My Cheap Power Cage Lasted Me Over 4 Years Already, My 2Cents
Updated March 4th 2020; June 20th 2019
When you purchase a "cheap" power cage, is it worth it?
Will you need to replace it after 1-2years?
That would be a buyer's nightmare and certainly something you want to avoid.
And you know what is really stinks?
Don’t you hate it when you try to look for a power cage review and you get bombarded with 20+ power cages “reviews”?
Yeah, they are not that helpful.
I would look at the first power cage, which only has very brief details anyway.
Then, by the time you go through the second, third and fourth power cage, they are so identical.
Probably the biggest difference among the power cages is the different company names that manufacture them.
So, let us go into a REAL review.
Instead of just posting the 20 cheapest power cages I could find, it would be MORE helpful if I reviewed the power cage I currently own.
So, let us dive deep into that:
Is a cheap power cage worth it?
My cheap power cage is 100% worth it. However, there are several factors that may deter you from purchasing a budget power cages:
- Weight capacity
- Adjustment positions
- Stability of the power cage
- Aesthetics of the power cage
- Overhead press limitations
What should you consider when deciding on a power cage.
If you are reading this article, you are probably deciding on whether or not you should buy a cheap power cage.
Well, there are two factors you should look at when deciding on a power cage - weight capacity and adjustment positions.
And for the record, I have the Body-Solid Powerline Power Rack.
Depending on your lifting numbers, this will be a major point to consider when deciding on a power cage, especially if you try to save money.
If you are trying to cut corners in spending, you will get a lower quality power cage that will hold less weight.
There is no argument in that.
So, if you are an elite lifter, do not try to save money on your power cage.
You should purchase a higher-end power cage that will safely help you train without any fear.
The weight capacity for my power cage is 600lbs.
So far, I have only dropped 350lbs on the safeties and the power cage is holding up.
There are no bents or dents on the safeties yet.
Adjustments are a very important factor when it comes to selecting a power cage.
For many strength sports, you need adjustments that move minimally.
You probably see these at local, regional, national and international competitions.
For many cheap power cages, you will not have too many adjustment positions.
For instance, my power cage has the adjustments spaced out every 3 inches.
For a cheap power cage, that would be considered an average distance.
There are some power cages that space out 4 inches or more, which is undesirable.
What cheap power cage do I have?
On May 16th 2016, I purchased the Body-Solid Powerline Power Rack (PPR200X).
It gets the job done and I would recommend it 100% to anyone who has space to set-up it up.
This power cage is good starter equipment for anyone who does not want to shell out $1000+ dollars on a high-quality power cage (that may be a better decision in the long run, but to each their own).
In addition to the two criteria, I mentioned above, buyers should also understand additional risks when purchasing a cheap power cage.
Paint does wear away
I believe with the power cage purchase, they gave me a small bottle of paint for touch up work.
At the time I received the power cage parts, I did not understand why.
So, I just threw away the paint.
A few months later, the lift-offs were starting to peel off paint since my bar was constantly grinding on it from squats and bench presses.
Even the safeties have some paint scratched off on them.
So, the paint will get chipped away and your power cage will appear to be in worse conditions than it appears to be.
But functionally, it is still great and you should be able to train without issues.
It comes in many parts - more wobble
More expensive power cages will come with fewer parts.
With fewer nuts and bolts to hold each part in place, there will be fewer opportunities for the power cage to shake and wobble.
However, to decrease the cost and increase shipping opportunities, power cages parts can be separated into many pieces.
With this tradeoff, you will find that your power cage will feel less stable.
This is certainly a feeling I got when I first received my power cage.
I did not secure my power cage into the ground as well so that is an additional factor to make matters worse.
If you are getting a cheap power cage, you can expect your power cage to come in many parts and you will need to do some assembling.
This is not a bad or good thing, but you do get what you pay for.
So far, I felt that the stability of my power cage has not been tested yet.
I have not reached close to 600lbs to be dropped onto the safeties.
But 350lbs was dropped and everything was fine.
Shaking when doing pullups
With this power cage, I am fortunate to be able to include pullups in my routine.
Whenever I do pullups aggressively, the whole power cage tends to shake a bit.
Obviously, if you feel like that power cage is going to tip over, you just relax a bit and allow the power cage to settle down for a bit.
For me, this is not really an issue since I am mostly focusing on the Big 4 lifts - the squat, bench press, deadlift, and overhead press.
You just have to use your common sense to not hurt yourself when doing accessory movements that expose a weakness of your equipment.
It shakes when you do anything using the pullup bar, really
When I try to do some ab work by holding onto the pullup bar, it will rock and shake.
