Power rack comparison guide - Home gym & commercial rack selection points
Power rack comparison guide - Home gym & commercial rack selection points
As a power rack comparison guide, we will explain the points to consider when selecting recommended home gym and commercial racks.
A power rack is an essential part of building a gym, and there are countless types of power racks on the market. Items in the product specifications vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and I've heard of many cases where people don't know what to base their decisions on, and they end up making a big mistake by deciding on price.
We have summarized the selection points when comparing power racks so that you can carefully consider and choose the power rack that is best for you, so if you are considering purchasing one, please refer to this article.
Power rack comparison 1 “Types of power racks”
There are various types of power racks, and their uses differ depending on the item. Let's first take a look at the types and characteristics of power racks so that you can choose the rack that best suits your purpose.
4 legged power rack
The most basic power rack consists of a four-legged support, a safety, a chinning bar (a bar for pull-ups), and a J-cup (a hook for placing a barbell). This type has a shorter depth than the 6-legged type described below, so it has the advantage of being able to be installed in a relatively small space.
On the other hand, this type cannot be equipped with a plate horn (storage), so you will need to prepare a separate storage for the plates or place the plates on the floor.
*Strictly speaking, a plate horn can be attached, but it will interfere with training inside the rack.
6 leg power rack
This is a power rack with 6 legs for added stability. In addition, since plate storage is installed at the rear, there is no need to prepare a separate plate tree, which has the advantage of saving space.
Power racks allow you to exercise inside the support, so even if you drop the barbell, it won't fall off the rack. "Ensuring safety" is the most important point when handling heavy weights in events such as squats and bench presses, so if you frequently perform the BIG3 events with free weights, a power rack is the most suitable rack. Probably.
A half rack is a rack that has a basic structure of four pillars and a front foot (frame that sticks out in front of you), and consists of a safety, a chinning bar, and a J cup. Unlike a power rack, you can train on the outside of the rack (in front of the two columns), so you can attach a plate horn to the rear column.
Half racks are a popular style for personal gyms and home gyms because they are space-saving, allow you to perform all kinds of exercises such as BIG3 and cleans, and can be installed at a lower cost than power racks. Commercial half racks like the one pictured above are designed to handle heavy loads, so they can meet the needs of many trainees in terms of load capacity.
One concern is that it is not surrounded by supports like a power rack, so if you fall backwards when squatting, it could lead to an accident. Also, the stability during suspension is inferior to that of a power rack.
Squat stand (squat rack)
A squat stand (squat rack) is a rack consisting of two posts, a base frame, a safety, and a J cup. Although it's called a squat stand, you can do all kinds of exercises such as bench presses and pull-ups (requires a chinning bar).
Its very compact size makes it useful in small rooms and rooms with low ceilings. It is also easy to assemble and can be assembled by one person. Because the price is reasonable, this product is often used in home gyms.
Compared to power racks and half racks, it has a simpler structure and is lighter, so you need to be careful when training with heavy weights. Also, plate storage is not usually available, so separate storage is required.
A multi-functional rack is a rack that integrates a cable system into a regular power rack, and as shown in the image above, it can be used for all kinds of exercises such as lat pulls and rows and cable exercises. It can be done with one machine.
This type of rack is most effective in one-on-one personal gyms. Even in a small space like a room in an apartment, If you have a multi-functional rack Various exercises can be performed according to customer requirements.
On the other hand, because one person occupies multiple functions, it is not cost-effective and is not often used in large gyms with large spaces.
A combo rack is a rack that combines a squat rack and a bench press table. It is usually treated as a separate category from power racks, and is mainly used by powerlifting athletes.
It is a must-have for powerlifting gyms and powerlifting competitors' home gyms, but unlike power racks, it does not have any attachments, so it is not suitable for those who want to do multiple types of training with one machine.
A Smith machine is a training machine that moves a barbell up and down along a set rail. Although this is not generally classified as a power rack, it is actually used in gyms as a rack for beginners to safely perform free weight events.
If you can only fit one power rack in your gym, this is not an option, but there are also power racks that come with an integrated Smith machine, and like multi-functional racks, they are useful in home gyms and personal gyms. .
Power rack comparison 2 “Dimensions”
The second point to compare power racks is "dimensions". No matter how high quality and highly functional a power rack is, its goodness will be lost if the rack is not the appropriate size for the space being used. Be sure to measure the space you will be using before selecting a power rack.
