One of the challenges when building a home gym is trying to fit everything in! When buying equipment I always pour over the dimensions to make sure I am getting the most bang for buck in my modest gym area.
Having had three different home gym set ups (upstairs, downstairs, garage) I’m more convinced than ever that regardless of your space, there will be an ingenious way to squeeze the most out of it.
Today, let’s take a look at the centrepiece of our gym by reviewing the best squat racks designed for small spaces. Some of these are really neat!
And the best squat racks for small spaces are…
There are LOADS of options for squat racks out there – even here in the UK. Of course you already know that – but which one fits in to your modestly sized home gym?
Well the answer is ‘it depends’ as it will be different for every space. We want the maximum amount of useful features we can get in the smallest footprint that is possible to squeeze into our small space!
So here are some of the top choices with a few pros and cons for you to consider (full reviews of all the contenders will follow in subsequent posts!):
1. Bulldog Mammoth Lite Folding Power Rack (MLFPR1)
Best for: Those with a dedicated but small gym space, wanting flexibility with no compromise
Full disclosure… I love this thing! If I was buying a power rack today this would most likely be it. I can’t believe we have access to such an ingenious folding rack design in the UK before our friends across the pond! I love the idea of a folding rack, but I’m less enamoured by the prospect of drilling into my house to fix it in place. This stand alone folding rack is therefore pretty amazing to me.
If you have a dedicated but small home gym space I think this is the best option as it functions as a full power rack, but folds out of the way to allow you to use the space for cardio, deadlifts, dumbbells, yoga, whatever you like really.
|Folding rack saves a load of space as can be moved out of the way when not in use||Weight storage means we need to keep a buffer space between rack and wall to fit the plates|
|Does not require drilling in to your house / garage / brick wall||Ideally should be bolted down for stability|
|Includes 8 weight storage horns||Lat pull down / low row add on requires larger footprint|
|Lat pull down add on available||Will you ever actually fold it away?|
|63cm depth when folded, 139cm when opened||Still quite visually imposing when folded away|
|Price excluding the lat pull down is incredible valuefor what is essentially a 6 post rack|
2. Bulldog Mammoth Lite Squat Rack (MLSR2)
Best for: Those who can only squeeze in a half rack, but still want a pullup bar
I’ve waxed lyrical about this one before as the best half squat rack with a pullup bar in the UK – I think this is the best half rack with a pullup bar available. Bulldog do a lighter weight one (Bulldog series) and also a heavier weight one (Mammoth series) but the Mammoth Lite option appeals as a really nice balance between the robust 80mm x 80mm structure of the Mammoth build, but while still being that little bit more affordable.
|3mm thick, 80mm x 80mm box steel construction||Spotter arms are an extra|
|Pullup bar is awesome||Crossmember is ideal for gym use, but means storing the half rack could be more difficult than separate squat stands|
|Less visually imposing so a better fit for a home gym that’s inside (or in a bedroom!)||Actual footprint is similar to a larger rack|
|Accessories available – spotter arms, J hooks, dip bars, etc|
3. Bulldog Mammoth Lite Squat Rack (MLSR1)
Best for: Those who need a short rack or are height restricted
If you’ve got a basement or a shed gym you will be familiar with height restrictions! Sloping roofs can cause all sorts of issues when planning your gym layout. This squat rack simply has two uprights without any joining pullup bar giving you the best flexibility to work within your space constraints.
|Only 1.8m tall so will fit anywhere you do (height wise!)||Pull-ups and chin ups obviously not an option|
|Familiar 3mm 80mm x 80mm box section construction I am fond of||Crossmember makes it harder to store|
|Rear crossmember keeps the squat stands aligned when training…|
|Looks great and can be used as a dedicated bench press station if you don’t want to squat|
4. Bulldog Series Indy Squat Stands / Rack (BSSR-i )
Best for: Those with the smallest gym spaces (or using their living room!)
Two simple but very well made towers, a set of J hooks for your barbell. Job done. The Bulldog squat stands are as good as any. As they can be moved independently they offer the most flexibility for those of us with small space available for our gym. The downside is by being independent they are less stable.
|Least space needed||Least stable when in use|
|Can be tucked away easily when not in use||No crossmember so spacing them correctly each workout can be awkward|
|Cheapest option for a home gym||Not compatible with spotter arms or some other accessories|
5. Bulldog Mammoth Lite Wall Mounted Folding Rack – Short
Best for: Those with the least space who need the most flexibility
We’ve covered a foldable rack already, but this is a different proposition. Being a two post rack that folds from your wall this is the least amount of space that a rack can possibly take up, and it folds flat against the wall to boot. This is ideal if you want to move the rack out of the way so you can park your car in the garage, do cardio in the same space or simply tidy up your gym between sessions. Absolutely fantastic bit of equipment, and one I would own if I was more confident about drilling into my walls.
|Smallest footprint||Drilling into your wall – may be an issue if you don’t know how or are renting your space|
|Same great accessories as the rest of the Bulldog range|
|Usual high quality construction – 3mm thick 80mm x 80mm steel|
6. Bulldog Series Yoke (BSY1)
Best for: Those that can train outside from time to time and like additional options for training variety. Also ideal for strongman athletes where training with a rack and a yoke would be essential.
