How to Shop for a Squat Rack That Fits in a Home Gym

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It’s nearly impossible to lift heavy weights without a solid squat rack. The ability to offload onto a trustworthy platform takes a great deal of the physical strain and stress out of performing crucial compound movements like the squat and bench press, but the problem is space. Many urban apartment dwellers have trouble justifying giving up precious floor space to gargantuan gym equipment. However, there are racks designed to be space-efficient, and many experts rave about them.

Squat rack prices can vary wildly, and can even be custom-built for work-of-art home gyms that run tens of thousands of dollars. For the average bro looking to expand his repertoire, plan on spending $400-$1,000. The equipment is expensive, but not egregiously so, and for the dedicated lifter, cost-per-use will plummet as strength increases over the years. “You can definitely get it done with a half rack with spotter arms or a power rack from Rogue, REP, Titan, and Fringe for $1,000 or less,” said Chris Howell, founder and CEO of spxfit, a premium New York City-based luxury gym design group. 

A squat rack won’t fit in the average 950-square-foot apartment, nor are they allowed by most landlords with a pulse and attachment to their drywall. There are, however, half racks with slimmer profiles that will fit perfectly in a basement or spare garage space. If one chooses the right one, gains at home are definitely within reach. 

What the Experts Say

Both experts hand-selected and recommended the products included in this piece. They also offered some buying advice for this niche, a somewhat technical product category. Mikey Bell is a personal trainer with a decade of experience, a professional mountain guide, and the founder and owner of Outdoor Adventure Training, a firm that builds personalized training plans for athletes interested in outdoor pursuits. 

He emphasized the importance of thoroughly measuring your space before purchasing a rack, including the potential height necessary for add-ons like a pull-up bar or spotting mechanism. Both Bell and Howell agreed that add-ons are almost always part of the equation, both to make the rack more fun to use and more versatile. 

“Having some sort of spotting mechanism is key for back squats in particular,” Bell said. “That would look like having two bars coming out of your rack that would catch the weight if you were to go down into the bottom of your squat and weren’t able to get up. You generally want to put those two to three inches below the bottom of where your range of motion would be. You would want to assess where to put those before doing the exercise.”

“You are never going to satiate yourself on that first purchase,” Howell said. Bell suggests using a TRX (which pairs well with many squat racks) for various squat variations for when squatting heavy doesn’t make sense. “If you make it a multifunctional piece of equipment it will serve you better,” Bell said.

They both recommend half squat racks due to their smaller size and more efficient builds but cautioned that they can be less stable if they aren’t drilled into the floor or wall. They also recommend double-checking that the holes and spacing on the rack are compatible with a variety of brands. “With Titan, REP, and Rogue—the US manufacturers—you can plan on using their racks and accessories interchangeably. [Premium-priced European brand] Eleiko isn’t really compatible. Once you have an Eleiko rack you are married to Eleiko accessories so you have to be prepared for any add-on costs there,” Howell said. 

Squat rack with large dumbbell


Rogue HR-2 Half Rack

Both experts sang the praises of half rack systems like the highly-rated HR-2 Half Rack from Rogue. “I really enjoy half racks because of the footprint. If you add on a spotter arm, that’s cool, but you get a low-depth footprint, and even with all of the add-ons you can keep a really low profile,” Howell said. Bell’s previous personal use rack was a half rack from Rogue and he also prefers a smaller footprint when applicable. 

The HR-2 can live as a standalone unit — not bolted into the floor or wall — thanks to its sturdy 48-inch long, 3-inch by 3-inch thick, 11-gauge steel base. It also features dual upright towers that are compatible with the included pin pipe safeties (which work as a piece of spotting safety equipment). Like all Rogue racks, the HR-2 is very customizable, and can accept pretty much all of the accessories your heart desires. 

Sorinex Apex rack against white background


Sorinex Apex Rack

Made For: Someone looking for a highly aesthetic rack that will deliver full commercial gym-style workouts and who doesn’t have a strict budget.

The Slow Twitch: “It is good to think about customization and further add-ons before making a purchase. Look for things like integrated storage and a lat pulldown and seated row combo,” Howell said “In my opinion, this is a sweet rack. It’s amazing because you have a whole gym right there.” He specifically pointed to the Sorinex Apex Rack as a high-end but versatile option. “It is basically two fixed cable columns. You can upgrade it to a lat pull seated row. It has bumper storage. You can put in shelves to store dumbbells,” he said. 

Hot Take: This pick has everything you need for a complete gym experience. It comes at a  premium price point but with the convenience of only needing to buy one thing. 

balck REP PR 400 squat rack against white background


REP PR-400 Rack Builder

Made For: An excellent fairly priced starting point  for  building out a personalized, accessory-heavy rack.  

The Slow Twitch: The PR 400 has 1-inch hole spacing through the bench with ⅝-inch pinholes, which is a sweet spot for utilizing US brands accessories and the 50.8” wide rack has four depth options (41”,30”,24”,16”) and two height options (80” and 93”) delivering a host of options from which to build from.

Hot Take: This rack doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it’s a fabulous, sturdy foundation for making accessory dreams come true.

black squat rack against white background


Titan T-3 Space Saving Racks

Made For: Handy fitness enthusiasts who have tools to drill into concrete (and know how to do that).

The Slow Twitch: The T-3 will give even a heavy user a great deal of utility in a small space and comes in at a remarkably inexpensive sub $300 price tag. “The setup and construction is admittedly involved,” Bell said. “You are drilling holes into the concrete and into the wall. They are harder to set up, but in terms of rigidity and durability, and functionality when they are mounted into the floor and the wall, they are solid. Provided you set it up correctly.” 

Hot Take: One can save a great deal of money and space with the right tools and a kind landlord.

Frequently Asked Questions About Squat Racks

How do I know if I need a squat rack?

Squat racks are a fabulous piece of equipment for fitness enthusiasts looking to lift heavy in a relatively safe environment on their own. Bell reminds his clients, though, that lifting heavy might not always be the best exercise for their objective. If a user’s goals are more of the endurance or aerobic variety, Bell suggests eschewing big back squats and using lower-weight pieces of gear that don’t need a squat rack, like a medicine ball or kettlebell with higher reps.

Should I buy a half rack or a full squat rack?

Both Howell and Bell spoke highly of half racks and how their space-saving nature makes them an excellent option for folks looking for something with a smaller footprint. Two things worth noting, though: The right half rack should definitely have spotter arms and also they can be less stable than a full rack if not mounted into the floor and wall. The stability factor should come into account for athletes who plan to use their racks for pull-upskip-upskip ups and other highly kinetic exercises.

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