A power rack is the quintessential home gym equipment. Having one eliminates most, if not all, of your gym equipment needs. It’s pretty much the total package!
It allows you to lift heavy weights safely so you can perform strength, power, and hypertrophy exercises without a spotter. Which makes it a great addition to your home gym.
Thus, if you want to start working out at home and do heavy lifts by yourself, having a power rack will keep you injury-free and help you reach those PRs.
What is a Power Rack?
A power rack, aka a power cage, is gym equipment used often for barbell exercises, and most especially when lifting heavy without any spotter.
It usually has 4 steel posts connected by 2-4 horizontal tubes creating a closed, cage-like, and safe space for you to lift heavy in.
The vertical posts are drilled with holes for the j-cups, hooks, and safeties to attach to.
These are where you place or hang the barbell so it is at the height most conducive to your lifting position. These attachments also make it easier to load the barbell.
The safeties prevent you from collapsing to the floor or dropping the weight on yourself when you fail to lift a weight back to the starting position.
How do they function?
Power racks make it easier to load the barbell with heavy weights.
They hold it at the position best for your height and leverages.
They help you train heavy, even without any spotter, and significantly reduce the risk of injuring yourself by unintentionally dropping the weights the wrong way or by not being able to complete the lift.
Power racks then serve as your spotter.
A power rack can be used for a variety of barbell exercises. The most common are powerlifting moves like squats, bench press, deadlifts, and all their variations.
Some gym racks have a pull-up bar, a dip attachment, and even an upgradeable feature for a pulley system.
Pros of Using a Power Rack
A power rack can help you perform numerous exercises that help you create a solid foundation of strength and muscle.
This includes squats, bench presses, deadlifts, rows, overhead presses, pull-ups, shrugs, and many more.
Just doing the four first mentioned exercises will help you build a powerful and aesthetic physique. You can never go wrong with the basics.
If you’re looking to buy a power rack, we’re guessing you plan to use it at home.
Having a versatile piece of gym equipment right in your garage or backyard makes it easier to work out.
No need to drive to the gym and sit in traffic, wait in line for the next available equipment, or go out of your way to lift. Your home gym power rack is all yours!
It’s easier to not skip workouts because you’ll have significantly fewer excuses for not being able to exercise. Thus, it keeps you consistent.
The more consistent you are, the faster you progress.
It’s not the one workout you smashed that mattered, it’s the average of all the workouts you do every day that creates the results.
Having your gym inside your home makes it easier to be consistent. Lifting weights will turn into a habit rather than a chore.
While spending a thousand dollars on a single purchase can seem like too much, just remember that you’ll probably never have to spend money on a commercial gym membership ever again.
Over time, buying a home gym rack will eventually pay dividends.
Think of the expenses of being a “fitness center” gym bro: gas for traveling to the gym, memberships, upgrades, overpriced supplements.
No Need for a Gym Buddy
You don’t always want a workout partner. But, to progress on your lifts, you’ll need a spotter to make sure you attempt your PRs safely.
For most of us, the gym is our therapy, our form of meditation – introspecting between sets, unleashing pent-up emotions before a heavy one-rep max, and so on. Thus, we just want to lift alone.
Power racks allow you to attempt a PR alone because it has arms, rods, or pins that spot the weight for you.
Gone are the days when you would be disappointed by a training partner not showing up on PR day.
First, you’ll be inside a sturdy cage with horizontal safety bars that offer a very safe spot if you ever need to dump the weight.
Next, you can adjust the height of the safety bars to spot you at your weakest, whichever portion it is in a lift. Thus, this also helps you target sticking points in your lifts.
Lastly, fitness racks can hold a lot of weight. This is essential for serious lifters.
Your safety bars would be of no use if the whole power rack tumbles from the weight or if a sleeve or cup could not support the weight of the barbell and plates.
The safety that a power rack offers allows you to lift as heavy as you can without worrying about being crushed by the weight.
You are able to push way beyond your limits even without a human spotter.
