In this Titan X-3 monolift review, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about this attachment for the Titan X-3 power rack.
Before I get into the details, I’ll provide a summary of the Titan X-3 monolift in the table below:
|Model||Pros & Cons||Rating|
Rated 3.5 out of 5 in Monolift Attachments
What Are Monolifts Used for?
If you’re familiar with competitive powerlifting, then you already know what a monolift is. You may even train in one now, or have in the past. But for those unfamiliar with monolifts, let me explain:
A monolift is a piece of gym equipment traditionally used for squats that makes racking and unracking the bar as efficient as possible.
The traditional uses and benefits of a monolift include:
- The ability to unrack a bar without walking it out and rack it without walking it in: You maintain the same foot position the entire time. This means no wasted energy. No chance of stumbling forward or backward. Just focusing on squatting.
- The ability to do wide stance squats and sumo squats more safely, with better form: The starting position you have to get into to perform sumo squats can be difficult to achieve on heavy sets if you have to walk the weight out first. Think about it: You’ve got a ton of weight on your back and have to go from a normal shoulder-width stance to having each foot 6-10+ inches beyond shoulder width! This involves lateral steps in each direction, which makes injury (e.g. groin strain, ankle roll, tripping) much riskier. The monolift lets you get in that wide stance before unracking. No shimmying side to side is required!
There are other less traditional uses of monolifts, but I’ll get to those later.
How Do Monolifts Work?
I’m going to get into my X-3 monolift review shortly. But first, I think it’s important to explain the mechanism of how a monolift works:
- When the barbell is on of the “jaw” (the bottom part meant for holding the barbell), the jaw and barbell drop slightly down and forward. This is because the barbell is heavier than the counter-weighted top portion of the monolift. Thus, the bottom swings forward as the top moves back. So, when you’re about rack the barbell after a set of squats, you simply have to lean forward slightly to rerack–It’s not far enough away that you have to take an actual step forward.
- When the barbell is off of the jaw, the jaw goes all the way back against the upright. This happens because the top of the monolift is counter-weighted, such that it’s top-heavy when there’s no barbell on–The top naturally falls forward, causing the lower part to swing back. So, when you unrack the barbell for squats, the jaw falls out of the way with sufficient clearance to squat without hitting it.
Now that I’ve explained the basics, let me get into my review of the X-3 monolift attachment.
My In-Depth Titan X-3 Monolift Review
Usually, a monolift is its own separate entity. It’s a towering piece of equipment that costs thousands of dollars and basically takes up as much room as a power rack. For these reasons, a full-blown monolift rack is totally out of the question for almost every home gym owner, except for a handful of competitive powerlifters with enough space and extra cash laying around.
NOTE: The most noteworthy functionality that you get from a full monolift rack that you don’t get from a monolift attachment, is that you don’t have lean forward at all when re-racking. This is because you have a training partner who operates the hooks and swings them all the way back toward you, so you can simply set the bar on the hooks. Of course, this benefit doesn’t justify the $1000s needed to buy a full rack for the average home gym lifter.
The beauty of the X-3 monolift attachment is that you get the essential functionality of a full monolift rack without having to spend $1000s or make room for another huge piece of equipment.
You just attach it to the appropriate height in the power rack, and voila–squat away!
If you do competitive powerlifting in a federation that uses monolifts, then it should go without saying that this accessory is a must-have.
However, you don’t have to compete in a federation with monolift squatting to benefit. You don’t even have to compete in powerlifting at all to benefit from it. You just have to squat heavy and hard. If you do that, you’ll love monolift attachment. And if you squat alone, it will add an additional layer of safety to your workouts.
Technically you could do more than just the above types of lifts with a monolift power rack attachment. Assuming you have an adjustable monolift attachment, you could do just about any barbell exercise that you would otherwise use regular j-hooks for. However, it wouldn’t add any benefit and may actually make it more difficult. Accordingly, I only listed and discussed the more practical secondary uses of monolifts.
