If you want to build muscle or strength quickly, compound movements such as deadlifts, squats, and overhead presses are the fastest way to recruit the widest range of muscle groups in a single movement.
But although this makes your workouts more efficient, if you train at home without a spotter then you’ll need a way to perform these exercises safely, without fear of getting pinned under the bar.
This is where squat racks and power cages are so useful, and if you’re looking for the best balance of affordability and weight capacity, you won’t do better than Valor Fitness (a subsidiary of Valor Athletics Inc.).
That’s not to say other companies don’t produce excellent squat racks. In fact, Cap Barbell have two entry level racks that can be an excellent choice for anyone just getting started with weightlifting. (You can find out more about the full range of Cap Barbell squat racks in our complete buyer’s guide)
But the main downside with these racks is that they have a very limited weight capacity, usually supporting little more than 300 lbs.
When you compare this to the Valor Fitness squat rack and power cage collection, which offers more than a dozen designs and a 1000 lb weight capacity on their top-of-the-line models, it becomes obvious that they’re much better suited to intermediate and advanced lifters.
In this guide we’ll provide you with a quick summary of the key features for each rack, together with a link to the full review. This includes comparisons with similarly priced racks and cages to help you determine the best option for your own home gym.
Valor Fitness BD-3 Squat Stand
These are the squat stand equivalent to the earlier BD-2 independent bench press stands, with a wider range of height settings capable of support free weight squats.
The base frame is designed with a wider front edge to help improve stability, with a shorter opposing side to ensure you have a large enough workout area to step back from the rack and perform the exercise.
A major benefit of independent squat stands is that you aren’t restricted to using barbells of a specific length, and they’re usually much lighter and easier to store than full sized racks or cages.
One thing that’s worth bearing in mind though is the 250 lb weight capacity. For what’s usually a minimal price difference you could actually buy the BD-8 squat stands, which feature a similar design but a more impressive 350 lb capacity.
In terms of safety, the BD-3 squat stands have two main features. Firstly, you have the hooks at the top of the barbell supports to lock the bar in place when you change the weight. You also have a set of height adjustable safety rails, which offer a safe racking point should you find yourself unable to complete a rep.
- Weight capacity: 250 lbs
- Dimensions: 28.5″L x 20.75″W
- Product weight: 52 lbs
- Height range: 43″ – 70″
For more information on the features of the BD-3 squat stands and how they compare to other similarly priced designs, it’s worth taking a look at our full review. The link below can also be used to check the current price and availability.Read the full reviewCheck price
Valor Fitness BD-4 Squat Rack
The BD-4 is the first model in the Valor Fitness collection to feature a walk-in design, with a wide enough base frame to support Olympic barbells and provide a clear path to the bar.
The safety rails are also an improvement over those found on the individual BD-3 squat stands, as they are positioned closer to where you’re likely to be performing heavy squats.
Although the BD-3 safety rails are perfect for the bench press, once you remove the weight from the rack you naturally want to step back to ensure you don’t catch the bar on the supports when squatting.
The weight capacity has also been increased from 250 lbs to 450 lbs, with enough space between the rails to combine the BD-4 with an adjustable weights bench. The only downside is that you’re still going to be without weight plate storage pegs, meaning you might also have to factor in the price of a weight plate tree or rack if you don’t already own one.
Due to the spacing of the bar supports and minimum bar height setting on both the rack and safety rails, the BD-4 is definitely a rack we would recommend more for squats and overhead presses than deadlifts and bench press.
If these are exercises that you’re going to be performing often in your routine, we would recommend taking a look at the BD-7, which features more of a cage design, but a much wider range of bar height settings and a much higher weight capacity.
- Weight capacity: 450 lbs
- Dimensions: 53″L x 48″W x 64″H
- Product weight: 105 lbs
- Bar height settings: 32″ to 61″
Valor Fitness BD-6 Squat Rack
With the BD-6 Squat Rack we’re seeing another significant improvement in weight capacity, compared to the earlier BD-3 and BD-4 models, and is now capable of supporting up to 650 lbs.
However, due to the positioning of the safety rails and fact that the barbell racking points only start at 32″ from the ground, we believe this to be a better choice for squats and overhead presses than it is for deadlifts and the bench press.
You actually have barbell supports at the same 5 levels as on the BD-4, and the safety rails are again individually adjustable. But another useful upgrade in addition to the weight capacity is the 4 Olympic weight plate storage pegs that have been added to the sides of the rack.
This is something we highlighted as an area for improvement on the BD-4, and is one of the reasons we’ve awarded the BD-6 a higher rating. Combine this with the fact that you still have a large enough space to use the rack with a weights bench if needed means this is one of our top rated squat racks at this price range (usually between $300 and $350).
- Weight capacity: 650 lbs
- Dimensions: 53″L x 65″W x 64″H
- Product weight: 130 lbs
- Bar height settings: 32″ to 61″
Valor Fitness BD-7 Squat Rack
The BD-7 is the first Power Rack in the Valor Fitness collection, with a weight capacity of 500 lbs on each of the bar supports and 4 weight plate storage pegs.
The power cage design and saber style safety rods, combined with a much lower minimum height setting for the bar supports makes this the perfect rack for bench pressing and deadlifts, as well as squats and overhead presses.
