Amstaff TR023 Power Rack Review

January 19, 2012 — 37 Comments

The Amstaff TR023 is the Canadian version of the Force USA F-PC power rack with band attachments. I bought it from FitnessAvenue.ca, but it's also available on Amazon.ca.

It’s inexpensive, almost perfect for my needs, but has some flaws.

Here’s my review:

Introduction

I've debated about getting the Amstaff TR023 power rack or one of the Rogue Fitness power racks (such as the R3 or R4) for a long time, but finally decided on the Amstaff.

Rogue Fitness equipment is awesome, but I took a risk with a unknown brand.

Here's why:

  • It's cheaper (probably because it’s made in China)
  • Includes dip bars, whereas Rogue sells it as a separate attachment (Rogue Matador)
  • Includes monkey bars for chin ups & pull ups
  • The width of the Amstaff rack is wider (50.5” compared to 43”). I’ve found that I would have to be extra careful with racks that are too narrow. There’s been a few time where I would re-rack the bar from the squat, and almost catch my pinky in between the bar and J-hooks. Also, because the Amstaff rack is wide, I could perform wide stance squats inside the cage, allowing me to make use of the safety pins.
  • 2 pairs of J-hooks (compared to 1 pair for the Rogue R-3 and R-4)
  • 8 band pegs for band work (compared to 4 for the Rogue rack)
  • The stabilizer bar on the Amstaff rack is positioned so that you won't hit your foot/shins while you're setting up or racking the bar during the squat. The Rogue rack looks like it would be in the way if you squat.
  • Doesn't need to be bolted to the ground. I don’t have the tools to bolt a power rack onto the concrete floor, so this would be an additional cost. Also, if I decide to move my rack, it would be a pain to un-bolt, and re-bolt the rack elsewhere, along with having to repair the basement floor, which I do not know how to do.
  • The height of the rack is lower (the height of the Amstaff rack is 84”, or 7’. The Rogue power racks are 90”, or 7’6”). I was going to have my home gym in the garage, but after finding out that the garage floor was sloped, I decided to move it to the basement. The ceiling of my basement is too low to accommodate the height of the Rogue power racks

With these points in mind, I went with the Amstaff TR023 power rack.

Initial Impressions

I was pretty excited to get the power rack, since it’s a must-have piece of equipment for any home gym.

It arrived in separate boxes which was well packed.

Amstaff-TR023-box

Amstaff-TR023-box2

Assembly

Assembly was pretty easy. I was able to put it all together myself in about 2-3 hours.

Amstaff-TR023-before

Amstaff-TR023-before3

Amstaff-TR023-assembly

Amstaff-TR023-1

The worst part about assembling the Amstaff TR023 power rack was the assembly manual. The pictures and text quality are clear, but the instructions looks like it was translated from Chinese to English. Check out the picture below to see what I mean:

Amstaff-TR023-manual-front

Amstaff-TR023-manual-front

Amstaff-TR023-manual-back

Amstaff-TR023-manual-back

Some Details

After I finished assembling the rack, the first thing I did was take my Olympic bar that I purchased from Kijiji (eBay’s version of Craigslist) and put it inside the rack.

IT DIDN’T FIT!

Amstaff-TR023-widthNote: B&R bar is the top bar. The Kijiji bar is on the bottom.

Amstaff-TR023-width B&R-bar

Amstaff-TR023-width-barbell

The width of the Amstaff TR023 rack (50.5 inches) is wider than the shaft of my Olympic bar, which is 50 inches.

It turns out that the Olympic bar I had wasn’t even made to standard specifications. The spacing in between the collars for an Olympic bar should be 1310mm, or 51.57 inches in length. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbell). (So if you’re thinking of buying a used barbell from Craigslist, make sure take measurements first!)

At this point, I had a good reason to purchase a new barbell (I am now a proud owner of the B&R bar from Rogue Fitness, which fits inside the Amstaff TR023 power rack).

But now that I have a bar that can fit inside the rack, I can write a detailed and accurate review!

Using the Rack

Even though I have the B&R bar which fits inside this power rack, it appears to be too wide for my liking.

For the B&R bar, the spacing in between the collars is 51.57 inches. Since the Amstaff TR023 rack is 50.5 inches wide (NOTE: It’s listed as 51 inches, but I measured it to 50.5 inches), I only have 1.07 inches to work with!

That’s a little more than 1/2 inches of “wiggle room” on each side of the rack.

The good part about this is that it’s not difficult to center the bar with the rack. With power racks that I’ve used in the past, sometimes I would need to shift the bar 5-6” to get it centered. With the Amstaff rack, I only have to move the bar a fraction of an inch.

The bar part is that since I don’t have much space move from side to side, I have to be extra careful when taking the bar out of the rack, and putting the bar back onto the J-hooks.

When taking the bar off the J-hooks for a set of squats, sometimes I wobble out of the rack, moving the bar from side to side. With power racks that are more narrow, it is possible to do this without the 45lb plates hitting the side of the rack. With the Amstaff TR023, I need to walk straight back before setting up my stance for squats.

Also, because the cage is wide, the width of the safety pins are wide too. Meaning that my body needs to be centered with the rack when I squat, or else the collars would hit the safety pins once I descend to the bottom.

When placing the bar back onto the J-hooks, again, my body (and the bar) needs to be nearly centered with the rack or else I would hit the collars onto the J-hooks. This can be difficult after a heavy set of squats, when you’re out of breath, seeing stars and barely have enough strength to walk the bar forward.

Lastly, I was planning to do standing overhead presses inside of this power rack, but because of the width of the rack, sometimes I would hit the top of the rack with the 45lb plates.

Although it’s usable, the width of the rack forces me to be extra careful. Still, I would prefer a little wiggle room just in case.

Stuff I Like

Pin Holes

Amstaff-TR023-1.5inch-pin-holes

The hole spacing is about 1.5 inches apart. Other power racks I used in the past had hole spacing of 2-2.5 inches. This is awesome because I can adjust the height of the J-hooks for bench press & squats to the right height.

There are 42 pin holes from top to bottom. Although I won’t be using most of them, it’s nice to know I have that option.

Frame

The frame is 2.5”x2.5” and feels solid.

The blue and black colour (or "color" for you readers from the US and A) combination looks pretty cool!

J-Hooks

Amstaff-TR023-j-hooks

There are 2 sets of J-hooks (total of 4). This makes it convenient because I can set a pair of J-hooks for squats, and another one for bench press, meaning I don’t need to take them off and put them back on ever time I change exercise.

And according to the product description, the J-hooks should be able to hold 1000lbs. I won’t be approaching that weight anytime soon, but it’s nice to know that these hooks will be able to accommodate any weight I can lift.

Monkey Bars

Amstaff-TR023-monkey-bars

There are 2 bars that run parallel to each other, and another set of bars that are angled (See pictures below). I like the angled set of bars when doing pull ups & chin ups because it feels more natural, and isn’t painful on my elbows as straight bar pullups & chinups.

The knurling on the monkey bars aren’t as aggressive as I expected, since it’s covered in blue paint.

Amstaff-TR023-monkey-bars-fatgripz

Amstaff-TR023-monkey-bar-fatgripz2

Amstaff-TR023-monkey-bar-fatgripz3

Although there isn’t a fat and skinny bar like the chin up attachment on the Rogue power racks, I’ve attached a pair of Fatgripz to mimic a thicker pullup bar.

Expansion

I can purchase additional attachment for this power rack. They include lat pull down/low row combo, pec dec, and cable cross overs.

Dip Attachments

Amstaff-TR023-dip-attachment-2

Amstaff-TR023-dip-attachment-4

I’ve read somewhere that “dips are the squats for the chest”, so I wanted a power rack that included a dip attachment.

The dip attachment for the Amstaff power rack are sufficient.

There are 2 bars that attaches itself the same way as the J-hooks. When attached, the dip bars are parallel to each other.

The padded handles on the dip attachment comes off quite easily. I’m not sure what these handles are made of, but it doesn’t offer much in terms of padding. Also, it looks as though the dip bars are hollow.

I haven’t tried performing weighted dips on these yet, but they hold up quite well with my body weight of 190lb.

Band Pegs and Band Peg Holes

Amstaff-TR023-band-peg-holes-bottom

Amstaff-TR023-band-peg-holes-top1

Amstaff-TR023-band-peg-holes-top2

There are 8 band pegs with 8 spring collars to keep the pins in place on the rack.

18 pin holes on the bottom, and 15 on top.

