A power or squat rack is often touted as necessary equipment for a home gym. But is that really the case and does this go for everyone? Here’s what you want to know.
People that intend to barbell squat, overhead press, bench press or do any variation of those exercises should have a power or squat rack in their home gym. A rack will hold the barbell at a certain height which makes it much easier to get under the bar for certain exercises as well as much safer.
Why do you need a rack for those exercises specifically and could you get away without one in your home gym? Keep reading below to find out.
Do You Need a Rack In Your Gym?
In fact it doesn’t really matter if it’s a home or commercial gym, if you need a rack depends on the type of exercises that you want to do.
The main purpose of a power or squat rack is to hold the barbell at a certain (adjustable) height. This means you can step/sit under the bar without having to lift if from the floor first. This is essential for exercises where you start under the barbell. When squatting heavy (for you) weights, lifting the bar from the floor and then putting it on your back is going to be very difficult.
A rack also helps with safety. There are usually spotter arms or safety pins that prevent the barbell from dropping too low. If you set these correctly, you can prevent getting stuck under the barbell if you fail a lift. Especially when lifting without a spotter, this is a very important safety feature.
If you’re only doing dumbbell or bodyweight exercises, there is no point for a power rack. Also, if you use barbells but have no interest in squatting, bench pressing or overhead pressing, a rack is not necessary. Power or squat racks do have some other functions like a built in pull up bar or plate pegs but those can usually easily be replaced by cheaper equipment.
Should You Choose a Power or Squat Rack For Your Home Gym?
So if you want to perform the exercises listed above, you’ll need some sort of rack. But which is better? A power rack or squat rack? A power rack is bigger and usually more expensive but provides more safety.
A squat rack (in this case i’m talking about a half rack like shown below) is smaller and cheaper but still allows you to fall backwards with the barbell so is less safe. They can usually handle a little less weight as well.
I wouldn’t recommend squat stands unless it’s really your only option. Squat stands don’t provide much safety.
In the end, what’s best for your home gym is up to you to decide. What’s right for you depends on;
- Available space
- How heavy you lift
- Which exercises you want to do
- How many accessories you need
- If you’ve got a workout buddy
If you don’t have the money and/or space for a full rack, getting a squat stand is infinitely better than getting nothing at all. If you want something that does everything you can imagine, while supporting the heavy weights you want to lift while keeping you safe, spending more on a power rack is worth it.
My personal preference is a power rack. Especially for a home gym. Yes, it’s more expensive but if you’re an avid lifter, you’ll use it so often and for such a long period of time it’s worth it. Saving for an extra month is worth it for a few reasons IMHO.
- Extra safety. The biggest benefit of a power rack. In a home gym people usually work out alone. That means you have no spotter. While some squat stands have spotter arms, the safety pins and upright posts of a full rack are just safer.
- Versatility. A power rack can be used for more different exercises. Yes, it’s bigger but you don’t need much else.
- More accessories: More accessories means you can make your power rack even more versatile. Many power racks don’t have this option.
- Stronger. The design with four upright posts is inherently stronger and more stable than just the two of a squat stand. This is reflected in the load limits which are generally higher for power racks. If you lift very heavy, a rack can hold more weight.
However, if your personal home gym really doesn’t have enough space to fit a power rack, a squat rack will still allow you to do many of the same exercises.