Rogue has so many models of power racks and squat stands that choosing between them is overwhelming at first. I’ll be narrowing it down to just a few racks that in my opinion are the right choice for 90% of people.
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Rogue has an excellent reputation for build quality, customer service, and overall reliability. Their products are well-designed and tested. They make all racks in their huge facility in Ohio while other companies mostly import from China.
They have innovated dozens of new accessories to add to power racks. Other manufacturers have copied Rogue’s rack sizing to be compatible with their accessories, although sometimes there are slight incompatibilities. When you get a Rogue rack you know you’ll be in a good situation for adding accessories later on.
All of Rogue’s power racks are a “walk-through design”, meaning built without a lower rear stabilizer bar that would only get in the way of the proper positioning of a weight bench.
Their range of rack models is extensive, to the point of being overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for. It also means you can get exactly the right rack for you when you get some good advice (which hopefully you’ll get here!).
Squat Stands and Wall-Mounted Folding Racks
I wrote a lengthy explanation of the difference between power racks and squat stands.
Briefly, the difference is that power racks enclose the user on all sides so that a dropped barbell will be stopped no matter if you drop it forward or backward, while the more minimalistic squat stand remains open on one side and you can potentially drop a barbell behind you with nothing to stop it.
I’ll probably write an article soon about Rogue’s several squat stands.
I’ve gone over folding wall-mounted racks from Rogue and other companies already.
Rogue’s Power Rack Lines
The first thing you should know is the difference between their Echo, R Series, Monster Lite, and Monster racks, so that I can guide you through eliminating a good chunk of them as possibilities and make it clearer what your best pick is.
The main technical difference between the four lines is their tubing size and hardware size (ie: bolt thickness).
|Echo||2″x2″ Tubing, 1/2″ Hardware|
|R-Series / Infinity||2″x3″ Tubing, 5/8″ Hardware|
|Monster Lite||3″x3″ Tubing, 5/8″ Hardware|
|Monster||3″x3″ Tubing, 1″ Hardware|
While Rogue does mention the above somewhere on their site, I’ll tell you the real reasons you should choose one over the others. Bigger isn’t always better here.
The R-Series were Rogue’s first racks. 2×3 racks were common before Rogue, and that’s what they went with. It’s a good tubing size for reducing wobble, and it makes for reasonably heavy racks that stay in place.
Echo is the budget option that Rogue has for several other categories of equipment. It’s just barely Rogue quality, or not at all. These racks are nearly like the Chinese branded “home grade” racks you see on Amazon and eBay, with the difference being that its design and consistency is very good, USA-made, without stupid design flaws that hit you by surprise, and the 11 gauge steel used on Echo racks is a notably good spec.
Bigger tubing in the Monster Lite means a more heavy duty rack overall. You get less wobble in all directions and less risk of tipping with the added weight. Great things. On the downside, you’re paying more, and you’ll be paying more on the back end with more expensive attachments.
The Monster goes a step beyond the Monster Lite with bigger 1″ hardware. Why 1″ hardware? Technically that makes it stronger. The thing is, I have never heard of 5/8″ steel bolts bending on a power rack, even from a heavy dropped barbell, nor the 5/8″ pegs on any attachments. Maybe it has happened?
Tubing Size and Safety
Larger tubing can make you less safe.
Above is an R-series rack with the 2×3 tubing, meaning 2″ wide and 3″ deep, the portion of the bar shaft that hangs outside the rack. In this example the bar is pulled a little to one side. With the bar centered the marked space will be only about 2.25″.
You do not want to be too far off-center when you’re re-racking a heavy barbell. You also don’t want the plates to bump against the upright because you’re off-center. Either one catches you off-guard, you get confused, you try to look to the side to figure out what’s going on, and that’s not a good thing in that precarious situation. The heavier the weight, arguably the more likely you are to find yourself off-center in a set of squats.
Now consider Rogue’s 3×3 racks. You’ll have less lateral space. The way Rogue designs the 3×3 racks, they extend the width of the tubing outwards. That is to say, while the R-series racks are 47″ wide, the Monster Lite racks are 49″ wide. Now your bar only has 1.125″ of space to move laterally before you’re in trouble!
Personally, I have had misjudged it on even a 48″ wide rack. I would be hesitant to lift heavy on a 49″ wide rack. That’s why I want to have you consider an R-Series rack. However, it’s entirely possible that you are better than I am at staying centered.
If you do want a Monster Lite rack, I implore you to get sandwich J-cups. Yes, they are expensive. Think about getting them later on, at least. In this situation, because they are narrower than regular J-cups and stick out from the uprights, you get more lateral movement space for your bar, making it as safe as using an R-series rack.
The above is kind of a bad illustration of my point because they have the bar slid all the way to one side to butt the shoulder up against the J-cup here for some crazy reason so it looks like you have no space, but in normal use the thinner design of this J-cup gives your bar more lateral wiggle room. I wrote about these more in my article about J-cups.
