If you are looking to purchase a power rack for a home gym, a key consideration is how much weight can they hold. The last thing you want is to purchase a power rack (which isn’t cheap) only to find that it’s not fit for purpose and that you need a more heavy-duty rack.
Likewise, you don’t want to spend a significant amount on a commercial-grade power rack if you are unlikely to ever push it close to its weight limit. Power racks have different weight capacities and these will vary depending on your personal circumstances for what is best.
So, how much weight can a power rack hold? A power rack can hold anywhere between 500lbs – 1200lbs depending on the model and construction. On average, a budget power rack can hold 500lbs, a mid-range rack can hold 800lbs, and a commercial-grade power rack can hold in excess of 1,000lbs.
The limit will vary on the brand, type of power rack, and construction materials used. Most racks will fall within a “category” between budget and commercial grade so in this article, we’ll cover some general guidelines for how much weight a power rack can hold alongside how you can calculate your requirements.
How Much Weight Can a Power Rack Hold?
The load limit on power racks depends on the specific power rack in question.
Some power racks only have a weight limit of 500 pounds, whereas others can hold up to 1200 pounds. Most often, home power racks only have a maximum weight of up to 800 pounds, while power racks at professional gyms can often go above 1000 pounds.
Even though the majority of power racks have this weight limit range, you can find power racks with weight limits under 500 pounds or over 1200 pounds as well. We generally recommend avoiding power racks with very low weight limits since you might exceed the weight in a short time.
Power racks with high limits won’t have this issue, but they are likely highly expensive. The high price tag of high caliber power racks explains why they are more popular for gym use than home use. Most home users simply don’t have enough money to shell out for a 1000 pound power rack when they are likely to never push it to this capacity.
What Is a Good Weight Limit for Home Power Racks?
Most home racks are not quite as sturdy and strong as professional gym racks simply because they aren’t used for as serious purposes. Most home users recommend shooting for a power rack with a weight limit of 700 to 900 pounds.
This weight limit will likely be more than enough for your workout and factors in progression on heavy compound lifts, but it won’t be quite as expensive as 1000+ pound racks that you would find in a professional gym (these are commercial-grade standard).
How Much Weight Should My Power Rack Hold?
Even though most home power racks are around 800 pounds, it’s more important to select a power rack weight limit based on your abilities and goals.
Factors that Impact How Much Your Power Rack Should Hold
You want the rack to be strong enough to handle at least 30% more weight than your intended maximum. That way, you have a little bit of wiggle room in case you exceed your maximum.
Estimated maximum lift weight + 30% = ideal power rack load limit
Additionally, you have to remember that placing the bar back onto the J cups adds more weight since the speed of setting the bar down results in more pressure. If you get a power rack that is your exact maximum, you likely will exceed the recommended weight limit every time you put the bar back into place.
Not to mention, there is no standardized way of testing how much weight a power rack can handle (as you’ll see discussed on this physics forum). This may sound like a minor issue, but it is serious because the racks will be sturdier than others, even if they have the same supposed weight limit.
By getting a rack with a higher limit, you make sure that it is sturdy enough for your intended usage, even if it isn’t quite as strong as it claims.
How To Calculate Power Rack Strength
If you are still building up your muscle and aren’t quite sure what your maximum will be yet, get a power rack with an even wider range. After all, there’s no downside for a power rack having a high weight limit, other than a potentially more expensive price tag.
For example, let’s say that you can currently squat 350 pounds, but you expect to be squatting 450 pounds in two years. Based on these numbers, you will want a power rack that holds 30% more than 450 pounds. If you do the math, that comes out to 585 pounds.
450 + 30% = 585 pounds minimum
Once again, you can get a power rack that holds more than 30% of your intended maximum, but you should avoid getting a power rack that holds under 30%.
How Can I Find Out How Much My Power Rack Holds?
It should be easy to find out how much weight your power rack holds. Manufacturers are very open and transparent about maximum weight limits to avoid lawsuits and injury from their customers. If you still have the packaging that came with your power rack, it should be clearly labeled.
If you threw out the packaging, you can simply look at the manufacturer’s website. There, you should be able to find guides and information about your power rack specifically. The website should list the maximum weight outright.
Is It Safe to Exceed My Power Rack’s Weight Limit?
The sturdiness of your power rack is largely determined by its weight limit. If you put too much weight on the power rack, it can become shaky and potentially break. Because of how much weight is being used on a power rack, a shaky or faulty power rack can be an incredibly dangerous scenario.
For this reason, never exceed your power rack’s weight limit. Not only are you putting the durability of your power rack in danger, but you are also compromising your own safety in the process.
To make a power rack more stable, even when you are not reaching the weight limit for the rack, you should consider bolting the rack down for added stability. Even power racks with lower weight limits can be very stable if they are anchored correctly and bolted down.
You could also consider using a squat rack stringer to mount it to a wall for stability if bolting it to the ground is not an option. This will help prevent the rack from moving around when you rack/unrack a weight, especially if you are using a budget power rack with a lower maximum weight limit.
Most people will have a rough idea of the weight capacities that they require when purchasing a power rack. I personally got a rack with a 250kg (550lb) weight limit as this was a more budget option but there are no lifts I would be doing that would exceed this weight.
With a progression goal in mind, you’d need to factor in future weight capacities and be realistic with it. Most power racks have a maximum weight limit of 500lbs – 1,200lbs and while this can be a lot of weight, dedicated lifters can definitely push the limits of this – which is why commercial-grade racks exist.
As a good guide though, anyone new to building a home gym are not really likely to be pushing the boundaries of a commercial-grade power rack so even budget option power racks will be able to satisfy most lifting needs.
Especially if you secure it with the use of a squat rack stringer or by bolting it down for added stability and structural support (distributing the load).