The Best Short Power Racks for Low Ceilings

Power racks are large and heavy pieces of gym equipment.  And they should be, in order to provide the stability necessary to protect you if you need to ditch weight when lifting alone.

But because power racks are traditionally tall, they can sometimes be difficult to integrate into an unconventional room that isn't of adequate height (such as a basement).  Finding a short power rack for low ceilings can be tricky as you have find a rack that is both high quality and is manufactured specifically to be much shorter than most standard cages.

For this article, I researched the shortest power rack I could find.  I narrowed this list down to racks to only include the top racks on the market according to price, reputation, design, etc.

In the following sections, I will review the best power racks for rooms with low ceilings.  I'll break down each rack to discuss its main features, pros, and cons. 

In closing, I'll declare what I believe is the best power rack for low ceilings based on my research. 

More...

Short power racks are hard to come by.  Finding a small, quality power rack with a proven track record is even more difficult. 

But not to be deterred, I scoured the web to find three reputable cages that were made specifically for rooms with abnormally low ceilings.  These power racks are detailed in the table below, along with their total rack height.  

You can click on any of the product links to check their current price, or jump to a specific product review by clicking on 'Read Review' next to the corresponding power rack. 

Short power rack comparison table

Determining the best rack for your ceiling height

Most rooms in modern homes can accommodate a standard-sized power rack without any problems.  But you may be setting up a gym in an older home, a basement, or other room where the ceiling is low.

If you're considering purchasing a power rack, but are unsure if it is too tall for your gym space, you've come to the right place.  In the next few sections I'll explain:

[toc]

Non-standard ceilings make finding a rack more difficult

Basement Ceiling Height

Finding a power rack that fits comfortably under your ceiling can be a tricky and inexact science. Racks come in many different sizes and ceiling heights can vary wildly.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s, the most common ceiling height was 8 ft. Ever since the mid 90’s, 9 ft ceilings have become the norm.  And according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Real Estate Center, the current minimum height of residential ceilings is 90 inches, or 7.5 ft.

If you live in a modern home, these guidelines are promising as most standard racks will fit comfortably under standard ceilings.  But things get trickier if your gym is in a cellar, an older home not built to current codes, a mobile home, or some other non-standard dwelling. 

In these situations, there is no definitive way to determine the maximum rack height your room can support unless you follow the steps outlined next.

Determining the maximum power rack height you should consider

The first step in finding the best low ceiling power rack is determining the maximum power rack height that your room can accommodate.  Performing this calculation is a simple, three step process.  

Once you've determined the maximum cage height you should consider, it'll be much easier to narrow down your options based on factors like cost and features

1. Measure your total available vertical space

First, consider that standard ceiling heights are measured from the absolute bottom of the floor (the sub-floor) to the ceiling. But your sub-floor is likely covered by plywood, padding, carpet, or some combination of this additional flooring.

Flooring Layers

So, even if you know your home was built with 7 ft ceilings, it’s best to make a measurement that factors-in additional flooring when determining exactly how much vertical space you have to work with.  So grab a measuring tape and measure from the top of your existing flooring to the ceiling.

2. Consider protective flooring you may be adding 

If you’re thinking of purchasing a power rack, you might even be considering some protective flooring to put underneath your rack. If you do add extra flooring, this will reduce the amount of vertical space you have to work with.

So either wait until you have this padding to make your measurement, or subtract the thickness of this flooring when determining your total available vertical space.

3. Factor-in the space needed to perform pull-ups

Even if a fully-assembled rack will fit under your ceiling, you’re going to need extra space above the rack if you expect to perform full-range pull-ups. A good rule of thumb is to give yourself one foot of empty space above the rack.  

4. Calculating your maximum rack height

Now that you've determined your total vertical space, considered any padding you may plan on purchasing, and added ample space for pull-ups, you're ready to put everything together and determine your maximum rack height.  Simply plug your numbers into the following equation:

Maximum Power Rack Height = 

(Vertical space in room - thickness planned gym flooring- 1 ft for pull-up bar)

Sample scenario for calculating maximum cage height

Let’s say you own an older house with 8 ft ceilings, .5 in of sub-flooring, and you plan on putting down some gym flooring that is .5 in thick. After subtracting your flooring from total vertical space you should be at 7 ft & 11 in.  

After removing another foot for pull-up space, we’re left with 6 ft & 11 in (83 inches total).  This is the maximum power rack height you should consider when searching for a low ceiling power rack. 

When a rack's pull-up bar is lower than its height

The brainiacs among you may have recognized that sometimes the pull-up bar on a power rack is not the same height as the rack itself.  And you'd be right.  In this case we need to modify our formula.

If the height of a rack's pull-up bar is different than the total height of the cage, then you may not need a full foot of clearance above your rack.  In this situation, figure out the difference between the height of the cage and the height of the pull-up bar, subtract that from the 1 ft clearance we're shooting for, then subtract this length in Step 3 of the maximum height formula:    


Maximum Power Rack Height = 

(Vertical space in room - thickness of any planned gym flooring 

- (1 ft - difference between pull-up bar and rack height) )

The hard truths about short power racks

If you decide to move forward and purchase a short rack, you should be aware of a few potential downsides.

