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Rogue Monster [Collegiate] Half Rack Review

Rogue Monster Collegiate Half Rack Review

This is a comprehensive review of the Rogue Monster Half Rack; the bigger, beefier, more intimidating, and more expensive big brother of the Rogue HR-2 Half Rack; Rogue’s only other half rack (surprisingly).

I’ve had the single-station variant of the Monster Half Rack in my gym for about two months now. I’ve had a lot of time to get comfortable with it, discover what I like about it, and decide whether or not I’m happy with my purchase. In other words, I’m more than ready to start this review!


Table of Contents


Rogue Monster Collegiate Half Rack Specs (Single-Station)

Rogue Monster Collegiate Half Rack - Specifications

  • 3″x3″, 11-gauge steel uprights and crossmembers
  • durable powdercoat finish (MG Black)
  • huge 1″ diameter holes and assembly hardware
  • uprights, inner crossmembers, and legs are numbered
  • keyhole-patterned accessory holes (2.0 feature)
  • rear height of 90″, front height of 100″
  • 30″ front feet for stability and band work
  • 62″ deep x 53″ wide footprint with 24″ inside depth
  • ships with:
  • $1160 before shipping, upgrades, and accessories.
  • $1430 with [the highly recommended] Monster Spotter Arms

I recommend adding Spotter Arms at the very least. You may even want the Sandwich J-Cups; which I'll discuss more later in this reviewThe Collegiate Half Rack is a Monster Rack so it does share upright and hole specifications with all Monster Racks. However, due to the angled, upper crossmembers, this unit may not be compatible with all Monster accessories (the new Rogue Slinger comes to mind).

My starting configuration included the upgraded stainless steel pull-up bar (not  knurled), a pair of Monster Sandwich J-Cups, and the Safety Spotter Arms. I also added Rogue’s new Trolley Arms but I honestly kind of regret that purchase and therefore am reluctant to make that recommendation. I’ll talk about that briefly here, but ultimately it will be its own review.


Why Half Racks

I’ve had a number of power racks come through the gym over the years and many of them have been great racks indeed, but none of them ultimately ended up replacing my relatively basic Infinity Rack as the permanent rack in my gym. Every time I got a new rack I basically installed it, tested it, and reviewed it (and I even liked most of them) but when it was all said and done I broke them back down and went back to my simple, modified Infinity half rack.

The reason for this was almost always space. I simply do not need nearly four feet of space between front and rear uprights, for instance, and I definitely don’t want a rack that doesn’t (or can’t) utilize the uprights for plate and accessory storage. I needed to make smarter use of my limited space and the large standard power racks simply aren’t very good at that.

Half racks have a fairly slim profile while still offering access to all lifts and a ton of plate storage

Half racks, however, make much better use of limited space while also being able to handle the majority of the rack accessories one could use on a standard power rack (well all of the important ones, at least), and considering what they are capable of in terms of storage they technically cost less money as well. Sure you work out in front of the rack rather than inside of it, but what difference does that really make; especially with the strength and durability of today’s spotter arms.

Still, I am not suggesting that you can’t have your RML-490 or RM-4  (or a comparable non-Rogue variant) or that you can’t prefer to work out inside a rack rather than in front of it. I’m simply suggesting that if space is an issue in your garage gym then there are alternatives in the form of half racks. If you have a lot of space then I can absolutely see preferring a giant, full-size power rack; especially the 6-post racks with storage. These just aren’t practical in a smaller garage or home gym though.


Monster vs Monster Lite (Monster HR vs HR-2)

Functionally the Rogue HR-2 and the Rogue Collegiate Half Rack are very similar.  They’re both constructed with 11-gauge, 3″x3″ steel uprights, they have the same distance between uprights (43″), and they’re both designed for you to lift in front of (outside of) the rack rather than inside of it.

The Rogue HR-2 Half Rack

Of course there are a number of differences between them as well. They have different hole patterns, utilize different hardware and accessories, have a different footprint and a different inside depth, and they definitely have different starting prices. Take a look at the table below to see the most notable differences between the HR-2 and the Monster HR.

