The Definitive Guide to the Best Squat Rack


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Generally speaking, the longest line at the gym is always for the squat rack. There just never seems to be enough of them, no matter how big your gym. And it makes sense. The squat rack is incredibly versatile. 

Depending on your setup, you can perform squats, lunges, deadlifts, presses, bench presses, pullups, and more, all with those metal columns. But maybe you’ve been thinking of getting your own squat rack for home use? Or, maybe you’re a gym owner, looking to add a couple of new racks? 

This guide will go over the best squat racks for a variety of needs and circumstances, to help you decide which option is best for you!

What is a Squat Rack?

A squat rack is a frame, usually metal, from which you can perform squats with. There are metal “arms” which hold the bar when you are not using it, and most squat racks have safety pins in case you have to drop the bar. 

Without a squat rack, you are limited to how much weight you can squat by how much weight you can lift from the ground and place it on your back. 

The squat rack allows you to place greater stress on your muscles, which in turn, helps you develop your muscles for, whether you are looking for hypertrophy (muscle size) or strength. 

Choose the Best Squat Racks

 Product's nameDimensionWeightsCost USDMore Info
Best Squat Stands
Rogue ES-1 Echo Stands
48.5 x 48 x 70.3 inches95lbs$295View Product
Best Half Squat Rack
Rogue HR-2 Half Rack
49 x 48 x 92.3 inches225lbs$710View Product
Best Squat Rack
Rogue R-3 Power Rack
53 x 34 x 90 inches200lbs$750View Product
Best Folding Squat Rack
Titan Fitness T-3 Folding Power Rack
41.5 x 46 x 91.3 inches (when folded: 41.5 x 5 x 91.3)175lbs$359View Product
Best Outdoor Rack
Titan Fitness T-3 Yoke
51 x 52 x 72 inches166lbs$349View Product

Squat Stands

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Best Squat Stands

#1- Rogue ES-1 Echo Stands

Squat stands are not technically squat racks, but you can perform almost all the same exercises with them as you can with a rack. Squat stands sell in pairs. Each stand is a vertical piece of metal, with a spot at the top where the bar sits. While much less stable than a squat rack, the benefit to the squat stands is that they are much more space efficient. 

The best squat stands currently on the market, would be the Rogue ES-1 Echo Stands. Rogue is known in the fitness community for its reliable, durable, and high-quality products. The ES-1 stands are made with powder coated steel. The stands weigh 95lbs, and are able to hold 1000lbs! There are also plastic feet to protect your flooring. 

Not only is the ES-1 easy to move around and store, but it also comes with a very affordable price tag at $295 USD. This is an excellent entry option for a first squat rack!

Half-Squat Rack

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Best Half Squat Rack

#2- Rogue HR-2 Half Rack

What’s a half squat rack? Well, a half rack is exactly how it sounds. If you imagine a full squat rack as a rectangular box, set on end, which you walk into, a half rack has cut off the front portion of the frame. It’s somewhere between a squat stand and a full rack. 

Like a sturdier version of a squat stand, you can unrack your weight, and perform squats, lunges, presses, etc. The downside to a half rack is that you don’t have the safety pins available to you, unless you use the back portion of the rack. The problem with doing this is that the space is very limited, which could interfere with your workout. 

The best half rack on the market is the Rogue HR-2 Half Rack. Yes, another Rogue entry on the list, and it probably won’t be the last. They simply make the best fitness equipment on the market. 

Like I said earlier, this half rack allows you to perform all the exercises you would in a full rack, but for some exercises, like lunges or overhead presses, you won’t be able to use safety pins. The rack does come with a pullup bar, and for $255 extra, you can get a conversion kit which gives you storage space directly on the rack! 

The Rogue HR-2 Half Rack retails for $710 USD. 

