Half Rack Vs Full Rack – Differences Compared for Lifting

If you're interested in setting up or enhancing your home gym, then investing in a lifting rack is the way to do it. Choosing the right lifting rack can be a challenge, especially if you're on the fence between half rack vs full rack. 

What does this mean? Well, there are two different types of lifting racks that you can set up in your home gym. Some people prefer a half rack for its compact size, while others refuse to work out on anything less than a full rack. 

What are the differences? Which one is better? In a competition between the half rack vs full power rack, which one wins?

Read on to find out the answers to these questions and more. 

Half Rack Vs Full Rack

What’s A Half Rack?

Rugged Commercial Half Rack

In order to determine which is better between half rack vs full rack, let's first focus on the half rack.

To put it simply, a half rack is a piece of workout equipment that’s significantly less wide than a full rack.

It consists of a solid base with two metal bars that extend up to the top. In most cases, those bars connect at the top by a fourth bar, which provides additional stability.

When someone lifts weights in a home gym, they more than likely don’t have a safety spotter present. This spotter would catch the weights should something go wrong, keeping the lifter safe in the process.

A half rack has small bars on the front of it that can catch the barbell and other weights, acting as your own personal spotter. These bars are essential for preventing injuries from occurring.

Recommended Half Rack Exercises

Now you might be wondering, what types of exercises can you do with a half rack? 

Since a half rack is smaller than a full rack, it isn’t designed to handle as many exercises. This is one of the main arguments in favor of full racks in the half rack vs full rack debate.

A half rack can provide enough support to do things like lunges and squats with weights, as well as bench presses and chest presses. Although not all of them do, some half racks have barbell supports. In some cases, these supports come as an additional option that you’ll have to pay extra for.

Half Rack Pros & Cons

There are some pros and cons to half racks, including: 

Benefits

  • A half rack takes up less space in your home gym
  • They are less expensive
  • You have more flexibility when it comes to barbell exercises
  • You can more easily exercise outside of your half rack

Drawbacks

  • They are sometimes made of a less sturdy metal compared to full racks
  • There are a limited number of exercises that you can do with a half rack
  • There are no security bars, although you might be able to purchase them separately

Half Rack Product Suggestions

In order to further emphasize the differences in the half rack vs full rack comparison, here are some of my recommended examples of the best half racks on the market:

1. Cap Barbell FM-8000F

Cap Barbell Deluxe Power Rack (FM-CB8000F)
  • Heavy-Duty Construction – Steel...
  • Durable & Reliable – 3-Step Powder Coat...
  • Features – 2 plate posts, 3 band posts on...
  • Versatile – Use this power rack to perform...

Despite its name, the Cap Barbell Deluxe Power Rack is actually a half rack. Its base is 47 inches deep by 61 inches wide, while its arms extend up 85 inches tall. The upper bar serves as a pull-up bar and can support up to 300 pounds.

The same is true for the bar catches on the front (they can support 300 pounds as well). This half rack is made of powder coated steel and comes in several color combinations, ranging from sleek white or grey to bright orange or blue. Read our full review here.


2. Rugged Commercial Half Rack Y120

Rugged Commercial Half Rack Y120, 1000 lb...
  • Commercial Lifetime Warranty: frames and...
  • In-Home Lifetime Warranty: Everything
  • 1,000 lb. weight capacity
  • Heavy-duty 2×3, 11-gauge steel

This half rack is made of heavy-duty 11-gauge steel that measures 2 inches by 3 inches wide. It can support up to 1,000 pounds of weight and comes with an in-home lifetime warranty.

The Rugged Commercial Half Rack comes with a set of safety arms and a set of j-cups, and it's finished in a powder coated black. This isn’t the cheapest half rack out there, but as the name suggests, the quality is commercial-grade, so the higher price tag is easily justified. 


What’s a Full Rack?

Merax Athletics Fitness Power Rack

Then there is the full rack. Just as the name suggests, this piece of home gym equipment is "full" in size compared to the half rack.

A full rack, sometimes also known as a power rack (making this a half rack vs power rack comparison as well) is a large cage that sits inside of a home gym.

