Setting up a home gym is always a balancing act. You often need to choose between correctly securing your equipment for safe use and also having the flexibility to move equipment around as you upgrade or try to find space to add new equipment (which is an ongoing addiction once you start a home gym!).
A squat rack is often the piece of equipment that divides opinion. Depending on the location, brand and heavy-duty structure of the rack, it’s often a safety decision when trying to decide if the rack can be free-standing or not. A common question is, therefore – do you need to bolt down a squat rack?
You do not need to bolt down a squat rack if it’s a heavy-duty rack with a wide base and storing a sufficient amount of weight (200lbs+). It is however highly recommended to bolt down a squat rack in order to prevent unwanted movement of accidental tipping.
In this article, we’ll cover whether or not you need to bolt down a squat rack and when/how it’s best to do so.
How to Keep a Squat Rack from Moving
Obviously, the best way to keep a squat rack from moving is to bolt it down to whatever surface it’s on. However, if you don’t have the means to bolt your squat rack to the floor (or if you have a squat rack in a rented apartment), there are still ways you can keep your rack secure on just about any surface.
One of the easiest ways to keep a squat rack in place is simply to load it up with as much weight as you possibly can. If you have more than one barbell to spare, load it up with as many plates as you can and leave it on any j-hooks you aren’t currently using.
Another option along these lines is to buy some plate storage pegs and mount them on your squat rack, then load them up with all of your heaviest plates. You may even want to consider buying extra storage pegs and plates for your squat rack just to keep it weighed down.
One other method you can use to keep your squat rack from moving is to buy an extension for it. Extensions usually add more places to store weights, and also make the physical footprint of the squat rack larger. The more of your squat rack that makes contact with the ground, the more stable it will be.
Many squat racks also offer a choice of “feet” that may be more stable if you choose not to bolt your rack down. These feet are larger than standard squat rack feet, which of course prevents your squat rack from shifting around when in use.
If you’re not intending to bolt your squat rack to your floor, however, it’s better to use as many of these methods as you can. A larger squat rack is more stable, and a heavier squat rack is more stable, so as you can probably guess, a larger AND heavier squat rack is extra stable (just keep in mind a weight limit for the floor if you keep your squat rack upstairs).
Do You Need to Bolt Down a Squat Rack?
As we’ve established, you don’t NEED to bolt down a squat rack if you have other means of securing it in place. However, the best way to keep a squat rack secured is always to bolt it down, especially if you don’t intend on moving it around at any point.
In any case, it’s always necessary to secure your squat rack in place through some means. If you’re wondering why it’s so important to make sure your squat rack doesn’t move during use, there are a few key reasons:
Your Squat Rack Will Move on Its Own Over Time
When you set a barbell down on your squat rack, some of the force of doing so is directed laterally, which will cause your rack to move. The harder you set your barbell down, the more lateral force you’ll exert on your rack, and the more it will move.
A moving squat rack isn’t particularly dangerous, but it can certainly be inconvenient if you have to move your squat rack back to its original position every so often. Additionally, depending on the type of surface your squat rack is sitting on, it could damage your floor if it moves around too much.
Securing your rack to the floor doesn’t just prevent it from moving around and prevent your floors from getting scuffed. It’s also a necessary safety step that can prevent your squat rack from tipping over while in use.
There are several types of exercises that will exert a lateral force on your squat rack when performing them, and if this lateral force happens to be above your rack’s centre of gravity, this could very well cause your rack to tip over unexpectedly. Once a heavy squat rack starts to tip over, there’s probably not much you’ll be able to do to stop it.
If you don’t have your squat rack secured to the floor, take care when performing exercises such as scrape-the-rack shoulder presses, step-ups, and Kipping pull-ups, as these definitely have the potential to upset the balance of your rack.
If you have a child in your home, it’s imperative that you bolt your squat rack to the floor to prevent it from tipping over.
Let’s put it this way: kids are always going to want to climb on stuff they’re not supposed to. Even if you make it clear that they’re not allowed to climb on your squat rack, there’s a chance they’ll do it anyway.
If your kids get up on top of your squat rack and start using it as a set of makeshift monkey bars, it’s all too likely that they’ll cause the whole thing to tip over. When kids are in the picture, it’s better to be safe than sorry and make sure all your heavy exercise equipment is properly secured.
How to Bolt Down a Squat Rack
If you’re going to bolt down your squat rack, it’s important to do it correctly. Your rack should either be bolted directly to your floor, or it should be bolted to a lifting platform if you have one.
Most people will likely be bolting their rack directly to the floor, so let’s go over how to do this:
How to Bolt Down a Squat Rack to Concrete
- If you have some kind of other flooring material on top of your concrete, you’ll want to remove this so that your squat rack is sitting directly on your concrete floor.
- With a concrete drill, make holes in your concrete. These will be used for the anchors that will secure your rack to the floor.
- Use a hammer to sink the anchors into the holes you made.
- Attach your rack to the anchors.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to use concrete anchors for securing your squat rack, you can use concrete screws to bolt your rack down. The process of using screws to secure your rack to the floor is largely the same as using anchors:
- Remove any flooring material to allow your rack to sit directly on the concrete.
- Drill pilot holes into the concrete for the screws.
- Position your rack over the pilot holes.
- Screw your rack down to your floor using the concrete screws.
When setting up a home gym, safe use of equipment and protection for your equipment and home are two main priorities. Something you don’t want to see happen is your squat rack topple over during use because it wasn’t properly secured.
Squat racks are heavy pieces of equipment so not only can they cause damage to your home and other pieces of equipment if they tip over but they can also risk causing injury to the person using it.
Therefore, while it’s not essential to bolt down a squat rack, especially if you have a heavy-duty rack from a reputable brand, it’s highly recommended that you do bolt it down if possible. If it’s not possible to bolt a rack down, then loading it up with spare weight plates will be the next best option.