The power rack and squat cage is, arguably, the most important purchase you will make for your home gym. It will allow you to do a variety of exercises and take your fitness regime to the next level. Choosing a power rack or squat cage that best suits your needs isn’t the easiest task. This is because in addition to hundreds of options on the market, there are still a few factors you have to consider. We will cut down your research time by reviewing the 8 best power racks and squat cages on the market. But first things first, below are a few things you should know before making your purchase.
What Is A Power Rack/Squat Cage?
A power rack is a weight training equipment whose general design includes two horizontal bar catches and four upright posts. It works as a mechanical supporter that allows for free weight exercises by eliminating the restrictions imposed by other equipment like Smith Machine. A power rack can be used for many exercises including bench presses, squats, rack pulls and more. Many brands offers squat cages with accessory attachments like pegs for storing weight plates, chin-up bar and pulldown cable attachment.
Benefits Of A Power Rack/Squat Cage
There is no denying that a squat cage allows you to get into the weightlifting regime safely. It also makes it easy to do a variety of strength exercises safely. But is that all a power rack can do? Does having this equipment in your home have other benefits?
High flexibility and versatility
Contrary to what many people like to assume, a power rack isn’t good for just one exercise. You can use it for crossfit training and exercises like squats, bench presses, dips and chin-ups just to name a few. Some models are designed for more than 50 exercises.
Customizable with built-in safety
Most squat racks come with safety pins on either side that you can customize to suit your needs. They are designed to stop the downward movement of loaded barbells, thus preventing injuries in case you accidentally lose grip on the bar during a squat session. Simply put, a power rack builds a perfectly safe environment for your perform muscle building and strength training exercises.
Other Things You Will Have To Buy With Your Power Rack
Like most things in life, a power rack alone will not be able to give you the maximized benefits you are looking for. You will need a variety of additional equipment for an optimized experience. Some of the things you will need to purchase with your power rack include weights, barbells (preferably Olympic size), bumper plates and pull-up bar just to name a few. It’s important to determine which accessories are included with your power rack to avoid a double purchase.
Things To Consider Before Buying Your Power Rack/Squat Cage
A power rack is crucial to achieving optimum strength training results. But in order to get the most from your squat cage, it is important that you answer the following questions truthfully before making a purchase.
How much space do you have?
Power racks and squat cages require a considerable amount of space if you want to exploit them to the fullest extent. You need to have enough room to lower the bar to the rack. Otherwise, you will end up moving around awkwardly when moving weights and bars. Do your homework ahead of time and consider how you will be using the equipment. Read up on the power racks and compare their size to the amount of space your gym has. The last thing you want to pay for a squat cage only to realize that the ceiling isn’t high enough.
Is it the right size for you?
Squat cages come in varying sizes and the right choice depends on who will be using it. The right power rack for a woman shorter than 5’5″ will be different than for a man who’s more than 6′ tall. Again, it is important to do your homework ahead of time to avoid choosing a rack that is either too small or large for you. The product dimensions will tell you if a squat cage is large enough for you.
Do you have enough space for additional accessories?
Many people make a mistake of forgetting that additional accessories used with a power rack require some space too. You can’t have them rubbing against the walls or restricting your movements when in the gym. Some models come with storage pins for the accessories but it’s always good to ensure that you have enough room to store any accessories you use.
Does it come with a stabilizer?
Some units come with a stabilizer bar, which can get in the way and cause an injury. It is important to look at the power rack you’re rack to see if it has a stabilizer bar. Ensure that the stabilizer is flush to the floor or at least removable. If it doesn’t meet either of the conditions, then you should probably pass.
Can you anchor the power rack to the floor?
A better alternative to a stabilizer bar is the ability to anchor to the floor. This is particularly important if you will be doing pull-ups and chin-ups. It is a crucial safety feature that isn’t offered by every power rack.
Is it easy to use and adjust?
Ensure that the power rack you are considering is easy to use and allows you to make adjustments for a customized workout. Some models utilize pins for both safety and adjustability. For other models, making adjustments isn’t the easiest thing to do.
