There has been a lot of confusion regarding squat rack, squat stand, power rack, and power cages. Some people even use the words interchangeably. If you too have been struggling to figure out which one you need, our blog describing the difference between them will help you understand each one’s use so you can buy accordingly.
In a hurry? Here are our top picks!
Here, we would sum up their difference in one sentence: power cages or racks usually have two or four connected legs meant to provide you ultimate stability and safety. Squat stands, on the other hand, are meant to help you rack and unrack them.
Here is their detailed comparison:
|Criteria||Squat stand||Squat rack/power rack/power cage|
|Description||Individual, free-standing structures that can be adjusted horizontally and vertically.||It is a four (and sometimes two) legged cage. The legs are joined. You can adjust the safety points vertically. Horizontal adjustment not possible.|
|Uses||Meant for squats but can be used for benching too||Can be accessorized to create a proper home gym setup including lat pulls, benching, weight lifting, and much more|
|Target audience||Causal weight trainers who wouldn’t be lifting heavy weights any time soon||Bodybuilders, serious weight trainers who are into competitive sports and often lift heavy weights|
|Price||Much inexpensive as compared to squat cages||They are heavy-duty home gym equipment, so obviously they are priced appropriately.|
|Portability and storage||The individual units can be stored and carried to any room or outdoors as and when required. You can store it at any corner of your room when not in use.||A decent power cage can weigh at least 150lbs. So, it is not portable. It requires a dedicated space.|
|Safety and stability||They are individual units. There are no bottom or top stability bars. Squat stands are just meant for holding the weight.||Power cages are much more stable. They have a wide base and some even have multiple stability bars. They are designed to absorb the shock and take the weight when you miss it.|
As obvious from the above comparison table, squat stands are not as stable as the racks and the cages. This doesn’t mean they are not worth buying. Remember that squat stands are only meant to rack and unrack your loaded barbell. Chances are they could trip over unless you keep the weights correctly, but such cases are very rare. They do their job fairly well.
If you are practicing for competitive sports, buy squat cages instead. This is because you will be working with heavy weights and you cannot take a chance with your safety. Here are some of the top-selling squat racks/ power cages for your home gym.
If you are not too much into heavy weights, have space constraints, and need an equipment that has a small footprint, below are some of the top squat stands that you can buy for your home gym.
Are squat stands safe?
It depends on what and how you want to use them.
Squat stands are not as stable and reliable as half racks and power cages that have two/four posts connected to a base and sometimes a rear stabilizer bar. Plus, they are meant to be portable, so you can’t anchor them to the floor to increase their stability.
But, that doesn’t mean squat stands are unsafe and unreliable. Just make sure you don’t use them for holding a crazy amount of weight (unless you are using a competition-grade product). Also, do not throw/smash your weights on the j-hooks while reracking the barbell. Squat stands are meant to be used gently and carefully.
Can you make squat stands safer?
Squat stands are meant to be used in only those circumstances where using a half rack or power cage is not possible. Unfortunately, they are not designed to accommodate many basic safety add-ons and accessories such as spotter arms, rear stability bar, safety straps, pin and pipe safeties, pull up bar, etc.
However, here are a few things that you can do to make them safer for use, especially if you are training in your home gym without a spotter:
- Weigh down the stands using bumper plates or sandbags. But, make sure they do not lie in your way.
- Rack and re-rack the barbell gently instead of being rough as you would do if you use a full-size power cage. If you use it roughly, the stand may tip over.
- Respect your squat stand’s weight capacity and train within its limit. Going heavy will increase the chances of wobble.
How can you secure cheap squat stands?
As mentioned above, the only way you can secure squat stands is by weighing them down but make sure you do not let the weight plates interfere in your way.
Why do olympic lifters use squat stands?
Most of the Olympic lifts require you to pick your barbell from your shoulder level. And, in the end, you may drop the barbell on the floor or place it back on the j-hooks of the stand/rack. Squat stands serve this purpose very well.
Plus, the independent stands let you adjust your stance as per your comfort or the need for a specific workout. This is why many Olympic lifters use squat stands.
