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Thread: Review: Sam's Fitness Powertec Power Rack Package

  1. #1
    MonkeyGrip
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    Default Review: Sam's Fitness Powertec Power Rack Package

    This is my first post at AusBB and, rather than post a question, I thought I'd try to contribute something.

    I bought the Powertec Power Rack Package based largely on research done on this site, so I thought I'd return the favour and post a review.

    It turned out a little bit lengty, but I hope someone finds it helpful.

    Background

    My requirements were for a power rack, an adjustable bench, Olympic barbell and dumbbell handles and rubber-coated weight plates. I considered getting a half-rack, but the ability to add pull-down cables, dips and chin-up bars, was more limited and the better looking racks were all too tall for my space.

    My two main constraints were a budget of around $1,500 and a pretty tight space for footprint as well as height.

    As Iím currently renting and the gym gear will be sharing space with the car in a pretty compact garage. And, while I had no expectation that I would be able to actually work out whilst the car was parked, I wanted to be able to pull the car in and lock the garage over night.

    This gave me a hard limit for a depth of 130cm and a height of 213cm.

    I used AusBB to do a lot of research and also compared the various packages from the main online sellers (Little Bloke, Gym and Fitness and Gym Direct to name a few). As Iím sure you know, there are a lot of different options out there, of varying quality and cost, but the only power rack that actually fitted my space was the Powertec, sold by Samís Fitness.

    This isnít the cheapest rack, especially if paired with the lat pull-down attachment but, as I donít have room for that right now anyway, I didnít have to factor that added expense. At least not yet anywayÖ

    But the Powertec has had consistently good reviews and its measurements mean that it could have been custom made for my space. Samís Fitness provide a nice diagram of the footprint, and I was able to figure out from this, and confirm with Samís Fitness that the depth from the back of the rack to the front uprights is pretty much spot on 1 metre, leaving about 30cm of spare room to share between the car, the rack and the garage door. Cozy!

    The height of the rack is actually 213cm, a whole centimetre too tall for my garage, but I had seen online that some people have mounted the front cross-bar, that the chin-up bar attaches to, upside down. I confirmed with Matt again that the height of the uprights would be okay, and they squeeze in at 210cm, giving a whole 2cm of extra height.

    Obviously head clearance above this would be somewhat limited, but I figured wide-grip or partial reps whilst at this rental house could become full chin-ups when we move somewhere more spacious.

    So, with the decision for the rack made, it was pretty easy to buy into the whole Powertec Power Rack Package offered by Samís Fitness.

    This includes the Powertec power rack, a choice of either the Powertec Utility Bench or Ironmaster Super Bench, Power Maxx Olympic 1500lbs-rated barbell and 115kg of Power Maxx rubber-coated weight plates.

    The reviews of the Ironmaster Super Bench made that the obvious choice for a bench, but I did consider getting weights and bars from other sellers, like Little Bloke Fitness, who have a good looking set. However, the extra costs for shipping from another supplier would have further blown out my already stretched budget.

    So, I went with Samís package, with the addition of a pair of Olympic dumbbell handles, and extra plates: 2x5kg, 2x2.5 and 4x1.25kg for a total of 135kg.

    I got a bit of a discount, bundling all of this together, and the total cost including shipping to Brisbane came to $1,900. A bit more than I had planned but not too bad.

    Review:
    Powertec Power Rack



    This rack gets pretty good reviews online and I think they are well deserved. Itís pretty easy to assemble and, when finished, the rack is rock solid.

    Youíll need 19 and 21mm spanners and I put it together by myself pretty comfortably, although the top crossbeams are a bit tricky to handle without assistance. I ended up with bolts, nuts, washers, spanners and end plates in various pockets and balanced a crossbeam on my head in the process, but Iím sure smarter people will come up with better solutionsÖ

    Having used the rack for a few weeks now, I would note the following:

    Pros:
    This rack feels very solid and is rated to 450kgs.

    Once constructed there is no noticeable movement in the frame at all. Training alone at home, the main reason I wanted a power rack was for safety. I feel very comfortable using this rack.

