There’s no doubt about it; a serious, effective workout in your personal home gym requires a power rack or squat stand. Especially for those who want to get the most out of their weight training routines, the assistance of a reliable weight machine is essential. For heavy workouts like weighted squats and overhead presses, you require a rack to securely hold the bar. Of course, safety is crucially important when you train alone. Hence, your rack needs to have spotter arms for those back squats and bench presses. What about a pull up bar? You’re going to need that too. Fortunately, you can have an all-in-one weight machine and achieve those weight training goals with a single power rack.
The selection spreads far and wide when looking at power racks from different companies; some offer more features and add-ons than others, while some differ in quality and size. While you may think you know exactly what features you want in your power racks, there may be a couple that you never even considered, until now. I’d like to share these new features with you in the hope that you find the perfect power rack to achieve your weight training/bodybuilding goals.
What to Consider when Buying a Power Rack
Size: Power racks require more space than squat stands and other smaller weight machines. Look for one that will fit comfortably in your home gym, keeping in mind the extra head space required for pull ups. A tall ceiling with adequate floor space is needed to get in an effective workout with your power rack.
Additional Space: Apart from the unit itself, you’ll need additional space for other equipment and accessories. Take into consideration the size of barbells, weight plates and other equipment that you may want to incorporate. You should have enough space around the rack to comfortably load the barbell and store weight plates.
Add-Ons: As mentioned earlier, some manufacturers offer much more accessories than others, while some offer none! When looking for a suitable power rack for yourself, however, what matters is that you purchase it from a company that supplies the type of add-ons you need.
Personal Height: In simple words, tall people require taller racks, while shorter individuals should look for short racks. The overall dimensions are also important (i.e. height, width and depth) in order to get the most out of your power rack. The space between the front rods and back rods should provide enough room for the barbell to move around when lifting. Though shorter, narrower racks are cheaper, it’s important you purchase one that suits your height and weight training needs.
Anchor Holes: It’s not necessary to buy a rack that can be anchored to the ground, but it’s definitely something to consider if you want to add a dip station in the future. An anchored rack is, however, a necessity for doing kipping pull ups. Most power racks come with anchor holes so avoid those that don’t if you want to bolt your rack to the floor.
Ease of Use: Standard power racks with a pin and pipe safety feature are not very user friendly. They can be quite troublesome and slow to use; hence, it’s better to pay a little extra and opt for a unit with spotter arms or straps, rather than end up paying more to upgrade your standard model.
Stabilizer Bar: This is the bar between the back uprights that keep the unit stable if it is not bolted to the ground. When buying a power rack, look for one with a thin (flat to the ground) or removable stabilizer as it tends to hinder your feet movement and gets in the way of your bench. For this reason, many manufacturers do not have a stabilizer bar or include a removable one.
Assembled or Dismantled: Some power racks are dismantled and shipped, while others are fully assembled (minus the crossmembers). You need to consider whether an assembled unit will fit through your doorway, a stairway or narrow hallway before you purchase it. Even the parts are rather big, so make sure that you won’t have a problem in bringing them into your gym room.
Cost of Shipping: Prior to getting more acquainted with a power rack that catches your eye for its features and price tag, enquire about the cost of shipping. Some manufacturers charge a hefty shipping fee for a power rack that is otherwise affordable. Shipping is generally done via LTL freight for which costs vary.
3 of the Best Power Racks on the Market
While the Rogue R6 is at the top of our list of best power racks, the R4 shares many of its features and costs $500 lesser. One major disadvantage, however, is that the R4 lacks plate storage. Nevertheless, you can still save a lot of money by opting for the R4 and buying a separate weight plate rack, but you will need a little extra space for it.
Made from sturdy stainless steel, the R4 is a durable, stable unit that comes with two pull up bars (thin and thick). If you want value for your money, this one comes out on top. At the time of placing your order for the unit, you can also purchase a quality bench to perform dumbbell flies, bench presses and other exercises. Like their power racks, even the benches from Rogue are top of the line.
Atlas Power Rack – Best Power Rack Under $500
If you’re on a budget, this is truly an excellent power rack to consider. For under $500, you will get all the basics of a good power rack with an impressive weight limit of up to 800lbs. The Atlas comes with a safety bar and pull up bar, and has adequate depth for increased movement when lifting the barbell. We recommend this power rack to anyone looking for a good, budget power rack.
