Weight benches are a great way to train at home and a crucial part of any weight training program. However, buying the best weight bench does require careful consideration because you risk injury if you make a bad investment. There are several factors to consider when trying to determine what is a good weight bench including how you plan to use the equipment, the types of exercises you’d like to perform, the frequency of your training sessions, your level of experience and strength.
Different Types of Weight Benches
When it comes to buying a weight bench, there are several different types to choose from including:
Flat weight benches – these are as basic and simple as they come, but on a brighter note are extremely versatile given that flat weight benches allow you to perform a variety of important upper body exercises that require a stable, flat position such as chest press with barbells and dumbbells.
With flat weight benches, you can also perform sitting exercises such as shoulder presses and dumbbell biceps, and certain cardio exercises including plyometric exercises like high jump, or step ups.
Even though these types of weight benches are for the most part non-adjustable, they are extremely stable owing to the lack of unique mechanisms and high weight capacity. They make a great choice for lifting heavy weights.
Adjustable weight benches – this class of weight benches is the most popular, mostly because they can be set to incline and decline at different levels consequently allowing you to perform a variety of exercises targeted at different muscle groups including inline presses.
Adjusting the level of the board in most adjustable weight benches is generally just a matter of using a pin or a safer and more stable ladder adjustment. In addition to being able to allow you to do different types of exercise, these types of weight benches are a great fit for limited spaces given that they can be adjusted to fit in well.
Olympic weight benches – the best Olympic weight benches are packed with features, making them a preferred choice in the weight bench segment. Further, most of them are equipped with an adjustable board, and as the name suggests are compatible with Olympic bars.
Even though Olympic weight benches tend to be a bit pricier than other types of weight benches, they do provide you a lot more ways to exercise, including shoulder barbell presses and bicep curls, without lifting the bar of the ground.
What makes a Good Weight Bench?
Once you’ve selected the best weight bench for your needs, here are a few features to look for to ensure that it will serve you well for many years on end. However, it is important to measure your space before making the investment given that weight benches can be ordered across a spectrum of designs and sizes. You want to make sure that the one you buy fits in nicely and does not stick out like a sore thumb.
Seat adjustability and back support – whether you’re a novice or seasoned fitness enthusiast, having a range of settings can be a great benefit for your upper body workouts. Given that standard flat weight benches do not for the most part come in adjustable designs, you are much more limited to the exercises you can perform with them.
Adjustable weight benches allow you to adjust the position of the seat and back support and will provide a larger number of exercise options. Speaking of foldable weight benches, they are also a good option for tight spaces, but on the flipside do not provide the same level of strength as Olympic style designs.
Build quality – the best way to determine whether a respective weight bench is built robust is to read weight bench reviews, especially if you’re buying one online. High quality weight benches should also be easy to move around because the last thing you want is to buy a weight bench that’s bolted down in place; unless of course you have a sprawling home gym with tons of equipment.
If your exercise goals don’t consist of hardcore workouts, opting for a small and easy to move around weight bench is a great option. But refrain from buying cheap weight benches as you will most likely be shopping for a new one in the upcoming months due to poor build quality.
Upholstery - not the first thing that comes to mind when shopping for a weight bench, but resting on a hard, flat surface while lifting weights above your head isn’t the most comfortable way to workout. Check out the seat and back pad to make sure that the upholstery is at least an inch thick and even better if it is box stitched to prevent it from falling apart after a bit of wear and tear.
Workout stations – most of the best weight benches already offer the ability to perform a plethora of natural exercises, but some step it up a few notches with useful additions to take your workouts to a whole new level. These include a leg developer at the front to perform leg curls and leg extensions and preacher pad to focus on your biceps and forearms.
However, take note that the higher number of add-ons, the higher the price, so if you’re just getting your feet wet with exercising at home, you probably can do without lat towers or high pulley stations.
Safety – since you’re going to be using the weight bench at home, chances are that you will not have a spotter to look over your shoulder in case you can’t complete a rep. There are a few options when it comes to weight bench safety such as using a dumbbell bench, preferably one that comes with onsite dumbbell storage, or buying an Olympic weight bench that has a barbell rack built-in.
There are several things to consider when trying to determine what is a good weight bench, most notably the space you’re working with, types of exercises you wish to perform and the overall build quality to ensure optimal safety. The best weight benches are built robust, and some even come with add-ons to perform advanced exercises, which saves you cash when you are ready to bump up your exercise game.