An increase in strength strongly correlates with an increase in muscle mass. Thus, helping you get closer to your goals.
With a power rack, you won’t be afraid to go to failure on your sets. You know that there are safeties that prevent you from getting injured.
You can stimulate muscular hypertrophy to the max because you won’t be hesitant about going for 20 reps on 4-plate squats, for example.
Power racks allow you to safely go over your current limitations. It makes it easier to break your records, and, therefore, makes your progress faster.
Cons of Using a Power Rack
A power rack, on average, takes up about 16 square feet of floor space. This can occupy half a room for most modest homes.
Can be pricey
Power racks cost between $600-3000 dollars. It will make a dent in your wallet.
While there are cheaper options, I don’t advise buying them. The cheaper the price, the lower the quality of the materials or the way it is built (welded, bolted, designed).
You wouldn’t want to put your safety in jeopardy, right?
Almost purely for barbell work
Power cages are designed to hold a straight bar parallel to the ground. Thus, it can only be utilized for barbell work.
Although, if you think about it, there is really no equipment made to spot a dumbbell bench press.
The good thing is that you can buy attachments for your home gym power rack that’ll help you perform other types of exercises like pull-ups, dips, and pulley movements.
What to Consider Before Buying a Power Rack
Choose the right type
There are two types of gym racks: base rack, aka modular, versus a package that already comes with some attachments, usually the safeties, j-hooks, and pull-up bar.
Go for customizable packages so that your first purchase has all the things/accessories you need, at least initially.
For attachments, more is not better
Attachments can be divided into three categories: exercise attachments, safety attachments, and weight or barbell holders.
Exercise attachments let you do more than just squat, bench, and deadlift on your power rack.
Some racks offer pull-up bars and pulleys as add-ons to further expand the utility of the power rack.
Safety attachments are the parts of the rack that spot you. The most basic are the safety pins; do not buy a rack without one. These are the horizontal bars that you can move and adjust the height of.
There are better and sturdier versions of these like the spotter’s arms or the safety straps that can hold more weight.
The holders are what hold the weights in place to help you get to the starting position of the lift. Most common are the j-hooks. While some have monolift systems.
It is important to select the right attachments for your power rack from the get-go. So, always consider the moves and exercises you plan to do.
You don’t want to end up forgetting an attachment that you need and end up waiting a few more weeks for it to be shipped.
Even worse, you wouldn’t want to spend money on attachments that you aren’t going to use in the first place.
Go for higher weight capacity
The more weight your rack can hold, the better. Verify how much the power rack can take in terms of static weight or dead weight.
To be more specific, verify the weight rating of the holes where your j-hooks and safety bars attach to.
To make it easier, look at the steel gauge used. 11-gauge steel should be the standard.
Find one that can hold more weight than you think you’ll ever be able to use.
The last thing you want is your barbell dropping on you while you set up under the bar for a squat, or, much worse, a bench press.
Consider your safety
Since one of the reasons you need and want a power rack is because you would be working out without a spotter, it’s best to invest in a rack that is absolutely structurally safe and sound.
Consider these features:
- Thick gauge steel, 11-gauge is the industry standard
- Can be anchored to the floor, if not, it should have stabilizers so it doesn’t rock back and forth or even tip over
- Strong welds, thick bolts, and nuts
- At least 2×3” steel tubing size, best if 3×3”
Verify the dimensions
Before you buy a power rack for its features, attachments, and looks, make sure that it will fit the intended area.
Consider the outside dimensions of a power rack with the area you’ll be putting it in.
Make sure you have enough space to move around the rack, like for loading the plates onto the barbell. And, so that you are sure it would not obstruct foot traffic in that space.
Check the rack holes
The spacing between the holes should be consistent, clean, and uniform.
For high lifts like the squat, one-inch spaces would be good. But, for medium lifts like the bench press, the smaller the increments, the better.
Look for a power rack that has “westside” spacing at least on the bench press height. This allows you to adjust incrementally so you can be more precise with training the lift-off part of the movement.
