Best Squat Rack Under $500 for 2018

We have already covered power racks; now it is time for squat racks. Either of these two devices is essential for doing barbell squats, without them, it is next to impossible to load/unload the barbell without hurting yourself.

In this article we will explain what is (and what isn’t) a squat rack, why do you need it, and we will give you some examples- five squat racks that we think are the best.

Let’s begin.

What is a squat rack?

A squat rack is a gym device that is primarily designed to make lifter’s life easier when doing barbell squats. As you know, to do them, you are supposed to load your barbell either on your back (most common) or your front, on the upper chest (for the front squats).

The problem with squats is that you need to lift heavy weight- legs are the strongest muscles in your body, and you are going to squat far more than you are going to bench. Getting so much weight on your back safely is impossible without a dedicated piece of equipment, and one of the devices you can use is a squat rack.

Squat racks are all about convenience- they allow you to load/unload weight while performing barbell squats safely and comfortably.

Squat racks misconceptions

  • Smith machine- many people, use the Smith machine exclusively for performing squats, but this complicated device is so much more than that. Smith machine does allow you to perform the squat comfortably. But, the barbell is fixed inside the Smith, it moves on rails. Although you add weight plates, this is not a free weight exercise; it limits your range of motion. The main benefit of a Smith machine is safety- at any point you can lock the barbell with a simple wrist twist, helping you to prevent injuries. The Smith machine can be used for a variety of exercises, and it allows you to max out, knowing that you are safe, all the time.

Power rack- this device looks really similar to squat racks but is different in its primary purpose. Although power racks allow you the convenience of squat racks, the central concept behind them (similar to the Smith machine) is safety. Squat racks are just barbell holders, they allow you to load and unload the barbell safely- but this is only safe compared to loading it without the rack. If something unpredictable happens mid-rep, a squat rack on its own will not do anything to prevent damage or injuries.
Power racks, or power cages, have horizontal poles, that are designed

  • to catch the barbell if it slips when you run out of strength. Power racks are the best of both worlds – they allow you to perform the exercise safely, like the Smith machine, but to do it with free weights, in your own range of motion, like the squat rack.

So, power rack is a far superior device than a squat rack. But, proper power racks cost more, weigh more, and require far more space, they are not for everyone.Although spotter bars are a trademark of power racks, if you browse carefully, you will find squat racks that have them too.

How to choose a squat rack?

Since this article is about squat racks that are $500 or less, the most critical filter-budget- is covered. Here are few other things to look for when shopping a squat rack:

  • Supported weight- naturally, you want to save money, but although it costs more, try to get a squat rack that supports a lot of weight. This is something that will stick in your home gym for good, and you want to make sure it follows your growth- you are maybe not that strong now, but you plan to get there, and you want a squat rack that scales with you.
  • Material- steel is the standard in the industry, but the thickness is crucial. It will not only support more weight, but will also be more durable, and will suffer less in the everyday use. Warning: steel thickness is measured in gauges, but the fewer, the better- 11ga steel is thicker than 13ga.
  • Size- squat racks are much smaller than power racks, and especially Smith machines, but you still want to make sure it fits. Never go for tight fits, leave a lot of space on the sides, so you can load and unload the barbell without too much trouble. Leave some room behind it so it doesn’t break the mirror if it moves, and of course, on the front, so you can approach it and perform the exercise smoothly. Also, if it has a chin-up bar, leave some extra space above it, so you don’t bang your head on the ceiling (it does happen!).
  • Extras- squat racks are quite simple devices, but there are some extras you can get. These include a chin-up bar, dip bars, weight pegs, and of course spotter arms, which will make your rack not only convenient but completely safe too. However, extras come second; you want all the basics covered first- a sturdy rack that can fit your room and is made of high-quality materials.

Top 5 Squat Racks Under $500

Valor Fitness BD-7 Power Rack with Lat Pull Attachment

 

We start off our squat rack list strong, with a power rack! Why not? Valor Fitness BD-7 Power Rack with Lat Pull Attachment fits our budget, and as we explained, power racks are superior to squat racks.

But, this is even more than a power rack. With a lat pulldown attachment and a low pulley station, this power rack is almost a complete home gym system. You only need a bench, a barbell, and some plates and you will be able to target every muscle group. The rack also has four plate holders. Additionally, this rack has a solid steel chrome bar for pullups/chinups, with knurled grips. You can get additional attachments too, such as dip handles, and different extensions for your pulldown/pulley stations.

Valor Fitness BD-7 Power Rack has a sturdy frame, 2’’ x 2’’, 12 gauge steel. Dimensions are  59″D x 63″W x 86″H. You can put barbell holders and safety pins in 17 different positions, covering all exercises. It handles enough weight- up to 650 lbs on the inside bar catchers, and up to 800 pounds on safety bars. This is more than enough for beginners, enough for intermediate bodybuilders, but pros will probably want to get something more robust.

Pros:

  • Power rack
  • Lat pulldown / low pulley
  • 12 gauge steel

Cons:

  • 650 lbs supported weight

Bottom line:

  • A good power rack for the price. Get it especially if you need lat pulldown and low pulley. But, if you are an advanced bodybuilder, you will probably need something stronger.

BSN Sports Step Squat Rack

This is a heavy-duty squat rack. It has a thick, 2’’ steel tubing and broad base, making it very stable, able to withstand extremely heavy weight. It is quite heavy for its size too, 165 lbs, also increasing its stability. Best of all, it does not require too much space; its dimensions are 60″H x 48″W x 65″ D.