I am out of my comfort zone here… But let me present the mighty yoke! This can act as a squat rack by simply adding some J hooks to the front and moving the crossbeam out of the way. This then gives you the option of a squat rack, or a transitional yoke. Super handy for those interested in strongman or who want the option to move their rack around (or move it from inside to outside, or vice versa!)
|Bulldog series is 75mm x 50mm, 3mm thick construction;||Footprint is pretty big with long legs front and back|
|Versatile – use as a yoke or a rack||Given its dual use it uses the ‘Bulldog’ 75mm x 50mm build vs the more visually appealing 80mm x 80mm Mammoth Lite line we have preferred elsewhere|
7. Bulldog Mammoth Lite Flat Foot Power Rack (MLPR-FF-750)
Best for: Those with space to move their rack around when not in use
If you have a decent amount of space overall, but need some flexibility a full power rack that you can move out of the way when not in use would be a good choice
|3mm steel construction||Heavy duty so moving far or up / down steps would be difficult|
|Includes J hooks and safety bars||Lack of rear crossmember at floor level may frustrate some|
|Lack of rear crossmember is good for bench positioning||Largest footprint|
|Price is competitive for spec of build||Most visually dominating option|
8. Bulldog Mammoth Half Rack (MHR)
Best for: Tall athletes with a small but dedicated gym space
Now this half rack is a bit of a beast – it reminds me of a British version of the Legend Fitness Pro Series Half Cage (for those who are familiar with it!) in that it is a ”no compromises” half rack – a rare offering which is usually reserved for full 4 or 6 post designs. This rack has a fairly large footprint and needs quite a bit of space on the face of it – but for taller athletes it allows you to do overhead work within that footprint as there are no crossmembers to worry about. It also has plate storage horns and a chin up bar all in the same area – what more could you need?
|Monster series rack is the premium line from Bulldog – available in 3mm or insane 5mm thick steel||Footprint is fairly large|
|Versatility – includes an enclosed rack, a half rack, plate storage and a pullup bar||Using both the plate storage and the interior rack space would be impractical|
|No height restrictions – overhead press inside the racks footprint||“Monster” is the top of line Bulldog spec, I personally think the Monster Lite is a better compromise for most however|
|Rear crossmember would get in the way of a bench if using the enclosed rack space|
9. Watson Animal Half Rack
Best for: Taller athletes with no budget constraints
Watson Gym are an amazing company to have here in the UK – they have been churning out quality equipment for years but seem to keep slipping under the radar. They offer a half rack which would be an awesome addition to any home gym, never mind one that is in a small space. That said, Watson tend to focus on commercial or high value sales so 1) remember to add VAT to the prices, and 2) remember they tend to sell to footballers and the like (they recently kitted out a gym for Aaron Wan-Bissaka of Manchester United fame), so this is not a budget optionat around £2,275.
|Customisable – just drop them an email and they can change EVERYTHING to your spec||Expensive|
|Lack of accessories|
10. Rogue SML-2 Monster Lite Squat Stand
Best for: Brand conscious buyers
Rogue is a global brand these days pumping out some incredible products and building a great brand image. Unfortunately by the time they ship them to us here in the UK the prices are pumped up above that of equivalents made closer to home – the SML-2 here for example is massively more expensive than the similar spec Bulldog MLSR2. If you are happy to pay to support the brand then the Rogue could be the squat rack for you.
|Great brand||Very expensive in Europe|
|Range of accessories||Cost goes on shipping and taxes instead of materials & design|
|1” Westside hole spacing|
How much space do I need for a home gym?
We’ve looked at this extensively elsewhere, but in summary:
Width: you will be limited by your barbell length ultimately. A traditional Olympic barbell is 7ft / 220cm in length so you would need this width, plus a bit of wiggle room for loading and unloading the bar.
Depth: Most of the racks we have looked at have different dimensions, but generally the free standing units tend to be around 1m – 1.2m deep. This is the minimum you would want as otherwise you wouldn’t have space to perform any movements!
Height: As tall as possible would allow you to chin up, perform standing overhead pressing and anything else you fancy. Ultimately we can work around some height restrictions by doing seated military presses, knees-up pull-ups, etc.
For reference I use a small space for my home gym which is 3m x 3m square (or half of a UK single garage), with a bit of room at either end which I can use to help for loading / unloading the bar. This is absolutely fine and I have a full four post rack, a bench, a weight tree and a deadlift area all within this space.
Remember that your gym space does not need to be permanent. You can keep things in it and simply clear it when it’s workout time – just move (or unfold!) your squat rack and get going.
What should I look for in a squat rack?
If you’ve got a small home gym and you’re trying to use the little space as efficiently as possible, you’re really looking for a squat rack that simply… fits!
I’ve included a mixed bag above of shapes and sizes – so there should be an option that works for you, or at the very least it’s given you a sample of what is out there as a bit of inspiration!
Outside of simply fitting, you will want high quality construction – at least 11 gauge (3mm thick) steel which is much stronger than the far cheaper and more common 14 gauge steel (it is 4.15x stronger!), a decent range of attachments should you wish to add variety now (or down the line) and a decent brand for customer service are worth looking out for. The rest is really just noise.
A power rack is the centrepiece of a gym – but that’s not to say that there aren’t better ways to utilise your space than a huge power cage! We are at a great point in time for home gyms with tons of options out there – hopefully my run down of 10 of the best squat racks for small spaces will provide you with some ideas to make the most of your garage gym. Please get adventurous with your gym layout and let us know how it turns out!
I’m confident there will be a way to fit a rack in to your gym – sometimes it’s just a case of thinking outside the box 🙂