Full Squat Rack

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Best Squat Rack

#3- Rogue R-3 Power Rack

A full squat rack is like a box that you are walking into to become a strong beast. You can set the J-cups (where the bar sits) to face outwards, if you need more room to move, inside the rack, so you can use the safety pins, you can set them to look at the mirror to check your form or outwards so the mirror doesn’t distract you. Most full squat racks also come with pull up bars. You can set your bench inside the rack and safely perform a bench press. The squat rack is one of the most important tools a serious athlete can have in their home gym. 

The best squat rack on the market is the Rogue R-3 Squat Rack. The R-3 is the best bare-bones squat rack money can buy. You can set your J-cups to the perfect height. For squats, the holes are every 2”, and for bench press, the holes are every 1”. You can squat outside of the rig, or inside, facing whichever direction you desire. Inside the rack are sturdy safety pins in case you fail a set. 

The R-3 comes standard with two pullup bars, one standard, one fat grip. The sturdy rack can handle strict or kipping pullups. Though, you do need to bolt this rack to the floor for maximum stability. The R-3 also comes standard with band pegs. This allows you to perform banded variations of movements like banded squats or banded deadlifts.

The R-3 is also compatible with Infinity products. This means that you can add things like dip bars or weight plate holders, directly onto the rack. This makes the R-3 even more versatile! 

There are definitely squat racks on the market that have more bells and whistles, but for the price tag ($750 USD), this is the absolute best place to start if this is your first squat rack. Unless you are a professional powerlifter who needs hydraulic bar arms, this rack is really all you need. 

Folding Squat Rack

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Best Folding Squat Rack

#4- Titan Fitness T-3 Folding Power Rack

Not everyone has the luxury of ample open workout space in their home. Maybe your home gym doubles as a garage, a play room, or a living room? That’s where the Titan Fitness T-3 Folding Rack comes in. This folding squat rack delivers the same high-quality construction as Titan’s other squat racks, but with a significantly reduced footprint. 

The T-3 is made with 2×3” 11-gauge steel, making it incredibly sturdy. The rack can hold up to 1100lbs. The rack is mounted to your wall as two vertical pieces. These pieces are connected by a pullup bar at the top. When you want to fold the rack, you pull out the red pins, remove the pullup bar, and the vertical pieces swing in towards the wall, reducing the depth of the rack from 41.5” to 5”. When you’re ready to train again, you simply swing out the arms, replace the pullup bar, and replace the red pins. It couldn’t be easier. 

Another bonus to the T-3 folding rack is that it comes with Titan Fitness’ renowned customer service. Good customer service is a tenet Titan was built on and continues to improve. Titan also offers free shipping!

The Titan Fitness T-3 Folding Rack retails for $359 USD, also making it an incredibly affordable option. 

Outdoor Squat Rack

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Best Outdoor Rack

#5- Titan Fitness T-3 Yoke

This might be the coolest squat rack on the list, so good that we saved it for last, right?

The Titan Fitness T-3 Yoke is without a doubt the best outdoor squat rack option. You might be familiar with the yoke as a strongman implement. The crossbar is placed on a competitor’s back, and the four weight holders are loaded up. 

The strongman then either walks as far as they can, or walks a set distance as fast as they can. So why is this on a list of best squat racks?

The T-3 Yoke has holes set into the uprights which are compatible with J-cups. This means that you can use the same J-cups that would hold your barbell in a traditional squat rack, with the T-3 Yoke. This versatility allows you to use the yoke as a yoke, or, you can use it as a power rack to squat, press, lunge, etc. You could even do both in one workout. 

The options of exercises to perform with the yoke are really only limited by your imagination. You can also push or pull the yoke like a weighted sled. 

The T-3 Yoke retails for $349 USD, also making it a very affordable option. 

Squat Rack Attachments and Accessories

J-Cups

J-Cups, so named because they resemble a “J” shape, are metal attachments that hold your barbell while you aren’t performing an exercise. The bar sits in the “u” portion of the “J”. The J-Cup fits into the holes of the squat rack you are using to hold your weight securely. J-Cups are absolutely necessary for performing squats in a full or half squat rack. 

