Rack Style Options for your Home Gym – Garage Gym Experiment

by fitness journalist

Squat Stands VS Foldaway Racks VS Half Racks VS Full Racks, what’s the difference? What’s best for a home gym?

It’s an age-old question for those looking to create a home gym. Before we dive too deeply into this, it should be stated that a rack for a home gym is as integral as the foundation it stands on. Barbell training and a power rack is simply the time-tested best and most efficient way to improve your health and body composition. Nothing else will allow you to train your body better, regardless if your goal is to look good, be a champion-level powerlifter, or simply for general health when you have some free time.

Rogue RM-3 (Power Rack)

The Two Most Important Features to Consider

Now that we understand why we need a power rack, where do we start? Well, it’s going to depend on a few things specific to the consumer, which we will cover:

Of course, the budget will be one of the primary factors for all home gym purchases. Why look at a custom-made Sorinex rack that outfits NFL strength training facilities when it would require you to take out a second mortgage? When it comes to power racks, the price range can be from as little as $250 to over $10,000. We have to find what makes the most sense for the user.

REP PR-1100 (Power Rack)

Footprint & Height

Racks come in all shapes and sizes, from 9’+ tall to 72” residential-sized. Most options will have 2, 4, or 6 posts. It’s important to take some measurements, have an idea of how much floor space you want it to take up, and then we can get into the next steps.

Type of Racks

Racks essentially come in 3 basic formats; a squat stand (not technically a power rack but allows squat and bench functionality), a half rack, and a full rack. The first two points will have narrowed down your selection a bit, now comes the fun part where the decision will be made on your personal preference. Based on your budget, a couple of things to consider will be, will you want to add some accessories to make the rack more space-efficient and add some variety to your workout? Do you enjoy squatting in an open space or prefer being inside a cage-style power rack? What type of exercises do you plan to use the rack for? All of these are good things to think of before making the final purchase.

Squat Stand:

A squat stand will be a great option for minimalist budget, exercise variation, and space. They will allow you to squat, bench, press, and anything with a barbell, although not much else. Only 2 posts are included, so you should consider adding spotter arms and understand that you’ll be lifting in open space. 

Pros Cons
Most likely least expensive Fewer attachment possibilities
Takes up the least amount of space Difficult to balance when re-racking heavyweight
Potential to turn into a half-rack Lacking in available exercise variations
Easy to move and store away Not as sturdy as a power rack, reduced confidence when lifting heavy
Rogue SML-2

Foldaway Rack:

Foldaway racks are an interesting concept that is relatively new to the market. A foldaway rack allows the user to (as the name implies) fold the rack into itself once finished working out. This is a great feature for a home gym because the floor space is always so crucial. These types of racks are typically sought after by garage gym owners more so than in a basement because it allows you to use the garage as a home gym when needed but can also be folded away from taking up any car space. Best of both worlds! The only potential downside of a foldaway rack is that you pay a similar cost to a full power rack and will not have the added benefits of all the attachments, different uses, etc. However, you will not be as limited as a squat stand.

Savage Series Foldaway Rack from Fray
Pros Cons
Ability to fold into itself to create more space Similar price point to a power rack with less functionality
Requires only some wall space and a few square feet of floor space to use More difficult to set up as it needs to be bolted into the wall
Can have the option of folding away vertically or into itself Depending on the model, they can be awkward to fold up and also time-consuming
If mounted correctly, it should still be very stable. Will have to either purchase or DIY a stringer to attach it to the wall if not mounted into studs.
PRX Performance Profile PRO Squat Rack with Kipping Bar

Half Rack:

A half rack is my personal preference. I own a Rogue SML-1 with the HR-2 Add-On with 70” posts selected for my short ceiling space. A half rack is a great in-between option. Maybe you don’t want to do every exercise under the sun within your rack, or maybe you don’t like the idea of squatting inside 4 posts. Depending on the size of your half-rack, you will not be limited in terms of the basic primary exercise movements, but you may not have the ability to use all the bells and whistles that you can use on a modern full rack.

SML-1 with HR-2 Add On
Pros Cons
Allows for similar attachments of a full rack while saving floor space and ceiling height Difficult or not possible to add certain attachments or do certain movements, jammer arms, cable columns, rack pulls, etc
Cheaper than a full rack It Will require being bolted down or using plate storage pegs to weigh down the rack to balance properly.
No restrictions when squatting outside Falling backward with a squat could result in injury.
REP Omni Rack

Full Rack:

These days, a full rack can essentially be whatever you want it to be, from a bare-bones 72” rack to a ten-foot behemoth that 3 people can train on at once. If you have the budget, footprint, and planning to add on some accessories, this may be the way to go. From jammer arms to built-in belt squat machines, high and low pulleys, or lat pull-down towers, a full rack can literally have it all. The options are endless.

Rogue RM-6 Monster Rack
Pros Cons
Many possible attachments Typically the highest price point
Provides maximum amount of safety while lifting inside the rack Takes up the most space

There you have it, folks. I hope this comparison will get you on the right track for selecting the perfect power rack for your home gym.

Thanks for reading,

This content was originally published here.

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