- Intro: The Problem
- All-Around Best: Titan T-2 Short Power Rack
- Most Features: Rep Fitness Short Power Rack
- Cheapest: TDS Short Power Rack
- Alternative Design: Rogue SML-1 Monster Lite Squat Stand
- My Recommendations
The Problem with Racks and Low Ceilings
Power racks’ typical 7ft height poses a problem in typical residential apartments with 8ft ceilings. Basically in any home without high ceilings you’re in danger of banging the ceiling as you do pull ups. It’s even worse in a basement with 7ft ceilings.
Quick way to eyeball ceiling height: The height of the top of the upper door frame on standard interior (bedroom/closet) doors is about 7ft.
With an 8ft ceiling, say in a bedroom or garage, the issue isn’t technically fitting a rack, but doing full range of motion pull ups can be iffy. Sure, the ceiling may be 8ft from the subfloor, but when you add carpet plus the layer of 3/4″ plywood and 3/4″ rubber on top that we like to put down for home gym areas, plus 12″ of headroom above the bar, you could run out of room doing full range of motion pull ups. Sometimes it works. I was using the Powerline rack with a 82″ (6’10”) high pull up bar, and I was getting an inch or two from the 8ft ceiling and never hit it.
With a 7ft basement ceiling, you’re totally stuck. You won’t be able to tilt upright even an 82″ (6’10”) rack after assembling it, because of the arc when tilting it up. Some basement ceilings are even lower than 7ft.
The best solution here is a 6ft power rack. It will fit in virtually every basement or low mobile home ceiling. With it you can lift way more safely than one of those small lightweight squat stands would allow you to. Or go ahead, get stuck under a failed lift with no safety bars and hope someone hears your whimpers coming from the basement before you pass out.
Think a moment before buying a shortie rack if you’re over 5’9″ tall yourself. At some point you’ll find yourself banging your forehead on the pull up bar or rear crossmember, not just when walking into the front, but when re-racking your squat in the back. Re-racking a heavy weight isn’t the ideal time to get slammed in the head. However, our last solution below, the half rack without the upper frame, may work best for you.
Titan T-2 Short Rack
|Pull Up Bar||68″ high, 1.25″ Diameter, Knurled, Powder Coated|
|Price||$289 Titan Fitness
Titan basically does low-cost Rogue imitations. And they do ok at it. They’ve been at it a while and have gotten better and better with their design considerations. They make weird decisions with new products, or they don’t always think things through. Over the last few years they’ve improved some designs, but it reflects an initial lack of understanding of why other brands of equipment are designed the way they are.
We’ve done an overview of the full-height Titan T-2 rack in a separate article including several written and video reviews.
In this case, Rogue doesn’t have a short rack quite like this, making it a notable design for Titan.
First thing – 11 gauge steel! That makes for a nice strong feeling rack. It’s no 3″x3″ rack, but the difference is noticeable over lighter gauge racks.
It’s a lightweight rack, but it redeems itself by having weight pegs in back, that you can use to load the unit down. When you do that, it’s kind of like having a super heavy duty 300lb rack. Not quite, because it can still wobble, but it doesn’t shift or tip easily. So it’s all a matter of whether you have the extra plates to spare to make this a good option for you. I like the positioning of the pegs, too. The plates won’t interfere with your range of motion, unlike some bad designs where the plates are stored up on the same upright as the J-hooks. Those type of designs are at best annoying, and at worst dangerous if you aren’t conscientious about it.
I like the extended feet on the base too. I don’t think the ones going out to the sides in the back do much, because a rack doesn’t hardly ever tip sideways (unless you use their dip attachment I guess), but the ones sticking way out in the front, plus the extra frame in the back for the aforementioned weight pegs, helps keep it stable even if you don’t weight it down. It does make for a big footprint though, which could be bad if you’re as short on room space as you are on height.
The bar holders and safeties are all steel, no UHMW plastic liners to protect the bar and keep the noise down. You can upgrade to UHMW-lined J-cups, and while you’re at it, choose from three styles of dip attachments.
By the way, Titan has a Short T-3 Power Rack too, but in that case “short” is 84″, which is only short relative to the full-size 91″ T-3. That’s of no help to us here.
Rep Fitness Short Rack
|Pull Up Bar||68″ high, 1.25″ & 2″ Diameter, Smooth|
|Steel||14 gauge 2″x2″|
|Price||$299.99 on Amazon|
Rep Fitness has been selling Crossfit equipment since 2012.
First thing that stands out to me from the specs is this rack is really thin steel. 14 gauge is what you see in the cheapest weight benches and racks (the higher the number, the thinner the steel). What this means is it can wobble on you. You’ll also see that the overall weight is actually listed as higher than the Titan or TDS racks. I don’t know about that. I believe Rep is giving the net weight only, ie: with 20 lbs of packaging. But that 2″ thick pull up bar in the rear could be adding some weight, if it’s solid and not a pipe. Anyway, all three racks are pretty light, and going with which ever one is 10 lbs heavier is a dumb move. It’s not going to matter. Make your choice another way. If the steel gauge is the factor that steers you away from this one, that makes sense.
