Biddrup Mallick
Biddrup Mallick

Author Archives: Biddrup Mallick

Biddrup has built 5 gyms from scratch. He's a fitness enthusiast and spends a lot of his free time at the gym. He has competed in power lifting events in his local city.

Top 10 Rouge Squat Stands In 2019

INTRODUCTION

Has anyone ever told you that you don’t know squat?  Well, by the time you read this article, you will know just about everything about squat.

The squat is a weightlifting move which focuses on building muscle – serious muscle – for competitive weightlifters.  Yet, at the same time, it is an exercise which, properly executed, can bring improved health and fitness to everyday weight training.  

Let’s start out, by looking at the evolution of weightlifting and powerlifting both as a sport, and as a health and fitness routine.  Competitive weightlifting began to evolve in western Europe in the middle of the 19th century.  However, weightlifting has been used as a measure of fitness and strength for centuries before that.  The ability to life weight was a condition to entering the military in ancient China. Documents and pictorials show the ancient Greeks doing body weight exercises like rope climbing, and lifting and throwing heavy stones to help develop their strength to do battle.  

The original weightlifting competitions featured such personae as the circus strong man in the side-show tent, purportedly lifting amazing quantities of weight.  This evolved into somewhat organized competitions in Europe in the 1890s, culminating by an introduction into the Olympic Games in 1896. Weightlifting remained a Eurocentric sport, as barbells and free weights were virtually unseen in the US.  In 1902, however, the Milo Barbell Company opened in Philadelphia, making weightlifting equipment much more available in America. Weightlifting bounced in and out of the Olympics for the next few games, and became part of the Olympics for good in the 1920 games.  

Exhibitions and feats of strength continued to be popular through the 1950s, and gaining strength was a common advertising scheme.  Any baby boomer that read comic books in this era will remember the guy on the beach getting sand kicked in his face, until he got muscular and won the girl back.  Charles Atlas was famous for his feats of strength, including pulling cars and even train cars. “World’s Strongest Man” contests continued to grow in popularity, as a young Austrian named Arnold Schwarzenegger captured the eyes of the world with his bodybuilding progress.

Let’s close this section by agreeing that weightlifting and powerlifting have a place both in American history, and in the future also.  Strength is still considered to be a desirable trait, and the role of weightlifting in general health improvement is well documented.

THE SQUAT

The squat is one of the most basic weightlifting moves.  It was initially called the “deep knee bend”, and began to evolve as a recognized move in the early 1900s.  The initial move was done lifting relatively light weights repetitively, with the lifter balanced on his toes, heels in the air.  The weight is put across the back of the neck on the shoulders, and the lifter bends down until the thighs are roughly parallel to the ground.  From that position, the lifter then pushes back up to the original position, driving upward with his legs. The move is then repeated for a set number of times.  

The move we know as the squat today started to gain popularity in Europe following World War I.  At this time, it became a powerlifting move more than a repetitive lifting move as the deep knee bend.  The first recognized squat contest took place in Germany, and was won with a lift of over 500 pounds. The lift became known in America in the early 1920s.

Initially, the lifter had to move the bar from the floor to his chest, lift the weight over his head, then lower it down to rest on the shoulders.  This limited the weight that could be squatted. A lifter named Steinborn developed a different technique to get the bar on the shoulders. He would raise one end of the bar so it was in a near-vertical position, then move under the bar, rest it on his shoulders, then get the other end of the bar on the other shoulder.  This new method helped lifters to increase their overall weight lift; Steinborn, for example, at 210 pounds body weight, could squat 530 pounds using this method.

As this lift grew in popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, it spawned the development of the squat rack.  This allowed lifters to lift even greater amounts of weight, leading to a current record squat of 450 kilos (992 pounds).  The squat rack became the precursor to the power rack, which offers even more lifting options and flexibility; however, the focus of this article will be on the squat rack.  

THE SQUAT RACK

A squat rack is a piece of weight lifting equipment to help the lifter move heavy weights safely, in the absence of a human spotter.  The rack acts as a mechanical spotter should the lifter lose control of the weights or the bar. In its simplest form, it is two or four upright bars with two horizontal bars on the side.  The horizontal bars have a dual purpose – they add stability to the rack frame, and they act as a “catch” for the lifter to place the bar after his lift, or, if he is losing control, during the lift.  An example of a basic squat rack is below:

To use the rack, the lifter will stand between the uprights, with the bar set at an appropriate level for his height.  His knees should be slightly bent as the gets the bar to his shoulders. He will then straighten his knees to get the bar off the pegs, take a slight step forward to clear the rack, and then begin his repetitions of squats.  As he finished, he reverses this procedure to put the bar back on the rack.

While this is referred to as a squat rack, it can also be used for many other lifts, including the bench press, floor press, clean pulls, and pull-ups.  While we will not discuss these moves in detail here, they are described fully on many different Internet sites.

FACT SHEET AND PRODUCT COMPARISON TABLE

In this section, we’ll list out then squat racks offered by Rogue Fitness.  For each rack, we will take a high level look at the best features of the rack, assign it to a price range noted following this table, and assign an overall rating to each of the racks.  Some of these racks have hundreds of customer reviews on the Rogue site; others have none or just a few. The assigned ratings here are based on my perceptions of the overall functionality, features, and value of the squat racks.  

Fact Sheet – Product Comparison Table

Number Product Best Feature Rating Price Range (see below)
1 Rogue SML-2C Squat Stand A hybrid rack, offering good features, several customizable options, and 11 color options 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5) $$
2 SML-2 Rogue 90″ Monster Lite Squat Stand A solid rack with everything you need to get started, and several customizable options available. 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5) $$
3 Rogue S-4 Squat Stand 2.0 Known as an “indy” rack, it features two separate upright sections.  Rated to 1000 pounds. 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5) $$
4 Rogue SM-1 Monster Squat Stand 2.0 Part squat rack, part power rack.  Heavy duty combination unit, customizable. 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5) $$$
5 Rogue Mono Stand A special type of stand with movable uprights to make it easier for the lifter to clear the bar. 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5) $$$
6 Rogue Combo Rack This combo rack features a built-in bench for presses, plus high-end features as a squat rack. 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5) $$$$
7 Rogue KS-1 Kids Squat Stand A squat stand built specifically for the junior lifter; it is compatible with other Rogue products for kids. 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5) $
8 Rogue Echo Squat Stand 2.0 A basic rack focusing on functionality and space utilization, rather than adding lots of bells and whistles.   4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5) $$
9 York FTS Squat Stand A basic unit, with adjustable uprights to support bench and squat work. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5) $$
10 S-1 to S-2 Conversion Kit Conversion kit which gives you additional flexibility like a pull-up bar. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5) $

Price range key:

$ – Under $250

$$ – Under $500

$$$ – Under $1000

$$$$ – Over $1000

Product-Buying Guide

Weightlifters typically work out in one of three categories: powerlifting, weightlifting, and weight training.  As we begin to review these ten squat racks, we will look at them from the perspective of weightlifting and weight training.  

To explain the difference between the two, weight training is generally selected when the user wants to improve their overall health and body toning.  The idea is not to gain significant muscle growth, but to gain some muscle to add to overall conditioning and fitness, supporting weight loss, and general health improvements.  Weight training normally uses lighter weights, with multiple repetitions, in multiple sets. In addition to squats, bench presses are typically a part of a weight training program.  

Weightlifting will mostly use heavier weights, lifted a few times until failure.  This method promotes heavier muscle growth than weight training, and will lead to greater overall strength.  Squats are usually an important part of a weightlifting program.

So, knowing that a squat rack can be used for multiple lifts and has different functions, let’s take a look at some of the key features and specifications that will influence you as you select a rack for purchase.  

WEIGHT CAPACITY

Simply put, how much weight can you safely put on the squat rack.  While some of these racks, clearly note the weight capacity in the specifications section, others do not.  For those that don’t, there are typically two indicators of the overall capacity. First are the options available.  Many racks have the option to purchase plate sets with them. The sizing of the plate sets offered is a good indicator of overall strength of the rack.  Second is the assembly hardware; larger sized uprights and heavier hardware are going to give you greater stability and strength than smaller hardware. This may not be a significant factor for the weight trainer, but could be for a weightlifter.

STABILITY

To a large extent, stability goes hand in hand with weight capacity.  Stability will also be influenced by the hardware configuration. However, stability will also be impacted by the overall footprint of the rack, the number of crosspieces between the vertical bars, and whether or not the rack has to be anchored to the floor.  

SAFETY

How well the squat rack provides for the safety of the lifter, should be a primary consideration for any purchaser.  Brackets mounted to the rack, keep the bar contained prior to the lift, and allow a place to set the bar after the lift.  Secondary brackets may be needed in the event of failing to conclude a lift. Racks typically have either an L cup (shaped like the letter L) or J cup (shaped like the letter J).  The J cup was an upward curl, which helps hold the bar safely in position. The L cup has a perpendicular joint, which might allow movement of the bar off the cup. Some racks also have optional safety arms, which extend further from the vertical bars, and give even greater security should a lift fail.

UPRIGHT LENGTHS

The length of the uprights can be a factor for two reasons.  The first relates to the placement of the unit. For rooms such as a basement, with a low ceiling, a long upright might be an issue, and push you toward a shorter unit.  Second, many units feature a pull-up bar across the top of the two vertical uprights. The height of the uprights will dictate the height of the pull-up bar, and whether or not you can do full body length pull-up, or bent knee pull-ups.

HOLE SPACING

Holes are drilled in the upright bars for insertion of the J cups or safety arms.  The typical spacing is called Westside spacing, and refers to the distance between the holes.  In the better units, spacing will be 1” apart in the bench press area of the bar, and 2” spacing above and below that area.  Lower end units may have as much as six-inch spacing between the holes. A desirable option is numbering the holes, which makes placing the J-cups at the same level obvious, instead of a trial and error approach.  

FOOTPRINT

The footprint is the overall floor space that the unit will take up.  This measure has two potential impacts. First is the amount of space the unit will take up in your weight room, garage, or basement.  You may be driven to a particular unit because of the availability or lack of space for your choice. Secondly, the width portion of the footprint gives you the working area of the rack; it indicates the distance between the upright lengths, and shows the amount of side-to-side area you will have for your lifts.

HARDWARE

As we noted in the capacity and stability discussions, the hardware is key to the overall stability, and hence safety, or the unit.  Depending on the stress put on the unit based on the weights of the bar and plates, you may opt to go to heavier 3” x 3” posts, while other lighter units may feature 2” x 2” posts.  Assembly hardware will typically range for ½” to 1”, again dependent on the overall strength and stability expected of the unit.

OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT

As we go through the detail on these units, you’ll note that some are fairly basic, while others are dressed out with more bells and whistles.  Optional equipment can include bars and weights, wheel brackets to make it easier to move the equipment, safety bars, fixed or adjustable position benches, and right down to the choice of color.  Your budget and personal preferences will help you determine whether to buy that upper end model now, or buy a more basic unit and add options to it over time.

PRICE

Admit it or not, price is always an important consideration when making a purchase.  But the lifter should consider not only price, but also the overall value of the squat rack.  He should make a list of the must have features, the nice to have features, and the bells and whistles, or unnecessary features for his needs.  This list, combined with the price, should give the purchaser a good indication of which squat rack gives the best value for his personal situation and needs.  

MAKING YOUR DECISION

So, now you have some high-level information about a variety of squat records, an indication of the price range for each of them, and some data on features and specifications that may or may not be important to you.  So, what other items will factor into making your decision which rack to purchase?

Let’s start with the obvious question – Do you really want (or need) to buy a squat rack?  It is, after all, somewhat of a specialty item. Are squats that important in your lifting routine that it justifies a separate piece of equipment?  A squat rack does have flexibility to perform lifts other than squats, but maybe a power rack is a better purchase. Then again, the power racks could be pricier, and you may or may not need all the flexibility they offer.  Another option might be to use the money you’d spend on the rack to join a gym, and use their equipment. The answer here will be a pretty good starting point in evaluating the other factors that come into play.

You’ve made the decision to buy a squat rack.  Where are you going to put it? Your basement might be damp and dingy, your wife may scream if you take over the guest room, and putting it in the garage means a car stays outside.  Footprint may be an important characteristic in this decision, and things like finish and resistance to oxidation may also factor in.

Do you already have a bar and plates, or will you be buying them at the same time as the rack?  If you have them, make sure that they will be fully compatible with the rack, and with the safety systems of the rack, whether J or L cup, or safety bars.  

You should be starting to get a feel of how this all comes together – requirements, needs, features, specifications, and value.  Let’s look at each of these squat racks individually, and then do a comparison to drive down to the best racks out of this list.

Top 10 Best

#1 Rogue SML-2C Squat Stand

First Impressions:

This is a “Monster Lite” rack, a cross between Rogue’s Monster series and their S series squat racks.  This is a fairly heavy-duty rack, with a lot of available options, including eleven different colors to choose from.  There are many different configurations available depending on how it is set up, and which options are ordered.

Features and Specifications:

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  • This rack is made from heavy 3” x 3” x 11-gauge steel uprights, supported by 2” x 2” x 11-gauge steel bases, assembled with 5/8” hardware.
  • The unit has a footprint of 49” x 48”, leaving a good interior lifting area.  
  • J cups comes as standard on this rack, with optional available safety spotter arms.  
  • It has a 157-pound assembled weight, with a 1000-pound weight capacity.

Pros:

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  • Westside hole spacing is 1” in the bench area, for greater flexibility in placement of brackets for bench presses.  Spacing is 2” above and below the bench press area.
  • This rack comes with an adjustable fat/skinny (two different diameter bars for varying grips) pull-up bar.
  • With a $$ price, this is an affordable Hybrid Monster/S series rack.
  • Reviewers are very happy with the ease of assembly.

Cons:

  • An overall height of 92” for this rack may present some constraints in lower ceiling areas.  

Final Thoughts:

This is the first of ten racks to be reviewed, but it’s hard not to get excited about the combination of features, durability, and price of this squat rack.  Eleven available colors let you dress the rack up, and optional features give you room to grow in the future. The 1000-pound capacity makes certain pretty much any lifter will not run out of capacity.

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#2 SML-2 Rogue 90″ Monster Lite Squat Stand

First Impressions:

This squat rack looks and acts like several of the Rogue power racks as far as strength and versatility.  Quite affordable in the $$ price range, it has several available options, much like the SML-2C above. You can start out with the basic unit and add to it as your needs and budget require.

Features and Specifications:

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  • This rack is made from heavy 3” x 3” x 11-gauge steel uprights, supported by 2” x 2” x 11-gauge steel bases, assembled with 5/8” hardware.
  • The 49” x 48” footprint supports a 1000-pound weight capacity, and a 92” height.  
  • While safety spotter arms are available as optional equipment, J cups come standard with the rack.  
  • Given the 157-pound weight, wheel brackets might be a good option if the rack needs to be moved frequently.

Pros:

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  • The squat rack can be configured with a combination fat/skinny bar, or a single skinny bar.
  • One-inch Westside spacing gives additional flexibility for bench presses and clean pulls.
  • Available floor mounting feet let you securely fasten the rack down for added stability.

Cons:

  • The 92” height might be a constraint if the machine needs to go into a low ceiling area.

Final Thoughts:

This rack and its close cousin, the SML-2C, are virtually identical machines in form and functionality.  With a lifetime warranty, various configuration options, and a $$ price, this is an exceptional value machine.  This is very close to a power rack, without the power rack pricing. An excellent option to the novice lifter, or for an experience lifter wanting to expand his equipment.

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#3 Rogue S-4 Squat Stand 2.0

First Impressions:

This independent squat rack is made up of two completely separate upright assemblies, each self-standing with a 26” by 22” base for excellent stability.  With the small base and easy portability, this would be a good squat unit for the lifter with space constraints.

Features and Specifications:

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  • With only a 72” height, while you may sacrifice the pullup bar, you gain flexibility for placement of the rack, without worrying about height or floor space issues.
  • The unit is made from 2” x 3” x 11-gauge steel uprights, and 7-gauge (note that lower gauge numbers indicate thicker steel) base pieces, all assembled with 5/8” hardware.  
  • Other than a bench, not much is available for optional equipment.  What you see is what you get.

Pros:

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  • As mentioned, the overall dimensions of this unit make it appropriate for virtually any space or height situation.
  • The standard equipment rubber feet protect your flooring and increase stability by preventing movement.
  • A very good entry level squat rack, with good basic functionality at a $$ price.

Cons:

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  • The separate units need to be properly set up, parallel to each other, to avoid the bar being placed at an angle and not dropping into the standard J cups properly.
  • Safety arm bars are not available as an option for this equipment.  

Final Thoughts:

Some lifters will prefer the low profile and independent character of the uprights, while others may prefer an assembled unit that stays that way.  It comes down to personal preference. Many reviewers gave it high grades for overall stability, and the easy storage could be a major benefit depending on your space situation.

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#4 Rogue SM-1 Monster Squat Stand 2.0

First Impressions:

The SM-1 is a crossover unit between a squat rack and a power rack.  It features a relatively small footprint, and a fairly low height, which makes it suitable for smaller spaces and lower ceilings.  While no weight is given in the specifications, with 3” x 3” x 11-gauge construction, it’s not going to be very portable. It comes with several options, including safety bars, a safety strap system and three different bench options.  

Features and Specifications:

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  • The squat rack has a compact 54” x 50” footprint, and checks in at only 73” high, making it perfect for areas with a low ceiling, or limited space.  
  • The rack has a capacity of > 1000-pounds, and is assembled with 1” hardware for extra strength, durability, and safety.
  • Laser cut, numbered holes make aligning the J cups fast and easy.

Pros:

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  • This is a seriously heavy-duty squat rack, with over half a ton of plate capacity for even the most serious lifter.
  • Compact and sturdy, this is a rack you will be passing on to your children.  Extremely heavy duty, the satin-black powder coating will protect the rack from scratches and corrosion.

Cons:

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  • Hole spacing is 2” throughout, so you lose some of the accuracy and flexibility available in other squat racks in the Rogue line.
  • An outcome of the lower height of the unit, pull-up bars are not available on this rack.

Final Thoughts:

With a higher $$$ price, this unit might be out of reach for the day-to-day lifter, but, compared to the Mono Stand and Combo Rack, it really is a bargain.  The strength and durability of the unit, matched with the available options and low space requirements make this an excellent choice for the serious lifter. This squat rack would be equally at home in a commercial establishment of collegiate or professional training room.

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#5 Rogue Mono Stand

First Impressions:

With the Rogue Mono stand, we are back to the beasts of squat racks.  With this model, the uprights tilt forward. When the lifter gets the bar up off the rack, they snap back, so he can begin squatting without walking forward with the bar.  This is a very heavy-duty rack, geared for the serious lifter.

Features and Specifications:

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  • This rack can be assembled with either 43” width crossmembers or 30”, which gives you some flexibility in the floor space requirements and in the interior working area.
  • The unit is constructed from 3” x 3” x 11-gauge rails, assembled with 5/8” hardware.
  • Weighing 310-pounds, the squat rack has an 86” x 57” footprint, and is 78” high.  
  • Compatible with other Monster Lite machines, additional features like plate storage, safety arm bars, and a pull-up bar are optionally available.

Pros:

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  • A serious machine for a serious lifter, it was designed with input from powerlifter Mark Bell.
  • Westside spacing at 1”/2” is standard, and offers flexibility for bench work and squats.
  • Pegs for resistance band work can be optionally added to the squat rack.

Cons:

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  • Primarily because of the tilting uprights, the unit must be securely bolted to the floor.
  • With a high end $$$ price (easily into $$$$ range with any options), this machine is only going to be of interest to very serious lifters, professional athletes, or commercial establishments.

Final Thoughts:

With virtually everything they make; Rouge covers the entire lifting spectrum – from novice to professional.  Squat racks are not an exception. This is a high-end squat rack; not the Combo Rack, but not very far behind it.  The main benefit of this rack, over other heavy-duty racks, is the tilting uprights, and I just don’t see that being a major consideration for the day-to-day lifter.

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#6 Rogue Combo Rack

First Impressions:

This 500-pound bad boy is the ultimate beast of squat racks.  It is certified for competition use by the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF).  The combination of an integral bench tied to the squat rack gives the lifter many options for diverse lifting.  Easy adjustments to the rack, and smooth additional or removal of equipment, like the bench, give this rack full versatility and ease of use.

Features and Specifications:

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  • This squat rack is made completely from 3” x 3” x 7-gauge steel for the ultimate in strength and stability.
  • Including the bench, the unit has a 77” x 80” footprint, with a 43” inside working width.  
  • Steel spotter arms come standard for enhanced safety.
  • The adjustable uprights have standard 1”/2” Westside spacing, with laser cut number holes for easy alignment.

Pros:

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  • Rubber feet offer additional protection for floors, and give the unit even more stability.
  • Uprights can be set up either vertical, or angled in five degrees.  This gives larger athletes the advantage of extra-width grip squats.
  • Bar height adjustments are possible without removing the bar or plates, with a standard lever-arm adjustment system.

Cons:

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  • The $$$$ price tag (think $$$$ times two) most likely relegates this combo rack to the gym, professional weight training room, or in the home of an elite athlete.  
  • It is more size and capability than the average lifter would need, but would be a nice diversion to use occasionally given access to a commercial facility so you could see how the pros do things.  
  • This is a custom-built machine that takes 6 – 8 weeks for delivery.

Final Thoughts:

If all you want is a squat rack, this is equivalent to bringing a dragster to a bike race.  This rack is best placed in a college or professional weight training room, for elite athletes and cross-trainers.  It is obviously built with that level of lifter in mind, and the IPF certification proves it is outside the realm of anything but competition level athletes.  

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#7 Rogue KS-1 Kids Squat Stand

First Impressions:

This is really a step change from the Combo Rack we just reviewed.  This rack is geared specifically for the younger weightlifters in the crowd, with a 32” X 32” footprint, and 48” height.  This is not a toy or gimmick; it is built from 2” x 2” steel uprights, and has a 150-pound capacity. It is compatible with Rogue beginner barbells and plates.

Features and Specifications:

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  • Put together from 11-gauge steel and ½” hardware, with 2” throughout Westside spacing, this youth squat rack clocks in at a solid 65-pounds.  
  • Finished in Rogue Red with black base pieces, this will make your child feel like he is using a competition -level squat rack.  

Pros:

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  • A very reasonably-priced $ squat rack, it is proportioned specifically for the younger lifter, with a 28” inner working width.
  • Compatibility with other Rogue barbells and plates allows you to easily assemble a full system for your child.

Cons:

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  • The unit is not expandable, so eventually your youth will outgrow the rack.  
  • There is no corresponding bench available that is sized specifically for the squat rack.  

Final Thoughts:

A worthy investment for the lifter that wants to share the weightlifting experience with his children.  The rack itself is solid and durable, and while it might be outgrown, it won’t be worn out. Note that the child’s physician should be consulted before beginning a weight training program and this rack should only be used under the supervision of an adult.

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#8 Rogue Echo Squat Stand 2.0

First Impressions:

This rack is one of the value series of the Rogue squat rack line.  You get a US made, fully functional rack, with no frills, but at an affordable $$ price.  There is no upper end to this rack; what you see is what you get, and the only real options are a choice in benches.

Features and Specifications:

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  • The Echo has a compact 48” x 48” footprint, with an inside working width of 43”.
  • Consisting of 2” x 3” uprights and 2” x 2” crossmembers, assembled with ½” hardware, the unit is rated at 500-pounds, yet tested successfully at 1000-pounds.
  • At 70” tall, it comes with plastic coated J cups and plastic base covers to protect your flooring.  At 95-pounds, the unit could be moved around if used in a multi-purpose room.

Pros:

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  • A really good entry level squat stand, this unit compares favorably to the S-1, and has strength and stability not available from imported racks.  
  • The entire unit is protected with a black powder coating finish to prevent scratches while racking and unracking the bar.=

Cons:

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  • What you see is what you get.  No options, no conversions, no upgrades are available with this unit.
  • The squat stand features two-inch hole spacing throughout, limiting flexibility somewhat for presses and squats.  

Final Thoughts:

This is not a bad rack for the first purchase for a novice lifter, but given the limitations around upgrading or adding features, it might be better to start with a unit that could be upgraded later, like those in the SML series.  If you have, for instance, a power rack and want to add a squat rack, this unit would certainly fit the bill.

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#9 York FTS Squat Stand 

First Impressions:

This is a very basic squat rack, geared primarily for squats and bench presses; there is not much additional functionality beyond that.  The rack itself is adjustable for both squats and presses, with the primary difference that the J cups are welded to the frame, and the frame telescopes as the adjustment.

Features and Specifications:

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  • Coated in basic white, this unit is 41” high by 49” wide by 35” deep.
  • The rack has plate storage pegs at the rear, which, when loaded, will improve the stability of this squat rack.  
  • Built from 2” x 3” steel frame, the unit capacity is not noted, but it should be fairly strong.

Pros:

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  • This rack delivers basis squat and press functionality, and is reasonably priced at $$.
  • The rack adjusts in two-inch increments, from 41” to 61” for the squat lift, and from 29” to 49” for the bench press.  Telescoping arms control the adjustment; J cups are permanently welded to the uprights.

Cons:

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  • This is an imported squat rack, with only limited (two) reviews available on the Rogue site.  
  • The top cups that hold the bar for squats are metal, and are reported to scratch the coating on the barbell used.

Final Thoughts:

This unit is pretty basic, without some of the toys that the other $$ Rogue racks have.  Considering the lower end 41” height, you could actually spend just a little more money, and have a rack that could be used for youth lifting (see above) and for adults.  Overall, a functional unit, but it really does not stack up well against the rest of the Rogue lineup.

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#10 S-1 to S-2 Conversion Kit

First Impressions:

This is a conversion kit to allow you to change the configuration of you Rogue S-1 squat rack (not reviewed here) into a Rogue S-2 squat rack.  Obviously, unless you already have an S-1, you would not be interested in this; you’d just buy the S-2. The S-2 is a good, basic squat rack, and you do gain some benefits by using the kit.  

Features and Specifications:

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  • The conversion kit consists of two longer upright bars, made of 2” x 3” x 11-gauge steel, using 5/8” hardware, which takes the height of the rack from 72” for the S-1 to a full 92” for the S-2.  
  • The height addition allows you to add a pull-up bar, either a combination fat-skinny bar or a plain skinny bar.  
  • The overall footprint is 48” x 48”, with the rack weighing out at 146-pounds.

Pros:

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  • Following the conversion, the rack is rated for 1000-pounds of weight for the bar and plates.
  • Converting to the S-2 allows you to add a dip stations, which allows you to do additional body weight exercises, and safety arm bars.
  • Westside 1”/2” spacing is standard on this model, allowing tight adjustments for maximum comfort and lift capability.

Cons:

  • If you already purchased an S-1 and then add on the conversion kit, you will have spent a fair amount more than had you bought the S-2 in the beginning.  Budget constraints may have prevented that, but the initial purchase of an S-2 would be the way to go over this scenario.

Final Thoughts:

While there are some gains to be made graduating from an S-1 to an S-2, the total price to do so could have put you into some upper end racks in the SML series for the same money.  While the conversion kit itself is only a $ price, you might be better off putting that money toward an SML or S-4 rack with better features.

Check Price


Final Verdict

So far in this article, we’ve looked at the history of weightlifting as a sport, we’ve looked specifically at the squat as a weightlifting move, and we’ve looked at the development of the squat rack to support that lifting move.  We know that a squat rack can also be used for other lifting moves, predominantly the bench press. Depending on the features and design, many squat racks can also support some body weight exercises, such as pull-ups and dips.

The ten squat racks we investigated were a good cross-section of the entire Rogue line.  We included a couple of specialty racks, like the S-1 to S-2 conversion kit and the Kid’s Squat Rack.  We looked at two professional level units, the Combo Rack and the Mono Stand. We checked out an import, the York model, and an introductory type rack, the Echo.  The others had similar costs and functionality, but still had several differences to differentiate each one.

At this point, we need to make some recommendations around these racks.  But what are the criteria we will apply in making the final recommendation?  Who are the customers? And what are their needs from these racks?

Let’s look at this from a couple perspectives.  Let’s start with an experienced lifter, who has been at this a while, and now wants to expand his routine to incorporate squats.  He will be looking to build some serious leg, chest, and arm strength, and wants a fairly heavy-duty rack to support higher weights, but doesn’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it.  Ideally, he will find a unit that supports all the basic lifts like presses and squats, but can be added to in the future for even more flexibility.

Our second lifter is a relative novice to the sport, and is looking at weight training as a way to tone up his body, gain overall strength, and reap the associated health benefits from weight training.  This lifter would like a budget-priced squat rack, with basic features. The ability to add options for future needs is a plus, but not a hard requirement. His available space is a little tight, but not a constraint.  He works out by himself, so safety features are important.

As we go through the list, the primary selection drivers will be the suitability of the rack for personal use, and the combination of price – value – functionality for the squat rack.  This is reflected in the rating I have assigned in the table earlier in this article.

All right, so let’s get right into the deep water, and identify the squat racks that represent the best overall value for our two fictional weight lifters.

Right off the bat, I’m going to knock out the two specialty racks from our list – the kid’s squat rack, and the S-1 – S-2 conversion kit.  The conversion kit only has value to you if you already have an S-1, and want to add a pull-up bar to it. You still end up with a good, but basic squat rack, and have spent the same, or in some cases, more money than an upper end machine would have cost you.  So, given this niche market, we’ll drop the conversion kit.

As far as the kid’s rack, it has much the same issue.  While I get the concept, for just a few dollars more you could move to the York stand and have one unit that would work for both kids and adults, due to its adjustable nature.  Before too long, the kid’s squat rack would just end up headed to a garage sale, and you’re left with nothing. So off it goes.

The next two I’m going to drop off are both exceptional quality machines, but way, way more rack than either of our two fictional lifters will ever need.  Both the Combo Rack and the Mono Stand are geared to high-end commercial establishments, or professional level training rooms. Given the $$$ and (very high) $$$$ prices, they don’t represent the best values that this exercise is seeking.  

So, at this stage, we are left with numbers 1 – 4 on the table, and numbers 8 and 9.

The next one to drop out is the #9 squat rack, the York FTS.  This imported rack features telescoping uprights, allowing a 20” adjustment for both the bench press and squat moves.  While it has basic functionality, and a reasonable price, I question the overall stability of the unit, particularly when fully extended.  Placing additional weights on the storage pegs might alleviate this somewhat, but weights are meant to be lifted, not stored.

At this point, I really start to struggle with the ratings, and coming down to the “best of the best” rating.  The five squat racks left on the list are all very good quality, and, with one exception, all in the $$ price range.  The overall ratings do vary somewhat, though. Difficult indeed, but here we go.

The next rack to discuss is the Echo squat rack, with a $$ price and a 4.6 rating.  This is a strong contender, offering all the basic functionality, no bells and whistles, but also not expandable, and with no options for upgrade.  While perfectly suitable for a novice lifter, my recommendation would be to spend a little bit more money, and get one of the remaining racks with better features upgrade capability.  

And then there were four:

SML-2C

S-4

SM-1

SML-2

Let’s now look at the first of the Monster line of squat racks left, the SM-1.  This rack is a bit of a hybrid – either an upper end squat rack, or a lower end power rack.  It’s built solid, and has a compact footprint and height for use in smaller spaces. It starts out with a $$$ base price, but, with a long list of optional equipment, it would be pretty easy to put this into $$$$ range.  It has a 4.9 overall rating, but given the pricing compared to the others left on the list, I am crossing this one off.

And then there were three.  Let’s cut over and look at the S-4.  This is another 4.9 rated squat rack, but with a $$ price.  This is an independent rack, consisting of two separate upright bars, each mounted to its own base.  You get the advantage of a small footprint and easy storage, but lack a pull-up bar, and there are no available options other than a bench.  One detriment to me is that there are no safety arms available with this cup; you have to rely on the J cups if you lose control of the bar.

The last two rack to consider are the SML-2 90” Monster, and the SML-2C.  To start off the discussion, both of these units have the exact same price, right to the dollar. Let’s look at a few of the other key figures for these two units:

Specification
SML-2C

SML-2 Monster

2” x 3” x 11-gauge base
Yes
Yes

3” x 3” x 11-gauge uprights

Yes

Yes

49” x 48” x 92”H

Yes

Yes

Unit weight 157#

Yes

Yes

1000# capacity

Yes

Yes

Safety arms available
Optional
Optional

Colors
11 different choices Black

So, the bottom line here is that these two units are virtual twins, and it really comes down to picking a color.  The $$ price range makes them affordable to either the novice or our experienced lifter, and both have a number of options to expand their functionality.  Both of these units qualify as our “best of the best”, but the top five certainly are quality units that would work well for either application.

This wraps up the product review on the ten Rogue squat racks.  I hope, if nothing else, that at the end of this, you do indeed know squat.  


Top 10 Rogue Weightlifting Power Racks in 2019

With roots back to imperial China and ancient Greece, weightlifting has long been established as a competitive sport.  The Chinese used weightlifting as a measure of strength for admittance to their armies, and in the first Olympic games, the Greeks used weightlifting to measure the strength of their men, and to improve their ability to compete.  

The basics of weightlifting are fairly unchanged from these early periods – lifting a heavy weight over your head.  While this has evolved, from lifting rocks and stones, to using high tech weightlifting bars and weight plates, the core concepts remain the same.  Let’s take a look at the two basic components in today’s weightlifting world.

First is the weightlifting bar, or barbell.  In its simplest form, it is a long metal pole, and weight plates of various sizes are slid onto the bar.  In today’s world, however, this is a complex, highly machined piece of steel, designed and engineered to support hundreds of pounds of weight, flex as it is picked up off the ground, and stress as it is dropped from height after the lift.  

Next are the plates.  Ancient Greek pictorials show men lifting large stones with holes cut in them as handholds.  These weights evolved into large bulbs which could be filled with sand or water to get to the desired weights.  Today, these plates are milled to tolerances in grams, and designed in conjunction with the barbells to produce a matched set to incredibly tight tolerance.  

Let’s look at a little more detail at how a weightlifting bar, or barbell, is set up.  Here’s an example:

Given this, the minimum equipment to become a weightlifter is quite simple – you need a weightlifting bar, and you need some weight plates.  Having these gives you access to an exercise to improve your strength, flexibility, muscle tone, and overall health. But there is another element beyond this, which can enhance your personal safety while lifting, give you access to more and different lifting moves, and enhance your overall weight lifting experience – a weightlifting power rack.

So, what is a power rack?  In general terms, it is a steel cage, which, at its basic level, has four upright, vertical bars, connected at the top and bottom with horizontal bars.  It has two basic functions – it acts as a rest, or holder, for your barbell as you start or end a specific lift. It also acts as a spotter if you work out alone – a way to stop the weight from falling, or pinning the lifter inside the rack – by having safety catches and spotter bars within the cage.

So what advantages are there with a weightlifting rack, that you don’t have with a bar and plates alone?  We will talk about this in more detail later, but there are some advantages. These include the ability to do different and additional types of lifts, adding body-weight pull-ups into your routine, and enhanced safety, if you work out alone.  

In this article, we will be reviewing ten different weightlifting power rack versions, all manufactured and/or distributed by Rogue Fitness.  We’ll also highlight the best features of these racks, their costs, and assign them an overall rating based on quality, value, and performance.

Fact Sheet – Product Comparison Table

This section of the article will take a quick, high level look at ten different power racks sold by Rogue Fitness.  They are presented in ratings order, high to low, as explained later in this document. Further on in the article, we will look into detail at each of the racks, and make some recommendations on which might be the best fit for the consumer.

Number Product Best Feature Price Range Rouge Rating
1 Rogue RE-4 Echo Rack A basic, beginner level rack, with many of the same features as more expensive racks $ 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
2 Rogue RM-6 Monster Rack 2.0 An absolute behemoth of a rack, featuring heavy-duty hardware and steel beam construction $$$$$ 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
3 Rogue RML-3W Fold Back Wall Mount Rack Not a floor rack, but a space-saving wall mount with many of the same features of a floor rack, without the space loss. $ 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)
4 Rogue R-3 Power Rack Available in a standard or short version to accommodate ceiling heights.  Fairly small footprint; customization available. $$ 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)
5 Rogue R-4 Power Rack A larger version of the R-3 rack, it has a larger footprint with greater inside depth. $$ 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)
6 Rogue RML-490 Power Rack Reasonably compact footprint, well-suited for added customization. Nice safety features available. $$ 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)
7 Rogue RM-390F Flat Foot Monster Rack  Another in the Monster series, many standard safety features, heavy duty steel and hardware. $$ 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)
8 Rogue Bolt-Together R-3 Assembly required, but allows for easy maneuvering in small spaces.  Good standard features and customizable. $$ 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)
9 Rogue RML-690C Power Rack Another Monster, fully compatible with the others. Large footprint for lots of lifting versatility. $$$$ 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)
10 HR-2 Half Rack Conversion Kit Not a stand-alone rack, but a conversion kit for use with Rogue squat racks, expanding the versatility of the squat rack.   $$$$ 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Price range:

$ – <$500

$$ – $500 – $1000

$$$ – $1000 – $1500

$$$$ – $1500 – $2000

$$$$$ – >$2000

Prices are based on the standard configuration power rack, with no extra customization.  The Conversion Kit (#10 above) is $ by itself, but if you purchase one of the two compatible squat racks the total price moves into the $$ bracket.

Product-Buying Guide

There are three generally recognized levels of weightlifting – powerlifting, weightlifting, and weight training, also known as resistance training.

Powerlifting at competition level consists of two basic weight lifting techniques.  Each of them starts with the weight on the ground, so there are no benefits to the power lifter in using a rack, other than cross training with different lifting movements.  

Weightlifting normally consists of using heavier weights for repeated movements, until muscle failure is reached.  The purpose of weightlifting is muscle and strength development, and a weightlifting rack can assist with that. Weightlifting movements may consist of lifts such as the squat (weight across your shoulders, bending down to flex the knees, then driving up with the legs to return to the original position), bench press (laying on a weight bench, lowering the weight to your chest, lifting until an arm lock position is reached, and then lowering the weight to your chest to repeat), the shoulder press (similar to the bench press, but done in a sitting position) and the deadlift (starting with the weight on the floor or a low bar of a rack, then raising the weight to your waist level).  

Weight, or resistance, training normally is done with lighter weights, but with more repetitions.  The goal of weight training is body toning, not large muscle development. Other benefits improve strength improvement, improved health, and added strength for improved performance in other sports like football or basketball.  A weight rack can be very helpful for this type of workout, and can even enhance safety, if the individual is working out alone. The weight rack can also be used for various body weight exercises such as pull-ups.

With this background, we will focus on the use of weight racks primarily for weightlifting and weight training.  Many of the same weight movements can be used by powerlifters to improve overall stamina and strength, but that aspect of lifting will not be our main focus here.  Given that, let’s examine some of the key features and specifications for weightlifting power racks. For reference, here is a picture of a standard configuration weightlifting rack:

Capacity

The maximum capacity of weights that can be safely loaded on a rack is not normally listed in the product specifications, however, the user can get an indication of the capacity based on two factors.  First is the overall construction of the rack – size of the uprights and crossmembers. Lighter capacity racks will have smaller uprights, and lighter-weight hardware. Second, as you look at options available with the racks, most of them offer plate and bar combinations.  The weights of the plates offered is a strong indicator of the overall rack capacity; anything sold as an option is definitely compatible with the rack strength.

Upright size

This is the overall height of the rack.  This could have significance based on the ceiling height of the location of the installation.  It can also have an impact based on your personal height; a pull-up bar at six feet from the floor, when you are over six feet tall, will impact how you perform the exercise.  

Footprint

There are two overall important elements when examining the footprint of a weightlifting rack.  First is the space available in the area where you will be assembling and using the rack. The second is the inside dimension of the rack; the distance between the two upright posts.  The inside dimension needs to be wide enough where you can work both comfortably and safety within the confines of the rack.

Stability

The weight of the rack and other factors, may require the rack to be bolted to the floor in the location where it will be used.  This will be clearly defined in the specifications of the unit you are considering. Bolting down the unit, will obviously limit your flexibility in moving it between locations, such as outdoors in the summer and indoors in the winter.

Hole spacing

You will also see this referred to as Westside hole spacing.  In Westside spacing, the area where you will perform bench presses has the holes spaced one inch apart for greater flexibility and comfort in performing the lift; the distance between the bench and the bar can be adjusted based on your individual measurements.  Below and above this area, the holes are typically spaced at two inches apart. On upper end racks, you will see numbers assigned to these holes to help you make sure the pegs and bars are set at the same height inside the cage.

Hardware

Hardware will give you a good indication of the overall stability, strength, and capacity of the rack. Some weightlifting racks will use 1/2-inch bolts for assembly; top-end, heavy duty models may use 1-inch hardware.

Bar containment

Every rack needs some type of peg system where various shaped holders will be placed to rest the bar.  Lower end racks may use an L-shaped bracket, where the bar rests on a 90-degree angle, like the letter “L”.  The disadvantage here is containment; it is easy to move the bar off the peg. Better racks will use a cup like the letter “J”.  Here, the bar can’t roll out on its own; a slight lift is needed to clear the curvature of the peg.

Options

Depending on the rack, the features will vary.  A top-priced rack may have all the bells and whistles, with very few options, while a lower-priced rack may require the purchase of additional options to get all the features you need.  Some of the more common features or options include pull-up bars of different diameters to improve grip strength, dip bars, post for attaching resistance bands, a safety strap or safety bar system, and pegs for weight plate storage on the rack.

Price

Like just about anything you buy, price is an important consideration.  Price can be affected by the extras you want or need – special features, upgrades, improved specifications, and options to the basic unit.  It is no different than buying a car. If you have three children, a two-seat car is not going to be right for you. If you are a competition or serious weightlifter, buying a base rack from your local department store is not going to be right.  On the other hand, if you work out only on weekends, you probably don’t need an expensive weight rack system. Whatever you decide to do with your purchase, the emphasis should be on value, not just the purchase price alone.

Making your decision

So, you already have some information on various weight rack systems.  You know that there are lots of different models, each with a set of standard features and available options, and widely varying price ranges.   How do you match what you want, with what you need, and what you can afford?

One element is frequency of use.  If you are a serious weight trainer, and working out three to five times a week, the rack you select will have different requirements than if you throw some weights around for a half-hour on Saturday morning.  

A second consideration is the weight capacity of the unit.  Some of these units are designed with smaller sized uprights, and smaller diameter hardware than others.  No matter what weight range you lift, you will still need to purchase a sturdy weight rack, but will you really need the heaviest bar construction and hardware?

Next, location, location, location.  Where will you be doing your workouts.  Remember that a weight rack can require very little permanent space, like the wall unit we will review later on in this article, or can require quite a large space, like some of the racks in the Monster series here.  Are you going to assemble your rack in a temperature-controlled room inside your house, where you don’t have to worry about wide temperature swings from hot to cold, or humidity, which can cause oxidation and rust? Or will your unit be in an ambient temperature environment, where the steel coating becomes a more major consideration?

Will you be using equipment you already have with this rack, or buying a full, ground up set?  If you are going to use existing equipment, you have to verify that the bar style and length are compatible with the rack, and that it will fit correctly and safely into the retaining system, whether J cup or L cup.  Some racks have plate storage capability, and you will also need to ensure that is compatible with your plates.

You now should have some idea about how all these individual features and specifications fit together to comprise a weight rack system.  Because this information has been at a fairly high level, it is also important to drop down a notch, and take a look at each of these ten racks in more detail.  In the next section, we’ll look at overall impressions of the system, the advantages and strengths of the rack, and any disadvantages or missing features that could affect your purchase.  

Top 10 Best

#1 Rogue RE-4 Echo Rack

First Impressions:

This economy matches up many of the features from the other “R” series rack, with a $$ price and a 5.0- star review, so it would seem like a no-brainer purchase.  However, be cautioned there are only two reviews on this product on the Rogue site. So please set your expectations accordingly.

Features & Specifications:

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  • Built with 2”x2” rails of 11-gauge steel (the lower the gauge number, the thicker the steel), this is a solid unit, clocking in at 190 pounds.  Assembly hardware is ½”.
  • It comes with standard skinny and fat grip pull-up bars, J-cups, and a set of four pegs for resistance band training.
  • A 52” x 52” footprint gives plenty of work area, without taking up a ton of space, and the unit is just over 90” tall.

Pros:

  • A good utility rack, without a lot of features, but certainly versatile enough for the novice or experienced lifter.  
  • Available plate sets go up to 260-pounds, so plenty of weight and bar capacity.
  • Black-coated steel construction, with plastic protection J-cups for durability.  J-cups are welded to the frame, so placed permanently.

Cons:

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  • Unit must be bolted to the floor unless extra stability bars are purchased.
  • No attachments are available for dip stations or plate storage.  
  • Safety bars are optional equipment.
  • The hole pattern is 2” in the bench press area, 6” elsewhere.  

Final Thoughts:

It’s difficult to draw firm conclusions based on the limited reviews.  While the unit covers all the requirements of a basic rack, that’s pretty much all you can get.  Options are very limited, and it’s disappointing, that the safety features are optional rather than standard.  Despite the low cost and the rating, it is probably worth looking at other racks in the R series.

Check Price


#2 Rogue RM-6 Monster Rack 2.0

First Impressions:

This rack is a beast in every aspect, including the $$$$$ price!  Given all the configuration options, there is not a weight given in the specs, but you’re not going to carry this box by yourself.  This rack is geared for the professional athlete, elite gymnasiums, and college level athletic rooms. If an individual buys this rack, he will most likely be passing it on to his kids.

Features & Specifications :

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  • Available in eleven different colors, this rack has a giant 80” x 53” footprint, and comes in three heights from 90” to 108”, allowing for varied pull-up bar placement.
  • The rack is built with 3” x 3”, 11-gauge steel and 1” hardware.  
  • A pin and pipe safety system is standard, and an optional safety strap system is rated to 10,000 pounds.  
  • The standard, moveable J cups come with a high molecular weight plastic coating, and are rated at 1000 pounds.

Pros:

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  • Given the size and weight of the rack, no anchoring is required.
  • Laser cut numbers make hole alignment easy when placing the J cups.
  • The rack comes standard with four pegs for resistance band training, and 8 storage posts for weight plate storage.  
  • With all the available options, there are innumerable combinations of standard and optional equipment to make this rack complete in any application.

Cons:

  • This is a full function machine, and I can’t imagine instances where it would not be fully suitable for use.  The only real drawback to this rack is the $$$$$ price, which likely moves it out of the realm of all but the most dedicated lifters, and into the realm of professional aspects or commercial training facilities.  

Final Thoughts:

This rack is probably beyond the reach of even the most dedicated lifters, based on overall price and all the bells and whistles both standard and available as options. Its likely home will be in high school, collegiate, or professional weight rooms.  However, if money is no object, you absolutely cannot go wrong with this weightlifting rack.

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#3 Rogue RML-3W Fold Back Wall Mount Rack

First Impressions:

If space is at a premium for you, this might be the rack system you need.  Two available depths, 21” or 41”, give the lifter flexibility in determining the inside usable area.  The 4.9 rating and lifetime warranty are a strong indication of the quality and durability of this rack.  When stowed away, it takes up only 5” of space off the wall, which makes it perfect for a garage application where you still need the car inside.

Features & Specifications :

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  • Constructed from 3” x 3” 11-gauge steel, with 5/8” hardware, this is a heavy-duty unit, at either 63 or 190 pounds, depending on the depth configuration chosen.
  • The steel has a black powder coating for extra durability.
  • The Westside hole spacing is 1” apart in the bench press area, and 2” apart elsewhere on the rack.

Pros:

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  • This unique design allows the lifter the functionality of a standing weightlifting rack, without permanently committing the floor space for one.
  • A heavy-duty hinge and pin system lock the extended unit in place without excessive movement during lifting.
  • An optional stringer system is highly recommended by Rogue to facilitate mounting on the wall.  These stringers come with all hardware to securely mount them to a standard wood stud wall.

Cons:

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  • Improper installation could cause damage to the wall, rack, or lifter!
  • The unit is fully functional, but there are not a lot of options available for it, such as dip stations and plate storage pegs.

Final Thoughts:

This rack is an excellent combination of design, functionality, and flexibility.  For those lifters with space limitations, they can still have a good quality, basic weightlifting rack.  The $ price is just one more advantage to this product.

Check Price


#4 Rogue R-3 Power Rack

First Impressions:

This is the smallest of the R series racks, with a footprint of 53” x 34”.  The rack can be purchased in a “shorty” version for low-ceiling areas such as a basement.  It has decent standard equipment, and there are several optional variations available as well.  It’s compatible with other R series racks, so much of their equipment could be added to this model.

Features & Specifications :

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  • The unit features everything you need in its standard configuration, including pin and pipe safety bars, J cups, and resistance band pegs.  Plate storage is available as an option.
  • This rack has a black powder coated finish, and is guaranteed for life by Rogue.
  • The Westside hole pattern is 1” through the bench press area, and 2” above and below that.

Pros:

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  • A $$ price and a 4.9 rating combine to make this a desirable rack for the novice or experienced lifter.
  • 2” x 3” 11-gauge steel, with 5/8” hardware, makes this a sturdy and durable weightlifting rack.
  • The expandability of this rack allows you to start on a basic level, and add functionality over time.
  • Having a shorter version available could make this attractive to a wider market base.

Cons:

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  • While the base configuration weighs in at 200 pounds, the unit must be bolted to the floor for safety and security.
  • Some reviewers expressed concern about the tight interior depth for doing squats; others claim it is not an issue.  

Final Thoughts:

What’s not to like about this unit?  Solid, durable, great warranty. Small footprint to increase the flexibility on where it can be used, including the “shorty” version.  The unit is expandable to give it almost the same functionality of other more expensive R line racks. Did I say great rating and great price?

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#5 Rogue R-4 Power Rack

First Impressions & Specifications :

This is a larger version of the R-3 rack reviewed above.  It comes with a bigger footprint, and bigger interior depth, which some rated as a concern on the R-3.  Functionality and specs are similar to the R-3, with some additions like a second pull-up bar and standard resistance band pegs.

Features:

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  • This weightlifting rack has a 53” x 53” footprint, and is constructed out of 2” x 3” 11-gauge steel, 5/8” hardware, and a black powder coating finish.  
  • The inside depth of 43” gives ample room for squats and other exercises.
  • Plastic coated J cups, pegs for resistance bands, and safety pipes and pins all come as standard equipment.

Pros:

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  • While a little more expensive than the R-3, this unit still wields a 4.9 rating and a $$ price.
  • The expandability of this rack allows you to start on a basic level, and add functionality over time.  
  • While it does not have the “shorty” version available like the R-3, the overall dimensions of this unit make it usable for most home gyms.
  • Standard Westside hole spacing is 1” through the bench area, and 2” above and below.

Cons:

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  • Even with fifty pounds additional weight, floor mounting is still highly recommended for this unit.
  • While it comes standard with a safety system, the preferred Infinity safety strap system is a (rather expensive) option.

Final Thoughts:

Like the R-3, there is really not much to dislike about this unit.  It is sneaking up to the $$$ threshold, but given the functionality and expandability that should not deter too many.  The real differentiator here from the R-3 is the larger footprint and interior dimensions. If those are important, this is your unit; otherwise the R-3 is fully comparable.

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#6 Rogue RML-490 Power Rack

First Impressions:

From the Monster series of racks, this one is “Monster Lite”.  With heavy-duty construction featuring 3” x 3” rails and 5/8” hardware this is a solid unit, built for a long usable life.  It weighs in at 336 pounds, and has a 53” x 53” footprint. It has decent standard features, and is easy to upgrade with other Monster equipment.

Features & Specifications :

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  • Standard equipment includes J cups, pipe and pin safety bars, two pull-up bars, and resistance band pegs.  A dip station and plate storage pegs are among available options. Normal Westside bench press hole configuration is standard on this rack.  
  • Rogue recommends that the unit be mounted to the floor unless a stabilizer bar is added.  Both the mounting hardware and stabilizer bar are available at extra cost.
  • The unit has a 49” x 49” interior dimension working area, and comes in a black powder coating finish as standard.  

Pros:

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  • From a quality ranking perspective, this is another 4.9 rated unit, and a price still in the $$ range.  
  • This unit has several options available for upgraded equipment and features, which can be added over time to prevent the initial “sticker shock”.
  • A wide variety of custom colors are available for this unit.

Cons:

  • Floor mounting is recommended for this unit, and buying either the stabilizer bar or anchor kit actually pushes this unit up into the $$$ range.

Final Thoughts:

This unit is kind of the middle child.  Unless you need the extra stability for lifting heavier weights, the R-4 is probably enough rack for you.  If you are lifting heavier weights, the RM-390 might be a better fit, as it has more upward potential. There are no major issues with this unit; it just seems to me, there are better choices right above or below it.

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#7 Rogue RM-390F Flat Foot Monster Rack 

First Impressions:

Back to the true monsters here. This rack comes with very heavy-duty construction, solid weight and footing for stability, includes a lot of bells and whistles, with capability for more.  We edge into $$$ pricing with this rack, but it has standard features that would cost you extra in other models. The satin black finish makes it attractive, as well as functional.

Features & Specifications :

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  • This unit comes with the big guns – 54” x 50” footprint, 24” inside depth, and 93” tall.  Big enough for squats or any interior lift, and tall enough for most to do dead weight body hangs from the pull-up bar without touching the floor.
  • The rack features 3”x 3” 11-gauge steel uprights, and 1” bolts and hangers for assembly.  With a weight of 336 pounds and a self-stabilizing footer, this unit does not require floor mounting.
  • Laser cut numbers on the hole spacing make matching heights across the unit simple and efficient.

Pros:

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  • Very strong standard features, including pin and pipe safety system, extra-strong Monster J cups, and all assembly tools included.  
  • Rubber coated foot guards protect flooring and prevent any movement during rack usage.
  • This rack is compatible with many other Monster accessories, including dip stations and plate storage pegs.  

Cons:

  • We’re not to Monster RM6 price levels, but we are well into $$$ range.  Add in a couple accessories and this unit will break into $$$$ pretty quickly.  In reality, you are getting a slightly upgraded RM-3, without the requirement to bolt it to the floor.

Final Thoughts:

This is a solid unit, but starting to sneak up there in the price range.  For an individual user, it’s a bit of a stretch. You do get some extra strength and stability, but pay a pretty dear price for it.  Other units will do most of what this one will. I see this rack more in the realm of gyms and weight training rooms, not individual homes.  

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#8 Rogue Bolt-Together R-3

First Impressions:

This, along with the wall-mount unit we looked at earlier, is another modified version of another rack; in this case, the R-3.  The selling and marketing advantage(?) of this unit is that it is shipped unassembled, ostensibly so you can more easily maneuver it up a tight staircase or low ceiling area.  Other than that, it is a standard R-3 unit.

Features & Specifications :

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  • With a 53” x 34” footprint, and 24” inside depth (with a 30” depth option available at extra cost), this is a medium sized unit that should be able to find a home in any home or garage.  
  • At 90” tall, the unit is assembled from 2” x 3” 11-gauge steel uprights, using 5/8” bolts and hangers.
  • Like the standard R-3, this rack has all the basics you need for weightlifting, and is expandable with several compatible features and options from other R series racks.

Pros:

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  • The unit features everything you need in its standard configuration, including pin and pipe safety bars, J cups, and resistance band pegs.  Plate storage is available as an option.
  • This rack has a black powder coated finish, and is guaranteed for life by Rogue.
  • The Westside hole pattern is 1” through the bench press area, and 2” above and below that.
  • A $$ price and a 4.8 rating combine to make this a desirable rack for the novice or experienced lifter.

Cons:

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  • While the base configuration weighs in at 200 pounds, the unit must be bolted to the floor for safety and security.
  • Some reviewers expressed concern about the tight interior depth for doing squats; others claim it is not an issue.  

Final Thoughts:

I have to admit that I just don’t get this.  The advantage of this rack is you can put it together yourself; the disadvantage of this rack is you have to put it together yourself.  And, surprisingly, you actually pay a slight premium for the privilege of assembling it. I’m sure there are occasional instances where this rack might make sense, but I’m guessing the vast majority just buy the R-3.  

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#9 Rogue RML-690C Power Rack

First Impressions:

I think we have another step-child here.  The combination of a high-end $$$$ price and, by Rogue standards, a low 4.8 rating would move me to push this one off to the side while shopping.  An attractive rack, finished in a semi-gloss powder coat finish available in ten colors, it has many of the same features as the RM6, but seems to be just a little off, top to bottom.

Features & Specifications :

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  • This rack has the same 80” x 53” footprint as the RM-6, the same 3”x 3” 11-gauge steel, but dropped down to 5/8” hardware for assembly.  
  • At 530 pounds, floor bolts are not necessary.  
  • Westside hole spacing is 1” through the bench press area, and 2” above and below.

Pros:

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  • This is a very heavy-duty machine, with lots of bells and whistles.  Pipe and pin safety system, resistance band pegs, and bumper plate storage posts are standard.
  • There are many opportunities beyond color choices for customization, including height and depth of the rack.

Cons:

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  • There are no numbers assigned to the holes as in the RM-6, making alignment of pegs and safety equipment more difficult.
  • Given all the weightlifting power racks offered by Rogue, this combination of high price and lower quality rating makes this a bad value.  

Final Thoughts:

Unless there is a big sale or some other event to stimulate demand, I don’t see this RM-6 “wannabe” being a good purchase.  You can get a full-featured RM-6 rack for a couple hundred bucks more, or drop down to a 390 or 490, get similar functionality and specs, and save some serious money.  This might be a great commercial machine, but to me the value is just not there.

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#10 HR-2 Half Rack Conversion Kit

First Impressions:

This kit allows you to take a couple specific Rogue squat racks and convert them into a half-sized weightlifting rack.  By doing so, you get more spotting (read as safety) options, and improved storage for you weight plates. The uprights are made of 3” x 3” 11-gauge steel, and create a half-rack with a 1000-pound weight capacity.

Features & Specifications :

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  • The conversion kit gives you the two uprights, plates for attaching the uprights to the squat rack, two cross-members for attaching at the top, and all the required hardware.
  • Addition functionality, such as long and short plate storage pegs and a pin and pipe safety system are optional and at extra cost.

Pros:

  • This conversion kit lets you expand the functionality of your existing Rogue S-2 or S-3 squat rack.
  • The purchase of optional features let you increase plate storage on this piece of equipment.

Cons:

  • If you buy just the conversion kit, this is a $ item, but brings with it only a 4.6 rating.  If you were to buy both the squat rack and conversion kit, the item is $$.

Final Thoughts:

If you have the right Rogue squat rack in your equipment, and want to expand the functionality of it, then this conversion kit might be worth looking into.  However, I really don’t see any circumstances where you would buy both at the same time. For the same or a little more money, you can get a full rack, with improved stability and greater features and functionality.  This purchase is probably only for a small niche market.

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Spotlights – Weightlifting – History, How and Why

As we noted earlier, weightlifting goes all the way back to ancient civilizations, like the Chinese and Greeks.  The initial tools for this were simple; men used either their own body weight, for such things are rope climbing, or natural tools, such as rocks and stones.  The Scots to this day have competitions over how far they can throw tree trunks, and circus strong men were among the earliest lifters. Strength has always been recognized as a desirable trait, and weight training and lifting enhances that trait.

In the late 1800s, more formalized weight lifting competitions began to evolve, starting in western Europe.  In the modern Olympic games, weightlifting made its first appearance in 1896. Apparently, there was insufficient interest garnered in the event, as it did not appear as an event in the 1900 Olympics.  The early history was a bit checkered, as it was competed in the 1904 games, but not in 1908 and 1912. The 1916 games were cancelled because of World War I, and, when the games revived in 1920, so did weightlifting.

Prior to 1932, there were no weight divisions in Olympic lifting.  In 1932, five different weight classes for lifters were established, allowing them to compete with opponents of common size, across three specific lifting movements.  Women did not officially compete in Olympic weightlifting until 2000, but women were active in several different organizations and competitions well in advance of their Olympic debut.

The earlier versions of today’s weightlifting racks were known as Smith Machines.  The original concept was advanced by Jack Lalanne, a very influential person in the early days of American fitness.  In the 1950s, Lalanne was looking for a machine to allow him to do squats without having a spotter present. While working with a friend, Rudy Smith, the first concepts of the machine were crafted.  Smith arranged to have a prototype built, and then managed to work it into a chain of gyms owned by Vic Tanny. By the 1970s these machines were common in gyms all over the US.

At this point, we have an understanding about the evolution of weight lifting through history, and have seen how the equipment used in weight lifting has moved from rocks and stones to today’s plate, racks, and bars.  The focus in this section has been, so far, on the professional and elite lifters. But those groups are in reality just a small niche in the weightlifting market; let’s take a look at how weightlifting fits into the lives of the everyday man and woman.

We know from earlier discussions here that weightlifting and weight training are two different things.  Most people using free weights are involved in weight training. They want to gain strength, improve their overall fitness, and develop firm muscle tone.  All of these targets lead to an overall goal of improved health and well-being. Weight training can improve bone density, and can help you maintain or even lose weight, as muscle burns more calories than fat.  It can increase heart health by improving aerobic capability, and lowering one’s cholesterol profile. Weight training is a very simple way to gain numerous health benefits.

By incorporating a weight rack into weight training, the lifter is able to improve his lifting safety, and reduce the risk of injury.  With the various safety features incorporated into the racks, lifters can use heavier weights than they could without the rack.

Final Verdict

In the course of this article, we’ve looked at the history of the sport of weightlifting, its origins, and the types of competition within this sport – strongest man competitions, the Olympics, and so on.  The detailed review undertaken on these ten racks looked at both common and unique features and specification. Knowing what we expect as performance criteria from these racks, we looked at both the pros and cons of their ability to deliver these expectations.  An overall impression of the value and placement of each rack was also assessed.

This selection was a cross-section of ten Rogue weightlifting power racks.  Most of them were standard, floor model racks, but, within that range, there were super heavy-duty racks for the elite athlete and racks for the average guy.  We threw in a couple specialty racks, including a conversion kit and a wall mounted rack.

So, from this list, let’s get started choosing the west weightlifting rack choices.  First, let’s identify the customers for these racks. We’ll look at this from two perspectives.  Customer A has been weight training for some time, and is getting ready to move up from his department store equipment into something a little further up the quality scale.  He feels a rack will help him meet his overall strength goals, and provide him safety considerations, as he typically works out alone. Customer B is a novice lifter, just getting started in the sport, and looking for a good value investment in a weight rack to help him meet his goals.  The major decision points for each will be the cost of the rack, and the overall value provided by the rack.

The “best of” racks should be suitable for personal use, not just designed for the commercial gym or professional athlete.  We will not, however, automatically exclude those higher end racks; if they provide the right mix of cost and value, they will be selected.  So, to summarize, my selection of “best of” will be driven by the pros and cons of the equipment, and the mix of price and value.

Let’s get started.

Let’s begin this exercise by looking at the #10 rack on the list, the HR2 conversion kit.  Rogue has two models of squat rack which can be modified by installing this conversion kit, turning it into a half rack set-up.  This unit would probably have a very limited market, and, for that reason, it will be dropped from out “best of” list.

Number 9 on the list is the RML 690.  This is a very heavy-duty machine, probably geared more to the commercial or professional market than the personal one.  As we discussed above, this one falls in between the absolute top end model and a couple other very good models in different price points.  So, based on the high price scale for this model, and the availability of similar models at lower prices, we drop the 690 from the list next.

The next model, #8, is another specialty model, the Bolt-together R3.  This one is pretty much the same machine as the R3 Power Rack, but it comes unassembled, purportedly to allow for maneuvering it up tight stairways or in rooms with narrow doors or low ceilings.  Okay, an interesting concept, but is it really worth paying more than the standard R3 model, and then having to take the time to assemble it? Off the list it goes.

The next three models, the RM390, the RML490, and the R4 Power, numbers 5, 6, and 7, are all similarly rated and priced.  All have good functionality, durability, and strength. All three have the same 4.9 rating, and, although the 390 has a $$$ price, the difference is fairly small.  Any of these three machines would be a worthy step up rack for our experienced lifter, and would also suffice for a novice lifter, but have more capability than really needed for that level of expertise.  Bottom line for these three racks – all recommended, but not the “best of” “or best value” that we are looking for,

Let’s drop down to #3 on the list, the RML 3W wall mount rack.  This is unique, in that it is a wall-mounted, fold up version of a full-size rack.  It would be perfect for a garage application, or a multi-use room where you could not leave a full rack set up all the time.  It has to be securely mounted, for obvious reasons, so portability is out of the question. It is also, again, geared to a niche market.  I’d say this is probably not a great step-up choice for our experienced lifter, but could be a good starter rack given its $ price and 4.9 rating.  For those reasons, while recommended, I’m going to throw this one off the list.

To take a quick recap, we have three racks left for consideration as “best of the best”; #4, the R3 Power Rack; #2, the RM6 Monster Rack, and #1 the RE4 Echo.

Let’s start out looking at the RM6 rack.  This is a huge, heavy duty, fully versatile weightlifting rack.  You get everything with this rack, even a choice of almost a dozen colors.  But let’s be realistic here. Unless you are a professional or competition level lifter, or an elite athlete, the $$$$$ price of this rack is going to chase away most individuals.  This is a rack you would most likely find in a top end gym, or in a professional or collegiate weight or training room. It blows away almost every other rack on the list with a 5.0 rating, but it is way too much rack for a novice, and even a move-up rack for an experienced lifter.  There are too many highly functional racks on this list that would suffice for those fictional people. So goodbye to the RM6.

This leaves two racks – the RE4 and the R3 Power Rack.  Both have the same $$ price point, and are almost identically priced within that range.  The RE4 has a 5.0 rating, but qualified; the R3 has a solid 4.9 rating. The qualification on the RE4 is that it only has two reviews in total; the R3 has almost 100.

So, when we put these two remaining racks side by side, here’s what I see:

  • The Echo has 2” x 2” rails, and is assembled with ½” hardware.  The R3 has 2” x 3” rails, and is assembled with 5/8” hardware. Advantage R3.
  • The Echo has a 52” x 52” x 90” tall footprint.  The R3 is 53” x 34” x 84” or 90” tall. The shorter version is available for locations where ceiling height is a consideration.  Slight advantage Echo for having a deeper working area, but positive to the R3 for the different height availability. Advantage Echo.
  • Both units require floor mounts.  Advantage to neither.
  • The Echo has a 2”/6” Westside hole pattern.  The R3 has a more standard 1”/2” pattern. Advantage R3.
  • Safety bars are optional on the Echo, but standard on the R3.  Advantage R3.

Drumroll, please.  

When you stack up these two racks side by side, for me, it’s no-contest; the R3 Power Rack is the clear winner.  Time may prove out the 5.0 rating on the Echo, but with just not enough user comments, and some technical disadvantages, the R3 is clearly the better rack.  It has solid capability for the experienced lifter (although some of the other models might be better move-ups for a very experienced lifter), and is a perfect rack for the new lifter.  

Realistically, you could not go wrong buying any of these racks, and it was a very tough task trying to identify enough differences between them to pick the best of the best.  Hopefully this article has given you some knowledge and guidance for your first or next weightlifting rack purchase.

Top 10 Rogue Fitness Weight Plates in 2019

At its core, weightlifting is a very simple sport.  You have a big pole, weights on both ends of it, and you move it off the ground and raise it over your head.  However, when one looks at the science of weightlifting, you get quite a different picture. Weightlifting bars are designed and built to incredibly close tolerances, as the penalty for breakage or damage during a lift is severe.  The plates are also designed for strength, as they are typically released and dropped from height. The specifications and tolerances of both the plates and bars must fit together, or else the hole in the plate might be too small to fit on the bar, or the hole might be too large, and spin too freely on the bar.  

Let’s look at a little more detail at how a weightlifting bar, or barbell, is set up.  Here’s an example:

The bar itself is made of a special grade of steel.  Lengths may vary based on use and purpose. The weights on the bar are called plates, and vary in weight up to 25 kilograms (55 pounds).  The focus of this article will be on the plates. The part of the bar where the plates are held is called the sleeve. The apparatus at the end of the bar and toward the center of the bar, holding the plates in place, is called a collar.  We’ll get into the details behind these things in a little bit.

While you may think of a weight plate as just a weight, there is actually a lot of technology behind them, as they need to meet fairly exacting specifications.  Most weights will be available in sizes up to 55 pounds. Metric equivalents of up to 25 kilograms are also available. Plates may be steel, coated steel, solid, round, and even twelve-sided.  There is a key barbell measure, called loadable sleeve length, which is the measure of the usable area where plates can be loaded. The number of plates that can be put into this area determines the total poundage of the lift.  

In this article, we will be reviewing ten different plate versions, all manufactured and/or distributed by Rogue Fitness.  We’ll also highlight the best features of these plates, their costs, and assign them an overall rating based on quality, value, and performance.

Fact Sheet – Product Comparison Table

This section of the article will take a quick, high level look at ten different weight plate styles sold by Rogue.  They are presented in ratings order, high to low, as explained later in this document. Further on in the article, we will look into detail at each of the plate sets, and make some recommendations on which might be the best fit for the consumer.

Number Product Best Feature Price range (see below)
1
Rogue Echo Bumper Plates
Imported from China, budget friendly model; rubber coated for dead bounce and durability $
2 Rogue Machined Olympic Plates Machined to exacting tolerances, unique hammertone finish, Olympic style plates $$
3 Rogue Black Training KG Plates Produced to similar specs as Olympic plates, superior dead bounce and durability $$$
4 Rogue Color LB Training 2.0 Plates Narrow width plates for more loading, color coded for easier identification $$$$
5 Rogue HG 2.0 KG Bumper Plates Thinner than competitive plates so more weight can be loaded; imported from China $
6 Rogue 6-Shooter Olympic Grip Plates Six symmetrical grip holes for easy handling and loading, hammertone finish $$
7 Rogue Bumper Plates by Hi-Temp Heavy duty bumper plates, coated in rubber for protection, available individually or in sets $$
8 Rogue Dumbbell Bumpers Six weight increments, designed for use with the Rogue loadable dumbbell $$
9 Rogue Calibrated LB Steel Plates Machine calibrated for extreme precision; color coding for easy identification $$
10 Rogue 65LB Gorilla Bumpers (Pair) Heavier than a 45- pound plate, but only .25” thicker to allow more weight on the bar $$$

Price range:

$ – <$150

$$ – $150 – $200

$$$ – $200 – $250

$$$$ – > $250

Prices are based on cost of 2×45 pound plates, or 2×20 kilogram plates if a metric set.\

Product-Buying Guide

Any set or combination of these weight plates is perfectly suited to help you with your weightlifting endeavors.  As noted earlier, there are three subsets within weightlifting – standard (or weight training), weightlifting, and power weightlifting.  Some of these weight plates are specifically designed and manufactured for each of these purposes. Power weightlifting is the most demanding, involving lifting extremely heavy weights, typically in a competition setting.  In general, power weightlifting is centered around two specific movements, the clean and jerk, and the snatch; both of these techniques involve lifting the weight over your head. The snatch begins with lifting the weight to your knee level, bending the knees, moving the weight over your head, and then pushing up with your legs to full extension.  The clean and jerk is similar, initially moving the weight to chest level, then jerking the weight in a fluid motion so it ends up over your head, with extended arms. In each of these moves, the plates are dropped to the ground at the end of the lift. This puts a different type of stress on the plates than with other weightlifting movements. Because of this, plates for powerlifting applications typically have a plastic or rubber coating to absorb the shock of being dropped from height; this type of plate is referred to as a bumper plate.  This type of weight lifting is not about repetitions; success is measured by the amount of weight you can lift successfully.

Weightlifting involves a different set of movements – the squat, the bench press, the dead lift.  None of these moves involve lifting the weight over your head. The squat involves holding a weight at chest height, dropping into a squatting position, then using your legs to drive the weight back up.  The bench press involves lying on a weight bench, and lifting the weight off your chest using arm strength. The dead lift starts with a heavy weight resting on the floor, then raising the weight to waist height.  Weights are replaced on a rack, or set on the floor following these movements. The goal for the weightlifter is muscle building, pure and simple. This is accomplished by lifting heavy weights for a few repetitions. Weightlifting can use pretty much any type of plate; limitations may be caused by the width of the plate.  If too wide, the lifter cannot fit enough weight on the bar for his routine. Plates with small widths have developed to fill this niche.

Standard weightlifting, also known as weight training or resistance training, is usually done with a goal of increasing strength, endurance and/or muscle mass.  Weight training is often used to supplement performance in other sports, such as football or basketball. While you may use many of the same moves and lifts in weight training as in powerlifting or weightlifting, they are typically done with less weight, and more repetitions.   Weight training may also incorporate the use of dumbbells rather than using a standard barbell configuration. Dumbbells are basically a much shorter barbell designed for use in one hand. We will review one set of dumbbell plates here.

We will be looking in depth at different types of weight plates here, which serve different weightlifting purposes.  Typical divisions will include bumper plates (typically specific to powerlifting, but can be used in other applications), competition (or Olympic) plates (multi-purpose, but with an opening that only fits on an Olympic bar) , steel plates (basic, with no plastic, designed for weightlifting or training), change plates (smaller weight plates to increase weight on the bar incrementally), multi-purpose plates (used in all three applications), and dumbbell bumper plates (designed for use on dumbbells, but, depending on opening size, may be suitable for barbell use). So, now we know about the different types of weight plates available, the types of lifting they are used for, and the type of movements that are done as part of lifting.  Given that, let’s look at some of the key performance criteria and product specifications for weightlifting plates.

Loadable sleeve length

This refers to the part of the barbell where the weight plates are held; the distance from the end of the barbell to the collar.  The collar, located on the barbell itself, is typically about two inches in diameter. There is a secondary collar attached to the end of the bar to hold the weight plates in position, so they do not rotate or slide on the bar.  This secondary collar does take up bar space, but it is also a good safety feature to keep the plates from sliding off the bar. While this is primarily a feature of weightlifting barbells, not plates, it is relevant in this discussion, as the sleeve length may limit the amount of weight the bar can hold.

Collar

As noted, the collar is located on the barbell.  One of its functions is to act as a “stop” for the weight plates; they separate the sleeve and the shaft.  Inside the collar, manufacturers will place either bushings or bearings. Both of them are designed to allow the bar to spin during the lift.  Some spin is desirable; too much is not, so there is a balancing point here for both the lifter and the manufacturer.

Width and Diameter

Let’s start by looking at the weight plates with the most demanding specification – those used in weightlifting competitions or the Olympic Games.  Ten different size weights are used:

.5 kg. – 2.5 kg. in .5 kg. increments

5 kg. – 25 kg. in 5 kg. increments

15, 20, and 25- kilogram plates

The diameter on the 3 larger plates must be 450 mm, with a tolerance of +/- 1 mm.  These discs have a rubber coating. The smaller disks are made of metal or other materials, and no coating is required.  The width of the larger plates is variable, since the diameter is fixed. The largest plates, 25 kilograms, will be wider than the smaller 15- or 20-kilogram plates.  This width is where the specification of the loadable sleeve comes into play.

Standard weights are not bound to the specifications of the International Weightlifting Federation, so you may see variation in diameter and thickness based on the manufacturer and materials.  Standard weights are typically sold in pound, not kilogram, increments, with seven sizes typical. These are 2.5 pound; 5 pounds; 10 pounds; 25 pounds; 35 pounds; 45 pounds; and 100 pounds.

Bore

The center hole of the weights, or the bore, varies based on the use of the weight.  Competition level weights will have a bore of two inches; standard plates will have a one-inch center hole.  The specifications of the weightlifting barbell must obviously conform to the specification of the bore. The diameter specifications of the bore must match very closely to the diameter specifications of the barbell sleeve, or there will be fit issues with the plates.

Weight tolerance

This is the amount of variation between the actual weight of the plate, and the stated weight of the plate.  Standard specifications allow for a variation of +/- 15 grams from stated weight. Some cheaper sets may have weight variations of up to 3%.  This becomes more critical in competition and powerlifting applications, but not a big issue for the weight trainer.

Insert type

Most plates come with a center insert, which is where the bore is located.  In competition type bars, these will typically be of chrome plated steel or zinc plated steel.  Other materials used include stainless steel for higher end plates. The insert may be recessed to avoid contact with other plates while on the bar.

Shore A Durometer Test

This test measures the hardness of a material; in this case, the hardness of the steel of the plates.  The scale for steel runs from about 65 to 100. A lower score means the metal is softer, and will bounce more when dropped from height.  A higher score means the metal is harder, and will bounce less. A higher durometer test reading is more desirable in these circumstances.

Price

As with virtually any other product, price will play into your purchase considerations.  It will factor into your decision on options, features, and specifications. If you are a competition level lifter, buying low-end plates from the local big box retailer might not be the best choice for you.  Conversely, if you are a weekend lifter, using lighter weights and more repetitions, you probably do not need an Olympic or competition rated plate. But if you are planning to more from weight training to weightlifting, perhaps that higher rated plates do make sense.  In any case, your focus should be on the total value of the item, not just the price.

Making your decision

Given this information, you are already aware that there are many variations from unit to unit for product specifications, performance, and features.  So how should you decide which of these weightlifting plates is best for you? Here are a few things you should consider in making your choice:

Think about your usage patterns.  Are you going to be using the weights multiple times a week?  Or are you typically a weekend warrior, where your equipment might collect dust five days out of seven?

What type of weight will you be lifting?  If you are lifting heavy weights, the cumulative stress from dropping the weighted barbell needs to be considered as you look at things like durometer ratings. On the other hand, if you will be working from a rack, or using lighter weights and not dropping the bar, you may be able to get away with plates not rated for Olympic competition.  

Where will you be doing your workouts?  Will you be in a temperature-controlled room inside your house, or working out in your garage, with temperature swings from boiling to freezing?  These conditions may impact your choice of finish and coating, which can affect the oxidation rates of the materials of construction.

Identify the number and weight of the plates you expect to be using with the bar.  If you will be using a high number of weights to lift on the bar, the sleeve length of the bar may come into play, and push you toward buying multiple 45-pound plates rather than a graduated set of plates.  

Hopefully, all of this discussion and detail has given you some ideas about what features are most important to you.  The information so far has been at a fairly high level. Let’s drop down one more level of detail, and look at each of our top ten in depth, comparing specifications, features, advantages, and disadvantages of each version of weightlifting plates.  

Top 10 Best Fitness Weight Plates

#1 Rogue Echo Bumper Plates

First Impressions:

This bumper plate is relatively easy on the wallet, with a $ price structure.  The set offers some decent quality features, like stainless steel inserts and a virgin rubber coating.  The plates meet IWF diameter standards at 450MM, except the ten-pound plate at 446MM.

Features & Specifications:

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  • These plates have a 50.4MM collar opening, and feature stainless steel inserts.
  • Imported from China, these plates hit 88 on the durometer scale, so will have a minimal bounce if dropped.  
  • Weight tolerance is +/- 1% of claimed weight.

Pros:

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  • These plates are very budget friendly, and would make a good starter set for the novice lifter.
  • The ten- and fifteen-pound plates are warrantied for ninety days.  Larger plates are warrantied for three years.
  • The weights are available in pairs, or in full sets up to 260 pounds.  

Cons:

  • Rubber coating may have slight imperfections, but should not impact performance.

Final Thoughts:

A plate set of decent quality, with a low-end price to complete your equipment room, or give a good start to a novice lifter.  They meet IWF standards, so can be used in conjunction with other sets without worrying about variation in the diameters of the plates. The combination of durable rubber coating, a strong warranty, and a budget-conscious price make this a highly rated plate.

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#2 Rogue Machined Olympic Plates

First Impressions:

These classic steel Olympic style plates are still a go-to standard in the weightlifting set.  Featuring weights from 2.5 pounds to 45 pounds, the gray hammertone finish creates an attractive, yet durable plate.  The plates can be ordered in pairs, or in a 245-pound set.

Features & Specifications:

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  • Diameters and thicknesses vary for each of the weight increments, and the individual plates are machined to a tolerance of +2&/-0 for the larger plates, and +/- 3% on the two-and-a-half, five- and ten-pound plates.
  • A time-tested design, good quality, and decent tolerances make this an attractive set for any level of lifter.
  • An indentation from the rim makes the plates convenient to load or carry, even with one hand.  

Pros:

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  • A $$ price, with a good quality, time-tested design makes this a good purchase for the beginning lifter, right up to the powerlifter trying to add some weight to his gym equipment.  
  • Plate diameters and thicknesses are variable, but are optimized to give a good bar loading.

Cons:

  • No real negatives to this set; they are competitively priced, and deliver the quality and performance they promise.

Final Thoughts:

If I were moving up from novice to experienced, or from weight training to weightlifting, this is the weightlifting plate set I would purchase.  There are no bells and whistles here, just a fully functional set of plates that can be used for weight training, weight lifting, or powerlifting.  

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#3 Rogue Black Training KG Plates

First Impressions:

This attractive, matte-black plate comes with a rubber stripe around the full circumference of the plate, allowing for easy identification, even at a distance.  All plates are an IWF standard 450 MM diameter, and have a tight weight tolerance of +/- 15 grams of the claimed kilogram weight. They can be ordered individually or in sets up to 140 kilos (just over 300 pounds).

Features & Specifications :

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  • These plates reach a hefty 94 on the durometer scale, insuring almost a completely bounce-free drop.
  • Collar opening is 50.4MM, allowing a smooth fit for the plates on the bar, with a chrome plated steel disc insert.
  • They have a raised lip to make these pumpers easier to remove from the rack or pick up off the floor.  

Pros:

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  • These plates are manufactured to similar standards and specification as the competition level plates.
  • The rubber flanges help prevent friction and scuffing of the finish, and provide easy visual plate identification.
  • The plates are of a consistent diameter, with varying plate thicknesses, which give a good balance for your lift.

Cons:

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  • The 50.4MM opening gives the bars free and easy loading and movement, and most reviewers have recommended collars to ensure the plates remain on the bar.
  • While they do fall into a $$$ price range, there are really no negative points in the reviews.

Final Thoughts:

While this set moves up on the price scale, it is one of the highest reviewed plate sets of the Rogue catalog.  Based on their weight and production tolerances, and the consistent dead drop, they are on a scale with the higher quality competition plates.  These are a good value purchase for the weightlifter or powerlifter.

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#4 Rogue Color LB Training 2.0 Plates

First Impressions:

These training plates are similar to the black trainers reviewed above, but do have some important differences.  As with most weightlifting plates, they can be purchased individually or in sets up to 320 pounds. A zinc plated steel disc blends perfectly with the bright colors chosen for this set.

Features & Specifications :

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  • These plates have a 50.4MM collar opening, and a consistent, IWF standard 450MM diameter.  
  • They are machined to a tolerance of +/- 15 grams to claimed weight.
  • A rating of 86 on the durometer scale will give a minimal bounce, increasing plate life and durability

Pros:

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  • The standardized diameter leads to different plate widths, but the overall widths are consistently low here, allowing for maximum bar loading.
  • The color-coded plates are easily recognizable, even from a distance, and make bar loading a more efficient process.
  • The 50.4MM bore hole allows for smooth loading, but may require the use of collars to hold the plates in place

Cons:

  • No real negatives to point out on these, other than the requirement to add collars for stability.  These plates get consistently high ratings.