What you need to be especially careful about is the height. There is no need to worry too much in large facilities, but in personal gyms and home gyms there are height restrictions.
Most apartments and apartments have ceiling heights of 240cm to 250cm, but many power racks for Westerners are around 240cm, and even if they do fit, they are not high enough for pull-up movements. I can't do range of motion.
For this reason, power racks around 210cm are the mainstream in home gyms in Japan. If you want a sufficient range of motion for pull-ups, it's safe to have a rack height of +30-40 cm.
Regarding the "width", it is desirable to have enough room for the length of the barbell (usually 220cm) + 100cm (50cm on each side). Especially if you are using it in a commercial gym, there is a risk of coming into contact with the users next to you when changing plates, so you should estimate at least 300cm to 320cm. Most racks themselves are about 120cm to 130cm wide, so if you use a short barbell, you can train in a smaller space with plenty of leeway.
Regarding ``depth'', if you are using a half rack or squat stand, you will be training outside the rack, so it is safe to consider the depth of the bench and the depth of the rack + 100 cm. In the case of a power rack, you will basically be training inside a cage, but if you want to train with pull-ups or other attachments, you should estimate the depth in advance.
Power rack comparison 3 “Load capacity”
The third point to compare power racks is their "load capacity." Please watch this video first.
Dropping a heavy barbell onto a squat rack causes the rack to tip over. If you make a mistake, it will be a serious accident that could lead to your life.
Free weight training is always dangerous, so safety is the most important factor when selecting a rack, and the load capacity comes into play.
Load capacity literally means ``how much weight an object can withstand.'' For example, a safety bar with a load capacity of 100 kg means that it can withstand (not break) even if a 100 kg barbell is placed on it. means.
However, as shown in the video above, in actual training, what is important is how well the barbell can withstand the impact when it falls, not when it is stationary. Please note that when a manufacturer's product specifications state the load capacity, unless there is a special warning, it most likely represents the weight that the product can withstand when stationary.
For example, let's take a look at the product specifications for the Hammer Strength half rack sold by Life Fitness, the largest fitness equipment company.
The product specifications include Max User Weight and Max Training Weight, which means it can be used by people weighing up to 159 kg, and the maximum weight that can be used for training is 306 kg. The fact that this data is based on real-world usage also proves that the product has been thoroughly tested during manufacturing.
This video shows a drop test using Eleiko's half rack, and you can see that the rack can withstand a 305kg barbell. On the other hand, there are many manufacturers who do not write these specific numbers and simply write "For commercial use".
What you should not misunderstand is that a high load capacity does not mean a good power rack.
The load capacity figures are based on the range tested by each manufacturer, so even if you exceed the expected load capacity for normal use, such as a load capacity of 1000 kg, this does not mean it is safer. In particular, famous manufacturers such as those listed in this article have been tested based on strict safety standards set by each company or national organization, so there is basically no need to worry about load capacity.
However, when installing it in a facility where high-intensity training is performed, such as an Olympic center, it is best to contact each manufacturer for recommended power racks.
Also, be careful about unbranded products and low-priced products, as there are cases where the word "commercial use" is used even though they have not been actually tested. When considering a product, we recommend that you carefully read the product specifications and contact the manufacturer if you have any questions.
Power rack comparison 4 “Strut size and thickness”
The product specs say "3x3" 11-gauge Steel. 3x3 means 3 inches x 3 inches, which means the post is about 7.6 cm square. Gauge refers to the thickness of the support, and 11 gauge is 2.3mm. The smaller the number, the thicker the gauge. For example, the Arsenal Strength power rack below is quite thick at 7 gauge (3.66mm).
One thing to note is that the thicker the frame, the better it is. The thicker the frame, the heavier it will be, making it more difficult to transport and install, and of course, it will be more expensive.
For a typical home gym or commercial gym, you can definitely choose a 3x3" 11 gauge rack. If you only handle light weights, a rack with slightly narrower posts such as a 2x2" 14 gauge may be fine.
Even if you don't handle heavy loads, so a home-use power rack is fine, be sure to check the size and thickness of the support when choosing a product. Especially for unbranded and low-priced products, there are many cases where the product specifications are not specified, so be sure to check.
