The Buyer’s Guide to Weight Benches
Getting the right weight bench is akin to buying the right shoe for your exact foot size, too small or too big and it won’t work out. While it isn’t similarly black and white with weight benches as is the latter case, the point is you need to be in the know of all the vital aspects that make a good bench.
And there is certainly no shortage of benches in the market but that in itself is the problem as the sheer numbers can make it an uphill task to pick out the best bench even for the most experienced of lifters. So to help you separate the wheat from the chaff, here’s a simple yet detailed buyer’s guide to choosing the best weight bench:
Keep in mind the different bench varieties
Before we delve into the nitty-gritty we first all need to be familiar with the various varieties so that it is easier to pick out the one that works for you and your particular workout program. Knowing is half the battle won so without any further ado here are the most common types of lifting benches:
- Flat benches: Portability and low maintenance are the major selling points with this type of benches which are suited for regimes that don’t require some sort of elevation. Moreover, the bench incorporates just one deck thereby alleviating uncomfortable gaps.
- Olympic benches: Their widespread use across the business and home setting is down to their built-in rack mechanism that is a convenient and safe pairing of a squat stand and your ordinary bench. Maintenance is also low with this one as it is not of the adjustable category but the shortcoming of this bench is that it is quite costly.
- FID (Flat/Incline/Decline) benches: If you are looking for an all-round effective workout, then the FID is exactly what you need as it targets numerous key muscle areas. Also, they are the perfect dumbbell accompaniment because of the adjustable frame. However, it’s not a good choice for heavy lifting.
- Specialist Benches: Unlike the preceding occupants of this list, specialist benches are built for a particular group of muscles or movement. The abdominal bench and the preacher curl are two popular choices for this category as the latter targets the abdominal region while the former works the biceps. Specialist benches are not your best bet at an effective workout program as they don’t offer a balanced routine.
An array of variations is key
A bench that has many adjustable positions is of the essence as it will give you much-needed flexibility when it comes to exercise diversification. It gives a rich depth in strength training allowing you to alternate between many weightlifting variations.
Comfort also matters
While padded benches paired with big backrests are usually the go-to standards for maximum comfort, ordinary adjustable varieties still afford a great degree of comfort. If the bench is to be shared among multiple users, then it is also recommended that you select those customized with shoulder straps.
So what exactly is the measure of good comfort? Well, it’s simple. Press against the bench padding and if you can feel the metal or wood, then that’s exactly one to steer clear of. An uncomfortable bench can be the cause of a host of spinal complications so be wary.
Good stability is paramount
Apart from being able to withstand the pressure of your weight, the bench should be firm particularly with regards to the bar, bench and shoulder supports. It shouldn’t dance about at the slightest provocation. Moreover, another measure of stability is that while fully flat or perfectly inclined on the bench, your feet should be flat on the floor.
It should meet performance requirements
The bench should go hand in hand with the particular type of exercise you have in mind. Apart from that, and perhaps even more important, the bench should withstand your maximum user load. This aspect encompasses not just your own body weight burden on the seat but also that of the bar rest as well.
Easy to put together
Usually setting up ordinary benches are as easy as taking a walk in the park however adjustable bench types are a whole new kettle of fish. Installation can be a bit cumbersome because of the different intricate parts with hinges, in particular, complicating set up. Moreover, if you are a little low on space then you might want to get the foldable type of benches.
The bench should also match your body’s size. Dimensions of size are usually the easiest to determine as they can be obtained at a glance from the manufacturer’s product label that contains the exact numbers depicting lengths and widths when in use and when folded up.
A warranty is a big deal as well
Benches can be a deceptively simple workout tool however they are susceptible to damage somewhere down the line with hinges, straps and adjustments just a few of those weak spots of this type of equipment. Therefore, the bench you purchase should come alongside a warranty that’ll foot the cost of repairs which are common during the first few months of purchase. As a general rule of thumb, a good warranty should have at least a 12 month grace period.
Bench accessories to pay attention to
Different types of accessories are important for certain type of exercises so the accessory preference boils down to your workout exercise much like many other aspects on this list. For calf muscles and hamstrings workouts, leg braces or rests can prove particularly helpful while a butterfly pulley will help with pectoral muscle exercises. Cable pulleys, on the other hand, works wonders for the back and triceps.
Sometimes a low budget might constrict your finances leaving you with very little to spend on accessories. In this case, you can go for an affordable customizable bench model that has an allowance for future add-ons.
If you don’t know the first thing about lifting benches and are in need of a little helping hand, here are a couple of models you could try out:
• Bowflex Select Tech 3.1 and 5.1 versions
• Adidas Performance Flat training
• Fitness Reality 1000 Super Max
• Body-Solid Powerline PFID125X
• Universal 5 Position
Well, there you have it folks, all those important aspects deconstructed that if followed to a tee will get you the closest thing to perfect a lifting bench can get. But before you settle on a particular bench, be sure to do some physical browsing at your local store to get a physical feel of all the various options. Also, take into account other important factors like customer reviews and be sure to do your homework on the one that tickles your fancy before purchasing it.