  HR-2 Half Rack Collegiate Half Rack
 Footprint (includes feet) 48″ x 49″ 62″ x 53″
 Front Upright Height 90″ or 108″ 100″
 Rear Upright Height 70″ or 90″ 90″
 Inside Depth 17″ 24″
 Hole Pattern Westside 2″-spacing
 Hardware Size 5/8″ 1″
 Anchor Holes no yes
 Leg Configuration flat elevated
 Includes Storage no yes
 Starting Price $655 $1160
 Basic Equipped Price * $1046 $1430

*Basic Equipped Price is with safety spotter arms, (2) pairs of band pegs, and (4) pairs of long storage horns.

Any number of these differences or features may make or break a certain unit for you. Now I personally went with the Monster because I wanted access to the larger and more diverse selection of accessories available. I also liked the fact that it could be anchored (because it would be), and how much easier it is to use the elevated and numbered front feet for band pegs. Of course I did have to give up Westside spacing by going with the Monster, but I am already over that.

Speaking of anchoring, it is important to note that the HR-2 is not intended to be anchored at all while the Monster Half Rack can and should be anchored.

By the way, either of these units could be used as a normal power rack. That is to say, you can work out inside these units; Rogue even offers safety options for both. I certainly don’t know why you would because you’d have to give up the plate storage (and that defeats the whole purpose of having a half rack), but you could.


Special Features of the Monster Half Rack

Monster Collegiate Power Rack Specifications

The following features are exclusive to the Monster racks. With the exception of the angled crossmembers, these features apply to all 2.0 Monster Racks.

Keyholes

Keyholes are special hardware holes that are thus far unique to the Monster racks.  Rather than just being completely round, the holes have more of a key shape to them that allow for certain accessories with nubs to lock into place on the rack.

The new plate storage horns do take advantage of the Monster 2.0's keyholes

This feature is neat in that it appears to reduce the amount of hardware needed to attach a keyhole accessory, but so far it is a very under-utilized feature. However, I suspect that the amount of accessories that use keyholes will grow over time.

Angled Crossmembers

The Monster Half Rack has angled crossmembers that reach from 90″ high uprights to 100″ high uprights. I can discover no functional reason for doing this. All it appears to do is make for a more complicated crossmember to manufacture and install, but it sure does look cool.

The Monster Half Rack's angled crossmembers; a very unique and cool looking feature

Of course in the interest of full disclosure, this feature is what originally caught my attention so I suppose it’s not completely pointless.

Laser Etched Numbers

The 2″ hole spacing (aka a lack of Westside spacing) allows the necessary space for a hole numbering system. These numbers are laser etched into the uprights, they’re great to have, and that’s about all I can say about that.

Monster Racks have laser-etched numbered holes running the length of the uprights

In case you were wondering, the 100″ uprights have 40 numbered holes.

Massive Hardware

Rogue’s Monster Racks are the only Rogue racks to utilize 1″-diameter hardware. The bolts are truly massive; making the 5/8″ hardware of the “lesser” racks look cheap by comparison (and 5/8″ is not exactly light-duty). These 1″ bolts do require a 1½” socket, and since almost no one has 1½” sockets, a pair of 1½” wrenches are included with your Monster Rack.

Monster Racks use massive 1" hardware and ship with a pair of 1½" wrenches

Obviously all the Monster accessories must also utilize the same 1″ hardware; whether it’s more bolts, detent pins, pop pins, pegs, and so on.

Accessory Selection

The Monster line has the best and largest accessory selection of the three major rack lines at Rogue. It includes pretty much every accessory found in the Infinity and Monster Lite line while also having a number of accessories that are exclusive to Monster line. Of course the exclusive accessories tend to be the larger, bulky accessories,  so this may not be the best reason in the world to jump from Infinity or ML to the Monster line.

It is also worth mentioning that Monster accessories are significantly more expensive than the Infinity accessories due to their use of more steel and beefier hardware.

Optional Knurled Knobs

Rogue’s new knurled knobs are meant to replace the 1½” nuts use for accessories, the idea behind them is that you can fasten and unfasten these knobs by hand quicker than you can with a wrench. These have their uses, mostly for accessories that aren’t permanent fixtures on the rack (the leg roller, for instance).

