If you’re a serial lifter, this quarantine might be posing some challenges in terms of lifting heavy and staying in shape. If you’re a serious gym rat you know that even a week off can set you back substantially when it comes to progress, let alone a few months inside.
If you’ve got the space, money and dedication you might already be considering setting up a home power rack. In this article we’re going to walk you through the process of setting up a safe power rack in your home gym that will keep you in shape without destroying your floor or costing thousands of dollars.
Please note that we are not experts and any equipment you buy and use is at your own risk.
We’re going to cover:
- Where to put your power rack at home
- Where to buy your weight rack
- How much weight to buy and which plates to get
- Protecting your floors and foundation
- Other notes and helpful equipment
If you’ve ever been curious about adding a power rack or weight rack to your home gym repertoire but intimidated by the weight, don’t be. With a few steps you can add a serious amount of weight lifting equipment to your home.
Where to Put Your Power Rack
Chances are you’ve already got an idea of where you want to place your power rack, but here’s our advice when it comes to placement of this heavy machinery.
If you have a choice and can put it on the ground floor of your house, apartment building or condo do so. If you can put it in your garage, even better. Concrete will work better than a hardwood floor, but any solid floor will do. As long as you’re not ridiculous with your workouts, you won’t be punching a hole in your floor anytime soon.
Be mindful of neighbors and how thin your walls and floor are. If you’ve got sensitive neighbors, I would put it in a place further away from them since the clanging of plates and bar against the rack does make noise. I would also think about storage and the amount of equipment you’re probably going to accumulate. After the rack, bench and set of plates you’re taking up quite a bit of room, so you’ll want everything to be in a part of the house that’s out of the way.
Where to Buy Your Rack
Power racks are a bit harder to come by right now during the pandemic, but there are still some available online for purchase. The expensive part, unfortunately, is shipping since everything is so heavy.
Here are a few power racks available for purchase online that can be sent right to you. There’s most likely going to be some assembly required but thankfully each one comes with instructions and there are plenty of online tutorials to walk you through it.
Fitness Reality 810XLT Super Max Power Cage
This power rack cage from Fitness Reality can hold up to 800lbs with a large walk-in space that’s great for moving side to side.
It’s got 2″ x 2″ steel frame construction, chrome safety bars and up to 19 adjustable heights for varying sized lifters and different movements. The rack is compatible with 7′ Olympic barbells and a user height up to 6’4″. It’s also got multi-position grip bars up top for chin ups, pull ups and other bodyweight strengthening exercises.
HulkFit 1000-Pound Capacity Multi-Function Adjustable Power Cage
This power cage is the ultimate power lifter’s paradise. It’s made of 11 gauge steel and has a 1000lb weight capacity. The 2.5in x 2.5in frame offers stability and support throughout your workout, so you can lift heavy knowing you’re covered. It’s a free standing unit with walk-in space and rubber feet that grip the floor and keep the whole thing in place. The front rack includes a pull-up bar for extra exercises, and the cross bars can be used for resistance band training or other accessories.
This weight rack is also equipped with safety bars, J-hooks, two dip bars and a bonus set of j-hooks.
Type of Weight and How Much to Get
How much weight to get depends on your current lifting routine and your strength training goals. When lifting with a barbell on a rack you add weight via plates that stack next to one another. The average person only needs two 45 pound plates, two 25 pound plates, two 10 pound plates and two 5 pound plates. This is enough to challenge you and give you enough to work with when doing different exercises where you most likely have varying capacities.
If you’re a larger fella who’s used to heavier weight, adding extra 45 pound plates or even 35 pound plates should suffice. No matter what, you’re going to want to add safeties as well to your collection. These clips hold the plates in place on the bar and let you lift much heavier than you otherwise would be able to for fear of them slipping off and, god forbid, punching a hole in the floor or smashing a toe. We have a whole article available on weight lifting clips here where you can find our picks for which ones to buy and why.
A note about the material of the plates: Cast iron plates are the cheapest option but are harder to maneuver and feel less secure to drop after a deadlift. Bumper plates are just as heavy but bounce when they hit the floor and are designed for more dynamic lifts because they’re easier to maneuver. If you’re planning to do power cleans, hang cleans, push presses, split squats or anything overhead you’ll want bumper plates. They are more expensive, but you’ll feel safer using them.
We’ve included our picks for weighted plates and safeties below. Most fit with your standard Olympic barbell, our recommendation for you when building your at-home power rack. However, it’s important to pay attention to the diameter size of the plate’s middle — some are 1-inch and some are 2-inch, 2-inch accommodates Olympic barbells whereas the 1-inch will only work for smaller barbells or adjustable dumbbells.
CAP Barbell 5-Pound Standard Grip Plate
This CAP Barbell grip plate is made of solid cat iron and coated in black enamel to prevent peeling and chipping during use. This plate has a 1-inch hole in the middle that accommodates most standard bars. These plates have a 3-grip design for easy and safe handling while loading and unloading your weights during your workout.
Hampton Olympic 10lb Grip Plate
Hampton is known for making high-quality plates that are available for a lot less than other retailers. These grip plates are made with virgin rubber that’s high-quality and long-lasting so you’ll be lifting it for years to come. This plate fits all Olympic barbells or any bar with a 2-inch hole. They’re designed with comfort in mind, each one has an easy handle grip for moving it on and off the bar and they’ve got a semi-gloss professional finish. The weight size is easy to read on each plate and storing them stacked on one another is easy.