There are actually 2 slightly different versions of the X-3 monolift available:
What You Need to Know Before Buying the X-3 Monolift Attachment
There are some important things you need to understand and consider before buying this attachment:
- 2 Different Versions Available: There are two versions of the X-3 monolift attachment: a bolt-on version and a j-hook style adjustable version, as shown in the images below. It’s important to choose the right one for your needs — I chose the wrong one. I’ll talk about each version in detail later.
- Compatibility: It is made for the Titan X-3 power racks. However, it will also work on any of the X-3 squat stands, too, though they should most certainly be bolted to the floor. Additionally, I have confirmed with a Titan rep that at least the bolt-on version of the X-3 monolift will work on Titan T-3 racks, but there will be a little overhang on the sides since the X-3 has 3″ wide uprights vs. 2″ on the T-3 (note: it would make more sense to get the T-3 monolift attachment in this case). Lastly, both the bolt-on and adjustable versions will work on any 3″ x 3″ racks with 5/8″ holes, and either 2″ hole spacing or Westside hole spacing (i.e. 2″ spacing in middle, 1″ above and below). Popular examples of such racks include the Rogue RML-390F and RML-490.
- Height Matters! If you have one of the short X-3 power racks, then you won’t be able to install the monolift attachment at a high enough setting, unless you’re shorter. I’m 5’11” and have the short X-3 power rack. And with the monolift installed at the highest possible setting, the bar would be at 56 5/8″, which is about 4 inches lower than I need to unrack the bar comfortably for squats. Based on that, I would guess that lifters under ~5’7″ could squat effectively with the monolift in a short X-3 rack. If you’re taller and have a short X-3 rack, though, then I wouldn’t recommend getting the attachment unless you want to use it for benching. Please note that I do high bar squats; if I did low bar squats, I would still need it to be higher than the max possible height, but maybe I would only need it to be about 2 inches higher. So, if you’re a 5’9″ low bar squatter and have a short X-3 rack, then you can probably get away with squatting in this monolift without issues if you install it at its highest setting.
Quality & Functionality: Pros & Cons
Before delving into the specifics, let me quickly outline the overall quality of this monolift attachment in terms of its build construction and functionality:
- The thick metal used for all parts: The steel used on all portions of the monolift is very thick. The hooks are made of 3/4-inch thick steel with 5/8-inch protective UHMW plastic on either side of the lower half. The brackets are made of 3/8-inch (or 000 gauge) thick steel. This extra thick steel construction is necessary for a pair of long swinging hooks to safely hold a lot of weight. Technically, it has a 1000 lb static weight rating, but you’ll want a better option if you squat anywhere even close to that amount. In the “cons” section below, I’ll discuss the details of who should avoid the Titan monolift attachment, why they should avoid it and which alternatives they should consider.
- A minimal number of pieces: Each side of the monolift attachment has just two main parts (plus bolts, nuts and washers): the bracket and the handle (shown below). This has two benefits. First, it makes installation faster and easier. Second, it makes the attachment stronger, because fewer connection points generally mean there are fewer potential failure points.
- Decent welds: The entire bracket, which holds the monolift handle and connects to the rack, is one heavy-ass hunk of metal. It is bonded together by welds that connect both sides of each bracket to their respective end-plates. While I’m far from an expert on welding, I can tell that they look adequate, at least for my uses. Not world-class like you’d see from Rogue. But it’s strong enough for most people. I’ll talk about who may want to avoid the Titan monolift attachments in the “cons” section later on.
- UHMW plastic covers everything important: The UHMW is attached on either side of each monolift hook, and is elevated above the metal so as to prevent contact with the bar. In terms of coverage, it does not just cover the main area on the jaw where the bar sits, but also several inches above that. So no matter if you rack the bar perfectly on the jaw, or if you get sloppy and rack it halfway up the hook, your bar and the monolift hooks will be protected from metal-on-metal damage. Also, the adjustable version of the monolift has UHMW plastic on the back of the bracket to protect the power rack uprights from damage during use and when adjusting it. The bolt-on version doesn’t need this type of UHMW backing, since it is completely secured to the uprights, so there won’t be any shifting or rattling of the bracket against it that could cause scratching.
