Fitness Gear Half Rack: Is a Whole Always Better?

Beautiful young powerlifter squatting in modern fitness studio using heavy barbell, looking aside expressing self assurance, professional sport concept, white smoke in the air

Key Points

  • The Fitness Gear half rack and full rack are efficient pieces of equipment for strength training and fitness.

  • Several exercises can be performed on the half rack and full rack, yielding full-body results.

  • Choosing between a Fitness Gear half rack or a full rack for your own gym is not a one-size-fits-all decision.

You've decided to create the ultimate home gym and now you have visions of medicine ball throws and Bulgarian split squats dancing through your head. If you know plyometrics, heavy lifting, and some hard-partying cardio, you likely also know the benefits of strength training and your fitness decisions have boiled down to purchasing the perfect home workout equipment. One of the biggest decisions for your home gym is choosing between the Fitness Gear half rack and full rack. When designing your gym, it's important the pieces you choose allow you to leverage your efforts and maximize gains, all while ensuring safe and fun workouts. 

Eyeing up products like the Fitness Gear half rack and the Mikolo Power Cage, it's clear that it's a big purchase. Check out the pros and cons of both the half rack and full rack before making a significant financial investment.

Squat Rack Basics

Before differentiating between the full rack and the half rack, it's important to note that both of these pieces of equipment fall under the broader category of squat racks.

While the term squat rack implies that it is only for a particular set of exercises, they are much more versatile than that. Squat racks provide you with the equipment to create a wide variety of workouts that are efficient and effective — and, believe it or not, downright fun.

There are strengths and weaknesses to both the full and half rack, so consider both, and may the best squat rack win!

Lifter prepares to do squats using a gym rack

Full Racks

Full racks are also referred to as full power racks or squat cages. They are considered the gold standard of gym equipment.

Comprised of either four or six vertical posts, the strength and design of the full rack give a variety of options for safe and efficient workouts. Its cage-like structure makes it one of the most solid and stable pieces of power-lifting equipment available. 

Full racks incorporate several safety features that allow serious lifters to aggressively lift without a spotter nearby. As you stay within the cage, accessories such as j-hooks and spotter arms easily catch the barbell in case you lose your grip. 

Full Rack Pros

Professionals in the fitness community praise full racks for being safe and effective. Here are a few other reasons that fitness professionals and amateurs alike love the full rack:


The typical fitness rack is made from professional-grade steel. Due to its solid structure and sheer weight of the rack, it accommodates a much more robust weight capacity, allowing you to develop confidence and competence in your weight training efforts.


Full racks allow you to tackle extras and add-ons that make workouts more effective and engaging. Pegs used to store weight plates give you options for customizing your weight load, allowing you to push yourself. Additional bars are easily positioned for exercises like rack pulls and deadlift squats, while the installation of pulley systems makes movements such as lat pulldowns and other upper-body exercises possible. 


Whether you're banging out sets in the gym or at home, safety needs to be your priority. The full rack provides the peace of mind that you have protective measures to reduce the risk of injuries. 

The structure of the cage itself gives maximum security with safety bars that catch a wayward barbell. Outside the cage, attachable safety arms grab both bars and rogue weight plates. Whether standing inside or near the cage, these safety features ensure a safer, more effective workout with reduced chances of injury to you and those around you.

Lifter performs squats with half rack

Full Rack Cons

As efficient as full racks are at providing a good workout, they also have some drawbacks. Here are some common complaints noted by regular users:


Your average commercial gym space utilizes a massive amount of square footage to accommodate essential fitness equipment and gear. Your home or garage may not have that space available.


Thanks to its sturdy construction, the full rack keeps you well-protected when working out within the cage. Being contained by those four vertical posts and various horizontal cross bars does have certain restrictions, however. Taller lifters may find it downright impossible to perform overhead lifts inside the rack, and forget about movements like the Olympic clean, jerk, and snatch that require uninhibited movement and ample space to gear up for these power lifts. Opting for different equipment may be necessary to achieve total workout versatility.


