The barbell squat is the most effective exercise for working the quadriceps and posterior chain (a critical group of muscles in the legs and back that are intended to keep us upright all day long), and arguably the best exercise one can do to build strength, power and muscle. Hence why it’s commonly called the “the king of exercises”.
If you’re serious about strength training, barbell squats need to be a core part of your routine. It’s as simple as that.
Squat racks and stands allow you to safely perform squats while training alone (e.g., in a home gym). Odds are you’ll also be bench-pressing; in which case a squat rack or stand will better ensure you’re able to do this exercise safely as well. Equipment like this is an absolute must, especially if you’re planning to lift heavy.
That said, not all squat racks and stands are created equal. Some are flimsy pieces of junk, and the last things you’d want supporting your nice, expensive Oly bar with a couple hundred lbs loaded on it.
Without a good guide, you could end up forking out hard-earned money for a piece of equipment that actually makes you less safe while training, rather than more.
But, we’re here to help.
In this article, we’ll take a good look at the best squat racks and squat stands currently on the market. At the end of the article we’ll also provide guidance around choosing the right setup for you.
- #1 Rogue Monster Lite Squat Stands
- #2 Rep Fitness V2 Squat Rack with Pullup Bar
- #3 Rogue S Series Squat Stands
- #4 Fringe Sport Strength Series Squat Rack with Pullup Bar
- #5 V-Hammer Squat Stand II
- #1 Rogue S-4 Squat Stand 2.0
- #2 Vulcan Adjustable Olympic Squat Stands
- #3 OneFitWonder Commercial Indy Squat Stand
The Best Squat Racks in 2018
If you’re starting to get into, or are already passionate about, barbell training, then you’ve probably already realised that a squat rack / stand or power rack is pretty much a must have.
You’re going to be training solo some or all of the time, and therefore you simply need something to rack your bar on. This is not only for convenience and genuine functionality, but also for safety. Lifting heavy means regularly failing on a lift, and failing on a lift can be dangerous and costly if you don’t have anywhere to safely dump the bar.
Enter the squat stand or power rack. We’ll explain in more detail in the last section but if you have plenty of space and the extra cash to spend, then get a good power rack. If you’re short on space and / or money, then a high-quality squat rack is definitely the way to go.
We’ve said it a million times before, and we’ll say it a million times more: You get what you pay for with fitness equipment. Yes, they’re expensive, but if you can afford Rogue Fitness’ products, they’re absolutely top of the line.
The Monster Lite Squat Stands (SML Series) take our top spot because they’re a perfect mix of value and sturdiness. They’re a hybrid of the S-Series Squat Stands and Monster Squat Stands (SM Series). The S-Series are Rogue’s lightweight stands, while the Monster stands are their very beefy, very heavy-duty squat stands. This makes the Monster Lites lightweight and affordable enough to be perfect for a home gym, but solid enough to withstand the abuse dished out in a commercial setup.
All 4 models in the Monster Lite Series are top notch, highly functional stands / racks. From the SML-1 through to the SML-3, you won’t be disappointed with this equipment. They’re all far more similar to each other than they are different, and it’s really only the height and presence of a pullup bar that sets them apart.
With black powder-coated 11-gauge, 3×3″ steel uprights, and 2×3″ bases, these things are not only rock solid, but also look extremely badass. They very much set the standard for squat racks, and as you’ll see below, Rogue’s competitors do their best to imitate them. Their solid construction is held together with 5/8″ hardware (bolts and fasteners), which has something like a 10,000 lb. capacity, so you’ll never have to worry about their integrity or stability (plus they’re very easy to assemble). These stands will last a lifetime of abuse – seriously.
All models have a 48″ x 49″ footprint, putting them among the most compact squat stands on the market. They should fit nicely into almost any home gym or commercial setup, no matter how big or small.
The SML-1 is the shortest and most compact model, and absolutely perfect if you’re setup is in a small bedroom or office. It stands 6 feet (72″) tall and weighs 122 lbs.
The SML-2 is 7 feet 8 inches (92″) tall and weighs 157 lbs. It’s extra height means that it comes with a pullup bar. You can either have the Fat/Skinny bar (here’s Matt Chan explaining this pullup bar) or a single bar. If you want to personalize your stand with some funky colors, then get the SML-2C, which is identical to the SML-2 except you can choose from a range of colored uprights.