Pullup Bars

Most full racks and half racks will come with a pullup bar standard. If they don’t, most companies offer attachable pullup bar options that you can add on to your rack. This is a great way to save space in your gym, rather than taking up additional space with a separate pull up bar. 

Having a pullup bar on your squat rack is also super handy. This allows you to perform supersets of different exercises. One super set I really love doing in a power rack is to combine overhead presses and pullups. This way I’m training the opposing muscle groups. This also allows me to save on time as I’m resting one muscle group while training the other. 

Dip Bars

Similar to pull up bars, dip bars can add versatility to your power rack. Adding dip bars also saves you space, because you don’t need free standing dip bars to take up additional space elsewhere in your gym. 

Most power racks have the capability to add dip bars to the existing structure. Dips are a great way to train your chest, shoulders, and triceps, in ways that overhead and bench presses can’t do as effectively. It’s also just a great idea to work in some bodyweight training, along with your weighted training. 

Benches

A solid bench is another great accessory to add to your power rack. A bench allows you to perform bench press using your rack, and you can use the safety pins to ensure you are doing so safely. 

Combining a squat rack and a bench also allows you to perform box squats. Box squats are squats where you squat down to a box–or in this case, a bench–and from a place of zero momentum, reverse the movement and stand up. 

These are incredible for developing your ability to drive out of the hole in the squat. Box squats can also be a great tool for athletes returning from injury as you can set the bench higher than a traditional squat depth, which ensures they do not re-injure themselves. 

Safety Pins

As far as I’m concerned, safety pins are non-negotiable. Yes, you can bail out of the bottom of a squat. But if you do that inside a power rack, there’s a chance the bar is going to hit you if it isn’t caught. Additionally, you’re going to destroy your floors. 

Safety pins allow you to squat heavy and confidently, without the worry of “what happens if I fail?” Safety pins are also essential if you plan on bench pressing in your squat rack because you can’t just bail on a bench press. But if you have the safety pin there for extra assurance, you can just drop the weight down. 

Another great use of safety pins is doing pin pulls. This exercise is a deadlift variation, where you set the pins somewhere between the ground and the top of your deadlift position and pull from there. There are two main benefits of pin pulls. 

The first is that pin pulls can allow you to overload your body, and get used to holding heavier weight. If my max deadlift is 405, and I do a pin pull of 425, when I go to attempt 410, it will feel relatively easier. The second benefit of the pin pull is to work on weaknesses in the deadlift. 

Personally, if I can get the weight past my knees, I know I will make the lift. My weakness is between the ground and below my knee. So I work on pin pulls from just above the ground to work on this weakness. 

Band Pegs

Bands for barbell movements might be new to you. This is really an elite lifting technique, especially popular with lifters using the Conjugate System of lifting. Bands, wrapped around band pegs and around the barbell, increase the tension at the top of the movement. This can be used for squats, bench press, presses, or deadlifts. 

Generally, you would use a VERY light weight, and use bands to work on your speed. 

Band pegs, which attach to the bottom of the rack, allow you to safely attach bands to the floor and to your barbell. 

Tip: Make sure you are using bands specifically designed for conjugate work. If you use standard fitness bands, you might be preparing yourself for an epic workout fail video. 

How to Use a Squat Rack

The exercises you can perform in a squat rack are more or less limited only by your imagination. Below we will go over some of the most common exercises performed using a squat rack, but by no means is this an exhaustive list. And before you ask, no, we did not include bicep curls. 

Back Squat

Referred to as the king of all exercises, the back squat is a full body movement, which focuses on the back and lower body. 