Full racks are a pretty penny, bottom line. When compared to a half rack and its construction, a full rack manufacturer likely needs double the amount of raw materials to create such a colossus. Material costs and building hours morph into the price tag that you see on the showroom floor, so it's no surprise that a quality full rack is going to cost.

If you choose to ship one of these beauties to your home, expect to pay a hefty shipping cost due to additional weight and bulk. 

Half Rack

Now there's the half rack. This piece of gym equipment stacks up in impressive ways to its full-figured sibling, the full rack. Sturdy construction is still achieved with two upright posts binding at the base and an optional rack at the top for added workout options. 

Half racks take considerably less space than a full rack, yet they accommodate several exercises and functions that make them an efficient piece of equipment to consider adding to your home gym. Some of the half rack models include short uprights behind the sturdy main frame, adding an extra safety element for solo workouts. 

Half Rack Pros

While not as sturdy and comprehensive as a full rack, the half rack does have benefits with its slender construction. Loyal users of the half rack have a lot to say about their choice of equipment.


Those who don't have the square footage to support a full rack find the tight-fitting half rack ideal for providing a good workout in small spaces.

A full and half rack in a fitness room

Less Restrictive

Half racks offer a great middle-ground option. Exercises such as walking squats, lunges, push-ups, and sit-ups take place in the half rack space without needing the accommodation and expansion of a full power cage enclosure.

When it comes to effective workout transitions, seconds matter. The half rack provides the space and freedom of movement needed to seamlessly transition from one exercise to another without cumbersome workarounds.


Contrary to popular opinion among certain workout snobs, the half rack is not a cheap piece of equipment that is going to fall apart. High-quality materials are still used in construction, but there are fewer materials used overall when compared to the full rack. This translates to additional savings for you, as half racks are generally cheaper than their full rack counterparts.

Half Rack Cons

Half racks do come with a few cons, however. Consider the following factors when choosing between full and half racks:

Lighter Design

The half rack is not designed for heavy lifters and those who love pushing themselves to the limit in weight-bearing exercise. While a full rack holds up well to piling on weight plates, a half rack eventually gives under extreme weight, especially if it hasn't been properly anchored to the floor. 

Less Versatile

Without the four vertical posts on a full rack, there is less versatility concerning exercises that can be performed. Unlike the power cage, there just isn't that sturdy design and extra space for storing all the bells and whistles you may use. 

Fewer Safety Measures

Most basic half racks do not come equipped with a spotter arm to catch a barbell. Since there are no horizontal cross bars, there is nowhere for your barbell to go other than the floor — or perhaps your toes! If you know what you're doing, a half rack is a good option for effective training without a spotter. If you don't have a great deal of experience with lifting, then a full rack may be a better option for you.

Full and half racks in a gym

Key Differences Between the Half Rack and Full Rack

As you consider which piece of equipment to add to your home or garage gym, take into account these key differences:

Size And Width 

As you might imagine, a full rack is significantly larger than a half rack. Full racks are both broader and longer, taking up a great deal of floor space. For those with spacious garages and ample basement clearance, the full rack is easy to accommodate. Most full racks are around 5x5x7, depending on the model, so they require dedicated space for training. Gym rats with limited floor space don't have to compromise on effective workout moves; a half rack does the job just fine.

Half racks offer a bit more flexibility concerning space and storage. Bases are usually less than four feet long, and vertical height won't be an issue with its compact design that easily fits into a corner of your gym, making room for other essential pieces of equipment. 


All squat racks are made of solid metal, so they are heavy! Full-sized power racks weigh between 200-350 lbs, and this is before you add accessories such as weight plates and barbells to the mix. Heavier models tend to be longer-lasting and more durable, but several lighter brands made from aircraft-grade aluminum also hold up to heavy use. 

Half racks are lighter by design, so it's natural to assume that they won't accommodate as much weight as their full-figured relative. They do need to be secured down to the floor for more robust lifting, but they are still functional in places like patios or garages.


Contrary to what you might think, the half rack is unfortunately not always half the price of a full rack. Expect to pay about 70 percent of the cost of a full rack for a half rack, as you're still getting sturdy construction and plenty of workout options with a half rack. If space is not an issue, then purchasing a full rack is almost always a better option in terms of value and versatility.

General fitness room with racks and dumbells

Stability And Safety

The stability of a full rack often pushes people over the edge when deciding on the perfect piece of equipment.

While the base of a half rack is designed to promote optimized safety and stability when doing exercises like squats and lower bodywork, the same cannot be said about the upper half of the apparatus. The higher you position your weight inside the cage, the greater the risk of destabilizing the base. Exercises like pull-ups, chin-ups, and hanging leg raises frequently cause the whole machine to shift and wobble under your body weight.

The full-cage design of the full rack provides safety and stability no matter which quadrant you choose to work out in. Regardless of the amount of weight you're throwing around in and around the cage, the solid construction of four vertical posts and attaching crossbars won't budge an inch, even with the most extreme workout.

Exercises for the Full Rack and Half Rack Enthusiast

While there are fitness professionals that staunchly proclaim that any strength training exercise can be performed on both the full and the half rack, the secret lies in the modification of each exercise to accommodate the space and equipment that you're working with. Here are some more commonly performed exercises that professionals and amateurs incorporate into full and half rack routines.

Barbell Squats

Performing a safe barbell squat is nearly impossible to do without the rack. Safety features such as spotter arms and j-hooks easily catch wayward barbells if you get a little overzealous with your weight-bearing load. Ensure that the safety pin installation is at the correct height in relation to your own height to prevent injuries and maximize strength gains.

Rack Pulls

Rack pulls are a close cousin to the deadlift, though with a rack lift the use of a half or full rack is necessary. With the assistance of j-hooks and safety pins, you get a very effective back workout without all the push and pull required of hips and legs with other exercises. 

Bench Press

Without the use of a spotter, a bench press is a dangerous endeavor. Proper bench press form should only be used with a spotter or in a power rack, where you have a safety net. Adjusting safety pins so that they sit just above chest level when you are lying down assures you that you'll be able to squeeze out without broken ribs if your barbell falls.

Lifter performs shoulder press on a rack

Inverted Row

It's possible to get a very effective inverted row with a properly positioned safety pin set and a sturdy barbell. Position the j-hooks so you can wriggle underneath and extend your arms, letting your body hang. Take your time and develop good form. Eventually, you'll be able to add other challenging elements such as balancing your heels on a chair to further push yourself.

Military Press

The military press is an excellent way to work shoulders and traps, both inside and outside of the cage. Setting up safety measures just below shoulder level protects you from the barbell if it slips from your grip. Rather than toppling to the floor and startling everyone and everything around you, the rack catches the brunt of the bar, and you escape injury if your shoulders decide they have had enough.

Hanging Leg Raises

Ever wonder how those muscle-bound masters achieved the six-pack look inside a power rack? A good number of hanging leg raises likely did the trick.

Position your barbell near the top of your rack and hang fully extended from it. Your toes should barely touch the floor. Perform those ab-busting moves with legs bent, raising and lowering knees. If you want a supreme challenge for abs and your resolve, consider straightening those legs and extending them parallel to the floor.

Show-offs, feel free to employ a windshield-wiper motion and move legs back and forth when already raised to define those lower ab muscles, tightening and toning your whole package.

The Choice Is Yours

When building your home, garage, or office gym, adding a full rack or half rack is a decision that comes with a hefty price tag. Ultimately, though, nobody knows your space and lifestyle as you do. Do your research, try out equipment at your local gym, and prepare for a fun and fulfilling fitness adventure.

Investing in one of these pieces of workout equipment is just that — an investment! You can't put a price on your health and fitness. No matter what you decide to go with, rest assured it is worth it.

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