How far apart should squat stands be?
There is no set distance. You can place them as close or as far as you want. Just make sure there is enough room for bar movement so you don’t feel cramped. Also, do not place them so far apart that you find it difficult to place the barbell back on the stands.
Who makes the best competition squat stands?
Rogue Fitness, and Fringe Sport manufacture high-end squat stands that can be used by athletes and bodybuilders. REP Fitness too manufactures competition-grade products but it doesn’t sell independent squat stands. It sells only half racks and full racks.
Can you build your own squat stands?
There are numerous tutorials available online that claim that you can make your own squat stand/squat rack by using some basic supplies from your nearby hardware store. Those DIY videos are so amazing and convincing that you might actually get tempted to try it out.
But, DIY squat stands are not worth the effort. They are unsafe for use unless designed and created by a skilled carpenter. We are totally against DIYing any home gym equipment because the chances of getting injured are too high.
Why do some squat stands cost the same as power racks?
The price of the squat stand or a rack depends primarily on the quality of the raw materials used, the versatility it offers, and the overall build quality and safety of use. So, obviously a Hulkfit full cage will be cheaper than Titan or Fringe Sport squat stands because the raw material and overall build quality is just above average.
In short, you pay for the quality.
#1 - Rogue S4 2.0 squat stand
Quick Review Video
What we think
Our list of best squat stands would be incomplete without having a Rogue’s product included in it.
The Roue S-4 squat stands are heavy-duty products meant for advanced training sessions. They are significantly more expensive than the other squat stands we have listed here but, if you are lifting heavy and training hard, these stands are going to support all your needs, keeping you safe all along. They have 2″ X 3″ 11 gauge steel uprights and the H-shaped bases are made of 7 gauge steel. The uprights have Westside hole spacing in the benching area and 2″ gap in the rest part. The j-cups are pretty decent and can last for years of rough use.
The only major issue we have with the Rogue S-4 squat stands is that they do not have weight pegs where we can add our plates to weigh them down. But, that won’t be necessary because these stands weigh 130lbs.
- Highly stable and durable
- Offers best value for money
- Has triangular plates that connect the uprights with the base for ensuring extra stability
- Pricier because you will have to pay for shipping too
Heavy-duty squat stands recommended for advanced training sessions
We are giving this a rating of 5.0 out of 5.0.
#2 - Titan T-3 Series Independent Squat Stand
Quick Review Video
What we think
If you are looking for a heavy-duty, durable, yet affordable squat stand for hardcore training sessions, the Titan Fitness T3 series squat stands are one of the best options you have. Since these racks belong to the T3 series, they are made of high-quality material that is meant for intermediate to advanced training purposes. These stands have a pretty stable, H-shaped base just like the Rogue squat stands, so stability shouldn’t be an issue. They are made of 2″ X 3″ 11 gauge steel frame and rated for 1000 lbs. A pair of j-hooks is included with them and the manufacturer also sells an optional pullup bar, which we don’t recommend.
The only thing that we don’t like about the Titan T3 series squat stands is poor packaging and shipping due to which the product often arrives dented and scratched.
- Suitable for intermediate and advanced trainers
- Stable H-shaped frame
- High weight-bearing capacity
- Affordably-priced portable squat stands
- Poor shipping and packaging
2"X3" 11 gauge squat rack meant for rough use by intermediate to advanced trainers. Not ridiculously priced like other competitive products.
We are giving this a rating of 4.5 out of 5.0.
#3 - Fringesport Independent Squat Stands
What we think
Fringesport squat stands are one of the heavy-duty products meant for people who love to lift heavy. They have a standard 2” X 3” 11 gauge steel frame with a pretty stable base that helps minimize the wobble as much as possible. The rubber feet and triangular gussets that connect the uprights with the base provide additional stability and prevent the issues of skidding and slipping.
The Fringesport squat stands come with a pair of j-hooks, which are well-built and can handle up to 1000lbs of weight. The benching zone has westside 1” hole spacing and the rest part has a 2” gap between the holes.
