Half Rack vs Full Rack

If you’re starting a home gym from scratch, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of choice you have. Especially which piece of equipment should be the centerpiece of your new gym. For the free weight training enthusiast the half rack vs full rack question is an example of such a decision.

For most people, we’d highly recommend a power cage, an adjustable bench, an Olympic barbell and some Olympic weight plates. Plus maybe even a lat tower attachment. This is a really good starting point for your home gym. As the whole set doesn’t take up a whole lot of space, and there are countless exercises you can do. Especially when you start to consider all the possible attachments for the ATX Benches. Even just a power rack and dumbbells makes a good home gym.

We’ve already spoken about the differences between the ATX racks to help you make your decision. This article will go over the difference between a half rack and full rack. It may also be helpful to brush up on your power rack terminology.

What is a power rack?

A power rack is one of the most popular pieces of equipment in any gym. And if you’ve seen any of our customers home gyms, it’s often a favourite for people setting up a gym. The reason being you can perform an entire workout with just a rack.

The notable difference between a power rack and a half rack/squat rack is that a power rack is designed for you to train inside of it, whereas a half rack is designed for you to train outside of it. More details to come.

ATX-PRX-620 Power Rack with Barbell

What can you do with a power rack?

The great thing about power racks is you can do pretty much any exercise you can possibly think of in them. Most power cages have holes drilled right the way from the bottom to the top of the uprights, meaning you can set your J-Hooks and Spotters as low or as high as you like. This allows you to do anything – from floor press to jerk recoveries.

The most common exercises to do with power racks are bench press and squats, as these are the most common exercises anyone does in the gym! But we really mean it when we say the sky is the limit, here are just a few power rack exercise ideas.

The best thing about power racks is that you don’t need a spotter to train safely, as long as you have the spotter bars set at the correct height there’s no way to get pinned by the barbell.

What is a half rack?

half rack is just like a power rack, but half of the uprights are missing. Half racks are also known as squat racks, since their only use in commercial gyms seems to be squats and barbell curls. Unlike a power rack, a half rack doesn’t give you a cage to train inside of.

ATX-HRX-810 Commercial Half Rack

What exercises can you do with a half rack?

The types of exercises you can perform with a half rack versus a power cage is pretty much identical. The only main difference is that with a half rack, you train away from the rack. This is all down to preference, you can still get spotter arms to make it equally as safe.

Is a half rack better than a power rack?

As an avid Olympic weightlifter, I find training with a half rack to be preferable over training with a power rack. This is because it’s so much easier to drop the weight rather than set it on spotter arms. Training inside the rack can also feel a bit claustrophobic, I would never do jerks inside a cage for instance – because sometimes you can’t help but take the barbell for a little stroll, and the limited space means you don’t have much wiggle room.

But for static exercises it’s all a matter of preference – there aren’t many people out there who take enough steps back before squatting for a power cage to limit them.

So unless there is some part of your training that is best suited to a half rack, it is generally recommended that you go for a power rack – providing you have the space and budget. This is more so the case with the ATX range. With four uprights as opposed to two, you have much more flexibility when using their ever growing range of attachments.

If safety is the most important aspect, then I guess the power rack could be considered a little safer. However, if you use the spotter arms correctly on a half rack, you can train safely with no issues. If you are real lazy, it is probably easier to adjust the spotter arms on a half rack vs a power rack – it is no use buying a power rack if you don’t adjust the spotters!

If you are tight on space, a half rack may be better. When you remove the spotters, you can move more freely around a squat rack if it is set up in a spare room or garage.


Either a power rack or squat rack can provide you with years of quality training providing that they are good quality and used properly. They enable you to perform many quality exercises with heavy weight in safety – without a training partner.