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A lot of stores are selling free stand squat holders. It seems they could go off balance since they are not connected. They also do not supply a real safety system.

Are they safe to use? And so to what weight can you actually use them? Not considering the maximum weight described by the manufacturer but what is actually safe to use?

This question is related to home use where it really has to catch the weight after the exercise is done or on failure

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Don't they use those at powerlifting meets? –  Usedtobefat Aug 7 '13 at 13:25
    
@Usedtobefat edited, for home use –  Jeroen Aug 7 '13 at 13:34
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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

No.

I was a manager/trainer at a couple of Gold's gyms. Our insurance company wouldn't allow these on the floor.

They are actually good to hold very moderate weight for several different lifts. The problem is they can take little to no horizontal force and when the squat racks get full people would spill to these. And to make matters worse it is hard to have rules for them. For instance some people may put 300 on a bar and this would work great because they can do 300 20 times... The next guy can barely do 300 and throws the bar in causing a chain reaction.

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This should be the accepted answer. The stands are trustworthy, but the trainee is not always. –  Dave Liepmann Aug 7 '13 at 15:01
    
I could see them being considered safe for a very experienced lifter and doing the right lifts. You could not do traditional squats and consider this safe. Even doing low weights your back/knee can give out. I have a full squat rack I bought for $100 off of craigslist. It comes apart in like 8 pieces and assembles in 10 mins. I would suggest this for most home users. Even with what I have - I do not have inside rails. So you squat outside. I have two sets of holders - one at the top where I get the bar and the other on the bottom for just in case... Not perfect but OK. –  DMoore Aug 7 '13 at 16:39
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Personally I wouldn't be happy with them, they look pretty unstable. I'd hate to have to figure out what to do with a bar in a back squat if I knocked one of these over.

I'd consider the safe weight to use to be what I can lift from back squat position over my head and put down safely... which makes the stands pretty much useless.

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I considered and rejected these for my home gym. They do not provide safety bars on which to dump a failed rep. They do not have a vertical post on which to slam a just-completed near-max set. The target area is small, particularly for a back squat rather than a front squat.

I would trust freestanding squat stands if I was using bumper plates on a lifting-platform style floor. That way, if I felt unable to put the bar back in the rack safely, I could drop it to the floor.

However, I would trust them with a whole lot of weight. That's not the problem. Pat Mendes squatted 800 pounds and the stands just seemed to rock a bit.

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I doubt that these stands are intended to be actually used with the weights described by the manufacturer. I guess the manufacturer only labels it with the weight you can put onto them without breaking them.

I am using stands comparable to those in your picture when I visit my parents, they have a heavy disk at the bottom instead of extensions. Assuming a normal backsquat where you step back after lifting the bar out of the rack, the danger lies in the step forward when you finished your set. You are probably exhausted and are not completely able to control the step forward, you are happy to just slam the weights in the stand. Although this isn't how it should be, I guess this happens to everybody once in a while.
I am not even big - 173cm / 5'8 - and even with small weights - I encountered the problem even with an empty bar (10kg in my case) - those stands will tip back a bit. The higher the weight is positioned and the bigger the plates get, the more careful you have to be, as the lever is quite big when squatting a high bar.

It is probably safer to use other equipment if possible, however it depends on your goals, too. If you don't want to engage in a powerlifting (or strength gain) program and continue to lift in a lower range, these stands might be OK to buy, especially when just starting or having limited space.

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