Optimal hole spacing lets you customize the static lifting heights to your body which would equal better training, and, hence, faster progress.
You can also opt for racks with numbered holes. This makes it easier to place pins and weight hooks at the same height, saving you time and energy.
Establish a budget
When establishing your budget, take note that most manufacturers only advertise the price of the basic or modular rack. The attachments can cost more, especially if you are considering upgrading the add-ons.
Spread out your purchase of attachments so you don’t break the bank on a single purchase.
Buy the base rack and the essential attachments first, then, you can purchase secondary attachments every month until you have everything you need.
Also remember that most power racks do not come with a bench, barbell, and weight plates. So factor these in, too, when establishing your budget.
Are power racks expensive?
Because of the pandemic, power racks have become increasingly popular. More and more people are investing in home and garage gyms so they can keep grinding even with the gyms closed.
And, because of the increasing demand, power racks have become improved yet affordable.
You can buy a decent, basic power rack for under $700. Higher quality, pro-grade racks that are essentially an all-in-one workout system can range from $1000 up to $3000.
Think of it as investing in your health rather than buying workout equipment, and you’ll find it easier to let go of some of your savings.
After all, a power rack can last you a lifetime, thus, save you from all the money you would otherwise spend on gym memberships.
Here’s a list of the best power racks you can buy
Best Overall Power Rack – Rep Fitness PR-4000
- Dimensions: 50”x50.5”x83/90”
- 6 posts made with 3×3” 11-gauge steel.
- 1” hole spacing throughout, with the bench zone having a westside spacing ⅝”
- Includes pull-up bars, pin safeties, j-hooks, weight horns
|What we like||What we don’t like|
|✅ Comparatively cheap compared to other brands with the same build quality||❌ Takes up a big floor area|
|✅ Super sturdy||❌ Base package only includes pin-pipe safeties|
|✅ Heavy-duty construction|
|✅ Customizable attachments and appearance|
The PR-4000 is a commercial-grade power rack that is truly heavy-duty. It is made with 11-gauge steel welded together to form the 3×3” posts, making it sturdy, stable, and tough.
It can be bolted down on the floor. But even if you decide not to, it has front and rear stabilizers that will make it stay firmly on the ground even with half a ton of weights piled onto it.
Priced at almost $1500 for the base package, I’d consider it a fair price given the quality of the build that it has, along with the included attachments. Other manufacturers have the same features at almost double the price.
This rack comes with 8 pieces of accessories: a pull-up bar, a pair of safeties, j-cups, and weight horns.
For whole-body exercise, this sets you up pretty well. You can do push, pull, and leg exercises, the trifecta of training movements.
The safeties could be better, though, since it only comes with pin-pipe safeties that most probably won’t be able to take a 500-pound barbell dropping on it.
Since power racks are mostly used to train for strength feats, being able to place the barbell at the most optimal position for you helps you optimize your lifting technique.
This incremental, aka westside, spacing of the PR-4000 could mean the difference between successfully lifting off a 400-pound bench press, or having the barbell catch the edge of the j-hook and ruin your lifting rhythm.
|If you are looking to go hard day in and day out with your barbell lifts, this is the power rack for you. It can take competition-level weights that will help you go from mediocre gym dude to a full-fledged powerlifter. |
This rack’s hole spacing allows you to train heavy movements with precision. The more adjustments you can make to optimize your lift, the faster you will progress. The faster you progress, the quicker you get big and strong.
Best Price-to-Value Ratio: Kicode Power Rack with Lat Pulldown
- Dimensions: 48.0”x47.2”x86.6”
- 2×2” steel construction, embedded upright pillar base
- 2” hole spacing throughout
- 2 pin safeties, 2 j-hooks, multi-grip pull-up bar
|What we like||What we don’t like|
|✅ Supports up to 1000 lbs.||❌ No weight holders|
|✅ Sturdy for its price||❌ J-hooks can be improved|
|✅ Comes with a cable/pulley rig|
This Kicode power rack packs great value into its cheap price tag. For the price of a high-end bare half-rack, you would be able to own a complete home gym system for both free weight and pulley training.