- Hooks have a small, angled lip: This shape is ideal for easy racking and unracking of the bar. You can just slide it a short distance up and over the lip. It minimizes effort while reducing the chances of a botched rack/unrack.
- Makes training with bands more effective: As long as you set up the bands so that the tension is directly centered against the bar while on the monolift, you ensure that the tension will be centered directly on the bar while you perform the exercise. This is of course because with the monolift, you are starting the movement exactly where you lift the bar up off the pins. You do not have to walk back in the case of squats, or pull the bar over your chest in the case of bench press, before initiating the actual eccentric motion.
- Works as advertised: The monolift hooks are well-balanced thanks to the counterweight portion of the monolift hooks (see image below) having the right weight and shape. Having the right balance is essential for ensuring the hooks drop away from the bar after unracking and go all the way back to their default position inside the brackets, against the power rack uprights.
As you can tell from the above points, quality and function are pretty good for all the major items. However, it’s not perfect.
- Welds are OK for Most Lifters, but Elite Squatters Should Have More Security. If you’re squatting big numbers, like 600lbs+, I’d probably recommend squatting in a full-sized going with Rogue monolift attachment. Even though the Titan monolifts are rated for 1000 lbs, that’s just the static weight rating. Also, Titan just doesn’t have the same quality control level as Rogue. You want to play it safe when you’re moving that much weight, particularly when it comes to a critical safety component with multiple and moving parts, like the monolift attachment.
- The powder coating paint is subpar: This is no surprise. It appears to be the same as the powder coating that’s on my X-3 power rack, which is known to be subpar as well. It’s just not as thick, or as resistant to scratches and impact, as the powder coating that you’ll find on more expensive equipment like Rogue. As you can see in the image below, the powder coating had already chipped off on part of the border before I put it together. The low quality powder coating will make the equipment more prone to rusting over time.
- There is some side-to-side movement: The monolift hooks can move slightly from side to side. To be clear, I am not saying that the brackets themselves wobble in this way; they remain completely fixed. Rather, it is the hooks within the brackets that are capable of this motion. However, it seems this is by design. There is extra space on either side of the monolift hook where the hook connects to the bracket via the main hook bolt. If there was no extra space in this area, there would likely be a greater possibility of damage from excessive sheering tension on the hook/bracket connection from any lateral forces. Such lateral forces could be caused if using a very heavy load and moving it side to side too forcefully during setup or while racking or unracking it. Still, if you move your body side to side at all while getting tight under the bar during the squat setup, the slight side to side movement of the bar can be unexpected at first and a bit annoying compared to unracking from regular old j-hooks. Just give it a bit of time and you’ll get used to it.
- A bit more swing would be nice. As I’ll discuss later, the monolift handles swing 3 inches out from their starting point, when the bar is loaded, and 3 inches back when it’s unracked. This can be a bit more cramped than is ideal. It’s doable, but not comfortable, on squats. There is the potential to bump into the jaws on your way up if your bar path is off because accidentally lean forward a bit. You can negate this risk by shuffling backward a bit in your squat setup to get another couple of inches of clearance. However, by doing that, you do lose some of the benefits of the monolift. It’s still better than a regular unrack and walkout, but you don’t get to initiate the squat instantly. Another workaround is to remove the stop bolt, which will let you swing back as far as you can go. This is probably the better of the two workarounds. However, with this, you lose out on the benefit of being to adjust your traps/shoulders under a completely fixed bar position. Contrast this to Rogue’s monolift attachment, which gives you about 5 inches of swing with the stop bolt in. That is closer to the ideal, but you have to weigh that improvement against the price, which is twice that of the Titan version.
Adjustable X-3 Monolift Attachment
The adjustable version of the X-3 monolift is the version of this attachment that I should have bought.