  • If you don't factor for clearance, you will hit your head on the ceiling during pull-ups.  This is not something you want to figure out as you're smacking your head against the ceiling.
  • Performing pull-ups on a short rack may require that you hang from the rack first, depending on your height.  A little awkward, but not the end of the world.
  • Some customers have reported hitting their heads on short rack crossbars when entering or existing the cage. So ducking into and out of the cage may be something you have to deal with.

Ultimately, you’ll have to decide if the quirks that come with a short power rack are worth what you’ll gain in safety and results. Read through the customer reviews as you check out the racks featured below and see what customers (both short and tall) have to say about these cages.

The best power racks for rooms with low ceilings

I scoured the web and found three short, reputable power racks that should fit into just about any room.  

The companies that manufacture these racks are industry leaders and make mostly standard-size cage.  However, they have recognized that there is a market for shorter racks and manufactured these special-purpose racks to fill this need.

Check out the reviews for these racks and you'll see that, while they are shorter than standard racks, they do not sacrifice stability or safety.

The Short T-2 cage from Titan Fitness is similar to their standard-sized T-2 in almost every respect, but was designed specifically to fit under low ceilings.  

This short, stocky cage is made of strong 2in x 2in steel tubing.  Like the full-sized rack of the same name, this cage is rated for a 700 lb capacity.  It even has two pegs on the back of the cage for extra plate storage (and added stability).

Titan advertises that this rack will fit under a 6 ft ceiling, and that's technically true if you don't have thick flooring.  The product spec says the rack is exactly 71.5 in.  

However, if you're specifically looking for a short power rack for low 6' ceiling, consider that you won't have much space to work with above the T2 cage.  Specifically, you'll only have 3.5 in of clearance above the rack. 

If you want room to perform full-range pull-ups, you'll want your ceiling to be at least 6 ft 8.5 in tall (for a full foot of clearance).  

What I Like...

  • check
    Shortest power rack I could find
  • check
    Stellar customer reviews
  • check
    2 weight storage pegs
  • check
    Lowered pull-up bar provides extra clearance

Not so much...

  • Some customers have reported problems with cage alignment

This short power rack from the guys at CAP Barbell is a great rack if you're looking for a reputable, budget-friendly rack.  This rack only has a 500 lb capacity, but that should be more than enough if you're not a powerlifter.  

One unique feature of this 6 foot power rack is that it comes with anchor holes built into the frame.  Secure this rack to a ply wood base and you'll have an incredibly stable cage for an unbelievable price.

The pull-up bar on this cage is right at the top of the cage, so you'll want to have a ceiling around 7 ft to support this rack comfortably.  

What is a few hundreds of an inch?

On discrepancy I noticed is that this power rack's height it listed as 72.05 inches in the product description, but the spec says it is exactly 72 in.  Those five hundredths of an inch probably won't make a difference unless your ceiling is right on the border-line.  But it's worth noting.

What I Like...

  • check
    Floor anchor holes offer extra stability
  • check
    Good beginner cage for those on a budget
  • check
    2 inch x 2 inch steel frame
  • check
    Available through Amazon Prime

Not so much...

  • 4 inch hole spacing can limit lifting range

This Short Power Rack from TDS provides the best value of any rack in this review.  It has most of the features of the T-2 rack from Titan Fitness, but has an even higher weight capacity of 1000 lb.

This rack only has a single peg for storing weight plates, compared to the two pegs on the T-2. However, this rack can be expanded to include a lat pull-down.  

TDS will ship this rack to you on the same day of your purchase.  So if you need to build-up those pecs on short notice, take note.

This is the tallest [short] power rack in this review, but still comes in at a measly 72.5 in tall. This short rack from TDS should fit comfortably under a 7 ft ceiling with room to spare.  

What I Like...

  • check
    High 1000 lb capacity
  • check
    Large, numbered safety bar holes
  • check
    Same day shipping
  • check
    Can be expanded to include a lat pull-down

Not so much...

  • Tallest rack in this review

My pick for the best short power rack

Both the Titan T-2 and the Short TDS power racks are deserving recipients of the best short power rack award.  However, I gave the edge to the T-2 cage for a few reasons.

First, Titan paid addition to the details when designing this short rack by lowering the pull-up bar a full 3 inches below the rack height.  This allows for extra clearance when performing pull-ups, even if you have less than a foot of free space above the cage.

Second, this rack has two plate storage pegs.  In addition to maximizing your floor space, these also help to anchor the cage and reducing shaking when performing high-impact exercises.

Finally, the reputation that this cage has earned is second to none.  All of those customers can't be wrong.

About the Author Brad Pinch

I started building a home gym out of necessity following my divorce. I quickly learned that I could build-out a complete workout space for cheaper than it would cost me for a multi-year gym membership. I enjoy trying out new equipment and evaluating different products to expand my gym and learn more about home-based workouts.

Leave a Comment: