Squat Racks and Power Cages - Buying Guide

The ability to perform functional exercises including the notorious squat exercise is an absolute necessity for every type of athlete from the novice gym enthusiast right through to power lifters, bodybuilders and sports athletes alike. This makes the addition of gym equipment such as squat racks and power cages supporting these movements an absolute must for any home gym, studio or commercial gym space.

Squat racks and power cage gym equipment provide exactly that support. They also offer a range of various features and benefits which you can tap into depending on the end user’s needs and the space available. Whether it’s a personal purchase or you’re planning your own studio or gym space, make sure you read through our guide to squat racks and power cage equipment before you buy. With lots of insider tips and product info, you can be confident you’re making an informed choice and investing in the right piece for your specific requirements.

Squat Racks

In most cases, a squat rack’s sole purpose is to support a weighted parallel bar (barbell) in a manner that allows the user to initiate a squat exercise. The rack provides the user with a comfortable and safe way to engage the weight directly into the starting position for the movement to begin effortlessly.

Typically, a squat rack will consist of two sturdy upright supports mounted on a solid joining base, with a variety of adjustable bar rests/hooks, or a fully adjustable rack height. This means that a user need only engage the weight and step away from the supports in order to initiate the exercise once the rack has been adjusted to their ideal height. Squat racks require only a simple step forward to replace the weight safely between sets.

While other pieces of equipment and gym machinery will also enable you to work the same muscle groups, the squat rack is often a favorite for those who prefer a free range of movement. Many fitness professionals agree that squat racks are better for engaging the core, lower back and other stabilizing muscles and muscle groups as well as those most directly associated with a squat movement. Squat racks are also preferred by many PTs because they encourage the user to develop an improved balance. This makes squat racks particularly popular with sports athletes, power lifters and the CrossFit community.

Advantages of the Squat Rack:

  • Smaller Size – On average, squat racks take up considerably less overall space than power cages. They are particularly well suited when vertical space is at a premium, such as in rooms with a low ceiling or other obstructions. 
  • Light Weight – Squat racks are also considerably lighter than power cages. Minus the weights of course. This makes them easier to move and assemble. They are ideal if you’re planning to store them and then use in an outdoor space or a limited size home gym area.  
  • Price – Even higher end squat racks will typically cost less than a power cage. If you’re not fussed about the additional exercises and attachments possible with a power cage, then you’ll get more for your money by sticking with a squat rack.

Power Cages

Power Cages (also commonly referred to as Power Racks) usually focus on the fact that they allow for a weighted squat movement to be performed safely despite the absence of a lifting partner or spotter. Their greatest advantage though is that they are often equipped with additional attachments and parallel supports to allow for a greater range of exercises to be performed. Potentially filling the role of an all in one piece of gym equipment.

Power cages, as the name suggests, are tall cage like metal frame structures with at least four uprights joined together. Bar hooks and support rails are then attached between these uprights, allowing the user to perform exercises within the cage and make use of adjustable levels of weight support.

While not all squat racks will provide parallel stoppers at the lower end of the movement, the vast majority of power cages do. Power cages will often provide a safety support at the bottom of the squat movement which can usually be adjusted to various levels of depth. It is this feature- in tandem with the parallel bar hooks- that allows for weighted squats to be performed at heavy weight in the absence of a training partner.

When adjusted, the parallel stopping bars or shelves between the cage allow for a variety of other highly popular weight lifting movements to be performed. These include the bent over row movement and the barbell shoulder press. Due to the extremely sturdy nature of these structures, the top end parallel sections of power cages are often used for chin-up and pull-up variations. In fact, many of our power cage gym equipment features additional attachments specifically to support these movements with additional comfort and various grip positions.

Advantages of the Power Cage:

  • Serious Sturdiness – The nature of a power cage structure makes it far sturdier than a squat rack. We have seriously heavy-duty options available on site. The reliably sturdy cage frame often means they will sustain not only more max weight than the equivalent squat rack, it also makes them ideal for serious lifters who want to push their limits safely. 
  • Exercise Versatility – While these pieces of popular gym equipment are centered around supporting safe weighted squats, the power cage is designed for much more. It can be used for weighted back and shoulder moves as well as various pull/chin ups and a variety of additional leg exercises. If you’re looking for an all-round piece of equipment to support your training with the freedom of multiple exercise options within a confined floorspace, then the cage’s versatility is a huge benefit.
  • Absolute Safety – While offering flexibility, the adjustable support rails and weight shelves and hooks within the cage structure mean that all the exercises made possible by this equipment can be performed safely, not just for the user but those around them also.

