If you can’t back squat in your gym, then it’s not really a gym, it’s just a collection of workout equipment. So, it’s a no-brainer that you need a some type of squat rack.
However, which type of rack of is best for you is a little more difficult of a decision. There are quite a few different types of racks and trying to figure out which one is right for you and your gym isn’t easy.
The lingo that we use when it comes to racks doesn’t make it any easier. Squat stands, squat racks, half racks, full racks, power racks, cages, etc. Everyone seems to have different terms we like to use for a lot of similar things, but if you’re not a complete meathead it can be hard to figure out what’s what.
That’s what this article is all about. I’m going to explain for you:
- What is a Squat Stand
- What is a Power Rack
- The pros and cons of each
- Which one is going to be best for you
- An alternative to both Squat Stands and Power Racks
Let’s get started.
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What is a Squat Stand?
A Squat Stand is a squat rack in its simplest and purest form. Squat Stands basically consist of two vertical beams that allow you to rack a bar up off the ground and that’s about it.
They’re typically used by more advanced lifters and/or home gym owners that are short on space.
Squat Stands are often used by advanced lifters because they are way more unstable compared to other types of squat racks which makes them not very beginner-friendly. The lifter needs to be able to really control the weight in and out of the rack to use the stands safely.
Home gym owners that are short on space may also want to take a hard look at Squat Stands. The footprint they take up is dramatically smaller than any other type of squat rack.
Squat Stand Pros
- Takes up a very small amount of space.
- Low cost. Squat Stands cost a fraction of the price of a power rack.
- Small size and lightweight make Squat Stands easy to move if necessary.
Squat Stand Cons
- Much more unstable than a power rack. Could be susceptible to tipping if a lifter is careless when re-racking weight.
- Less versatility than a power rack. Squat Stands are designed for a more limited amount of exercises.
- No pull-up included. (You can install a wall-mounted pull-up bar to go with your squat stand)
What is a Power Rack?
The answer to this question is more complicated than it should be.
A Power Rack, Full Rack and Cage are all synonymous terms. It’s referring to a squat rack that has four vertical posts connected by horizontal beams. You’ll often see safety racks and a pull-up bar included on a Power Rack as well although they aren’t a guarantee.
I also believe that when most people use the general term of ‘Squat Rack’, they’re referring to a Power Rack as well even though some will try to convince you that a Half Rack is a ‘Squat Rack’. I’m not sure I’m buying that.
A Half Rack is an in-between of a Squat Stand and a Full Rack. A Half Rack doesn’t have four vertical beams, only two. But, it has much more of a base than a Squat Stand and can even include a pull-up bar and safety racks.
For the purpose of this article, when I say Power Rack, I’m referring to the Full Rack (or Cage) with the four vertical beams.
Power Rack Pros
- Much more stable and safer, especially for a novice lifter.
- Gives you a wider variety of exercise possibilities.
Power Rack Cons
- A Power Rack can take up a ton of space.
- Can cost as much as 3x or 4x more than a Squat Stand.
Squat Stand vs Power Rack – Which is Better?
Whether a Squat Stand or a Power Rack is going to work better for you comes down to three main factors.
What’s your lifting experience? What do you want to use your squat rack for? And finally, what’s your budget?
If you’re a beginner, then I’d highly suggest getting a power rack. The main reason being squat stands can be more dangerous to inexperienced lifters due to them being less stable.
If you’ve already logged your fair share of hours in the gym, then it’s going to come down to use and budget.
If all you’re looking for is means to get the bar off the floor so you can squat without having to power clean the bar each set (it doesn’t suck for shoulder presses and jerks too if I’m being honest), then a squat stand may be all you need.
A squat stand is also going to take up a lot less space and cost you at least half as much.
However, if you enjoy the versatility a full rack can provide and don’t mind spending a few extra bucks then opting for a power rack is never a bad idea. Pullups, Bench Press and Dips (with a dip attachment) are just a few of the exercises that a power rack can open up for you.
At the end of the day, it’s your gym, you get to decide which one works best for you.
If you’re still not totally sure though, let me muddy up the water a bit more. Here are a couple of alternatives to both squat stands and power racks. If you like some aspects of both, one of these alternatives might end up checking all the boxes for you.
Stand Stand and Power Rack Alternative
If you’re short on space (and maybe money), but you still want a rack with stability and pull-up bar then a wall-mounted rack may be just right for you.
Wall-Mounted Racks are exactly what they sound like – you basically take the front half of a power rack and then you attach it to the wall.
They generally cost somewhere in between a squat stand and a power rack, so while they’re not quite as cheap as a squat stand you’ll be saving some money compared to a power rack.
Just as important, many come with a pull-up bar built-in and you can still easily do almost any exercise you could with a power rack including bench press.
