Wikipedia describes the power rack as:
A power cage (also known as a power rack, squat cage, or squat rack) is an item of weight training equipment designed to allow for a safe free weight workout using a barbell without the movement restrictions imposed by equipment such as the Smith machine.
Originally described as an apparatus for use with barbells, the power cage was patented in 1987 by Karl I. Mullen of Portland, Oregon. As described in his patent, and paraphrased below:
It essentially comprises four vertical posts with movable horizontal bar catchers on each side. For strength the uprights are normally linked together top and bottom thus producing a cage.
A safe free weight workout can be undertaken since dropping the weight will result in it being caught by the side bars.
A power cage can be used for a number of exercises including squat and various over-head presses. Partial bench presses, partial squats and partial deadlifts for instance are practiced in this cage.
Partial movement allows for greater weight to be used in a safe way, allowing for an overloading of muscle groups to produce greater growth.
Although less experienced individuals are often seen doing so, curling in the power rack is generally deemed inappropriate.
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The power rack is the first piece of equipment you should buy for your home gym. It will allow you to lift heavier, and most of all, lift safer.
The commercial gym I used to go to had a Hammer Strength power rack, a huge beast. When I went to the gym at 5 a.m., there was always a three- or four-guy wait for it, so sometimes I had to use the Smith Machine instead. I told myself if I ever got the opportunity to build a home gym, a power rack with an upper/lower pulley attachment would be my first purchase…..and then, NO WAITING EVER AGAIN!
There are dozens and dozens of web sites selling the powertec power rack, for about the same price, with and without shipping included, etc.
I finally found the best price (I let you know where at the end of the article) and placed my order. Unfortunately, I ordered at the busiest time of the year for exercise equipment purchasing (January, when the New Year's Resolutionists are out in full buying force) so I had to wait three agonizing weeks for my rack to be delivered.
The rack was too heavy for UPS or FedEx to deliver, so a transport company, who could only drop off at the end of my driveway, delivered the rack. The rack and pulley attachment came in four separate boxes and the total weight was 373 pounds! Remember, shipping was included in the price, so this wasn't a bad deal.
Assembly of the power rack was fairly easy; at least all of the hardware was included and of the same size . However, there were some quality control issues. Some of the steel edges needed to be deburred (sanded), and the saber spotters (chrome safety pins) were different lengths. This didn't affect their performance, however.
All of powertec's illustrations and even their promotional video on their web site showed the white numbers on the square tubing uprights facing out, away from the inside of the rack. This is how I placed mine as well. However, when you're inside the rack, you have to look around the square upright to see what number you're placing the saber spotters in. A minor inconvenience, I know, but some lifters have suggested turning the tubes around so the lettering is facing in. But others have commented that seeing the white numbers on the inside has made them lose concentration when lifting!
So I guess which direction you place the numbers is a matter of personal preference. As for me, I’m too lazy to turn mine to face in, so they're staying the way they are.
I assembled this by myself, but I could have used an extra set of hands for the assembly of the front and rear top crossbars. Just remember to start all of the bolts and just hand tighten before finalizing the assembly. You need a 17mm (¾" worked, too) socket and wrench for construction, and, as the manual states in all caps, TIGHTEN ALL BOLTS BEFORE USING THIS EQUIPMENT.
As for the assembly of the lat tower option, the illustrations in the instructions were small and somewhat hard to follow.
It did not show how one end of the cable connected and I only knew how to connect it because of what parts I had left over. One end of the cable is secured by a screw assembly and the other by one of the three ellipse hooks that were included.
This website has received a few emails asking for help with the routing of the cables thru the pulleys, so I made this drawing to help.
The rear uprights have very small threaded holes for the clear powertec plexiglass nameplate to be installed. I managed to put these uprights on backwards and had to flip them around so the threaded holes were facing in towards the middle of the rack.
Even with these minor problems, I still managed to put the whole thing together in about four hours.
The inside width of the rack is 44.5 inches (adequate) and the height is 82 inches. I have enough headroom when I do pull-ups because of my 8-foot ceilings, but other reviewers have suggested turning the front crossbar with the pull-up handles upside down if you have height issues, such as in this photo:
This puts the front cross bar pretty low, however, so just watch your head or wear a hardhat while lifting!
Even if you don't modify the front crossbar, if you're over 5' 9" and plan on doing inside the rack standing military barbell presses, you won't have the clearance. I'm 5"7" and the bar almost touches the top supports when I do these.
Overall, the rack looks nice with its gun metal finish, but the powder coating is thin and scratches easily. Not a big deal. It's also solidly built, yet I can still move it around.
As for the pull up handles, there's this great debate on some forums as to whether they are ergonomically correct, or if they just plain suck. I find them to be no problem whatsoever, but it wouldn't be a problem to fasten a straight bar across the top of the rack if you'd like. Here's one way to add a straight pull-up bar.
The rack comes with the best dip bars I've ever seen! They are well thought out and taper inward, so you can find the width that works best for you. The width varies between 18 and 27 inches, and, if you turn them around, the max width is 36 inches. They are very stable, too. Check out this video of Lee Priest doing dips on the Powertec. Lee's pretty big and the rack doesn't move:
Besides dip bars, the rack comes with a short arm curl bar, one d-handle, lat bar, iron chain, and foam pads to lock your legs under while doing lat pull-downs.
Bottom line: this is a well-made, nice looking power rack, with a great functioning high/low pulley, that will take many years of abuse.
2010 updated powertec power rack with the new Innovative Gravity Lock catches:
Most of my homemade attachments for this rack require the old, round safety spotters. Even though powertec has updated it's safties, all you need is one piece of 3/4" x 36" conduit and you can still attach the homemade attachments to this rack.
