What’s one exercise that can completely transform your body and take your physique to the next level? If you haven’t implemented this exercise into your routine, now would be the best time to do so.
The squat is one of the most beneficial exercises you can do. It’s an easily modified exercise, meaning anyone can do fit it into their routine no matter their goals, age, or level of fitness. However, the best way to achieve the best results is to lift heavy.
Lifting heavy can significantly alter your body composition and improve your physique. So although bodyweight squats can burn, the key to truly building muscle and burning fat is performing fewer reps with more weight.
What do you need to get started? Either a squat rack or stand should do the job.
If you have been considering intensifying your lifting routine and incorporating heavy squats, keep reading to learn more about the best gear on the market.
Our Top Picks at a Glance
- Hardcastle Adjustable Squat Rack with Spotters & Dip Bars Editor’s Choice
- TecTake 2pc Adjustable Weight Rack
- Exigo Olympic Squat Rack
- K-Sport Olympic Squat Rack Power Stands
- DTX Fitness Adjustable Height Squat Rack
- DTX Fitness Squat Rack with Pull Up Bar
Note: There’s a lot more information below but clicking the above links will take you to current prices, further information and customer reviews on Amazon or Best Gym Equipment.
Squat Rack vs Squat Stand
They both serve a similar purpose with a few minor differences. For starters, they both support the barbell and plates during your squat session. Unracking and racking the weight back up is as simple as stepping towards the hooks and setting the barbell down so you can rest in between your sets.
However, on the flip side, a squat stand is designed more simply. They are often lighter, less heavy-duty, but more compact. Stands fold up easier for breezy storage. A squat rack looks like a cage but is open at the front (not fully enclosed) and is usually heavier than stands. They are typically more supportive and built to hold more weight than a stand.
Exercising with free weights always has its risks. Take these tips into consideration to increase your level of safety and comfort.
If you are new to the gym, always start with just the bar. Gauge to see how heavy it is before you start adding any plates.
If you choose to add more weight as you gain strength, use the safety collars to secure the plates onto the barbell.
Have a spotter
When squatting heavy, you should have someone spotting you. Try to come to the gym with a friend or relative to help you out. You can also always ask another gym-goer to spot you if you’re alone.
However, if you are worried or feeling anxious about asking a stranger, you may always use the squat rack’s more supportive alternative, the smith machine.
Try an assisted machine
Though you may want to start squatting using a smith machine in the beginning, try to ease away from it once you start feeling more comfortable in the gym.
Though a smith machine offers more support and is relatively safer since it’s on a fixed path, barbell squats are superior for three reasons. Traditional squats using free weights engage your core more. They are more challenging. And lastly, free weight squats can help improve your balance. But if you’d rather use an assisted machine when first starting out or if you don’t have a spotter, the smith machine is an excellent choice.
Alternatives to the smith machine are hack squats and the leg press machine.
Use the right accessories
Lastly, when squatting heavy, you want to make sure you’re using the right tools to improve your form. Consider the shoes you’re wearing. Running shoes can actually hinder your performance when lifting. Try to wear something with a hard and flat sole as they offer more stability than an athletic shoe.
Knee sleeves can also help support your joints when squatting. Though they are not necessary, many find them helpful and supportive when lifting loads equal to or more than their bodyweight.
A lifting belt is another accessory that can help you maintain your form while squatting substantial amounts of weight.
Considerations When Purchasing a Squat Rack or Stand
When browsing the web for the perfect squat rack, ask yourself these next few things.
How much weight can it support?
Is it multifunctional?
Is it easily adjustable?
If you’re looking for a squat rack that can replace your gym membership, look for an option that also allows you to work your upper body. A dual exercise machine that can work as another piece of equipment will give you more value for your money. Some of the best multifunctional racks have either dipping bars or a pull-up bar built-in.
If you plan on lifting heavy, go for a model that can hold over 200 kg. Though you may not be able to lift heavy amounts now, account for the strength you’ll gain as you progress through your workout program. After all, if you wish to gain strength and size, the sky should be the limit.
And lastly, if you are shorter or taller than the average person, look for a squat rack or stand with a wide variety of rack levels. And make sure you can easily adjust it yourself.
A Detailed Look at the Best Squat Racks / Stands
To gain a deeper understanding of what is available to you, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best squat racks available that would be ideal for your home gym.