XMark Olympic Plates Set
If you’re looking to make one purchase and get all your plates in one go, this is the way to do it. This set from XMark Fitness includes two 2.5lb weights, four 5lb weights and two 10lb weights totaling 45 lbs of rubber coated olympic plates. These plates are designed to be used with an olympic barbell, and have a classic sought-after design. They’re made of premium all-natural virgin rubber and solid-steel precision inserts that allow the plates to slide freely on the bar but stay stable at the same time. These plates are built to maintain their color through years of use, and are available in larger, heavier sets as well.
CAP Barbell 2-Inch 25lb Plates
This CAP Barbell 2-inch plate comes in a wide range of weights including 25lbs. These plates are made of cast iron with a durable, black enamel finish that protects both the weight and your floor during deadlifts and weight transfers. The 2-inch hole in the middle fits with most Olympic barbells, and each weight features easy-to-grip sides that give you a secure hold when moving the weight around.
HulkFit Olympic 2-Inch Rubber 35lb Rubber Plate
This brand has color coded Olympic plates ranging in weight from 15lbs to 35lbs available to purchase on Amazon. They’re high-density rubber plates with solid stainless steel inserts which is exactly what you want in your home gym. You want your plates to hold weight but bounce when dropped slightly, hence the rubber. These plates have a 2″ inner ring that fits any Olympic barbell and can also be used on 2″ dumbbell bars. This 35lb plate is sold as a single plate, but you can also buy their plates in pairs.
Hampton Olympic Rubber Grip 45lb Plates
These Hampton Olympic Grip plates have both an attractive and functional design with easy-to-grip handles for picking them up off the floor without hurting yourself. This particular design is available in three different materials including iron, rubber and urethane-covered. Each one provides protection for your floor and prevents scratches on your other equipment.
How to Protect Your Floors and Foundation
Now, the good news is most modern up-to-code apartment complexes and homes will be able to handle the weight of your power rack and weights, so there’s no need to worry about the floor buckling. The question now becomes how to protect your floor from scratches and damage that may come from the weights, especially if you’re renting.
One of the most important things to remember is that you want stability and sturdiness underneath your feet when lifting. You don’t want a squishy mat that’s going to give way, and you want something on the thicker side.
Heavy-duty lifters will advocate for horse stall mats — they come in smaller cuts so you can fit them in a standard room and buy them individually depending on how much space you have. You can get them on Amazon or at most hardware or tractor supply stores.
Rubber-Cal Shark Tooth Heavy Duty Mat
These mats have high contents of EPDM so it’s perfect for flooring in your indoor or outdoor space. They’re super protective and made domestically with recycled tires. They’re durable and weather resistant just like the material they’re made from, and are completely anti-slip and anti-fatigue, creating a safe environment for hard work.
CAP Barbell Olympic 2-Inch Weight Rack
Now that you’re accumulating a weight plate collection you’re going to need a place to put them. In order to protect your floor and keep them out of the way we recommend a weight rack, like this one from CAP Barbell. It’s made of durable steel and has a 500lb weight capacity, strong enough to hold all of your plates and then some. It also has a powder-coated finish and can hold standard Olympic plates with a 2-inch diameter. The makers recommend storing small weights on the middle weight racks, larger weights on the side with two prongs and medium weights on the three-pronged side. Overall, make sure it’s even and you’ll be good to go.
If you’re lifting in an apartment and you’re not on the first floor you might want cushions nearby in order to deadlift or lift heavier weights and have something to place them down on. In a regular gym, you’d drop the weight on the floor and let it bounce — but since that’s not available this is the next best thing.
Grab a few of these heavy-duty cushions for absorbing the dropped weight so you can make the moves you want to in order to reach your goals without disrupting a downstairs neighbor or hurting yourself.
Arlee Pad Seat Cushion
These cushions are made for your seat but will do perfectly fine in the gym as they’re filled with premium memory foam and have a non-skid backing to keep it in place so it’s there when you need it. They’ve got a durable design and are fully tufted so they won’t flatten over time. They also come in a pack of two so you’ve got one for either side of the barbell.
Other Notes and Helpful Equipment
Having a power rack at home can be incredibly convenient and serve as motivation for reaching your weight lifting and strength training goals. That being said, it’s always a good idea to practice safety best practices while working out, and if you’re going to push it to your max it’s a good idea to have a spotter nearby.
Another great product to have around is a solid workout bench that you can lift from and use for stretching, smaller arm workouts and resting between sets.
PASYOU Adjustable Weight Bench
This adjustable workout bench has seven different positions available depending on your routine and strength training goals. It can hold up to 500lbs with a heavy-duty steel construction underneath and a high-density foam padding up top that’s ergonomically designed to support and comfort during tough lifting sessions. This bench will come nearly fully assembled equipped with a back support tube and foam rollers for holding your feet in place.
Tourna Rosin Bottle Grip
Rosin is a chalk alternative that’s cleaner and easier to use than typical chalk bags, and this bottle of rosin is designed for easy disposal onto your hands. It dries sweat instantly and has a simple twist and shake bottle design so you can apply it quickly between sets. The bottle also closes securely so there’s no accidental mess.