Power Rack (Squat Rack) Buying Guide- All You Need To Know

Squat Rack

Squats are one of the most important exercises to build lower body strength.

In general, squats are performed for fitness. But, for individuals looking to build up some serious lower body muscles, training with weights becomes essential.

A power rack otherwise known as squat rack is a weight training equipment that helps to workout with free weights. It ensures your safety while working with free weights and prevents any kind of movement restrictions unlike smith machine.

A standard power rack comprises of four vertical posts and two horizontal bars for support on both ends. There are bar catches that assist the individual working on it, to put up the weights. Power racks come with different accessory attachment options, it includes chin-up bar, pull down cable, pegs or pins for hanging weight plates.

Essentials to consider before buying a Power Rack

As a beginner, it is possible that you might get a bit uncomfortable with several pair of eyes looking at you as you start exercising in the gym. Having a power rack is the best option for you to have a personal gym station at home. These tips and recommendations are going to help you make the right choice. There are different factors that you need to consider as you look to buy it-

1. Purpose (Your goals)

This is the most important aspect of buying a power rack. Determine the goals that you want to achieve by working out on your gym equipment. As you consider the goals, you list down the type of exercises you are going to do and how you will do them using the equipment. Every fitness goal or regime follows a very basic four step guide-

  • Enhance health.
  • Lose weight.
  • Improve performance.
  • Develop a good physique or aesthetics.

Having a goal is important, it determines the type of diet you need to follow, the exercises you will have to do and the type of equipment you need.

Considering this, if you are looking to increase your strength performance, the power rack has to be on your equipment list.

Having your own equipment doesn’t need you to wait for it to be idle, so that you can work on it. You can work out whenever you want, follow a particular plan and move towards your goals.

2. Space

A basic power rack consists of four vertical upright stands and when assembled forms a square structure. Now, taking a look at the structure of the equipment, it becomes important to ensure you have enough space in your room for the setup. This includes having enough floor space for the equipment to be assembled and the height measurements of the ceilings.

The space available in your room is a very important aspect. Therefore, make sure you measure it thoroughly before you purchase the equipment. It is important to have exact measurements of your room to ensure you buy the equipment that fits in it.

The power rack is not limited to weight lifting exercise only, so if you use it for pull-ups or chin-ups, the height becomes a major concern.

3. Determine your Budget

Buying anything needs you to set a budget, the same goes for buying a power rack. Determining a budget enables you to go through different available options of power racks, you can choose from. It also sets a limit to what you can buy and what you can add to it.

The basic squat stands can cost you around a minimum of 150-200$. The cost can vary based on the accessories that you add to your rack, it also depends on the make of the product.

A power rack is not limited to one exercise and getting a proper setup, including barbells, J-hook, stands, plate rigs, etc. can increase the price range from 500$ to 2000$ and more. This can be a big investment for you. If you are still very new to using the equipment, you must find out the type of power rack you need.

Purchasing a power rack often doesn’t include accessories. Therefore, make sure you save some of your budget for additional accessories. This can include J-Cups, Safety pins or bands, bench, plate storage solution, etc.

4. Setting it up or Assembling

There are different types of power racks that you can choose from. Some of them are movable, whereas others can be mounted on the wall permanently.

You are given the instructions regarding assembling the equipment as you purchase a power rack. However, make sure the instructions are clear and understandable and you are able to assemble the equipment in the right manner.

If you are a beginner and have least experience of working with independent squat stands, power rack becomes the best option for you. The power racks are available with additional safety attachment, safety bands and there are least chances of you messing up the setup of the equipment.

5. Safety

Once you have the available space and the budget for purchasing the equipment, you can look for available buying options. Always keep in mind that safety should be your first concern.

It is very evident that if you have a small budget, you will buy a cheap setup or incomplete setup. This can cause safety issues, especially if you are just beginning to lift weights. This simply means, if you are new to weight lifting, make sure you invest in your safety to avoid injuries.

There are accessories in power racks that ensure the safety. For example there are bar catches placed right above the bodybuilder’s chest, this helps while bench press exercises. Hence, in case of muscle fatigue or imbalances with the barbell, the bar catches prevents the lifter from getting crushed under the barbell. Similarly, for squats the bar catches are placed just below the lowest position of the squat. This keeps the lifter safe during squats, when it tries to dump the weights.

