Weight benches are a fixture in every commercial gym — and for good reason. They are versatile pieces of equipment that can be used for a near-limitless number of exercises.
Weight benches come in several styles, including fixed and adjustable models. There are also full-featured weight benches like the Marcy Olympic Weight Bench MD-857 that include upright posts with barbell catches.
Whatever type of weight bench you prefer, there are many things to consider when choosing one, including the weight limit, upholstery material and any additional features that increase their versatility or convenience.
Every weight bench has a weight limit that must be adhered to. On some cheap, low-quality models, this may be as little as 250 pounds. Better-quality benches have a weight limit between 400 and 1,000 pounds. It should be noted that a barbell catch on a bench has its own weight limit that also needs to be adhered to for safe use.
Most weight benches have pads that measure between 9 and 12 inches wide. Generally speaking, the wider, the better, as these will provide better support during exercises. However, you should consider the dimensions of your body. Petite women may be better served by a 10-inch weight bench so it doesn’t interfere with their range of motion. Men will find an 11-inch bench to be a better choice.
The majority of weight benches have vinyl upholstery because it is durable and easy to sanitize. However, it can get slippery if you are sweating a lot. To combat this, some manufacturers use other types of material that have more traction. These may eliminate the slipping but sometimes sacrifice durability or ease of cleaning.
Weight benches come in fixed and adjustable models. While fixed models can sometimes feel more stable, most people will be best served by choosing an adjustable model. These offer the most versatility in the number and types of exercises you can perform.
If you want a bench that allows you to get a full body exercise, look for one with a leg developer. These can be used to perform leg curls and leg extensions to target your hamstrings and quads.
A bench press rack allows the use of a barbell, which is highly effective when using heavier weights for targeting the muscles in your chest, shoulders and triceps. On some models, these may be height adjustable so users of all sizes can find a comfortable position. Depending on the model you choose, it may or may not come with a barbell.
Some weight benches are also equipped with a squat rack for leg workouts. These are only found on models that also have a bench press rack. Sometimes, the bar catches used for bench pressing are the same ones used for squats. You simply remove them and reattach them to the opposite side of the upright supports.
While you can easily perform a number of bicep exercises on any standard bench, those that come with a curl pad allow you to support your arms so there is less chance of accidentally cheating.
Many weight benches are equipped with wheels on one side that make them easier to move around as needed. These will only be usable when the bench is lifted up to a certain angle, so they do not interfere with the bench’s stability during workouts.
Basic, fixed flat benches can be found for as little as $50. Adjustable models start around $80 and Olympic benches start at $100. At the upper end of the spectrum, all three types can cost several hundred.
A. Nearly all weight benches require assembly after they arrive. It is generally not a complicated process and can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour depending on the number of features your bench has.
A. Though they may not immediately look like it, weight benches are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in the gym and can be used to work on nearly every major muscle group.
You can perform a nearly limitless number of exercises on even the most basic benches, including bench rows, curls, skull crushers, bench presses, pullovers, shoulder presses, single-leg squats, step-ups, in and outs and more. Choosing an angle-adjustable bench or one with a barbell catch greatly increases your exercise options.
Marcy Olympic Weight Bench MD-857
What you need to know: Thanks to the barbell catches, curl pad and leg developer, this bench can be used to target every major muscle group.
What you’ll love: Its backrest adjusts to five angles, one of which is fully vertical for shoulder presses. Plus, it features a handy weight storage post to help you keep your workout area organized.
What you should consider: It takes up a lot of floor space.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick's Sporting Goods
CAP Barbell Deluxe Utility Weight Bench
What you need to know: This reasonably priced, yet sturdy bench is a good choice for those on a budget who still want an adjustable model.
What you’ll love: Both its backrest and seat are adjustable through multiple positions. It features a nicely padded transport handle and wheels for easy relocation too.
What you should consider: The 30-day warranty is notably shorter than those from many other manufacturers.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Rep Fitness Adjustable Bench AB-3100 V3
What you need to know: For heavy lifters, there are few better options than the AB-3100 V3, which has an impressive 1,000-pound weight capacity.
What you’ll love: It features grippy upholstery on the pad so you won’t be slipping around no matter how sweaty you are. At 11.5 inches wide, it provides a lot of support for broad people.
What you should consider: Some buyers have received models with stitching issues.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.