And now we’ve made it to the best of the lot; the Rogue R6.
For the truly serious powerlifter, the Rogue R-6 is without a doubt the best power rack on the market right now. Often used for competitive weight training, this unit is certainly built for trainers who are only looking to get stronger and compete at a top, bodybuilding level. The R6 has everything a bodybuilder truly needs; 4x single plate storage, 2x double plate storage, 6 band pegs, chin up bar and two pull up bars (thin and thick). The extra money you spend on this unit only means you’re paying for a power rack that is virtually unbreakable and will never need an upgrade. It’s a one-time investment, and an extremely good one! Like the R4, you can purchase this one with a Rogue bench. They are known to supply high quality benches so if you have an old bench, this one is definitely worth the upgrade.
In your quest for a top quality power rack, you may come across the Rogue RML-690 which is considered to be better than the R6, thanks to its additional features. Bear in mind, however, that this unit is more suitable for commercial use (i.e. in gyms or other institutions). For a personal home gym, the R6 is an ideal choice, whereas the RML-690 is advised for a professional gym.
Other Noteworthy Power Racks
The R3 is perfect for home gyms with limited floor space. While many powerlifters have become accustomed to using the R4 over the years, you should know that the R3 shares all the same great features with an added bonus of being more compact in nature. This frees up a good amount of floor space for other equipment in your home gym.
If you do, however, own an R4 and are looking for a smaller unit to maximize space in your home gym, there’s no need to sell or replace the R4. You can buy a few accessories from Rogue and easily create your own R3. By converting your R4 into a smaller unit, you won’t have to spend hundreds or dollars more to purchase a new power rack. Best of all, it only takes a few new R3 24 crossmembers to make the transformation!
Rogue RML 690
If you’re looking for the sturdiest power rack on the market (for professional or commercial use, perhaps), then the Rogue RML-690 is definitely one to check out. Made from 11-gauge, 3 x 3″ steel, it is bigger and bulkier than the R6, and sturdy enough to stand firmly without being anchored to the ground! The unit has Westside hole spacing but you’ll have to do without the multi-grip pull up bar.
While both, the R6 and RML-690, are large power racks, they are excellent choices for serious powerlifters. Not only are they incredibly sturdy, but you can opt for dozens of accessories for the rack including straps, spotter arms, reverse-hypers, landmines and dip stations.
Smaller Alternatives to Power Racks
Adequate space to accommodate a power rack is often a problem for home gyms. That’s when weight trainers turn to other weight machines like the Bow Flex or Smith Machine. However, I’m here to tell you that you can achieve much better results by opting for a device with free weights. Here are some options to consider.
Relatively smaller in size, squat stands are not as stable as power racks but make good alternatives if used appropriately. While they do not come equipped with safety pins, you can attach seahorses (like many squat stand users have done) for safety measures. Learn more about the distinguishing characteristics of the two devices from What’s Difference Between Squat Stand and Power Rack.
On the lower end of the budget, we have half racks. They are shorter and smaller than power racks, but unfortunately do not come with a pull up bar. Nevertheless, they are space-saving and generally fit comfortably in rooms with a low ceiling.
The look of a Smith Machine is much like a power rack; the only difference is that the barbell is attached on this one. While it may look like a better, safer option, experts will tell you otherwise. Moreover, it’s nowhere near as effective as a power rack because having the barbell attached means the use of your stabilizer muscles are kept to a bare minimum. Hence, this unit is not recommended for heavy weight training.
I’ll break it down to two factors; space and budget.
For limited amount of space (approximately a two-car garage space), the R3 or R4 are great options for an average budget. The R4 requires more depth space than the R3 but both are efficient and reliable devices.
If you’re on a higher budget and your home gym space permits, I highly recommend the R6 or Rogue RML-690. As a powerlifter, you get everything you need, and more, with these fantastic weight machines. For an added bonus, you can choose the parts you want, leaving out what you don’t need when you order!
I would like to point out that there are several other cheaper power racks available on Amazon or at chain stores, but they do not match the superior quality (or safety standards) as the ones I’ve talked about in this post. Particularly for those who are serious about weight training and their workout routines, a power rack that is safe, effective, sturdy and long-lasting, is essential. I sincerely hope my review on the best power racks of 2016 has helped you understand which unit is best suited to your budget, gym space and weight training goals. Kindly share this review with your friends if you think it’s something they’d like! Thanks and good luck!