Rep includes two pull up bars, a 1.25″ and a 2″ in the back. Sweet! All you freaks who find pull ups way too easy can make it double hard. Fat bar pull ups are no joke. Imagine gripping a 2″ olympic bar sleeve and doing pull ups on that. Well, without the rotation. Fat bar pull ups lend themselves to doing a thumb-over grip, or what’s called a suicide grip when you do presses. Not sure what the technical name for it is.
One thing you really might like about Rep’s rack over the others is the laser-engraved hole numbers every 5th hole. Even Rogue doesn’t do that! It helps when you move the J-cups or safety bars often. Without the numbers you end up having to mark them yourself to keep track.
You also get UHMW liners on the J-cups. These honestly are standard nowadays. Steel-on-steel banging is a silly thing to do to your nice bar. UHMW (ultra high molecular weight plastic) protects your bar, your ears, softens the impact as you set it down, and keeps the housemates/neighbors happy. Generally if you get a rack without them, you cheaped out. In this case you aren’t paying much more over the Titan or TDS rack to get these.
They make a dip attachment for $50. Dip attachments are one thing that can be hard to get sized right for a rack if it isn’t made for it. See how the space between the handles will be dependent on the space between the front and rear uprights.
Rep charges shipping on their site, while on Amazon it’s free shipping with only $40 extra added to the price, making Amazon a better deal.
TDS Short Rack
|Pull Up Bar||+$39.99, 70″ high, 1.25″ Diameter, Knurled, Powder Coated|
|Steel||13 gauge 2″x2″|
The TDS brand, based in China, is sold by New York Barbell, in Elmira, NY, since at least 1978. No relation to the iconic York Barbell, based in York, PA since 1932. It’s the old brand name similarity trick.
As of writing this rack is unavailale. Maybe they are just temporarily sold out and there will be more when you read this.
TDS equipment is known for being inexpensive. They also make lots of unique pieces that are hard to find elsewhere. I’ve heard occasional complaints about things like burrs left on welds, pieces not aligned right, or paint that scratches off easily. No doubt they’re cheap, and quality control wouldn’t be their specialty.
Fun facts: Their current newyorkbarbells.com website was designed in 1999, each page raw html coded with a text editor. They’ve had an @aol.com email address since 1999. They sell on Amazon too, and quite frankly that’s a better experience.
Like the Titan, the bar holders and safeties are all steel, no UHMW plastic liners as a protective barrier against the bar.
Also like the Titan, they put the weight storage pegs in the rear so you can load the rack down good for stability.
Of special note, as the pic shows if you look closely, there is no pull up bar included in the base unit! You have an option to add it for $40. That’s how they keep the base price under $300.
Alternative Solution: Rogue SML-1 Monster Lite Squat Stand 2.0
|Pull Up Bar||None|
|Steel||11 gauge 3″x3″|
|Price||$365 + $162 Spot Arms|
Yep, I know, this aint a power rack. Hey, there are limited options out there and I didn’t want to just leave you with the above choices only. Rogue makes such awesome stuff. If you get this, you’ll be in pretty good shape safety-wise. Not as safe as a power rack, but getting there. Of course, you sacrifice the pull up bar.
Be sure to add the 24″ safety spot arms shown in the options on the page! The whole reason I’m recommending this unit is because it has long safety arms that actually work good.
Besides the spot arms, you can add wheels to make it mobile, or brackets to bolt it down into concrete with. Both are designed well, of course.
If you browse Rogue’s site you’ll see the cheaper S-1 and more expensive SM-1. I don’t recommend either. The S-1 is lighter and has shorter safety arms. You don’t save that much money. The SM-1 is the Monster version, as expensive as they could make it, and not worth the extra cost. The middle of the road SML-1 is totally the right choice here.
If you’re over 5’9″ you could bump your head on the pull up bar or cross brace of the Titan or TDS Rack. The Rogue SML-1 you won’t have that problem with, but you sacrifice having any pull up bar. That’s a natural tradeoff. If you want a 6ft rack, do you want a pull up bar in the way of your head or not? It will be.
Between the Titan T-2 and TDS, the Titan T-2 is better in every way. Beefier tubing, better quality control, same features, and a better price when you factor in the pull up bar included.
The Rogue SML-1, with the spot arms, is higher priced than the others. It’s also a lot beefier, to help make up some safety and stability in lieu of being a full power rack. I feel like the short power racks just don’t work out as well because if you’re over 5’9″ you’re going to be hitting your head. For what it is, the Rogue unit doesn’t have any flaws like that. I say go with that and figure out some place outdoors to do pull ups where you can get a full range of motion without your feet hitting the ground. Doing pull ups from a 6ft bar kind of sucks anyway.
I hope that helps! Let me know if you disagree, or if there is another rack I should include here!