I actually built my own version of a Wall-Mounted Rack that I used for well over a year. Worked great and cost me well under $100 to make.
The biggest downside is that bolting a rack into your wall may not be entirely feasible or even something that you’re entirely comfortable with. This is especially true if you’re renting your current home.
But, if you don’t mind putting some heavy-duty lug bolts into your wall, a wall-mounted rack can be the perfect fit for a lot of home gyms.
Squat Stand and Power Rack Recommendations
If you’re still reading this, hopefully you’ve arrived at a decision on what type of rack you want to get. Now comes the equally hard next step of – exactly which rack to actually get.
There are a crazy number of racks out there from over a dozen different companies.
Trying to navigate through all of it can be an overwhelming nightmare. Not to worry. I’ve built out entire college weight rooms multiple times so suffice it to say, I’ve bought plenty of squat racks in my life.
Here are a couple of squat stand and power rack recommendations to at least get you started in the right direction.
|Squat Stand Recommendations|
|Brand||Squat Stand||Price||Available At|
|Titan||T-3 Series Short Squat Stand||$269 – $299||Titan|
|Titan||X-3 Series Short Squat Stand||$314 – $349||Titan|
|Rogue||SML-1 70″ Monster Lite Squat Stand||$415||Rogue|
Titan T-3 Series Short Squat Stand
If you’re on a tight budget, the T-3 Series Squat Stand from Titan is a great option. For under $300, it’s hard to find a better bang for your buck.
The only potential drawback is the stand is made of 2″ x 3″ tubes. However, it is 11 gauge steel which means that this stand will still safely hold up to more than enough weight for almost anyone. Titan lists the official capacity at 1,000 pounds.
You may have also noticed that I’ve picked out short stands for all three squat stand options. They’re all still tall enough to work well even for tall people (I’m 6’4 and they’d still be perfect for me). In my opinion, the taller stands just aren’t really necessary.
Titan X-3 Series Short Squat Stand
If you want to beef up your squat stand for a few extra bucks, then you can opt for the 3″ x 3″ X-3 Series from Titan.
The other thing to keep in mind is that if you’re going to be in the market for any type of rack attachments, most attachments are designed to fit a 3″ x 3″ rack.
Also, I’ve got two Titan options listed for a reason. I’ve ordered multiple products from them and I’ve been impressed with each one and they offer free shipping on all of their equipment. (Seriously. Free. All of it.)
SML-1 70″ Monster Lite Squat Stand
Rogue is another brand that makes really high quality equipment. They have multiple squat stand options, but the Monster Lite Squat Stand is one of the best fits for a home gym in my opinion.
It has 3″ x 3″ 11 gauge steel tubing which means, like the X-3 Series from Titan, the stand is super heavy duty and will work with most rack attachments.
|Power Rack Recommendations|
|Brand||Squat Stand||Price||Available At|
|Titan||T-3 Series Power Rack||$489 – $649||Titan|
|Signature Fitness||SF-3 Power Rack||$699||Amazon|
|Rogue||RML-390F Flat Foot Monster Lite||$895||Rogue|
Titan T-3 Series Power Rack
This is my current squat rack in my garage gym. I initially set out to buy a 3″x3″ rack, but when I was able to snag this rack for under $500, I just couldn’t pass it up.
I’ve had it for almost a year now and I love it. It was easy to put together, very stable and haven’t had any issues so far – structural or aesthetics.
I opted for the taller rack which works better for me for pullups. No optional plate holders though, I’ve got my DIY Plate Storage Box for that.
Signature Fitness SF-3 Power Rack
You really have to wade through a ton of crap to find quality gym equipment on Amazon. But, this power rack from Signature Fitness is a diamond in the rough.
It’s 3″x3″ 11 gauge steel, which you should be realizing by now is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to squat racks. It has Westside hole spacing and 5/8″ holes so most rack attachments and accessories will fit perfectly on this rack.
You can also get free shipping through Amazon (at the time of this writing), but you may have to be a bit more patient than the next-day delivery you might be accustomed to.
Rogue RML-390F Flat Foot Monster Lite
This is one of Rogue’s most popular squat racks, period. This power rack, like the Signature Fitness power rack is 3″x3″ 11 gauge steel. It also uses Westside hole spacing and 5/8″ hole sizing.
The rack looks awesome and is build is really high quality. The only drawback at all is the perhaps the price. At almost $900, it’s the most expensive item out of the six recommendations.
Is it worth it? Absolutely. But, if you’re trying to work within a budget, you can pick up other quality options for cheaper.
At the end of the day, whether you opt to go for a squat stand or a power rack comes down to figuring out which one is the best fit you, your lifting style, your space and your budget. One isn’t necessarily better than the other.
The most important thing is to get something you’re going to be happy with and something you’ll be able to squat with for years to come.