But, the height of the rack may be a problem. The top position is 60 inches high, far from ideal for tall lifters, if they want to load the barbell on their back comfortably.

This rack does not have safety bars, but, since it has a low profile, and is tilted, it can be used instead of a spotter, but it is not a perfect solution. It

has four weight storage pegs, two on each side, but that is about it when it comes to extras- because of its height it does not have a pull-up bar, and you can’t attach dip bars anywhere. You could add a bench though, and use it for military press, incline press, bench press and similar exercises.

Pros:

  • Stable construction
  • Thick, 2’’ steel, 165 lbs

Cons:

  • Too short
  • No attachments available

Bottom line:

  • BSN Sports Step Squat Rack is a good option if you are not too tall for it. It is stable, durable and built to last. If it only had more upgrade options…

Titan X-3 Adjustable Squat Stand

Titan is known for producing the highest quality, heavy duty gym gear, and Titan X-3 squat stand is no exception.

3’’ x 3’’, 11 gauge thick bars can hold up almost unlimited weight, 1000+ lbs. Its dimensions are Height: 92″ – Width: 49″ – Depth: 48″, and it requires 49″ x 48″ of floor space.

This squat has “westside” hole pattern in the bench zone, meaning it has more densely spread holes. Above and below this zone, holes are spread two inches apart.

With the rack, you get a pair of J hooks, to hold your bar. Unfortunately, this rack has no spot handles, but you can buy them separately. You can also upgrade your Titan X-3 rack with dip handles, weight holders or similar add-ons. It does contain a standard, 1.25’’ pullup bar, that you can mount on your desired height.

Pros:

  • 1000+ lbs capacity
  • Westside bench zone hole pattern
  • 3’’ x 3’’, 11 gauge steel

Cons:

  • You have to pay more to get some (essential) upgrades

Bottom line:

  • Titan X-3 is a top-quality squat rack. If you are an advanced lifter, this is the right option for you, as it can hold almost unlimited capacity. The only downside is that you have to pay extra to get some necessary upgrades.

Rep Squat Rack with Pull Up Bar

Rep Fitness did an excellent job with this rack. First, they have built it to last by choosing heavy duty, 11 gauge thick steel. The rack can withstand 1000 lbs, which makes it an excellent option even for advanced lifters. Also, matte powder coating will make sure it doesn’t get scratched that easily. Assembled, the dimensions are 72 x 48 x 94 inches.

This is a strong product, ideal for a home gym, but more than capable to be even in the commercial facilities. It has some excellent extras too – a pull-up bar, dip bars (that can also be used for bands),  weight storage pegs (that also increase stability). If you want maximum stability, you can bolt it to the ground, but it is wide enough to be quite stable even without that.

And finally, and most importantly, this rack has spotter handles, 24’’ long. You can put them on one of many holes, which are 2’’ apart. It also has a pair of j-cups, lined with plastic, to minimize wear and tear. But we don’t actually like this since the plastic eventually always breaks, but it is only a small flaw in this excellent product.

Pros:

  • 11 ga steel, stable rack
  • 1000+ lbs capacity
  • Lot of attachments included

Cons:

  • Plastic on j-cups, a trend that we don’t like

Bottom line:

  • An excellent product, almost flawless, durable, supports a lot of weight and has plenty of attachments from the box.

X-3 Short Flat Foot Power Rack

This is a smaller version of the Titan T-3 power rack, which is the best one the money can buy, in our opinion. But, being shorter does not mean weak, on the contrary. X-3 is built by using industrial strength, 3’’ x 3’’, 11 gauge steel. It has by far the most weight capacity, of all racks we have tested in this article, 1500 lbs! This makes it a viable option even for the most advanced bodybuilders.

It has a flat foot design, which makes it completely stable, without the need to bolt it to the floor. This design also makes it easy to walk in; you will not have any parts to trip on. And since this is a power rack, it has full-length pipe/pin safeties, plus j hooks to hold your barbell. Also, this rack has not one, but two pull-up bars- 1.25’’ and 2’’ thick, allowing you to do different

types of pullups/chinups. Like most titan racks, it has a “westside” hole pattern in the bench-press zone, allowing you to line up safety bars perfectly.

Many upgrades are available, including dip bars, weight plate holders, and of course a bench.

Pros:

  • Thick, 11 gauge, 3’’ steel
  • 1500+ lbs capacity
  • 2 pull up bars

Cons:

  • You will have to buy some add-ons

Bottom line:

  • Titan X-3 is a superb power rack. It has everything- a sturdy frame, an unmatched capacity, two pull up bars and even a “westside” hole pattern. Yes, it could have more add-ons, but with this kind of quality, it does not need it to be the best.

Conclusion

 

We have peeked in the squat rack world. In this article, we tried to explain why you should consider investing in this type of gym equipment- you can’t do a complete workout without performing some kind of barbell squats, and squat racks make this possible.

We have presented you with five good products, that will do the job for you. But, if we have to say which one is the best, that has to be Titan X-3 Short Flat Foot Power Rack. This piece of equipment has everything- a wide walk-in, stable construction, 1500+ lbs weight capacity and two pull up bars. Yes, you will have to invest a bit more to get some essentials, like dip bars, but the overall quality of this rack makes it stand out from the crowd, and we warmly recommend it.

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