I get pretty pumped every time I add a piece of gear to my home gym. But no addition has ever excited me more than the addition of a power rack. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve stood in my garage imagining a full-size rack as the centerpiece of my garage workout space. Only one minor detail stood in my way. How much room would a power rack take up in my home gym? Would I even be able to fit one without major renovation?
The largest squat rack you might put in a home gym needs a 12′ wide x 13′ deep x 8′ high space. Going with a smaller rack can cut the depth needed, but the width and height will remain constant. There are also racks that will fold up against the wall and therefore only take up space while in use.
Do you have the needs and room for the largest rack? How about the smallest? Do you, like me, fall somewhere in between? Looking at a combination of the space you have and the reason you want a rack will guide you to the right solution for your space.
Why are you buying a squat rack?
The first consideration when buying a squat or power rack is determining what you want to use it for. Overall, a full power rack will be more versatile and will allow a much broader array of movements. Presses, squats, dips, deadlifts, and pull ups make up just a few of the exercises you can use a power rack for. If you only need something to hold the bar so you can set up properly for a squat, a full rack may be overkill for you.
Another reason to buy a full power rack is for safety. Because of their ability to have safety bars or straps, a power rack can also serve as your spotter for a variety exercises. If this is one of your reasons, you’ll want to find room for a full power rack and not just a scaled down squat stand.
Lastly, if you are short on space overall, that may actually be a great reason to buy a full rack. For those of us that don’t have unlimited room for gear, the equipment we do make room for has to be highly functional. A power rack is one of the most versatile pieces you can add to your home gym. Instead of trying to find space for a lot of single use equipment (reverse hyper, glut ham, preacher deck, etc.), make room for one larger piece like a power rack that allows you to do a lot with your limited space!
Plan for growth
I found that in my garage I had a couple of options. I could leave everything as is and that would give me room for either a compact fold away rack or a basic squat stand. Or I could rearrange the entire garage and make room for a full rack. While it is tempting to leave things as they are, the second option is a much smarter choice.
I use my home gym a lot and I’m guessing that you do too. It makes all the sense in the world for me to make space for the best long term solution. If you have the choice, I’d highly recommend making as much space as you can and getting a full power cage.
Room to move
A very important detail to consider when figuring out how much space you are going to need is that you’ll need space around the rack too.
To start with, your barbell will most likely be wider than your rack. Don’t make a 48” wide space for a 48” wide rack. Take into account that the barbell you will be using is 84” long. This effectively makes the width of the rack 84”.
Add to that the room you’ll need to actually get weight on that barbell. While you could probably make due with 12″-18” on either side, I prefer a minimum of 24”. This allows you to safely lift and place weight plates on your bar.
If you don’t leave enough room, you’ll end up lifting, twisting, and reaching to get the plates on and off your bar. If you look up how to give yourself a back injury, I’m almost positive you’ll find lifting while twisting and reaching high on the list of injury producing behaviors!
4 types of racks
So far I’ve named a few types of racks but haven’t given specifics as to what the differences are or how much space each will need. You’ll want to keep these 4 basic types of racks in mind. As I’ve noted, I think getting a full size power rack is the best option. That said, some people simply won’t have the need or the space for one. That’s where the other 3 types come into play.
Full size power rack with extension
At the top end of the spectrum is a full size, 36″ or 48″ deep power rack (also known as a power cage). These are usually made from 3″ x 3″ steel and are the beefiest rigs available. Many times, a 10″ or 24″ extension is added to the back of the rack. This provides room for a spotter as well as giving more room to work within the rack itself.
These extensions also allow attachments and accessories of many kinds to be used. Plyo steps, pull down systems, and weight storage pegs are just a few examples. These accessories add more size to the rack and necessitate even more room to accommodate them.
Extensions can also provide more stability to a home rack. While I always recommend finding a way to secure the rack to the ground, it may not always be possible in a home gym. These larger racks complete with extensions provide the most stable platform to lift from, especially if the optional weight storage pegs are loaded up with plates.
The height of a full size rack like this is typically 90″ and higher. Add a multigrip pull up bar and you are at 95″ and over pretty quickly. That means that you’ve maxed out an 8′ ceiling with no room to get your head above the pull up bar.
As noted at the beginning of this article, these larger racks will typically measure 80”-85” wide by 110”-120” deep by 90”-95” tall. Add 24” on either side and a few feet in front so you can maneuver around it and that means the space you’ll need is a minimum 12’ wide by 13’ deep by 8’ high.