Muscles Worked:

  • Quads
  • Back
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Traps

How to do it:

  1. Put your barbell securely in the J-Cups of the squat rack. Position your hands just wider than shoulder width apart. If you have shoulder issues, you may want to consider a wide grip, or a safety squat bar. 
  2. Externally rotate your arms. Think about bending the bar in half with your hands. 
  3. Squeezing your upper back muscles, pull yourself under the bar, placing the barbell on your traps, but NOT on your neck. If you are performing the low bar back squat, the bar should rest on your upper back. 
  4. With both feet parallel, squeeze your core and stand up. Take a few steps back, but don’t take the bar for a walk.
  5. Maintaining tension throughout your entire body, breathe in, and begin descending by moving your hips back and down. 
  6. Stop descending once you have broken parallel. 
  7. As soon as you reach the bottom position, explode out of the hole, exhale, and stand up. 
  8. Repeat.

Split Squats

Also referred to as the Bulgarian split squat, this is an excellent accessory exercise. This is best performed in higher rep ranges. 

Muscles Worked:

  • Glute
  • Quads
  • Hamstrings

How to do it:

  1. Place a bench ~6 feet behind the bar.
  2. Put your barbell securely in the J-Cups of the squat rack. Position your hands just wider than shoulder width apart. If you have shoulder issues, you may want to consider a wide grip, or a safety squat bar. 
  3. Externally rotate your arms. Think about bending the bar in half with your hands. 
  4. Squeezing your upper back muscles, pull yourself under the bar, placing the barbell on your traps, but NOT on your neck. 
  5. With both feet parallel, squeeze your core and stand up. Take a few steps back, but don’t take the bar for a walk.
  6. Place your back foot on the bench. Make sure it is an appropriate distance with no bar first, then an empty bar, before attempting this with load
  7. Begin descending, similar to a lunge. Do not attempt to maintain an upright position. You should actually lean forwards slightly while descending. 
  8. Descend until your knee almost grazes the floor, then reverse and stand up.
  9. Repeat. Perform the same number of split squats on each leg. 

Front Squats

Considered in some circles to be the more athletic variation of the squat, the front squat places a much greater demand on the quadriceps and lower demand on the glutes than a back squat. 

The front rack position puts greater demands on the core and upper body mobility and stability as well. 

Muscles Worked:

  • Quads
  • Core

How to do it:

  1. Put your barbell securely in the J-Cups of the squat rack. Position your hands just wider than shoulder width apart. If you have shoulder issues, you may want to consider a wide grip, or a safety squat bar. 
  2. Externally rotate your arms. Think about bending the bar in half with your hands. 
  3. Squeezing your upper back muscles, pull yourself under the bar, placing the barbell on your front delts, but do not choke yourself!
  4. With both feet parallel, squeeze your core and stand up. Take a few steps back, but don’t take the bar for a walk.
  5. Inhale and squeeze your core and entire body. Descend in a more upright position than the back squat, but do not arch your back. 
  6. When you break parallel, reverse the movement.
  7. Breathe at the top and repeat. 

Press

The press, military press, or overhead press, used to be an event in Olympic Weightlifting. It was removed as it became very difficult to judge in the competition. But the press is still an incredibly valuable exercise in training not just the upper body but the entire body.

Muscles Worked:

  • Shoulders
  • Triceps
  • Core

How to do it:

  1. Put your barbell securely in the J-Cups of the squat rack. Position your hands just wider than shoulder width apart. 
  2. Externally rotate your arms. Think about bending the bar in half with your hands. 
  3. Squeezing your upper back muscles, pull yourself under the bar, placing the barbell on your front delts, but do not choke yourself! This should be similar to the front squat position, but your elbows should be pointed more at the ground than in front of you.
  4. With both feet parallel, squeeze your core and stand up. Take a few steps back, but don’t take the bar for a walk.
  5. Inhale and squeeze your core and entire body. Press the weight above your head in a straight line.
  6. When your arms are straight, reverse the movement.
  7. Breathe and repeat. 

Push Press

The push press is an explosive take on the press. Not quite a jerk, but the push press does use the legs as well. This is a great movement for upper body strength and explosiveness. 