The quality of these stands matches with Rogue’s, so you can be rest assured that they will never disappoint you.
- Have transportation wheels so you can easily move it away when not needed
- 1000lbs weight capacity
- 2”X 3 “ 11 gauge steel frame meant for heavy use
- None as such but it could have been cheaper
A heavy-duty product suitable for athletes and fitness freaks.
We are giving this a rating of 4.5 out of 5.0.
#4 - Bells Of Steel Squat Stands 3.0
What we think
Bells of Steel squat stands are made of 12 gauge 2.3” X 2.3” steel frame. They are rated for 600lbs, making them suitable for most home gym owners except those who are athletes, bodybuilders, or are in a profession where they have to train hard and train heavy.
The build quality is excellent with proper welds and Westside hole spacing in the benching zone. Each of the stands weighs 36.5lbs, which isn’t impressive but works for people who do not intend to lift more than 400lbs of weight. There are caster wheels that you can use to move the stands away when not needed.
The only thing that we don’t like about the Bells of Steel squat stands 3.0 is the non-standard frame dimension, which is 2.3” X 2.3”. It may make it difficult for you to find replacements. However, this issue isn’t really a dealbreaker.
- Has a wide base for extra stability
- Comes with caster wheels for portability
- Excellent option for home gym owners who love to train hard
- Has non-standard frame size so it is difficult to find compatible accessories and replacements
One of the best affordable squat stands suitable for most home gym owners.
We are giving this a rating of 4.3 out of 5.0.
#5 - Valor Fitness BD-9 squat stands
What we think
If you are a beginner or a recreational lifter looking for a decent but affordable squat stand for your compact home gym, you can check out the Valor FitnessBD-9 squat stands. They are made of 2” X 2” 13 gauge steel frames and are rated for 350lbs in total. However, we wouldn’t recommend them to anyone who wants to lift more than 200lbs.
Valor Fitness BD-9 squat stands come with weight horns and you need to add weight plates to them to ensure good stability. You will also get a pair of j-hooks, a pair of barbell holders for bench press, and a pair of safety spotters. These add-ons are, however, of average quality, as expected from a low-cost product like this. The bench hooks especially are unsafe for use and must be removed/replaced.
- One of the most affordable squat stands for beginners
- Comes with weight pegs for weighing it down
- Comes with spotter arms and an additional pair of hooks for the benching zone
- Works as expected provided you stick to the recommended weight limit
- Needs to be weighed down for use
- The hooks for the benching area are poorly designed and shouldn’t be used
One of the most affordable squat stands for beginners and recreational trainers
We are giving this a rating of 4 out of 5.0.
There are not many independent squat stands available. This is because they are not too versatile. But, squat stands are good for compact spaces, which is why people still prefer them over power cages that require dedicated spaces.
Out of all the available options, we selected these ones because they are stable and safe for home use. However, please note that they are not as safe as the squat cages or power racks.
Here are some safety tips that you need to follow to prevent injuries and tripping hazards:
- Unlike squat racks, it takes time to get used to independent stands. Initially, you may not be able to align them in a line or adjust the holes correctly. So, do not rush. Practice with an empty barbell for some time. Use weights only when you are confident that the alignment is correct and spotters are in a comfortable position.
- Never throw weights roughly on the stand, as it could trip over. Place the loaded bar back gently, even though your legs have started to tremble. This is why we have mentioned above that heavy weight lifters must invest in a half rack or full cage instead of squat stands.
- Never indulge in ‘ego lifting’. Go slow and start lifting only half of the weight. Increase your weight slowly and give yourself ample time to get used to the independent stand.
- Buy a pair of weightlifting shoes, even though you are using light or medium weight. Weight lifting shoes are meant to improve your contact with the floor and your overall stability. They will help you handle the weights properly, so don’t have to slam them on the stand. Here are some of the best weightlifting shoes that we have found for you.
To avoid common squatting mistakes that could cause injuries, do read our blog on how to squat correctly.