Best Squat Rack For Home Gym, Garage Gym and Commercial Gyms
Best Squat Rack For Home Gym, Garage Gym and Commercial Gyms
A squat rack, or half rack as they’re also called, is an extremely useful piece of strength equipment occupying a relatively small footprint yet offering the versatility to perform many different weight training movements. Half racks have either two posts if they’re not equipped with rear weight plate storage or four posts if they are. Either way, they feature an open design with safeties attached to the front set of posts and protruding outward.
Power cages, by contrast, are fully enclosed and have four posts if they’re not equipped with rear plate storage or six posts if they are. The safeties are inside the posts and attach to them in both the front and back.
With the additional attachment points for the safeties, a power cage is the preferred choice to support maximum poundages for top-level powerlifting competitors, but a heavy-duty squat rack is no slouch either, with some commercial squat racks rated to 700+ pounds. Where squat racks gain a leg up is with their footprints that are usually 30% smaller than power cages, making them ideal for garage gyms, home gyms, apartments, or anywhere with space limitations.
The adjustable safeties and j-cups are some of the nicest features of half racks. Both can be moved up or down in small increments of two inches or less on the best squat racks to allow trainees of varying heights to unrack the bar and squat to the correct depth.
So far we’ve learned that squat racks are space-efficient, safe for squatting weights most of us will never attempt, and can be used by trainees of different heights. Let’s take a closer look now at their versatility with a rundown of a few of the exercises one might include in a typical squat rack workout.
The squat-push-pull format has long been one of the most popular ways of organizing a training week. There’s nothing fancy about training this way, but the logical structure means you won’t have a lot of overlap between muscle groups and will have ample time for each body part to recover before training it again. As such, you can attack each muscle when you do train it, knowing you won’t have to demand much of that muscle again for a full week.
On squat day, you can use your half-rack to perform any squat variation you can think of, though back squats and front squats will be your bread and butter. Occasionally moving the safeties up to experiment with partial squats from your sticking point can also be a great way to break through plateaus.
A few attachments can add to your squat day exercise variety. A simple leg roller that fits into the holes in the posts allows you to perform both Bulgarian split squats and single-leg Romanian deadlifts. A rack-attached seat can be used for step-ups and box squats. Other attachments that large equipment manufacturers have started to offer over the last couple of years include belt squat apparatuses and hamstring curl devices.
On push day, center an adjustable weight bench between the posts of your squat rack for bench presses and incline bench presses to blast your chest muscles. Just as you can use the safeties for partial squats, you can also use them for partial bench presses to build lockout strength. Seated and standing presses are other great additions to push day that offer more deltoid emphasis.
Dip attachments are usually quite affordable, and as long as the exercise doesn’t cause you shoulder pain, they’re one of the first supplementary pieces of equipment I recommend purchasing. The landmine is another affordable attachment that even comes standard on some of the best squat racks and can be used for both pushing and pulling exercises.
If you have the opportunity to upgrade the straight chinning bar that comes standard on most commercial squat racks to a multi-grip chinning bar, the added versatility for different pulling options in the vertical plane makes the decision a no-brainer. For pulling in the horizontal plane, landmine rows are a great choice.
An attachment that won’t come as cheap as some others but that adds many great pulling exercises in both planes is a rack attached lat pulldown / low row, though plate-loaded models will be more affordable than those with weight stacks. Both styles usually attach to the back of the rack and are mounted on the rear plate storage posts but are also sometimes creatively bridged off the side.
The configuration of your particular workout space will help determine which option is the better choice for you.
As you can see, when shopping for squat racks for sale, you have several factors to consider. Foremost, the rack should fit within your available space and be robust enough to handle the poundages you’re planning to use. Secondarily, the best squat rack for your budget should offer you the ability to upgrade immediately or in the future to the essential attachments you plan to use regularly in your training program.
Best Squat Racks
The Legend Fitness 3226 Pro Series Half Cage above is purposely overbuilt to handle heavy loads and features 11-gauge 3” x 3” tubing and 7-gauge, chrome-plated racking with laser-cut numbering. The entire rack only has twelve bolts across four joints, reducing the possible points of weakness and maintenance. A multi-grip chin up bar, resistance band pegs, and Olympic bar storage come standard, and availaible attachments include a landmine, step-up, swivel pull-up handles, and dip bar. The 3226 is a good example of a commercial squat rack that can be put anywhere such as a school weight room or commercial gym with piece of mind.
The Body Solid SPR500 Commercial Half Rack (above) is a beefy rack with a leaner price tag. Thanks to its 3" x 3" x 11 gauge heavy-duty steel frame, this rack boast a 1,000 lb. weight capacity making it a great selection if you like to perform heavy prime movers like bench press, squats and overhead presses. And the 1" hole spacing in the steel uprights accomodates any size trainee with a more custom fit for any lift. Adding an adjustable weight bench will greatly expand all the strength and muscle building exercises that can be done in this small footprint of only 50" L x 53" W.
The Body Solid SPR500 comes standard with the basic essentials that include the base, a pair of J-cups, a pair of safety spotter bars and a chin-up bar. But, the expandability of this squat rack is almost endless. Some of the most popular optional attachments include band pegs, dual T-bar row, storage tray, dip station and plyo step attachment.
If you need help choosing between these two excellent options or any of the other fabulous half racks IRON COMPANY offers, a 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. 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.