Even though Powertec has raised the price, it's still worth every penny.
Read COMMENTS or jump down to leave one.
Robert The Powertec is still available for $749 HERE. The caveat is that the rack is the new grey color, but the pulley station is the old black color. Doesn't look bad though.
Barry C. Yes, it's still available from bodybuilding.com at $749, even though the sales page says out of stock you can still get one. On Powertecs web site it's now $1000
Josh D Bodybuilding.com has the best especially with the 10% off coupon so 75$ off plus ebates 7% cash back. Lovely $ saved plus this rack is awesome.
Guest iv had this rack for 1-year now,+ im delighted with it...only down-side for me is that id much rather have had a "long-straight-bar"-at the top as a chin-up/pull-up bar...the present one is "too narrow"! as for the rack itself-im delighted with my rack-(fantastic).
Barry C. Check out this pull up bar I made for the powertec rack
Kelly Angel Who cares about looks? As long as it is sturdy as an ox, and it's functional for what you need, I think I can get a better one made for less than $200.00. After I do this, I will be asking the owner of this site permission to put my building plans on this site. This site is awesome. Please keep up the good work.
Andrew Excellent site mate! Very professional. I'm about to purchase the Powertec Power Rack and have one niggling question about the design of the Power Rack combined with the Lat Tower. Are you able to bench press from the rear supports when you have connected the Lat Tower? i.e. does the foam pad that stabilizes your legs in a lat pull down exercise obstruct your head placement when benching?
Barry C. Andrew, when the bar is placed on the rack pins, on the back supports, the olympic bar is even with my chin. I have the bench touching the foam pads, and the top of my head is also touching the pads, so there isn't a problem benching with the lat tower in place.
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Tony First I'd like to say, not sure how I stumbled upon your site, but I'm sure glad I did, this is fantastic!! Onto my question. I purchased a Powertec Power Rack about a year or so ago, but I wasn't aware of the Lat Tower Option as a package deal. Right now, Powertec is selling the Lat Tower, I believe for $450. But they also have their Powertec Functional Trainer (Cable Crossover) on sale for $499. I have no cable apparatus currently in my home gym. I was thinking of going the route of the Shape System, unless Powertec cuts me a break on the Lat Tower since I already own the Power Rack. What are your thoughts?
Barry C. Tony, Thanks for the compliment about my site!
Do you have the room for the shape system? If so, I would go with the shape system because it has:
1) Higher capacity (400lbs on each side) vs. only a 350 lb capacity on the lat tower option.
2) You can do more exercises on the shape system
3) The shape system has adjustable pulleys.
Ken Thank you for putting together such a quality site. I'm glad I found it. I'm interested in buying the powertec power rack with lat attachment and utility bench but there is one question that I cannot seem to find the answer to in my internet searches.
In an earlier post, you mention that the flat bench press places the bar at your chin level when the bench is all the way back against the lat tower knee cushions.
As I imagine this in my mind, I cannot see how incline barbell presses would be possible since the bench cannot be pushed back any further. Can you please explain to me how incline presses would be possible on the power rack?
Thank you for your help. This is the only issue keeping me from getting the rack.
Barry C. Ken, With the bench against the lat tower knee cushion, incline the bench, then place the olympic bar holders on the inside of the front uprights. You'll probably have to move the bench away from the knee cushions.When you are ready to buy, click on the link above the youtube video on this page to get the power rack at the cheapest price.
Ken Thank you for your quick reply Barry. I read elsewhere that unracking a barbell for incline presses as you describe (from front, lift off bar holders, and move the barbell in the rear direction to starting position) is not a natural motion and will torque the shoulder joints.
Does this mean that it is impossible to do an incline bench press by lifting the barbel off of the holders from above your head and moving the barbell in a forward direction to the starting point of the lift?
I've thought about putting the holders on the outside of the front uprights but then there would be no safety bars to spot you.
Would it be possible to set up the barbell holders as you suggest (inside of front uprights) but then turn the bench around so that you face the back of the machine so that the liftoff of the barbell is more natural? Thank you for your patience with my detailed questioning.
Barry C. Ken, turning the bench around so you are facing the back of the rack will work too. I'm glad you brought this up...I just set my Ironmaster super bench facing the back of the rack, and with the rack pins on the inside front of the uprights the bar is slightly behind my head...the correct way to start the incline BB press. This works with the super bench, but I don't know about other model benches.
Ken Perfect! Thank you Barry! I like the link that you have above for the cheapest price. I just sent them an e-mail asking if they ship to Hawaii. The Powertec website doesn't ship to Hawaii so I'm a little worried about being able to get this without having to pay too much in shipping. Anyway, thank you. I have been searching for this answer for months now and finally have it!
rich I also use the ironmaster bench with the powertec rack, and at SOME angles, it is even possible to do the incline press with the bench facing forward and the rack pins on the interior of the rear posts as you would a flat bench press. Depends on your own height as well as the angle you're trying to work.
Nathan I know most people can not perform standing shoulder presses on the inside of the rack but can you do the exersise on the out side were the bar holders come out thanks love your site buy the way took your advise on the new grips and the strength training anatomy book.
Barry C. Nathan, You can do shoulder presses on the outside of the rack, but you won't have the spotting bars to catch the bar if you fail on the lift. But, when you fail on a shoulder press, its easy enough to put the bar back on the rack pins. It took me a little while to get used to new grips gloves, but now I won't use anything else. Another good book is Chad Waterbury's Huge in a Hurry
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Homemade power rack. Build your own and save $.