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As you know, if you want to get big and jacked, you need to lift weights. Lifting weights at the gym isn’t an issue, as there is heaps of space, there’s loads of equipment, there are people to keep an eye on you, and there’s plenty of safety equipment. If you choose to lift weights at home, though, things become trickier. Training at home means that you are more at risk of suffering an injury because you’ll be training alone. This is therefore very dangerous but worry not, because there is a solution; it comes in the form of an affordable squat rack. You see, people often assume that power racks have to be expensive because they’re so big and bulky. The truth of the matter is that you can actually source an inexpensive power rack for less than $300.
With a squat rack, you can lift weights in the comfort of your own home, without having to worry about injuring yourself through lifting too heavy, or losing your grip and dropping the bar. Because power racks are so popular, though, there is plenty of choices. To help you make the right choice, we’re now going to take a look at the five best budget power racks under $300, as well as sharing a few tips on choosing the perfect rack.
Our Top Power Rack Picks
Our Top Squat Stand Picks
What is a power rack?
Starting as we mean to go on, we’ll begin by taking a look at what a power rack is. A power rack is one of the most common pieces of equipment that you will find in any gym, home, commercial, or otherwise. In fact, if the gym contains weights, you’ll find that it will almost certainly also provide a power rack. These devices are most commonly used for performing free weight exercises with a barbell. Also known as power cages, or squat cages in some cases, a squat rack is a solid metal frame cage that you either stand in when lifting weights or you bring the bench in and use the bench within the cage when exercising.
A power rack has a series of metal safety bars that fit horizontally into the rack and can be adjusted and set at different heights. These safety bars are vital as it is these that act as a spotter for you if you get in trouble when lifting. When benching, for example, if the weight is too heavy, you let go of the bar, and the bar catches the barbell before it crushes your sternum and pins you to the bench. You choose the height that the safety bars are set at. They’re designed to help you to lift safely and to train heavier than you would typically when alone, without having to worry about dropping the bar onto the floor and damaging your floor, or more importantly, without worrying about dropping it onto you.
Why choose a budget power rack?
First and foremost, as we mentioned above, a power rack is designed to provide safety to the lifter. When it comes to lifting weights, accidents while training can be devastating. It sounds dramatic, but people have lost their lives through weight training-related injuries, and countless others have suffered very nasty injuries, which could have been avoided with the use of a squat rack. The best budget power rack will provide all of the main benefits of more expensive power racks, without the costly price tag. Now, if you lift hefty weights and adopt a powerlifting style of training, you will need to invest in an expensive power rack that is capable of handling a high weight capacity. If you use moderately heavy weights on your heavy sets, you’ll find that an affordable power rack should be fine.
These racks allow you to perform a variety of free weight exercises, especially ones using a barbell, safely and effectively. You will need to purchase an adjustable bench to perform more activities such as bench presses and seated military presses, but again, these needn’t cost a fortune either. With a squat rack, a bench, and an Olympic weight set, you’ll find that you can train your entire body and perform a variety of different exercises without even having to leave the rack.
Now that you know what these racks are and why they’re so beneficial, it’s now time for us to take a look at 5 of the best affordable power racks available for under $300. In no particular order, here are our top 5 picks.
Best Budget Power Racks of 2021
Now that we’ve looked at what power racks are, why an inexpensive power rack can be beneficial, and at 5 of the best racks on the market today, we’re now going to share a power rack buying guide with you. The tips we’re about to share with you will help you to choose the perfect rack based on your specific requirements. If you want to find the ultimate affordable power rack, here are some handy tips:
This squat rack has an 800-pound max weight capacity. It has the look and feel of an expensive commercial rack, with the bonus of being affordable. It comes with the option of a lat pull, J hooks, a landmine bar, weight plate holders, dip bars, and more. Besides, it features 19 adjustable height levels, is compatible with a 7-foot Olympic bar, and even features in-built chin-up/pull-up bars so you can get even more from your workouts.
You can perform bench presses when you use them in conjunction with a bench, chin-ups, squats, bent-over rows, shoulder presses, and much more besides. For the price, this really is a great rack.