Finally, the SML-3 is the tallest and heaviest model, standing 9 feet 2 inches (110″) tall and weighing 167 lbs.
|Monster Lite Squat Stands|
|SML-1||SML-2 & 2C||SML-3|
|Footprint||48″ x 49″|
|Weight||122 lbs.||157 lbs.||167 lbs.|
|Pullup Bar||None||Fat/Skinny or Single||Fat/Skinny or Single|
|Max Pullup Bar Height||n/a||88″||103″|
|J-Cups||Yes, with UHWM inserts|
|Spotter Arms||No, purchase SAML-24 spotter arms separately|
Rogue’s Monster Lite J-Cups are included with all models. They have UHMW (ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, or ‘hard plastic’) inserts, which prevent your Oly bar from getting all dinged up as a result of repeated racking. While these J-Cups are awesome, the fact that they’re all that’s included speaks to the major drawback of the Monster Lite Squat Stands.
One of the main reasons for getting a squat rack / stand is to be able to train safely alone, right? But to do that, your rack needs to have safety spotter arms. Well, the safety spotter arms for the Monster Lite stands, the SAML-24s, are probably the best spotter arms you’ll find. But, they need to be purchased separately, and are almost half as expensive as the racks themselves. This makes already expensive equipment even more expensive…
Again, you get what you pay for. When your squat rack arrives you’ll see what we mean. The USA-made workmanship is second to none, and is guaranteed for life by Rogue. This is unmatched by any other supplier.
Speaking of spotter arms, the Monster Lite Squat Stands all have Westside hole spacing on the uprights. This is where there’s 1″ spacing in the bench press range, which allows you to get the spotter arms at exactly the right height for your benches. The remaining holes have 2″ spacing. This is actually an awesome little touch by Rogue, and its value can’t be overstated. It’s extremely annoying (and dangerous) when you can’t get the spotter arms at just the right height for your benches.
In addition to the SAML-24 spotter arms, there are bunch of other accessories you can get to complement your SML squat stand. These are:
- Matador dip arms: Add these to your stand, and you’ll have the ability to do one of the best bodyweight exercises possible (dips, that is).
- Wheel bracket set: These are for extra portability.
- Floor mounting feet: If portability isn’t important for you, then get these to bolt your stand to the floor or a platform.
- Single bar holder: This is a nice to have. If you have a couple of Oly bars, one can sit on the J-Cups, and the other in this bar holder
- Short or Long plate storage posts: These come in pairs, and provide convenient storage for your steel plates or bumpers. Loaded up, these also make your rack even more stable.
- Half rack conversion kit (SML-2 and SML-3 only): If you eventually find yourself with more space, or just want more stability and storage space, then use this kit to you’re your SML-2 or SML-3 into a beasty Monster Lite Half Rack
Ultimately, the Monster Lite Squat Stands are heavy, they’re strong, they’re secure, they’re awesome…If you have the money to spend, just bite the bullet and get one. You won’t look back.
Now, if you don’t have the cash to splurge on a Rogue squat stand, then strongly consider this Squat Rack with Pullup Bar from Rep Fitness. It offers outstanding bang for your buck, and for many people will beat out the Rogue stands on value alone.
For slightly more than the price of the SML-1, you get a similar squat rack with all of the most useful accessories included. That’s right! For just shy of $400 (minus shipping / freight), you get the squat rack with j-cups plus:
- Heavy duty safety spotter arms (with hard plastic lining to protect your bar).
- 2 x pull up bars – One standard bar (1.25″ diameter) and one Fat bar (2″ diameter) for building your grip strength.
- 4 x adjustable pegs that can be attached to the safeties and used as dip bars, and / or to the base to be used as band anchors.
- 2 x plate horns on the base for storing your bumpers or iron plates.
All of these accessories are good quality, meaning there’s really no question that this squat rack is exceptional value. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s a budget squat rack.
