Half Racks Revisited

Jun 22, 2022

One thing I have become well know for is changing my mind and admitting when I am wrong. I called this article Half Racks Revisited because for years I have told people not to buy Half Racks. In fact in my second book Designing Strength Training Programs and Facilities I wrote: “don't buy the currently popular Half- Racks. Half-Racks have become increasingly popular over the past five years but, the truth is a Half-Rack is actually a half of a Power Rack that doesn't cost half as much but is in fact half as useful. Half-Racks are designed with Pull-up bars but, the reality is that you can't simultaneously use the rack for squats and pull-ups because the squat bar is in the way…Half Racks look good but function poorly. “

If you visited Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning in Woburn recently you would see that we have gone to all half racks. What made me change my mind? The new Perform Better PB Extreme rack system took the big drawback of the ½ rack and eliminated it. I have to admit, I have always liked the look of the half rack. They make the room appear less cluttered. It wasn't until I ordered six of them in 2004 and realized that we couldn't do chins and squats together as a pair that the drawback became obvious.

The PB Extreme racks with connectors take a design flaw and turn it into a strength. We all know that we need approximately 6 ft between racks. In most cases many of us used that space to place a tree for plate storage. However as rack systems evolved, most racks came with plate storage built into the rack.  The between rack space was now just dead space because we still needed at least three feet between bar ends for safety reason. This means that the racks themselves must be six feet apart. ( Reminder, the rack itself is about four feet wide but the bar is seven feet long. This means that eighteen inches of the bar is outside the rack on either end. With three feet between bar ends we get six feet between racks) The idea of connectors between the racks takes dead space in your weightroom and suddenly makes it useable. Whether you are doing chin-ups or mounting a TRX, the between-rack space gets used effectively and if you are like us and like to pair exercises this is a huge bonus.

So, if you've read Designing Strength Training Programs and Facilities and decided against half racks you might want to look at the new PB Extreme racks and reconsider.