The HulkFit 1000 has an impressive 1000-pound weight capacity, so unless you plan on lifting some serious weights which would give pro strongmen a run for their money, you should be perfectly fine. With an eye-catching black and yellow design, it stands out and looks great.
It offers multi-grip pull-up bars, two solid steel safety bars which are designed with J hooks, two extra J hooks included, two dip bars, plenty of walk-in space, rubber feet to help keep it steady. Finally, it has the option to customize it with things such as lat pulldowns and even a cable crossover! That’s why IF-FIT fitness writers rated this as the best budget power rack!
This is a fantastic cheap power rack that is ideal for anybody looking to lift at home safely. This squat rack can hold weights of up to 1000 pounds!
It provides a sturdy construction, J hooks, safety bars, a professionally knurled chinning bar, the ability to customize it with other attachments such as a lat pull down, and much more besides. This power rack might seem standard from the outside, but it has a purpose to serve, and it serves it exceptionally well.
If you’re looking for a no-nonsense power rack that does precisely what it is designed to do, the Best Fitness squat rack is the perfect model for you. It offers a sturdy construction, a 14-gauge steel mainframe.
It has a weight capacity of 500 pounds, 23 adjustment levels which are spaced 3-inches apart, a 3-year warranty on the frame, and a 1-year warranty on all other parts. There’s also an integrated chin-up bar to get even more from your workouts.
What makes it different from other squat stand brands in the market is ROGUE’s superior quality. The SML-2C stand is 92″ upright and 49″ wide with an adjustable Skinny/fat pull-up bar at the top. It features 2 J-cups with UHMW plastic lined so they won’t tear up bar knurling. There’s an upright Westside 0.625″ hole spacing design; you get 1″ through the bench region and 2″ everywhere else. This offers nice small increments when doing squats or any type of rack workout.
SML-2C squat stand combines versatility, strength, and power in a compact yet sturdy frame. A hybrid of Monster SM-2 and Rogue’s S-2, users love the fact that SML-2C is built with high-quality components yet so affordable. Multi-purpose! This USA-made equipment is suitable for squats, clean pulls, rack pulls, pull-ups, bench, and much more with a squat rack. The instrument is designed to keep modularity in mind. It means that you’re able to use a single accessory across multiple product lines.
The rogue stand is built with 11 gauge 3×3″ steel laser-cut uprights, 2×3″ bases, and a 49″ x 48″ large footprint to get good stability. For maximum stability, a socket bolt system at the base and triangular plates are there. Durable zinc hardware all over, base satin coat, and multiple color options available! This 157lbs stand easily supports 1000+ lbs weight load.
A multi-function stand that allows you to perform both upper and lower body workouts! This power rack-stand from Fitness Reality is constructed from heavy-duty, durable 2×2″ tubular steel. As a result, this squat stand is sturdy and stable, and users are happy that it doesn’t move or shake during pull-ups, push-ups, compound lifts, or squats. This 77 x 13 x 9″ squat stand handles it all with 800lbs of weight capacity. Plus, the grip isn’t too tight or hard for the hands.
The stand comes with two dual-mounted bars with 19 height adjustment levels, so you achieve ultimate fitness results. 19.5″ spotter arms have mechanically fixed safety rubber pads to guard the barbell knurling and keep the noise down. Sturdy, safe, and no noise! You can adjust the pull-bar to 2 maximum height choices; 78″ and 81″. You can conveniently rack your weights on the J weight horns for extra storage. Best of all, it comes with a landmine attachment. This allows you to perform many strength workouts such as a single-arm dumbbell row or squat press to crush your metabolic calories right away. Another added feature is the resistance bands post to add versatility and variety to your exercise routine.
Highly recommended for your home gym!
Cheap Power Racks Buying Guide
Firstly, when you’re choosing a squat rack, it doesn’t matter where you plan on using it, the thing you must remember is that different racks have different weight capacities. Some power racks, for example, can only withstand 500-pounds, whereas others can withstand max weight capacities of 1000-pounds. Now, if you are new to lifting weights and don’t have much lifting experience, you likely won’t be lifting hefty loads. If, however, you’re an experienced lifter capable of lifting heavy weights, you’ll want a squat rack capable of withstanding heavy weights. The last thing you want is for the rack to tip over or collapse because you’re trying to rack it up with weights that it simply cannot handle. Before buying a power rack, take the time to read exactly how much weight capacity the rack is capable of withstanding.