Who are Power Racks/Squat Cages Good for and What Areas of the Body Do They Work On?
Power racks are a good investment for someone who wants to take their workout regime to the next level by intensifying their strength training. Depending on the level of adjustability a squat cage offers, you will be able to perform a variety of exercises including squats, flat/incline/decline bench presses, bicep curls, military press, deadlifts, chin-ups/pull-ups, lunges and resistant band exercises. This ultimately means that a power rack works different muscle groups from back and chest to the lower body.
How To Set Up And Use A Power Rack/Squat Cage
Setting up a power rack largely depends on the specific model and how it is designed. Manufacturers often include instructions for setup in the manual to get started. The average squat cage includes four upright posts and two horizontal bars. The upright beams have holes drilled into them for resting the saddles at different heights. They also allow for bars that go across at different heights. Handles can be fixed on the rack for dips. You can also use barbells across the bar to do inverted rows.
Common Mistakes When Using A Power Rack/Squat Cage
If you want to incorporate a power rack into your workouts, here are a few common mistakes that you need to avoid.
Positioning the bar too high across the shoulders
While the position of a bar above the neck is determined by the body structure, many people tend to place the bar at the base of the neck rather than on top of the back. While using a bar padding can provoke a high squat and change alignment, it is important to note that it may result in a body spine. Consequently, this will put additional pressure on the upper spine and base of the neck.
Rounding the lower back
The lower back region should be slightly arched to ensure efficient power transfer. You increase the risk of serious injury if you round the lower back while handling heavy weights. A good way of eliminating the rounding of the lower back is to contract the lumbar muscles.
Relying on a weight-lifting belt
Strong back muscles and core are just as important as mobility in the upper and lower back. You need to maintain ankle mobility and lengthen the calf muscles. Using a weight-lifting belt all the time limits progression of your workout efforts and makes it more difficult to achieve your core training goals.
Not developing knee flexibility
Anterior movement of the knee joint is sometimes caused by a small offset angle in the joint. This ultimately accentuates a forward tilting motion, leading to rounding of the back and forward tilting the torso.
Reviews Of Best Power Racks/Squat Cages
1. Valor Fitness BD-7 Power Rack
Coming in at number one is the Valor Fitness BD-7, a power rack that also comes with a high and low cable pulley for compound and isolation exercises. It is one of the most popular power racks and is loved for going beyond the standard design and offering a range of extra features. The pull up bar is knurled at strategic points to give you a firmer grip. You will certainly appreciate the inclusion of 2 sets of adjustable bar supports and high quality safety rails, especially if you plan on using the unit without a spotter.
The bar supports are reversible and can be adjusted to any of the 17 height positions. While there are no barbells or weight plates supplied with the BD-7, you get four weight plate storage pegs with a 1-inch diameter on the sides of the frame. The lat pull can handle a maximum weight of 250 pounds while the limit for each bar holder is 500 pounds.
2. Best Fitness Power Rack BFPR100
Best Fitness blends value and quality to bring you the BFPR100, one of the most popular power racks for strength training. It is easy to use and offers a high level of safety for users. The frame is made from 14-gauge steel for longevity and the unit will handle up to 500 pounds worth of weight plates easily.
It offers 23 adjustment positions, which is more than other models on this list offer. This means increased versatility to perform a ton of exercises and diversify your workouts. Also included two adjustable lift offs and full length safety bars.
3. Powerline PPR200X Power Rack
This power rack is designed to help weightlifters exercise without jeopardizing their safety. It offers spacious walk-in, allowing you plenty of rooms to workout. You can do your exercises without worrying about injuries because the rack packs a few safety features including two saber style safety rods and two tempered liftoffs.
One of the most common issues with power racks is stability. This is not something you will have to worry about when you purchase the Powerline PPR200X power rack as it stays in place regardless of the amount of weight you place on it. This unit is quite durable with a steel frame and setting up isn’t difficult. Powerline offers a 10-year warranty on the frame, which is a standard in the industry, and a 1-year warranty on the other parts.
