The Power Rack is the most important piece of gym equipment. But many gyms don’t have one. Building a home gym is often the only solution. Here’s how to decide on a Power Rack “” Power Rack buyer’s guide.
Benefits of Power Rack. Free weights build more muscle and strength than machines. Work stations like Bowflex will give you subpar results and don’t work for routines like StrongLifts 5×5. Benefits of Power Racks:
- Safety. Power Racks have lateral safety pins to catch the barbell in case something goes wrong. You can lift safely without a spotter.
- Easier. Squats are key to building muscle & strength. But without Power Rack you’ll struggle to get the bar on your back for Squats.
- Versatile. Tons of exercises you can do: Squat, Bench Press, Inverted Rows, Dips, Pull-ups, Chin-ups, Rack Pulls and many more.
Drawbacks of Power Rack. In terms of results, buying a Power Rack is the best decision you can make. But there are drawbacks:
- Takes Space. Your basement or garage needs to be big enough for your Power Rack to fit in. Especially your ceiling must be high.
- Needs Extra Equipment. You need a barbell, bench & plates if you want to do as many exercises as you can with your Power Rack.
- Costs More Money. Because you must buy extra equipment on top of it. And a Power Rack is more expensive than Squat Stands.
Power Rack Alternatives. Whatever you do: do not get a work station like Bowflex or a Smith Machine. Free weights will give you best results. Some alternatives that might or might not work:
- Squat Rack. Open Power Rack. Less safe since they usually don’t have safety pins (some do, but you usually can’t adjust them). Example.
- Squat Holds. Can fall over if you don’t watch what you’re doing. Don’t come with safety pins, but you can use saw horses. Example.
- Half Racks. Half the height of a Power Rack and cheaper. Great if you have a low ceiling but doesn’t come with a Pull-up bar. Example.
- Smith Machine. Power Rack with fixed barbell. It looks safer, but isn’t. And it’s less effective than using free weights. AVOID. Example.
How to Choose a Power Rack. The higher the quality and the more options, the more expensive the Power Rack. Things you must look for:
- Sturdy. Quality construction with little plastic. Load capacity of minimum 1000lbs/455kg. Power rack shouldn’t be too light.
- Size. Tall enough so you can Overhead Press inside of it. Wide enough for increased stability and so you can do exercises like Sumo Squats.
- Uprights. Adjustable to many heights and with narrow spacing. Outside uprights so you can Press outside of your rack if it’s too short.
- Safety Pins. Removable or adjustable to all the way down so you can Floor Press inside your Power Rack. Narrow spacing for pin work.
- Pull-up & Dip Bar. For Pull-ups, Chin-ups and Dips. Best is a Power Rack with a straight Pull-up bar.
Here are some Power Racks I recommend…
- Atlas Power Rack. Good: cheap. Bad: no free shipping. This rack has 4.8 stars reviews on amazon.
- PowerLine PPR200X Power Rack. Good: handles 600lb, outside uprights, safety pins, pullup bar, cheap. Bad: too short to Overhead Press inside. This rack has 4.6 stars reviews on Amazon. Free shipping.
- Body-solid Pro Power Rack. Good: handle 1000lb, chinup bar. Bad: more expensive than the PowerLine PPR200X Power Rack. This rack is similar to what I have.
- Titan Power Rack. Handles 700lb, 28 holes, chin-up bar, less than $300.
- Rogue R3 Power Rack. Good: pullup bar, high quality. Bad: you must bolt it down, more expensive.
- Short Power Rack. If you have a low ceiling, this shorter Power Rack will fit under a 6″ ceiling.
How to Build a Power Rack. If you have the time & skills building a Power Rack can be cheaper than buying one. You decide its measurements which helps in case you have a low ceiling. Some people have build Power Racks from scaffold or even wood.