Power rack comparison 5 “Safety system”
The fifth point of comparison for power racks is the "safety system." In order to challenge yourself to your limits in training, it is essential to ensure safety with this safety system. There are several types, so we will introduce the characteristics of each.
safety spotter arm
The safety spotter arm is the most common safety system and can be used with confidence whether you are bench pressing or squatting.
For a squat rack or half rack, fix a spotter arm like the one on the left to one post, and for a power rack, fix a flip-down safety like the one on the right to two posts.
Height adjustment is usually done by removing the spotter arm and replacing it, but some manufacturers also offer sliding type products.
The top of the column often has a plastic cover, which helps reduce damage to the shaft even if the barbell is dropped.
The only concern is that the price is a little higher than other safety systems, so if you want to train with perfect equipment, we recommend this type.
safety spotter strap
As the name suggests, the Safety Spotter Strap is a strap-type safety system. As shown in the video below, the straps will catch the barbell even if it collapses.
The biggest advantage is that it prevents barbell damage. The straps absorb shock, reducing damage to the barbell compared to spotter arms.
This type also allows for easy height adjustment, which is an advantage over spotter arms. It makes almost no noise unless you drop it, so it has the advantage of being quiet.
The disadvantage is that it feels difficult to use when bench pressing. In the case of a bench press, you need to protect your chest, neck, and face in the event of a collapse, so the straps should be set high on the upper body side. This will prevent the shaft from touching your chest when you lower the barbell, reducing your range of motion.
If you are using a power rack for squats, we recommend this strap, but if you are using one power rack for bench press as well, it would be safer to choose a spotter arm.
Penetrating safety bar
A through-type safety bar is a safety in which a pin passes through a cylindrical safety. In English, it is called Pin Pipe Safety. Like the spotter arm, it can be used safely for both squats and bench presses.
On the other hand, it is difficult to adjust the height. It is very inconvenient compared to the above two methods as it requires removing a long pin each time and inserting it into a hole at the correct height.
Not only in an environment where multiple people use it, but even in a home gym where you perform multiple exercises such as squats and bench presses, you will feel stressed every time you adjust the height.
Also, unlike the spotter arm, there is no resin cover, so the barbell comes into direct contact with the metal.
The through-type safety bar may be an accessory for the power rack, so we recommend trying it out and upgrading to a spotter arm or similar if it doesn't suit you.
Power rack comparison 6 “J cup”
The sixth comparison point for power racks is the "J cup". What is a J cup? As the name suggests, it is a J-shaped attachment and is used to place the barbell during exercises such as squats and bench presses. It can be easily removed from the power rack, making it easy to adjust the height.
There are various types of J cups, so we will introduce each one.
flat sandwich J cup
The flat sandwich J-cup is the most common J-cup. A plastic liner is placed on top of the cup to prevent the barbell from being scratched. This type also has a low claw design, so there is no risk of it getting caught when racking or unracking the barbell. You can definitely choose this type in terms of cost.
round sandwich J cup
Round sandwich J cup is flat on top It's almost the same as the Sandwich J Cup, but the hook part where you place the barbell is rounded, so you don't have to worry about the barbell moving back and forth. If you have the budget, consider this type.
Standard J cup
This is a J cup with the simplest structure and the lowest cost. Depending on the manufacturer, this type has a high claw that can easily get caught when racking or unracking, so be careful. On the other hand, the load capacity is the same as the Sandwich J Cup mentioned above, so if you are concerned about cost, this is a good choice.
roller J cup
This is a roller J-cup developed by an American manufacturer called Ghost Strong, and since the cup is equipped with rollers, it is easy to adjust the barbell position. It also helps protect your barbell.
Power rack comparison 7 “Expansibility with other attachments”
The seventh point of comparison for power racks is ``expandability through attachments''. Power racks come with a variety of attachments from each manufacturer.
If there is only one user, such as in a home gym, you can use attachments to perform multiple events with one power rack, so the variety of attachments is also an important point when choosing a rack.
Attachments like the one above are common, but some manufacturers on the market today also offer cable pulley systems as rack attachments.
On the other hand, in commercial gyms, power racks are basically used for the BIG3, so it would be more convenient to separate events such as dips and land mines from the power rack.
Regarding storage such as plate horns and barbell holders, it is also necessary to check whether they are included by default or whether they can be included as options. If you don't have one, consider preparing a separate plate tree or barbell rack.
