7 Best Squat Racks | March 2017
- offers a lot of space to maneuver
- pull-up bar has firm grip
- assembly may be tedious
- weight capacity exceeds 1000 pounds
- includes extender posts
- easy to piece together
- chin-up bar is made of steel
- maximum lat-pull capacity is 250 lbs
- includes step-by-step assembly guide
- frame is made of heavy-gauge steel
- adjustable spotter arms
- remarkably sturdy and well-anchored
Why You Want To Squat
Building out a home gym often requires a steady acquisition of the most important pieces, after which you can afford to dabble in stranger devices like pull-up peg boards or tight ropes. You probably want an incline bench, some key free weights, and the infrastructure to do pull-ups, but central to this array should also be a squat rack.
For whatever reason, squats always seemed to me to be the least intensive, and therefore the least productive, thing they taught us in gym class. They didn't have the glamorous appeal of pushups and sit-ups, which had clear results on your arms and abs. I'd been a hockey player most of my life, so in my teens my legs and core were in pretty good shape, making squats done without any additional weight seem too easy. It didn't occur to me at the time that if the squats seemed too easy I should add weight.
It's a shame that I didn't know that then, because squats can be one of the most intensive and productive exercises you can do. For starters, they engage the entirety of your core like nothing else, working your hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, and glutes, all the way up to your abs and lower back. But squats don't stop there.
When you perform squats, especially when weighted, you create in your body what's called an anabolic environment, a specific metabolic state that promotes the growth and differentiation of cells in organs and other tissues like muscle. Fostering an anabolic environment (ideally without consuming anabolic steroids) will help you gain muscle. In such an environment, and since squats are considered a total body workout, your body also releases extra testosterone and human growth hormone, further aiding in muscle development.
Additionally, the act of the squat greatly resembles the safest and most efficient way to lift things like boxes and other heavy objects in the real world. Every squat you do trains your body to keep itself guarded from harm and strong enough to lift far more than the average person.
Nothing Too Fancy
At first glance, some of the squat racks out there might not look all that impressive. Even a few of the racks on this list look like little more than glorified Erector Sets, but don't let the simplicity of their appearance fool you. These racks are built to work and built to last; like squats themselves, their simplicity is their strength.
All of the squat racks on our list are built for stability first. Their bases are spread at a width that keeps the rest of the rack from toppling over on itself, even when no weights or bars are present. Each has its unique location for pegs designed to house weights that aren't in use, as well as a relatively standardized system for holding the bar in place.
Some of these units have a little added stability to them, which you can recognize by way of their well-anchored bases. These are the squat racks on which it's also safe to perform pull-ups, a feature that will reduce the overall footprint of your home gym by combining two stations into one.
That footprint is one of the most important variables you should consider while you are evaluating the squat racks on our list. If you're tight on space, you might need to sacrifice some minor features, like the amount of weight pegs or the pull-up stability, in order to fit the entire apparatus into your space.
The Gym Comes Home
Fitness as a leisure activity isn't a new idea, though it did fade pretty far into the background of daily life at certain points throughout the past couple of millennia. At the height of the Greek and Roman empires, public facilities existed that served as kinds of gyms for the citizens. Many of these facilities were shared among the common people and the Olympians of the day who couldn't afford private facilities for training.
In those days fitness was an art, not unlike the approach many take to bodybuilding today. The body in these instances serves as a kind of canvas upon which an artist molds and shapes clay made of human muscle. The culture might not seem like it consists of the most NPR-listening, museum-going crowd of people, but there is an art and a history to it.
In more recent years, public fitness found its home on the beaches. Muscle Beach in Venice, California is likely among the most famous for its ability to attract people looking to gain mass through the years. These locations also had the added benefit of being extraordinarily public, allowing their patrons to put their achievements on display.
The problem with such a public display of strength is that, if you don't have a lot of strength and you need somewhere to start, the beach scene can be awfully embarrassing. For the same reason, the gyms that have cropped up all over the land in the last 50 years won't do much good for the busy or the shy physical fitness enthusiast.
These are just some of the reasons that, since the 1960s, the home gym industry has seen incessant growth. Everything from complete gyms, to individual pieces, complicated home workout programs, and on-demand personal trainers have added pressure and release to a beauty standard that our culture applies to both genders.