I got the bolt-on version, which I’ll talk about later. And even though I still use and enjoy my bolt-on monolift, I could have made my workouts more efficient and gotten a lot more use out of the adjustable monolift.
But it’s my mistake because I didn’t consider my options before purchasing. In fact, I’m pretty sure I didn’t check if there were multiple options. If I recall correctly, I just saw there was a monolift attachment available, I thought it would be cool to have and then I added it to my cart.
Enough about my problems, though 🙂 Let me tell you about the adjustable version…
…First off, it’s the same exact attachment as the bolt-on version EXCEPT for how it’s attached to the power rack:
- It has a j-hook style attachment mechanism. This means you can install, remove or adjust its height just as you would with the j-hooks. It’s fast and easy.
This is the way to go if don’t always want the monolift in the rack. Although it’s not a giant obstruction, it does take up some space. It reduces the depth dimension inside the rack by a few inches at the jaw of the monolift to about two feet at the very top of the attachment.
It’s certainly possible to do exercises around it, depending on your routine. But depending on your exercise selection, it could potentially get in the way of your body or the bar, or at least make you feel more cramped than you’d like to.
The adjustability gives you the option to simply remove the monolift when you need the extra space to perform other exercises, or to install a different attachment.
Additionally, the adjustable design lets you quickly change the height setting of the monolift, up or down on the rack as needed. This comes in handy if you want to bench press using the monolift or if you’re squatting with a workout partner that’s shorter or taller than you.
The versatility made possible by quick adjustments, plus the ability to easily remove the attachment is why the adjustable version of the X-3 monolift would have been the best choice for my needs…
…Even though I didn’t get the right version, it’s not the end of the world. I still get some good use out of my attachment, which I’ll talk about in the next section.
Bolt-on X-3 Monolift Attachment
The bolt-on version of the X-3 monolift attachment is secured to the rack with bolts, washers and nuts. It is meant to stay in the same position, once installed.
The benefit of this over the adjustable monolift is that it provides a bit of extra stability. There won’t be even slight shifting or rattling of the monolift where it attaches on the uprights–whereas this is possible with the adjustable version and may lead to some scratching up the paint on the uprights over time.
However, the downside is that it’s pretty much going to be in the same position inside the rack, all the time. That is, unless you plan on having your tools ready and take the time to uninstall/reinstall it. So, it’s gonna be taking up space inside the rack, which can get in the way of other exercises where you want as much free space in the rack.
Also, if you have a workout partner who’s much taller or shorter than you, they won’t be able to use monolift for squats. Likewise, if you want to also bench with the monolift, as opposed to just squats, then you’re out of luck here, too.
Again, you could adjust it as needed, but you’d have to keep your toolkit on hand and deal with removing and installing the hardware each time you want to change its position. But that’s not feasible, in my opinion. And it’s necessary if you have an alternative solution (i.e. the adjustable version).
To summarize, if you want the monolift installed on the rack at all times, at the same height setting, go with the bolt-on version. Otherwise, go with the adjustable version.
How Well Does It Work for Squats?
I mentioned above that I don’t use the monolift to squat because I have the short X-3 power rack, and even the highest height setting is too low for me…
…However, it would be unfair to use that as a point against the X-3 monolift when answering the question of how well the monolift works for squats.
I want to give a fair assessment of how well it would work if I had a tall X-3 power rack (or, god forbid, if I shrunk and became short enough to use it in my current power rack).
So, I put my thinking cap on to figure out a way to squat in it to get an idea of how well it works for squatting. And I came up with a solution: wide stance low bar squats!
By using an extra wide stance, I could get low enough so that I was at the correct height to unrack the bar from the monolift.
So here are my findings based on a few solid workouts doing wide stance low bar squats with the monolift, using a challenging weight:
- No steps or even slight shuffling of the feet backward is necessary to position yourself after unracking. Just set up under the bar in the stance you’ll use throughout the movement, hoist it off the hooks, let the hooks drop away and then squat.
