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Buying guide for Best adjustable workout benches

Are you looking to round out the gear in your exercise room? An adjustable workout bench can do just that. This versatile piece of equipment offers a sturdy base from which to do exercises using free weights, resistance bands, or other accessories. Even body-weight exercises can be improvised on an adjustable workout bench.

But even the most dedicated fitness buffs can have trouble picking the correct adjustable workout bench for their home gym. Size, stability, and comfort are all big considerations, not to mention making sure that the bench is the right one for the type of workouts you plan to do.

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An adjustable workout bench can be configured to support over a dozen different workouts, from free weights to resistance-band training to step aerobics.

Key considerations

Versatility

An adjustable workout bench can add variety to your workouts. You can set the incline to a variety of angles, each of which assists specific exercises and helps isolate certain muscle groups. Whether you’re doing curls, flys, or presses, an adjustable workout bench can make your dumbbell routine more challenging.

Most benches can be laid out flat, and some have a decline of about 10° past horizontal — a favorite position for doing advanced sit-ups or similar abdominal exercises. Their range of adjustability also means these workout benches can be stored in a smaller space, and some fold up for even more compact storage.

Expert Tip
Adjustable benches are also very effective for performing a variety of ab exercises such as Dragon Flags and Reverse Abdominal Curls.
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Limitations

It’s important to note that adjustable workout benches are not designed for heavy compound weightlifting, like bench pressing a heavy barbell, on their own. They can be moved in and out of a lifting rack to provide a base for these types of exercises, but they don’t have the structural stability of a dedicated weight bench. You should know precisely what kind of workouts you can do using an adjustable bench. If the aim is to supplement aerobic workouts with strength training using dumbbells, resistance bands or body-weight exercises, almost any adjustable workout bench will do.

Advanced weight trainers need a stable and comfortable workout bench that can handle heavier weights  — a narrow seat and back pad are annoying, and you could even slip off one while concentrating on a particular exercise.

Economical

Even a higher-end adjustable workout bench offers a big cost advantage over paying for a monthly gym membership. With just a few extra accessories, a home user can perform a wide range of exercises on an adjustable bench.

Adjustable workout bench features

The average adjustable workout bench is a surprisingly complex mechanism. For buyers, it’s important to understand the key features of this type of bench.

Frame

The freestanding frame supports the entire bench, so every section needs to be sturdy, from the legs to the support posts. Look for a bench with a frame that is rated for at least 600 pounds.

Bench

Made up of two parts, the seat and the back pad, the bench is attached to the main support post (also called the spine) and is padded and covered with a durable material that holds up to sweat and frequent contact.

Expert TIp
Adjustable benches are very effective for performing upper and middle back exercises like single-arm dumbbell bent-over rows and chest-supported rows.
BestReviews Fitness Expert

Seat

This is what supports the user during workouts on the bench. The seat’s shape is important: A tapered seat allows the legs to remain in a more natural, narrow stance, while a reverse-tapered seat provides more stability for decline exercises.

Adjustment

The incline and decline of an adjustable workout bench is set using one of two adjustment mechanisms: a pop-pin or step mechanism. The smaller part of the workout bench, the seat, can usually be adjusted farther in or out to fit each user. Like the seat, the longer back can be adjusted to different angles and has more adjustment options.

Decline

Not every adjustable workout bench has this feature, which sets the back pad about 10° below horizontal, but it can add more variety to a workout.

Padding

The frame or optional roll bars are wrapped with foam padding, providing extra comfort to the legs during a workout.

Accessory fixtures

These include attachment points for resistance bands, leg pads for decline sit-ups, and more.

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Expert Tip
When bench pressing never put your feet in the air since this prevents your body from having maximum stabilization and you could actually fall off the bench.
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Adjustable workout bench prices

You can find adjustable workout benches to fit almost every budget.

Inexpensive

The lowest-priced benches sacrifice some adjustment angles and stability, but at $50 to $65, they’re just fine for dumbbell sets.

Mid-range

In the $95 to $175 price range, sturdier benches with more options like leg supports and a decline setting are easy to find.

Expert Tip
People with short legs can use a foot platform to help maintain the natural lower-back arch when bench pressing.
BestReviews Fitness Expert

Expensive

Benches with a much higher weight capacity — up to 1,000 pounds — and a solid, well-balanced feel fall in the highest price range of between $195 and $320.

Tips

  • Clean the bench after use. After each workout, wipe down the bench with a clean, dry towel and allow it to air-dry completely. If you tend to sweat profusely when you work out, place a towel on the bench.
  • Use the bench safely. Be careful not to pinch your fingers when adjusting the incline of the workout bench. Keep your feet planted firmly on the floor while using the bench for weightlifting. And avoid doing step aerobic workouts on an adjustable bench unless it is specifically designed to support this activity.
  • Store the bench correctly. Look for an adjustable workout bench with wheels if you need to store the bench between workouts. Store the bench out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources to keep the cover material from warping, cracking, or fading.
  • Protect your floors. A bench that has rubber pads covering the feet will protect the floor, but check them periodically to make sure the pads are in good condition and metal isn’t poking through. You can also put a mat down to protect your floor.
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An adjustable workout bench should have at least six angle settings for the back pad and at least seven settings if it has a decline option.

FAQ

Q.  Can I use an adjustable workout bench to perform bench presses with heavy weights?

A. This isn’t recommended by the manufacturers of adjustable workout benches. When performing exercises with much heavier weights, an absolutely stable base is critical for safety and support. If a lot of weight is place on one end, the bench can get out of balance. The arc adjustment mechanism may not hold up during these lifting sessions, even in the fully flat position.

Q. Which adjustment mechanism is more secure: pop-pin or step?

A. Opinions are evenly split on which adjustment mechanism is the best for a workout bench. A pop-pin mechanism is a spring-loaded pin that you pull out to adjust a steel arc mechanism on the back of the bench. Once the new adjustment angle is selected and the holes of the arc and the frame line up, the pin is “popped” into place. A “step” or “ladder” mechanism consists of a series of grooved slots (or raised teeth) into which a vertical back post can be seated. Adjustment is similar to the way a deck chair is adjusted: lift the back post up notch by notch until the desired angle is reached. As long as both mechanisms use quality metal that holds up to repeated use, heavy loads, and shear, either one is fine.

Q. Why would I need to adjust the seat pad on an adjustable workout bench?

A. The seat pad isn’t just for comfort; it also helps you stay in position while performing an exercise. Being able to adjust the angle of the pad is helpful because it can keep you from sliding off the bench. Most workout bench seats have no more than three adjustment angles, and that’s plenty.

Q. How does changing the incline of the bench help my workout?

A. The angle of incline can help when working specific muscles. For example, you can target the muscles of the lower chest by lowering the angle of the bench or isolate the upper chest by raising the angle. When doing bicep curls, the back pad can be set so that it’s vertical to keep you in a supported upright position for the exercise. And if the bench has a decline option, you can set it below the horizontal plane to add a real challenge to your abdominal sets.

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