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 who 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.
Is a Squat Cage Worth It For a Home Gym?
If a power rack is worth your money, depends on what you expect from a home gym. What kind of weightlifting do you want to do, and what are your goals for the future?
They are available in a wide range of prices from about $200 all the way up to $1500+. For light to medium-weight lifts, a $300-$500 rack will serve you well. You can find something that’s sturdy, has some nice features, and holds enough weight. Racks can last for decades with minimal care so spending a little bit now is well worth it.
With a rack, you can bench press, squat, overhead press and much more you couldn’t otherwise do. If you’re interested in doing those lifts, about $400 is well worth the expense to be able to do them at home.
Of course, if you want to lift heavy weights (400 pounds or more), it’s better to look at sturdier racks. You can expect to pay about $500-$800 for a basic but strong power rack. That’s a lot more money so if you’re not 100% sure you’ll actually need that weight capacity, starting with a cheaper rack might be a good idea.
Don’t forget to budget for the barbell and weight plates as well.
Do You Need a Power/Squat Rack In Your Garage Gym?
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 in 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.
Having a power or squat rack in your home gym offers numerous benefits that can significantly enhance your strength training and overall workout experience. Here’s a list of reasons why a power or squat rack is a valuable addition to your home gym:
Type of Lifting You Need a Power Rack For
The type of weightlifting you do can influence whether a power or squat rack is more suitable for your home gym. Different types of weightlifting have specific equipment requirements, and certain exercises may be better facilitated by one type of rack over the other. Here’s how the type of weightlifting can play a role in your decision:
1. Powerlifting: If your primary focus is on powerlifting exercises such as squats, bench presses, and deadlifts, a power rack would be a more appropriate choice. Power racks are designed to support heavy lifting and offer safety features like spotter arms or safety bars, which are essential for powerlifting movements.
2. Olympic Weightlifting: For Olympic weightlifting, which involves movements like the snatch and clean and jerk, a squat rack isn’t really beneficial since you perform those from the floor. However, you might also want to train different lifts or parts of a lift where you want the barbell higher.
3. General Strength Training: If your weightlifting routine involves a mix of exercises, including squats, bench presses, overhead presses, and barbell rows, a power rack would be a versatile option. It can accommodate a wide range of movements and provides safety features for various lifts.
4. CrossFit or Functional Training: CrossFit and functional training often involve a combination of powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, and bodyweight exercises. In this case, a power rack with additional accessories like dip bars and pull-up bars can offer more versatility to support your varied workout routine.
Of course, if you don’t want to use barbells in your training, a power or squat rack is pointless.
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 backward 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;
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.
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.