- During the squat, I felt like I was a comfortable distance away from the hooks. I did not feel like I might accidentally knock into them at the top of the rep. Assuming you keep the stop bolts in like I do, the hooks swing back about 3 inches from where you unrack the loaded barbell to where you rack it at the end of the set. This should be sufficient clearance for most lifters, especially considering you may actually end up being an inch or two further back depending on how you unrack (i.e. after you unrack and straighten your torso, the bar may be even further back than the initial 3 inch clearance). If, however, this 3+ inches isn’t sufficient for you, you can always remove the stop pin to allow the hooks to swing out further away from the power rack uprights.
- Re-racking requires a short lean forward. Although I was far enough away from the hooks to avoid hitting them, I wasn’t so far away that I felt like I was falling forward when leaning in to rack the weight. It’s easy. You’re just swaying your torso forward ~3 inches forward, which requires very little bending at the hip. So your back should feel strained at all.
- The “stop bolt” — shown in the image below just above the main hook bolt — stops the hooks from swinging back beyond a certain point when the barbell is on the monolift. This allows you to push back against a fixed barbell as you get your traps under the bar on the squat setup. Without a stop-bolt, hooks would continue to swing back if you were to push back against it when setting up on squats; thus, it would make it harder to get into a proper tight position. That said, some people prefer the hooks to swing all the way back. If you’re one of those people, then you can simply remove the stop bolt.
- I can tell it’s very sturdy and can easily handle way more weight than I was using. I was doing only 3 plates for my top sets since I was doing wide stance low bar squats, which I don’t usually do. However, I tried just unracking, then re-racking the weight with 5+ plates, and it felt just as sturdy.
- The action of the hooks, of dropping away once you unrack the bar, is smooth and seamless.
- Although slight lateral movement of the handles is possible (by design), the handles always drop right back into place, between the two sides of the bracket. They never get caught on the side of the bracket.
Using the X-3 Monolift for… Bench Press?
Although squats are the primary use of monolifts, there are secondary uses. The most common one is the barbell bench press, as well as any of its variations (i.e. close grip, incline, decline, etc.).
I didn’t even consider the idea of benching in the monolift until after I got the attachment. But, I thought to try it out on one of my bench days. And it worked great for me!
I was able to avoid the strain during the unrack, where you pull the barbell forward, away from the pins to over your chest. This can be a bit fatiguing on the front delts with heavier weights, and you might lose tightness/position in your shoulder blades if you’re not careful.
The monolift fixes this by allowing you to set up so that the bar is already over your chest before lifting it off the monolift. Once you’re set up, you simply straighten your elbows a bit to press the bar off and let the hooks swing away. Then you can begin the negative rep immediately.
I’m far from the only person who has discovered this. There are many lifters who are also proponents of doing this with their monolift attachments. Conversely, there are many others with good arguments against this.
One of the more convincing reasons for NOT using a monolift on bench press is if you’re a competitive powerlifter. This is because you want to train bench like you would in competition. And there aren’t any powerlifting federations that use monolifts for benching.
Another good case against the monolift for bench press is if you’re doing a max or near max weight. Generally, you shouldn’t use such heavy weights without an actual human spotter. And if you do have a spotter, the monolift might interfere with them.
Possible X-3 Monolift Modifications
There are a couple of different modifications you may or may not want to do, depending on your equipment and preferences. The vast majority of people reading this won’t need or want to make either of these modifications. But there are probably a few out there who will find this useful.
Removing the “Stop Bolt”
NOTE: I mentioned this above in the section about squatting. However, I wanted to include it in its own section since I know some people will skip over that part.
The stop bolt is the smaller bolt on the bracket, located right above the main hook bolt. The purpose of this bolt is to create a hard stop point that lets you get into a tight position for squats because the bar is in a fixed stable position.
However, some lifters prefer to have it swing back further, either because they want more room between them and the power rack uprights, or because they rock back and forth somewhat while getting into position.
