Do you want to work your glutes, quads, hamstrings and gain overall strength? Squats are one of the key weightlifting exercises you need to do for a complete workout that hits both the upper and lower body. But, to do them safely and easily, you need a squat rack.
Squat racks are usually fairly large, heavy pieces of equipment. However, there are many adaptations and options that make a home squat rack convenient and functional. If you are working on creating a complete home gym, you’ll definitely need to include a squat rack. For those who are tight on space, you can make sure that your rack is versatile and can also be used for other exercises such as the bench press or pull ups. In the coming sections of this article, you’ll learn all about the many products available, your DIY options and how to pick the best rack for your needs.
Squat Rack vs Power Rack: What’s the Difference?
Wondering whether to get a squat rack or a power rack? Some people use these two terms interchangeably to refer to a piece of equipment where you can place a barbell to perform squats. While these two pieces of equipment are similar, there are some basic differences.
A power rack looks more like a cage, while a squat rack is generally open. Also, the power rack is generally more versatile since you have significant control over adjusting the height where the barbell is placed. This means you can perform the bench press or squats using a power rack. The power rack is also great for using on your own since it has built-in adjustable safeties to catch the bar should you fail while lifting. Of course, you have to set them up and adjust them before working out, but when in place, they can make lifting alone quite safe.
The squat rack on the other hand, is more geared towards performing just squats. Most squat bars do include a safety feature, but it may not be as wide and easy to take advantage of as the power rack version. A quality squat rack will allow lifters of varying heights to use the rack and may also include additional features such as space to hold free weights or extra bars.
The Best Squat Rack: How to Make Your Choice
So, what should you look for when picking the best squat rack for your home?
Here are five things you should keep in mind and some “Do’s and Don’ts”
One of the most influential factors, your budget will dictate what type of rack you can buy or make. For those with the lowest budgets, a DIY or minimalistic rack may be the best choice. However, that doesn’t mean you have to go without! As you’ll see in the recommended products below, there are some options that can be accommodated in just about any budget. Just be realistic about what you can do with the money you have.
Another concern is space. Many racks, particularly power racks are quite large and will require a large footprint to fit comfortably in your home. If you don’t have much space, opt for a folding or wall-mounted rack that won’t take over your whole home gym area. Do measure your space and check specs before buying.
- Safety Features
Safety in the home gym should be a priority. Many people who have a home gym setup plan on working out alone. This means that you should seek out safety features that will help you should you fail while lifting. Don’t ever underestimate the dangers of weightlifting. If you max out and are no longer able to hold up the bar, you’ll want a safety arm or bar that will catch the bar for you. If you do choose a squat bar design that doesn’t offer much in the way of safety, then you’re committing to finding an exercise buddy who will spot you while you’re doing squats or bench presses.
- Weight Capacity
How serious about weight lifting are you? You’ll want to make sure the squat rack can handle the weight you’re currently lifting plus a bit more. This will allow you room to grow. However, if you currently don’t lift anything at all and aren’t into body-building, you probably won’t need a rack with a capacity of more than 400-500 pounds. Do make sure you check the specs to ensure that the rack you choose will meet your needs.
Do you want to get more than squats out of your rack? If you’re hoping to perform bench presses, curls, pull ups, dips and more with your rack, you’ll probably end up with a power rack. However, if you just need a simple squat rack strictly for squats, there’s no need to purchase a space-consuming power rack. Don’t forget that you can get more bang for your buck by buying a multi-functional design.
With this information in mind, browse through our top recommended squat racks to find the one that’s perfect for you.
DIY Squat Rack
Are you handy with tools and making your own equipment or furniture? If so, then the idea of a DIY squat rack may appeal to you. These racks are often cheaper than their commercially made equivalents. However, they do require a certain level of expertise. Since your rack will be holding a significant amount of weight, you’ll want to make sure that whatever you build is sturdy enough to handle it. So, don’t attempt a DIY if you’re not completely confident in your building abilities.
There are some great basic designs available for you to use as a base for creating your DIY squat rack. Here are some designs that you can try:
This wooden framed squat rack is basic and definitely one of the cheaper options. However, it’s sturdy, compact and fulfills the basic functions of a squat rack.
Alternatively, this power rack style option offers much greater versatility for other uses. In addition to using the rack for squats, you can also use it for the bench press, chest curls, pull ups and other similar exercises. Of course, this DIY design is also more complex and expensive than the other.
With this in mind, take a look at how these DIYs compare to what’s available for sale on the market.
Basic Squat and Power Racks
If you’re looking for basic squat and power racks, there are a few products that stand out because of their value for money, performance, and solid structure. Check out our favorites:
This simple power rack is more like a basic squat rack due to its open design. However, it does allow for you to perform pull-ups and add on your own attachments, making it more versatile than the average basic rack. Slide a bench under, and you can also use this rack for bench press and similar upper body exercises. This product is popular and loved among customers.
- Made of steel
- Versatile and useful for a variety of exercises including squats
- No built-in safety feature, although you could potentially install your own safety arms if you purchase them separately
- Great reviews
- Maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds
Who Makes It
CAP Barbell is a fitness equipment company that focuses on selling everything from equipment for weightlifting to home cardio machines such as ellipticals. CAP equipment can also be purchased at retailers like Walmart and Sears. Based on their widespread reach and stellar customer reviews, CAP Barbell is a reputable company selling quality equipment.
