There are many reasons to prefer working out at home. Going to the gym incurs a monthly expense and can be inconvenient. Or you might prefer to work out alone. In any case, you can create a sufficient gym setup at home, and a weight bench is a core component of any home gym. Experts told us weight benches can be useful for lifters of all skill levels, and there are a variety of benches available to suit specific needs. We spoke to fitness experts about how to pick the best weight benches and got their recommendations of specific models.
SKIP AHEAD Best weight-lifting benches
How to pick the best weight bench
Stability is key when you’re looking for a weight bench, said Kyle Kercher, a strength and conditioning specialist who is certified as a personal trainer and exercise physiologist by the American College of Sports Medicine. “From a safety standpoint you just want to make sure you can count on it to maintain its structure while you are lifting on it,” he told us.
Whether a bench is stable enough for you will depend on how much weight you lift. Kercher said that if you’re an advanced weight lifter who lifts over 100 pounds, you might want a sturdier bench that can withstand and support more weight, whereas beginners can settle for a basic, more affordable bench with a lower weight capacity. As you become a more advanced lifter, the weight you lift will usually increase, Kercher noted, so a bench that works for you as a beginner may be insufficient as you gain experience.
The weight of the bench matters, too: The heavier the bench, generally speaking, the more stable it is, said Kristina Jennings, a certified strength and conditioning specialist. Kercher added that a bench’s weight also impacts how portable it is — if you plan to move it around or store it away after use, then you might prefer something lighter.
Both Kercher and Jennings pointed to adjustable weight-lifting benches as a priority if you’re planning exercises like the incline bench press or shoulder press. Sometimes you can fold these benches for easier storage, too. That said, Kercher said you’ll get the “most utility” from the flat bench setting, whether it’s adjustable or not — adjustability is a nice-to-have, not a necessity.
Kercher also highlighted other features to consider:
- Comfortable padding
- Rubber anti-slip leg grips
- Wheels or handles (if you plan to move the bench often)
Best weight benches, according to experts
Since certain benches may be more useful than others depending on their use, we asked experts to recommend both flat and adjustable options suited to a variety of lifters. Below are the highly rated benches they recommended.
Flat weight benches
Jennings recommended this flat bench. While not adjustable, it still works for exercises like bench pressing, elevated push-ups and rear foot elevated split squats, she said. The bench has a frame constructed from steel and uses high-density foam for the padding, according to the company. Covering the foam is Boltaflex upholstery, which York says is abrasion- and stain-resistant, and has antibacterial properties. The bench also has rubber footpads and weighs 90 pounds.
Kercher recommended Rogue Fitness benches as a premium flat bench option for advanced lifters. The frame is constructed with steel and comes in several options for height and pad thickness. You can get the bench in Shorty or Standard height as well as with either the Standard Pad or Fat Pad (which comes in a wider Thompson version and a narrower Competition version). The bench has a single-column front foot design, which Rogue Fitness says gives lifters more room to place their feet while lifting. It comes with rubber foot pads as well as two wheels on one end to make transport easier — the company says you can also store the bench vertically. The bench weighs 68 pounds with the standard pad.
Adjustable weight benches
Kercher recommended this bench as a lower-cost adjustable option, suitable for someone who needs a bench that’s easily moved and stored or a beginner who doesn’t want to break the bank. You can switch between 12 angle settings — from -20 degrees to 80 degrees. Fitness Reality says the triangular support structure and extended leg stabilizers give the bench added stability — it has a max weight capacity of 800 pounds. The bench is also foldable and can be used by people as tall as 6 foot 4 inches, according to Fitness Reality.
Jennings described this bench as “top of the line” and recommended it “if you’re looking to splurge.” She called it a great choice for heavy lifters because of its durability. The bench back is adjustable to five different angles — 0, 20, 35, 45 and 82 degrees — and the seat also has five adjustable settings. The bench comes equipped with a hydraulic piston assist to help with bench adjustments, Perform Better says. It has a handle and wheels that should help with moving the bench and a welded frame for increased durability, according to the company. The bench weighs 100 pounds.
Jennings recommended this adjustable bench as a space-saver since it’s foldable. It’s also my personal workout bench of choice. You can adjust the bench to six different angles and the seat to four different positions. The frame is made of steel and can hold up to 600 pounds, according to the company. In my experience, the angle adjustments are simple and the price is reasonable — it’s a solid option for a beginner. Advanced lifters may also find utility with this bench — it’s held up well for me even with heavier weight. The cushioning has also been both comfortable and supportive.
Weight bench exercises
You can do many different exercises and movements using your weight-lifting bench, and experts we spoke to highlighted these specifically:
- Barbell bench press, dumbbell bench press, inclined bench press
- Seated shoulder press, Y-T-W shoulder exercises
- Elevated push ups, single arm dumbbell rows (or “3 point row”), seated bicep curls
- Dumbbell pullovers, seated overhead tricep extensions
- Single-leg squats, Bulgarian split squats, glute bridges