Flex Equipment Top Picks

We have a wide range of gym equipment on site and we’re certainly big on choice when it comes to the squat rack and power cage department. To help you find the best piece for your needs we’ve highlighted some of our top picks from the diverse range to give you a little more insight.

Armortech V2 Commercial Half Rack

The Armortech V2 Commercial Half Rack is a heavy-duty power cage set up which will be your best friend when it comes to enhancing your overall lifting & workout ability while also allowing you to train safely.

This rack really is perfect for anyone serious about increasing their lifting ability in the absence of a spotter or as a provision for any versatile gym space (provided you have enough space). Its heavy-duty build, and maximum sturdiness make it fit for multiple users, commercial use and will ensure a long life. Meaning you have nothing to worry about in terms of durability or user safety. 

You’ll also be able to keep your gym areas clear and tidy with the Olympic weight storage bars attached to the back of the rack.

You’ll find the V2 Half Rack is the heart of all gyms who take a diverse range of lifting types seriously. In terms of end users, the safety features on the V2 empowers those new to heavier lifting to use the rack. The heavy-duty build will ensure even champion powerlifters are not hindered when training.  

Exercise Movements Covered:

  • Weighted Squats & Lunges
  • A variety of Pull Ups
  • Bent Over Rows
  • Overhead Presses
  • Rack Pulls & Shrugs
  • Resistance band attached work
  • Bench Press Movements (when accompanied by a weight bench) 

Features:

  • Commercial quality - heavy duty and robust build means users can be physical in and around the rack
  • High ceiling - ideal for tall users or users keen on hanging exercises
  • Resistance band pegs for extra flexibility - great for adding resistance or for recovery/physio exercises
  • Olympic weight storage
  • Rubber coated J hooks and safety bars
  • Lots of room in and around half rack for easy access

 

The Armortech PC5 Power Cage

Perfect for beginners as well as seasoned athletes, this rack comes with a narrow and wide grip knurled chin up bar as well as adjustable safety bars and two adjustable bar catches. The PC5 is great all round power cage. Known for its versatility to allow a range of exercises without breaking the bank or demanding a great deal of space.

At 90kg in weight and a user capacity of 460kgs, the solid construction of the PC5 combined with adjustable spotter bars and anti-slip feet allows you to train hard in confidence. 

The PC5 isn’t the best fit for larger commercial gym owners who will have multiple users working out at a time. However, the PC5 is the perfect addition for someone trying to create a home gym or small gym owner or studio space. Ideal for users across all levels of fitness and lifting experience.

If space is available, the Armortech V2 Commercial Half Rack is a more robust and equally versatile choice. 

Exercise Movements Covered:

  • Weighted Squats & Lunges
  • A variety of Pull Ups
  • Bent Over Rows
  • Overhead Presses
  • Rack Pulls & Shrugs
  • Resistance band attached work
  • Bench Press Movements (when accompanied by a weight bench) 

Features:

  • Multi Grip Chin Up Bar
  • Larger number of adjustment points on uprights/beams
  • Ability to get lat/row attachment and cable attachment
  • Extremely Safe cage to perform general lifts, compound lifts and more
  • Spacious in power cage, easy accessibility in and around power cage
  • Versatile and wide range of power cage features
  • Includes dip handles, band pegs
  • Rubber coated safety bars and j hooks - ensures longevity of equipment 

Extras

  • Lat attachment
  • Cable Attachment

 

Armortech SR450 Squat Rack

If a squat rack is going to be the hub of your home gym or the next addition to your studio, the SR450 is perfect when you are constrained for space and height restrictions but still need a solid rack that can support big weight.
The SR450 will give you a solid build with a 450kg weight limit which is more than enough for all beginners right through to competition level lifters.

The rack only enables a single user to train on it at each time so for larger gyms, we would recommend investing in more than one as they’re incredibly popular amongst bodybuilders, CrossFit athletes, powerlifters and people aiming to enhance their all-round fitness.