    The spotter bars are also rated to 450kgs and Iíd be confident dropping a loaded bar onto them if needed. The dense rubber surface on these is a nice touch, although it would be nice to have something similar on the J-Hooks too.

    The one area of movement is with the chin-up bars, which have a small amount (<1cm) of play horizontally at the point they are bolted into the crossbeam. This isnít an issue when chinning, but I thought I should note it.

    As mentioned above, the rack is compact, but itís also big enough internally to comfortably perform squats, deadlifts and bench press although overhead presses will generally need to be done outside and racked on the front uprights.

    The adjustment holes for the J-Hooks and spotter bars are well spaced and I can comfortably rack all my lifts at a height that suits me.

    The included dip bars are pretty good and can easily be added and removed form the rack, slotting in and out of the adjustment holes. They have a thick diameter, and angle inwards, which allows for a choice of positions. There is some lateral wobble in these between the uprights and the mounting, but this is a non-issue when actually under load. They feel solid and strong, but I don't know the weight rating on them.

    I quite like the chin up bars, although these seem to be one of the main complaints that the rack gets. They are coated with rubber, and allow for a range of grips, but are more limited than some racks.

    You get a choice of two colour options with this rack: black or yellow. I went with black.

    Always bet on black.

    Cons:
    As mentioned above, the spotter bars come with a dense rubber layer screwed to their upper side. This is nice because it prevents damage to either the spotter bars or your barbell, and it limits noise when racking the bar. However, the J-Hooks are bare metal and not particularly smooth metal at that, so Iíve already got a few scratches on my new barbell.

    Iím thinking of taping some duct tape around the J-Hooks or would consider fixing rubber to them somehow if I had any spare.

    One of the original J-Hooks I received also had surface rust around the weld on its underside. I donít think this would have affected its strength, at least early on, but Samís Fitness sent a replacement quickly and without hassle.

    Likewise, there was one dodgy bolt amongst the hundred or so needed to assemble the rack. The thread had been machined poorly so that the nut couldnít tighten. Samís Fitness quickly sent a replacement for this as well, along with the J-Hook.

    The powder coating on the rack seems a little fragile, with some scratches already showing at the location that the spotter bars get mounted and un-mounted. Not a big deal for me, but this brand new rack wonít stay looking pristine for too long.

    Conclusion:
    Iím really happy with this rack. It's strong, solid and compact. I expect it will last me a long time.


    Ironmaster Super Bench

    I had my doubts about this bench. Everyone online raves about it, but it looked kind of strange to me.

    I wanted a bench that would adjust from flat to incline, and maybe decline, but why on earth would you want a bench that you could add a dip or chin-up bar to?

    But I went with the online consensus and ordered the Super Bench and am very glad I did.

    The bench came almost entirely assembled, and just needed the legs to be bolted on. When finished, itís heavy and solid with a very clever design.

    Pros:
    Very solid. The Super Bench is rated to 450kgs when flat and 270kg on an angle. It feels like it could take twice that.

    Iím amazed that something on a swing arm like this has absolutely no wobble from side to side, or in any other direction, yet adjusts to a range of angles more easily than any bench Iíve used before. This is done by using a foot lever, which frees the bench up to rotate to a range of angles from completely flat to 90ļ.

    If I turn this bench sideways it also fits perfectly within the Powertec rack, keeping more floor space free when not in use.

    Cons:
    The bench is quite high when flat. Iím around 185cm (~6ft1) tall and when using the Super Bench in the flat position, itís a bit higher than Iím used to, meaning I arch my back a bit more or donít have my feet flat on the ground like Iím used to.

    This seems to be improving with time, so either Iím getting used to the new position, or my flexibility is coming back to me now Iím exercising again and this isnít really an issue.

    Something thatís not a huge problem for me, but more of a minor annoyance is that, in order to use this bench in decline position, you need to buy an additional $80 crunch attachment. It would have been nice if they included something out of the box to enable this.

