Squat racks are undoubtedly must-haves in any home gym, regardless of your fitness goal and experience. We have put together this guide to help you decide which one you need to get. You may know the versatility and the importance of a squat rack. But you don’t know between a half rack, power rack, and squat stand which is best for you.
If you want a lifelong investment and have enough space in your gym, buy the full power rack. It has the best foundation and will allow you to challenge yourself to go for personal bests without any worries. It’s safe and has a high weight limit.
Read on to learn more about the three options and the benefits of having a full power rack in your gym.
Why A Full Power Rack?
The full power rack is the most heavy-duty of the three options. If you are establishing a home gym and are looking for the best all-around equipment to last you a long time, it’s the best choice. But as you can already tell, it’s also the most expensive of the three. So you have to weigh options and see if it fits your budget first. Here are the benefits of owning a full power rack.
Safety and Stability
Hands down, the full power rack is the safest compared to the other two. It eliminates the need for a spotter in your gym, especially for a heavy lifter. The cage is very stable, you will still have to anchor it down like the rest, but the safety is uncompromised. It has a wide base with horizontal catch bars that you can adjust depending on your height.
If by any chance the barbell falls, the bars will prevent it from crashing into you. The weight limit for the full power rack is beyond what the best professional athletes can lift. The three-piece equipment has three lines of safety front, below and back. If you are working inside the cage, you shouldn’t worry about falling backwards because the cage will stop you. In terms of reliability and safety, the power rack is unbeatable. That is why it’s highly recommended, especially for beginners.
When setting a gym in your house, you should buy equipment that can do more than one thing. It helps you save space and money. The full power rack is very versatile; you can also do more than lift weights. There are many options for accessory attachments. You can add additional safety arms to use outside the cage. But it’s better to work inside the cage; it’s the safest because of the bars, straps, and pins.
You can have two setups when you have two sets of barbells and j-hooks. You can push your weight limits to a higher degree compared to a half rack and squat stand. The power cage is the best for your barbell squats, bench press, deadlifts, overhead presses, and so much more. It has a huge convenience because you can use it for many exercises while working alone or with a friend. Because of the optional attachments, you can personalize them to fit your favorite workouts. It’s exactly the piece you need to take your gym to a whole new level.
Size and Price
As you already know, the power rack is the most expensive out of the three options. But you should also know they come in different sizes. There are racks built for the backyard or outdoor, which are normally bigger. There are also power racks built for the garage or other smaller spaces. That means you will find a variety of price points.
The price may also differ if the cage has additional features. You can go for a full power rack with only the basic features if you have a tight budget. All these metals and bars will add up and hit your wallet harder than the squat stand and half rack. It’s somehow a double-edged sword, it’s the safest option, but it also might be the most expensive option.
The height is usually 85 to 95 inches, but you can find a shorter or a taller one. The size widely varies, so you should be keen when selecting a power rack. Check the width, length and height to see if it fits in your indoor space. The assembly process will be similar to the half rack. But if you get a six-post power, the assembling process will be a bit longer.
If you’re convinced that what you want for your home gym, check out this post for the best budget power racks on the market.
Half Rack Vs. Squat Stand
We highly recommend the full power rack for your home gym, and from the benefits we have listed, you will have to agree. However, that doesn’t mean that the half rack and the squat stand are not viable options. Here is a quick look at the two racks and what they have to offer.
Half racks are usually as heavy as the power racks, but they are glorified squat stands. You will still be able to do military press, bench press, rack pulls, squats and more. It has a wider base than the squat stand for extra support and is a little customizable. If you want to do everything you can in a power rack, you will have to do it outside the half rack. Get a half rack that you can bolt to a platform or concrete because that is much safer.
There are half racks that can be turned into full power racks. This would be the best purchase to start with and upgrade later when your workout routine advances. The rack is a budget-friendly option if you can’t afford the price tag on the full power rack. Consider all the features when you are shopping for the rack to ensure you get the best.
