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If free weights are a big part of your home workout routine, then you will want to invest in a good quality workout bench for your home gym. If you’re planning on a home gym system, chances are it will come with a bench. But if you are a die-hard, old-school fan of free weights, then a workout bench needs to be part of your gym, and it’s not a place to cut corners.
Your bench is the foundation of your workout, and you need one that is strong, stable, and comfortable. Depending on the type of strength training you do, and of course your budget, you can choose from benches offering a range of stability, adjustability, comfort, and of course looks – important if your home gym isn’t tucked away in your basement or garage!
The quality of a workout bench will be reflected in the price, but with the best benches you are paying for important features. High quality benches will be a bit heavier, but they are also more stable, with less chance of tipping or rocking.
That matters if you are serious about your strength training and expect to be lifting heavy weights or doing high-energy power movements. However, if you need to store your bench, you might prefer something a little lighter, smaller, or one that folds down easily when you are not using it.
Adjustable Is the Way to Go
Depending on the type of strength training you do, adjustability might be an important factor. If you typically focus on a routine with just a few of the most effective or most common movements, then you might look to spend more for stability and robust construction, and sacrifice some flexibility.
However, some weight benches offer you a lot of options to change the position of the bench; ideal for circuit training, complex movements, or if you need to share your home gym with your family.
Most benches are sectional so you can change to different angles for seated or reclined movements, and some offer a decline for sit ups too. If you plan to do a lot of circuit training in your workout, you will want a bench that offers a lot of options for different exercises, but you’ll also want to be able to adjust it quickly so you don’t slow down your circuit.
If you are working with a rack or barbell, you will want to check the height. This is an important safety feature; smaller lifter don’t want to have to reach their toes for the floor, and taller lifters won’t want too much angle in their knees.
You’ll need to make sure your bench is long enough to provide you with the support you need for the exercises you want to do. If you are going to be working out a lot, you’ll want one that is sufficiently padded to be comfortable and protect you from bruising, but no so padded that you start to sacrifice stability.
Bowflex is known for high quality, good looking gym equipment that lasts a long time, and the SelectTech 5.1 adjustable bench is no exception. This good looking bench is also designed for the serious lifter, able to take a combined (that’s you and your weights) weight of 480 pounds – although if you are heavy set, or want a bench for really heavy power lifts, you might max out the SelectTech.
Even fully loaded, the Bowflex SelectTech’s wide base prevents any wobble or rocking, making this one of the most stable home gym benches on the market. The downside of that is it isn’t light, but it does have wheels so you can move it without lifting the entire unit. There’s a reason why Bowflex offers a substantial warranty on this bench’s frame – it really is built to last lifetime.
Bowflex are also leaders in home gym innovation, and what really sets the SelectTech 5.1 apart is the range of options it offers. The bench is in two sections, allowing six incline adjustments from a gentle 17 degrees to fully upright 90 degrees.
There’s also scope for an inverse (downhill) adjustment, and it comes with a padded leg hold-down making this bench great if sit ups are a regular part of your program. The lift and lock system means it’s pretty easy to change the angles, so it’s perfect if you need to make quick changes in your circuit program.
Taller lifters will appreciate the long bench, meaning you can get full support from your head to your hips, even if you are over 6 feet tall. The height is not adjustable however, so smaller lifters might find they need some support under their feet (like yoga blocks).
If there is a downside to the SelectTech 5.1, it’s that to get the stability the base can end up right under your feet when the bench is fully reclined and if you use a wide foot base for your lifts. For many lifters, especially those lifting lighter or who use a narrower foot base, it won’t be a problem. But if you stabilize yourself in heavy lifts with a tucked stance, then it’s something to keep in mind.
Other than that, this bench is strong, stable, and offers just about the most options of any home gym bench around.
The Body Solid GFID225 is another top quality home gym workout bench with a host of features. Like the Bowflex SelectTech, it’s an adjustable bench with a good range of options. While it’s not designed with looks in mind, this is a really solid, top quality bench ideal if you are serious about strength training.
Because it’s robust, it’s not light – about 60 pounds – but it’s got rollers on one set of feet so you can easily move it around, or slide it away for storage.
A real perk of the Body Solid GFID225 is it really does fold down easily, so it’s one of the best benches if you need to store your home gym when you aren’t using it. In fact, it’s so collapsible that it comes fully assembled – just pop it up and you are ready to go.
The downside of that is you can get a pretty big gap between the two sections when the bench is fully flat. That’s an issue for almost all adjustable benches, but some lifters might find that gap means they need to move up or down the bench for maximum comfort and stability, or fill in the gap with a foam roll.
The Body Solid adjustable bench also has a leg hold down, but it’s not as comprehensive as the Bowflex bench. And the hold downs are more for lifting stability than for sit ups, although they will help you with your crunches in a pinch.
The padding is enough to prevent bruising, and it’s tough enough that Body Solid covers the whole bench with lifetime warranty – not many manufacturers include anything beyond the frame in their warranties!
