Total Shape is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission. Learn more.

Power Rack vs. Half Rack (Pros, Cons, and Differences)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico
Last updated: January 31, 2023

One of the first things bodybuilders head for after a warm-up routine is the weight rack. And having one of these in a home gym can transform how much workout time you get to do on your muscle mass.

But deciding whether half or full racks are better for a garage gym will kick off quite a debate.

So our team reached out to 30 other personal fitness coaches, and we visited dozens of home gyms to see if there was a way to settle the half-rack vs full-rack debate.

Here’s what we found.

Quick Summary

  • Power racks are often referred to as full racks, and they allow athletes to safely do weight exercises with barbells without the need for a spotter.
  • Half racks have a similar configuration to a power rack, but they typically are less than half the size but still offer a great range of workout options.
  • While a half squat rack might be cheaper, choosing between the two shouldn’t just come down to budget, as there are some limitations to be aware of.

What Is the Difference Between a Half Rack and a Power Rack?

Full rack and half rack in isolated background

The main difference between the half rack and the full power rack is in the overall size of the metal cage structure.

With full racks, you’ll be able to stand inside the frame to do squats, while a half rack won’t give you enough space to do this.

However, there are very few exercises that you won’t be able to do in a half rack compared to a full one.

It comes down to how you do them and whether you’ll need a spotter [1].

With a full power rack set up, you’ll find safety bars connecting the front to the back of the frame.

You can set these up at different heights for your preferred bench press and squat setups.

With some half-rack configurations, you won’t have those safety bars coming out to the front, so you would still want a spotter for doing heavy squats.

“Not only does a spotter provide a safety net, but also may help you lift more and feel better about your workload.”

- Heather Black, CPT at

Pros and Cons of the Full Power Rack

A fit person doing squats in full rack

The big advantage of a full power rack is that it will support a lot more weight and allow you to do your workouts inside the power cage.

I also find that a power rack will have more safety features and bars for both squats and bench presses [2].

The other thing I would mention is that a typical power rack will also have a pull-up bar, which gives you even more flexibility for your training.

However, all this comes at the cost of requiring a lot more space, and most of these racks will need to be bolted to the floor, requiring some additional setup.

  • Allows for maximum weight loads and typically has plenty of weight storage pins
  • Great squat stand setup with safety arms, so you don’t need a spotter
  • Unlike a half power rack, these can be a free-standing setup
  • A full power rack will take up a lot of space
  • You might need to drill holes in the floor to properly secure a power rack

Pros and Cons of the Half Rack

Performing bench press with a spotter in a half rack

As the name suggests, these are about half the size of full power racks, and most of them will attach to a wall for added stability. You can use them for squats and bench presses.

Half racks tend to work great if you don’t have much space in your home, but you need to be more careful with your final decision to ensure you won’t need a spotter.

Two of the downsides with the half rack are that some of them don’t have the best safety arms for doing squats.

And you’ll also find that the maximum load capacity isn’t as high, which might impact rack pulls and heavy squats.

  • Space-saving design still allows you to do squats and bench presses
  • Half racks are a lot less expensive, making them suitable for limited budgets
  • Much easier and faster to set up and install in your gym at home
  • Some half racks can have quite a limited maximum weight load capacity
  • You typically need to attach these to a wall to provide safe support


Can You Lift Inside a Half Rack?

No, there is usually not enough space to lift inside half racks. What they allow you to do is stand slightly outside, which is a bit different from normal squat racks. But with the right safety bars, you can still work with heavy weights.

Can You Get Big With Just a Power Rack?

Yes, you can get big with just power racks. They allow you to do weight training for practically all muscle groups by using them as squat stands and even standard bench training setups while also safely doing overhead presses.

Deciding Between the Racks

When trying to make half rack vs full power rack decisions for a home gym, I would generally advise people to get a full-size rack.

They tend to have better safety features and offer more flexibility, especially for heavy-duty lifting.

Our team has previously researched and tested dozens of these racks, including wall-mounted ones, and you can see our recommended budget power rack.

Unless you have significantly limited space, I think most of our readers will see far better muscle gains this way.


Was this article helpful?

About The Author

You May Also Like

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *