Everything you need to know about weight benches and how to find the right one for you
The weight bench is a staple for any home or commercial gym. You may have heard it called by some other names, including workout bench or exercise bench. These names are all pretty fitting as they describe the main purpose of this piece of equipment that is not limited to just lifting weights.
Weight benches are relatively simple and can be used for a variety of exercises. Their uncomplicated design makes them approachable for anyone, no matter their fitness goals. They can provide support that can reduce the risk of injury and also be used to add difficulty to your weight lifting routine.
Generally, a weight bench will have some sort of padded platform known as the seat or back pad. This pad will rest on sturdy metal legs giving the structure its namesake “bench” shape.
There are many types of weight benches, all designed for different purposes. We are going to break down these types and other important things to consider if you are looking to purchase a weight bench for home or commercial use.
The Many Uses of a Weight Bench
You know that if we are talking home gyms, it’s important to talk about getting the most bang for your buck! The same is true for commercial operations. While you may have more space to work with, why not look for equipment that is multifunctional?
The most common types of exercise that are performed on a weight bench include free weights like dumbbells and barbells. Some popular exercises that can all be performed on a weight bench are:
- Bench press
- Concentrated curls
- Dumbbell row
- Lying tricep extensions
- Shoulder press
These are just a small number of the many different workouts you can do on a weight bench. All of these workouts of course can be increased or decreased in intensity based on the amount of weight being used and as you’ll see in a bit, by the positioning of your bench.
There are even more ways a workout bench can be utilized that you may not realize. Without any other equipment, the bench can be used as a platform for push ups or steps up, a base for core work, or even as support for stretching out muscles after a tough workout.
The many uses of this workout bench make it an obvious choice for both home and commercial gyms. The weight bench is a great example of how sometimes the most simple pieces of equipment can be the most useful.
Even though weight benches may seem relatively straightforward, there are some different design styles. If you’re looking to add a weight bench to your gym, you’ll first want to get familiar with these types.
Weight Bench Types
Depending on your goals or intended use, there may be a type of weight bench that is better suited to your needs. Let’s break down some of the key differences between the most common styles of weight benches.
The flat bench is true to its name and arguably the least complex of the weight bench options. This simple design involves a bench platform that rests on sturdy legs. This platform or pad provides you with a surface to lay or sit on while working out with free weights.
The back pad is horizontal to the ground and stays that way. These types of benches usually don’t have any fancy features. So, if you are in the market for a frilless weight bench that still gets the job done, a flat bench might be exactly what you are looking for.
Adjustable (FID) Benches
Up next, we have adjustable or FID benches. As you might have guessed by the name of this one, adjustable benches- well adjust. The FID stands for Flat, Incline and Decline which also accurately describes what these types of weight benches are all about.
This bench can be used just like the flat bench, or you can incline or decline this bench and set the back pad at various heights.
There are FI benches that offer just the flat or incline option, but an FID is what you need if you are looking for a bench with the full range of motion. You can picture a full incline making the bench look closer to a regular seat, coming into more of a “L” shape. While a decline angles the backpad lower to the ground than the traditional flat position which is completely parallel to the floor.
So you may be wondering, what’s the purpose of having a bench that moves up and down?
Basically, it gives you more options when it comes to working out and can help you target different muscle groups in different ways. Using an incline bench is an effective way to strengthen smaller muscle groups that are sometimes missed by traditional workouts.
Declining your bench can increase the difficulty level of different moves by adding the extra layer of working against gravity. Exercises like abdominal crunches become more intense with this added resistance.
This is one of the most popular styles of weight benches and it’s easy to see why. The adjustability of this type of bench allows for a wider range of exercises that can target muscle groups big and small, which is incredibly important for strength training.
Once again, the name for this type of weight bench describes exactly what sets it apart. Folding benches are probably your best choice for home gyms or smaller spaces.
The key feature here is that the weight bench can be folded for easy storage and moved out of the way when not in use. This is obviously beneficial for multi-purpose rooms in your house or if you are just looking for a little more portability.
Most folding benches also double as adjustable FID benches as well. They offer the same functionality of other benches with added ease of storage.
The utility stool, also known as a multi-purpose utility bench, is a bit different from the other styles. These weight benches look a little more like a chair and usually come with the backpad in a completely upright position.
Some utility benches have foot holds down at the bottom of the bench. These can be a nice feature for added control and a bit more stability during your workout.
These types of weight benches are good for any move that you would do from a normal seated position including concentration curls, military presses, wrist curls and more. The support of the backpad can help reduce muscle strain and ensure proper spinal alignment.
We have covered some of the most common types of weight benches that you are likely to see in a gym. Some benches combine the functionality of these types- meaning you can technically get a flat bench from an FID.
Additionally, some benches only have decline options while others only have incline options. These different options all work well for different needs so it can be helpful to know what type of exercises you are looking to do before you pick one type over another.
It’s worth mentioning that there are some other specialized types that you may come across. Ab benches, for example, are mostly commonly used for abdominal specific workouts.
Versatility is always a key component for any type of exercise equipment, so it makes sense to look for a bench with a lot of options. Now, let’s talk about some other important features of weight benches that you might want to consider.
What to Look for in a Weight Bench
Now that you know a little more about the types of weight benches, you are probably getting closer to determining what weight bench is right for you. Once again, it can be helpful to think about what type of workouts you are looking to do so that you can make sure you find the right fit.
Size, of course, matters and though there aren’t drastic differences between most weight benches, there are a few inches here and there to consider. The distance from the seat pad or backpad to the floor mostly ranges between 16 and 18 inches, so you’ll obviously want to find the height that is right for you and your body.
Pad Style & Width
Additionally, the seat or back pads of weight benches come in different widths. Larger pads can provide a little more comfort and support, but it’s important not to lose any range of motion or be inhibited by the bench.
You will also see some different options when it comes to the padding on the bench. Of course, you’re not looking for a luxurious place to lay around, but thicker pad options can provide a little more comfort. Firmness of the pad is something important to consider as well.
If you are looking at adjustable benches, you will also see that the benches have a variety of adjustment settings. This allows you to play with different angles and move both the seat and back pad to different heights. Product descriptions can help you compare and contrast the different choices, and determine which bench’s position options make the most sense for you.
You will want to keep in mind how much weight a bench can support and remember that it will be holding both your body weight and the amount of weight you plan on lifting while sitting or lying on it.
Depending on your needs, you can find a bench that supports anywhere from 500 to over 1500lbs of weight or more. Remember to include your weight in your calculation for what capacity you need!
Additional Options & Attachments
Two common attachments you’ll see on the weight bench are preacher curl and leg developer attachments. Multi-purpose equipment is vital to maximizing the potential of your home gym.
The preacher curl add-on can help you customize your bicep routine while saving space in increasing the versatility of your bench!
Leg developer attachments can replace the need for two different machines in your gym The Leg extension used to target quadriceps and the leg curl which targets your hamstrings.
Choosing a weight bench with attachments like these can make an already versatile piece of equipment even more effective for a full body workout.
You may also want to consider how much the bench weighs on its own and whether or not it will require assembly. Some benches have wheels or handles to make moving them around easier which may also be important for a home gym.
Other factors are the construction materials and colors that the bench comes in. Just like any big purchase, you may also want to consider the product’s warranty and read up on product reviews and browse product ratings before making your decision.
How Much Will It Cost?
Weight benches are worthy investments for any home or commercial gym. It’s worth doing the research and setting a budget that you are comfortable with.
You can get a basic weight bench for around $250 to $400 which is a great option if you’re working with a limited budget but want to add a workout bench to your gym asap. As you can probably guess, these will be the most simple workout benches, but still a great place to start.
You’ll obviously pay extra for all the bells and whistles, and weight bench prices can certainly exceed $750. However, there are plenty of great brands right in the middle and you should be able to find any type of bench for around $500.
Hopefully this guide has helped you learn a little more about the weight bench and the different styles it comes in. There are some advantages to each type, and ultimately what will work best for your gym depends on your budget and intended usage.
There’s no reason to be intimidated by this piece of equipment as it can serve a variety of uses and work well for anyone at any fitness level. Optional add-ons and special features can help you customize your weight bench to tailor your specific needs.
This multi-purpose tool is an obvious choice for every gym!