The Bottom Line
For a beginner, this affordable squat rack is the perfect choice. It’s sturdy and although it doesn’t have an exceptional weight capacity, it is enough for the average beginning weightlifter. The product is versatile, making it an attractive choice for those who want to do more than just squats.
This great power cage is full of great features and functions for a home gym. This product is strong, versatile and offers great value for money. The rack allows you to perform squats, bench press, pull ups, and also has space where you can add attachments for dip bars or other equipment. Given its versatility and reasonable price, it’s one of the best options out there!
- Steel frame
- Adjustable safety bars
- A range of exercises including squats can be performed using the rack
- Weight capacity of 800 lbs
Who Makes It
Fitness Reality is a fitness equipment company whose products are featured in many popular retail stores such as Walmart, Target and Home Depot in addition to online. They offer a wide range of home fitness equipment such as treadmills and ellipticals that complement their strength training equipment. The brand is owned by Paradigm Health & Wellness, a company based in Southern California. Online, their products generally receive very positive reviews.
The Bottom Line
This high weight capacity power rack is perfect for fitness enthusiasts looking to be able to safely lift weights at home. The setup allows for a range of exercises to be performed from squats to pull ups, bench work and more. Users have posted stellar reviews of this product, making it an easy one to purchase with confidence.
Folding Squat Rack/Wall Mounted Squat Rack
Don’t have the space in your home for a freestanding rack? There are some foldable squat rack and wall mounted squat rack options that offer the basic functions of a squat rack without completely overtaking your gym space. Why not try this wall mounted rack that also folds neatly against the wall?
This folding wall mounted squat rack is a great alternative to the larger racks. Although it may be a bit tricky to install given the feet that must swing out and back, overall the design is simple and functions well. Beloved by users, this rack conveniently folds up against the wall completely, giving you ultimate flexibility with your space.
- Steel frame
- Adjustable height
- No listed weight capacity as this depends on the installation and the size of the bolts and the wall structure
- Reasonable price: $309.00 at the time this article was written
Who Makes It
Titan Fitness sells gym exercise equipment online and in retail stores such as Walmart. The company offers a large selection of weight lifting equipment as well as balance and cardio items. Overall, the company gets great reviews on their products.
The Bottom Line
As long as you’re prepared to take on the install, the Titan Fitness rack is a great alternative to larger, more invasive racks. It offers great adjustability for height and features 2 sets of J-hooks, one of which would work as a satisfactory safety. It also features a pull up bar, giving you a second exercise to perform on this piece of equipment.
Hammer Strength Squat Rack
Hammer Strength is a very popular weight lifting equipment brand known for its quality and durability. If you’re interested in a Hammer Strength squat rack, however, you’re entering into a new price range. Used Hammer Strength brand racks can easily run upwards of $500, let alone new ones. The equipment available is designed for serious athletes and use in gyms. It has a high weight capacity and will offer unparalleled performance.
If you are a serious weight lifter and need something that will withstand heavy use and extreme weight, consider a Hammer Strength rack. However, if you are just an average weight lifter, you probably don’t need to shell out for one of this brand’s racks.
Squat Rack Extras
Get the most out of your squat rack by purchasing a rack that does more than allow you to do squats. There are many racks that offer a whole range of features that can enhance your home gym. Here are some to look for:
- Squat Rack with Pull Up Bar
Do you want a squat rack that also features a pull up bar? Many of the models mentioned in this review also feature a pull up bar. The Fitness Reality, CAP barbell and Titan Fitness squat racks all include pull up bars in their design.
- Bench and Squat Rack
A squat bench rack is the best combination that allows you to do your bench routine using the same rack you use for squats. Simply move the bench into position or remove it as needed. The Fitness Reality model actually has a squat and bench rack option so that you can order both pieces of equipment at once. Or, order separately by choosing a weight bench from our recommended list.
Alternatively, you might consider this popular model:
This basic squat rack and weight bench also featuring a leg developer gives you all of the weight lifting tools you need in your home gym. You can do a full bench routine including the press and also do your squats. The bench offers 6 different positions of incline and decline, while the squat rack is also adjustable for a wide range of heights.
- Stable frame
- 6 position bench
- Adjustable squat rack
- Great reviews
- No safety arms or features included. You’ll need someone to spot you.
- Weight capacity of 300 lbs for user plus 300 lbs weight. The leg developer accommodates 150 lbs
- Reasonable price: $178.95 at the time this article was written
Who Makes It
Body Champ is a popular fitness equipment manufacturing company. Their equipment is sold at many well-known retailers such as Walmart and Sears as well as online. Customers generally give positive reviews of their products.
The Bottom Line
For a basic squat rack and bench, the Body Champ product offers incredible value. You’ll be able to perform a very complete, whole body weight lifting routine with the equipment. However, more serious athletes and weight lifters may prefer more robust equipment. Also, keep in mind that there are no safety features included for weight lifting alone, so this may not be the best option if you want to be able to lift on your own.
Your Final Decision on Buying a Squat Rack
There are many options to choose from when buying or making your own squat rack. However, with careful consideration and by prioritizing your needs, you’ll be able to make a decision you’re happy with. Ideally, with enough space and a large enough budget, you’ll be able to get a rack that allows you to perform a wide range of exercises including pull ups and a bench routine. In the long run, this will be best for your workout needs.
Do you already have a squat rack or have you made your own? What’s your experience with this equipment? Share your experiences and recommendations in the comments below.