It comes with 2 pin safeties, 2 j-hooks, and a multi-position pull-up bar. These are enough to help you train hard and maximize strength and mass gain.
The rack can take up to 1000 lbs. of weight, so even advanced lifters will be happy with this one. Even with 2×2” steel poles, the embedded upright pillar base connection makes it sturdy.
The only problem I see is the hole spacing, it’s almost 2.5 inches far from the next one, which can pose a problem for those trying to train their bench press.
|It is a great power rack for the budget-conscious, and beginners who want to start their fitness journey but don’t have the time to go to the gym. |
You get a compact gym complete with accessories for free weight, body weight, and pulley exercises at a comparatively low price.
Best Space-Saver: Force USA Folding MyRack
- Dimensions: 52”x20”x84” (Folded), 49”x41”x86” (Working)
- Heavy-duty 12-gauge, 2.4-inch steel uprights
- 1” hole spacing for the squat area, ⅝” hole spacing for the bench area
- Comes with a multi-grip pull-up bar
|What we like||What we don’t like|
|✅ Supports up to 2000 lbs.||❌ Does not come with basic accessories|
|✅ Foldable even as a full-on power rack|
|✅ Extremely durable|
This is a full-on power rack, with the space-saving benefits of a half rack, squat stand, and folding rack. This is by far one of the best power rack and home gym innovations.
With its build, accessories, and hole-spacing, it easily rivals the products of widely known brands like Rogue or Titan.
The one thing I dislike is for the basic package, you only get the modular/base rack.
The 12-gauge steel allows it to hold up to 2000 lbs. Plus, it has westside hole spacing for legit pro-style training.
And the best part, it can be folded. Thus, you don’t need to worry about your power rack taking up precious living space.
After your workout, simply pull the pins, push the uprights in, and you’re left with a compact folded 52”x20”x84” rack.
|Buying the Folding MyRack is a no-brainer if you have the budget for a top-notch power rack but don’t have the space for it. |
It is also upgradeable with a very wide array of high-quality accessories like a landmine attachment, band pegs, and safety slings.
You get a state-of-the-art, commercial-grade power rack that can take on all the weights you pile onto it.
Best Basic Power Rack: Titan T-3 Series Power Rack
- Dimensions: 16”x46”x82/91”
- 2×3” 11-gauge steel uprights
- 1” hole spacing for the squat area, ⅝” Westside hole spacing through the bench, and clean pull zone
- Comes with j-hooks, single pull-up bar, fat pull-up bar
|What we like||What we don’t like|
|✅ Supports up to 1100 lbs.||❌ Does not come with pin safeties|
|✅ Takes up a small floor area, compact|
|✅ Westside hole spacing|
This solid power rack is made with 2×3” 11-gauge steel. Thus, it can take all the PR attempts you want to do, as long as your name isn’t Hafthor Bjornsson or Eddie Hall.
This brand became famous for its cheap prices yet superb quality. And, the T-3 is one of their flagships.
This basic rack comes with j-hooks and two pull-up bars. If only they added a pair of safeties, then it would have been an even greater package.
The good thing is that this is a modular rack. Thus, it can be customized with pin and pipe safeties, a monolift system, roller j-hooks, and more.
Seeing how cheap it is, I’m sure you’ll be able to afford one or two upgrades, at least.
It takes up a fairly small surface compared to other power racks and is enough to do all the lifts you want with a barbell beside the big three: squat, bench, and deadlift.
|The stability, customizability, and great reputation of the T-3 fully justifies the price. I would even argue that you get more value than what you will pay for.|
For those that do not care so much about the details and simply want a reliable power rack, this surely is the one to buy.
