squat rack strength - 11 gauge steel vs 12 gauge steel

Let’s be honest, you don’t want just any squat rack—you want one that will last for years and be ready for whatever your workout can dish out. When it comes to squat rack strength, it’s important to know the pros and cons of 11 and 12 gauge steel.

Sure, there are cheaper options available but having a strong and reliable piece of equipment is worth the investment. If you’re in the market for a new squat rack, you’ll want to keep reading so you can make an informed decision. In this article, we’ll break down the different types of steel used in squat racks and discuss their pros and cons in detail. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of which type of steel is right for you so that your investing in a quality piece of equipment that will endure as long as your workouts do!

A Measure of Squat Rack Strength: 11 Gauge Steel vs 12 Gauge Steel

If you want an exercise rack that’s built to last, chances are you’ve heard of 11 and 12 gauge steel. But what exactly are these different types of steel, and why should you care?

In a nutshell, 11 and 12 gauge steel refer to the thickness of the material. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the material—and in this case, 11 is thicker than 12. That means 11 gauge steel is a bit heavier but also far more durable and resistant to damage or wear-and-tear over time. The popular squat racks on today’s fitness market are typically made out of 11 or 12 gauge steel frames.

In terms of weight capacity, 11 gauge steel is much more capable of holding more weight over longer periods without any signs of buckling or breaking down. That makes it ideal for use with heavy barbells and weights in strength-training exercises like bench press, squats, and even deadlifts.

Advantages of 11 Gauge Steel for Squat Racks

So, why is 11 gauge steel the better choice when it comes to squat racks? For starters, it’s thicker than 12 gauge steel and can withstand heavier loads. This makes it less likely to bend or deform under stress, providing an extra layer of safety for you as you work out.

The increased thickness also contributes to the stability of your rack. 11 gauge steel is able to provide a more secure base for the rack, minimizing wobbling that could be caused by thinner materials. Additionally, because 11 gauge steel is stronger and more durable than 12 gauge steel, your squat rack will last longer with less need for repairs or replacements.

Disadvantages of 11 Gauge Steel for Squat Racks

Now, let’s look at the drawbacks of 11 gauge steel when it comes to squat racks. First and foremost, it’s a lot more expensive than other types of steel. While 11 gauge steel is a higher quality frame — and usually more durable than 12 gauge — that extra cost may not be worth it, depending on the intended use.

Another disadvantage of 11 gauge steel is that it’s heavier than 12 gauge when assembling the rack, making things a bit more difficult in terms of transportation and construction. That said, it still has better torsional rigidity because of its extra thickness over 12 gauge, so if durability is important to you, then this extra weight may be worth it in the end.

Advantages of 12 Gauge Steel for Squat Racks

If you’re shopping for a squat rack, you’ll likely find options in either 11 or 12 gauge steel. But what are the pros and cons of each? Let’s take a look.


One advantage of 12 gauge steel is that it is generally more affordable than 11 gauge steel. This makes 12 gauge steel a great option for those on a budget who still want to get the most out of their squats.


The lighter weight of 12 gauge steel can also make it easier to assemble and disassemble the rack, making it easier to move from one location to another or store away during non-workout times.


12 gauge steel is usually just as supportive as 11 gauge, so there’s really no need to worry about safety or stability when using 12-gauge-steel racks for your squats.

So if you’re looking for an affordable choice with good portability and excellent stability, then consider opting for a squat rack made with 12 gauge steel.

Disadvantages of 12 Gauge Steel for Squat Racks

Based on the thickness of the steel, you might assume that a 12 gauge steel squat rack is just as strong as an 11 gauge steel one. But this isn’t actually the case—12 gauge steel is not as thick or strong as 11 gauge steel, and thus isn’t quite as capable of withstanding a heavy load. You’re more likely to experience some shaking or vibration when racking weight in a 12 gauge steel squat rack compared to an 11 gauge one. This can be especially noticeable when progressing to higher weights, making it difficult to complete exercises with precision and form.

It’s also worth noting that while 12 gauge is cheaper than 11 gauge, it’s also more prone to bending and warping due to the thinner material and weaker structure. So it might be worth considering investing more into an 11 gauge squat rack if you’re seeking out something extremely sturdy for your home gym setup.


To sum up, the pros and cons of 11 and 12 gauge steel for squat racks boils down to strength, cost, frame size and durability. 11 gauge steel is heavy and expensive but offers the highest strength and durability. 12 gauge steel is lighter and cheaper but does not offer the same strength and durability.

If you’re looking for a long-term solution for a large, heavy squat rack, 11 gauge steel is the way to go. For smaller lighter racks, 12 gauge might be preferable.

Ultimately, the choice is up to you, but in any case you can rest assured knowing that either type of steel provides an excellent foundation for a squat rack.

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