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How To Use A Power Rack vs Squat Rack

Weightlifters and fitness experts agree that the squat is one of the most critical movement patterns to improve performance in heavy lifting.1 So if you're serious about building a home gym, a squat rack or power rack should be on your list of strength training necessities.

But how do you choose between them?

From the unparalleled stability of a power rack to the cost-effective versatility of a squat rack, we’ve compared these two home gym must-haves and put together a guide on all things rack-related. This guide will explore the differences between a power rack vs squat rack, and how to use them correctly to meet your strength training goals.

Why Even Use a Squat Rack or Power Rack?

Before getting into comparisons, let's talk a little about why experts highly recommend having a power rack or squat rack in your home gym.

Also called a squat stand, squat racks and power racks are basically places to rest your heavy weight barbell. That's a pretty bare-bones description. But both types of weight training racks are also the skeleton on which you can build and perfect a fulfilling and dynamic routine that challenges you today and into your fitness future.

Sure, you could do an entire weight-training workout using hand weights or even your own body weight, but you'll miss out on the huge gains a complex heavy weight barbell workout offers.

Unlocking Your Potential with Compound Exercises

Research has shown that compound exercises—meaning exercises that engage multiple muscle groups and joints at the same time—are the key to unlocking your body mass and fitness potential. Whether you are new to barbells and are starting out with a beginner barbell workout or are on the other end of the spectrum and consider yourself a barbell pro, there are several benefits you can expect with consistent practice, including:

  • Bigger, stronger muscles
  • Engaged core
  • Improved mobility
  • Increased flexibility
  • Naturally boosted hormone production
  • Increased coordination
  • Elevated heart rate

Sounds pretty great, right?

The Importance of Barbell Workouts

Barbell exercises are the undisputed king of compound exercises. Building a weightlifting routine that incorporates a 15lb barbell or 45lb Olympic barbell can help you quickly and effectively meet your fitness goals. Some of the most common and basic barbell workouts that you might try include:

  • Barbell back squat
  • Barbell front squat
  • Angled barbell press
  • Barbell bench press
  • Bent-over barbell row

But working with a barbell with the addition of weight plates can be somewhat difficult and dangerous. A foldable squat rack or a 3x3 power rack elevates the barbell and weight plates off the floor so you can easily adjust them as needed and then execute your reps without having to lift the loaded barbell off the floor.

Okay, I’m In. But What is a Squat or Power Rack Anyway?

So up to now, we’ve been a little loose with the term “squat rack.” While every power rack is a squat rack, every squat rack is NOT a power rack. Let’s explore:

  • Squat rack – A squat rack is two adjustable metal poles that can support your barbell at different height levels from low to high. To use a squat rack for a basic squat, you would position yourself under the bar, remove the barbell from the rack, step forward, execute your reps, and then step back to return the barbell to the rack.
  • Power rack – A power rack consists of four adjustable metal poles connected by horizontal framing, creating a cage-like shape. The vertical poles have adjustable hooks and catches to support your barbell and other equipment while you perform your power rack exercises. If you’re working out from home without someone to spot you, a power rack provides a measure of safety so that you can confidently lift to your highest weight capacity and not worry about bailing on a rep, dropping the barbell, or injuring yourself.

Which Rack is Right for My Home Gym?

Now that you've got a basic understanding of squat rack-based lifting, let's talk about the advantages and disadvantages of a squat stand vs power rack:

  • Squat rack pros – The smaller size allows it to more easily fit into a home gym. Additionally, it’s less costly to purchase and perfect for squats and bench presses.
  • Power rack pros – Power racks are extremely stable and provide a measure of safety when lifting heavyweights. It can also be fitted with equipment like landmines, lat attachments, straps, and dip handles for an endless variety of workouts.
  • Squat rack cons – Squat racks are less stable than power racks and don’t provide a space to place the barbell if you need to bail on a rep. But they’re perfect for basic exercise.
  • Power rack cons – In comparison to squat racks, power racks are more costly than squat racks and take up more space, which can cramp a home gym if you don’t have a large workout area. However, if you have enough space, power racks are worth the investment.

What to Consider: Power Rack or Squat Stand?

As you decide whether a squat rack or power rack is best suited for your fitness goals, you’ll also want to consider the following:

  • How much space do I have? Which type of equipment will fit best in your at-home gym? A squat stand is smaller, while a power rack will take up more room.
  • How much weight capacity will I max out at? Power racks are ideal for those looking to do heavy-lifting.
  • What exercises beyond squats do I want to incorporate into my routine? If you want to create an entire workout routine around one type of equipment, a power rack is best suited for your needs. However, if you want to keep it simple and keep your workouts versatile with a combination of weights and cardio, a squat rack may be a better fit.
  • What is my budget? If the sky’s the limit, opt for a power rack for higher versatility. But, if you’re looking to save money and still get in an effective workout, a squat stand will do the trick.

Whichever You Choose, Tru Grit Has Your Back

Whether you choose a squat rack or power rack, you'll be making a wise investment in your home gym. Both a squat rack and a power rack allow you the support and flexibility you need to take your training to the next level.

At Tru Grit, we believe in the power of perseverance. That’s why we’ve developed a premium line of home gym equipment. Our racks and rigs come in a variety of styles to suit whatever fitness goals you’re looking to achieve.

Refuse to quit with True Grit.


Sources:

Strength and Conditioning Journal. The Back Squat: A proposed assessment of functional deficits and technical factors that limit performance. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4262933/

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