Power rack comparison 8 “Hole spacing and numbering”
Comparison point number 8 for power racks is "hole spacing and numbering." The power rack posts have holes for attaching attachments.
In a typical power rack, the hole spacing (from the center of the hole to the center) is approximately 50mm, and users can adjust the height of the J-cup and safety bar to suit their needs.
On the other hand, there are some manufacturers that narrow the hole spacing, like this one.
This is called Westside hole spacing and is a mechanism created by a coach at a gym called Westside Barbell. The hole spacing is narrower than usual at 25 mm, allowing you to set the height of the J cup and safety bar more precisely.
When comparing each manufacturer, be sure to check the spacing between these holes. If the distance between the holes is too wide, you may not be able to train at the height that suits you, so be careful.
Additionally, in recent years many manufacturers have numbered rack supports. Numbering makes it very easy to adjust the height of the J-cup and safety bar, so be sure to check whether it has numbering or not.
Power rack comparison 9 “Assembly required”
The 9th point to compare power racks is whether or not they require assembly. In most cases, power racks are delivered disassembled as parts, but some particularly large power racks for commercial use may be delivered assembled.
The former requires no assembly, so it can be used immediately after delivery, but the assembled power rack cannot be sent by courier, so a truck must be chartered. Therefore, shipping charges will be higher if you are far away. In addition, multiple people are required to carry the item in, and some demolition work may be required, especially if it is on the second floor or higher and there is no elevator.
The latter requires assembly, so assembly work will begin after delivery. It depends on the item, but it takes 1-2 hours for 2 people, so it is quite difficult. On the other hand, since the parts are shipped separately, shipping costs are lower and transportation is easier.
If you are installing it in a relatively small space such as a home gym or personal gym, we recommend the latter part-delivered rack.
Power rack comparison 10 “Customizability of design”
The 10th point of comparison for power racks is "customizability of design". When designing training equipment, including power racks, it is now commonplace to pursue functionality, and in recent years more and more manufacturers are aiming to differentiate themselves through the customizability of their designs.
For example, REP Fitness has 6 different color variations.
The image below is a Bridgebilt J-cup, but American-made products are increasingly coming with highly designed attachments like this one.
If you want to create a gym that is unique from others, one option is to choose a manufacturer that can do custom designs like this.
On the other hand, custom designs may be made to order, in which case it will take time to deliver. Keep an eye on the schedule until opening, and if necessary, consult with the manufacturer as soon as possible.
Power rack comparison 11 “Warranty and return policy”
Comparison point #11 for power racks is the "warranty and return policy." Not only power racks, but also training equipment, each manufacturer has their own warranty details and policies regarding returns, refunds, and exchanges.
Commercial power racks often come with a lifetime warranty against frame defects. There is often a fixed period of time, such as 90 days, for defects related to the painting or coating of frames, so be sure to check.
In many cases, parts such as bolts, nuts, and washers can be replaced free of charge for a certain period of time. However, if maintenance personnel are dispatched for replacement work, there may be additional operation costs. Especially if you are installing multiple machines or racks in a large gym, be sure to check with the manufacturer before placing your order (on the other hand, if the operation fee is free, the fee will be added to the product price).
Since power racks for home use can be purchased at low prices, the warranty coverage and warranty period are very limited.
Again, we do not recommend home racks, even for home gyms, as an accident with a power rack can lead to serious injury. Especially if you are thinking about long-term use, we recommend choosing a commercial rack from a well-known manufacturer, even if it costs a little more.
Recommended power rack
Finally, we have summarized the recommended products below from the power racks we have introduced so far. Please check the product page of each site for details.
This is a power rack that is very popular in American home gyms provided by Rep Fitness. Although it is a commercial standard, it is reasonably priced and has a wide variety of attachments. This is a manufacturer with strong development capabilities that leads the global free weight equipment market, so you can look forward to new products in the future.
Commercial power rack provided by Rogue Fitness. There are a wide variety of attachments, and colors and sizes can also be customized. This is a popular power rack along with rep fitness.
A folding squat rack popular in American home gyms provided by Bridgebilt. Since it is only manufactured in the United States and there are no sales outlets in the country, the problem is that shipping costs are high.
At the end
This time we introduced how to compare power racks. If you are planning to open a gym, please consider the points in this article and choose a power rack that suits you.
We also recommend this article if you are having trouble choosing a training machine.
Thank you for reading to the end.