Best Weight Benches 101: How to Choose the Best Weight Bench for Home Use
You bought your weights and you are all set to start your home workouts. Happily slogging along and racking your brain for all the stand-up/lie down exercises you can think of, you realize after a few workouts that you’re missing a vital piece of equipment: the weight bench.
The first time I built a home gym, I thought I could go the cheap way and only get some dumbbells and other pieces of equipment.
I figured I could use a stability ball for bench-friendly exercises, and I quickly found out that my thinking was wrong, and indeed, I desperately missed the convenience and versatility that a weight bench provides.
Let me break it down for you with three reasons why a weight bench is essential for a home gym...
3 Benefits of Having a Weight Bench at Home
- Improve workouts and save time that can be spent working out
It is super frustrating to want to do a certain part of your workout but not be able to because you don’t have the right equipment.
If you spend time brainstorming how to improvise, then you’re wasting valuable energy and sweat time that could be channeled toward your fitness routine. You add so much versatility to your workout capabilities with the simple addition of a bench and that's worth the investment.
- You can do full body workouts
I don’t remember a time that I was personal training and didn’t use the bench. Whether it was for ab curls, dumbbell workouts, or step-ups, I knew I could get a client sweating, burning calories, and building muscle if I added in some of the exercises below that a bench allows you to do.
And it allows you to do a LOT...
- There's an endless variety of exercises you can do with a weight bench
Want a taste of what you can do with your very own weight bench? Here's a little sampling:
- Dumbbell bench press
- Incline bench press (if you get an incline bench!)
- Shoulder press
- Lying tricep extension
- Tricep pull over
- Lat pull over
- Curls of all kinds
- Tricep dips on the bench
- Ab workouts on the bench
- One leg squats
- Step ups
- Bench jumps
- Push up variations (hands/feet on the bench)
- Chest flys
- Dumbbell rows
Now that your memory is jogged and you’re remembering how nice it is to have a weight bench in your workouts, let’s talk about the fact that there are options.
Lots of options.
If you have been in the gym, you have probably seen dedicated sections for incline benches, flat benches, and maybe even foldable benches, but you may have taken for granted that each of them have a special, unique purpose/use until you had to choose just one for yourself.
No worries, I’m going to explain exactly what kinds there are as well as what the pros and cons for each are so you can choose the best weight bench!
Types of Weight Benches and Their Pros and Cons
We all have different fitness goals and needs. You might simply want a low key bench that allows you to do some lifting at home without having to pay an arm and a leg.
Or you may be short on space and need a bench that can be stowed away easily when you're not using it. On the other hand, you may be a serious lifter looking to make rapid gains at home.
Whatever it is you need a bench for - rest assured that there is a perfect fit for you. It all comes down to knowing what best suits your needs.
Here's a quick guide to 5 of the most popular types of weight benches and their various pros and cons!
Like the name implies, the flat bench is really just that: a flat bench with no bells and whistles or adjustability options but can be used for exercises that require you to lie down, tricep dips, and basic leg variation assistance (i.e. step-ups, one-leg exercises).
Usually doesn't come with any attachments so is as basic as you can get.
Pro: You won’t go broke buying a flat bench; it is the most affordable option.
Con: It’s the vanilla ice cream of weight benches and does not allow for much versatility.
Adjustable and FID bench
Also called dumbbell benches, adjustable benches move into various positions based on the model, so you get the same use as the flat bench but the added versatility of adjusting the bench to various angles.
FID means Flat/Incline/Decline, and not all adjustable benches have the decline option, so be sure to check for that!
The most popular weight equipment used with adjustable benches are dumbbells (hence the name) but you always have the option of adding a power rack and using the adjustable bench just as you would an olympic weight bench.
Pro: You can do more exercises and enhance your workouts.
Con: You have to know more specifically what you want from a bench. (Hint: check out our guide here!)
This bench is the mack daddy of weight benches, as it allows you to lift Olympic weights (bigger bar and plates) but also comes with options for attachments like preacher curl pads and leg developers.
Pro: You can get everything you need for strength training in an Olympic bench (and attachments).
Con: It’s bulky and requires a lot of space. Read: not made for studio apartments.
Folding weight bench
Folding benches are usually adjustable, but they can also be folded down into a smaller size for easier portability and storage.