Final Thoughts:

From a specification, quality, tolerance, and visual perspective, this is a top end weightlifting plate set.  Adaptable from weight training all the way up to powerlifting, this is a flexible set, measuring in well by any standards.  The only real negative about this set is the $$$$ pricing, which may drive away some of the more casual lifters.

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#5 Rogue HG 2.0 KG Bumper Plates

First Impressions:

Built in China to Rogue specifications, these weights feature a thinner profile so more weight can be put on the bar.  They meet IWF standards at 450MM. This is the KG version of Rogue plates, and has a weight tolerance of +/- one pound of claimed weight.

Features & Specifications :

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  • Minimal bounce expected, coming in at 88 on the durometer scale.
  • Two-inch collar opening for Olympic lifting, stainless steel insert.
  • Three-year warranty on plates over 5 kilograms; 90 days on 5 kilo plates.

Pros:

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  • A $ price range for a decent quality bar with a good warranty.  
  • Meets IWF standards.  
  • 20 kg. plate is 3.25 inches wide, vs. 3.75 inches wide on Rogue bumper plates.

Cons:

  • No real disadvantages to this set.  Some may prefer American made weights, but this is a good quality, well priced set.

Final Thoughts:

These thinner plates are available individually, or in sets up to 150 kilograms.  The plates meet IWF standards, and would make a good starter set for newcomer to weightlifting, or provide additional weight to an experienced lifter.  

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#6 Rogue 6-Shooter Olympic Grip Plates

First Impressions:

This is a multi-purpose set, designed for weight trainers and weight lifters, but not for powerlifters.  These are not bumper plates, and are manufactured from cast-iron, and not designed to be dropped. They do, however, come with a five-year warranty against breakage (unless there is evidence of excessive dropping).  The unique design makes handling of the plates much more convenient than other designs.

Features & Specifications :

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  • These weightlifting plates have six holes spaced evenly around the plate, which make for easy lifting, carrying, and loading.  Note that this feature is not available on the smaller change plates from 2.5 – 10 pounds.
  • Hammertone gray finish with black lettering makes this an attractive set, especially complimented with the unique design.
  • The plates have a 50.6MM collar opening, and weight tolerances of +/- 1% on plates 25 pounds and up, and +/- 3% on the smaller sizes.

Pros:

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  • The plates have variable diameters and thicknesses, but optimized for a good bar load.  Sold in pairs, or in a set of 245- pounds.
  • A $$ price, for good quality plates.  Built for everyday use, they are durable and should last a long time if used and handled properly.  

Cons:

  • Given the materials of construction, not suitable for powerlifting applications due to the drop restrictions.

Final Thoughts:

Much like the machined Olympic plates above, this is a good “starting from scratch” plate set, with a solid rating, good quality, and a good track record.  The only reason to drop this one down a notch is that the plates are cast iron, and not suitable for the powerlifting crowd.

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#7 Rogue Bumper Plates by Hi-Temp

First Impressions:

This heavy-duty, multi-purpose set rates a 75 on the durometer scales, so expect a bit of bounce when they are dropped.  The weights have a vulcanized rubber coating to minimize clanging and scratching the finish when racking or loading the weights.

Features & Specifications :

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  • These plates feature a 2” stainless steel insert to make them a high-quality Olympic style bar.  
  • Collars are inset to reduce the chance of damage when multiple weight plates are on the bar.
  • Weight tolerance of +/- ½ pound.

Pros:

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  • US made with recycled vulcanized rubber for durability.  
  • Available individually or in sets from 160 – 1000 pounds combined weight.
  • One-year warranty.

Cons:

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  • Rubber finish may contain slight imperfections, but will not affect performance.
  • Diameter is 445 mm so not meeting competition specs, and may cause issues with mixed sizes on the bar.

Final Thoughts:

A high-quality set at a reasonable $$ price range.  The stainless-steel insert will resist chipping and scratches more than plated inserts.  There may be some racking issues with your bar if you have other brands of weights, and the diameters to not match.  

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#8 Rogue Dumbbell Bumpers

First Impressions:

These are the only dumbbell plates on the list.  A dumbbell, of course, is really a weight bar designed for one-handed use.  They are typically used for lifts such as rows and curls. These plates come in 6 different sizes, all 230MM diameter, with a 2” Olympic size bore for flexibility with other plates.  The plates come in various colors, with a bright finish to make a good-looking plate set.

Features & Specifications:

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  • All plates have a chrome plated insert for protection and durability.  The weight plates are rubber coated for extended durability.
  • While these normally would not be dropped from overhead, they come in at 88 on the durometer scale for minimal bounce.  
  • Matching collars and dumbbells for this set are available from Rogue.

Pros:

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  • A good specialty addition to a lifter’s equipment, this is a $$ price range dumbbell.
  • Rubber coating and chrome plated inserts make them suitable for use in the garage or in the gym.  
  • Smaller diameter makes them perfect for lower ceiling locations vs. standard diameter plates.

Cons:

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  • These plates are imported, which may put off some users preferring American made products.  
  • While reasonably priced, this is still an equipment investment for a specialty type product.  

Final Thoughts:

Available individually or in sets up to 740 pounds, these coated dumbbells are well-rated.  Even though they become somewhat of a novelty tool for the experienced lifter, they do offer additional flexibility and the ability to add different lifts to your repertoire.  

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#9 Rogue Calibrated LB Steel Plates

First Impressions:

These powerlifting plates are precision cut to a weight variance of only 10 grams +/- from their specified weights.  The weights have a standard 50MM opening, and are thin cut for maximum bar loading – up to 1500 pounds. The plates can be orders in sets, or in various combinations up to just over 1000 pounds.  

Features & Specifications :

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  • The plates have variable diameters, but the largest plate, at 55 pounds, has a thickness of only 27MM.
  • The plates are color coded in a low gloss finish for easy identification, even at a distance.
  • They are calibrated to +/- 10 grams, and have calibration plugs for even greater precision and accuracy.

Pros:

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  • Designed with the powerlifter in mind, the thin design allows for maximum bar loading.
  • US made, they are IWF certified, and also available in a KG version.  
  • Powder coating finish in attractive colors makes this a good-looking product, priced in the $$ range.

Cons:

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  • These plates have a precisely cut 50MM opening, and, as a result, may not fit well on cheaper bars with wider tolerances.
  • To maintain the thin profile, the plates have a very small lip, making them difficult to pick up.

Final Thoughts:

This set gets excellent reviews from the powerlifting crowd, and the precision tolerance for the weights makes them competition certified, and can help you gain personal records with minor, incremental adjustments.  A good-looking set in the right price range, it’s a “must buy” for the powerlifter looking for a new plate set.

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#10 Rogue 65LB Gorilla Bumpers (Pair)

First Impressions:

These specialty plates are not for everyone.  There is really only one reason to buy them. You gain an extra twenty pounds on either end of your barbell over a standard 45# plate, but only sacrifice an extra ¼” on either side in thickness.  This allows for an amazing 565 pounds with four Gorilla Bumpers on a standard Olympic bar.

Features & Specifications :

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  • Higher density than normal bumpers allows for more weight in less space.
  • Appealing principally to the power lifter, these weight plates are $$$ price.  
  • The plates will feature a fairly strong bounce, weighing in at 75 on the durometer scale.

Pros:

  • There is really just one: more weight in a smaller area lets you stack your bar for maximum weights.

Cons:

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  • These plates have a non-standard 445MM diameter, which may cause some balance issues if used with Olympic standard 450MM plates.  
  • Relative pricey for a specialty type plate.  Really marketed to only the powerlifting segment.

Final Thoughts:

This is a highly specialized plate, specialized and marketed to the elite powerlifter.  Even within this segment, most lifters will not need the extra forty pounds on the bar; they can fill the bar with standard plates and be within their lifting range.  For those elite, however, they will gain forty pounds with a bar sleeve length sacrifice of only ½” total. So truly a specialty product, and a pricey one at that.

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Spotlights — Weightlifting Plates – History, How and Why

Weight training, as we know it today, goes back to ancient Greece, where warriors lifted weights to improve their overall strength and conditioning.  They did stone lifting and throwing, and body weight exercises such as rope climbing. However, thousands of years earlier than that, during the Zhou Dynasty in the 10th Century BC, the Chinese used weightlifting tests as a qualification for those in military service.  Overall strength has always been a beneficial characteristic, and people have used weight lifting, either as a formal training program or just part of their daily lives, to gain that strength.

In more modern times, weight lifting competitions evolved in Europe in the late 1800s.  Weight lifting made its first appearance in the modern Olympics in 1896, but was dropped out of the next competition in 1900.  It reappeared in 1904, disappeared in 1908 and 1912, and reappeared permanently in 1920. The Olympic sport was fine tuned in the 1932 games, with five different weight divisions established, and three different lifting movements specified for the competition.  Women were not officially allowed to compete in weightlifting in the Olympic Games until 2000, but there were several organizations and competitions outside the Olympic venue well prior to that.

So how did weightlifting equipment evolve from the ancient days to the engineering driven science it has become today?  The ancient civilizations typically did body weight exercises for strength building, or used things like stones for lifting and throwing.  Ancient Greek pictorials show them using the earliest hand-held weights, with a hole drilled into stones and other implements for holding and lifting them, rather than a handle.  

The early version of today’s weightlifting plates were large bulbs attached to the ends of the barbell.  These bulbs could be filled with specific weights of water or sand, for instance, and then lifted. The movement of the filling agent inside the globe could create some balance issues, and the standard weight plate, as we know it, evolved from this equipment.  Over the years, as machining techniques evolved, tolerances for overall weight, diameters, sleeve openings, and so on become more and more exact. It is not uncommon today to see variances of claimed weight vs. actual weight being in the range of ten grams, fairly exceptional on a 45-pound plate!

So, here we’ve outlined a little bit about the history of weight lifting, and some details on the basic equipment of weightlifting plates.  We know that there are Olympic level competitions, and also recognize the evolution of powerlifting contests outside the Olympic venue such as the World’s Strongest Man.  But these competitions only involve a few elite athletes; let’s take a look at how the average man and woman are involved in weightlifting.

We talked earlier in this article about the differences between weight lifting and weight training.  To recap, weight lifting is typically about building serious muscle, by lifting heavy weights just a few times.  Weight training, on the other hand, is all about lifting lighter weight quantities multiple times. The objective here is fitness improvement and body toning.

Health benefits of weight training include building and toning muscle structure, and improving bone density.  Weight training also speeds your metabolism, which stimulates your body to burn more calories and help in weight loss efforts.  It has also been proven to improve one’s cholesterol profile, and reduce the risk of future heart disease. All in all, weight training has many health benefits, and should be in everyone’s health regimen in one form or another.

Final Verdict

This article has recapped weight training and weight lifting history, and discussed the origins of it in sport, such as the Olympics.  We’ve looked at key product features and specifications, and defined the terms used in weightlifting plates. Given a selection of ten different plates, the advantages and disadvantages of each were discussed, and an overall impression of the plate set given.

So, having done all that, it’s time to go ahead and make a final recommendation on the best overall weightlifting plates from the list of ten.  There were some plates here for specific specialty applications, and others that could be used in different applications, but were still primarily designed for one major application.  There were a few multi-purpose sets also reviewed.

To get down to the best weightlifting plate choices, we will look at these from the perspective of someone already weight training, looking to move up from the department store special to a higher quality bar and plate combination, and also from the eyes of a novice, just getting ready to get into weight training.  Key considerations for these fictional persons will be cost and value, within the framework of the overall features and specifications. The bars should be for general purpose use, have good quality and features, and, at least for the most part, meet International Weightlifting Federation standards. Those selection criteria, combined with the price points for the plates, will drive my recommendation for the best overall plate set.  

Let’s start out with the less controversial items, and eliminate those right off the bat.  Number ten, the Gorilla Plates, and number eight, the dumbbell plates, are very specific application plate sets.  Each of these would be geared primarily to the powerlifter, and really don’t offer any great advantages to our fictional novice or weightlifter.  

Working from the bottom up, numbers six, nine, and seven are the lowest rated of the remaining plates.  For the sake of argument, if two plates had the same overall rating, the set with the lower price was arbitrarily placed higher.  Set number 6 is somewhat of a specialty plate set, with the six sections cut out from the plate for easier handling. The biggest disadvantage of this set is we’ve capped its use at the weightlifting segment; without some level of padding to cover the impact of the drops in powerlifting, the set is just not suitable.  So, this one is also eliminated.

Both seven and nine, while not completely limited, are both pointed primarily at the powerlifting segment of lifting.  Number seven does have the rubber coating required for powerlifting, and could, in principle, be used in any segment, but I’ve ruled it out, in that the plates are not IWF specification for diameter.  Our number nine set does meet the IWF guidelines, and the very thin plates are definitely made for the powerlifter to get more weight on his bar. The precise 50MM center cutout may preclude use of the lifter’s existing equipment not meeting such a precise tolerance.  So, these two plate sets are eliminated from our competition.

From here on in, there are very inconsequential differences between the top five plates.  They all have similar specifications, applicability, tolerances, and features. Number five is eliminated, primarily because it has a slightly lower rating than the other four weightlifting plates. The only real difference here is that the number five set is imported from China, but no real issues other than that and the rating.  The $ price range makes it an attractive beginner set, or a way to add weight to an existing set. But it’s off this list, in any case.

Next up, number four, is a set that is pretty much perfect in every way but one.  Starting with a 4.9 rating, extremely tight machining tolerances, and color coding of the plates so the weight per plate can be easily identified, this set could be used in any application.  The only downside to this set is the $$$$ price, significantly higher than any of the other three left on the list. For an experienced, competition level lifter, this set would do it all. But off it goes for out two fictional purchasers.

The number three set also meets IWF standards, and, with a weight tolerance of 15 grams or less, has incredible precision in plate design and manufacture.  The coating on the plates points it to the powerlifting segment more than the other two, but it would also do perfectly fine as a weightlifting plate set. The $$$ price makes it a decent choice for someone moving up to a better plate set, but it’s somewhat overpriced for our novice builder.  

So, we are left with the number one and number two plate sets as the last two on the table.  The number one set has a $ cost, meets IWF standards except for the ten-pound plate (for an unexplained reason), a high durometer reading if dropped, and a three-year warranty on the larger plates.  They have a rubber coating for better durability, and, as noted, a budget-conscious price.

The second rated set is very similar to the top-rated set, but carries a $$ price tag.  The difference isn’t all that huge, but it is large enough to make you stop and think. This is a classically designed set, with very tight tolerances.  This set could serve as an excellent starter set for our novice lifter, and still be a decent move-up set for our more experienced lifter. The powerlifter could use the plates for added weight to his bars, as the thicknesses are optimized for better loading.

There are two sets left, and only one best choice.  However, I’m going to waffle some here, and give you two best choices.  Even though they are slightly more expensive, I would recommend the second set to our experienced lifter.  The ratings are identical to the cheaper set, but with this one you get a classic, time-tested look, along with the quality and durability the lifter wants.

For our novice lifter, the Echo bumper plates are the way to go.  The plates have a rubber coating for durability, if they are accidently dropped or fall off the bar.  The low price combined with the warranty and specifications make this a perfect starter set that should last for several years to come.  Specifications are fully comparable to any of the other plates, and these offer flexibility for growth in the future.

Realistically, you could not go wrong buying any of these sets, and it was a very tough task trying to identify enough differences between them to pick the best of the best.  Hopefully this article has given you some knowledge and guidance for your next weightlifting plate purchase.

Top 10 Rouge Fitness Bars in 2019

At its core, weightlifting is a very simple sport.  You have a big pole, weights on both ends of it, and you move it off the ground and raise it over your head.  However, when one looks at the science of weightlifting, you get quite a different picture. Weightlifting bars are designed and built to incredibly close tolerances, as the penalty for breakage or damage during a lift is severe.  

Let’s look at a little more detail at how a weightlifting bar, or barbell, is set up.  Here’s an example:

The bar itself, which is the focus of this article, is made of a special grade of steel.  Lengths may vary based on use and purpose. The weights on the bar are called plates, and vary in weight up to 25 kilograms (55 pounds).  The part of the bar where the plates are held is called the sleeve. The apparatus at the end of the bar and toward the center of the bar, holding the plates in place, is called a collar.  We’ll get into the details behind these things in a little bit.

The bars can vary in length, depending on purpose and use.  A standard men’s Olympic bar is 2200 mm long, just over seven feet.  A standard women’s Olympic bar is slightly shorter, at 2010 mm, or about seventy-nine inches.  The distance between the sleeves for both bars is the same, at 1310 mm, or about fifty-one inches.  A men’s bar is typically twenty kilograms, or forty-four pounds, while a women’s bar is fifteen kilograms, or thirty-three pounds.  Bars for juniors are shorter, at about sixty-seven inches, and normally weight ten kilograms, or twenty-two pounds. As one further sub-set, weightlifting bars are also designed for standard use, also referred to as weight training, weightlifting use, and powerlifting use.  More on these applications later.

