Updated 2023 to add the Bells of Steel rack and make several updates.
Table of Contents
Many of us are short on space in our garage, back room, or basement. A traditional power rack, or even an open-ended squat rack, takes up a painful amount of space.
In the past, your best option for space efficiency was to get a pair of portable squat stands.
3 problems with even decent portable squat stands like the above:
- You have to carefully set them the right 48″ distance apart each time, and aligned properly.
- They’re so light weight that you have to be more gentle when re-racking.
- The feet stick out partially in your way, causing a trip hazard.
So it’s clear that we needed a totally different solution to save on space.
Behold! A folding squat rack that installs securely against the wall, folds out with the feet touching the floor for support, and folds back up against the wall for storage. Awesome stuff.
It can be installed either in a garage or in a room of your home. If you’ll be putting in rubber flooring, be sure to get that in before you install this. The height you install the rack at relative to the floor is critical. As a garage or basement squat rack, bare concrete can be just fine, depending on what else you have going on with your gym. Another advantage of these is you can get a really stable squat rack in a garage gym without drilling into your garage floor’s concrete to anchor it.
Note that some makers call these wall mounted power racks. Not so fast. A power rack encloses the bar on both sides and has safety bars. Technically these are just squat racks / half racks. It’s a marketing issue, I imagine.
The shared features among most of these racks are:
- Quick fold-back design
- Pull up bar
- ~48″ wide, ie: olympic width
- Adjustable height J-hooks
This basic idea was pioneered by PRx Performance in 2014, and backed by “Shark Tank” businessman and investor Kevin O’Leary in 2016. We sometimes make the mistake of thinking Rogue comes up with all this new stuff, but often they just popularize an existing idea by putting their huge market share behind it.
— Beware the details!!
There’s plenty to compare between the brands I’ve selected, and in this case they can’t be explained in a comparison chart. Read on or skip to my final recommendation at the bottom of this post.
Quick Comparison Chart
|Rogue RML-3W||9″ or 20.5″|
|Titan Fitness T-3 v2||21.5″|
|Titan Fitness X-3||21.5″|
|Bells of Steel||20″||12-gauge |
Here’s what makes each rack stand out among the others. I’ll sum up the pros and cons of each one.
In 2014 PRx Performance invented and patented this rack. In 2016 they aired on ABC’s “Shark Tank”, a show for entrepreneurs to pitch to a panel of investors. Investor Kevin O’Leary was convinced to buy into 20% of the company.
Unique gas shock system that makes it effortless to pull out and fold back, with locking pins to make it child-proof. All the imitators below require you to remove the pull up bar and fold the rack parts sideways instead. I think the gas shock design is patented.
The video a few paragraphs below shows the folding mechanism pretty well.
Pull Up Bar – Get the Kipping Bar if you Can
3 options – None, regular, or extruded 36″ from the wall for kipping pullups. Get at least the regular. Everyone needs a pull up bar. Keep in mind the kipping bar does not fold back itself, so it’s going to be sticking out 12″ from the wall as you fold the rack in. For most of us that’s not really an issue, as we don’t need to save space that high.
Width Note: The uprights are 48″ wide, just like a normal squat rack. Their product description tells you the whole unit is 52″ wide, but they’re including the brackets in that.
Depth: 24″ from the wall, folds to 4″ from wall.
Design and Construction: 2″x3″ 11-gauge steel. The folding design forces a tad bit of play in some joints, making it not feel as solid as a comparable 2″x3″ rack. That goes for all similar wall mounted squat racks. They can wobble a little under loads.
505 lb was dropped on this rack in the video below, ripping a screw out of the stringer. The main cause of this appears to be the relatively small sheet metal of the stringer that can partly flex away from the wall. This flexing does help absorb the shock of the weight and keep the rack safety intact, at the cost of the stripped hole in one stud. Obviously this was just one drop, and it’s hard to tell if this is typical.
That was a test on the old orange version of the rack. I think the latest one is pretty much the same. Maybe orange didn’t fit everyone’s decor.
|– easy installation|
– quickest setup
– made in the USA
|– highest priced by far|
– no depth choices
– company is relatively new
– stringer is not good
The folding racks are surprisingly hard to navigate to on Rogue’s site menu. You have to look in the Power Racks category, not in Squat Stands or Wallmounts where you would expect them.