    Some people online have commented that, in incline position, the seat is too low, even at its highest setting. I havenít found this to be the case, but given that the bench feels a little high to me when itís flat, maybe Iíve got shorter legs and a longer torso than some.

    Conclusion:
    Iím a convert. The online reviews are spot on. This is a great bench.


    Power Maxx Rubber-Coated Olympic Weight Plates


    I wanted rubber-coated weight plates to limit noise when Iím bashing around in the garage and my family is sleeping. Likewise I didnít want to smash up the concrete garage floor of the rental house or the weights themselves.

    Other than that, I figured a weight is a weight. As long as itís pretty much as heavy as it says it is, what more could you want?

    As I mentioned earlier, I looked at some other options online, but went with the Power Maxx weights from Samís Fitness because, when bundled with the other items I wanted, it worked out the most economical.

    Along with the weights that came in the package (2x2.5, 2x5, 2x10, and 4x20kg), I added 4x1.25, 2x2.5 and 2x5kg plates, bringing a total of 135kg and allowing me to use dumbbells from 5kg to 25kg with increments of 2.5kg.

    Pros:
    These weight plates are easy to grab and move, with plates 5kg and heavier having three handles as part of their design. This means they can easily be picked up, loaded and unloaded or even used on their own for exercises.

    The plates also have an interlocking design that allows them to fit more compactly on the bar and helps to make the loaded bar feel tight and solid.

    These weights look pretty good. If thatís something you care about.

    Cons:
    These things smell.

    I had heard that rubber-coated plates can be a bit smelly, and maybe these arenít any worse than others, but it takes some getting used to. After a few weeks the majority of the smell has dissipated, but the garage still has a pretty noticeable rubber smell. After a warm day, ventilation when working out is a must!

    The weights were also quite oily when they arrived. I wiped each of them down with paper towel, which came away with a grimy black residue. Maybe I should scrub them with soapy water or something, but Iím still getting black stuff on my hands each time after use.

    The main complaint I have with these weights, though, is the quality of their construction.

    Two of the plates had small splits at the rubber seam that goes around the circumference of the plate. Another plate had two long cracks around its edge.

    I let Samís Fitness know straight away, and sent a couple of photographs to illustrate the problem. They sent me replacement plates very quickly and without fuss.

    Since then, Iíve noticed that a number of the plates (each of the four 20kg plates, two of the 10kg and three of the 5kg plates) have loose centres. That is, the visible metal that the barbell sleeve slides inside.

    This looseness is not too noticeable on the 20kg or 5kg plates, but on the 10kg plates, it is much more distinct. The centres shift a few mm each way, and makes the plate feel a bit loose when loading it on the bar.

    This doesnít really affect the weightís utility as a heavy lump that I lift up and down but, of all the rubber-coated plates Iíve used in the past, Iíve never noticed this kind of issue before.

    To be honest, neither the cracked/split rubber or the loose central cores of the plates affect my training right now, but if the cracking got worse, or the centre becomes more wobbly (I assume it wonít get less wobbly over time), this could become a problem.

    Samís Fitness were very fast to send out replacement weights for the two split and one cracked plate, and have told me that they have taken a note that some of my plates have the issue with the central core, in case it gets worse and warrants a replacement.

    With these issues combined, I have to question the quality of Power Maxx weights.

    If anybody else has similar experience with this brand or any other, Iíd be keen to hear it.

    Conclusion:
    As it stands now, Iíd find it hard to recommend these plates.


    Power Maxx 1500lb Copper Bushing Olympic Barbell Bar


    This is the standard bar that comes packaged with the above gear. I donít know too much about bushings, bearings or the kinds of materials that make one bar better than another, but a 1500lb load limit sounded tough, so I figured it would be more than enough for my meager needs.

    Pros:
    It turns out the 1500lb weight rating is related to the thickness of the bar. Apparently this one is slightly thicker than average, which is fine by me, but not particularly noticeable.

    Cons:
    This bar has some pretty rough knurling. It is pointy and has a sharp chrome finish. My delicate office-worker hands are quickly getting accustomed to it, but itís certainly a bit uncomfortable at first.