While they will not be the focus of this article, there are also specialty weightlifting bars available.  These are typically designed for a specific exercise or weight lifting movement, and include curl bars, multi-grip bars, and hexagonal or trap bars.  Dumbbells are basically a very short barbell, designed for use with one hand. They typically are much lighter in weight than regular barbells.

In this article, we will be reviewing ten different bars, all from Rogue Fitness.  Rogue is an American based manufacturer of barbells, plates, weightlifting rigs, and apparel.

Fact Sheet – Product Comparison Table

This section of the article will take a quick, high level look at ten different weightlifting bars manufactured Rogue.  They are presented in no particular order. Further on in the article, we will look into detail at each of the barbells, and make some recommendations on which might be the best fit for the consumer.  Each of the barbells listed below is American made, and comes with a lifetime warranty.

Number Product Best Feature Price Range
1 ROGUE CERAKOTE OHIO BAR – FRASER EDITION Men’s multi-purpose bar, red Cerakote coating with black Cerakote sleeves $
2 ROGUE ATHLETE CERAKOTE BELLA BAR – DAVIDSDOTTIR EDITION Women’s multi-purpose weightlifting bar, blue Cerakote coating, with black Cerakote sleeves $
3 ROGUE CHAN BAR – CERAKOTE Men’s multi-purpose barbell, Cerakote coating, Cerakote or chrome sleeve coating $
4 ROGUE PYRROS BAR – 28MM Olympic weightlifting barbell, sleeves are chrome finish, men’s bar $$$
5 ROGUE FREEDOM BAR – 28.5MM Men’s multi-purpose bar, red, white, and blue colored shaft, Cerakote coating $
6 ROGUE OLYMPIC WL BAR – CERAKOTE Men’s Olympic weightlifting bar, Cerakote shaft $$$
7 ROGUE OLYMPIC WL BAR Olympic weightlifting barbell, men’s, various shaft finishes available $$
8 ROGUE ATHLETE CERAKOTE POWER BAR – THOR EDITION Men’s powerlifting bar, Cerakote coating, Cerakote or chrome sleeve coating $$
9 ROGUE OHIO DEADLIFT BAR – CERAKOTE Men’s powerlifting bar, different colors available, Cerakote coating $
10 SB-1 – ROGUE SAFETY SQUAT BAR Bar is specifically designed for squat lifts, with padded foam to protect the neck and shoulders $

$ – priced $300 – $400

$$ – priced $400 – $500

$$$ – priced over $500

Product-Buying Guide

Any one of these barbells is perfectly suited to help you with your weightlifting endeavors.  As noted earlier, there are three subsets within weightlifting – standard, weightlifting, and power weightlifting.  Some of these bars are specifically designed and manufactured for each of these purposes. Power weightlifting is the most demanding, involving lifting extremely heavy weights, typically in a competition setting.  In general, power weightlifting is centered around two specific movements, the clean and jerk, and the snatch; both of these techniques involve lifting the weight over your head. The snatch begins with lifting the weight to your knee level, bending the knees, moving the weight over your head, and then pushing up with your legs to full extension.  The clean and jerk is similar, initially moving the weight to chest level, then jerking the weight in a fluid motion so it ends up over your head, with extended arms.

Weightlifting involves a different set of movements – the squat, the bench press, the dead lift.  None of these moves involve lifting the weight over your head. The squat involves holding a weight at chest height, dropping into a squatting position, then using your legs to drive the weight back up.  The bench press involves lying on a weight bench, and lifting the weight off your chest using arm strength. The dead lift starts with a heavy weight resting on the floor, then raising the weight to waist height.  

Standard weightlifting, also known as weight training or resistance training, is usually done with a goal of increasing strength, endurance and/or muscle mass.  Weight training is often used to supplement performance in other sports, such as football or basketball. While you may use many of the same moves and lifts in weight training as in powerlifting or weightlifting, they are typically done with less weight, and more repetitions.   Weight training may also incorporate the use of dumbbells rather that using a standard barbell configuration. Dumbbells are basically a much shorter barbell designed for use in one hand.

So, now we know about the different types of barbells available, the types of lifting they are used for, and the type of movements that are done as part of lifting.  Given that, let’s look at some of the key performance criteria and product specifications for weightlifting bars.

Loadable sleeve length

This refers to the part of the barbell where the weight plates are held; the distance from the end of the barbell to the collar.  The collar, located on the barbell itself, is typically about two inches in diameter. There is a secondary collar attached to the end of the bar to hold the weight plates in position, so they do not rotate or slide on the bar.  

Collar

As noted, the collar is located on the barbell.  One of its functions is to act as a “stop” for the weight plates; they separate the sleeve and the shaft.  Inside the collar, manufacturers will place either bushings or bearings. Both of them are designed to allow the bar to spin during the lift.  

Diameter at grip

This refers to the diameter of the barbell at the spot where the hands are normally placed during the lift.  This is typically related to hand size. Diameter for youth and women is standard 25mm, and for men the standard ranges from 28mm – 29mm.  

Knurling

Knurling refers to texturizing the bar with a series of grooves at the location where the grip of the bar is normally taken.  The depth and texture of the knurling can vary from model to model. Bars may also be knurled in the center portion to prevent slippage when performing squats.  See below for an example of knurling.

Bar weight and length

Standard weight for men’s barbells is twenty kilograms, and fifteen kilograms for women.  Length for men is eighty-six inches, and seventy-nine inches for women. Weights can vary somewhat based on diameter of the barbell, and some specialty type weightlifting bars, like a squat bar, can weigh near seventy pounds.  Length can also vary, but this is less common.

Tensile and yield strength

These are both measures of the durability of the bar, and the weight load it can take.  Tensile strength is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), and refers to the weight needed to pull the bar apart.  Most standard bars will have a tensile strength of about 180,000 PSI, with Olympic and competition bars usually rated over 200,000 PSI.  While barbells will normally have some bend as they are lifted, you don’t want that bend to become permanent. Yield strength refers to that point where the bar will bend, but not return to its normal shape once the weight has been removed.  Yield strength is measured by adding more and more weight until a permanent bend is noted.

“F” Scale

The “F” scale measures the resistance to stress (and potentially breaking) when dropped from height.  The F scale is a function of tensile strength and yield strength. Low tensile and yield strength will make the bar tend to flex.  If tensile and yield strength are too high, the barbell will be more susceptible to brittleness and breakage. Higher F ratings are desirable; the scale runs from F1 to F8.  

Oxidation rate

This rate measures the likelihood that the bar will rust.  Carbon steel has a high oxidation rate; it is very likely to rust, if unprotected.  Stainless steel has a low oxidation rate. Oxidation rate can be impacted by use of coatings over the steel used.  

Finishes and Coatings

Finished and coatings may range from none (stainless steel), to zinc, chrome, or ceramic.  These coatings are put over the metal of the bar to prevent oxidation. Zinc and chrome have been the more common coatings for weightlifting bars.  Because of the handling of the bar, moving weight plates on and off, and dropping the bar from height, the coatings need to be heavy duty and crack resistant.  One of the new coatings, used on many of the barbells here, is Cerakote. This is a man-made, polymer and ceramic composite coating. It is lightweight, can be applied in a very thin coating, and resists stress cracking, and it therefore durable.  

Whip

Whip refers to the amount of bend in the barbell when lifted with weights on it.  Some whip can be beneficial; as the bar bends downward and then moves upward, that upward momentum can be used to help with the second lifting of the snatch and clean and jerk lifts.  Too much whip, however, can raise issues with the overall balance of the barbell, and prevent the lifter from getting a clean lift.

Bearings vs. Bushings

Bushings tend to be cheaper, and also tend to spin slower.  Bearings may be needle type or ball type, referring to how the inner core is built to allow them to spin.  Bearings are more expensive than bushings, and can be more easily damaged by dropping the weightlifting bar.  Bearings typically allow for a faster spin than bushings. In general terms, bearings are preferred for Olympic and competition lifting, where bushings are generally specified in home gym and powerlifting bars, where spin is not so important.  

Price

As with virtually any other product, price will play into your purchase considerations.  It will factor into your decision on options, features, and specifications. If you are a competition level lifter, buying a low-end barbell from the local big box retailer might not be the best choice for you.  Conversely, if you are a weekend lifter, using lighter weights and more repetitions, you probably do not need an Olympic or competition rated barbell. But if you are planning to more from weight training to weightlifting, perhaps that higher rated bar makes sense.  In any case, your focus should be on the total value of the item, not just the price.

Making your decision

Given this information, you are already aware that there are many variations from unit to unit for product specifications, performance, and features.  So how should you decide which of these weightlifting bars is best for you? Here are a few things you should consider in making your choice:

Think about your usage patterns.  Are you going to be using the barbell multiple times a week?  Or are you typically a weekend warrior, where your equipment might collect dust five days out of seven?

What type of weight will you be lifting?  If you are lifting heavy weights, the cumulative stress from dropping the weighted barbell needs to be considered as you look at things like F rating and tensile and yield strength.  On the other hand, if you will be working from a rack, or using lighter weights and not dropping the bar, you may be able to get away with a bar not rated for Olympic competition.

Where will you be doing your workouts?  Will you be in a temperature-controlled room inside your house, or working out in your garage, with temperature swings from boiling to freezing.  These conditions may impact your choice of finish and coating and the oxidation rates of the materials of construction.

Identify the number and weight of the plates you expect to be using with the bar.  If you plan on using only a 25-kilo plate at each end, loadable sleeve length is probably not a consideration for you.  But if you want to use a combination of plates, graduated with different weights, you may need a larger loadable sleeve length.  

Hopefully, all of this discussion and detail has given you some ideas about what features are most important to you.  The information so far has been at a fairly high level. Let’s drop down one more level of detail, and look at each of our top ten in depth, comparing specifications, features, advantages, and disadvantages of each weightlifting bar.

PRODUCT REVIEW – TEN WEIGHTLIFTING BARS

#1 ROGUE CERAKOTE OHIO BAR – FRASER EDITION

First Impressions:

This bar is a reasonably priced, all-purpose men’s weightlifting bar.  The name is from a member of the Rogue Athlete Group, Mat Fraser. Fraser is a two-time CrossFit Games champion, and worked with Rogue on the features and design of this barbell.  The “Fittest Man on Earth” has his personal motto, “Hard Work Pays Off”, emblazoned on the bar.

Features and Specifications:

  • This is a standard 20-kilogram multi-purpose bar, with a 28.5MM grip diameter.  
  • The 190,000 PSI rating and an F8-R yield strength qualify this bar for anything from weight training through powerlifting.  It comes with a lifetime warranty against bending.
  • The barbell comes with dual knurl marks, and composite bushing construction.
  • The center shaft of the bar is a bright red finish, with black sleeves, all coated with Cerakote for durability.

Pros:

  • Very reasonably priced, this bar would be a good purchase for the beginner or even advanced weight trainer or weightlifter.  It has the capability to handle even heavy weights for powerlifting, and is fully warranted against bending.
  • Designed by someone who weight lifts for a living, you get all the necessary features, in a good looking, customized bar.

Cons:

  • There is no center knurl on the bar, which is often a desirable feature for those who do squats or clean and jerk lifts.  

Final Thoughts:

This is a reasonably priced bar by Rogue standards, even with the professional endorsement and additional color features.  As a multi-purpose bar, supporting all three weight lifting approaches, it gives the lifter a one bar solution to virtually any kind of lift desired.  

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#2 ROGUE ATHLETE CERAKOTE BELLA BAR – DAVIDSDOTTIR EDITION

First Impressions:

This bar is the only one specifically designed for the woman weightlifter.  It’s 79-inch length, 25MM grip, and 15 kilo weight make it a perfect multi-purpose barbell for the female athlete.  It is named after Katrin Davidsdottir, a two-time CrossFit Games champion, from Iceland. The attractive blue and black color design is supplemented with a Cerakote finish for extreme durability.

Features and Specifications:

  • With a tensile strength of F6-R and a 190,000 PSI rating, this barbell will stand up to powerlifting, and still offer excellent performance in weightlifting and weight training.
  • The Cerakote finish is highly durable, and compliments the Davidsdottir edition finish of a blue shaft, white lettering, and a black sleeve.  The Sled Dog/Wolf Logo, symbolic of her edition, is featured at the center of the shaft.
  • The bushing construction gives a slow but smooth and controlled spin for multi-use applications.

Pros:

  • The bar is specifically designed for the female lifter; it is not a modified version of a male lifter’s barbell.  
  • The weightlifting bar is finished with dual knurl marks to support both powerlifting and Olympic competition lifting.  
  • This is a high performance, multi-purpose bar, enhanced by excellent styling and colors.

Cons:

  • This barbell does not have a center knurl, which is often a desired feature to support squats.

Final Thoughts:

This bar is specifically designed for the female lifter, with application and design input from an Icelandic lifting champion.  While many other bars had different versions of a male’s bar for the female athlete, this one is for her and her alone. It has excellent specifications and features, and is built to stand up to the demands of powerlifting, yet suitable for weightlifting applications too.  Definitely the right Rogue bar for any female weightlifter.

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#3 ROGUE CHAN BAR – CERAKOTE

First Impressions:

This is a men’s multi-purpose bar, designed in coordination with Matt Chan, a four-time Top Ten finisher in the CrossFit Games.  This bar is an upgraded version of one also designed by Chan several years prior. It also features a 28.5MM grip, and a 200,000 PSI tensile strength rating on the stainless-steel shaft.  It has a Cerakote finish, and is available with either Cerakote or chrome sleeves.

Features and Specifications:

  • This is a standard 20-kilogram bar, featuring a 28.5MM grip diameter.  
  • It has dual knurl markings on either end, and also features a center knurl.
  • The bar can be customized with Cerakote sleeves, which are also available with a chrome coating.  
  • The barbell has black composite bushings, with a 16.5” loadable sleeve length.  

Pros:

  • This weightlifting bar comes with dual knurling to support both powerlifting and Olympic lifting, and also comes with a center knurl for a better adherence when doing squats or the clean and jerk lift.
  • The 28.5MM grip is designed to stress the hands somewhat, and ultimately increase grip strength on s standard diameter Olympic bar.
  • Many of the features of this barbell are designed by a champion user, with the credentials to know what really matters in the specifications of a weightlifting bar.  

Cons:

  • An F2 rating implies that the bar will not be exceptionally durable, given the rigors of being repeatedly dropped for height.  This might keep it at the weight training or lower weight weightlifting arenas, even though it is listed as suitable for powerlifting.  
  • Bushing construction will likely lead to slower spin, but this should not be a primary concern for weight training or powerlifting.

Final Thoughts:

This weightlifting bar was designed by someone who has lived the life, so the features incorporated into it should bring optimal value for the cost of the barbell.  The center knurl will appeal to squatters, and the 28.5 mm diameter may help lifters develop additional grip strength. This is the lowest F rating on any of the bars reviewed so far, but just indicates it might be less durable, while still exhibiting all the strength needed to carry heavy plates.  

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#4 ROGUE PYRROS BAR – 28MM

First Impressions:

This is a high performance, all purpose, Olympic competition level bar.  It’s also on the high end of the price scale, and may be a bit much for the casual user; it is definitely designed for the powerlifters and weightlifters out there.  The bar itself is named after a three-time Olympic champion – Pyrros Dimas. He was also involved during the design phase of the barbell.

Features and Specifications:

  • The bar has a stainless-steel shaft, with chrome plated sleeves for excellent oxidation resistance.
  • Two hundred thousand PSI tensile strength gives extreme strength for loads as high as 1200 pounds.  
  • The barbell has a 28MM grip diameter, loadable sleeve length of 16.3 inches
  • Bar weight is 20 kilograms, meeting all International Weightlifting Federation standards

Pros:

  • The barbell was designed with an aggressive knurl pattern for better grip during the lift.
  • It has high-quality, needle type bearings for a controlled spin during the lift.  
  • A center knurl helps the bar grip for greater control during moves like the clean and jerk or squat.  

Cons:

  • This bar would definitely be overkill unless you are a competition level lifter, or a powerlifter.  The entire design and features are specific to these high-end lifters.
  • The pricing most likely takes this bar out of the hands of the majority of lifters.  

Final Thoughts:

This is probably the top of the line model in the Rogue catalog, and, as such, is geared toward top of the line lifters.  Unless you fall into that group, I would save some money and buy a bar more geared to the general public.