It consists of a solid metal base that is usually square or rectangular in shape with four bars rising up from the base, and connecting bars across the top for added stability.

These racks are also known as cages because they resemble a cage that you might see holding wild animals, just without the restricting bars across all sides.

If a half rack is a good substitute for an in-gym spotter, then many bodybuilders believe that a full rack is even better. Don’t rush to congratulate the winner in the half rack vs power rack contest just yet, though - there are pros and cons to both.

Recommended Full Rack Exercises

Any weight bench can easily be placed inside of a full rack, making it much more diverse in terms of the exercises that you can do in your home gym. However, this doesn’t mean that this piece of workout equipment automatically wins.

A full rack can handle a wide range of exercises, and some even function as pull up bars. You’ll find that you can do any number of weight training exercises within one, including deadlifts, barbell lifts, squats, lunges, and more. The general rule of thumb is... if you can do it in a gym with a spotter, then you can do it in your home gym with a full rack.

Full Rack Pros and Cons

Just like the half rack, a full rack (or power rack, depending on your name preference) has some pros and cons, including:

Benefits

  • More workout versatility - you can do far more exercises in a power rack
  • A power rack functions like a human spotter
  • It’s very safe to lift weights while inside one
  • These pieces of workout equipment are very sturdy and high in quality

Drawbacks

  • A full rack requires lots of space in a home gym
  • There is a chance that the top bars of your full rack can damage your walls if there's not sufficient clearance
  • Your remaining workout space can be restricted

Full Rack Product Suggestions

In order to paint a better picture in this half rack vs power rack comparison, here are some examples of full racks:

1. HulkFit 1000-Pound Power Cage

On Sale Today
HulkFit 1000-Pound Capacity Multi-Function...
  • Constructed with 11 gauge steel, this power...
  • Power Cage also includes two steel safety...
  • Free standing unit with a large walk-in space...
  • Front of rack includes a multigrip pull-up...

This power rack is designed to support a whopping 1,000 pounds of weight. It has a square steel frame that encloses the person exercising within of it. The base is shaped like an “H” in order to provide additional support - and that it does!

It comes with two dip bars on the sides, the upper bars double as pull up bars, and there are solid steel safety bars with J-hooks. Overall, this power cage measures 44 inches by 47 inches by 81 inches and comes in yellow with black accents. Our full review can be found here.


2. Merax Athletics Fitness Power Rack

Merax Athletics Fitness Power Rack Olympic...
  • 🏋️‍ 2"x 2" sturdy steel gauge and 4...
  • 🏋️‍ Built in pull up bar, safety...
  • 🏋️‍ 21 variable positions for bar...
  • 🏋️‍ Solid Steel Chrome pull up bar...

This power rack comes with all of the bells and whistles. It even has a foam covered utility bar that can be used for arm curls and other exercises. You can adjust the bar supports in 21 different ways, and it has attachments for low rows, lat pull downs, pull ups, and even safety spotters (the metal kind that can catch weights, not the human variety).

This power rack is 45 inches deep, 85 inches tall, and can support a maximum weight of 800 pounds.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Should I get a half rack or power rack (full rack)?

Honestly, it's hard to say which one is better - it all comes down to your personal preferences, your budget, and your available gym space. If you're short on space, then a half rack will probably be best for you, but if you have plenty of square footage in your home gym and want more workout variety, go with a full rack. 

Do you have to bolt down a half rack or full rack?

Many racks come with the option to bolt them down to the floor or wall for additional stability and support. While it's not entirely necessary, it's definitely a good idea if you plan on using your rack for heavy-duty lifting. 

What do you put under a power rack?

To protect your floors and keep the rack from sliding, it's recommended that you place the frame on top of a weight-friendly mat. Not only will this protect your floors, but it will also protect your weights and keep the rack from sliding if you've chosen not to bolt it down. 


Final Thoughts

Now that you know the differences between a half rack vs full rack, you’re probably ready to choose one for your home gym.

You have your choice, of course, now that you know the differences between them. The pros and cons have been analyzed, and even some examples of each have been suggested. The final thing to do is choose a half rack or full rack that's suitable for your home gym space. 

Paul J