6. Types of exercises

Buying a power rack increases the number of weight lifting exercises that you can do. The basic weight lifting exercises include-

  • Squats.
  • Deadlifts.
  • Bench presses.
  • Rows.
  • Overhead press.
  • Pull ups.
  • Dips.

Having the right power rack ensures safety when doing all these exercises. Additionally, it can be used for other exercises to improve body aesthetics or get a good physique. In order to increase the number of workouts, you will have to look for additional accessories in your power rack.

Remember the type of exercises you are going to do, the accessories that you need shall vary accordingly. This shall include having an overhead bar for pull ups and chin-ups, getting a bench for bench presses, additional horizontal bars for dips, pulley and cable attachments for rows, etc.

The cost of the power rack shall automatically increase when you add such accessories to your purchase, keep this in mind.

Different types of racks available

1. Squat stands with spotters

squat stand with spotters

A squat stand is a basic power rack and an affordable option for home gym equipment. It comprises of two vertical upright stands, which can be transported with ease and needs a very small space for set up.

Being available at a low price, you can save money for additional accessories like bench, weight plates, etc.

A disadvantage with squat stands is that, you are not provided with option like safety attachment or bands, etc. Additionally, as there are two independent bars, chances of improper set up increases, this can create difficulty while working out and affect the results.

Squat stands are recommended for experienced weight lifters that can set up the equipment. Having proper understanding about your limits, proper set up procedure and de-loading the weight securely is important to work out with this equipment.

2. Wall mount power rack

wall mount squat racks

Another great alternative for full power rack equipment, these do not take much of your gym space. As the name suggests, the rack is mounted on the wall and thus minimizes the chances of insecure setup.

This equipment too, lacks the safety setup unlike full power rack, as you can only add spotter arms and no safety attachments or bands. Additionally, you have limited space available for storing your plates and need to buy additional equipment for it.

However, it allows you to increase the usage of your gym space, it can be installed as close to the wall as possible. It is recommended only when you are very limited with space in your gym room and aware with your safety.

3. Half Rack

half rack

If not full power rack then half rack becomes the most recommended option. Half Rack offers you support, adjustability, has safety catches and band attachments, you may also find an overhead bar for pull ups in some versions of half rack.

Half rack is not an enclosed setup like the full power rack. It offers you more freedom for lifting, making it the perfect gym equipment, covering minimum space. There are increments that allow the lifters to install the J-cups and safety catches according to their needs.

It is considerably safer as compared to squat stands and wall mount racks, the horizontal connection and the vertical supports make it safe even for beginner weight lifters. However, as the rack is comparatively lighter and less stable than full power rack, dumping heavy weights on the safety arms might move the stands.

As it doesn’t form a cage like the full power rack, it gives the freedom of doing overhead lifts and split jerks, by moving slightly away from the rack. Additionally, it provides you with more space for plate storage and weight bar storage. This prevents you from looking for additional racks or equipment.

4. Power Racks

power rack

The power racks are the most preferred gym station or equipment that you must have at home. A good power rack set up might cost you around 500$-2000$ or more depending on the accessories.

The power racks have four vertical upright stands with horizontal connection bars at top and bottom as well. It offers more stability and the cage structure keeps you safe. You can add safety pins and bands to prevent any injuries and ensure safety.

Power racks are able to handle heavier weights as compared to half racks. This means when you dump weights, possibilities of the weights slipping on the floor decreases. The power rack is going to take more space, as compared to other versions of racks available. It is still worth your investment, considering the convenience it offers.

Make sure you check for the J- hooks and safety bars available on the power rack you purchase. You can look for options such as plate storage and extended pull-up bar for your rack. Choose the equipment built with strong steel and provides you with a lot of increments. This shall allow you to add more accessories when needed and train better.

In order to purchase the right equipment for your personal use, consider the space available in your house, the budget you have and what your goals are. The guide does help you to make a decision about purchasing the equipment, it is up to you on what you prefer, where and how you want to invest your money and benefit from it.