The SR450 is best suited to people training in pairs (with a spotter) due to a lack of support bars beneath the barbell hooks. This rack is a real popular choice among old school lifters and serious squatters. 

Exercise Movements Covered:

  • Weighted Squats & Lunges
  • Overhead Presses
  • Bench Press Movements (when accompanied by a weight bench)

Features:

  • Heavy duty build
  • 450kg weight rated with J hooks
  • Lots of height adjustment points 
  • Very robust for amount of room needed
  • Space efficient

 

Armortech V2 Adjustable Squat Rack Stands

When space is an issue, or you don’t have a permanent space to host your workouts, then the Armortech V2 Adjustable Squat Stands are the ideal solution. Once you finish your workout the squat stands can be put away in a corner freeing up your space.  They have transport wheels that allow quick and safe movement.

In terms of flexibility, the V2 Adjustable Squat Rack Stands offer the user the very best in category. The cost and efficiency of the adjustable stands are a real talking point amongst home gym owners as they cater perfectly for people just starting out with their home gym or those without the space to fit a Power Cage or set size rack.

While they may not be quite as robust as other racks including the previously mentioned SR1 Rack, in the hands of a competent lifter these stands will still support up to 400kg of weight at the top end.

Exercise Movements Covered:

  • Squats & Lunges
  • Bench Press Movements (when accompanied by a weight bench)

Features:

  • Very flexible in terms of moving/storing - easy to move around as 2x individual squat stands with built on wheels
  • Doesn’t take up much room when in use or if being stored
  • Adjustable height uprights

Great beginner squat stands due to cost, simplicity and flexibility. Great option for those with minimal space either in the home or use in a temporary space. Not great for those looking for a wide range or exercise support beyond weighted squats and lunges.

Final Thoughts

For the gym or studio owner with space available and for whom providing workout diversity within a limited area is important to you, we would encourage you to seriously consider going for a power cage rather than a squat rack/stand. We are confident the V2 Half Rack is the product of choice where vertical spacing is available and you’re looking for an all round heavy duty cage. With maximum sturdiness come increased safety but also the ability to perform a greater number of exercises.

If the V2 Half Rack’s height or cost is stopping you make that decision, then the PC5 Power Cage comes in approximately 400mm lower than its commercial big brother. If your gym budget isn’t quite where you’d like it to be and you need to pull back on costs, the PC5 offers the same workout diversity on a smaller scale. Enabling a range of movements including pull ups, overhead presses, rack pulls and the ability to attach resistance bands. Though we would stress it’s likely not heavy duty enough for a multiple user commercial gym setting.

If you simply don’t have the space to support a Power Cage or you aren’t planning on carrying out quite as diverse a workout as the Power Cage offers, then the VR450 is a particularly sturdy stand alone squat rack which supports a big amount of weight while offering greater freedom of movement than a cage. Catering for a variety of hardcore lifters who simply love to squat or double up with an adjustable weight bench for bench press movement options.

If you don’t have a permanent space for your setup or want to store away equipment when not in use, then the V2 Adjustable Squat Rack Stands are perfect. Coming fitted with wheels for easy transport as well as the ability to reduce in height to a bare minimum for easy storage. For the weekend athlete who likes to get the equipment out in the garden or driveway, these are again an ideal solution. You will, however, need to keep in mind that with this additional freedom of movement will come some sacrifice in sturdiness. Requiring greater care of use and perhaps making the rack less suitable for a very novice lifter.

Overall, if you’re debating whether to buy a squat rack or power cage for personal use, you’ll need to seriously consider your exercise routine and space available. If you’re a gym or fitness club, you’ll need to factor in the other equipment you already have and the type of workouts your members prefer. Do you cater to serious lifters or more general gym goers? The power cage is more versatile, but a squat rack arguably has the edge when it comes to free movement and is a popular choice for old school powerlifters and unassisted squat lovers who don’t want all the extras.

Recommended Support Equipment: To get lifting and make the most out of your squat rack or power cage gym equipment you’ll need a reliable barbell and weight plates set. Here’s some to consider.

Flex Equipment Tip: Consider adding an adjustable bench to accompany your power cage or any squat rack with adjustable support arms and you’ve got yourself a well-equipped, sturdy bench press or incline bench press. Eliminating the need to buy or find space for additional equipment where space or resources are limited.

Test Optional Extras


Category: