Full Rack vs Half Rack (Pros, Cons, and Differences)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico | Co-Founder & Marketing Director
Last updated: November 29, 2023
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There can be no gym setting without a squat rack for someone who means business. And for that reason, the battle between a full rack vs. half rack keeps raging.

As a fitness trainer with over eight years of experience, I've used both a full and a half squat rack, and I can attest that there are some differences between the two, especially the types of exercise performed on them.

I went through a vast amount of research and chatted with my fellow gym trainers to give a more elaborate and precise distinction between the two.

However, full racks are expensive, and you cannot perform specific exercises with half racks. In that case, consider trying one of these best Smith machines.

Quick Summary

  • While the full rack is costly, it does give greater safety precautions. Half squat racks, on the contrary, not only save money but also solve space problems.
  • Half racks are adequate for basic compound motions such as squat stand, bench press, and overhead press. In contrast, a full power rack may become a completely functional gym station.
  • A full power rack is made up of four vertical steel tubes that form a cage-like structure. On the other hand, the half-rack comprises two vertical steel columns used to rack the bar and connect safety arms.

Full Rack vs Half Rack: Overview

Man lifting bar on a full rack

Full rack

Regarding gym equipment, power racks, often known as "full power racks" or "squat stand cages," are the gold standard.

There are several reasons why a full rack is an ideal choice in any power rack guide.

These squat racks contain four vertical supports (up to six in some instances) fastened to a firm (metal) base and top.

The J-hooks guarantee a handy variable-height rack to rest your barbell on.

The two adjustable "safety catchers" (horizontal supports) running down the rack's sides offer a fail-safe if you drop the load or lose your balance.

The full power rack is an excellent choice if you have enough room in your home gym and want reliable and adaptable equipment.

It's designed to survive for years of consistent usage. It offers various lower and upper body exercises, such as:

  • Deadlifts [1]
  • Chin-ups
  • Squat stand [2]
  • Hanging leg raises
  • Overhead presses [3]
  • Rack pulls
  • Barbell lunges

"There is little doubt that, while a half rack may be made safer in various ways, a full rack is intrinsically safe. It's an excellent option for rookie lifters who don't know how to squat stand and may compromise their posture and have let unpredictably go of the bar."

- David Kiesling, Doctor of Medicine

Half Rack

Half rack bar

As the name implies, a half-rack is half of a power rack.

A good half-rack has two posts rather than four (or six) vertical posts.

These posts will usually be attached to a sturdy foundation, but there will be no top.

The half-rack, like the full rack, features adjustable J-cups and bars that let you alter the height of the bar, in addition to two horizontal "safety catchers" that act as a fail-safe if you slip or lose control of the weight.

"Consider a squat rack a smaller version of a full rack. A squat rack may be modified and is an excellent first investment if capacity and money are constraints."

- Olivier Poirier, Fitness Trainer

Woman lifting weights with a half rack

Any weight bench may be fitted within a quality power rack, increasing the variety of workouts in your home gym. However, this does not indicate that this fitness equipment is inevitably the winner.

A full rack may accommodate a variety of workouts, and some even serve as pull-up bars.

You'll discover that you may perform various weight training exercises inside one, such as deadlifts, lunges, barbell lifts, the squat stand, and others.

The usual guideline is that if you can do it at a gym with a spotter, you can do it at home with a power rack.

Because a half rack appears smaller than a power rack, it cannot accommodate as many workouts.

This is a critical reason for supporting power racks in the half-rack vs. full-rack discussion.

A half rack can support:

  • Weighted lunges
  • Squats
  • Chest presses
  • Bench presses [4]

Some half racks contain barbell supports; however, not all of them. In certain circumstances, these supports are available as an optional extra that you must pay for.

Full Rack vs Half Rack: Pros and Cons

Full Rack Pros and Cons

Even though it's an incredible piece of equipment, a full squat rack has pros and cons. Let's look at them closely.

  • More training variety - a power rack allows you to perform considerably more workouts
  • A power rack serves as a human spotter
  • Lifting weights when inside one is safe
  • These items of exercise equipment are highly durable and of excellent quality
  • A full squat rack takes up a lot of room in a home gym
  • If there is insufficient clearance, the top bars of the full rack may cause damage to your walls
  • Your available workout space may be limited

Half Rack Pros and Cons

The half squat rack suits both powerlifters and newbies but has its pros and cons.

  • In the home gym, a half rack takes up less room
  • They are less costly
  • When it pertains to barbell exercises, you have greater leeway
  • You can workout more readily outside of the half rack
  • They are occasionally composed of a less durable metal than power racks
  • A half-squat rack can only be used for a limited amount of workouts
  • There are no protection bars; however, they may be available separately

Half Rack Vs Full Rack: Differences

Hand holding a bar on a half rack

Here we distinguish the two types of equipment and why they are the better option for you.

1. Width and Size

As you may expect, a full power rack is much larger machinery than a half rack.

A full rack is frequently broader and longer, taking up more floor area. It could also be taller (though this may vary with the model type).

While this is never an issue for someone with a big backyard, cellar, or garage to turn into a gym, it is a significant worry for home weight trainers with limited space.

Full-size power racks are typically 4 feet wide, 4 plus feet long, and 7-8 feet tall.

They might not fit on a low-ceilinged floor, and they're certainly not the type of equipment you'd want to have lying around in your sitting room or office corner. They require a separate training area!

2. Cost

Money next to weights

Given the names—half rack vs. full rack—you'd expect the half rack would be half the price.

A half rack may cost 60-70% of a full rack.

And you're still receiving a well-made, durable metal piece of machinery, but it's a little less expensive.

In terms of value, a full rack is nearly always a superior alternative if you have the room.

3. Weight

Note that the squat rack is solid metal (usually stainless steel); therefore, it will be hefty.

A full-sized power rack may weigh roughly 200 pounds but can weigh up to 350 pounds or more.

Heavier squat racks are more robust and last longer, although there are also types that employ lighter materials (such as aircraft-grade aluminum rather than steel) that are still quite sturdy.

You can't only worry about the rack; you also need to consider your weight and the barbell's load.

That's a lot of weight in one area if you're a 200-pound weightlifter squatting an Olympic barbell filled with 200 pounds.

You might do major damage to the floor if you are not on solid concrete (which is why most people turn their basements or garage into a gym since they can handle the weight).

A half rack carries somewhat less weight. Because there are just two vertical pillars and the base, the rack will be around half the weight of a power rack.

They're a better option if you search for machinery that can be used on less-solid floors (like your patio/deck or an upstairs room).

4. Stability

Half rack image zoomed in

This is the most important distinction that drives many consumers to choose the heavier, more expensive, bigger full rack over a half rack.

A half rack's foundation makes it an excellent piece of hardware for sustaining weight.

You may rack the barbell with confidence that it will not tilt, shake, or fall over—they are engineered to provide weight stability.

The problem only occurs when you attempt to perform exercises like pull-ups, hanging leg lifts, chin-ups, or kip-ups utilizing the upper bar/built-in pull-up bar.

It's simple physics: your weight can weaken the base because you're so far up. You'll notice the half-rack shifts/wobbles when performing these movements.

5. Ease Of Use

Squat racks are made simple to use and allow you to lift easily.

Half racks are smaller, making it more challenging to maneuver around them, although both half racks and full power racks are simple to operate.

6. Maintenance & Repair

Powder spraying over weights

If you choose a high-quality model, full and half racks are simple to maintain.

To clean your home gym equipment, wash them down with a moist towel and inspect them once every month to ensure no damage.

Because half racks are meant to hold less weight, there is a little greater danger of breakage from overloading it; however, this is extremely unlikely if appropriately used.

In terms of maintenance, there is no discernible distinction between the two kinds of squat racks.

7. Durability

A decent-quality weight rack, whether half or full, will be sturdy and should withstand heavy use.

The construction quality and brand will influence the rack's lifespan. If you're picky, you can obtain a decent, long-lasting full or half-power rack.

Due to the way they are made, full racks have a stronger body, which means they may endure for years even if they are heavily used. On the other hand, half racks are less resilient and will not last as long.

With a power rack, four (or six) sturdy supports, and a top and base that lock the "cage" form securely, you'll never tilt or wobble a millimeter, regardless of how hard you are swinging on the top pull-up bar.

These are the distinctions between the two; otherwise, they are almost similar in every aspect that counts.

You can complete the same number of workouts on a half rack or even a full rack, and they're still intended to support your weight and provide a fail-safe (the "safety arms") if you fall or lose the weight.

Full racks and half racks are excellent to utilize in your home gym— it's a matter of determining which best matches your needs.


What Is the Purpose of a Half Rack?

The purpose of a half rack is to function as a spotter, allowing you to lift weights safely. It is also a sturdy platform for several workouts like bench press, squat stand, and pull-ups.

Should You Bolt Down a Half Rack?

Yes, you should bolt down a half rack, as squat racks should always be fastened before usage. If it can't be bolted down, ensure the rack is heavily weighted and has a broad base for stability.

What Do You Put Under a Power Rack?

You put an interlocking mat under a power rack, which can be either high-density EVA foam or rubber.


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26840440
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6050697/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9354811/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31567719/
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