Picking the Best Weight Bench: What You Need To Know

Key Points

• A weight bench is one of the main pieces of equipment that takes your home gym to the next level.

• A high-quality weight bench doesn't need to break the bank.

• Adjustability, weight capacity, and additional features are important factors to consider when buying a weight bench.

Weight benches are a staple in just about any gym. Their uses range from strength exercises to HIIT training and beyond, and they hold hundreds of pounds of weight, perfect for any part of your fitness journey. 

If you're building a home gym, a weight bench is probably on your list. Sometimes called workout benches, utility benches, or gear benches, weight benches have padded surfaces to sit, lay, or jump on as you train. 

However, a quick search for workout or weight benches brings up various options — so how do you know which one best suits your needs? 

Here's everything you need to know about workout benches and choosing the right one for your fitness journey.

Workout Benches: Are They Worth It?

You might wonder if you need a workout bench for your home gym. Technically, a chair could work for some exercises, and the floor could work for others. When it comes to getting the most out of your workouts at home, a weight bench expands the variety of your workouts significantly and helps mirror the full gym experience. 

"[The weight bench] is a versatile piece of equipment used for body weight, dumbbell, barbell, and kettlebell exercises for beginners, intermediate, or advanced lifters," Assistant Professor of Sport Management at Indiana University Kyle Kercher explains. Kercher also noted a workout bench's capabilities for upper, lower, and full-body exercises. 

Man doing arm curls on workout bench

A workout bench ranges in price from $50 to over $700, depending on the quality and versatility you're looking for. The price you deem worth paying depends on the use you plan on getting out of the bench. Consider some of the following questions: 

  • Is your home gym your primary workout space? 

  • Are you an experienced weight lifter who needs a workout bench that’s capable of supporting the most weight? 

  • What other equipment do you have or plan on getting? 

As you begin your search, ask these questions to help determine what price point is worth the investment. If you plan to use it for heavier weight lifting like bench pressing, consider investing in a quality bench to support a high-weight load and getting a weight bench with a rack. If you're more into dumbbell workouts, you don't have to focus as much on weight, but you may want an adjustable bench for more variety. 

Finally, if you're serious about building a home gym, it's hard not to justify an investment of at least $50 in one piece of equipment to significantly expand your training options. 

In summation: Yes, a workout bench is worth it. 

What To Look For in a Workout Bench

When it comes to a workout bench, there are a lot of different factors to consider, each of which affects the price and your usage of it. Naturally, this makes it hard to determine which workout bench and brand are the best on the market, but this article includes examples of well-reviewed benches to get you started in your search. 

Below are some ways workout benches may help you, and in selecting the kind that most closely aligns with what you're looking for in your home gym experience. 

Adjustable workout bench and dumbbells

Adjustable vs. Flat Workout Benches

One of the most significant decisions you'll make when searching for a workout bench is whether you want it to be flat or adjustable. An adjustable bench acts as a flat bench or tilt up (or sometimes down) to varying degrees, allowing you to do incline exercises

Flat Workout Benches

For bench pressing and ab exercises, the ideal bench is a flat bench. As the name implies, the flat bench is one straight, flat surface. In comparison, an adjustable bench has either two or three surfaces to accommodate where the bench hinges to become an incline bench. 

Bench pressing and many ab exercises require you to lay on the bench, so having one flat surface rather than at least two (a back pad and a seat) with a small gap in between may be more comfortable for these exercises. 

A flat bench may also feel more sturdy when doing exercises that involve a lot of movement and weight shifting, like HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) exercises, because it’s a no-frills piece of equipment with no joints or hinges. If you're jumping onto a bench or holding it as you jump over it, there is more peace of mind if the bench is just one solid surface. Flat benches often have a higher weight capacity, too. 

Recommended Flat Benches:

The Amazon Basics Flat Weight Bench is one of the most affordable on the market at just $50. It's a no-frills bench that holds 385 lbs. Perfect for those sticking to dumbbells or looking to use the bench for a variety of exercises (lunges, dips, and more). 

The Titan Flat Bench is still affordable at just $159 but with a significantly higher weight capacity of 1,000 lbs. Perfect for more advanced athletes looking to lift heavy. 

Woman using home workout bench

Adjustable Workout Benches

On the other hand, adjustable benches greatly expand the number of exercises possible in your home gym, thanks to their ability to fold up or down into an incline or decline. Not all adjustable benches have a range of motion that includes a decline option, but the ones that do are great for ab exercises and other lifting variations like decline benching, providing more resistance from gravity. 

Factors To Consider in an Adjustable Workout Bench:

• Pad gap: The space between the back pad and the seat (it should be minimal). 

• Back pad adjustments: The number of positions the back pad adjusts into.