Pro: You can move it out of sight and store it easily for space-saving needs.
Con: It is not as sturdy/heavy-duty and thus may not accommodate as much weight. Plus, the place where it folds can be uncomfortable to lay on during exercise.
You know how adjustable benches don't always decline? Well, an abdominal weight bench is all about the decline. Designed to give your abs a serious workout, abdominal benches are typically decline only benches targeted for hardcore ab workouts.
Some are adjustable so you can change the angle and/or the height to make it easier or more challenging but most are fixed at a set decline position.
Pro: It will give you a great ab workout and options to do intense core training.
Con: It is not very versatile and limits workouts for major muscle groups.
Okay, so, you may already know what kind of bench you want after reading through the description guide, but it is still important to know what key features/factors to be on the lookout for as you choose your bench...
How to Choose the Best Weight Bench for Your Needs
Let's take a look at the most important considerations that will help you make an informed decision for your specific and unique needs!
As mentioned above, determine if you want a bench to move through various angles in order to target different muscle groups and add a layer of challenge to your workout.
Also consider if you'd prefer a greater range of adjustability with several different angles or if it's more important for you to have an incline and decline option.
And speaking of decline, we have to remind you again to be sure to look for it in the product description if this is a feature you want. Not all adjustables come with decline option because its less mainstream and therefore less popular, so be sure to keep an eye out for this feature.
- Attachments (included or purchasable)
Especially useful for Olympic benches, it’s noteworthy to share that some adjustables have attachment features, too. Attachments help you get a more versatile, dynamic workout, so look to see what goodies you can get with or add to your bench…and how much they cost to add on, of course!
This is for those of you who do not have a ton of space and need to be able to easily store your bench. Make sure it folds and while you’re at it, check out the dimensions.
Might be a deal breaker for those of you who are over 6’ and want a bench that easily stores - be sure to check the length of the bench so your head is not hanging off of the end and you feel comfortable on it.
Most of the benches are made wide enough to accommodate a variety of body types, but the taller folks may struggle to find the right size.
Besides the dimensions of the bench, comfort also comes in to play when you consider the foam padding, which I’m going to call the Goldilocks effect; you want it not too hard, not too soft, but just riiiight. You don’t want to sink in to the bench like memory foam in the middle of your workout, and you don’t want to feel stiff, either. Comfort is key.
Safety is typically a function of construction and durability, as well as weight capacity. The benches vary widely in how much user weight + lift load they can handle, so be mindful when considering your weight lifting needs and the imposed limit.
You never want to exceed the limit in order to stay safe, and you want to ensure that the bench is not wobbly and is made from high-quality material that's capable of supporting your full weight plus however much you're lifting.
From one month to lifetime, the manufacturer warranties are all over the spectrum. Make sure you’re getting the best investment possible by looking for a warranty that you feel comfortable with!
Best Weight Bench
All right, you are now a weight bench buying pro, so without further ado, here are the best picks out of each of the different types of benches.
Let's start with flat weight benches, shall we?
Best Flat Weight Bench Reviews
Marcy Flat Weight Bench
Remember the affordability we talked about earlier? This is it. With the Marcy flat weight bench, you can own your very own flat bench that has a 600-pound weight capacity for way less than a hundred bucks - that’s a pretty sweet deal!
It’s also a space saving option, as it takes up minimal amount of room but allows you to perform a variety of exercises from the flat position. Also, it’s made from high density foam padding, so it’s very comfortable.
There is a downside, though (which you can expect for the price): It is overall sturdy during initial months of use, but some of the stability wears down as time and use impact it. But still, at this price point, you didn't expect it to last forever, right?
So go for this one if you're not sure you'll stick to a home lifting routine and don't want to fork over too much before you're sure. It's a cost efficient way of testing out the waters and totally the worth the small investment!
Since there are no attachments, it’s easy to assemble yourself. Dimensions are 44 x 13.5 x 4 inches, proving its nice wide base.
This flat bench has a higher price tag - in exchange for a higher weight limit - up to a whopping 1,000 pounds! But given its 10-year warranty, you may find it worth forking over more cash in the beginning.
This bench is constructed to take on serious loads and feels sturdy even when taking on heavy weights. Its also got slightly bigger dimensions than the Marcy flat bench - 47 x 12 x 17.5 (a bit longer than the Marcy, but less wide).