Top Pick: RML-390F
I featured this rack in my Best Freestanding Power Racks article.
Rogue makes hardly any freestanding racks like this, meaning one that isn’t required to be bolted to the floor to be stable. They make no R-series freestanding power racks, so unfortunately I can’t recommend one.
With the RML-390F you don’t have to worry about drilling holes into concrete or making a plywood platform for it. Just set up and go. This is a popular rack that you are unlikely to regret getting.
The stability of a freestanding rack like this isn’t exactly due to the “flat foot” design so much as it is the feet that extend past the uprights to create a counter-force against tipping when you re-rack a loaded barbell. Without the extended feet, there is no counter-force and the rack can easily tip.
On that same principle, be careful about adding front spotter arms to this rack. The extended feet do not provide as much of a counter-force to prevent tipping when the spotter arms extend past them.
This rack does come with band peg holes. You can inadvertently lift up the rack if you’re using heavy enough bands. Test your bands out carefully with an empty bar to make sure the rack is heavy enough to handle them. Also consider that the bands are a counter-force to the weight of the rack and may cause the rack to tip when you re-rack a loaded bar, as if you’re using a lighter rack.
If You Have the Space: R-6 or RML-690C
You have to store your plates somewhere, and if your floor plan allows it, having your plates on the rear of a 6-post rack like this is more convenient than on a plate tree. It’s also more stable.
Technically, this rack is meant to be bolted down, but the extended rear portion of the rack provides so much counter-force leverage against a barbell being re-racked, as illustrated, and extra frame weight, that people have found that they can get away with leaving it freestanding without issue.
The rack comes standard with fat and skinny pull up bars, band pegs, and rear plate storage pegs.
The feet are ready to bolt to the floor if you feel the need at some point. You can remove the rear storage portion of the rack to free up limited space in your gym.
The newer RML-690C is like a Monster Lite version of the R-6, with color options and unfortunately the removal of the fat pull up bar. The bigger tubing adds a couple hundred pounds, making the option to bolt it down highly unnecessary.
Basic Floor-Mounted Pick: R-3 or RML-390C
A 10 year classic! This rack has stood the test of time as a basic floor-mounted rack. Rogue had originally worked with Louie Simmons at Westside Barbell, the famous powerlifting gym, to design this rack, which I believe was originally called the Westside Rack or Westside R-3. It has the signature “Westside hole spacing”, which is 1″ hole spacing in a lower area of the rack for the bench press area, and 2″ hole spacing above and below. In 2010 or so, I think (but I might be wrong) Rogue started making the R-3 rack in-house and branded it as a Rogue rack, dropping the Westside name except with a note in the description.
Rogue hasn’t designed a new R-series rack for several years now. They aren’t really being upgraded with anything like color choices. Rogue is generally keeping up with providing the new attachments in R-series versions, and I imagine that will continue indefinitely as long as people keep buying the racks. I feel like there’s enough demand for 2×3 racks that they won’t go away anytime soon.
See my article comparing the R-3 with Titan’s similar racks.
The RML-390C is the Monster Lite version of the classic R-3. Like with my picks in the section above, I’m giving you both an R-series and Monster Lite version of the rack to choose from. Same deal with the small changes and color options. Numbered holes too, which is an upgrade you will appreciate.
The wall-mount rack kit is a space-efficient way to stabilize the RML-390C by mounting it into the wall instead of the floor. It’s not made for the R-3 and probably won’t ever be.
You may notice that I didn’t suggest any Echo or Monster rack models.
I’m not a fan of 2×2 racks like the Echo. It’s too wobbly and light for a $600 rack. Once you’ve used a 2×3 or 3×3 rack, you’ll never want to own a 2×2 rack again.
As far as the Monster racks, there’s no rational reason to spend hundreds of dollars more to get the massive 1″ hardware made for a tank. The attachments will also cost you more than the Monster Lite. The 5/8″ hardware on the Monster Lite is plenty heavy duty. Some of the Monster racks are also 50″ wide, which makes it sketchy to fit a typical barbell with very little room for error when racking, as I discussed in the section above on tubing size and safety.
The Monster and its 1″ bolts is one of those things where a manufacturer asks “How can we make this even better?” and pushes the envelope beyond reason, and then people spend the extra money because they will not settle for anything less than the best. It’s the glamour choice, a way of spending money. If it makes you feel good, go for it. I’m just saying, there’s no functional reason for it, and you might even regret it.
As I said in the beginning, this article is not meant to be an exhaustive comparison of all Rogue power racks. But at this point you understand the basic considerations, and if another model catches your eye you’ll be able to put it in the right context without making a mistake. Don’t spend too much time waffling on it when one makes sense to you. They’re all great racks. Just get one, and start lifting!