    The main issue with this bar, however, is the sleeves.

    One of the sleeves gets a couple of rotations if I spin it as hard as I can, but the other typically canít do a full rotation without significant assistance past a sticking point. Iím not doing any dynamic Olympic-type lifts right now, so I donít need a low-friction, smoothly spinning sleeve, but this one is definitely not right.

    Again, writing to Samís Fitness, they were pretty responsive, suggesting that I load the bar up with some plates and see if this helped.

    It didnít.

    However, Sam says that bushings can take some time to wear in and, as the issue isnít affecting my lifts right now, Iím happy to keep using the bar and see what happens.

    If the issue is still there in a few months when I start hitting my stride and wanting to perform snatches, power cleans, etc., Iíll be getting back in touch with Samís Fitness to get the issue resolved.

    Conclusion:
    Combined with the issues with the weight plates, above, I couldnít really recommend the Power Maxx range of products.


    Power Maxx Olympic Dumbbell Bars


    Without access to a full set of fixed dumbbells, I figured Iíd be able to make use of my Olympic plates together with some dumbbell handles to do accessory exercises.

    These handles are also made by Power Maxx (although there is no branding anywhere to be seen).

    Pros:
    They are what they are, as advertised, and thereís nothing much more to them than that.

    Cons:
    The one complaint I have with these bars is that the diameter of the sleeves is slightly smaller than the barbell, so the weights donít fit quite as tightly. You get a bit of rattling when lifting, but nothing too terrible.

    A complaint I have that isnít related to these dumbbells in particular is the use of spring collars. I hate these things, but theyíre all I have right now.

    Iím looking to get some lock jaws or similar, because I find the spring collars a pain to put on and off, particularly if Iím trying to strip weight off after each set and my grip is fatigued.

    Conclusion:
    Fixed dumbbells would be nice, but if you donít have the cash or room, these should do the job.


    Service
    Samís Fitness have a good reputation for customer service on this board and with good reason.

    The staff at Samís Fitness have been responsive from the first day when I asked for measurements of the rack. They gave a reasonable discount for bundling the gear together (although they don't give AusBB members special discounts). They then shipped the order very quickly and were very fast to responde to emails and send replacements for the faulty parts.

    I would definitely recommend buying either Powertec or Ironmaster gear from Samís Fitness, but couldnít advise buying Power Maxx equipment, based on my personal experience with those products.


    Let me know if you have any questions. I'd be happy to answer.





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  • #2
    Fucked up Kunce

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    My question is: His long did it take you to write that? Nice review. Gonna make it a sticky.
    Iherb promo code ZSG863Hidden Content Hidden Content


  • #3
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    I'm in the market for a new bench, currently persisting with a cheap shit incline and a flat bench but space constraints like yourself mean I want one that can do both. That bench looks like the only one that'd be a genuinely good flat bench as well as incline. Every time I look at it online I think that'll wobble like all fuck.

    Keep me posted on whether you are happy with it as you use it more. It's a lot of $$$ but I don't mind paying for good gear, just hate paying top $ for shit.


    Good review man.


  • #4
    Administrator. Graeme

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    top effort , thanks for that , i am sure many will find it informative
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  • #5
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    Great review! Thanks for taking the time
    I'll be getting that bench soon for myself



  • #6
    MonkeyGrip
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shrek View Post
    My question is: His long did it take you to write that?
    Longer than I had planned... notice the time stamp?

    But I wanted to contribute the kind of review that I would have appreciated prior to buying the gear.


  • #7
    MonkeyGrip
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brick View Post
    I'm in the market for a new bench... Every time I look at it online I think that'll wobble like all fuck.
    Yeah, I thought it looked like a pretty weak design when I first saw it online, but I've got to say, they nailed it.

    There are a few features that I think are hard to appreciate without seeing the bench in person, but that contribute to the bench's overall strength:

    The curved swing arm is almost 1cm in width and solid metal, so really strong. The holes that it passes through in the upright are pretty snug, so have minimal room for lateral movement.