I haven’t incorporated bands into my training (yet) and I don’t have any bands to test out the band pins. But it’s great to know I have a wide option of holes and 8 band pegs to work with once I do.

Stuff I Don't Like

Power Rack Width

(See above).

No Plate Storage

It doesn't have plate holders attached to the rack, but at this price point, it’s no surprise. That means I'm going need a weight tree. I ended up getting 2 CAP standard weight trees, which I review here.

No Numbered Pin Holes

The pin holes are not numbered! Other versions of this power rack (Force USA) has numbers on the side of the rack to show what pin hole you’re using, whereas the Amstaff TR023 has none. A bit of a pain when I’m trying to set the left & right J-hooks and safety pins at the same level. In the future I’ll probably end up buying a metallic marker and writing in the numbers myself.

Overall

Amstaff-TR023-2

The Amstaff TR023 power rack is almost perfect.

It’s half the price of a Rogue power rack, and has a TON of features. The only issue I have is the width of the rack. It may not be a problem with others, and I think I’ll probably get used to using a wide power rack over time.

The Amstaff TR023 is great value for money, even if this is not a well known brand.

John Phung

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Ever since I started taking strength training seriously, I was bitten by the Iron Bug. Then it burrowed under my skin and laid eggs in my heart. Now those eggs are hatching and I... the feeling is indescribable.




Quick Stats
Height: 5'4" on non-squat days
Weight: 200 lb 210 lb ~220 lb (FOREVER BULK BRAH)

Credentials


Programs
  • Texas Method: March 4, 2011 - April 28, 2013
  • Smolov Jr for Bench Press: June 4 - 22, 2012
  • Starting Strength: Nov 29, 2010 - March 4, 2011
  • Anthony Casto

    Fantastic review John, thank you. I ended up buying the same rack from someone on kijiji. If you can help me out I’m trying to find an attachment for lat pulldowns and seated rows. You mentioned a lat pulldown attachment, does this have a row feature built into it? Thanks a lot!

  • landon

    Hey John,
    Great review brother.
    What is the distance between the front uprights and the back uprights?
    I find in the powertech rack I have I hit the back uprights.

  • Savidatron

    Are you still using it? How is this holding up? I am looking at the TR025 not sure how good the lat and crossover attachments would work out though.

  • Dan mackay

    Iv been looking for reviews of anything from fitness Avenue and I found this website through Google… funny thing is I’ve been a long time subscriber to your YouTube channel and had no idea you even had a website! I already have a rack but I’ve been looking for an adjustable bench preferably with incline and decline to put inside my rack. I found their site and seen they had a few options for me but I was worried about the quality and strength of their products because I don’t want to have an equipment malfunction while pressing heavy weights. Do you have any comments or knowledge of any of their benches? I do not live in Ontario so I can’t check out their benches in person and I’m scared to make such a large purchase online for subpar equipment. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated man and keep up all of your great content YouTube and website wise! Thanks again.

  • M. Swartz

    Thanks for the review. It was my primary source of reassurance to go ahead with AmStaff rack purchase. I purchased the narrower TR-025 as per suggestions. TR-025 is 48in in width, red accent, and came with a much thicker set of dip bars. As it turned out both of my barbells are 54in wide between collars so rack’s width was not a concern.

    Reading your responses, it says you purchased the lat-pulldown attachment as well. I’m thinking of buying one too. However, I’ve got concerns of it fitting as I had to invert the monkey-bars to fit the rack in the basement due to ceiling restrictions. I could remove some drop panels but didn’t want to do that.

    Could you possibly write a review of the attachment(s) you have. How much height and depth does it add to the rack? How smooth do the pulleys operate? Any issues/concerns? Would be very much interested to hear your thoughts. Thank you.

  • Will

    A little late to the party, but great review. I also have limited ceiling height in my basement and I was wondering if it would be possible to flip/invert the blue monkey bars at the top to make it shorter overall? If so, how much height would you be shaving off? Thanks

    • I’ve already inverted the monkey bars. Takes off about 3″ I think.

  • gx9901

    hey, i was looking into buying this unit. was just wondering if you can deadlift inside the cage? i have very little space and it would not be impossible but very tight. thanks.

    • You COULD, but there is little room for error since the cage is so wide. Unless you’re picking the bar up and putting it back down in exactly the right place (more or less), the plates can land on the bottom part of the cage.