The RML-3W has 3×3 tubing. They also have the 2×3 R-3W still. Rogue is moving away from their 2×3 racks, and I recommend their 3×3 racks at this point.
If you want a choice of (currently) 11 colors, the RML-3WC is the color-option version of the RML-3W, at a $100 premium.
Rogue’s 3×3 racks are 49″ wide, which makes it a tighter fit for your bar than 48″ or 47″ wide racks. Consider sandwich J-cups that stick out from the rack and gives you bar more side-to-side room for better safety when re-racking.
Rogue put Westside hole spacing on the uprights. What this means is 1″ on center between the holes in the height range you would use for bench pressing, to help you set the J-cups and safety bars in the perfect spot. Higher than that they are spaced 2″, which is fine for squats or overhead presses. This pattern of spacing was popularized by Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell, hence the name.
They have other marks on the uprights to help you put the two bar catches at the same height and not have to eyeball it too hard.
To fold it away, you first remove the 2 pins above and pull off the pull up bar. Then pull 4 pins from the rack hinges and fold both arms against the wall. The hinges go both ways, so you can fold them both in, both out, or one in and one out, whatever works for your space, standing out only 5″ from your wall. If you have the wall space available where you can fold at least one side outwards, you won’t have to remove the J cups. Otherwise, not a big deal.
Accommodating Floor Slope
As Johnny Wild pointed out in the comments, the Rogue bracket design has some play to it, which is not sloppy design but is actually helpful for allowing you to lift the sides of the rack clear of the floor as you fold it in or out. In addition, if it didn’t have the play, the feet would be dangling 1/4″ off the floor if you fold it out towards your garage door, with the typical garage slope.
Pull Up Bar
Max height 87″, adjustable down via pop pins. Like the Titan and Fringe models, be conscious of what height you’re installing the top horizontal tubing against the uprights, because it will get in the way of your desired pull up bar height if you aren’t careful.
Choose from a 9″ deep, 21.5″ deep or 41.5″ deep option that you select on the product page. The 9″ is, in my opinion, too tight. The 21.5″ gives you enough room for squats, bench presses, and most any other racks exercises, giving enough room for your feet, head, and bench, as appropriate. For more space for dynamic pull up movements, you will want the 41.5″ deep. You could also fit Rogue’s 24″ spotter arms on the inside of 41.5″ deep version, if you have limited space when working out. The 41.5″ deep doesn’t fold in neatly to the wall and will overlap unless you fold them one in and one out, which takes up more wall space. Either way works, depending where you want to save the most room when folding it.
While the RML-3W is the classic Rogue matte black, the RML-3WC version has powder coating in a bunch of color choices, even a satin clear coat that I’d love to see close up. Color choices are not available for the 2×3 R-3W rack. Rogue is getting away from its 2×3 racks and will likely discontinue them at some point.
Ryan (That Tech Teacher on youtube) has a great video going over the parts and installation in his gym:
A huge plus to Rogue’s folding rack is the $55 stringer option on the product page. You get those two steel backplates. They aren’t there to look cool. The stringers help you in two ways:
- Perfectly spaced mounting holes for the rack so that installation is way easier. No guessing about where to drill holes, and then having a disaster when you drilled a hole 1/4″ off.
- No need to go to the lumber store and pick up and cut some 2×6 boards to use as backplates. Easily worth the cost and time.
|– made in the USA|
– 2 depth options
– 2×3 and 3×3 tubing options
– stringer option (and a very nice one)
– lots of attachments
– color choices
|– installation takes skill unless you get the stringer|
– folding procedure takes a minute
Titan T-3 and X-3 folding racks are their 2×3 and 3×3 racks. There were a few iterations in design, and at this point the only difference between them is the tubing size. The T-3 is actually 50mm x 75mm, and the X-3 is 75mm square. This makes them a little smaller than 2×3 and 3×3, respectively. The Rogue Infinity and Monster Lite attachments will mostly fit well enough.
Titan’s racks are all 48″ outside width, meaning the 2×3 rack gives you 2″ of extra space inside than the 3×3. Some specs given on their site say 50″ width, but that includes things like brackets or feet.