Rogue's new Knurled Knobs - no tools required

The Monster Half Rack does not come with any knurled knobs, but I mention them because the Monster Trolley does; for the handles. These handles are another great place to use the knurled knobs btw because they are attached and removed fairly often. Having to grab for a wrench each and every time would be really annoying.

Optional Custom Colors

You can, for a fee, have your Monster rack painted whatever color you’d like. You can also have this done to your accessories if you’re so inclined. This obviously creates a fairly long lead time but that option is available for those with time and money to spare.


J-Cup Distance on Monster Racks

A semi-common complaint regarding Monster racks is that unit is too wide (when compared to Rogue’s Infinity racks and racks from other manufacturers). By “too wide” I mean that the distance from the outside of one front upright to the outside of the other is too great, making for a tight fit with some barbells. Well let’s talk about this.

All Rogue racks have a 43″ front opening, so that doesn’t change. What does change is the width of the uprights. Infinity uprights are 2″ wide; giving a total distance of 47″ (43″+2″+2″). The Monster uprights are 3″ wide; for a total distance of 49″. Since the basic, default J-cups that ship with these racks are just as wide as their respective uprights, you do indeed get a bit less space to rack your bars on the Monster racks.

That having been said, the distance between collars of an Olympic bar is 1310 mm (51½”). This leaves plenty of space to rack your barbell (51½” minus 49″ = 2½+”). And since 1310 mm is going to be the minimum distance,  it may turn out that you have 3″ or more of extra space (as is the case with my bar in the image below).

You'll have as much as 3" of total wiggle room for your barbell using the standard (default) Monster J-Cups

This 3″ is the total extra space for the bar shaft when using the default Monster J-cups. Some bars may be closer to 2½”, but that’s still plenty of space (the right collar that’s not pictured is pushed up against the other J-cup.)

Still, there may be some situations with specialty bars that have a shorter distance between the collars where that particular bar will feel tight, or perhaps not fit at all. Now I myself don’t have any bars that don’t fit nicely in the Monster racks but there is no doubt in my mind that such bars exist, as I believe that this is the only reason this extra width is even a concern at all. That is to say, I don’t think people are concerned because they need 5″+ of wiggle room to rack their power bars.

If you want a Monster rack but you are concerned that you have bars that won’t fit, there’s a solution to this problem. Simply upgrade to the Sandwich-Style J-cups when order buy your rack. Sandwich cups are narrow and centered on the upright, allowing you to recover nearly two full inches of that “lost” distance. In other words, your Monster Rack will have the exact same amount of barbell wiggle room as an Infinity rack. It’ll cost you $100, but it does solve the problem.

You'll have as much as 5" of total wiggle room for your barbell by upgrading to the Sandwich-style J-Cups for your Monster Rack

You can recover all of that “lost” space by upgrading to Sandwich-style J-cups. Any bar that will fit in a 47″ rack will fit in your Monster rack (again, the right collar that’s not pictured is pushed up against the other J-cup.)

Finally, just in case there is any confusion, the extra width of the Monster racks does not in any way reduce the amount of space available inside the rack.


Rogue’s MG Black Powdercoat Finish

The finish on the Monster Racks is basically a glossy version of what’s found on the Infinity and Monster Lite racks.  It’s a great looking finish, though it does look much more like paint than a powdercoat, and unlike a matte powdercoat the glossy finish shows fingerprints and smudges and such.  I really like it, but I also don’t care; I’d have been just as happy if it was the basic matte powdercoat.

I’m told this finish is just as durable as the basic black powdercoat, and my experience with it so far is pretty much in line with that. It’s not easy to damage the finish, but it is absolutely possible to damage it if you’re careless (grinding barbell against uprights, bumping the rack with your accessories as you install them, etc.) Still, so far it seems quite durable.

I have noticed some minor imperfections in the finish; some teeny-tiny little bumps under the finish actually;  but you have to be pretty close to see these so I don’t think that it takes away from the overall attractiveness of the rack.