This stand is as basic as it gets. It’s the ultimate space saver if your home gym is congested. It has holes drilled into it that allow you to set brackets to hold your barbells. Do not go for a squat stand with independent poles; the joined poles are better and safer. There are solid squat stands that can help you get through your workouts. Some even have the ability to attach bands at the base.
You have to be thorough when you are securing the stand to avoid tipping or unwanted movements. That is why you should buy a squat stand that can be anchored for maximum safety. It doesn’t have many parts, so the assembly will be easier compared to the rest. You will always need a bench regardless of the stand you buy. Consider getting a bench that is also durable to go with the squat stand. If you want to learn the basics of weightlifting, you can start here while you improve your execution.
How to Pick the Best Squat Rack
With that said, these are the things you need to consider whether you are buying a full power rack, half rack, or a squat stand.
You need a durable rack that will stay in your gym for years without breaking down. The rack should be able to support heavy loads. Even when you are a beginner, you need something that can accommodate your progress. Choose a rack that is made with high-quality steel. In most commercial gyms, you will find 7-gauge steel, but 11-gauge steel is considered the best for home exercise equipment. When you consider this, you will undoubtedly have a durable rack at home.
To buy a rack that you will love and is right for you, you have to be somewhat familiar with the construction. You should know all the parts, how they are built and what they do. Understanding the construction will help you decide which equipment is worthwhile and which is not. The squat stand is the most basic. It has minimal features; you won’t have trouble understanding the construction. But when you are buying a full power rack, you have to be keen. It’s the most complex, with a lot of features to support additional accessories. Long the uprights of your rack, there will be holes. You should know the types of holes and spacing.
Ease of Assembly
Assembling can be tricky when you get a rack that is too complex. There are full-power racks with all the desirable features that are still easy to put together. This is something else that you need to consider for home gym equipment. Get something you can assemble easily and has all the essential hardware. The assembling process is sometimes determined by the size of the rack you are getting.
Hopefully, you have selected what is right for you and your limited space. But before you cash in and make the purchase, ensure you can do everything you want with the rack. Accessories are crucial in ensuring you make the most out of the equipment. There are basic features like the pull-up bar, j-hooks, and safety arms, straps, or pins that you must have. But the rack should also have additional features like sip stations, band pegs, and other accessories that will improve your gym experience. If you are going all out with a full rack purchase, ensure it’s something you will enjoy having.
Like any other purchase, go for a company the gives at least one year warranty on the rack. It gives you peace of mind that if something happens with the rack within the period, the manufacturers can rectify it. The more expensive racks usually have longer warranties. That is because they have sturdy designs, and the manufacture is convinced the equipment will last.
How to Use a Squat Rack: Tips for Beginners
- Don’t Copy Other People’s Techniques
One mistake most rookies make is copying what others are doing in the gym, especially with squat racks. People have different body alignments that need different setups on the rack. Consider your unique form and alignment of the knees and feet when setting up the squat rack. How you use the rack also depends on your goals. You may not have the same goals as a bodybuilder.
- Don’t Load Too Much Weight Soon
Ego-lifting is not worth it if you are a beginner. You may satisfy your ego, but you are not fair to your body. Steady progress is the best approach; eventually, you will get to where you want to be. Be careful when you start adding weight to your squats, and be mindful of your form and posture at all times. You shouldn’t be playing games with a heavily loaded bar on your back.
- Get the Set up Right
Adjust the bar and the safety bar heights to fit you. You should strip the squat rack of any weight when you are setting up. Look for all adjustable parts on the rack and ensure they are perfectly adjusted to fit your form and height. You should always use safety bars, especially when you want to heavy-squat alone.
- Buy Lifting Shoes
Get yourself lifting shoes before you start using the squat rack. It’s more than important for you to be well-grounded when you start squatting. That is why you need appropriate shoes. If you can’t access the shoes, you would rather go barefoot than using gel bottom trainers when squatting heavy loads.
Adding a full power rack in your home gym allows you to do a range of exercises. It’s a simple yet vital and versatile piece of equipment. It’s fundamental to many lifts, and anyone can use it whether you are a beginner or experienced.