Adding to this exceptional value is the rack’s construction. 11-guage, 2.5×2.5″ steel tubes for uprights and base makes the frame nice and strong, and gives it a 1000 lb. capacity (on the J-cups, obviously). The dip bar has a 300 lb. capacity, while the pullup bars are at 400 lb. (make sure you counter weight when doing dips by putting bumpers or plates on the opposite side’s storage horn). The whole thing is 200 lbs., making it absolutely rock-solid. You can also bolt it to the floor if you want, but it’s definitely not necessary.
At this point, you might be thinking “why would I go with any other squat rack, especially the Rogues?”. It’s a fair question, and it has a number of answers:
The footprint is considerably larger than the Monster Lites, and almost all other comparable squat racks. The Rep Fitness Squat Rack with Pullup Bar is 79″ long x 48″ wide. You can either get 90″ or 110″ uprights. For many people, this limits its suitability for a home or basement gym. You need at least 8 foot ceilings in order to fit this thing in a room at all, and the length of the base means that it’ll take up a lot of floor space. If you have a garage gym or commercial space, then you’ll probably be fine.
Also, Rep Fitness don’t manufacture their products themselves, but rather have them made in China, hence the low cost. This means that you’ll sometimes get manufacturer defects, such as misaligned holes, sloppy welds, and chipped paint, as well as incorrectly packaged parts. Experiencing this can be very annoying. That said, Rep’s customer service is brilliant and will always rectify these kinds of problems quick-smart. They do, however, only offer a 1-year warranty, which pales in comparison to Rogue’s lifetime warranty.
If you’ll take the very best value over the very best quality, then the Rep Fitness Squat Rack with Pullup Bar is the option for you. It’s also perfect for those doing strength training / muscle-building on budget.
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As mentioned earlier, the S-Series squat stands are Rogue’s ‘lightweight’ series, and a perfect option for those who want the unmatched quality and warranty that Rogue offer, but don’t want to part with too much hard-earned cash.
Rogue’s different series of squat stands follow a fairly predictable formula, meaning there are a lot of similarities between the S-Series and the Monster Lites.
There are three S-Series models to choose from, the S-1 Squat Stand 2.0, S-2 Squat Stand 2.0, or S-3 Squat Stand 2.0 (there’s no ‘C’ option with funky coloring), and like the Monster Lites, the main difference between the models is the height, weight, and presence or absence of a pullup bar. The S-2 and S-3 are tall and come with a pullup bar (option of Fat/Skinny or single pullup bar), while the S-1 is short and doesn’t.
The uprights have Westside hole spacing, allowing finer adjustment of the spotter arms through the bench press height range. J-Cups are included, and have a UHMW insert to protect your bar from damage. Also, these are all that’s included; you have to buy accessories separately (more on that in a minute).
The S-Series do have some differences from the Monster Lites though, primarily in the sturdiness of construction.
They have 2×3″ 11-guage steel on both uprights and base (as opposed to the 3×3″ uprights of the Monster Lites), as well as 48″ x 48″ footprints. The slightly thinner steel makes them a little lighter than the Monster Lites.
The S-1 Squat Stand 2.0 is the shortest and most compact model, and absolutely perfect if you’re setup is in a small bedroom or office. It stands 6 feet (72″) tall and weighs 114 lbs.
The S-2 Squat Stand 2.0 is 7 feet 8 inches (92″) tall and weighs 146 lbs.
Last but not least, the S-3 Squat Stand 2.0 is the tallest and heaviest model, standing 9 feet 2 inches (110″) tall and weighing 165 lbs.
Despite the slightly thinner steel tubing and smaller footprint, the S-Series are by no means weak or unstable. They have the same weight capacity as the Monster Lites (1000 lbs. on the J-Cups), so they can support much more than you’ll actually be able to lift.
As mentioned earlier, you do have to purchase the most necessary accessories – the safety spotter arms – separately. The 2×3″ uprights of the S-Series take the infinity range of accessories. These include:
While purchasing these things separately quickly increases the cash outlay, the S-Series stands are very reasonably priced to begin with, and the infinity accessories are cheaper than the Monster Lite accessories. This means that you can get an S-1 Squat Stand 2.0 with spotter arms for under $500. Considering the unsurpassable quality of Rogue’s stands, this is a damn good deal.
The S-Series: For athletes on a budget!
