I don’t think there’s much debate — the single most important piece of equipment in the home or garage gym is a power rack.
The power/squat rack’s versatility and utility make it a must-own if you are building your own workout environment and you want to get bang for your buck. I’ve seen some people go with adjustable squat-only platforms, or, on the other end of the spectrum, deluxe, heavy-duty platforms with spotter arms and a full-on deadlift platform. For me, I needed to check a few boxes in particular:
- Sturdy/high quality. During my shopping and research, I found plenty of half-racks and discount versions of full racks that didn’t seem to hold up well. I wanted something I would feel comfortable racking heavy weight on — I’m no 600-pound lifter, but when you consider you rack your weights on the side pegs, plus whatever you’ve got on the bar, you always want to know the rack isn’t going anywhere.
- Pull-up bar attached. Space efficiency was huge for me, so I wanted to be able to use my rack for as many lifts, in as little space, as possible. A pull-up bar elsewhere in my garage simply wasn’t a strong option if I could have one on the rack itself.
- Bonus items: High and low pulleys. I’ll be honest; these weren’t a major point of interest for me when I began my shopping, as I’d already somewhat resigned myself to not doing cable or pulley movements. But I can’t deny that they add appeal and workout versatility.
- Reputation. Frankly, I didn’t want to buy a Titan or anything made by CAP, based on large amounts of reviews. I’ve heard differing opinions on Titan, and I suppose I could still be swayed. And of course, there’s Rogue, which is an entirely different category altogether.
- Affordability. This checkmark is where I had to disqualify Rogue. Commercial-quality products, and I have zero doubts that they produce top-of-the-line equipment. But I simply couldn’t spend upward of $1,000 on a rack. My budget was, at max, $600, and if I could avoid hitting that max, I wanted to, of course.
All my research and criteria led me to the Valor BD-7. I found mine for $425 on eBay from Valor’s shop, shipped free, and I am incredibly pleased with it. Check out the link for its full dimensions and features, but the reasons I particularly like it are its sturdiness, build quality and versatility. I do wish the pull-up bar was a touch thicker (I believe it’s a 1-inch bar, and the knurling on it is sharp — get your callouses ready), but I truly don’t have many complaints about it. If your budget is unlimited, of course, I’d steer you toward a Rogue setup; otherwise, I think you’d be just as pleased as I am with the BD-7.
The pulleys are a nice touch, with a high one for lat pulldowns, triceps pushdowns/pulldowns, and the like; the low pulley is essentially on the ground and can work for upright cable rows or curls. There is no included weight stack, of course, as you would see with a commercial gym’s tower, so you have to load the pegs attached to the pulley with plate weights. The pegs are 1-inch and since all the weights I bought were Olympic (2-inch) plates, I decided to buy adapters so they wouldn’t rattle on the pegs during movement.
One thing I will say: The chain for the low pulley that comes with the BD-7 is short and pretty cheap-feeling. I used a more heavy-duty one I had lying around. And the attachment handles included — a long one for lat pulldowns and a shorter straight one for the low pulley — are not heavy-duty at all. I hardly use them and would recommend buying separate chrome or stainless steel attachments.