A squat cage, also called a power cage or squat rack, is a piece of exercise equipment that enables an athlete to safely perform a variety of weightlifting exercises, especially squats. It consists of a metal frame that holds the weight in position while the athlete gets into the proper position. After an athlete begins to perform the exercise, the squat cage's frame ensures that if the athlete loses control of the weight, it will fall only a small distance and thus will not be as much of a danger as it would be if the athlete performed his or her lift in an open space.
There are many variations on the design of a squat cage, but there are several characteristics that most of them share. They usually consist of metal girders that form a rectangular box that is high enough for an athlete to easily stand inside without banging his or her head against the upper girders. The cage is significantly wider than most athlete's shoulders but significantly narrower than a standard barbell. The squat cage's depth is usually slightly less than its width but still great enough that it easily allows for the full range of motion during squats.
Most power cages also have a bar that runs from the front girder to the back girder. This bar is located a few feet from the floor. It ensures that if an athlete drops the weight, it will not fall all the way to the floor.
On the front columns of most squat cages are a series of holes that are designed to hold metal brackets for the weights. These holes allow the user to change the height of the brackets. This is important because not all athletes are the same height and because different types of lifts will require the weight to start at different heights.
The benefits of a squat cage include enabling an athlete to perform several lifts and ensuring a certain level of safety when the athlete is lifting large amounts of weight. Most athletes can squat far more weight than their upper body can lift, so getting the desired weight onto the shoulders would be very difficult without a squat cage. The squat cage allows the athlete to place the barbell on the brackets at the desired starting height and then load the weights onto the barbell. In this way, he or she can load large amounts of weight and then step under the bar to get in position for the squat without having to lift the weight from the ground.