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#5 ROGUE FREEDOM BAR – 28.5MM

First Impressions:

The Rogue Freedom Bar, as the name suggests, is a special edition or their Ohio Cerakote bar (to be reviewed here later), with a stars and stripes pattern on a red, white and blue background.  This particular model is only available with chrome sleeves, but it features the same high impact steel, with 190,000 PSI tensile strength. While the extra .5MM diameter may not seem like much, lifters feel that using a wider grip bar occasionally can help with overall grip strength.  This barbell is categorized as a men’s multi-purpose bar.

Features and Specifications:

  • While you get the good old red, white, and blue here, this barbell also comes with the Cerakote coating over the special design.
  • The 28.5MM grip is designed to stress the hands somewhat, and ultimately increase grip strength on s standard diameter Olympic bar.
  • The bar has dual knurl markings, set appropriately for Olympic style lifting and for powerlifting.  It has an impressive F8-R rating, designed to give some whip for Olympic-style lifting, but stiff enough for the heavier weights of powerlifting.
  • The bar features a bushing construction, rather that bearings, as in the others reviewed previously.  

Pros:

  • This weightlifting bar has dual knurl marks on the shaft, for improved grip in various weightlifting moves.
  • The barbell, like other Rogue bars, has a lifetime warranty against bending.  
  • While it does not impact performance, this is a really nice-looking weightlifting bar.  

Cons:

  • There is no center knurl on this bar, which is a desirable feature during specific weightlifting moves, as noted above.  
  • The bar is available with only chrome plated sleeves.  These do not protect against oxidation as well as Cerakote, in the even they become chipped while adding or removing plates.  

Final Thoughts:

This bar is a good value, and you get a great looking appearance with it.  There does not seem to be consensus among lifters on whether or not the extra .5MM diameter really brings any significant advantage.  The barbell itself would be a good transition bar for someone moving from weight training into weight lifting. It has sufficient design strength even for powerlifting.  

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#6 ROGUE OLYMPIC WL BAR – CERAKOTE

First Impressions:

This Olympic-level weightlifting bar features a Cerakote coating.  Cerakote is a polymer-ceramic composite coating, which offers excellent oxidation-proof coating, second only to stainless steel.  This bar is available in multiple color combinations, and a 215,000 PSI rating to support the heaviest weights. Like all Rogue bars, it is American made and has a lifetime warranty.

Features and Specifications:

  • This 20- kilogram bar comes with a standard 28mm grip for men, and is also available in a 25mm grip for women.  It has a loadable sleeve length of 16.25 inches.
  • It has a balanced blend of knurling; etched deeply enough to afford a good grip without being so aggressive as to cut or irritate the hands.  
  • The barbell goes through a special hardening process to increase the tensile strength and F scale rating for better heavy weight support.  The F6-R rating indicates the hardening process has been used on the steel.
  • This bar is manufactured with five needle bearings per sleeve for a smooth, controlled spin.  

Pros:

  • This is another example of a high-quality, high end barbell, designed with the competition and power lifter in mind.
  • The high tensile strength rating will support even the heaviest of weights.  
  • The barbell advertises strong whip, so the lifter can take advantage of that momentum during the upward lift.

Cons:

  • There is no center knurling on the bar, so the extra grip potential during squats and some other lifts is lost.  
  • This bar is also at the upper end of the price scale, and most likely out of range for all but the most serious lifters.  

Final Thoughts:

This is another example of Rogue focusing a part of their product line on the power and competition lifting segments of the market.  Logically, the skill and expertise they have serving those segments can pass down the learnings to less demanding market segments, like the home gym or commercial establishments.  While this model might make sense for a serious lifter moving up to weightlifting or powerlifting, it is more bar than needed for most.

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#7 ROGUE OLYMPIC WL BAR

First Impressions:

This is another Olympic weightlifting bar, offering many of the same features as the other weightlifting bars, but moving down a little in the price scale.  The bar still has the impressive 215K PSI tensile strength, and features a standard 28MM grip. This bar comes in a bright zinc finish, but variations are available in different finishes and coatings, as well as a 15-kilogram weight version for women.  This bar meets all International Weightlifting Federation standards.

Features and Specifications:

  • This is a standard Olympic size bar, weighing in at 20 kilograms, with a 28MM grip diameter.  
  • It has a single Olympic knurl, which is a narrow width knurl, centered in the locations where the hands would normally grip.  Other knurls may cover the entire with of the hand in the expected grip area of the barbell.
  • A needle bearing sleeve makes for a quiet, smooth spin while lifting.
  • The 215K PSI tensile strength and F6-R yield strength make this a durable bar that should last the user a long time.  

Pros:

  • While this bar places a little bit lower on the price scale, it has many of the same features as the higher priced bars featured above.  
  • The knurl is aggressive enough to improve grip, but not so much so to irritate the skin or catch on clothing during squats or a clean and jerk lift.  

Cons:

  • There is no central knurling on the bar, which may be a desirable feature for lifters doing squats and clean and jerk lifts regularly.
  • While an overall good value, the price may be a bit much for the person interested solely in weight training.  

Final Thoughts:

While this bar is still at the upper end of the $$ range, it probably makes sense for the semi-serious lifter.  This would be someone trying to build some serious muscle by lifting relatively heavy weights for limited repetitions, as opposed to the weight training doing multiple repetitions with lighter weights.  It might also be a good bar for a commercial establishment. While most people would not be using it with heavier weights, the owner could expect a good useful life even with repetitive day-to-day use.

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#8 ROGUE ATHLETE CERAKOTE POWER BAR – THOR EDITION

First Impressions:

This is a bar truly worthy of the God of Thunder, Thor.  In this case, however, the bar is named after Hafpor Julius Bjornnson, who won Iceland’s Strongest Man competition seven consecutive years, truly earning his nickname “Thor”.  This is a true powerlifting bar, with an overall length of over 86 inches, and a 29MM grip diameter. It comes in either a 20-kilogram or 45-pound configuration, with both sizes coming with Cerakote coating.  

Features and Specifications:

  • The bar has a 205,000 PSI rating, complimented with an F8-R, giving it the stiffness needed in a powerlifting competition.  
  • Both versions have over a 16” loadable sleeve dimension, leaving a lot of room for numerous weight plates.  
  • The bushing construction on this barbell will have limited spin, for a smooth, consistent feel during the lift.  
  • Single powerlifting knurls and a center knurl, both with a deep, aggressive pattern offer additional grip control on this 29MM diameter bar.  

Pros:

  • The F8-R rating gives this bar virtually no whip, making it a fine choice for the powerlifter.  
  • The black Cerakote coating on the shaft and sleeves on the 45-pound version, or chrome sleeves for the 20-kilogram version, emblazoned with the Icelandic flag, make this an attractive and functional weightlifting bar.  
  • The bronze bushings reduce spin, which is not a needed specification in the powerlifting arena.  

Cons:

  • While you could use this bar for any application, it is specifically built for powerlifting, and prices itself out of the weight training applications.  The lack of whip decreases the suitability for weightlifting applications.

Final Thoughts:

You’ll feel like Thor throwing this monster around.  It’s the ultimate powerlifting bar in the Rogue line, and is built strictly for that application.  The finishing, including the Iceland flag, are a nice crowning touch added to the functionality of this barbell.  This bar is quite high up in the price range, but, given the specific nature of its purpose for use, represents a solid value for the powerlifter.  

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#9 ROGUE OHIO DEADLIFT BAR – CERAKOTE

First Impressions:

This bar is designed with the powerlifter in mind, and, more specifically, for the dead lift.  Its 90-inch length combines with a 27MM diameter to give the weightlifter good control during his lift. The loadable sleeve length is only 15.5 inches, but, given the larger plates used in powerlifting, this should not be an issue in attaining maximum weight load.  The bar is available in four different color combinations.

Features and Specifications:

  • The 90-inch length is just within powerlifting federation standards, and, coupled with the smaller diameter grip, helps the powerlifter get maximum flex during the lift.  
  • The bar has two powerlifting knurls, with a slightly deeper etching than normal, to provide for an aggressive, non-slip grip of the barbell.
  • The Cerakote coating on shaft and sleeves gives excellent durability to this bar.
  • The bushing construction reduces spin, which is unnecessary in a deadlift.  

Pros:

  • The thinner diameter and longer bar length are specifically designed for the powerlifter. The increased flex in the bar will increase the whip, in principle increasing the upward momentum of the plates, and allowing the powerlifter to move more weight.  
  • The bar has a 190,000 PSI rated shaft, with a lifetime warranty against bending.
  • It has four different color combinations available, matching good looks with excellent performance.

Cons:

  • Like the squat bar, this is a specialized bar, not really designed for other weight training or weight lifting applications.
  • This powerlifting bar is also pretty far up the $ price scale, most likely relegating it to the professional lifters or to commercial establishments.

Final Thoughts:

A well-built powerlifting bar, but, unless you are into competition powerlifting, a fairly pricey addition to your arsenal.  You would be better off investing the money into a gym membership where powerlifting bars might be available.

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#10 SB-1 – ROGUE SAFETY SQUAT BAR

First Impressions:

This is the only true specialty bar on our list for reviews.  This bar is designed to rest on the shoulders, with two hand holds surrounding the neck, to give you improved control when doing squats.

After loading the bar with weight plates, the user steps between the hand holds, rests the bar on the neck behind the head, and lifts the bar by driving the legs to a locked position.  The move is then reversed to lower the barbell. Note that the rack is not included, only the barbell.

Features and Specifications:

  • This bar is a hefty seventy pounds, and 89” in length.  The shafts are 1-1/2” diameter, and the grip area is 1”.  One inch converts to 25MM, so the grip diameter is fairly consistent with standard barbells.
  • The pads are heavy duty vinyl, with foam stuffing.  The handles give additional control while doing squats, compared to using a standard bar.
  • The bar has a black Cerakote coating, and has been tested with 1000 pounds of weight on the sleeves.

Pros:

  • This bar is specifically designed for one weight lifting movement, and offers additional stability and safety while doing squats.
  • Given the banging and clanging adding and removing plates, and racking and re-racking this bar, the Cerakote coating should add to the durability of the bar without oxidation risk.

Cons:

  • Well up the $ price scale, this is probably too hefty an investment for the weight trainer or casual lifter.  For a powerlifter or even heavy weightlifter, it can give you additional muscle strength by working different muscle groups.  
  • For best effectiveness of this specialty bar, a rack is needed.  This probably relegates the bar to professionals or commercial establishments.

Final Thoughts:

A pretty pricey addition to your weight room, considering it only supports a single movement.  You would get more bang for your buck using a similar bar at a local gym.

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Spotlights — Weightlifting Bars – History, How and Why of Usage

Weight training, as we know it today, goes back to ancient Greece, where warriors lifted weights to improve their overall strength and conditioning.  They did stone lifting and throwing, and body weight exercises such as rope climbing. However, thousands of years earlier than that, during the Zhou Dynasty in the 10th Century BC, the Chinese used weightlifting tests as a qualification for those in military service.  Overall strength has always been a beneficial characteristic, and people have used weight lifting, either as a formal training program or just part of their daily lives, to gain that strength.

In more modern times, weight lifting competitions evolved in Europe in the late 1800s.  Weight lifting made its first appearance in the modern Olympics in 1896, but was dropped out of the next competition in 1900.  It reappeared in 1904, disappeared in 1908 and 1912, and reappeared permanently in 1920. The Olympic sport was fine tuned in the 1932 games, with five different weight divisions established, and three different lifting movements specified for the competition.  Women were not officially allowed to compete in weightlifting in the Olympic Games until 2000, but there were several organizations and competitions outside the Olympic venue well prior to that.

So how did weightlifting equipment evolve from the ancient days to the engineering driven science it has become today?  The ancient civilizations typically did body weight exercises for strength building, or used things like stones for lifting and throwing.  Ancient Greek pictorials show them using the earliest hand-held weights, with a hole drilled into stones and other implements for holding them, rather than a handle.  

While the technology has improved dramatically, the weightlifting bar has not changed very much since a 1928 revolving sleeve known as the Berg design became the standard.  This same design is used today, but it is engineered to micro-tolerances, the steel quality has improved immensely, and high-quality bushings and bearings to improve the spin of the sleeve.  Weightlifting rules were changed in 1972 to require collars to hold the weight plates in place while lifting.

The two greatest enemies of the weightlifting bar are warping and rust.  Improvements in the quality of steel used, and extremely tight milling and manufacturing specifications have virtually eliminated warping.  Measures such as tensile strength (as pounds per square inch, or PSI) and yield strength (measured as “F” value) give ratings to the bars so the lifter can judge the stress each bar must bear within his lifting ranges.  Chrome and zinc coatings were prevalent in the past, covering the steel to prevent rust. They could suffer chips and other damage from dropping the weights and removing and adding plates, however. Recently, combination ceramic and polymer coatings have been developed to replace the chrome and zinc coatings.  They offer improved resistance to chipping and scratches, and can be applied in a very thin coat.

So, here we’ve outlined a little bit about the history of weight lifting, and some details on the basic equipment of bar, sleeves, and collars.  We know that there are Olympic level competitions, and also the evolution of powerlifting contests outside the Olympic venue such as the World’s Strongest Man.  But these competitions only involve a few elite athletes; let’s take a look at how the average man and woman are involved in weightlifting.

We talked earlier in this article about the differences between weight lifting and weight training.  To recap, weight lifting is typically about building serious muscle, by lifting heavy weights just a few times.  Weight training, on the other hand, is all about lifting lighter weight quantities multiple times. The objective here is fitness improvement and body toning.

Health benefits of weight training include building and toning muscle structure, and improving bone density.  Weight training also speeds your metabolism, which stimulates your body to burn more calories and help in weight loss efforts.  It has also been proven to improve one’s cholesterol profile, and reduce the risk of future heart disease. All in all, weight training has many health benefits, and should be in everyone’s health regimen in one form or another.

Final Verdict

This article has recapped weight training and weight lifting history, and discussed the origins of it in sport, such as the Olympics.  We’ve looked at key product features and specifications, and defined the terms used in weightlifting bars. Given a selection of ten different bars, the advantages and disadvantages of each were discussed, and an overall impression of the barbell given.

So, having done all that, it’s time to go ahead and make a final recommendation on the best overall weightlifting bar from the list of ten.  There were some bars here for specific applications, such as the squat bar, and others that could be used in different applications, but were still primarily designed for one major application.  There were a few multi-purpose bars and one built specifically for women lifters.

To get down to the best bars, we will look at these from the perspective of someone already into weight training, looking to move up from the department store special to a higher quality bar.  Key considerations for this fictional person will be cost and value, within the framework of the overall features and specifications,

From the perspective of the female weight trainer, this is a simple proposition – our #2 bar, the ROGUE ATHLETE CERAKOTE BELLA BAR – DAVIDSDOTTIR EDITION is the clear winner.  While there are several bars on the list that have a woman’s version available, this is the only barbell we looked at that was specifically designed for a woman lifter.  It comes at a reasonable price, has a fine list of features, a lifetime warranty, and has a special design to add attractiveness to its full multi-purpose functionality.

The decision was a little more complicated for our fictional male resistance trainer.  Our guy will primarily be using this bar for weight training, but may occasionally delve into weight lifting.  For the sake of argument, we will assume that powerlifting is not in his immediate future. Given this profile, I eliminated the specialty type bars – the squat bar, Olympic lifting bars, and powerlifting bars.  That leaves three multi-purpose men’s weightlifting barbells:

#5 – ROGUE FREEDOM BAR – 28.5MM

#3 – ROGUE CHAN BAR – CERAKOTE

#2 – ROGUE ATHLETE CERAKOTE OHIO BAR – FRASER EDITION  

Looking at these with an eye toward specifications, they are all virtually identical.  All can be used for weight training, weightlifting, or powerlifting, but they are truly multi-purpose, not earmarked for one specific application.  All have design contributions from noted lifters, and go beyond the standard black finish with some nice-looking graphics. The prices are very similar for all three, and really do not enter into the decision.  All three have Cerakote coating for extra durability.

So, getting down to the process of elimination.  The first one I dropped out of the competition is #5, the Freedom Bar.  While I love the coloring and the overall value and performance, it does not have a center knurl.  This is a desirable characteristic for many lifters, especially those doing squats and the clean and jerk movements.  

The other two are really a toss-up, and I would recommend purchasing either of them.  If the center knurl is important to you, go with #3, the Chan bar. It is the only one of the three with this feature, and compares virtually one to one with the others for the rest of the feature menu.  If you are a price buyer, the #2 Ohio bar is the one for you. While you don’t get the center knurl on this bar, it is the lowest price of the three finalists, but not significantly so (think three or four specialty coffees).  So, even though I am waffling a little bit, here are your co-winners in the men’s division:

The bottom line here is that these are all top-quality bars, and you really can not go wrong with any of them.   Any of these multi-purpose bars will meet your need, unless you have serious aims at becoming a powerlifter, qualifying for the Olympics, or want a specialty bar for doing squats. They all have a lifetime warranty, so Rogue obviously believes in and stands by their product.  

Happy lifting!