The X-3 comes with two pairs of J-cups rather than one, and they are UHMW-lined unlike the bare steel J-cups included with the T-3.
|– Good price|
– 2 depth and height choices
– Somewhat compatible with Rogue Infinity or Monster Lite attachments
|– installation takes skill|
– No stringer available
– Folding procedure takes a minute
– Fat 1.5″ pull up bar only
– Made in China
– Typically a lack of attention to detail in the alignment and welds
– Metric sized tubes are a little undersized for true 2×3 or 3×3 attachments
Rep is the only manufacturer to offer a folding rack in a 3×3 only model. Why even bother making a 2×3 model when they’re beating Rogue on price?
The overall design is very much like the Rogue RML-3WC. It has a 48″ width, which is conveniently a little narrower than Rogue’s 49″ to allow for more barbell movement. 1.25″ pull up bar. UHMW lined J-cups and feet.
Here’s a good addition. Laser-cut numbers, starting from the bottom of the bench press area and going all the way up. These are valuable for getting your J-cups or safety arms set at the right height. Otherwise you have to start making your spots with tape.
The lack of a stringer option hurts a bit. You need to buy some boards at the lumber store. The stringer makes it so much easier to install, with no careful work required on screw hole placement.
Like Titan’s rack, Rep’s is not strictly a 3×3 rack. It’s 75mm, which is 2.95″, and metric hole spacing as well, ruling out any Rogue ML attachments that require a hitch pin in a second hole. The hole spacing is therefore similar to Westside but not Westside compatible.
|– Good price |
– Westside-like hole spacing
– Somewhat compatible with Rogue Monster Lite
|– Installation takes some skill|
– Made in China
– Metric sized tubing and hole spacing
Fringe has a 365-day return policy, which I think is the most generous in the whole industry right now. You get free shipping to begin with, and then you can send it back within a year, on a whim, and get all your money back. Or within 30 days and they’ll even pay return shipping. Evidently they don’t get many returns, or they wouldn’t be able to do this.
Fringe split the difference and did 2.5″ square tubing instead of 3″ square or 2″x3″.
They kind of priced themselves out of the market. For the price, you would be better off getting a Rogue rack that has more attachments available, a stringer option, and better resale value.
Pull Up Bar: The pull up bar can adjust from 70″-88″ from the floor (5’10” – 7’4″). It’s 25″ from the wall.
Width: 49″ wide, the same as Rogue, the maximum width you want for a rack.
Depth: 25″ from the wall.
Folding Mechanism: Just like Rogue. Fold either side in or out. It takes the same amount of work, pulling out 4 pins for the pull up bar and 4 for the rack hinges. Like Rogue, you can leave the J cups in place if you’re folding at least one side outward.
|– 1 year return policy and 30 day free return shipping||– installation takes some skill|
– no stringer option
– folding procedure takes a minute to do
– no depth choices
– made in China
– expensive compared to others
– incompatible with other brands of attachments
The latest addition to this list! Somehow I overlooked it until 2023. They came out with it in 2019 and have gathered plenty of excellent reviews.
Compatible with Rogue Stringers
As with other racks, they recommend you install a 2″x10″ wood stringer on the wall to bolt this rack into. The crazy thing is the Rogue stringers fit this rack, no mods needed, if buying them is easier for you or you like the look. If you find another rack also fits the Rogue stringers, please leave a comment!
This rack sits 20″ away from the wall. Functionally the 20″ vs 21.5″ on some other racks here should make no difference for you, except for the possibility of not getting a particular bench in incline position into place. This 20″ depth makes it possible for the rack to have a 47″ overall outside width, which gives you plenty of wiggle room for safety when re-racking. Because the tubing is only 2.4″ square, you also should have plenty of hand room even for extra-wide grips. These dimensions in my opinion were an excellent design choice by BoS to make them stand out.
Like the Titan and FringeSport rack, Bells of Steel sizes this in metric. In this case it’s 2.3″/60mm square tubing, with 14mm hole spacing. making it incompatible with attachments from any other racks except a few others by Bells of Steel. The tighter hole spacing in the bench press area, like some other metric racks, is similar to Westside style.
|– Good price |
– Westside-like hole spacing
– Fits the Rogue Folding Rack stringer
– 47″ outside width
|– Installation takes some skill|
– Made in China
– Metric sized tubing and hole spacing
Spotter Arms Warning
Like certain other designs of racks, wall mounted squat racks are not made to fully handle loads that can be placed on spotter arms hanging off the front.