Fringe Sport are a top notch company who make good stuff, and their Strength Series Squat Rack fits the bill nicely. If you go with this rack, you can expect something pretty similar to the Rogue S-2, and at a very similar price point.
It’s a black powder-coated rack with 2×3″, 11-gauge steel uprights and base. The included J-Cups have hard-plastic lining, and the pullup bar can be set at different heights based on preference. There are, however, some key differences.
For starters, the Strength Series Squat Rack has a significantly larger base. It’s footprint is a whopping 72″ long x 49.5″ wide, meaning it takes up a lot of space – more space than it appears to in pictures. Be mindful of this if you’re planning to put it in a room where space is at a premium. The wide base does increase it’s stability, and as you’ll see in the video below, allows all you CrossFitters to do kipping pulllups.
Also, the uprights have 2″ spacing all the way along, as opposed to the Westside hole spacing of the Rogue S-Series and Monster Lites. Westside spacing is a nice touch, no doubt about it, but not having it won’t really be a deal-breaker. Most people should be able to find a good height for the safety spotter arms that maximizes their effectiveness when benching.
On that note, the safety spotter arms must be purchased separately just like Rogue’s. The difference, however, is that Fringe’s safeties are a fair bit cheaper than Rogue’s, and at the time of writing will set you back about $100. What are included though, are plate horns. Two on the back of the base hold 180 lbs. each, and when loaded up really ensure that this rack doesn’t move about when on the pullup bar.
Speaking of the pullup bar, there’s no Fat/Skinny option, just a single 1.3″ diameter bar. While the top of the uprights stand at 99″ high, the max height of the pullup bar is 96″. You can also have it at 80″ or 88″. If you’re keen on mixing lifting with bodyweight exercises, you can get a pair of dip arms for $70 – $80, which is also pretty good value.
Fringe Sport, like Rep Fitness and pretty much every home fitness equipment brand except Rogue, has their products manufactured in China. As we mentioned above, this comes with risks. Damaged components, misaligned holes, and ill-fitting hardware is something you may encounter. For example, you could find that the J-Cups and or safety spotter arms don’t sit flush on this squat rack, tilting forward slightly and causing your bar to roll to their front ends. This is rare, but a possibility.
Thankfully, Fringe Sport’s customer service is second to none, and every problem we’ve ever encountered with their equipment has rectified very quickly. Still, it’s annoying, and something you just don’t experience with Rogue (sorry for sounding like broken records).
If you’re after a solid squat rack that’s perfect for both CrossFit and heavy lifting, but don’t want to pay out the wazoo, then the Strength Series Squat Rack with Pullup Bar might be a good fit for you. Plus, as with all Fringe Sport products, it ships quickly and for free which is a nice little touch, and keeps the cost down.
Please note, this video is of an earlier version of the Fringe Squat Rack. The current version does not include safeties.
Thinking a power rack may be better option? Best Power Racks
It’s built like an absolute tank, and is rock solid, but also has a nice and compact footprint (50″ long x 48″ wide). On top of that, you can get 93.5″ or 98.5″ uprights, so if ceiling height is also a limitation for you, then this squat stand mostly has you covered (if you’ve only got 7′ ceilings, you’re out of luck…).
It’s tank-like nature comes from the 2.5×2.5″ 8-gauge steel uprights and base (steel gets thicker as it goes down in gauge) it’s made from. This thicker steel makes it heavy – very heavy. Weighing in at a whopping 253 lbs., the V-Hammer is the heaviest non-commercial squat stand you’ll find by a long margin. This makes it very stable and very strong – its weight capacity is said to be “unlimited”.
Combined with the smaller footprint and option of 93.5″ or 98.5″ uprights, it’s a pretty versatile squat rack that would make a good addition to any size home gym or commercial setup. It’s not exactly cheap (~$750) but it does come with J-Cups, safety spotter arms (with UHMW lining) and plate storage pegs included. With the free shipping that Vulcan offer on this bad boy, it actually works out to be roughly the same price, or even a little cheaper than the Rogue SML-2 Squat Rack 2.0 with safeties added, plus ground freight shipping.