If you want to do this, then it’s as easy as not installing the stop bolts in the first place. Or, if you’ve already installed them, then you can simply remove them. Easy peasy.
Workaround for Installing Bolt-on Version Higher on the X-3 Short Power Rack
It may be possible to install it higher on the short X-3 power rack, so it’s high enough for taller guys to unrack for regular (i.e. non-wide stance) squats. I haven’t done this, but it seems possible.
Understand that this workaround requires you to install the monolift on the outside of your rack. And if you’re going to be squatting in the monolift outside the rack, you should also have a pair of X-3 spotter arms. Also, you should definitely bolt the rack to the floor to prevent the rack from tipping over, since the weight will have much more leverage being on the outside…
…If you’re okay with that, here are the steps for implementing this customization:
- First, on the front uprights, remove the bottom bolts used to secure the left and right upper bracings.
- Next, get two 5/8″ bolts from your local hardware store that are maybe an inch or so longer than the ones you removed.
- Finally, install these longer bolts through the side bracings and then install the top of the monolift on these longer bolts, where they come through on the front of the rack.
This custom workaround gives you the ability to install the monolift two holes higher on the front of the rack. This means you can increase the max possible height by four inches. You can use any of the holes above this because they are blocked by bolts that need to remain in place for other parts of the frame.
If I ever attempt to use this workaround myself, I’ll be sure to update this page to let you know how it works and show you photos of the end result.
X-3 Monolift Attachment Assembly Instructions
Overall, the assembly/installation process is pretty simple and fast. You can assemble the adjustable version even faster than the bolt-on version.
When I get the chance, I will be including a video of me assembling the bolt-on monolift attachment and installing it on the rack. I still need to edit it, but I wanted to get the review posted. So stay tuned if you’re interested in that.
X-3 Monolift Specifications
Below, I’ve included a list of the X-3 monolift’s key specifications. Most of the specs are identical for the bolt-on version and the adjustable version. I will make note of any differences between the two versions.
- Weight Capacity: 1000 lbs
- Material: Steel frame; UHMW plastic padding on the jaw
- Bolt Hole Diameter: 5/8″
- Height: 24″
- Width: 3″ for bolt-on monolift; 2 1/4″ for adjustable monolift
- Jaw Thickness: 3/4″ steel, (2) 5/8″ pad
- Jaw Depth: 2 1/4″
- Jaw Height: 1″
- Distance from hooks when the bar is on of them, to the power rack uprights: 8 3/8″
- Distance from hooks when the bar is off of them, to the power rack uprights: 5 3/8″
- Distance from the highest point inside the rack (i.e. internal height) to where the barbell sits on the hook: 19 1/8″ (This means that the max height of the bar in the short X-3 power rack, which has a 75 3/4″ internal height, is 56 5/8″. For the tall X-3 power rack, which has an 84 3/8″ internal height, the max height of the bar is 65 1/4″.)
- Weight: 65 lb per pair for bolt-on monolift; 70 lbs per pair for adjustable monolift
- Compatibility (General): Fits any power rack or squat/half rack with 3″ x 3″ uprights, 5/8″ holes with 1 or 2 inch hole spacing. Also, you need sufficient height on the uprights to attach the monolift at the desired heights (i.e. if you’re very tall and your rack is short, it might not work). NOTE: If you’re using a half rack type of squat rack, you’ll need to bolt it down; the same goes for power racks without flat feet.
- Titan Compatible Racks: All Titan X-3 and X-6 power racks and squat racks. NOTE: You need to bolt down the X-3 squat rack in order to use the monolift attachment safely.
- Price: See current price here
Where to Buy the X-3 Monolift Attachment?
If after reading my X-3 monolift review, you have decided that this attachment is right for you, then you can do so on the Titan Fitness website. That’s where you’ll get the best price:
If you’re still unsure about purchasing this monolift attachment, then leave a comment below with any questions you have. Chances are I’ll be able to answer it and help you decide if this is a good purchase or not.