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Buying a workout bench for someone who has just started working out or has never bought home workout equipment before, is not an easy decision. There are numerous types of weight benches with various functions and features. Plus, the price can be from $50 up to a thousand. So, it is not easy to determine which one to get.
Here you will learn the various types of equipment, what they are suitable for, their pros and cons. So, you will know which is the best home gym bench for you.
Weight Bench Types
1. Flat Bench – Basic but useful
It is a basic weight bench, but very versatile. With the help of it, you can perform the most beneficial upper body exercises that require a stable flat position such as the flat chest press with barbell or dumbbells, flyes, etc. You can also use it for sitting exercises like dumbbell biceps curl or shoulder presses. So, for weight lifting, it is very beneficial.
However, it can also be used for cardio training to perform such plyometric exercises like high jump, or step-ups.
Typically, quality flat benches have high weight capacity and stable because no unique mechanism is included (you cannot adjust them). Hence, they are suitable for trainees lifting heavyweights.
Also, compared to other benches on this list, they cost less and takes up less space.
Since the board is not adjustable, you cannot perform incline and decline exercises, just flat ones. This way, you can have fewer types of activities.
Keep in mind that if you want to do barbell presses such as chest press, you need to have a power rack or other types of stands to place the bar. Never lift heavy weights without a frame!
Features to check out
- Stability: the more extensive the stabilizers and denser it is, the better.
- Weight capacity: If you want to lift massive weights on it, stick to high capacity, minimum 400 lb.
- The cushion of the board: Not too thick, nor too thin. About 2-2.5 inches.
- The workout bench size to know if it fits your height.
To sum up, a flat bench is a good buy for anyone who needs flat equipment to work out on with dumbbells. But, a power cage is required for lifting weights with barbell safely.
2. Adjustable Workout Benches – For complete dumbbell training
These types of benches are the most popular since, besides the flat level, you can set them to incline and decline levels. That is why they are sometimes called FID benches meaning flat, incline, decline. With that, you can do far more types of exercises targeting a particular muscle group better. For example, you can do inline presses to focus on your upper chest or decline for your lower pecs.
Depending on the model, you can choose from 5-6 levels plus flat, but some products support 10 or more.
In most of the cases, adjusting the level of the board is a piece of cake. You may use a pin, or some benches come with a “ladder” adjustment which is the safest and most stable.
Finally, even if they are packed with many functions, they do not require much space.
Related: Best adjustable weight bench reviews
Because of the flexible board, there might be problems, but that depends on the item you want to buy.
One typical issue can be the gap in the flat position. An adjustable bench has two parts: the backrest and the seat. To get the flat level, you need to place these parts into a horizontal position, and with that, a gap is made between the two. If the hole is too broad, it is uncomfortable to work out on it.
Also, cheaper models are maybe not as stable during a workout when they are set to incline or decline level. A minimal wobbling is acceptable, but too much is annoying and might be dangerous.
Plus, the weight capacity is not that much. Cheap equipment has about 300 lb, which is OK for an average trainee, but not for a pro. But there are better models at a higher price.
And, finally, for barbell exercises, you need to get at power rack as well.
What to check out:
- Weight capacity
- Number of levels
- Cushioning of the backrest and seat
- Gym bench size
To conclude, adjustable benches are versatile piece of equipment, for the flat, decline, and incline dumbbell exercises. But, a rack is required for barbell training.
3. Olympic Weight Bench Equipment – The winner
These benches provide the best user experience since they have all the features of the previous two equipment, plus you can do barbell presses safely.
Most of the models come with an adjustable board so you can do incline, decline, and flat exercises.
Thanks to the adjustable barbell rack they come with they have great design, so they are more stable than the previous ones. Plus they are compatible with Olympic bars. This rack provides even more ways to exercise since you can do, for example, shoulder barbell presses or you do not have to lift the bar from the ground when you want to do biceps curls. (some equipment comes with a separated squat rack)
Finally, they have a rather high weight capacity.
They are more pricey and have a large footprint.
What to check?
The same functions and features, but if you are a powerlifter, get a high monster with very high max capacity.
4. Benches with attachments
Flat, adjustable, and Olympic benches may come with various accessories. Sometimes these extras come with the product, but in most of the cases, you have to buy them individually.
I think the leg curl/extension attachment is the most beneficial since you can strengthen your legs as well. But, you need to have weight plates to use it.
Another one is the preacher curl attachment which is useful to shape your biceps with barbell or dumbbells. If you have money, get it, but I do not believe it is a must.
A few benches also allow to add a lat pulldown attachment providing even more types of exercises for you back, and arms (triceps pulldown.) However, I’m skeptical if an Olympic weight bench with lat tower is as stable as a standard machine.
5. Abdominal benches
These are made for performing sit-ups and other abdominal exercises. You can choose from some decline bench adjustments to find the most suitable resistance level for your abs training. Basic ab boards come with 4-5 degrees, but better ones support up to 12.
Also, for a bit more price, you can get an abdominal bench that has high weight capacity and flat level so that you can use it as a workout bench. But, the primary purpose of this equipment is performing abdominal exercises.
How wide should a weight bench be?
There is not a strict standard, so each bench comes with different width, which is somewhere between 14-19 inches. However, a flat bench is usually narrower while an Olympic bench is wider to support the athlete while bench pressing.
The length of the board also differs from item to item. Typically, it is between 40-60 inches. Again flat benches are shorter while Olympic ones are longer.
If you are bigger than average, you should pick equipment with extended dimensions to have enough support and room to exercise. If you are shorter, find a bench with a narrower back pad because if it is uncomfortable to bench press on a too wide pad.
What is the height of a workout bench?
Again the home equipment comes with different height somewhere between 12-20 inches. However, IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) say the bench should be at least 16.5 inches high, but no more than 17.5 inches.
Keep in mind that the higher the bench, the more unstable it is and the more uncomfortable to lift the dumbbells if you want to perform chest presses. On the other hand, too short pieces make it hard to plant your feet for stability. 16-17 inches are suitable for almost everyone.
What kind of exercises can you do with a weight bench?
It would be hard to list all but here are some of the most beneficial exercises for different muscle groups.
- Chest: barbell or dumbbell press with narrow, wide, standard grip; chest flyes; pullover.
- Abs: leg raises, sit-ups, dragon flag.
- Shoulder: seated shoulder press and lateral raise.
- Arms: seated biceps curls and triceps extensions.
- Back: dumbbell rows
Here is an exmaple workout.
What is the best weight bench for you?
- If you are a power user who is serious about weight training, get an Olympic bench. It is the safest, most durable, most stable, and best for bench pressing.
- If you an average or intermediate level trainee who want to workout at home with dumbbells, get an adjustable one. It is versatile, and you can get a compact weight bench that is folding.
- If you have a lack of money or space and not so serious about strength training, get a flat one.
Have you got any questions? Feel free to ask below.