That said, it’s another one of those products manufactured in China. Refer to any of the reviews above for details around the risks involved in that fact. Also, it doesn’t have Westside hole spacing, but this is a very minor drawback considering the great value otherwise offered.
All-in-all, for such an immense squat rack, with safeties and plate storage included, plus free shipping, the price and product is very competitive. There’s certainly nothing wrong with going with the V-Hammer Squat Stand II from one of the premiere makers of functional exercise equipment in Vulcan Strength.
The Best Independent Squat Stands in 2018
Ok, so you like the look of the squat racks and stands above, and you agree that a number of them take up very little space. But you still have a problem, your home gym is tiny – too tiny for any of the racks and stands above. Maybe you do Olympic lifts, and don’t want a stand that takes up to much space on your platform. Or, perhaps you just need a stand that can be moved around easily.
Enter the independent (aka ‘indy’) squat stands: A two-piece squat stand that provides the ultimate solution to your space and portability problem. Indies are easy to move around and can be tucked away into a corner when you’re done using them. They have their drawbacks – no arguments here – but if space is at a serious premium for you, then good indy stands might be just what’s needed to get your squat, bench press, and / or Oly lifts cranking.
At 130 lbs. total weight, the S-4s are rock solid indy stands. They’re technically part of Rogue’s S-Series Squat Stands and use the same 2×3″ 11-gauge uprights, with the Westside hole spacing. The H-bases, however, are made from extra-thick 7-gauge steel, which plays a big part in their weight and sturdiness (and the cost, probably).
They come with the infinity series, UHMW-lined J-Cups and that’s it. Although the other infinity accessories are compatible with the S-4s, if you discuss this with Rogue, they will strongly recommend against using things like the safeties and dip arms on the indies. This is because they create a significantly greater risk of toppling, especially if you have to dump a heavy lift, or you’re a larger than normal human. For that reason, these indies aren’t a great option if you’re squatting or benching right at your 1RM limit. Instead, consider the SML-3 Squat Stand 2.0, V-Hammer Squat Stand II, or a good power rack.
Despite that, the S-4s are by far the best indy squat stands available, and are a fantastic choice if you have little room in your home gym for lifting, or a need to move your squat stands around frequently.
Because the S-4 Squat Stand 2.0 is an independent stand, we didn’t include it in the S-Series review above.
By now, you’ve probably noticed that we’re keen on Rogue products. As far as we’re concerned, there’s no question that they produce the highest quality fitness equipment in the world at the moment. If you have the money and the concern for quality, then you should go with Rogue. If you aren’t on a budget and want indy stands, then go with the S-4s.
But, if you can’t afford or just can’t stomach Rogue’s high prices, then consider these adjustable indy stands from Vulcan Strength. They’re almost as heavy duty as the Rogue S-4s, they’re significantly less expensive, ship for free, and include safety spotter arms.
Now, you might be wondering why Vulcan don’t mind having spotter arms on their indies, but Rogue do. Well, the safeties on the Vulcan indy stands are made specifically for these stands, and are only 8.5″ long – as compared to Rogue spotter arms, which are generally around 24″ long. The shorter length greatly reduces the risk of toppling, because the center of gravity with loaded safeties is much closer to the center point of the stands. That said, we’d recommend limiting their use to bench presses (e.g., don’t dump a 400 lb. back squat on them).
The Vulcan indy stands are of the adjustable sort, meaning you have to remove a safety pin each time you want to unrack your bar at different heights. This isn’t ideal, but unless you’re wanting make quick adjustments to the height of the rack, then it’s not actually a problem. If you do want a rack that you can adjust the height of quickly and easily, these indy stands are not the ones for you.
All-in-all, if you’re looking for great value indy stands, then check out these Vulcans
Last but not least, the OneFitWonder Commercial Indy Stands from Fringe Sport are something of a middle ground between the Rogue S-4s and Vulcan Indies.
They’re similar in size and design to the Rogues in that they have 2×3″ uprights with Westside hole spacing, and very solid 28″ long x 22″ wide H-bases. While their combined total weight of 97 lbs. is quite a bit less than the S-4’s 130 lbs., the Fringe Commercial Indies are still a very solid pair of stands. Their weight capacity of 1000 lbs. on the J-Cups is well beyond what you should be safely lifting with a two-piece squat rack.