The LT-1 50 CAL Trolley & Lever Arm Kit

I intend to review the Trolley Arms separately so I’m going to keep this relatively brief. It just felt off to say nothing at all since many of you already know I have this accessory attached.

I like the LT-1 Trolley Kit. I think it’s a very clever and functional product that allows for a ton of variety. It’s basically like having every upper body Hammer Strength machine attached to your rack. It’s also useful for a handful of lower body movements too.  It truly is a jack-of-all-trades type of accessory that looks completely bad ass and is relatively simple to use.

Rogue's LT-1Trolley Lever Arm Kit for Monster Racks

That having been said, as a lifter with only one power rack in my gym (and a half rack even) I do regret buying this accessory.

The fact is that I find having this product permanently attached to my rack to be more of an inconvenience than anything else.  I feel like I move the arms around a lot considering how infrequently I actually use them. They are always in the way of my J-cups and safeties as I switch between [my priority] barbell lifts, and moving them around over and over again just gets old (you have to remove and set aside the J-cups and the safeties each time you want to move the Trolleys from the top of the rack to the bottom).

Like I said I will get into more detail when I publish my Trolley review, but suffice it to say for now that I don’t like the Trolley on my Monster Half Rack. Yes I think the product is brilliant, well-designed, and extremely versatile, but I don’t think it’s very practical for a garage gym.

This accessory needs to be on a dedicated pair of uprights, not on the same pair of uprights that you frequently use for your barbell squats, bench presses, military presses, etc. It’s just in the way… and I really wish this wasn’t the case because they are neat.


Monster Half Rack Review – Summary

I am completely happy and content with my Monster Collegiate Half Rack. I have literally no regrets about this purchase, even when taking into consideration the relatively high price. It has a great footprint for a garage gym, offers all the plate storage one would ever need in a garage gym (or any gym),  it accepts the vast majority of the Monster accessories, and truth be told I think it’s probably the coolest looking rack out there.

Sure the $1160 base price does not include spotter arms; which add a painful $270 more to the price; but it does include two pair of the new Monster Band Pegs and four pairs of those new plastic-lined storage posts. It’ll cost another $100 to swap out the basic J-cups with the sandwich-style cups as well; putting your total at just over $1500; but I still think this rack is worth every penny. I don’t see how this wouldn’t be the last rack you’d ever have to buy.

I really can’t think of anything bad to say about the Monster Half Rack.  It’s strong, versatile, is of a great height, allows for band work, accepts Jammer and/or Trolley Arms, has a great looking design (the feet are so cool, and the nameplate is pretty flashy as well), and is ships with all of the new 2.0 accessories (those aforementioned pegs and posts). I honestly think the only downside would be the price since you can score a comparably-equipped HR-2 for a lot less than the Monster.

Still, I have no regrets. I highly recommend the Monster Half Rack.


 

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{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Tony March 1, 2019, 2:28 am

    Great review, John. I too am a big fan of half racks. I have the HR-2 with an added crossmember for the 490C that I purchased directly from Rogue (for much added stability). Like you, I only have a limited amount of space allotted for my gym in my 400 sf garage, so having that half rack really makes excellent use of that space, allowing me to perform all the exercise OUTSIDE the uprights while utilizing the back uprights for plate storage and such.

    I really like the Monster half rack, and might have gone that route had I not bought the HR-2. I love the angled uprights and also the base. You probably won;t ever need to buy another rack…. but we all know you will, at least to demo and review, then sell on Craigslist haha By the way, thanks for blue Garage Gym owner shirt and transfer sticker! I’ll probably order more stickers :)

    • jburgeson March 1, 2019, 11:41 am

      I really do love this rack, but in this case it was more of a ‘time to buy for me and also review it’ rather than just ‘what rack should I review’. Still, there was always that chance I’d not be completely happy with it for some reason so I’m glad that worked out. I hate selling stuff on CL btw… such a nightmare. I mean I do it, but I don’t like it.