Oh, and assembly is a cinch, and despite being a bit longer than its competitor, it’s still a more compact option than others, making it a great weight bench for home use.
Moving on from flat benches and into adjustables, here are the top 3 adjustable and FID weight benches on the market...
Best Adjustable and FID Weight Bench Reviews
PowerBlock Sport Bench
Heads up, heavy lifters seeking value: this bench gives you a 550-pound weight capacity for a still very affordable price. Not bad, right?
But, it does not give you the option to decline, despite being able to move in five different positions otherwise (flat, military, 30, 45, 60 degrees). This bench’s dimensions come in at a comfortable 50L x 21W x 16H in, making it bigger and better than the flat benches above.
One concern is the wobble that you feel in the backrest as well as the wobble in the optional dip attachment but this isn't particular to this model - it is a general drawback that plagues adjustable weight benches in general and the tradeoff you make for the adjustability it offers.
Plus, the "wobble" is nothing to be too concerned about - the overall construction is sturdy and it's stable on both carpet and hard floors. Assembly is easy enough for you to do it yourself, or you can purchase assembly as an add-on from Amazon.
For a little more money, you get a big bump in quality and weight capacity, as this Xmark costs a little more than the above models but can withstand up to 1500 pounds!
It is extremely sturdy thanks to its steel frame and powder-coated finish, and it has range (literally). The bench can adjust to decline (-20 degrees) , flat, and 20/35/50/65/85 degree inclines.
The seat has much more ergonomic flexibility, as it can be adjusted to accommodate three different height positions, with the following dimensions: 62.2" L x 25.8" W x 20.3" H, which is generously proportioned enough for all you tall folk.
Another optional but versatile feature, you can buy a preacher curl bar attachment that you can add in order to work your biceps. This bench is also easy to assemble, or you can get assembly help with it from Amazon as well.
Overall, the best FID weight bench for the price!
The priciest of the best adjustable weight benches, the Ironmaster makes up for it with a 1000-pound weight capacity.
So what else makes it amazing? It's got 11 different adjustability options: Incline, Decline, Flat, and Upright at 0, 5,10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 75, 80 and 85 degree angles that's adjustable with a unique adjustment ring and foot lever.
Extra perks? There are many attachment options available for a full-body workout, or this bench is ideal to slide into a squat rack or under a smith machine so you can use it as an olympic weight bench as well.
One of the best things about it though is its aesthetics. I mean, whoever said gym equipment couldn't be chic? And it's not just good looks - it’s sleek, patented design both aesthetically appealing and also adds to the sturdiness and durability of the bench, for your comfort and confidence during lifts.
The product dimensions come in at 44 x 18.8 x 21 inches which is a bit on the shorter side but it comes fully backed by a lengthy 10-year warranty as well as a money-back guarantee. If you’re looking for a lifelong investment, this is the one!
Now that you know all your flat, adjustable and FID bench options, finally, the best olympic weight bench money can buy...
Best Olympic Weight Bench Reviews
Ironmaster Triathlon Olympic Weight Bench
This IronMan Olympic Weight Bench is one of the pricier options, but that is due to its extreme versatility and high quality; in fact, this bench could pretty easily replace most home gym equipment and serve as an all-in-one center, as it features 24 exercise options.
The adjustable backrest has 1 decline, 1 flat, and 7 incline positions, and the detachable leg hold-down allows you to perform crunches and sit-ups for a challenging core workout.
It also boasts a whopping 1500 pound weight capacity and holds stable and sturdy even under massive weights, thanks to its 2 x 3 inch steel-tube frame construction. The only downside to this bench is that it does require a lot of space, with the dimensions coming in at 79”L x 67”W x 66”H.
The perk of being so generously proportioned, of course, is that it provides strong, comfortable support for even the tallest, biggest guys. Despite being fairly bulky, it is easy to put together and comes with a manufacturer’s lifetime warranty.
This is a bench that's meant to last you a lifetime and hands down the best Olympic weight bench.
There you have it - the ultimate guide to finding the best weight bench for your home gym. Are there any we missed? Let us know in the comments!
[…] the wobble greatly bothers you but you're unwilling to go over a certain price range, a flat bench may be a better option since they are completely solid, thanks to the absence of moving […]