The backrest is long enough to accommodate lifters over 6 feet tall. Seven adjustable points take your from a slight decline to almost 90 degrees. If you want a bench with sit ups in mind, the decline might be too shallow for you, but at the other end the bench gets upright enough to provide excellent support for seated movements.
It’s a simple lift and slide movement, perfect for those who do a lot of circuits because it’s quick and easy to change. When flat, it’s slightly lower than the Bowflex bench, but smaller lifters may still need additional foot support so they aren’t on their toes.
With maximum combined weight limit of 1000 pounds, just about the most available in the home gym bench market, this bench is a really solid, top quality workmanlike bench ideal for serious home gym lifters.
The PowerBlock Sport Bench is a quality sturdy, stable, but no-frills adjustable bench, ideal for serious lifters who don’t need a lot of options. It is still a two-part bench, but with only five angles, and no decline option for sit ups (the ‘flat’ option is actually a very slight decline – not enough to impact your sit ups though).
This is enough range for many lifters, but if you are after a bench for a complex circuit routine, then you might feel a bit limited with the PowerBlock bench. It also doesn’t offer any fold-down options so if you need to stow your bench between workouts, this isn’t going to roll under your bed or fit easily into a closet.
This bench has a small footprint, which means there are no supports to get in the way of your feet. Even so, its simple yet solid construction means it’s very wobble-proof. And it arrives almost fully assembled – you’ll only need about 10 minutes to get it set up and ready to go.
It’s also a little smaller and closer to the floor than other top-end home benches. That’s great if you are under 6 feet tall and have found most benches too high, but the tallest lifters might feel they run out of bench, or the angle in their knees is too tight.
For a simple sturdy bench, it actually looks pretty good. We really like the pear shaped back section. This gives you a lot of stability under your hips but narrows at the top to allow freedom of movement in your shoulders for fly movements. The shaped seat section also allows a lot of range, great if you like to change your stance across your exercises.
There are no leg grips, but again, this bench wasn’t designed with sit ups in mind. That said, you can buy a tricep dip attachment, which is a great feature most other benches don’t offer. The PowerBlock Sport can take up to 550 pounds of combined weight, plenty for all but the most serious lifters.
All in all, a really great basic bench if you need strength and stability more than flexibility and style.
If you’re working on a budget for your home weightlifting studio, then the Nautilus Universal Five-Position Weight Bench might be the best option for you. With a comparatively lower recommended retail price, you still get a lot of options, and a comfortable, stylish bench.
This two section bench doesn’t offer as many options as the Bowflex bench, but with five stops from -10 degrees up to 45, and a quick and easy slide and drop system, there is some choice. That said, the decline option isn’t really steep enough if sit ups are a big part of your workout, although the padded leg holds are a bonus.
The top angle is 45 degrees, not 90 degrees, which might rule this bench out for the most serious lifters. Also, if you are a powerlifter working with heavy weights, bear in mind that the Nautilus Universal is geared toward maximum user weight of only 250 pounds and a total combined weight of just 400 pounds.
It’s also not the longest bench around; if you are over 6 feet tall you will start to run out of bench for neck support. At about 17 inches high, it’s perfect for small to medium size lifters, but users with long legs might find they get a lot of angle in their knees.
We think this is a great, good looking, well made entry-level workout bench. It’s perfect for those starting out with strength training at home, but serious lifters will max out the weight and flexibility limits pretty quickly. That said, for a bench on a budget, it’s very strong and very stable. It doesn’t fold flat for storage, but it looks so good you won’t mind seeing it in your home gym every day.
Another great bench if you are on a budget, the York Barbell adjustable bench provides a lot of features at a competitive price. It’s a no frills bench, but we think you get a lot.
Taller lifters on a budget who find the Nautilus Universal too short or too low will probably prefer the York Barbell bench. At almost 19 inches tall, nobody is going to have a problem with too much flexion in their knee, but shorter lifters will be on their toes or need to use risers under their feet.
The two part cushions allow five options from flat to 90 degrees – great if you like the Nautilus Universal bench but really want a fully upright angle.
There’s no decline option, and no leg holds, so this isn’t the best bench if you want options for sit ups. The pin lock system makes the back very stable, but it’s not as quick and easy to change the angle as the other benches here. That won’t matter unless you plan to do a lot of circuit training and need to be able to change your bench quickly, and it does make this bench safe and wobble-free.
The cushions aren’t shaped, so smaller lifters might find they have a little less range of motion, but they are well made and comfortable enough. This bench also doesn’t collapse, and it wasn’t designed for looks either.
If your gym is in your basement or garage, then neither of those factors might matter to you, but if you need a bench that stows easily or looks good enough to live in your bedroom, this won’t be your first choice.
This bench is all about stability in a budget. The wide footprint and pin lock system means this bench does not wobble. The wide tubing is certainly sturdy, but this bench doesn’t look as sleek as others on the market, and some lifters might find the legs get under their feet depending on their stance.
It has an oddly low weight limit too – for a bench built like this, we expected more than a 440 pound combined limit, but that’s still enough for a lot of home lifters. Serious lifters will max it out eventually, but for those starting out or concentrating on dumbbell work where stability trumps everything, then this bench is ideal, and quite affordable.