      Also thanks! I’m trying to find more interesting things to offer on the store but I lack promotion skills for quicker growth there so everything moves at a snails pace. You know, there is a direct correlation between an Instagram post featuring a shirt or something, and sales, but I cringe every time I make such a post. I don’t think I have the salesman gene. But hey, I think all this makes me appreciate every order even more! haha

  • Chris March 1, 2019, 2:02 pm

    Nice review as usual. However, I disagree that the sandwich J cups make the rack’s width a non-issue. The issue most people run into with these racks isn’t that the shoulders of their barbell sleeve hit the J-cups re-racking–its that the plates bang the uprights while walking out a squat. If you’re using a barbell with thin sleeve shoulders, like an Eleiko power bar or 20KG OPB, you have like 2.5″ of plate clearance on each side of the uprights. Less of an issue if you lift with a bar with wide shoulders, like a TPB. I squat with a 45lb OPB and my squat walkout has just enough lateral movement that I’d bang the uprights with the plates every time on a 49″ wide rack.

    The flip side is that if you have a 3×3 rack with a 41″ crossmember/47″ outside width (like Sorinex), you sacrifice 2″ of interior width. So a lifter with a wider squat grip might prefer the extra interior space on a 43″ Rogue rack. Sandwich J-cups also help this issue on a narrower rack. Or, just stick with a 2×3 rack like your old R-3 for the best of both worlds :)

    Anyways, I don’t think there’s “one true width” for these racks, and its good people have choices. But that’s the reason some people (including me) think Rogue’s 3×3 racks are too wide.

    • jburgeson March 1, 2019, 6:08 pm

      That’s a very good point. I actually hadn’t thought of that because I’ve only slapped the uprights during walkout a couple times and I guess I just equate that to me being sloppy or tired. As I think about it though, I don’t recall doing that on the old Infinity, so yes, very good point. Also I train with an American Barbell power bar which I guess you could say has a medium sized collars. It’s not fat, but it’s not as slim as some.

      That said, the reason I addressed this at all is because I had heard two different complaints about specialty bars not fitting so well. I suppose that even if sandwich cups allowed a bar to fit that wouldn’t fit with standard j-cups, the issue you’ve brought up would still be a huge problem.

      Still, very interesting… and fair enough!

      And just my own opinion on all this – All things considered I’d rather have the 43″ inside space than 41″. I’m just too tall to be in anything smaller than 43″. I have a long wingspan, wide stance, everything.

      • Hamad D March 2, 2019, 1:50 pm

        I have an RML-3 rack with 3×3-49” uprights, & I also hit the uprights from time to time when walking out a squat.

        A proposed solution which I had thought about, that is inexpensive, yet I haven’t actually tried myself is to buy an extra pair of good barbell collars, & to fit them BEFORE the loading your plates, giving you extra space between the beginning/shoulders of the sleeves & the plates, in turn moving the plates away from the uprights.

        You can even control how big of a space you want to have between the plates & the uprights by how far away you fit these inside collars. Just be sure to fit both inside collars identically on each side; or else your bar will be imbalanced & will surely affect your lift. If you use a wide enough collars for this, even having the collars immediately touching the shoulder/beginning of the sleeves may give sufficient enough space, I think.

        The only downside I see to this is that having the plates farther out may give some bars some undesired extra whip.

        Also, I don’t think this solution will affect the health of the bar & bar’s sleeves, but JB might have some insight on this.

        Nice review

        • jburgeson March 2, 2019, 8:52 pm

          That’s a good idea too… some narrow collars would accomplish that perfectly. I don’t think having the weight another inch out is going to make all that much difference on the lift or the life of the bar either. Sure maybe if there was 400 pounds on each sleeve that extra distance from center might matter, but not for the average squat and bench. Great idea!

  • Matthew B. April 30, 2019, 11:21 am

    Great review. I actually was considering this very heavily (had many emails exchanged with Rogue’s custom department for getting my desired color scheme. The main reason I ended up skipping it was really just the length between response emails for customization. The other company I was looking at was faster, and also did customizations free of up front charge (although I know I paid for it somewhere in the regular price), so I went with them instead.

    The concept of benching outside of the rack petrifies me (prior bad experiences with short Valor Fitness spotter arms) but it looks like Rogue’s are quite long!