Muscles Worked: 

  • Shoulders
  • Core
  • Quads

How to do it:

  1. Put your barbell securely in the J-Cups of the squat rack. Position your hands just wider than shoulder width apart. If you have shoulder issues, you may want to consider a wide grip or a safety squat bar. 
  2. Externally rotate your arms. Think about bending the bar in half with your hands. 
  3. Squeezing your upper back muscles, pull yourself under the bar, placing the barbell on your front delts, somewhere in between a front squat position and a press position.
  4. With both feet parallel, squeeze your core and stand up. Take a few steps back, but don’t take the bar for a walk.
  5. Inhale and squeeze your core and entire body. Bend your knees slightly like you are going to jump. 
  6. Explode up onto your toes and let the momentum carry the bar into the air.
  7. As the momentum slows upwards, press the bar the rest of the way.
  8. When your arms are straight, lower the bar back to the starting position.
  9. Breathe and repeat. 

Pin Pulls

Pin pulls are a deadlift variation where you set the barbell onto safety pins to pull from a higher elevation. This can be an effective strategy for getting through any sticking points in the deadlift. 

If I have trouble pulling from just below the knee, I can set the safety pins to just below the knee, and pull from there. You can also use pin pulls to pull more than your maximum deadlift, to increase confidence before attempting a new PR. 

Muscles Worked: 

  • Back
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Traps

 How to do it:

  1. Set your safety pins to their desired height. 
  2. Place the barbell on the safety pins. Load your weight.
  3. Set yourself into a proper deadlift position, with your arms straight and your back straight.
  4. Breathe in and squeeze your core. Pull and stand up.
  5. Breathe and lower the weight.
  6. Repeat. 

Banded Variations

Banded variations of exercises can be great for increasing bar speed. You can perform banded squats, deadlifts, cleans, presses, anything really.

The bands attach to band pegs at the bottom of the squat rack, and then around the barbell. 

Make sure you purchase bands that are meant for conjugate lifting, or they could snap.

Box Squats

Box squats are a great variation for experienced and beginning lifters alike. They can be used for athletes returning from injury, as an accessory movement, or just to spice up your training. You will require a sturdy bench or box to perform this squat variation.

Muscles Worked: 

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Quads

How to do it:

  1. Put your barbell securely in the J-Cups of the squat rack. Position your hands just wider than shoulder width apart. If you have shoulder issues, you may want to consider a wide grip, or a safety squat bar. 
  2. Externally rotate your arms. Think about bending the bar in half with your hands. 
  3. Squeezing your upper back muscles, pull yourself under the bar, placing the barbell on your traps, but NOT on your neck. 
  4. With both feet parallel, squeeze your core and stand up. Take a few steps back until your calves are touching the box or bench. 
  5. Maintaining tension throughout your entire body, breathe in, and begin descending by moving your hips back and down. 
  6. Descend until your butt touches the box. 
  7. Pause, then explode off the box, exhale, and stand up. 
  8. Repeat.

Yoke Walks

A strongman competition staple, the yoke walk replicates carrying a heavy load via wooden work yoke. 

This exercise does require a special piece of equipment (a yoke), so if yoke walks are something you think you’d like to try, check out the Titan T-3 Series Yoke which doubles as a squat rack. 

Muscles Worked:

  • Core, big time!
  • Quads
  • Back

How to do it:

  1. Position the yoke bar to a comfortable height. We don’t want to be performing a squat when we pick up the yoke, but we also need to get the yoke high enough into the air that it won’t hit the ground. 
  2. Set up like you would for a back squat. Place the yoke bar on your traps. Make sure your feet are parallel. Brace your core. Stand up. 
  3. Give yourself a moment to stabilize, the yoke will likely swing a little bit, and if you try to start walking too soon, you can injure yourself. 
  4. Begin walking, take baby steps. Small, quick steps will be much better here than long steps. 
  5. When you’re finished, simply lower the yoke. 

Half Squats/Quarter Squats

Generally, squatting below parallel is ideal for overall health. But maybe you’re not squatting just for your health? Maybe, you’re squatting to improve your sport. This can be an effective use of quarter and half squats. 

