Squat Racks & Power Racks - Compare Prices at Fitness Savvy
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Life Fitness Signature Series Olympic Squat Rack

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Squat Rack & Power Cage Buying Guide

So far as most experienced gym goers and professional weightlifters are concerned, a squat rack or power rack is an essential piece of fitness equipment if you value your safety.

However, there are many options to consider – whether for a commercial facility or your home gym. Various types of rack are available, and you need to know what each offers to ensure you find something that not only meets your needs but keeps you from killing yourself, too!

In this Fitness Savvy guide, we’re covering everything you need to know. And then you can compare product features and prices to get the best deal possible.

Squat Rack

Sometimes known as a walk-in squat rack, or squat stand, this piece of equipment is the bare minimum required to perform barbell squats.

Often, it is the inexperienced lifters who trip, fall, and drop weights which are too heavy. From a safety standpoint alone, if you’re just starting out and don’t have room for a full rack, and have no choice but to opt for a squat rack, we highly recommend you research how to bail properly from a failed squat. If you don’t, you might get seriously hurt. You have been warned!

If you’re an experienced or professional lifter, and space/budget is an issue, the squat rack might be your best option. However, you would ideally need quality bumper plates in case you drop the bar.  These are not exactly cheap if budget is tight.

That said, even experienced lifters are better off opting for a model with spotters (spotter arms or safety bars as they are also known). Not only will this help from a safety point of view, but can allow more exercises to be performed.

PROS:

  • Take up less space
  • Cheaper
  • More mobile

CONS:

  • Not as safe
  • If you don’t have heavy-duty bumper plates, you will likely break your weight plate, barbell and the gym floor (which is your bedroom or garage floor if this is for home. Not good. Not good at all.
  • Less versatile

Power Rack (AKA Power Cage)

As the name suggests, these things have everything – power, cages, and racks! What’s not to love? But seriously, if you have space, and love staying alive, you need to get yourself one of these.

The cage offers maximum user safety while you to perform heavy lifts without worrying about what might happen if something goes wrong. I was lifting in my power rack once, and dropped the weights. My partner ran downstairs to the garage to see if I was dead. Much to her dismay, I was still alive. I thank my guardian power rack for that.

They tend to be made using four upright pillars which are connected at the top and bottom, producing a solid structure to lift in. Cheaper options will be constructed with lighter weight components and users have complained that they don’t feel sturdy and wobble a lot. For this reason, if you’re opting for a cheaper version, you should consider bolting it to the floor.

Make sure you accurately measure the height of the power rack, and the location it will live. It is not uncommon for people to buy a rack having measured the length and width, but forgotten about the height.

If your rack has a pull-up bar, add room at the top to so your head doesn’t hit the ceiling.

PROS:

  • Perform wider range of exercises
  • Safer than a squat rack or squat stand
  • More versatile regarding attachments, pull-up bars, storage

CONS:

  • More costly
  • Require more space
  • Lower quality products can wobble

Features to Consider

Safety bars – all power racks come with safety bars, and some squat racks have them, too. The types you will see are sabre safeties, swing-in safeties, and pin safeties. Some of this comes down to personal preferences, so you should have a look at what would work best for you. Sabres require room at the front of the rack to insert them (keep this in mind), pins need to be pulled out, the bar moved, and then put back in. Swing safeties simply swing open and come off. However, they require careful positioning of the holes which is one of the downsides.

Pull-up bar – this is an awesome feature that most racks tend to have nowadays. With many including this great add-on, it is wise to see what positions you can adopt. Some have a simple pull-up bar, while others have a range of hand positions to perform close grip, medium grip and wide grip.

Hole spacing – the space between the holes is important as it dictates what height you can insert the safety bars and J-hooks (the part the bar rests on). Closer holes are an advantage, as it makes the rack more versatile.

Storage – a nice addition to your rack is the ability to store your plates. While not a necessity, it is certainly something to bear in mind when deciding which model is right for you.

Attachments – some racks either come with or have the option for additional attachments. A cable attachment is good for adding exercises such as lat pulldowns, cable rows and triceps pushdowns.

Now, you’re gonna need some weights and a barbell to go with your new power rack. Head over and check them out for some fantastic deals.

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