

Rogue HR-2 Half Rack and Half Rack Conversion Kit for SML Squat Stands - Top pick

I am convinced that the HR-2 is one of the best rack options for a garage gym. It takes up a minimal amount of space considering all of its features and add-on options, and as a base rack, it’s very reasonably priced. Accessories can be added down the road and as needed, and there is no reason that this rack would ever need to be replaced. It’s versatile, requires no anchoring, and it’s compatible with a ton of accessories. Easy top pick.

IronMaster IM1500 Half Rack

The Ironmaster IM1500 Half Rack is a pretty solid half rack for the money. For $699 shipped you’re looking at a unit with spotter arms, pull-up bar, bar storage and plate storage already included in the price. There are also band pegs, numbered holes, and anchor holes should you choose to use them. The two uprights are 11-gauge with a 1000-pound capacity but I’m assuming a good portion of the rest of the rack is probably 12-gauge (based on verbiage in the product description.)

IronMaster IM1500 Half Rack System

So yeah, lot’s of good stuff for only $700, but what about the cons? Well, it is relatively short at only 84½” tall – not a great height for tall athletes when it comes to chins. It also has 2½” square uprights instead of the standard configurations, which means you’ll probably not be adding much in the way of accessories. Also, the product description says the plate storage horns hold standard or Olympic plates; meaning the poles are 1″ and they have those silly plastic slide-on sleeves for the Olympic plates. Finally, this is imported.

At the end of the day, this is a decent deal, and it has enough built-in features that you don’t have to worry about accessory upgrades. The HR-2 is certainly a beefier half rack and an American-made half rack, but you won’t walk away with an HR-2 with the same accessories for only $700. I still prefer the HR-2 myself.

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Squat Racks

Squat racks are just what they sound like. Some have pull-up bars, some don’t – and some are just two independent uprights that offer nothing more than a way to get under a loaded bar for squats. Squat stands are much less expensive than half racks and power racks, but unless you already own a wall or ceiling mounted pull-up bar, I do suggest you spend a little extra to get stands with a pull-up bar; worth every penny.

American Barbell Mammoth Squat Pull-Up Rack

American Barbell Powerhouse Pull Up Squat Rack

The slim American Barbell Mammoth Pull-Up Squat Rack. $499

The American Barbell Mammoth Pull Up Squat Rack is not the cheapest squat stand + pull-up option by any means, but it does offer a couple of unique features that may be of interest to some of you.

For starters, it has about the smallest footprint of any full-size squat + pull-up rack out there. The depth of this unit is only 34″ rather than 48″ or more, so you can conceivably fit this guy off to the side of your garage and still get the car in. 34″ in not all that deep at all but it’s still about 10″ deeper than independent stands so there will be more stability. This would not be my first choice for kipping, but for chins and pulls you’re good to go.

The Mammoth Squat Stand is incredibly beefy; it is constructed with 11-gauge 3″ x 3″ US-sourced steel and assembled with ¾” hardware. Additionally, it comes with sandwich-style J-cups instead of the light-duty cups typical of just about every other rack. Sandwich cups are generally about a $100-$150 upgrade, which is probably fully included in the price.

Rogue SM-2 Monster Squat Stand

Rogue Fitness monster squat stand

Rogue SM-2 Monster Squat Stand – Made in the USA – Starting $595

The Monster squat stands are about the best option for squat stands. They are thick 3″ x 3″ steel with massive rubber feet, and they have a pull-up bar (3 out of the 4 available models do anyway). This unit is available in 4 total heights up to a very tall 108″. Unfortunately, the spotter’s arms are optional and an extra expense.

If you’re looking at squat stands because of limited space, not necessarily budget concerns, this may be the way to go. You have access to most of the Monster accessories, but not all because with only two uprights there really isn’t a place for things like plate storage. This is by far the coolest squat stand I’ve seen, and one of the beefiest. Except for maybe the next stand below.

Alternatively, there is also the SML line of squat stands for a little bit less cash, though if you are moving to the Monster Lite series I highly recommend the HR-2.

Vulcan V-Hammer Squat Stand II

The Vulcan V-Hammer II may very well be the beefiest, sturdiest and heaviest squat stand on the market. It is assembled with 2½”-square, 8-gauge steel tubing, and massive 1″ black oxide hardware. It weighs in at nearly 260-pounds and has no maximum capacity. It ships with sandwich-style J-cups, 25″ safety spotter arms, and a pair of storage horns for storing plates near the base of the uprights.

the Vulcan V-Hammer II Squat Stand - 8-gauge beast

This unit is intense, and it is a model you would never, ever have to worry about loading too much weight on. It has 1″ holes with 2″ spacing, UHMW on both the J-cups and the pair of safety spotters, and it can be anchored down if you were so inclined. It’s not an inexpensive unit at $750 but shipping is at least included in that cost; which if you think about how much this weighs is not a bad deal at all. This is an incredible squat stand.

American Barbell Garage Gym Slim Rack

Becoming very popular lately are the wall-mounted “slim” racks like this one by AB. Unlike the folding racks that don’t handle accessories all that well (since they are not anchored) these slim wall racks can still be installed in your garage and not interfere with you getting your car in at night. A rack sticking out 2′ from the wall is not sticking out very far at all, yet it’s stronger and safer than a folding rack, and much easier to install.

