Best Squat Racks

Updated October 2020
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Pros
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Buying guide for best squat racks

When you’re trying to get fit, weightlifting and strength training are just as important to your  routine as cardio workouts. Lifting at home is a great way to maximize your time when you can’t get to the gym. With a squat rack, it’s easy to create an effective home weightlifting routine.

A squat rack is a sturdy metal frame with notches to support the barbells when you perform squat exercises. You stand under the bar and grip it to lift it off the stand before stepping back to do your squats. When you’ve finished your routine, you step forward to deposit the weight bar back on the squat rack. Some squat racks also allow you to do pull-ups, chin-ups, and hanging leg raises, but the most common squat rack exercises include squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and barbell lunges.

Finding the right squat rack for your home gym can be a tough prospect with so many to choose from. In this buying guide, you’ll find plenty of tips to help you choose the best squat rack for your weightlifting workouts.

Home squat racks usually aren’t as large as the squat racks you find at the gym. As such, they’re easier to fit inside your house.

Key considerations

Type

Squat racks are available in several types: half racks, power racks, and multi racks.

A half rack features two solid bars that run up both sides and feature notches that can support a barbell, but it only has one set of uprights, so it doesn’t form a full cage. However, it may have an overhead bar for pull-ups and other attachments. Half racks aren’t as wide as full racks, so they can fit in nearly any home gym. They’re not as expensive as full racks, either. 

A power rack is similar to a half rack, but it has two columns (at the front and back) and horizontal bars across the top and bottom to form a cage. This structure allows it to support more weight than a half rack. It also makes it less likely for barbells to slip out and fall on the floor. Power racks are larger and require more space.

A multi rack is a full rack that allows you to perform a greater variety of activities, including squats, bench presses, chin-ups, pull-ups, and dips. It’s larger and more expensive than a half rack. 

Weight capacity

You want to be sure your squat rack can handle the weight you usually lift, so check its weight capacity. This figure also gives you an idea how sturdy and durable the rack is. You can find racks with capacities that range from 300 to 1,000+ pounds.

Expert Tip
If you’re just starting out with weightlifting, opt for a power rack rather a half rack. A power rack offers more protection in case you drop the barbell.
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Features

Steel gauge

The steel gauge that a squat rack is made with determines how sturdy and durable it is. Keep in mind that with steel gauges, the lower the number, the thicker the steel. The strongest racks are made with 7-gauge steel. They can be incredibly pricey, though, and they aren’t usually necessary for home use. 

In a home gym, some experts advise to opt for a squat rack made of 11-gauge steel or lower. This should hold up well over years of use. Notably, some manufacturers don’t list the steel gauge for their racks. Often, this means they’re using 12-gauge or thinner steel and should be avoided. 

Safety features

You can get injured pretty easily if your squat rack doesn’t have the proper safety features. A good rack should have safety pins on both sides of the rack, which let you adjust the height of your bar and can also catch the bar if you drop it. Smaller racks may have safety arms instead of pins, which are mounted to the rack and stick out to catch the bar.

Feet design

The type of feet a squat rack has reflect the rack’s stability. Some racks feature upright bars with plastic caps or inserts at their feet, but there’s no shape to help offer stability. Other racks have feet with flanges that have a hole, which can fit bolts, so you’re able to secure the rack to a lifting platform or the floor to prevent it from moving. Some racks have flat feet, which feature cross members that provide an extremely stable base for the rack so it’s not likely to tip over. 

Bench

Some squat racks include a bench that you can use for bench presses. However, most racks require you to purchase the bench separately, which can add to the overall cost of the rack. 

Plate storage

Many squat racks offer onboard weight plate storage, so you don’t have to have a separate storage rack for them. This can be an especially convenient feature if your home gym is on the small side. 

Did you know?
A squat rack made of 11-gauge steel has a frame that is 1/8-inch thick.
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Accessories

Barbells: Rep Fitness Sabre Olympic Bar
For an effective weightlifting routine, you need a good barbell to support your weighted plates. We like this one from Rep Fitness because it’s rated for up to 1,000 pounds and is coated with zinc to discourage rusting. 

Squat pads: Dark Iron Fitness 17-Inch Squat Pad
A squat pad not only cushions your neck when you’re squatting but helps keep the weight evenly distributed across your body. This pad from Dark Iron is a favorite because it’s made of dense foam that holds its shape well and features a waterproof nylon covering.

Weightlifting gloves: Grip Power Pads Elite Leather Gym Gloves
If you lift regularly, you need a good pair of gloves to protect your hands from blisters and calluses. We love these Grip Power gloves because they’re made of durable leather and have thick rubber padding to cushion your hands. 

Did you know?
Squats are an excellent exercise because they use all of your largest muscles in a smooth movement.
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Squat rack prices

Squat racks vary in price based on the type, weight capacity, and steel gauge. Most cost between $199 and $1000. 

Inexpensive: The most affordable squat racks are half racks that don’t take up as much space in a home gym. They typically cost between $199 and $425.

Mid-range: Mid-range squat racks are power racks, though they usually feature lower-gauge steel. These racks typically cost between $400 and $700. 

Expensive: The most expensive squat racks are either power racks made of higher-gauge steel or multi racks that allow you to perform a great range of activities. These racks generally cost between $550 and $1,000.

Tips

  • When lifting at a squat rack, keep your ankles flexible. Having stiff ankles can cause you to tilt forward when you lift, which can prevent your muscles from developing the way you want.

  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart when you’re lifting at the squat rack. This ensures that the weight is distributed evenly across your body. 

  • Maintain an engaged core when you lift. An engaged core provides support for your rib cage so your chest doesn’t collapse as you lift the weight. 

  • Tailor the amount of weight you lift to your goals. If your goal is to build muscle, lift with a lighter weight and do more reps. If your goal is to build strength, lift heavier weights and do fewer squat reps.

For the best results, aim to work out at your squat rack three times a week.

FAQ

Q. How wide is a squat rack? 
A. It’s important to consider the overall size of a squat rack to make sure it would fit in your home gym. On average, a squat rack is 52 inches wide, which is large enough to be safe and effective but can still fit in most home gyms. 

Q. Is a half rack safe to use? 
A. A half rack can be just as safe as any squat rack as long as it has the right safety features. Make sure it has pins or arms to catch your barbell if you should drop it. 

Q. What’s the difference between a squat rack and a power rack? 
A. A power rack is a type of squat rack. In some cases, a squat rack refers to a half rack that doesn't feature a full cage design. A power rack, on the other hand, features the full cage design and is more versatile. Some find them to be safer to use, as well.  

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