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Setting Up A Home Gym – Power Cage or Squat Rack

The thought of escaping the costs of gym membership and the queues to use the equipment is leading many people to set up their own home gyms in the garage or spare room, as the initial investment will be far less than a monthly gym fee in the long run.

But the question of what equipment to buy and how much to spend is one which every home gym buff faces, and a particularly common dilemma is whether to invest in a squat rack or a power cage for weights.

The space you have available and the budget you are willing to spend will dictate to a certain degree what equipment you can have in your home gym. However, the cage and the rack can be quite similar so it’s worth looking at the pros and cons properly in order to make an informed decision.

What is a Squat Rack?

The main function of a squat rack is to support the weight of your barbell as you undertake squat movements. The rack in its simplest form is two metal stands which are adjustable and support the barbell. You lift the bar from the stand, perform your exercises and then place it back afterward.

A lot of machines use a squat rack system to copy the squat exercise while others will prefer to use the free weight version, so there are many choices out there for the weight lifter to choose from.

Why Choose a Squat Rack?

If your house/garage has low ceilings, then the chances are you won’t even be able to fit a power cage into the room, so a squat rack is definitely the better option to choose in this case, for purely practical reasons.

If your gym is small and you need to move equipment around, then the squat rack is also much easier to move and much easier to lift than a power cage which is big and bulky and much harder to shift around.

However, do bear in mind that you exercise outside of the squat rack so you need to have enough space for you and it within the gym area. If you are having to drop weights and you need to store plates, then bear all this in mind when choosing what to purchase.

What is a Power Cage?

Unlike the squat rack, a power cage is made up of four posts connected with framing to create a cage shape, hence the name, and it is used for safe weight training with a barbell. Two of the posts include catches which allow the barbell to sit at various height levels. There are also safety bars to stop the bar being lifted and catch the barbell if you can’t set it down.

These cages are far more versatile than squat racks because they often include extra elements for other different kinds of exercise, for example, chin ups. A power cage brings added safety and stability to any workout using weights.

Why Choose a Power Cage?

Power cages offer far more safety features and the option to do far more workout types than a straight squat rack, so they can be really beneficial to your home gym. Most come with built-in dip bars and pull-up bars to give you a full body workout.

Most Power Cages can be added to and extended, allowing you to personalize your own gym space to your particular workout needs.

Although these tend to be taller than squat racks because they allow for pull-up exercises, the fact you work out within the inside of the cage can mean they actually don’t take up as much space as you might think they would.

What Are the Main Positives for Each Option?

Squat Rack

  • Price: A squat rack is likely to cost only around $300 – $500 for a good quality model, which is way less than a good quality power cage.
  • Size: If the size is an issue, a squat rack is much smaller than a power rack and can normally fit into a corner. It doesn’t require a high ceiling unlike a power cage.

Power Cage

  • Safety: The safety features of a power cage are their most appealing feature, allowing you to safely drop a barbell if you need to, without risking injury or damage to your room floor.
  • Sturdiness: If you are using really heavy weights, then a power rack will give you a much stronger and more robust framework than any squat stand could ever do.
  • Flexibility: With a squat rack you can do a variety of squats, but with a power cage you can do many other different types of exercise for your whole body.

The battle between Power Cages Vs Squat Racks will generally be won according to the budget and the space in general. If you have a lot of both, then a power cage makes sense due to the extra safety features, and the added flexibility of all the different types of exercises which you can carry out.

If you don’t have much space or money, you are more likely to err towards a squat rack, but you just need to remember that your choice of exercise will be far more limited, and actually, when working out, outside of the rack, you might be using up as much space as a power cage.

When setting up your home gym, make sure you take really good measurements, taking into account where you will be standing when you work out, and also look at the level of weights you want to work with now, and in the future, and the type of exercises you are going to be aiming toward.

Don’t be too limited in your outlook or you may end up buying cheap and small for the sake of it, and the last thing you want to do is find yourself heading back down the gym because your home workout is not challenging you enough.


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