The best squat rack
Home workouts are just as effective as going to the gym, provided you have the right equipment, alongside some determination and planning. A squat rack is ideal for those looking to tone and strengthen, with workouts targeting the upper body, lower body, and core.
Squat racks range in size, durability, and versatility. Acquiring the right squat rack means identifying fitness goals and any restrictions when it comes to space. For more advanced trainers, we recommend our high-quality top pick from Marcy, but there are still plenty of options for those in different parts of their fitness journey, so read on for more information.
Considerations when choosing squat racks
Squat racks typically come in one of three different forms:
Half-rack: This smaller squat rack features horizontal bars connected by two sturdy upright bars, resembling half of a cage. These take up less room and are typically less expensive, but they don't offer the stability and versatility of more advanced models.
Power rack: An alternative is the power rack, or full rack, that features four upright vertical bars connected by horizontal bars, forming a cage. These models are larger and offer more stability and range of activities, but they take up more space and are costlier.
Multi-rack: These power racks feature an array of accessories and attachments to increase the versatility and effectiveness of the unit. They may welcome in weight benches and allow for presses, pull-ups, dips, or pull-downs.
You need a squat rack that can support the maximum potential weight you'll lift. Those with higher weight limits are heavier and likely more expensive. Those on the smaller end may support up to 300 pounds, which may be useful for those looking to tone, while higher-end models can have a capacity of 1,000 pounds geared towards strength trainers.
This number designates how strong a squat rack is -- the lower the number, the more durability it possesses. Seven-gauge racks are among the strongest but also most expensive. It's advised not to go any higher than 11-gauge, as models weaken and lack longevity and stability.
Squat racks can be dangerous to use without the right protective safety measures. Some employ pins to hold and catch the bar should it slip, while others have a more durable safety bar, which also catches the bar.
The way in which feet are constructed on the squat rack inform its stability. Some have bolts to affix the unit to the floor. Others may feature long, flat feet in the shape of a cross so that it doesn't move or tip over easily. Consider the feet design and where the rack will be used so you have a sturdy foundation.
Large squat racks may feature bars for storing plates. This is useful for those with an assortment of plates without a proper storage solution. It also keeps them conveniently and safely at hand when using the rack.
While half rack options may run a couple hundred dollars, most full cages cost between $300 and $500. These may include any number of additional exercise options.
Q. Do squat racks provide an effective workout?
A. Like any piece of exercise equipment, squat racks are a tool at your disposal, but you need a plan with specific fitness goals in mind. Squat racks provide toning and strengthening opportunities, particularly for your legs and glutes. More advanced models may allow for upper body exercises, too, or to incorporate equipment. Note that squat racks do not provide a cardiovascular workout.
Q. What precautions should I take when using a squat rack?
A. Proper form is essential to perform exercises safely. Keep your ankles flexible and feet shoulder-width apart when squatting. Engage your core and know your limits. You should use a squat rack with a safety pin or bars should you lose your grip. Warm up before a workout and stretch after and be sure to take off days to recover.
Squat racks we recommend
Best of the best: Marcy's Olympic Multipurpose Strength-Training Cage
Our take: A high-quality, gym-like squat rack that offers a variety of exercises to serious trainers.
What we like: Durably constructed power cage with plate storage. Features a pulley system for upper body training. Includes dip bar and ab crunch station.
What we dislike: Costly investment. Safety features could be better.
Best bang for your buck: CAP Barbell's Power Rack
Our take: Inexpensive yet effective half squat rack for beginner and intermediate strength trainers.
What we like: Provides both durability and safety. 500-pound weight limit caters to most users. Smaller size makes it conducive to apartments and dorms.
What we dislike: Lacks features or extra workouts without additional purchases.
Choice 3: GRIND Fitness' Alpha2000 Squat Stand
Our take: Strong and stable, heavy-duty half rack for serious strength trainers and exercise enthusiasts.
What we like: Feet adjust to maintain level foundation. Sturdy aluminum construction. 1,000-pound weight capacity. Includes safety arms and features a pull-up bar.
What we dislike: Assembly takes time and effort.
Anthony Marcusa is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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