Jake Purdy

Stray Dog Strength Rack Evolution

First "rack-bench system" installed in 2001

Stray Dog Strength/The Equipment Guys were one of the original pioneers of the “Rack-Bench System” which we were working on in 1998 and was first installed in facilities in 2001. Before the rack bench system different racks were used for different exercises, there would be a “Squat Rack” and a “bench rack” but there was not a system that could be adjusted for both squat, bench and other exercises like you see today in gyms across the world. 

The original concept from our founder Matt Purdy was “Replacing traditional Olympic flat benches, incline benches and squat racks with Stray Dog Half or Full Rack Stations. This allows you to do more work in less time” Matt Purdy-2001. Example 16 stations x 3 athletes per station = 48 athletes training at the same time. With Rack bench systems you can train 48 athletes on the same exercise sat the same time. simultaneously increasing intensity, competition, accountability and safety. 

The original install of the “Rack-Bench System” was in 2001 at Worthington Kilbourne High School in Ohio as the football coach Jeff Gifford saw the benefit in combining bench racks and squat racks together and purchased 10 Full Racks. Shortly after this many of our “Rack-Bench Systems” were installed mostly at High Schools and Colleges across the Midwest. 

in 2004 the 700, 800 and 900 Rack series was Released

In 2004 we introduced the 700, 800 and 900 Series which gave customers the ability to choose between different rack packages that each had different features but were all available in half and full rack options. 

The 700 Series was constructed out of 2×2 inch 11 gauge steel tubing with holes for attachments. The 700 series came with bar cups, spotter arms and plate storage. 

The 800 Series was constructed out of 3×3 inch 7 Gauge steel with holes for attachments. The 800 series came with bar cups, spotter arms, plate storage and bar storage. 

The 900 Series was constructed out of 3×3 inch 7 gauge steel with tear drop attachments. The 900 series came with bar cups, spotter arms, plate storage and bar storage. 

in 2006 the 850 series was released

The next rack series we released was the 850 series which was created in 2006 because most customers wanted something between the 800 and 900 series. 

The 850 series had 3×3 tubing constructed with 11 gauge steel and tear drop posts similar to the 900 series, the 850 series came with bar cups, spotter arms, bar storage, chin up bar and spotter arm storage. 

The 850 series lasted from 2006-2015 when we introduced the 850-HH which was very similar to the 850 series but was constructed our of 11 gauge steel opposed to 7 gauge and also had 3/4″ holes instead of tear drops for attachments. 

in 2017 the Genesis, renegade and titan rack series was released

The 850-HH only lasted from 2015-2017 when we came out with 3 different rack series that each offered different features giving customers the ability to choose the package that best fit their budgets and training needs. The Genesis, Renegade and Titan were created to follow a “good” “better” “best” format to allow customers to better chose the correct rack for them. 

The Genesis rack was the cheapest in the series or the “good” option, it featured 3×3 uprights that were 11 gauge steel with 3/4″ holes for attachments. It came with UMHW Renegade bar cups, Renegade spotter arms and a straight pull up bar. 

The Renegade Rack was the intermediate price range rack and was the “better” option, it featured 3×3 uprights that were 11 gauge steel with 3/4″ holes for attachments as well. It came with plate storage ,UMHW Renegade bar cups, Renegade spotter arms, spotter arm storage, bar storage and a multi grip chin up bar. 

The Titan Rack was the highest priced rack in the series and the “best” option, it featured 3×3 uprights that were 11 gauge steel with 3/4″ holes for attachments like the other racks but the back uprights were angled out to provide lateral stability. It came with angled plate storage, UMHW bar cups, Spotter arms, spotter arm storage, bar storage and our Titan chin up handles which were knurled. 

(Pictures below from left to right go Genesis, Renegade and Titan)

in 2020 our new Alpha and triad rack series was released

The Alpha and Triad rack Series were our first racks with 1″ holes all over them including the crossmembers and banner brace connector which allows for a more modular design and more storage options. 

The Alpha Series was designed to be the best rack on the market, it has 1″ holes spaced 2″ apart all over its 3×3 11 gauge tubing which makes it compatible with many other brands attachments. The Alpha Rack is the only half rack on the market that has the ability to add a Lat pull down, Cable Column or Belt Squat machine attachment to the rack between the front and the back post without adding to the footprint of the rack. The crossmembers come with our proprietary guide rod hole pattern so you can add a machine attachment after you have purchased the rack and not have to replace the crossmembers. 

The Triad Series is a Patent Pending rack design that is unique to Stray Dog Strength, during the COVID-19 Pandemic steel prices skyrocketed so our engineering team worked to find a way to keep the cost of our racks down. One solution they came up with was a new style half rack with 3 posts instead of 4 making a Triangle shape opposed to the traditional square/rectangle shape. Triad Racks are available in Half and Double Half rack versions and can have machines added off the back post but cannot go between the posts like on the Alpha as it does not have 4 uprights. 

Our Triad Racks Feature what we call a “ticked upright” which does not have numbers to identify the holes but has a tick pattern that repeats itself every 4 holes so athletes can find the right hole they need for different movements. 

2004 Rack attached machines were released

The “Rack-Bench System” made traditional barbell exercise be able to take place in the same location making training more efficient as athletes can stay at one rack and do their entire barbell workout. 

By adding in Lat Pull down machines we gave athletes the ability to train more than just barbell exercises at the rack, now they can do Lat Pull downs, Triceps push downs and other upper body exercise with a sectorized weight stack to efficiently change the resistance. 

Originally the machine attachments went in the middle of the half rack in the back but this made it harder to set up and used both rack posts which is why in 2015 we started to add Lat pull down attachments between the front and back rack posts like we do today with the Alpha Series which leaves the other post open and also allows for two machines to be added to each rack. 

Pictured below on the top left is Columbus Grove High School Lat pull down installed in 2004

Pictured Below on the top right is Ludlow High School Lat pull down installed in 2015

Pictured below on the bottom left is Lucas County Correctional Facility with an Alpha rack with a Lat pull down low row on one side and a cable column on the other side installed in 2021

Pictured below on the bottom right is Hicksville High school which is an Alpha double sided half rack with our Belt Squat/Lat pull down combo which is plate loaded and jammer arms on the other post installed in 2021


Stray Dog Strength/The Equipment Guys are one of the pioneers of the “Rack-Bench System” over the last 20+ years our designs have changed but our mission has not. To provide American made, innovative and space saving strength training solutions to sports performance facilities across the world. Racks are evolving to be training spaces with the ability to do a multitude of movements and should not be thought of as just a place to place a barbell and store some weights. 

What innovation will we come out with next? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to find out!

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