Another critical consideration when deciding on an inexpensive power rack, is the overall size of the rack in question. You see, budget power racks are not suitable for commercial gyms because they can’t withstand the weights and excessive uses. Because of this, budget power racks are instead more likely to be used at home, or in garage gyms. The downside to this is that these workout spaces can be lacking in room, and if you’re looking to purchase a power rack, you will need to ensure that it fits properly. Now, the mistake that people often make when measuring up for a power rack is only measuring for the dimensions of the rack. Except for the rack, you also need to take into account the barbell, which will poke out at either side of the rack. As this rack is 7-feet in length, you don’t need us to tell you how much space you need. Ideally, you’ll want more than 7-feet, just to ensure that you can load and unload the barbell properly. On top of that, you also need to consider the height of your ceiling. If you have a low ceiling, a compact power rack like the one we looked at earlier will come in especially handy.
Okay, now to a lot of you, the overall design of a power rack isn’t probably going to be at the top of your list of priorities. After all, the main priority is safety, so, as long as the rack is sturdy and does what it is supposed to, that’s the main thing. However, if you’re planning on building a home gym, as it is your workout sanctuary, you will likely want everything to look nice, neat, tidy, and in line with the décor, design, and layout of the home gym. Different power racks come in different colors, and whilst the color and design isn’t at the top of most people’s priorities, if you anticipate this being a problem, it is well worth considering in advance whether the rack you’ve had your eye on will fit in properly with everything else in your home gym.
Now, when we were reviewing the top 5 power racks for you a little earlier, you might remember that we mentioned ‘gauge steel’ once or twice. If you were wondering what this refers to, it is a term used to describe the thickness of the steel. Obviously, the thicker the steel, the stronger and sturdier the power rack will be, and vice versa. To make things a little more confusing, the higher the steel gauge number, the thinner the steel is. So, 12-gauge steel is thicker and stronger than 14-gauge steel.
Adjustment hole spacing
Another crucial consideration when searching for your shiny new budget power rack is the adjustment hole spacing height. These adjustment holes are there to determine how high or how low you can place the safety bars. The closer these holes are together, the more customizable the height of the safety bars will be. This offers certain advantages, especially if you want more of a customized workout.
This next consideration doesn’t sound like much of a big deal, but you’ll be amazed by just what a difference it can make when it comes to your workouts. When you set the safety bars, you need to ensure that both sets of bars are set at precisely the same height as one another. If they’re not and the bar were to fall on you, it could crush one side of your body. When the adjustment holes are numbered, this ensures that you don’t accidentally line the safety bars up wrong. Setting the left safety bar and the right safety bar to number 10, for example, will ensure that you know for a fact that they are both lined up correctly. When choosing your power rack, make sure that the adjustment holes are numbered, and that the numbering is in bold.
Okay, this next tip will depend on the floor in which your power rack will be going. If you want to ensure that your power rack is safe and secure, you need to make sure that the floor in which the rack will be placed is flat and sturdy. If the floor is sloped, bumpy, or uneven, this could result in the rack becoming unstable, which would then render it dangerous. To help protect the floor, and to add a level of stability to the rack, we recommend using gym mats or flooring. This might seem like yet another expense, but it is an expense worth shelling out for, and it doesn’t cost very much anyways.
What you plan on using it for
Different people train with different goals in mind. Some people train to build muscle, whereas others exercise to burn fat or get stronger. Before you decide to start looking for a budget power rack, you need to figure out what you want to use the power rack for. If, for example, you want to do a lot of heavy bench pressing, you’ll want to also invest in an adjustable bench. If you only plan on doing standing free weight exercises, a bench won’t be necessary. If you train heavy, you’ll want a power rack with a high max weight capacity. If you don’t train as heavy, you can get away with less weight capacity. If you do plan on benching, be aware that power racks with in-built cable pulley systems such as lat pulldowns, can be restrictive. Figure out which types of exercises and movements you plan on doing the most, as well as what kinds of weights you’ll be using, and you can then make the necessary purchase.
