How to Choose the Squat Rack
Before you do anything else, you must make sure that you know the dimensions of the area you have available to you. Where are you going to be placing it? Do you already have a dedicated home gym or will you find a place just for the rack alone? Whatever your situation is, make sure you measure it. Trust us, you’re rarely going to get it right if you’re just eyeing it, and you don’t want to waste time and money for something that could be so easily avoided. If you have lower ceilings, there are plenty of excellent products on our guide that either come made to be shorter, or have adjustable heights to accommodate various ceilings. Also think about width. Are you a wider person, or do you need extra space to perform certain exercises, such as kettlebell swings? If you’re just using them for squats, dips, pull-ups, chest presses, etc, then you can easily get away with a narrower model.
2. Weight Capacity
You need to know that a pull-up bar can hold your body weight and that your squat rack can hold the amount of weight you’re going to be lifting. The smaller or less expensive models typically hold up to around 500 pounds, which in all honesty, is more than the vast majority of us would ever need. However, if you’re a serious athlete/bodybuilder then you should probably go for more than that. Just take note that lesser-quality models often list their racks at a higher weight capacity than their hooks are rated, which can obviously cause some serious issues. While we don’t have to deal with that with any of the aforementioned products, it’s just a solid tip to watch out for. If you really want a rack you can grow with, then stick with those rated at at least 1,000 pounds.
As you can see, most quality racks are going to be made of steel. Where they vary, however, is the type and thickness of the steel. You can expect more budget-friendly models to have 2” x 2” steel, while the higher-quality models can go all the way up to 3×3 inches. However, we place a bit more focus on the gauge of the steel as it is often a better indicator of quality and durability. 7-gauge steel is essentially indestructible and a bit unnecessary when it comes to squat racks. 11-gauge and 12-gauge steel, on the other hand, is extremely tough and should be the only material you work with.
4. Type of Rack
As you can see from the products we’ve covered, there are an array of rack types to choose from. Let’s take a look at each.
- Power Rack: If you can afford this one or have the room for it, we highly recommend getting one. They feature the most safety features and accessories, and are often known as a “squat rack” or “power cage”. They essentially provide you with a mechanical spotter, letting you perform innumerable lifts with the confidence of this back up. They’re perfect if you’re a serious lifter or athlete and offer the greatest number of exercise possibilities.
- Half Rack: These are similar to the power racks, but are much smaller in size and are more limited in the number of exercises you can perform on them. They’re basically a smaller power rack, but are much more affordable and perfect for smaller spaces and/or lower ceilings.
- Squat Stand: These are essentially open power racks, though this also means most of the safety features are removed, along with the versatility a power rack provides. They are, however, much cheaper and more portable.
Are you just planning on doing squats with your squat rack? If so, then perfect! You can choose literally any option on our guide and you’ll probably be happy. However, most of us want the best bang for our buck and are looking for the ability to perform the most exercises possible. The vast majority of models on our guide will come with safety bars for squatting, as well as a pull-up bar. There are others that have a variation of your standard pull-up bars, along with dip bars, lat pull-down bars, and so on.
Make sure that if you’re an inexperienced lifter, that you’re placing special focus on safety bars. That way, you always have a backup in case something goes wrong. Even if you’re a pro, however, safety should be at the forefront of your decisions. Always make sure that you’re lifting weight that you know you can manage, and that your squat rack can support, too. Take advantage of weight pegs to minimize the chance of tripping over them or stubbing your toe.
How much are you willing to spend on one of the best squat racks? It’s a good idea to figure this out before you start shopping to eliminate the risk of spending more than you wanted to. No matter what your price range is, you can find a model on our guide that suits your needs. Just know that a squat rack should be an investment, and if you spend more you’re going to get a better level of quality, more safety, more exercise possibilities, and more.
Tips For Choosing Squat Racks
#1: Even if you’ve used a hundred different squat racks, make sure to read the instructions on yours before using it.
Each squat rack is a little bit different. To ensure your safety and the best results possible, just give it a read before you use it. It’s a bit annoying, but it will be worth it in the end.
#2: Try to figure out the height you need your squat rack to be beforehand.
On average, you’ll only need a few feet in depth when the stand is not in use and then enough room in front of it for a bench when you are using it. As far as height goes, I’d still want at least 8′, but that’s so you can functionally squat. The rack itself will vary from 6′-8′ tall depending on the model.
#3: Think about the weight you’re going to be able to lift in 5, 10 years.
As we’ve said before, a squat rack is an investment. They’re made to last for many years, so try to select a rack that will hold more weight than you’re able to lift now. Who knows, you may be able to lift twice the amount you are currently – or even more! You don’t want to limit yourself and have to buy a brand-new rack when your old one still holds up fine.