American Barbell Garage Gym Wall-mounted Rack

The American Barbell Garage Gym Rack is available for much less cash than the other slim units; probably because it doesn’t have a flying pull-up bar. It is available in both a 2×3″ and 3×3″ configuration, and in both 7′ and 8′ heights (for four total options ranging from $315 to $400). The steel used is 11-gauge and the unit uses 3/4″ hardware. Total distance from the wall to the outside of rack is 24″. J-cups are included.

I think this is a fantastic space-saving rack, definitely better than folding racks. Well, that is my opinion anyway. As with all wall-mounted units, a stringer may be necessary.

Rep Fitness SR-4000 Squat Rack w/ Pull-up Bar

The Rep SR-4000 used to be called The Gladiator, or something to that effect. It is a fairly reasonably priced squat rack with pull-up bar; priced at $500 for a 94″ version and $550 for a 110″ version. It has most of the bells and whistles you’d want, but it is designed in such a manner that it lacks any and all compatibility with other accessories; which is less than ideal in the long run.

Rep Fitness SR-4000 Squat Stand with Pull-up Bar

What do I mean by that? Well just look at the picture. Not only is this unit 2½” square tubing rather than 2″x3″ or 3″x3″, but all the hardware holes are on the sides of the uprights rather than front-facing. What that means is that even if you managed to find accessories that are compatible, they’d attach on the wrong side of the rack.

That being said it has most of the basic accessories covered fairly well, the price is decent, and it’s 11-gauge steel, so it’ll hold some solid weight. It ships standard with spotter arms, J-cups, and band pegs. It has a fairly large footprint though; 72″ x 48″, so it’s not exactly the space-saving award winner. It is also imported.

Rogue S Series Squat Stands

The Rogue S-2 Squat Stand

Rogue Fitness S-series Squat Stand – Made in the USA – Price starts at $345

This is the economical Rogue squat stand option. The S-model uses 11 gauge, 2″ x 3″ steel and is available in 4 heights; 3 of which have a pull-up bar attached. This unit is simple and affordable and takes up very little space. Floor mounting feet, different pull-up attachments, and spotter’s arms are all optional. This model is surprisingly popular, so take a closer look at it if you plan to go the budget route with your squat stand.

Body-Solid Multi-Press Rack for Basement Gyms

Body Solid Multi-Press Squat Rack on Amazon

Short Commercial-Style Squat Rack, ideal for basements with low ceilings.

This is my basement gym recommendation. At only 74″ high, this squat rack is over a foot shorter than most power racks and should fit in most basements. Of course, you’ll want to measure and make sure!

I’m not normally a fan of the Amazon brands, but this rack is made with the same 2″ x 3″ 11-gauge steel found in many commercial racks so it should be pretty damn tough. It has 14 different rack positions and it comes with spotter’s arms so you can still bench with this rack, but I’ll bet you need to be fairly strict as the spotters are shorter than what you’d find on a true rack. The downside of a basement gym, I suppose.

Total footprint is 45″L x 64″W x 74″ H. Reviews are great, shipping is included in the price, and you even get some plate storage built into the rack. $550

XMark Multi-Press Squat Rack for Basement Gyms

X-Mark Multi-Press Squat Stand with Plate Storage

Not the most versatile rack on the market, but it’ll let you squat and bench in a basement gym with low ceilings. Ignore that dudes squat form!

For an even shorter option for those low ceiling basement gyms, I’d look at the XMark Multi-Press Squat Rack. At about 70″ high there is no ceiling so low that this shouldn’t fit. It has 9 pre-set, gun rack style positions, short adjustable spotter arms, and horns for plate storage. This squat rack is built with 2″x3″ steel and has a 400-pound maximum capacity; which I am not saying you should exceed, but with an 11-gauge frame, it’s probably fairly conservative.

While not the hugest fan of the box-store brands like XMark, this particular unit is rated very well and looks to be an acceptable alternative to the higher-end brands for those who just cannot fit anything else in their basement gym. The XMark Multi-Press Rack sells for under $400 and ships for free from Amazon.

There are probably hundreds of other racks on the market to choose from; no way can I list them all here. My hope is that you’ve learned enough about what to look for that; on the off chance you didn’t find a match here; you can make an educated executive decision on your own. To help with that, here is a list of red flags you should probably run away from:

Avoid the following:

  • Power racks with no listed technical specifications (steel gauge, dimensions, etc).
  • 14-gauge steel power racks. 12-gauge is acceptable if weight expectations are low.
  • Power racks with low weight capacities relative to your goals.
  • Power racks with hole spacing greater than 2″.
  • Racks under 7′ high unless you’re basement gym shopping.
  • Wal-Mart, Sears, Dick’s and other sporting goods or chain box stores.
  • Box store brands like CAP, Marcy, Body Champ, Gold’s Gym, Ethos, etc.

I realize that not everyone has a grand to drop on just the power rack, but if all you have is a couple of hundred bucks shouldn’t you maybe wait and save a little more? Don’t throw your money away on some box-store, 14-gauge piece of garbage. Wait until you can afford to do it the right (and safe) way.

Power Rack Guide – Suggestions & Summary

My suggestion for most people with normal one or two-car garages with an average budget is going to be the Rogue R-3 Power Rack or the Rogue HR-2. The price along with the fact that you can order them how you want it and be done with it is great. Get the parts that you want, not the ones you don’t. For even smaller budgets I would recommend looking at the S Series squat stands or the American Barbell Garage Gym Racks.

No matter which racks you are interested in, I hope this power rack guide gave you a clearer idea of what would work best for you; specifically your floor space and budget. Whichever brand or model you go with, be safe, train smart, and train hard.

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Source: Power Rack / Squat Rack Review & Ultimate Shopping Guide


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