When it comes to weightlifting in gym exercises, especially about necessary and useful equipment, it is more than obligatory to talk about the power rack.
It is often discussed in association with other similar types of equipment, such as, for example, the squat rack, of which it is a simpler version.
Power rack in fitness
Even though it’s not an unfamiliar term, it is first necessary to clarify what we mean by the term “fitness”. It refers to physical activity involving motor exercise, with a sporting but also recreational inclination, aimed at aesthetic or functional goals.
This is why in fitness you can find various types of sports activities and disciplines practiced in gyms, including powerlifting and bodybuilding. The latter are also the workouts in which it is most common to find the use of a power rack.
The power rack is a gym equipment invented in the 1940s.
It was designed for free weight training, which means there are no restrictions on the trajectory. Its distinctive feature is that it resembles scaffolding, especially in the form of a parallelepiped.
Indeed, its structure consists of four vertical posts, connected by horizontal bars: four on top and just three at the bottom, to facilitate the athlete’s entry. This is why it’s also called a “cage”.
On each post, there are holes at regular intervals: they serve to insert other accessories useful for different situations and exercises.
Accessories and additional uses in the power rack
First of all, one use of these holes is to attach the supports on them, from which the idea of such equipment arises. Indeed, the power rack is used to facilitate or enhance the athlete’s lifting exercise. The supports will be used to position the barbell at a certain height, so it doesn’t have to be lifted from the ground.
A second accessory that can be added to the scaffold is the safety bars. As the name suggests, they are designed to ensure the safety of the athlete. They are attached on the right and left sides to prevent weights from falling in cases where the athlete loses control of the equipment.
Another additional piece is the band pegs, which are the hooks for resistance bands, that are added externally to the structure.
One of the main parts of the structure, already present as a basic feature and not needing to be added later, is the upper horizontal bar, which serves a second purpose: is often used as a pull-up bar.
All additional accessories are placed on the structure in a very personalized way, depending on the athlete’s physique.
Supports for barbells are usually fixed at shoulder height, while lower safety bars are positioned one inch below the lowest point where the athlete wants to reach.
Differences between the power rack and the squat rack
We mentioned that when talking about the power rack, it is often associated with, or even confused with, the squat rack, a similar piece of equipment. There are three main distinguishing differences between the two types of equipment, while, regarding the cost, power racks tend to be more expensive due to their more comprehensive structure.
The first distinguishing characteristic is that the power rack is larger, primarily due to its more comprehensive structure. It consists of four vertical posts, unlike the squat rack, which only has two.
Another characteristic is that it is safer, which can be attributed to the structure, because the four vertical posts are held together by as many horizontal bars and this cage-like structure allows for the addition of safety bars.
The third and final difference is that the power rack allows for the execution of a significantly greater number of exercises compared to the basic squat rack.
Why you should have a power rack in your home gym
If an athlete’s intention is to do serious barbell weightlifting at home, then it’s necessary to own a power rack. Why?
Barbells are definitely an essential equipment in this type of training, but it’s important to know that performing certain exercises using barbells is nearly impossible without having a rack.
One initial obstacle when trying to perform these exercises without a rack can be encountered just by setting up a loaded barbell.
Another factor to consider is that with the help of a power rack, you can certainly perform a greater variety of exercises compared to what you can achieve without it.
You also need to consider the probably most important aspect, which is that the power rack is synonymous with safety. It is essential, especially when training alone, to have the necessary safety measures, as these are types of exercises where it’s easy to get injured.
For these reasons, you could argue that having barbells in your gym without buying a rack is almost useless.