With the Covid-19 crises in full swing and things looking to stay on lock down for quite sometime many people are realizing that body weight workouts can only cut it for so long. Body weight workouts are a great way to get a home workout in and keep the body moving but to really make or keep your gains you need to start pushing heavy weight again and a vital piece of home gym equipment for that is the squat rack/power back.
If you are serious about getting a home gym together then you must have a good power rack. A power rack or squat rack of course opens your workout up to doing heavy compound movements like the squat, deadlift and Romanian deadlift. It also allows you to do heavy bicep curls, skull crushers, shoulder barbell press and a good squat rack will allow for adds on such as a pull up bar and dip station.
What is the difference between a squat rack and a power rack?
Firstly let’s take a look at the difference between a squat rack and a power rack. Yes they are different! The main difference between a squat rack and a power rack is that a power rack will have 4 pillars and a squat rack will have 2 pillars. A squat rack is usually much more affordable and they take up much less space which is why they are more popular for home gym setups. In saying that it is worth comparing the dimensions of a squat rack and power rack as the squat rack is usually not a whole lot smaller in terms of space needed than the power rack. A squat rack still needs a wide base so it does not fall over. Do not assume however that you must get a squat rack if you are stuck for space. Check the dimensions of both options and you might be surprised as how some power racks do not need much more space than a squat rack.
Squat Rack Power rack
Squat and Power Rack Benefits:
- Multi function
- Safe equipment
- Allows for heavy compound movements
- All in one solution
- Can replace your gym membership
- Great for strength
- Great for size gains
Things to consider when shopping for a squat or power rack:
Quality of the rack:
If you are lifting heavy weight then you need a good quality rack. High quality steel is a must for either a power rack or a squat rack. Some people prefer to go for racks made in the UK, Europe or USA to ensure they are good quality.
Most people will be using a power rack or squat rack to lift near enough their max weight. It is important then to make sure the rack can take the weight you will be lifting. Most good racks will be able to take 200kg+ but it is still worth checking before purchasing and often this can be over looked. If you are putting up serious weight then make sure you have a rack that can take it!
Power Rack Size:
When shopping for a power rack or squat rack there are some important factors to consider. One of the first things to check which may seem obvious (yet many people don’t consider) is will the rack actually fit in your home. Often people will check the dimensions of the rack but fail to consider the height of it. It is important to make sure your ceiling is high enough for the power rack you are interested in. As well as fitting the rack you will need to consider extra space for weights and the movement of the bar. Again this can be often overlooked. Remember than an official Olympic barbell is over 7 foot long so consider this when purchasing your rack. The last thing you want is the bar denting your wall!
Another thing to consider when shopping for a power rack is to make sure that it is the right size for you. There are different heights for different racks so depending on your height you will need to make sure it is a good fit for you. For example if you are a smaller height then you may want to go for a shorter rack and vice versa.
You also need to make sure that your floor can handle the rack and weight you intend on using. If you are planning on squatting 100kg plus then you need to make sure your floor can handle it!
Can you anchor your squat rack?
Most good squat racks will have a way of anchoring them to the ground. Now you may not need to do this and this totally depends on your floor and what lifts you are intending to do. Ideally however you would have some way of anchoring the rack to ensure it does not move when racking and un-racking the weight from the rack. Some racks come with a rear stabiliser designed to act as an anchor. These can be useful but sometimes they can get in the way of your lift, especially if you are trying to do a box squat or bench press where the bottom of the bench cannot fit in the rack due to the stabilisers.
Non Slip Pads:
These are especially important for squat racks as a squat rack only has 2 pillars so it is extra important they that do not slip when you are re-racking the weight. A power rack has 4 pillars so although it should be anchored properly it will usually be a bit more sturdy than your average squat rack. Make sure the squat rack has non slip pads especially if you are using on a wooden floor!
Does the rack have spotters arms?
Spotter arms are a must if you are lifting heavy on your own. If you are planning on doing a heavy bench press and there is no one there to help then these are not an option, they are a must. Simply Youtube bench fails to see how badly wrong this can go if you don’t have spotter arms setup. The same goes for squats! If you are squatting low and pushing the weight for what you can lift then you must have spotter arms in case things don’t go your way. A good rack will come with two spotters arms.
Some other things to consider:
Other things to consider when purchasing a squat rack is how is it going to arrive. If you order from Amazon then make sure the parts will fit through your door! Most racks come in pieces which you will have to assemble once you get it.This is not a massive deal but it is something to be aware of so make sure the pieces will fit through door and also be aware that some assembly may be required. Shipping can be expensive depending on the size of the rack however if you are getting a standard squat rack then often the shipping can be free.