    Any movement is further limited by the thick hinge that secures the bench to the upright. This is very solid and is attached with chunky welds.

    The frame for the bench is made out of thick metal. I haven't measure it, but I think it's at least as thick, if not thicker than that used in the power rack.

    But, if you've got any doubts, try to see one in person before deciding to buy. I think you'll be impressed.


  • #8
    MonkeyGrip
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkoz View Post
    Great review! Thanks for taking the time
    I'll be getting that bench soon for myself
    Glad you liked it. I was keen to share both the good and bad about the products.

    I'm obviously a big fan of the bench, so I expect you'll be very happy with it.


  • #9
    nelson
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    I have been using the same rack for a few months and your review is spot on.
    Overall I like the rack a lot

    Pros:
    - More solid and stable than I was expecting. This thing ain't gonna tip over
    - Easier to assemble than most IKEA furniture
    Cons:
    - The J-Hooks! I would like to know if anyone has found some decent replacements. I've resorted to taping cardboard to them to protect my bar. I also dislike how they give the bar space to move
    - Spotter bars annoying to reposition
    - Hole spacing could be smaller (for bench spotting)
    Other:
    - Since it's not bolted down, it shifts when you re-rack the bar for squats and bench
    - Despite the bad reviews, the chinup bars don't bother me either. Very similar to what was in my former gym


  • #10
    Sam_L
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    Gday, its Sam from Sam's Fitness and I thought I would just follow up on what the OP has posted. I wonít lie, this post has caused us a few problems in that we have constantly have to talk through some of the issues the OP raised. For example, here is an email we just received today from an existing, long term customerÖ..

    "Hi,

    I wanted to ask a question regarding the quality of the power maxx Olympic weights. I read on a bodybuilding forum that one person said that there were problems regarding the rubber splitting and the rings becoming loose. I assume that this is a one off occurrence. I have the power maxx Olympic rubber weights and although I have not had any problems so far, this made me question whether these weights are going to last in the long term.
    Thanks
    Mark"

    So I thought I would take the time to address the issues here, so people have a better understanding of the background of this thread.

    Back to the OPís issues and thoughts. I stress, these issues and thoughts are based on 2 weeks of use.

    I also stress that the OP and myself came to the agreement that the issues/concerns did not in any way affect his use of the product. If they did, we would happily replace the product.

    The OP has not raised any issues with us since he made this post. So I have to assume that no news is good news.

    He is not implying that the product is faulty for its intended use, it just did not meet his expectations. I am not sure what his expectations were, but it is clear that he had not purchased this type of gym equipment previously. So maybe his expectations will change as he purchases more.

    Power Maxx Weight Plates


    Splitting
    Ė One 10kg plate had a slight crack in the rubber. We replaced this plate. One x 5kg and one x 1.25kg plates had a small divots where the excess rubber is pulled away after coming out of the cast.



    Even though there was nothing really wrong with the 5kg and 1.25kg plate, we replaced them no questions asked.

    The OP seemed to think that the line around the plates was a sign of splitting. It is a join mark, and there is excess rubber that spills out the cast. The factory clean up the line, but with plates that are $3/kg, you are not going to get a competition bumper plate finish.

    This marking is common on nearly all rubber plates.

    It is the first time anyone has ever raised this as an issue.

    Loose Centres Ė
    One of the reasons we moved to this style of weight plate, was that the stainless steel inserts were easier on barbells, and in particular the old PVC weight horn covers on the Powertec machines we sell.

    The stainless steel inserts are pressed inside the weight plate. On rubber plates, you canít press with too much force as you will damage the rubber casing. So there is some play with the inserts.

    As the inserts are lipped on both sides, they canít become looser over time.



    This is the first time anybody has raised this issue with these plates.

    Power Maxx Barbells


    Knurling Ė
    This is a frustrating one! There are some cheap and nasty Olympic barbells on the market. A dead giveaway for a crap barbell is poor knurling. This tells you straight away that the factory is not changing their tooling regularly.

