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A power rack is sometimes referred to as a squat rack and also a power cage. It is an item of weight training equipment. Essentially it will allow you to use free weights using a barbell, what it won’t do is protect you in the way a smith machine does.
It is basically 4 vertical posts with two movable horizontal bar catchers on either side.
Free weights do build more muscle than machines. Squats for example are great exercises to build muscle and strength but without a power rack you could struggle to get that bar on your back to squat with.
Power racks are very versatile, there are simply so many exercises you can do including bench press, inverted rows, dips and pull ups. They are also relatively safe in that they do come with lateral safety pins which will catch the barbell in case something goes wrong.
Don't just jump in and buy the first one you like the look of as there's quite a few things you'll need to check in terms of dimensions.
Do check the height of your ceiling, particularly if you are doing the military press or overhead squats. For chin ups make sure there’s enough room above the rack for your head to clear it comfortably. Sounds obvious but easy to forget in the rush to buy!
Most racks will take up to several hundred kilos but if you want heavier weights then check out elitefits power racks which allow you to customise the rack to suit your needs. Also do check that the overall frame is sturdy.
Check out if your rack has dedicated hooks or pins.
Pin Hole Spacing
A smaller gap between the holes allows for a greater degree of flexibility, anything down to 1” is fine. You will find that cheaper racks have a gap of 2” or more.
Extra J-Hooks & Pins
Many racks only come with a single pair of j hooks-the hook the bar sits in just before you lift it. A second set is a real bonus.
The width of a rack really varies so do check out exactly what exercises you want to do. Some squats and rack pulls for example do take up a lot of room. So you may feel silly but try to measure the width of your squat.
If you want to bench press in the rack then do make sure the bench fits. And if you are using a bench inside the rack and will be using dumbbells make sure there’s plenty of room to drop the dumbbells if they get too heavy. Some rubber protective mats will also be good to protect your floor.
Quite simply the more you pay the better the features and the quality. Cheap may not always last and be a false economy.
You may want to consider the following items to go with your rack- dip bars can be hooked on to one of the pins, lateral pull downs, step up platform, storage hooks for bars, bands and chains.