• Seat adjustments: Not all seats adjust, and not everybody wants it to, but some offer the option to tilt the seat up or down. 

• Sturdiness: If you plan on doing heavy lifting, sturdiness matters and must be variable with adjustable benches due to the bench's ability to hinge. 

Recommended Adjustable Benches: 

The FLYBIRD Fast-Folding Adjustable Bench is a basic adjustable bench with a standard pad gap and an 800 lb load capacity. It costs $149.99, which, for a trustworthy adjustable bench, is the least expensive. 

The Ironmaster Super Bench Pro is an extremely versatile flat-incline-decline adjustable bench that holds up to 1,000 lbs. If you're inclined to splurge a little, this $499 bench gives you many options in your home gym.

Man doing chest press on home workout bench

Load Capacity: How Heavy Are You Lifting?

Another critical factor to consider is the bench's load capacity, or how much weight it bears. Note that the load capacity listed when purchasing a bench includes your body weight. If the bench bears 600 lbs and you weigh 200 lbs, then you lay on the bench and lift 400 lbs. 

The load capacity of weight benches varies depending on the bench. Benches with the highest load capacity hold 1,000 lbs. Scour the depths of the internet, but you probably won't find a bench that bears more weight than that. On the other end of the spectrum, some benches only hold up to 265 lbs. With a load capacity that low, a bench like that wouldn't be safe to use for bench pressing. 

Many benches, however, fall in the middle of this range. There are high-quality flat benches with a load capacity of 600 lbs, and there are adjustable benches with a load capacity of 800 lbs on the cheaper end. Your lifting routine and goals should help you decide how much weight you want your bench to be able to bear. Don't forget to factor in gains, though!

Additional Features: Racks and Leg Extensions

Once you've decided whether you want a flat or adjustable fitness bench and how much weight you need it to hold, it's time to consider additional features. 

Some weight benches are a weight bench and a rack all in one. If you want to get serious, consider an Olympic weight bench. These are competition-grade benches for advanced lifters, often with a rack attached, that have to meet certain width, length, and load capacity standards set by the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF). This is particularly helpful if you plan on serious training in your home gym, but you may also find plenty of weight benches with racks that aren't Olympic-grade. 

Selecting a bench that comes with a rack is ideal for bench pressing as it holds the barbell for you. Benches with racks also typically have weight storage posts to help keep your gym organized. 

Another popular additional feature is a leg extension. With a leg extension, you add weight and use your multi-feature weight bench to do leg curls and other leg exercises. This feature extends from one end of the bench and has rollers to hook your legs under or over for various exercises.

While these extra elements aren't always must-haves, weight benches with racks or leg extensions (or both) are perfect for a compact home gym. With these versatile benches, it's possible to do significantly more exercises than with a flat or standard adjustable bench. 

Man working out on weight bench

Recommended Weight Bench with Rack and Leg Extension:

The FLYBIRD Olympic Weight Bench is quite a steal at around $250. It includes an adjustable bench, a barbell rack, a leg extension, storage posts, and even an extra pad for preacher curls. This might be your best bet if you want to take your full-body strength up a notch without breaking the bank. Its 4.8-star rating from customers might help reassure you. 

Other Considerations for Your Workout Bench

Flat vs. adjustable, load capacity, and additional features aren't the only factors you should consider when looking for a suitable workout bench, though they’re some of the most important. However, depending on your circumstances (or if you just want the perfect bench), there are still a few other things to consider.

  • Height. The IPF standard height for a weight bench is 17", but not all benches meet that standard; many are higher or lower by a couple of inches. A bench that's too high makes getting a good foot grip difficult when bench pressing, and a bench that's too low may be equally as uncomfortable. Consider your height and lifting experience, and pay attention to the measurements before purchasing a weight bench.

  • Assembly. While some benches arrive at your door fully assembled, many won't. If they have confusing instructions or are challenging to assemble, reviewers make it known. If you're not interested in taking on that challenge, read reviews before you buy, or just opt for a bench delivered ready to use.

  • Size. The height of a bench matters, but so does width and length. Whether you're short, tall, wide, or narrow, you want a comfortable bench to lay on or sit on as you lift. Just as all benches list their height, they also list their width and length. 

  • Compactness. A large home gym might not be an option if you live in a small space. Many adjustable workout benches fold flat, making them perfect for storage in compact places. 

Weight bench at home gym

Final Word

Even if you opt for the most basic flat workout bench, having this piece of equipment makes a huge difference in your home gym experience. Manufacturers created these benches for working out, specifically designing them for weight, movement, and comfort; any other household surface you might otherwise use doesn't compare.

Whether you're looking for a bench for arms, legs, abs, or HIIT workouts, use this article and your knowledge of your fitness goals to guide you in finding a bench most suitable for you.

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