High-level athletes often perform heavy half and quarter squats, because they can overload their bodies, higher than their max squat, but also because in a lot of sports, you don’t break parallel. If you watch a sprinter, their pushing legs aren’t going beyond 90 degrees. This can also be a fun variation if you’re getting bored of regular squats. 

Muscles Worked

  • Quads
  • Back

How to do it: 

  1. Put your barbell securely in the J-Cups of the squat rack. Position your hands just wider than shoulder width apart. If you have shoulder issues, you may want to consider a wide grip, or a safety squat bar. 
  2. Externally rotate your arms. Think about bending the bar in half with your hands. 
  3. Squeezing your upper back muscles, pull yourself under the bar, placing the barbell on your traps, but NOT on your neck.
  4. With both feet parallel, squeeze your core and stand up. Take a few steps back, but don’t take the bar for a walk.
  5. Maintaining tension throughout your entire body, breathe in, and begin descending by moving your hips back and down. 
  6. Stop descending once you have reached parallel (half squat) or 45 degrees (quarter squat).
  7. As soon as you reach the bottom position, explode out of the hole, exhale, and stand up. 
  8. Repeat.

Clean and Jerk Pulls

Clean and Jerk refer to the first movement in each of those exercises, taking the bar from the ground up to full extension. This can be an effective accessory move to improve your snatch or clean. 

This can also be a movement all on its own to develop athleticism and explosive power. You can perform these movements in a power rack, similarly to the setup for rack or pin pulls, allowing you to work on any sticking places you might have in the movement. 

Muscles Worked:

  • Back
  • Traps
  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Calves

How to do it:

  1. You begin with the barbell on the floor close to the knees. You want the bar close to your body as this helps reduce the amount of force that you have to pull the bar up. 

You can try moving the bar when it’s further away from your knees and see how much more strength you need to pull it up.

  1. Your feet are going to be about shoulder width apart but can be different depending on your body type. Your toes can be slightly turned out but normally should be straight.

Your hand should be close to where your knees are. You can use a thumb measurement, where you place your thumbs by your knees and where your hand position is, that’s where you should hold the bar.

  1. The difference between a clean and jerk pull and a deadlift is that you should be feeling that you’re pulling the weight up with your whole body and not muscling up. It should feel like it naturally gets up there from your triple extension. (The extension of your ankles, hips, and knees).
  1. Now you’re set up, you begin your first pull. Keep your arms straight and look straight ahead. Then begin to pull the bar up with your back flat and chest up.
  1. Once the bar is above knee caps, begin jumping straight up, extend your hips, knees, and ankles while shrugging the bar simultaneously. Remember to keep the bar as close to your body as possible.
  1. When the bar gets a certain point, drop into a quarter-squat position like you’re doing a front squat. And stand up while keeping your upper body straight, elbows straight, chest out, and chin tucked.
  1. Now have a small dip and extend your legs and hips up like your jumping and drive the bar overhead, similar to a push press. As the barbell moves over your head, split your legs into a lunging position. Hold the jerk position and move the feet closer till you’re standing up. 

Squat Rack FAQs

Are squat stands the same as squat racks?

No. Both allow you to squat. Squat stands typically take up less room, but also don’t allow you to perform the same variety of exercises as a squat rack. 

Do I need to bolt my squat rack to the floor?

Most of the time, yes, but refer to your seller’s specific manual.

What exercises can I perform in a squat rack?

Squats, presses, deadlifts, pullups, dips, almost anything!

Can I just clean the barbell off the ground to squat?

Sure, but you won’t be able to squat as much as you could with a squat rack or stands.

How much is a squat rack?

Anywhere between the mid 100s to tens of thousands of dollars. 

Can I do pull ups on my squat rack?

Yes, assuming there is a pullup bar and you’ve attached the rack to your floor or wall.

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About Julien

Hey! Thanks for being here. I’ve been active pretty much my whole life and I discovered Crossfit about 5 years ago. I want to help you improve your Crossfit performances by giving tips on specific movements, workouts and equipment. You have a question? Get in touch!

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