Rewritten in 2023 with a different set of racks, a comparison chart, and an explanation of features.
Table of Contents
Intro: Is This Your Kind of Rack?
This post is for you if:
You know you want a power rack, and
You want to spend as little as possible, and
You don’t want to get stuck with a crappy rack you’ll have to replace
Experienced lifters generally prefer more expensive, heavy duty racks, $500-$1000 or even more, with the extra security, stability and features they offer. It can lead you to believe that you’re risking your life by going with a cheaper rack. That really isn’t the case. If you’re careful with your choice, understand proper use of a rack, and understand any particular limitations of the rack you get, you could save some cash and be really happy with your choice of a basic rack that will do the job for your personal gym.
Shortie Racks: I have not included any of the 6ft tall power racks out there, only ones that are a normal 7ft. The short ones are kind of a whole different thing. I have already written a post comparing some short power racks.
Scroll right to see all 6 racks.
|Titan T-2||Best Fitness BFPR10||Fitness Reality 810XLT||Giant Lifting 2X||Rep Fitness PR-1100||Hulkfit Pro Series|
|Pull Up Bar||1.25″ straight||1″ straight||multi-grip||multi-grip||multi-grip||multi-grip|
|Weight||140 lb||107 lb||105 lb||165 lb||130 lb||140 lb|
|Steel Tubing||12-gauge 2×2||14-gauge 2×2||14-gauge 2×2||14-gauge 2×2||14-gauge 2×2||13-gauge 60x60mm|
|J Hooks||UHMW lined||bare steel||bare steel||UHMW lined||UHMW lined||bare steel|
|Price||$419.99 & FREE SHIPPING||$249 + shipping||Check Amazon||$329.99 + shipping||$379.99 & FREE SHIPPING||Check Amazon|
As an Amazon affiliate we aren’t allowed to list prices for the two Amazon racks, due to the possibility of prices changing.
On one hand, taller is great for pull ups. On the other hand, most people have 8ft ceilings to contend with, and you need head room when doing pull ups. 12″ of head room above the bar should be enough, which cuts it close.
The Fitness Reality rack has a pull up bar that’s arched unnecessarily high above the top of the rack to reach its stated 83″ height. This saves them a little on the cost of a few more inches of the 4 uprights. Because of this, more lifters will hit the top frame of the rack with the bar while doing standing overhead presses. It depends on how tall you are. Many lifters end up doing that exercise on the outside of the rack for this reason.
As shown in the screencap above from the product video, the Fitness Reality rack also has a rear cross brace situated low enough (probably about 70″ high) that it could get in the way when you try to get in position for back squats.
Pull Up Bars
A lot of lifters love a multi-grip pull up bar for neutral grip (palms facing each other) pull ups. It works your arms a little more than palms-down pull ups that target your back more, without having to do palms-up pull ups that can put too much stress on the elbow joint for some lifters.
1″ is a traditional old-style diameter for pull up bars. Better designs have about a 1.25″ diameter pull up bar. A fat pull up bar to work your grip strength more will be 1.5″ or larger.
Lighter racks are more prone to tipping over, and this can be combated by loading a couple plates on the rear storage pegs built into the back of the rack, near the floor and out of the way of any exercise you’ll do. Unfortunately you’re sacrificing a couple plates to do this. If you have extra plates, great, or maybe you can pick up some rusty pieces of junk someone is getting rid of. Sandbags can also work, or anything else heavy that makes sense, just to weigh it down.
All of these racks use about 2″x2″ steel tubing for the uprights. I say about because some are actually sized metric at 50mm / 1.97″. That’s so close that attachments made for 2″ or 50mm tubing will be compatible either direction.
The steel gauge (thickness) doesn’t change the tubing size, because it’s bent to make a tube of a specified outside diameter. The gauge does matter in considering how stiff the rack will feel. The smaller the number, the thicker the steel and the more stiff or stable the rack will feel as you bang weights on it or do pull ups. A 14-gauge rack can wobble noticeably and tip more easily when you push weights into it. You certainly don’t want your rack to tip. To combat this, some racks have rear plate storage pegs so you can weigh it down better, described further below.
The Titan T-2 is listed as 12-gauge, but I have to say I’m not convinced of that, based on the weight and size. It might be 13 or 14 gauge.
Hole spacing is measured between the vertical upright’s holes, on center as pictured. On the large end, the 4″ hole spacing of the Hulkfit rack is too large. You won’t be able to set your J-hooks and safety bars where you want them, and that compromises safety and ease-of-use.
I highly recommend 2″ hole spacing, the smallest you’ll get on a budget rack.
More expensive racks use smaller holes and 1″ hole spacing over the range where you’ll set your safety bars.
The hole spacing also matters for attachments.
While the Giant Lifting and Best Fitness racks are the lowest priced by far, they do charge shipping. On a power rack nowadays, that could mean another +$100. This puts all the racks in roughly the same price range.
My Top Pick
Out of the 6 racks included for consideration here, the Giant Lifting 2X rack has the best set of features.
As described in the chart, the combo pull up bars, 2″ hole spacing, and rear storage pegs are features that just about everyone will learn to appreciate. Giant Lifting is a relatively new company whose website started up in 2020 after a few years of dealing locally. They have always been responsive and helpful when I have product questions for my articles.
Their numbered uprights are a nice bonus to help you make sure you’re using the same attachments holes on both sides and to help you keep track of your commonly used heights. Even with the numbers I’d recommend putting some pieces of painter’s tape to mark the holes you use, so in my opinion the holes shouldn’t be considered a deal-breaker, only a bonus.
As another option, the rack that stands out as the cheapest after shipping (or with free/included shipping in this case) is the Fitness Reality 810 XLT. The issue with this rack is the top rear cross brace (black in the pic) can only be set up to around 65″ high. I’m not sure of its height exactly. Shorter users will find their head clears under it safely, while many users will hit it, as I mentioned already in the Height section above. It also has unprotected steel bar hooks and safety bars.
Other than the good price, which in this case illustrates you get what you pay for, I think the only reason the Fitness Reality rack is popular is it was one of the only racks you could get during the shortage of 2020, and with all the positive reviews from grateful buyers they are still near the top of the Amazon results.
Are there any budget power racks with good features that I left out? Leave a comment below!