A couple of other nifty little features include the numbering along the uprights that allows quick adjustment of the J-Cups, and the castor wheels for easy transport.
Their similarity to the Vulcan indies is in the fact that when you take the free shipping into account, they cost significantly less than the S-4s.
They’re a good option if you 1) want quick and easily adjustable racking heights and portability, and 2) would love to save a few dollars to put toward some other cool strength-training equipment, like a lifting belt or some gloves.
Choosing the Right Squat Rack
Adding a squat rack to your training setup, whether it be a home gym or commercial space, is a big decision, and not one to be made lightly. When it comes to squat racks and stands, a poor buying choice can result in wasted money, and a setup that may be ineffective, dangerous, or both.
Take these factors into consideration before making your purchase…
First, what’s your budget? If you’ve got cash to work with, then the world of squat racks is your oyster. Rogue Fitness make hands down the highest quality racks and should be your first port of call with dollars in hand. Move onto the next points. If however, you’re on somewhat of a budget, then Rogue products might be a little too dear, and you’ll need to look for better bang for your buck. Rep Fitness and Fringe Sport squat racks and stands are great value, albeit lower quality.
Second, how much space do you really have?. Those with a commercial setup that has high ceilings and lots of floor space won’t have to be too picky. Those building a home gym in a small bedroom or home office will want to look for more compact squat racks.
There are two factors here:
- Floor space
- Ceiling height
When it comes to limited floor space, less is more. Squat racks with long and wide footprints will be wholly unsuitable and even if they fit in your home gym, may take up so much space that they prevent you from training properly. For example, the Monster Lite and S-Series Squat Stands, and Vulcan V-Hammer Squat Stand II have more compact footprints (49″ and 50″ long, respectively) and are better for home gyms where space is at a premium.
Similarly, ceiling height can be a real limiting factor. Some homes only have 7′ ceilings, restricting your squat rack options to those with uprights under 84″. In our list above, only the Rogue SML-1, S-1 and the 3 indy stands would fit into a room with 7′ ceilings.
Most homes have 8′ ceilings or higher, which makes things easier. That said, if you have 8′ ceilings and you also want a squat rack that gives you the option of doing pullups, then this is another thing you’ll need to take into consideration, and leads us into our final factor…
Finally, what do you want to do with your squat rack? This may seem like a silly question, but there’s a lot of nuance in lifting. Assuming you want to squat, do you want to push your weight limits? Or do you just want to pump out some good reps of a heavy weight you can’t lift above your head, but which won’t be breaking any PRs? If it’s the former, then you’re going to need a heavy-duty squat rack with good spotter arms (the same goes for bench pressing). The Monster Lites, Rep Fitness Squat Rack with Pullup Bar, and the V-Hammer Squat Stand II will be good options. If it’s the latter, then the cheaper, lighter S-Series, or even the indy stands will probably suffice.
Also, do you want the option of doing bodyweight exercises? If so, then you’re obviously going to need a stand that has a pullup bar, and the ability to take dip arm attachments. The SML-2 and SML3, Rep Fitness Rack, S-2 and S-3, and V-Hammer all make this possible. Remember your ceiling height? If you want to do pullups, you’ll want at least 6″ of clearance above your bar do them properly.
A good squat rack / stand is a fantastic investment in your strength, and overall health and fitness. But, making a poor buying decision can be damn frustrating mistake, not to mention a costly one. Think carefully about what you need, and then what you want. Measure your floorspace and ceiling height, think long and hard about your strength training goals, and most importantly, do your research. Hopefully this article has helped you with that last point.
Well, there you have it. The best squat racks and stands on the market in 2018, plus a few extra bits of info to help get you started.
Building strength is achieved through dedicated training and having the right tools for the job, and a good squat stand is arguably the best tool for the job. Regardless of your space limitations, strength goals, and exercise preferences, we’re confident that one of the squat racks and stands above will be suitable for you. Use the information above to make an informed decision, and we guarantee you won’t look back.
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As always, best of luck with your home workouts. Remember: We can make the effort or make excuses, but we can’t make both.
THFF (The Home Fit Freak)