    Being chrome finished, you need to have a more aggressive knurling than the oxide style bars.

    But even in the OPís own words Ė ďMy delicate office-worker hands are quickly getting accustomed to itĒ. I spent 10 years working in an office previously and sported the best set of callouses going around. So I am sure the OP will now be proud as punch of his!

    Sleeve Rotation
    Ė This is even more frustrating! Another sign of a crap barbell is sleeves that are loose as a goose. This excess play loads up the locking bolt and can strip the thread from inside the barbell. Once this happens your barbell is buggered.

    The Power Maxx barbells have minimal play. The barbell the OP has is an entry level 1500lbs barbell with a copper bushing. At this price you get durability, but you wonít get absolute precision. If you want that, you will pay at least double.

    So it is quite common that barbell ends on these bars will have different rotation speeds. The bar ends will rotate more freely with weight on, plus with the degree explosive force you are lifting with. So if you can rotate them by hand gently, they are going to spin plenty when say doing a power clean with weight.

    So you are not going to snap your wrists. That is what you are after.

    I explained to the OP that the copper bushed bars are metal on metal, so they will wear in over time. This is what you want from a bar that is going to be hammered in a gym environment.

    They will get better with use. If the sleeves are too loose they break with heavy use.

    Barbell comparison

    To demonstrate these points we got a competitors barbell. The OP probably would have initially been happy with this barbell. You can see from the image below that the knurling is much smoother. Once you start lifting heavy, you can't get a decent grip on these bars. The surface is too smooth.



    It is hard to do an accurate test with rotation - measuring the rotation of each end. But from just testing by hand, both barbells have ends that rotate at different speeds. The Power Maxx barbell is more noticeable because it doesn't rotate as much. The comparison barbell rotates more freely, so you don't notice the difference as much. But they do rotate differently.

    The reason the comparison barbell rotates more freely is because the barbell ends have a lot more play.



    A word on Power Maxx


    I am not disputing the OPís right to his opinion Ė ďCombined with the issues with the weight plates, above, I couldnít really recommend the Power Maxx range of products.Ē
    But given the OP has made this statement after two weeks use, I think some background on Power Maxx will put this review into perspective.

    Power Maxx is a brand developed by Maxim Fitness in Adelaide. They still manufacture commercial equipment in Australia, as such they fit out places like footy clubs and sports institutes because they can manufacture to customers specific requirements. They also fit out many commercial gyms, especially in Adelaide.

    As everyone sells generic style weight plates, barbells, dumbbells etc Maxim wanted to differentiate themselves from people importing cheaper versions of weight plates, barbells, dumbbells etc. So they branded it with Power Maxx. Nearly all the Power Maxx items Maxim imports go into commercial gyms - so the product is not cheap rubbish. When I showed this thread to Maxim, he sent me through a shot of Power Maxx plates in an AFL gym that have been there for nearly 4 years - with no complaints.



    Between Maxim and ourselves we have done nearly 100 containers of Power Maxx products over the years. So one non-recommendation online isn't bad - not that we aren't disappointed and it is documented that we did everything to make the OP happy.

    My final word


    If you looked at our website in the past or any time in the future, you will never see a piece of cheap or flimsy gym equipment. I have a rule that I wonít sell anything I wonít use myself.

    I have to question the intentions of those that do sell cheap stuff. If you train hard on it, it feels terrible, and items like benches only last a year or two. So people end up having to buy a better item after the original wears out.

    It is just a waste of money. I wouldnít like to be sold something like myself, so I wonít treat others like that. If you can't afford a decent bench, just buy a barbell and weights - plenty of old timers built impressive physiques and strength with just these tools.

    That is why we only sell international brand equipment Ė Powertec, Ironmaster & Barbarian. It is tried and tested, worldwide.

    Same with Power Maxx. I have had to pay extra to go through Maxim Fitness, but I know we are selling a product that has survived in commercial gyms around Australia.

    As always if anyone has any questions, just give us a call. We all like having a chat here!


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