    Now, about that HR-5000…….

    • jburgeson April 30, 2019, 11:41 am

      I can see bad things happening on some of the spotter arms that are attached to economy equipment. Pretty scary. Those Monster arms are long and beefy as hell though. I’m not the least bit concerned about them.

      I just ordered a custom nameplate from Rogue. I had a lot of back and forth but it didn’t seem overly slow to me. Wasn’t exactly a real-time conversation but I never got impatient because of the response time. Sorry you had that experience. I’d still be curious to know who you went with though haha.

  • Marty Anderson August 5, 2019, 10:21 pm

    Thanks for the review. I have a rogue RML 390 F and most of the attachments including some custom ones. But I really want the monster, I know that its not going to be any more functional. Just love the look and nice equipment.
    Im planning on adding the rotating chin bar, …have you seen this before ? Only three reviews, …
    I contacted rogue and they said they can make both uprights 90, but looking at pics of hr2 with same height uprights doesnt look too good.
    Have you bolted the rack? Im planning to add a lower crossmember as I find that makes a huge difference. Not worried as though the rack is going to fall apart but would like rack to feel as stable as a rack at most commercial gyms. I think with added cross, namplate, alot of weight stored on rack and bolted as well as the rotating chin and use of shims if needed can’t get much more stable and rigid.
    What is the difference between the regular sandwich J cups and the 2 inch ones. Id rather just get what I want first so that I dont end up upgrading later and spending more. Wish I had gone monster to start! Thanks.

    • jburgeson August 6, 2019, 8:26 am

      I’ve never played around with the rotating chin bar. Way too expensive in my opinion.

      My Monster Half Rack is bolted, yes. I don’t think I’d like this particular half rack if it wasn’t anchored, and it would definitely benefit from a stabilizer if that was the case.

      The regular sandwich style cups are narrower which kind of gives you an extra inch or so to maneuver the bar around Rogue’s 49″ rack width. The 2″ cups are just a fancier assembly; more plastic, hidden bolts, etc. I actually like the 1.5″ standard sandwich cups, though the 2″ cups are still 1″ narrower than the 3″ basic cups. All three styles of Monster J-cups are indestructible though.

  • Marty Anderson August 11, 2019, 4:50 pm

    Thanks for the info. I made so many changes to my initial order that it still needs to be finalized by Rogue.

    Ive been going back and forth on the RM6 and the half rack, …I know the half rack is just as functional but I also want this rack to be my last rack. If I do end up with the rm6 Im going to have the inside shortened to 30 inches, but leaves me having to use straps (hate pipes) as no swing in style on 30 inch racks. The way the RML straps attach seem to be far better than the monster straps. Even with the selectorized slinger in the works the rm 6 would not add anything for me as I already have a lat pulldown. First world problems, rm6 or half rack. The racks looks defintely matter to me and its just so hard to tell from pics without actually seeing the racks. Thanks.

    • jburgeson August 12, 2019, 10:08 am

      You can always do the RM6 and add the feet and angled crossmembers from the HR, and then you have both basically. That actually sounds kinda cool

      • Marty Anderson August 14, 2019, 12:40 pm

        Actually ordered the monster half, rotating chin bar, and a bunch of attachments, rhino, and bacl raise and the few dbs need to round out dbs to 125

        • jburgeson August 14, 2019, 2:43 pm

          Where do you live? I think I’m going to just use your gym instead of mine. =P

          • Marty Anderson August 15, 2019, 7:40 pm

            Lol upstate ny. I started less than a year ago and thought id just have a bench and rack but then very discovered liked the little equipment i did have and now its 18k plus later. I get busy with my line of work and so frees me up to bill more.
            Never thought id have the lat pulldown 400 lb stack, hammer neck machine. And Westside bench which frankly i think is an awesome deal. Rogue back raise is on way… Never used one with curved pads rogues alot cheaper than some…thanks for your review. I ended up ordering 90 front and back since a little too close to ceiling and im 5-8 and dont feel like jumping for pullups…

            • jburgeson August 15, 2019, 11:30 pm

              bleh you’re about as far away as you possibly could be. Worth a shot!

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