But if your budget is $500 and you want to find the strongest rack for your money, you might also have come across the Powerline PPR200X from Body Solid. This features a similar weight capacity to the BD-7, and offers the same saber style safety system, with 18 bar positions to choose from.
Although the BD-7 comes with a lat pulldown attachment as standard, in most cases you’ll need to buy the Powerline rack and lat pulldown separately, but overall they workout at roughly the same price (a little under $500 for each system).
However, the PPR200X doesn’t have weight plate storage pegs, and only has 2 individual bar supports instead of the 4 that are supplied with the Valor BD-7.
- Weight capacity: 500 lbs
- Dimensions: 59″L x 63″W x 86″H
- Product weight: 180 lbs
- Bar height settings: 17.5″ to 68″
Overall the two racks are incredibly similar, in terms of features, price, and weight capacity. But in our opinion the BD-7 just about comes out on top, as it’s fitted with the storage pegs and offers twice the number of individual bar supports, in addition to the saber rods.
To find out more about the features of the BD-7, exercise options, and customer feedback based on over 200 reviews from Amazon alone, it’s worth taking a look at our full review. Or if you want to check the price and availability, you can use the link below.Read the full reviewCheck price
Valor Fitness BD-8 Squat Rack
With a higher weight capacity than the entry level BD-3, the BD-8 squat stands can support up to 350 lbs (100 lb more than the BD-3), with a similarly compact footprint of 28″L x 20″W per stand.
This is also one of the most affordable sets of freestanding squat stands to offer built-in weight plate storage pegs, with one available on each. This not only helps with keeping the plates you need close to your workout area, but also combines with the H-frame base design to improve stability when lifting heavier weights.
Adjustable catch bars are also fitted to add an extra element of safety to the BD-8 set, the height of which can quickly be changed using a simple locking pin system.
As with the BD-3, rotating locking pins have been added to the top of each bar support to lock the barbell in place while you load and unload the weight plates. This helps prevent the bar from sliding off the rack if the weight becomes unevenly balanced.
In terms of price difference, the BD-8 set is usually only around $20 more expensive than the BD-3. But when you consider the higher weight capacity, improved plate storage, and much higher average review rating on Amazon, the BD-8 clearly represents better value for money.
- Weight capacity: 350 lbs
- Dimensions: 28″L x 20″W
- Product weight: 50 lbs
- Bar height settings: 42.75″ to 70.25″
Valor Fitness BD-9 Squat Rack
Although it’s still a long way off the 1000 lb capacity of their BD-33 power cage, the BD-9 is one of the strongest sets of individual squat stands designed by Valor Fitness, with a limit of 500 lbs on the bar supports.
Although the price varies slightly depending on where you buy and the time of year, in most cases there’s only a $20 difference between these and the BD-8 set, which is the same as the difference between the BD-3 and BD-8.
So, for just $40 more, you can buy a set of squat stands that support twice the weight, with a larger base for improved stability, and added weight plate pegs for convenient storage.
On top of that, you also have the additional racking point between the top of the stands and the adjustable safety rails. These can be adjusted using a similar locking pin system to the safety rails, and can be used with most of the same height settings as the main bar supports.
As for the height settings themselves, these are standard across the BD-3, BD-8, and BD-9 squat stands, with a range of between 43″ and 70″. Whether this is suitable for supporting the bench press really depends on how high the back support of the bench is off the ground.
If you’re looking for a rack for bench presses, we would generally recommend a full cage design instead of individual squat stands, as the minimum bar height setting is much lower. This means you can take full advantage of all settings on a FID bench, from decline all the way through to incline and military presses.
- Weight capacity: 500 lbs
- Dimensions: 28″L x 20″W x 54.5″H
- Product weight: 59 lbs
- Bar height settings: 42.75″ to 70.25″
Valor Fitness BD-17 Squat Rack
The BD-17 squat stand features a similar design to the BD-9, with weight plate storage pegs near the base, and an extra set of adjustable bar supports.
Unfortunately you don’t have any form of safety rails, which is something that’s incredibly important if you plan on squatting anywhere close to the 475 lb capacity, even if you have a spotter.
This 475 lb weight limit sets the BD-9 slightly above the BD-4 in terms of strength, but below the BD-6 by close to 200 lbs. Not only that, but the BD-6 includes more weight plate pegs and fully adjustable safety rails.
But perhaps this is the compromise you have to be willing to make if you’re looking for a squat rack on a tighter budget, as the BD-17 usually retails for around $130 less than the BD-6.
There’s still plenty of space between the supports to position a weights bench if you wanted to perform pressing exercises, but if you’re above average height it’s worth bearing in mind the range of bar support settings available.
As a general rule, the Valor Fitness squat racks have a maximum bar support height of 60″, while the individual stands (such as the BD-3 and BD-8) can be increased up to 70″.
- Weight capacity: 475 lbs
- Dimensions: 23.75″L x 45.5″W x 54″H
- Product weight: 67 lbs
- Bar height settings: 48.75″ to 60.5″
In our full review we take a closer look at the customer feedback the BD-17 is receiving on sites like Amazon, as well as the design features, exercise options, and how it compares to other racks in the Valor Fitness collection.Read the full reviewCheck price