Other Power Racks for You to Check Out:
Rogue Combo Rack
This is for those that can shell out the dough for a complete powerlifting rig. A combo rack lets you train the big three: squat, bench, and deadlift, with one piece of equipment. This Rogue rack is IPF certified for competition use. Thus, it is sure to be sturdy and micro-adjustable to fit your physique perfectly.
|What we like||What we don’t like|
|✅ 3×3” 7-gauge steel construction||❌ Really pricey|
|✅ Jack-lever arms for easy height adjustment even while loaded|
Eleiko XF 80 Half Rack with Pull-Up Bar
If you are really tight on space, this Eleiko half rack will be a great addition to your home gym. It’s built tough enough for heavy bench presses, squats, rack deadlifts, and weighted pull-ups. It has Westside spacing in the clean press and bench areas for precise lift-off points.
|What we like||What we don’t like|
|✅ Comes with a pull-up bar||❌ No weight horns|
PRx Profile Series Folding Rack
This is a wall-mounted rack that folds into the wall vertically. It is great if you have a garage gym but need the space for your cars after working out. Equipped with gas shocks, it is quick and easy to put away and pull down. It is extremely sturdy, built with 2×3” 11-gauge steel with Westside spacing for optimal training.
|What we like||What we don’t like|
|✅ Easier to fold and pull down||❌ Needs a 91-inch ceiling height|
|✅ Only occupies 4 inches when folded|
Power racks are essentially a compact gym. It lets you perform all the foundational movements that you need to build power, strength, and muscle.
Now that you know what it is and what features to look for, it is now up to you to choose the best power rack that will help you achieve your fitness goals!
So, which power rack are you eyeing?
1- Is a power rack worth it?
As long as you are able to choose a tough-built rack that fits your needs and budgets, buying a power rack will pay dividends in terms of improved health and bigger savings in the long run.
So, a power rack is totally worth it if you’ll be using it regularly and consistently.
2- What is the best squat rack for home?
The best squat rack would be the one that fits your budget without sacrificing the quality of the rack itself and your safety.
For the best bang for your buck, I’d recommend the RepFitness PR-4000.
3- How much should I spend on a power rack?
I’d say be prepared to spend at least $800 on a power rack. This ensures that you have a high-quality power rack that can take the beating from heavyweights plus have the basic accessories needed for safety and exercise versatility.
4- Which brand is better, Rogue Fitness vs Titan Fitness?
I’d say Rogue Fitness is better. There’s a reason why you see them in most top fitness centers. But, Titan Fitness is not too far away in terms of quality. And, it is comparatively cheaper.
Both are excellent choices for your exercise equipment needs.
5- If a squat rack is cheap, does that mean it’s unsafe?
More often than not, it does. You can expect a lower quality such as having weaker welds, thinner gauge steel, and non-availability for upgrades.
6- How do you build a power rack at home?
If you’re talking about building a power rack from scratch, you can use 2x4s, cement, and buckets to create a rack with a solid base. You can find a lot of instructional videos about this on Youtube.
7- Should you secure a power rack to the floor?
Not all power racks need to be secured to the floor. Just make sure it has front and rear stabilizers if ever you want your power racks to be moveable and not bolted down.
8- What’s the difference between a squat rack and a power rack?
A squat rack is basically half a power rack. It can consist only of two upright posts to hold the barbell and can only be used for, well, squats. It offers far fewer exercise options other than squatting and benching.
9- Why do I need a squat rack?
You would need a squat rack so you go heavy on the lift. It places the bar at the top position of the lift, so it is easier to put the bar on your back.
Not having one forces you to clean the barbell up and place it on your back which takes a lot of energy and skill. Plus, you usually would not be able to clean the weight you can squat.
10- Racks seem too heavy and hard to move for my current situation — is there still a good option?
You can opt for a half-rack, or a squat stand instead. These take up less space and usually do not have to be bolted down. They also cost less and are easier to move around.
11- I want a rack that can be expanded as I progress my training — is this possible?
Yes, you can purchase modular power racks. These are basically the bare bones of a power rack, the steel posts, a pair of safeties, and the j-hooks.
Modular power racks are designed to accommodate attachments and upgrades that are not included in the initial package you are going to purchase.