4. Body Power Deluxe Rack Cage System
The Body Power Deluxe Rack Cage System is a solid weight resistance training system that offers great features at a pocket friendly price. It includes full-length safety bars and offers easy lateral movement for improved resistance. You can use the power rack for a variety of exercises thanks to the included two dip bars, two pull-up bars as well as 15 height adjustment points.
There are four floor anchors that allow for optional mounting. The rack system uses two full-length safety bars with j-hooks for efficiency and two adjustable safety bar catches. It is compatible with most 6-foot and 7-foot Olympic set bars. The unit can handle a maximum weight load of 800 pounds, 500 lbs for the rack and 300 lbs for the chin-up and pin-up bars. Four integrated floor anchors provide added stability. Overall, this is a good starter for building your home gym.
5. Titan T-2 Series Short Power Rack
If you have a tight budget and figure that a 1000-pounds weight capacity is overkill, the Titan T2 will prove a good investment. It weighs a little over 100 pounds and can handle up to 700 pounds comfortably. It uses a 2″x2″ steel frame that is quite sturdy with great welds. The rack requires a minimum of 4’x4′ floor space to operate efficiently.
You get dip and pull-up bars with the rack to diversify your workouts. The 28 height positions help a great deal when doing different exercises. You will need to ask a friend for help when setting up. On the downside, the T-2 Series can be a little shaky when doing pull-ups. You can get around this problem by putting some weights in the back. Some customers cited a tendency to slide when used on wood or tile floors.
6. Valor Fitness BD-33 Heavy Duty Power Rack
The BD-33 is one of the strongest power racks by valor Fitness, with the ability to support up to 1000 pounds. It is one of three models by Valor Fitness to feature a lat pull option, allowing you to perform a variety of high and low cable exercises. This squat cage also offers eight anchor points for attaching resistant bands.
The saber style rods included with the BD-33 can be adjusted to varying heights and run the full length of the frame. This unit is also shipped with four weight bar catch supports and two solid steel adjustable squat bars. For longevity, Valor Fitness uses a 2″x2″ 12-gauge steel main frame with a metallic pewter painted finish.
The Valor Fitness BD-33 allows for 17 vertical position settings for accessories and bar supports ranging from 16 inches to 67 inches. It uses a triangular top frame supports to ensure increased safety when loading weights. Other features include a 20″ straight row bar attachment, 38″ lat bar attachment, 1″ diameter weight plate pegs and black diamond plate foot plate.
7. Body Solid GPR378 Power Rack
This unit is constructed using 11-gauge steel frames coated with corrosion-resistant glossy paint for longevity and durability. The bar catches and safeties are powder coated with dark charcoal matte finish. To ensure sturdy installation and prevent loosening, Body Solid includes 30 nuts, 30 bolts and 60 washers with nylon inserts.
All of the upright posts have holes every 1.75 inches for height control. We were a little concerned to learn that the bar catches and safety bars don’t have rubber padding. As far as the setup instructions go, they are quite easy to understand. While there isn’t much information on the weight load capacity, this power rack can handle 750 pounds comfortably.
8. Titan T-3 Series HD Power Rack
If you are looking for a heavy duty power rack, you should consider having the Titan T-3 Series on your list. It doesn’t come with a lot of attachments but the sturdy frame and high weight capacity make it a worthy purchase. This rack comes with a heavy duty frame made from 2″x3″ steel tubing and has a weight load capacity of 1000 pounds. The footprint isn’t exactly large but at 7′ high, you will need to place it in a room with at least an 8′ ceiling.
All of the upright bars are finished with steel plate bases that have holes for fixing to the floor. There are many adjustment holes on the frame in 1″ increments for bench exercises and 2″ increments for squats. This allows for increased versatility. The unit incorporates two pull-up bars durable enough to accommodate 450 pounds without risk of damage.
Also included are 2 spotter bars made from steel and 2 j-hooks, which are padded with thick rubber sheets for added comfort. The T-3 rack is supplied with a set of four weight plate supports that can be attached to the frame in different positions. The 4 L-pins offer support for the resistance bands.