The 9 Best Squat Racks
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in March of 2015. Serious bodybuilders looking to build up their quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, gluteus maximus and abdominals will want to take a look at these squat racks. Though simple in concept and design, they are built to last forever and provide a convenient way to maximize every workout without the need for a partner. We've included various models suitable for home gyms and commercial establishments. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
July 11, 2020:
During my late teens, I lived in many apartment blocks with communal gyms, and I used to end up using these facilities in order to save on gym memberships. The problem with communal gyms however is that they often lack sophisticated equipment, which was an issue, because I saw the value in using free weights over pulley machines for balanced muscle development, but wouldn’t risk using them without a spotter.
Ultimately, the whole experience made me appreciate the value of a good squat rack and other gym equipment, and while I still prefer a sturdy smith machine, when I have to use a squat rack, I would much rather use the full-cage frames with four vertical posts over those half-frame models. To me, the two-post frames have the potential to be unsafe in case you miss the hooks or lose your balance during a squat. I know the odds of this happening seem very slim, but I’ve spent enough time in the gym to have seen it happen before.
Unfortunately, a lot of the market is now moving towards half-framed models because they’re slightly more affordable, but I still maintain that there is simply less to worry about with a full cage – you don’t have to worry about going too far forward as you’ll just hit the frame.
With that in mind, I’ve taken out half-frame models like the Rep Fitness and Reebok Rack and added sturdy cages like the HulkFit Rack, Body Power Deluxe and Fitness Reality X-Class Light. The Body Solid Pro is another sturdy option and I wanted to highlight that by promoting its position in the list. Many of these options come with either a pull-up bar or pull-up handles and dip handles.
Fitness 4 Charity Physical activity significantly impacts health and longevity, but gym machines can be expensive. So if you're planning of throwing out your old squat rack in order to make way for a new one, perhaps consider donating it to Fitness 4 Charity. They accept and redistribute all sorts of used exercise equipment to homes across the world that can't afford to buy them. fitnessforcharity.org
Why You Want To Squat
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.