The above shows why. A barbell this far out from the support leg of the rack will cause what would ordinarily be a “tipping” force to the rack. Because this type of rack is attached to the wall, it can cause the screws in the top bracket to rip right out of the wall.
A stringer across the wall studs helps, whether it’s wood or steel, the way it has several screws securing it to multiple studs in the wall. Even then, no guarantee the screws won’t still rip out.
Realistically, I have heard from someone who does rack pulls on the spotter arms on such a rack. The closer you have the barbell to the uprights, and not far out like I have in the diagram, the more the support leg takes the force and the less the wall attachment point does. But as discussed already, even up against the upright you’re away from the center of gravity of the rack and you’re putting some force on the wall attachments.
A Non-Folding Alternative, and Space Considerations
The main issue with the ~21″ deep racks is they might restrict the exercises you can do. Some adjustable benches have feet or wheels that will stick out too far back in the incline position, putting the wall in the way of getting it into place. However, it looks like many benches, and the Vulcan adjustable bench for sure (Thanks Robert for the comment on this), will work in a moderate incline with the 21″ deep racks.
The tight fit is even more the case with another rack I want to bring to your attention, the Rogue Monster Lite Slim Rack pictured above. The front face of the uprights are a mere 14″ from the wall. I’ve determined that the 14″ gives you enough head room from the wall to allow for back squats, with a few inches of head clearance from the wall. Assuming that your bench’s feet don’t stick out past the bench pad too far (most modern benches are pretty good about this), you can do flat bench presses. Unlikely you can do incline bench presses with this unless you have something like the BodyCraft F704 bench (or discontinued BodyCraft F320 bench) that slides back for incline.
Anyway, the Slim Rack might work even better than a folding rack for you, if you don’t mind being close to the wall and you don’t need a rack that folds tighter against the wall to be out of the way. It will feel more solid than a folding rack because it has no moving parts.
Rogue wins! Here’s why…
Rogue’s quality is the highest and most consistent. Titan for example does ok with some things, but this rack needs to be all perfectly aligned so that you can install it with nothing weird going on in its stability, connections, and fold-up procedure. Titan cuts corners with design to lower the price. I trust Rogue the most with having everything made right. Rogue sells more of these types of units than anybody else, and in their own factory in Columbus, OH, while other companies outsource to China and aren’t able to unpackage and inspect most of the units.
If I were in the market for a rack like this, the lack of a stringer on the other models is the dealbreaker. It assists in a big way with installation and stability. Granted it costs $105 for the stringer pair.
Great price, especially for what you get. PRx is ridiculously priced.
Distance from Wall
The minimal distance from the wall, 21″ or so, makes sense for any folding rack. The whole point is to save on space by folding it in as tightly as possible, and the 41″ folds up poorly, eating up tons of wall space or sticking out a couple feet if you fold both sides inward.
Being as this is an Monster Lite rack, Rogue’s Monster Lite attachments will fit this rack. Some attachments are made for full power racks. Some appropriate ones would be the landmine base, rope anchor, and many more. That opens up a options for more exercises and even more efficient use of space. Unlike the 2×3 Infinity racks, Rogue won’t be moving away from the Monster Lite racks for the foreseeable future, so you’ll have good compatibility moving forward.
Rogue basically offers so many of the best features of these racks that it’s an easy choice.
Rep’s folding rack is nearly an exact copy of Rogue’s. UHMW lined cups and feet, quick attach pins, 1.25″ pull up bar, etc.
Rep is known for making good equipment, nearly on par with Rogue’s quality and attention to detail, not cutting corners, and at a lower price. They can’t quite meet Rogue’s quality, because their equipment is made in China and subject to spot inspections when they get them instead of constant inspection of each piece by their own employees. Rep makes sense as a second choice behind Rogue. You save about $300 over the RML-3WC.
Rep’s rack is somewhat compatible with Monster Lite attachments. Their 75x75mm tubing is a hair smaller than 3×3″, making all Rogue attachments fit with a little play. The hole spacing Rep uses is also metric, ruling out attachments that have to be secured with a safety pin. These issues force me to have the opinion that Rep is not the best choice here.
One significant addition over Rogue is their laser-cut numbers, starting from the bottom of the bench press area and going all the way up.
Too bad they missed a stringer option. If you like working with wood, this might be a non-issue for you. You will certainly save money by putting in your own wood stringers, as shown below.