Do you require accessories?
If you want a power rack to help keep you safe at home when you bench press or squat, a bog-standard power rack will suit you down to the ground. If, however, you want a power rack that can be customized to help you perform a whole variety of different exercises, you might want a power rack that can be customized. As you may have noticed earlier, when we were reviewing the power racks, many power racks can be customized so that you can perform even more exercises on them. Most power racks have chin-up bars for training back, but you can also get racks with dipping bars, lat pulldown pulley attachments, landmine attachments, and much more besides. If you’re lacking space but want to give yourself some additional training options when working out at home, the lat pull attachment could be handy. It will allow you to perform back exercises as well as high pulley exercises such as triceps pushdowns.
Weight plate storage
Another accessory which we didn’t just mention above, is weight plate storage. When you load up your barbell with weight, you need somewhere convenient to store the plates. If you stack them on the floor, this can be frustrating and dangerous, as it can be harder to grip them and pick them up. For convenience, a power rack with weight plate storage capabilities is hugely desirable. Here, the racks have special pegs/trees which you slide your Olympic plates on and off as needed. This not only makes it easier to load up the bar, it also helps to keep your gym neat and tidy, plus it also means that you are less likely to injure your back when bending over to pick a heavy 45-pound plate up off of the floor.
Finally, to get an idea of whether or not a power rack is right for you, it’s worth taking the time to read reviews online and see what other people have to say about the power rack you’re looking at. If you find that people are singing the praises of a particular rack, this is obviously a good sign. If plenty of people are writing negative reviews about a power rack, this tells you that you might want to avoid that particular model.
Power Rack Exercises
Now we’re going to look at some of the best exercises that you can perform in a power rack. Now, you can do virtually any exercise inside a power rack, but the safety bars and catches are explicitly designed for specific exercises. These include:
A rack pull is very much like a deadlift, except that, rather than deadlifting the bar off of the floor, you lift the bar off of the rack’s safety bars, which you have set at roughly shin height.
If you want to bench heavy but don’t have a spotter, a power rack is ideal. Here you’ll set the safety bars so that they’re roughly level with your chest and will then lift the weight off of the rack and hopefully press it without any issues. If the weight is too heavy and you can’t press it, rather than have it pin you to the bench and crush your sternum, you simply let go, allow the safety bars to catch the bar, and you slide out unscathed, albeit a little frustrated.
Heavy squats can be very dangerous. If you squat with weight but can’t stand up, you can let go of the bar and have the safety bars catch it. Again, this allows you to get away unharmed, plus it also protects your gym floor and the weights and barbell too.
Seated shoulder press
When you perform seated barbell shoulder presses, you can use the hooks to rack and un-rack the bar, and have the safety bars in place if you do fail to lock out the bar and re-rack it.
As long as your power rack has a chin-up bar/station, which most of them have, you can perform chin-ups to your heart’s content.
Finally, we’re going to finish up by looking at a few alternatives to power racks. These include:
Cheap Power Rack Alternatives
A smith machine is a specially designed machine featuring a barbell attached to the machine via a metal rail. It, therefore, only allows for vertical movements as the bar remains firmly in one place. If you train alone and don’t want to use free weights, the smith is a great alternative.
Independent squat stands
An independent squat stand is basically one stand, which is usually adjustable in height, that is designed to hold a barbell before squatting. You load the barbell onto the stand, load the weight on, get into position to squat, lift the bar off of the stand, squat, and carefully walk the bar back onto the squat stand and place it back on the racks. There are no safety bars with these stands, so they aren’t the safest.
Half racks are basically like a hybrid between a squat stand and a power rack. The half-rack consists of two free-standing posts attached to a solid reinforced base, which helps to keep the rack stable. They also feature adjustable hooks for racking and un-racking the barbell before you perform the exercise.
The article has been researched & compiled by the Editorial F5F Team, a group of experienced fitness & health writers.