Expect to pay anywhere from $800-$1500 or more for a rack of this type once you’ve added the extension and accessories. Make sure to head over to my recommended gear page so see what rack I use and recommend. There you will find a rack you will love that won’t kill your budget either!
***There are even deeper racks out there at 48″ and beyond. While common to use and see these in a commercial gym, I think they are overkill for a home application so didn’t include them in this article. I’m guessing if you have room for one of these rigs, space is not an issue for you anyway!
Smaller rack options
Not everyone has room for a full 36″ or 48″ depth rack with a 24″extension. Some don’t even have room for a 36″ rack with no extension. Many are also dealing with the issue of low ceilings often found in basements and smaller garages. For this reason, rack manufacturers offer scaled down versions of their best racks.
These smaller versions can still be purchased in the 3″ x 3″ steel that their big brothers are made in (some models will drop to 2″ x 3″ steel), but in both shorter and less deep models. These smaller counterparts are ideal for many home gym applications where space is at a premium.
The shorter racks will shave off 10″ in height and drop to a total height of 80″. The shallower models will shrink by an entire foot and go to 24″ deep instead of 36″ or 48″ deep. The extra 10″ in height and 12″-24″ in depth mean that these smaller racks can fit in a lot of spaces their bigger brothers cannot. If you are tight on space, do not hesitate to look at these space saving options!
A smaller power rack (with no extension or attachments) will typically measure 42” wide by 24″ deep and 80” high. Adding in the width of a standard 84” bar along with room to move around the rack, that means you’ll need a space that’s 12’ wide by 7’ deep and 7’ high. That’s a big size savings over the largest models.
A squat stand is basically just the front uprights of a power rack. You lose the ability to have safety bars to spot for you. You can’t do pull ups on one. But you can squat and bench press with it (please use a spotter in this case, or see my article on other ways to lift safely by yourself). A squat stand will take up a lot less room than a full rack.
You’ll still need 10’ of room in width. That’s your 84” wide bar plus a couple feet on either side to safely load that bar. It’s the depth and height requirements that go down significantly with this type of rig. On average, you’ll only need a few feet in depth when the stand is not in use and then enough room in front of it for a bench when you are using it. As far as height goes, I’d still want at least 8’, but that’s so you can functionally squat. The rack itself will vary from 6’-8’ tall depending on the model.
A new category of rack has become more available recently. There are several options by all the regular players in the rack industry. But there is one option that shines above all others.
For this option, I really love the PRx Performance Profile Rack. You may have seen it on Shark Tank. There are several reasons I think this is the hands down best option in the compact and folding rack space.
It collapses upward, so it stays assembled. All other models have to be taken apart before folding against the wall. It comes down on little shocks so raising and lowering it is really easy.
Overall, it sets up in a fraction of the time of any other option like this. With a 1000 lb. capacity, you simply can’t go wrong.
They even offer a bench that folds up onto the wall as well. For those that are extremely tight on space, this is an absolutely ideal option!!!
When collapsed, this rack only needs a 4’ x 8’ area on your wall. When unfolded for use, you’ll need 12’ in width for the bar with safe loading space and another 6’-8’ out from the wall (room for you and your bench). This is an option that almost anyone can find space for. Those who never thought they would be able to fit or install a squat rack can now have one that takes up virtually zero space until it’s set up for use.
Other space considerations
As a last note for planning purposes, keep in mind that you’ll need room for a few more things once you add a rack of any type. The rack itself is just the start. In addition to your rack, make sure you have room for:
That’s not a ton of stuff, but for those that are tight on space, it bears keeping in mind.
Another factor in finding a place for these types of racks is your floor. Please make sure it is level. This is especially true for the squat stand. A lot of people will store these and then pull them out for use when squatting. That’s fine if you pull them out onto a level basement or garage floor. It’s definitely not fine if you pull it out on to your driveway where it’s anything but level. Setting up a squat stand on a surface that isn’t level is asking for it and the weights to tip over on you. Please don’t take that chance!!!
Your power rack or squat stand will end up being the centerpiece of your home gym. Making sure you have enough room so that it is safe and functional will be a critical step in adding one to your set up. Taking a few moments to measure, move things around, and really make a nice home for your rack will pay dividends far down the road. Hopefully this short guide has helped you do that!