      Personally I do deadlifts outside of the cage.

      • gx9901

        thats what i figured looking at the pictures. still a good deal i can’t turn my back on. thanks.

    • M. Swartz

      You could get a wider barbell so there is more wiggle room.

      Alternatively, do what I did. Build a platform around the rack. I used 2 layers of 3/4in plywood with leftover hardwood flooring to make a platform that fits inside the footprint of the rack and extends out enough so a bench can be used inside the rack. Then on two sides I used the same 2-layer plywood sandwich but now with 3/4 thick rubber mat on top. This just about makes my DIY platform level with the rack’s footing.

  • Ivan

    Good review I purchased the same rack about two years ago with the added lat pulldown and cable crossover. The full assembly seems to be quite a bit cheaper now however, there are also changes in the design as mine had a main support bar between both cable crossovers than the one on the site is missing.

    How was your lat cable? Mine ended up being about 2 feet longer and I wrapped the difference along the side of the bar.

    I can provide pictures if you would like.

    • Yeah my lat cable was too long as well. WTH!

      I ended up wrapping it around the spring part of the lat pull down attachment. So far so good.

  • Scott

    So you’re still happy with this rack? Held up well? Pretty sure I’m going to go with the smaller model to this, the TP006D. http://fitnessavenue.ca/item.php?id=581 Doesn’t seem as wide as the 23 model.

    No issues with Fitnessavenue?

    Thanks!

    • Yup I’m happy with the rack. Set a bunch of PRs since getting it, and it’s holding up quite well ie Not falling apart. Haven’t even tightened the bolts yet.

      Main issue is that the rack moves when I rerack a heavy squat, and there’s no way to bolt this to the ground. It has band pins that can be used on the bottom, but if I did that, I would lift the rack itself because it’s not secure to the ground. Not a big problem, because I don’t use bands in my training (at least not yet).

      Fitness avenue in my experience is good, except one time I bought a lat pull down attachment, and one of the Olympic sleeve adapter did not fit. I contacted them about it, but I had to ship it back using my own money. I would have wanted them to pay for the shipping. I didn’t bother shipping it.

      Looking at the pic of the TP006D, it looks like the metal bar (?) that’s horizontal on the floor would get in the way if you were to squat on the far side of the rack.

      • Scott

        Thanks for the reply. You mean the bar at that back of the rack on the floor? I’d assume you’d just move to more the middle of the rack when squatting no? Sorry, this would be my first rack, so I’m unaware of potential issue.

        Not really any different then say the Powertec rack no? http://www.treadmillfactory.ca/p-352-c-8-powertec-power-rack-pr-11.html

        • Yes, but when you get under the bar to unrack, your feet will be close to the bar at the back of the rack on the floor, maybe even on top.

          The Powertec rack, that bar is not in line with the vertical bars, giving you some space to unrack the bar. Same with my rack.

          But on the TP006D, according to the tiny pic on their website, it looks like it would get in the way when you urack the bar. It is in line with the vertical bars of the rack.

          • Scott

            ahh I see what you mean now. Hmm ,something else to think about for sure.

            Problem is I live in NS, so ordering anything automatically adds $$$ for shipping. Even stepping up to your model would add quite a bit to the shipping costs.

            what to do what to do. Thanks again!

  • Chrisimundo

    Hey bro great review! Thinking of getting the TR025 myself, what is your opinion on there bumper plates? Im thinking of getting there 305lb deal with the 7ft olympic bar

    • Thanks! I have never tried their bumper plates or bar, and have never seen any other reviews on it, so I can’t really say much.

      Personally if I were to get bumper plates + bar, I would look at muscledrivercan.com and check out their weight sets. Mainly because they have free shipping on bars & bumper combos, and apparently Pendlay equipment are pretty good.

  • the nuge

    great review bro, I was wondering who this company was and what the quality of their product was, you have given me more confidence to go with AMstaff

    • Thanks! Amstaff is basically a rebrand of something that is made in China. I’ve seen a lot of different “brands” of the same product (ForceUSA, Strength Armor, and others). It’s cheap and seems to be good enough. I’ve squatted over 500 lb in this rack, and have done rack pulls with 600 lb and everything seems to be holding up.

      The flat bench sucks though. I have it, and some of the staples are coming off. It’s short, and not very wide. I broke the wooden part of the bench too.

