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Gyms are now reopening as Covid-19 restrictions ease up, but plenty of us are sticking with newly created home gyms. Compact, at-home gym setups offer convenience and privacy that we didn’t know we needed. Plus, setting up a home gym is easier than expected. If you’re in the same boat with creating a new home gym, a weight bench is essential.
The best weight bench is the Swiss Army knife of any gym, providing the base for a surprising number of exercises. In addition to the dumbbell chest press (one of the best chest possible chest exercises), weight benches can be used to target just about every body part: Dumbbell rows and delt flys to sculpt your back, variations on bicep curls, heavy shoulder presses, Bulgarian split squats and aerobic exercises (like hop-overs) are just a handful of the possibilities.
In short, every home gym should have a weight bench.
What Are the Best Weight Benches?
The best weight bench isn’t the same for everyone. Choosing the right one depends on your workout routine, gym space and strength.
Size: Weight benches should be large enough to comfortably fit your back and hips, yet small enough for a full range of motion (for example, in your shoulders during a chest press). Also be sure to check a bench’s footprint, especially if you’re tight on space. Some, such as the Bowflex option below, can also be folded up when not in use.
Adjustability: We like weight benches with an adjustable position for more workouts and specific isolations. However, some heavy lifters like a flat bench for security and stability. No matter what you choose (adjustable or flat), make sure the bench can be moved around for different workouts and storage.
Weight Capacity: The maximum weight capacity of a workout bench should be no less than 300 pounds. If you lift heavy or just want a more solid feel, go for a bench with a higher weight capacity.
Weight: You’ll also want to check the weight of a bench (not to be confused with weight capacity). We like benches with some heft to them, so they don’t move while in use. Of course, lighter benches are easier to move for storage.
Features: A good number of high-quality weight benches include extra features like leg rests, curl pads or even barbell racks. These features are great for certain exercises (such as bench pressing), although they can make the bench feel cramped for other exercises.
The Best Weight Benches
From Bowflex to Flybird, here are the best weight benches available that will help take your home gym to the next level.
1. Bowflex 5.1S Stowable Bench
The Bowflex 5.1S is a commercial-grade weight bench with a convenient trick up its sleeve: It’s designed to be stored vertically when not in use, cutting its footprint in half. This makes it great for compact home gyms in small garages or apartments. At 70 pounds, the bench is manageable to move by yourself, yet heavy enough that it won’t slide around when you’re doing intense movements.
Despite its space-saving ability, the 5.1S is a top-of-the-line weight bench. Its steel build is very capable of handling high weight with a load capacity of 600 pounds. There’s also plenty of adjustability with six angles, including a -20 percent decline (which is great for hitting the lower pecs). The bench also features locking leg rests/bolsters for stability.
2. Flybird Weight Bench
This Flybird weight bench is a great no-frills option. Thanks to its triangular frame and commercial quality steel build, the bench can support an impressive 700 pounds. The design is fairly simple (many lifters will like this), and the bench is fully adjustable with seven back positions and three seat positions. Adjustments, which are done via a bolt system, are fast and easy.
When in use, the Flybird takes up about 50 x 16 inches of floor space. However, it folds up flat when not in use to save space. The bench is quite lightweight at just over 28 pounds. This has the upside of being easy to move around, although it might not feel as planted for certain exercises (such as aerobics).
3. Steelbody Deluxe Flat Bench
If you’re a serious lifter in need of a flat bench (or you do lots of aerobic exercises), check out this Steelbody bench. It can support a whopping 800 pounds, making it a great choice for seasoned weightlifters or bodybuilders. Heavy-duty foot pads and end caps, meanwhile, ensure a stable feel during any movement. This makes it great for high-intensity aerobic moves. Plus, although it’s heavy-duty, the bench is relatively easy to move with wheels on one end and a handle on the other.
Another feature we like about the Steelbody bench is its padding. With high-density vinyl upholstery and a 2.5-inch thick pad, the bench is quite comfortable. It’s also designed with a narrow side and a wide side for upper and lower body workouts, respectively.
4. Weider Pro 265 Weight Bench
Some of us can’t go without a bench press. If you’re in that group, we suggest this Weider Pro 265 weight bench. The bench features a built-in barbell rack on the back, and even comes with an 80-pound vinyl weight set to get started. On the front is a leg training system that allows weighted quad extensions and hamstring curls.
Lastly, the bench has a curling pad which is ideal for bicep-crushing preacher curls. The bottom line is that you can do a lot with this weight bench. One downside is its less-than-stellar 410-pound weight capacity, although that should be fine for most users. As expected, the Weider bench also takes up slightly more space than a regular bench with a footprint of about 47.5 inches wide and 64.5 inches long.