Granted, I did not bolt the power cage into the ground or placed heavy plates on the ends of the rack.
But I assumed it was not needed.
I was wrong.
So, if you do decide to do anything with the pullup bar, you will need to be a bit cautious.
Overhead press height restriction
If you are around 6 feet tall, you will probably not be able to overhead press inside this power cage.
Due to my garage gym setup, I am not able to overhead press inside my power cage as well since I have an external shelf blocking some plates.
BUT, if I were to remove that, a 5’7” person will be able to overhead press inside this power cage no problem.
This is just sine extra information to consider so that there are no surprises when the power cage comes in and you are wondering why you cannot overhead press inside the power cage.
4+ years with this rack, what do I think?
The body-solid powerline power cage is still serving me well.
I still do all my squats, bench presses, and overhead presses in the rack.
I did not fail too often so that safties were not stressed as often as you would see in a commercial gym.
I was not reckless and did heavy rack pulls every week.
And because I was cautious with my limitations, my rack has minimal wear.
The paint came off on the hooks, yes.
But the nuts and bolts are still attached snuggly.
In my opinion, this rack serves its purpose.
Do I regret the purchase?
This was a budget-friendly power cage that I was testing the waters with.
Could I have bought a very expensive power cage instead and call it a day?
Yes, but where is the fun in that?
I wanted to experiment and think outside of the box.
I wanted to see if a cheap power cage is worth the price and if it would break down eventually.
And 4 years down the line, we are still going strong.
If things are going this smoothly, this cheap power cage will even be passed on to my grand kids!
Is it worth it to buy a cheap power cage for your home gym?
Yes, you should buy a power cage for your home gym even if it is a cheap one!
It is one of the staples in any gym and power cages are being made with lower costs and higher quality in the 21st century.
Manufacturers may not be making as much but if the customer is satisfied and can refer them more customers, it is a win-win situation for everyone.
You want a good deal and manufacturers want to sell more products.
Of course, there are high-end racks from American Barbell that come with small increments in hooks, J-hooks, and weight storage.
Made with 11-gauge steel and demands to be bolted into the ground, these premium power cages are made to last several lifetimes.
If not, you would need to find some alternatives.
For instance, you could opt to purchase a Strongman yoke instead.
With a yoke rack that includes safeties (look at the specs, most come with a separate purchase) and J-hooks, you get most of the same features like a power cage.
There are exceptions though.
Your yoke rack will be moveable and may not be as sturdy as something bolted into the ground.
A key distinction to make about power cages and squat racks
And for the record, a power cage can be a squat rack.
But a squat rack/stand is not a power cage.
People cannot bench press inside a squat rack.
Lifters may be able to bench press on squat stands if they trust their equipment when they rerack a heavy bench press set.
Whereas, the all familiar power cage, you can do all of the Big 4 movements.
Are cheap power cages used in commercial gyms?
In commercial gyms, there can be a mixture of squat racks, half power racks, and power cages.
In my experience of attending commercial gyms, very few commercial gyms will purchase a cheap power cage for their facilities.
That makes sense though.
The ROI of a cheap power cage is definitely less than a premium power cage for one reason - durability.
A cheap power cage may last 5-10 years inside a commercial gym setting.
Whereas a higher-end power cage may last a lifetime inside a commercial gym.
It sucks to have to say this but people abuse the machines and equipment inside the gym.
If it was a home gym, on the other hand, lifters will not be so reckless.
And as a result, the cheap power cage may actually last 10x as long if you take care of it properly.
Don't a lot of cheap power cages suck?
The truth is that many people are too reckless with their training equipment.
Even going back just 50 years, people did not use power cages to do their training in.
They used whatever they had in their surroundings.
If it was not naturally available, you either found another training alternative or you suck it up and create a solution.
People were squatting on tree trunks, using stones, bricks, branches, really anything heavy to train with back then.
And several decades later, we have people complaining about cheap power cages and how they want to avoid them.
Count your blessings that power cages can be created for a bargain price.
With that said though, the more shortcuts they take at cutting costs, it may be in expense to your safety.
This is why you need to analyze the entire structure and look to see if there are just one too many nuts and bolts that would weaken the entire power cage.
Who decides what is the perfect power cage for you?
After considering these bullet points, you should be well-equipped with the knowledge to make a logical purchase.
There will be no more guessing or hoping that your power cage will be “better than you expected.”
You know what to expect and you have a list of requirements that your power cage must check off before you even consider pulling out your credit card.
Purchasing your first power cage can be intimidating especially if you are the first person in your family to ever make such a decision.
So, we made it easy for you to speed up the information gathering process by having a checklist of issues and concerns that you should be aware about.