      If you have the money, I would go for a Rogue. More expensive, but better quality build and shipping to Canada is pretty good. I have their flat bench. Solid, but a bit tall.

      As far as power racks go, the Amstaff is good enough. But I would go for the TR025 simply because it’s not as wide as the TR023, and it has quick change safties. The sabre style safties I have are a bit of a hassle to change. And it makes a metal-on-metal screeching noise when you slide it through the holes of the rack.

      I can’t speak for the other products because I have never used them. But assume you get what you pay for!

  • JZ

    They have a TR025 on the fitnessavenue website now, which claims to be 48″ wide instead of the TR023’s 51″. If true maybe they saw your review.

    It also has quick change spotters.

    • haha probably. It looks pretty nice though.

  • amandah

    Where do you get the cable crossover attachment for the squat rack? I don’t want to get the actual combined machine because it only has high and low pulleys. I have asked fitness avenue if I could use the squat rack and cable crossover as one, and they said yes, but they can’t be attached(so not quite sure about that). If you know where to get that attachment that would be great. By the way, I’m an Ontarian as well. Aylmer, Ontario.

    • The cable crossover attachment should be available to be purchased from fitness avenue separately.

      I emailed them in October of 2011 about the pricing of the attachments. Cable Cross Over was $249.99 (not sure if this has changed). I ended up getting the lat pull down attachment separately (which was $129.99).

      From the pictures, it looks like the cable crossover does attach to the rack. However, looking at my rack, there doesn’t appear to be any empty holes to attach the rack to.

  • JF

    John,
    Finaly, did you get used to the width of the rack? Does it cause a lot of problem when you workout?
    Thanks for this amazing review!

    • Thanks! Yes I got used to the width. I’ve learned to walk straight back, but sometimes I still hit the plates on the rack coming out, and when I re-rack the bar, occasionally I’ll hit my bar on the j-hooks. My bar is dinged up a bit, and some paint is chipped off the rack. Everything is still functional though.

      I like the wide rack a lot better now because I can get into a wide squat stance, something I wouldn’t be able to do inside a narrower power rack.

      • DDG

        Hey John,

        Awesome work and great site! Very generous of you to share your results and experience!!

        I’m a novice lifter and I am in the market for a power rack. As a novice lifter, the reason I am looking at buying a full rack is primarily based on safety – can’t beat the safety of a rack. That said, I don’t want to spend more than $500. I was almost turned off on Amstaff until I read your review and watched almost all of your videos (tough to argue with your fantastic results!!). The Amstaff appears to be the best value for money. Your review cited the width of the rack as its one main issue. Based on this, I was looking at the Tr025 which is almost exactly the same rack except that it is $50 more, 2″ narrower and uses a different style safety (tube style vs. the sabre-style in the Tr023). The main complaint I’ve read about the Tr025 is that the rubber on the safeties has an extremely unpleasant (and toxic?) odor.

        As of today (Mar 2, 2015), Fitness Avenue is selling a revised model of the Tr023 that is 48″ wide (as opposed to 50″ like your version) which would take it from “almost perfect” to perfect in your view? Given the revised width, is there any reason I would still go with the Tr025 instead of the Tr023? In other words, are the tube-style safeties worth the extra $50? Alternatively, is there any reason you would recommend against sabre-style safeties?

        Thanks for your help!

        • Hey Dave,

          Everything seems to be toxic these days lol. Personally if I were to choose again, I would probably go with the TR025 instead of the TR023 (wasn’t available when I bought it). Safeties seem easier to change, narrower rack (but not too narrow). However, if you take a wide grip on the bar for squats, the TR023 might be a better option.

          This lifter uses the TR025 and works well for her: https://instagram.com/maryakaczor/

          Hope that helps!

  • Marcus

    How the safety bars work ?, do you change them from the front or the side ?.

    • They are changed through the front.

      • Marcus

        Hi
        So you need around 1m space at the front of the rack when you want to change the height of the safeties ?.

        Thanks,
        Marcus

        • Yes that is correct

          • Marcus

            Do you any idea what size the tubing on this rack and what gauge/thickness the steel is ?.

            Thanks,
            Marcus

          • It’s about 2.5″x2.5″. Not sure what the gauge/thickness is. Have you tried contacting fitnessavenue? They would probably know.

  • Seanyz120

    Awesome review, every question I would have had got answered.