Best Power Cage Buying Info For Garage and Commercial Gyms
Best Power Cage Buying Info For Garage and Commercial Gyms
Technically, the term power cage refers to the four-post enclosed version, whereas the term “squat rack” is used to describe a half rack that’s open on one side and usually has only two posts. To complicate matters even further, a power cage has six posts if it’s equipped with rear weight plate storage and a similarly outfitted squat rack has four posts. If you’re unsure of the difference, just remember that you lift inside the uprights of power cages and outside them when using squat racks / half racks.
Though you can perform most of the same exercises safely with either, the enclosed design and extra support posts of a heavy-duty power cage is a considerable benefit and makes it preferable to a squat rack for your heaviest lifts. When squatting, for example, you can descend to the depth you want with complete peace of mind that a missed lift can simply be brought to rest on the safety bars.
Both the j-cups that hold the bar and the safety bars can be adjusted vertically to fit any size trainee. The correct placement of the safeties (cross-beam supports) for squatting is just below the depth you normally descend to so that you can sink a bit lower if you miss a rep until the barbell is supported on them.
By adding a few optional attachments, power cage workouts can include many movements besides just squat variations. Though power cages come in many different design configurations, there’s been a movement at the higher end of both the residential and commercial power cage market in recent years to standardize some of the specifications so that attachments like dip handles, landmines, and leg rollers are interchangeable between different manufacturers.
Nowadays, many of the best power cages are made from 3”x3” 11-gauge steel with 1” hardware and 2” hole spacing on the posts. By purchasing a power cage built to these specifications, you can buy attachments from many different manufacturers and be fairly certain they’ll fit your rack. This gives you the flexibility to shop around for unique equipment to meet your specific training needs.
As many people were forced to build a garage gym and train from home during COVID era gym closures, new and creative rack attachments were introduced by manufacturers in an effort to make power cage workouts more comprehensive for trainees who didn’t have the space or money to add many different machines to their home gyms. You can now purchase attachments like high/low pulleys, adjustable lever arms, belt squat apparatuses, and hamstring curl devices that attach to your power cage with a simple pin and perform the same functions as expensive machines that occupy large footprints in commercial gyms. In essence, if you have a standardized power cage, you can bring the entire gym home to you in one do-it-all modern engineering marvel.
Let’s take a look now at a few of the many movements for the major muscle groups you can perform with a fully loaded power cage.
Since power cage workouts were originally intended to be focused mainly on leg training, we’ll start there. Any squat variation you can think of—back squats, front squats, zercher squats, and partial squats—can be performed safely and effectively inside a power cage. With the right attachments, you can also use your power cage for belt squats, hamstring curls, step-ups, and even leg presses (by adding a footplate to a set of adjustable lever arms).
For chest and tricep training, bench pressing and incline bench pressing inside a power cage allows you to train in complete safety with no need for a spotter. A dip attachment adds one of the best upper body mass building exercises man has ever devised, adjustable lever arms open a whole new world of pressing options that mimic common gym machines, and a high pulley allows triceps pushdowns and overhead cable extensions.
If your cage is tall enough, you can train your shoulders with the timeless standing press inside it. If not, simply move the j-cups to the front posts and press outside the cage or pull an adjustable weight bench into it for seated presses or behind-the-neck presses. Landmine presses have also become quite popular in recent years, and landmine attachments are some of the most affordable accessories available. A low pulley, which can be mounted off the side or rear of many cages, opens the door to a variety of shoulder raises to target specific heads of the deltoid.
Pull-ups and chin-ups form the cornerstone of any good back and biceps training program, and for my money a multi-grip pull-up bar upgrade (over the standard straight pull-up bar that comes with most power cages) is one of the best investments you can make. Landmine rows add an excellent horizontal pull to your arsenal. You could get by on those exercises alone, but a high/low pulley attachment allows for much more variety from common cable exercises like pulldowns, cable rows, and cable curls.
When shopping power cages for sale, think about movements you enjoy doing regularly and movements you might like to add occasionally for variety. Then, balance these needs and wants against your budget. Naturally, the more bells and whistles you want to add, the more you should plan to spend.
With the rise in popularity of well-equipped home gyms during the pandemic, the line between residential and commercial power cages has blurred. Where power cages found in home gyms used to have maximum load capacities of 700 pounds or less, home installations are now commonly found that are capable of supporting 1,000-plus pounds. Nevertheless, you can still find perfectly functional power cages that aren’t so robust, and save yourself a few dollars, if you’re not planning on hoisting mammoth poundages.
Best Power Cage Choices and Examples
No doubt there are many good power cages out there, and IRON COMPANY stocks a large number of them. The Legend Fitness 3133 Heavy Duty Power Cage (above) stands out because it offers excellent value in the base model with many of the upgrade options I mentioned above also available. Though you may not want to spring for every accessory today, Legend offers an optional multi-grip pull-up bar, flip-down safeties, band pegs, Olympic bar storage, dip attachment, step-up attachment, landmine, and others.
For a more budget friendly option, the Body Solid GPR400 Power Cage (above) comes standard with 3" x 3" x 11 gauge steel uprights, heavy-duty safeties and J-cups, bolt-down tabs, knurled pull-up bar and boasts a weight loading capacity of 1,000 pounds. Over time, you can add attachments, including a lat tower, that allow you to greatly expand your exercise menu out of this smartly designed power cage.
Other popular power cage brands and manufacturers available at IRON COMPANY are CalGym, Evolution and Proformance Plus by TuffStuff Fitness International, Best Fitness and Powerline by Body Solid, Workbench by Powertec, York Barbell, SportsArt Fitness Status Series and Muscle D Fitness.
Where To Buy A Power Cage For Your Garage Or Commercial Gym
If you’re still unsure of which of the many available power cages will best meet your training needs, an IRON COMPANY sales rep will be happy to help further educate you on the best options available based on your fitness goals, budget, space constraints, and other considerations. If you end up choosing a made to order USA Made power cage, IRON COMPANY will fabricate it, powder coat it with the color of your choice, pack it onto a heavy-duty pallet, and deliver it right to your doorstep. Contact Us today for all your strength equipment needs.
Chuck Miller has been immersed in the pursuit of strength and the art and science of physical transformation as a coach, athlete, and writer for over thirty years. He is the author of Inside the Mind of an Iron Icon: on strength training and bodybuilding and is a monthly columnist for HARDGAINER 2.0 Visit CORE Strength and Conditioning to learn more about his background or to book a consultation.