Is this the King of the Budget Racks?
No self-respecting garage gym can start any other place but the squat rack. But which should you choose?
Buying your own cage or rack can get pricey in a hurry, and if part of the reason you’re choosing a home gym is to cut down costs, dropping over a grand on a piece of equipment defeats the purpose.
On the other hand, you want something that will perform the way you need it to and also boast some longevity. I can’t speak for every rack out there, but I can offer my thoughts on the one I chose to purchase.
Today I’m writing my extended review of the Valor Fitness BD-7 Power Rack with Lat Pull Attachment. (Buying anything through this link supports this blog — if you enjoy what you’re reading, please do click through!)
The BD-7: Checking The Right Boxes
All my research and criteria led me to the Valor BD-7. I am incredibly pleased with it. 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.
Of course, with this rack, the main caveat is that because of the price, it’s not quite on the same level as more elite brands’ racks. It doesn’t have that industrial, commercial-gym ready look, stark black powder-coated finish and heavy-gauge construction you’d find in a Rogue – but it’s still very good! If budget isn’t an issue for you, you are obviously more likely to go with a top-of-the-line rack. If, however, you’re like me and you want to wring as much value out of your money as you can, the BD-7 is a fine choice.
It comes with four 1-inch hole pegs for racking your barbells, and they do their job just fine. Also included are two safety rack bars, which insert front-to-back. I’m a little torn on the act of actually squatting inside of the BD-7.
On one hand, you certainly can do it and make use of the safety bars, setting them to just under the bar level when you’re at the low point of your squat. On the other hand, squatting inside the BD-7 is a little unwieldy if you choose to rack any of your plates on the side pegs of your rack – the plates on your bar will almost certainly bump against racked plates. And even if you can maneuver far enough away from them to avoid it, it’s a distraction. Nobody needs distractions with heavy weight across their backs.
Furthermore, you can forget about facing toward the back of the rack with any kind of comfort if you’re squatting inside of it, because the pulley suspends right around face level. I’m 6-foot-3 and take up a little bit more space than most folks, but I can tell you that stepping up to the bar and getting under it is a crowded and awkward endeavor inside of the BD-7. More realistically, you’ll do what I do and rack the bar in front, outside of the rack, for plenty of clearance and a less claustrophobic squat.
That, though, is my biggest gripe about an otherwise outstanding rack for the price. Plenty of pin hole options give a good range of bar heights, which makes it a versatile rack that gets use for other lifts like bench press, military press, pull-ups and inverted rows. The cable pulley is surprisingly smooth (though obviously not up to the standards of a commercial gym’s, and the plate-loading of it might be a deterrent if you want to increase or decrease your resistance quickly).
I’ve been using the Valor BD-7 regularly for almost two years, and I have to say I’m still pleased with my purchase. If your money isn’t endless, I strongly recommend buying this rack.
- Stout construction and quality finish
- Surprisingly useful pulley system
- Tremendous value for the cost, especially with free shipping
- Garage-friendly size without being too small
- Included attachment quality doesn’t meet the quality of the rack itself
- Pull-up bar will feel narrow in bigger hands
- Uncomfortable to squat inside if plate pegs are occupied
- Dip bars and safety arms come separately