Hardcastle Adjustable Squat Rack with Spotters & Dip Bars Editor’s Choice
This squat rack is an excellent choice for both the seasoned lifter and beginners. It sits at a reasonable price point and can help you achieve a more toned lower and upper body thanks to the dipping bars located on the machine.
- Versatile and can be used for dips and bench press
- 13 rack levels for easy customization
- Can hold standard and Olympic sized bars
- Easily stored
- Sturdy build
- The dipping bars are quite far apart
The Hardcastle Adjustable Squat Rack is nearly everything you could want at a budget-friendly price. It’s a versatile piece of equipment and can hold up to 250 kg at a time. Most notably, it’s customizable and has 13 rack levels with 5 cm gaps in between. Its only downside is that performing dips may prove difficult since the bars are located quite far from each other.
You can perform squats, rows, dips, and chest press all on this device.
This basic squat stand is great for anyone who is short on space but doesn’t want to skip leg day. The no-frills stand does exactly what you need it to do – hold a barbell. Rubberized footing helps the stands stay in place.
- 12 adjustable heights makes it possible to find a height for all users
- If you’re unaccustomed to stand alone racks, it might feel a little unstable on the re-rack, since they tend to wobble
This squat stand is two pieces that aren’t secured to the ground or to a larger unit, so they can feel unstable at times, especially if you have a lot of weight on your bar. However, if you just want to train at home and aren’t looking for super-big numbers, this basic rack stand will suit just fine.
If you’ve spent any time in a conventional gym, then this barbell squat rack setup will be familiar to you. Its stable base allows you to really load up the bar, and the built in weight horns keep your gym area tidy.
- Framework has a lifetime guarantee
- There’s no way to remove the safety bars, so to go below parallel on a squat, you’ll need to step outside the rig
No matter your current fitness level, this is a great squat rack to purchase. It allows you to perform both back and front squats, along with standing military presses and overhead squats. The lack of removable safety bars might be challenging for some users, so keep that in mind when purchasing.
Like other stand-alone racks on the market, this K-Sport Olympic Squat Rack is great for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of space in their home gym but wants to keep working toward their leg-day goals.
This is strong, functional product that’s great for a home-gym setup. It can easily hold up to 100kg and the price point makes it competitive compared with other units on the market. As with all single-stand units, this unit can wobble on the rerack because it’s not securely fastened to anything else. However, for the price point, this is one of the best values for the money.
If you’re looking for a squat rack that can handle 200 kg without wobbling or shaking, while remaining at an incredibly fair price point, the DTX Fitness Squat Rack should be your top contender.
- Fits standard and Olympic sized bars
- Easy to assemble
- Fairly basic with no spotter
Simple yet effective, the DTX Squat Rack is about as basic as you can get in terms of design. However, it doesn’t need frills to stand out of the crowd. The price is reasonable, and its structure is strong and sturdy. If you’re looking for something that will keep up with your lifestyle as a weightlifter, this squat rack includes everything you need to build powerful quads, glutes, and calves.
Though squats are known as one of the most effective exercises for the lower body, they expectedly don’t do much for your upper body. However, this squat rack counteracts that issue and delivers a versatile machine for both stronger arms and legs.
You don’t need a gym when you have the right equipment at home, and the DTX Squat Rack can help with that.
- Pull up bar included
- Can handle 200 kg
- Adjustable with 28 different height levels to choose from
- Comes with bolts so you can secure the rack onto the floor for additional security
- Takes up a lot of physical space so account for this when making your squat rack selection
If you want a rack that can help work your entire body, this option by DTX is it. Pull-ups are arguably one of the best exercises you can do for your upper body. Not only does the exercise work your biceps, but it also engages your back muscles, deltoids, and core.
The DTX squat rack is an excellent tool for reaching your fitness goals. The possibilities are endless when you own this multifunctional device. You may never have to step foot in a commercial gym again.
Squat racks offer adequate support, push your boundaries, and most importantly, keep you safe. If you’re unsure which rack is the best one for you, compare them using our handy overview.
If you want to build a strong back, biceps, and core, the DTX Squat Cage with Pull Up Bar will help you meet all of those goals. If functionality is a priority, this is the best pick for you.
However, if longevity and strength are more important features, the Mirafit M2 is hands down one of the best options.
No matter your final decision, squat racks and stands are incredibly versatile pieces of exercise equipment. This equipment allows you to learn the fundamentals of building muscle through heavy compound lifts. Having a squat rack at home is one of the best decisions you can make if you want to improve your body composition and strength.