Squat Rack vs Power Rack: Which One is Right For You?

To the untrained eye, the squat rack and the power rack might look extremely similar. Yes, they are both metal frames that help keep you safe while doing a variety of lifts.

However, there are some relatively subtle differences between power racks and squat racks, which may be the deciding factor in terms of which one you choose.

Today, we want to take a closer look at both squat racks and power racks to figure out what the biggest differences between them are, and which one is right for you.


What is a Squat Rack?

Squat Rack

First, we have the squat rack. A squat rack consists of a steel frame with two upright beams. When you squat and bench press, along with some of the other exercises that you can do with a squat rack, you actually do so outside of the frame.

Generally speaking, at the back of the unit, there will be some plate pegs so you can store weights. Some models may also include a pull-up bar.


Squat Rack Pros

Squat Rack

In case you're wondering why a squat rack is so beneficial, let's take a look at some of the main reasons why you might want to consider purchasing one.

  • Squat racks tend to be relatively small and space-efficient. This means that if you have limited real estate in your home, a squat rack is probably the better option. You don't need all that much space.
  • That small size isn't just ideal for saving space in your home, but also for another reason, which is mobility. Full power racks are large, heavy, and nearly impossible to move on your own, which is not the case for a squat rack. While squat racks are still relatively heavy, as they have to be to keep you safe, it is possible to move one around without too much trouble. Two people should be able to move a squat rack without having to strain too hard.
  • The other big advantage of having a squat rack is that it's a bit more versatile in terms of overhead exercises. The reason for this is that with the squat rack, you do most of the lifting outside of the frame as opposed to inside of the frame, which allows for a greater range of motion when doing overhead presses. This is because you don't have those upper side beams to stop you from locking out.


Squat Rack Cons

Just like a squat rack has a bunch of benefits, there are also some drawbacks that you need to consider.

  • The number one drawback of this squat rack has to do with safety. Although some squat racks come with spotter arms, it's actually not recommended to use them. This is because they are more likely to tip over, especially on cheaper lightweight models.
  • Furthermore, depending on the exact design of the squat rack in question, if you have a barbell that is loaded up with weights, and you rest them on the spotter bars, the whole squat rack may tip over.
  • Most squat racks also aren't compatible with safety straps and safety pins, which means that doing different variations of deadlifts is not possible.


What is a Power Rack?

Power Rack

We then have the power rack, which also consists of the steel frame, but instead of having only two upright beams, it has four upright beams. This means that all of the lifts you do are performed inside of the frame, within those four upright beams.

Some power racks also come with extra posts for plate storage and most will have a pull-up bar that is either a straight bar or multiple grip bar.

Plus, most power racks also allow you to attach a variety of accessories to increase the amount of exercises that you can do with them. For example, you can often add a lat pulldown attachment on the back of a power rack, although it will make it bigger.


Power Rack Pros

Just like a squat rack has many different benefits, so does a power rack, so let's find out exactly what they are.

  • Something worth noting about a power rack is that it is one of the sturdiest, heaviest, and bulkiest pieces of workout equipment that you could have in your home. The simple fact is that these are durable and long-lasting. They're almost impossible to tip over, and even harder to break.
  • Something else that stands out about the power rack is that it is designed with safety in mind. Power racks come with all sorts of spotter arms, pin safeties, safety straps, and more. These are all safety features designed to catch the bar when you fail to lift, therefore preventing you from injuring yourself, and even better, eliminating the need for a spotter.
  • The other big benefit of a power rack is that you can do virtually every exercise that you can do on a squat rack and many more. Due to the configuration of a power rack, you can also do pull-ups, chin-ups, deadlift variations, and more.


Power Rack Cons

Power racks are super versatile and have many benefits, but that said, they're also big and heavy, and as you can imagine, there are some drawbacks to talk about.

  • Right off the bat, one of the biggest drawbacks of a power rack is that they generally cost more than squat racks. They are large, heavy, and made with solid steel, and that's not free. Unless you go for a used model, even at the lower end of the spectrum, you'll have to spend a good deal of money on a decent power rack.
  • On that note, because a power rack is made with so much material and has four uprights instead of just two, it also takes up more space. A power rack certainly isn't the most space efficient piece of workout equipment that you can have in a home, and is therefore not ideal for very tight spaces.
  • The other drawback of a power rack is that its size and weight also makes it immobile and hard to move around. It takes around four people to effectively move one of these around, if not more.


Can You Squat Without a Rack?


So what if you want to do some squats, but you don't want to buy a rack? Can you do squats without any kind of rack? The answer to this is yes, but you need to do them properly in order to be safe. First and foremost, you need to be able to bail on a squat properly.

This means that you need to know how to properly fling the bar down off of your back once you fail a rep. This is something that you absolutely need to learn if you don't buy a squat rack or power rack.

On that note, bailing from a squat means dropping a whole lot of weight on the ground. If you have a floor that is prone to damage, then this is a recipe for disaster. You need some kind of rubber mats or bumper plates if you don't use a rack.


Squat Rack vs Power Rack – Which One is Best for You?

Squat Rack vs Power Rack

At the end of the day, both squat racks and power racks have their benefits and drawbacks.

If you have the space to spare, you don't mind paying a bit of extra money, and you need an extremely versatile and safe piece of workout equipment, it's the power rack that you need.

However, if you want something with a smaller footprint and you don't want to spend as much money, then a squat rack is probably best for you.

Author's Photo

William Parrett

Will, co-founder of Home Gym Supply, launched the company in 2019 after 15-years in the fitness industry. His expertise stems not only from his professional background but also from his athletic pursuits. A former competitor in the World Beauty Fitness & Fashion (WBFF) and a competitive rugby player, Will has always been dedicated to health and fitness.