Choosing the best weight bench for your home gym can be tricky. With so many similar looking benches, how do you know which is the best home weight bench for you? First thing to take into consideration is your space. Do you have a dedicated room, shed, or garage to house all of your equipment, or are you limited to a smaller area such as a corner in your living room or bedroom? Next, it’s a good idea to do your research and identify what you’re hoping to get out of your bench. Are you looking for the utilitarian power horse with limited bells and whistles? Or do you need a complete integrated system to accomplish your goals?
Regardless of where you’re going to place your weight bench, and what you plan on achieving, you’re making a smart decision in purchasing one of the most versatile and useful pieces of equipment out there. The functionality and versatility of weight benches make them a must-have in any well-planned home gym. Let’s break down the options and take a closer look at the various types of weight benches available, so you can choose the best one for your needs.
Types of weight benches
The most basic of benches, flat benches are simply a steel frame supporting a padded board. While it’s useful for all levels of fitness, its unintimidating appearance is a favorite of those new to weight training. Flat benches do not have any additional features other than the bench platform. So, while this may seem like a limiting piece of equipment you’ll find it is versatile. From abs to triceps, supported push-ups, glute bridges to chest presses, a flat bench is a powerhouse of multi-functional utility.
Let’s take a look at some exercises you can accomplish with the use of a flat bench.
- Seated Military Press
What you’ll need:
Begin by sitting upright. Grip the barbell with your hands facing out, position should be slightly wider than your shoulders, wrists should be straight. Raise the barbell up to the same plane as your shoulders. Once the barbell is at your shoulders, press the bar up overhead. Be careful not to hyperextend your back, causing the bar to raised behind your head, or hunch your back raising the bar in front of the vertical plane of your shoulders. Once you fully extend upwards, lock your elbows and shrug your shoulders to the ceiling. Lower the bar to your shoulders, with control, and repeat.
- Seated Flat Bench Leg Pull-Ins
What you’ll need:
Working your entire abdominal region, the seated flat bench leg pull-in just requires a bench and your commitment to shredding. To start, sit on the end of the bench with your legs extended in front of you. Reach your hands back to hold the bench behind you and give you some support. Lift your legs off the ground until they are parallel to the floor and in line with your hips. Lean back slightly, engage your core and exhale as your draw your legs towards your chest with bent knees. Slowly release your legs to the extended position off the floor while you inhale and repeat until your core is on fire or you accomplish your reps, whichever comes first.
If you’re looking for more versatility, but don’t want to commit to a bench set, or you don’t have the space for an integrated bench and rack system, a utility bench is a great option. Utility benches consist of a multi-positional adjustable back that can raise or lower to a flat, incline, or decline position. Utility benches are the ideal choice for those who want more intensity out of their bench while maintaining a compact footprint.
Let’s take a look at a targeted back exercise that can be performed using a utility bench.
- Incline Dumbbell Row
What you’ll need:
Start by adjusting your bench to a comfortable incline. Lay face down with a dumbbell in each hand. Leaning into the bench, extend your arms and maintain a neutral grip on the dumbbell. “Pinch” your shoulder blades together contracting your lats and activating your traps, pull the dumbbells up toward your obliques with your elbows going straight back. Once you complete the motion, pause at the top of the contraction, and extend slowly to the start position. Repeat.
- Incline Chest Fly with Kettlebells
What you’ll need:
If you’re looking for a bigger chest, this powerhouse move will do it. Start by laying face up on the raised incline bench with a kettlebell in each hand and your palms facing each other. Raise your arms to above your shoulders. This will be your starting position. Engage your core and inhale as you slowly lower your arms laterally until they are almost parallel with the floor. Keep a slight bend in your elbow and activate your wrists. Exhale as you slowly raise the kettlebells to the starting position, making sure that you maintain your form. Muscle groups worked include pecs, lats and core.
Olympic benches, like utility benches, are different from flat benches in that the back can adjust to a flat, incline, or decline position. They’re also different than standard benches in that Olympic benches tend to have wider racks to support more weight. And while you can buy just an Olympic bench that’s not attached to a rack, an Olympic bench integrated with a rack is ideal for those who want to take their training up a notch and incorporate chest building exercises such as bench presses. Other features of Olympic benches can include a dual-action leg developer, consisting of 4 roller-pads and weight post, and a Preacher pad for bicep strength training.
When choosing an Olympic bench, consider whether to purchase a folding Olympic bench. Many folding Olympic benches offer the same features, including multi-positional bench pad, dual-action leg developer, and a Preacher pad. However, a foldable Olympic bench is unique in that it’s able to be folded for easy out-of-the-way storage when not in use.
Here are some exercises for your Olympic Weight Bench:
- Incline Chest Press
What you’ll need:
- Olympic Weight Lifting Bench
- Dumbbells – an adjustable dumbbell set like the ECO Iron 40lb Adjustable Dumbbell set with carrying case is a good choice because you can adjust to accommodate for various difficulty, depending on the exercise.
Position the incline to a 30-degree angle and sit with your back against the bench. Placing your feet on the floor, take a dumbbell in each hand and position your elbows at 90 degrees with your dumbbell facing out laterally. Push the dumbbells towards the ceiling maintaining that lateral position, hold for a count, and slowly lower back to 90 degrees. Repeat.
- Leg Extension exercises
What you’ll need:
- An Olympic Weight Bench with a leg extension weight like the Marcy Olympic Bench | MWB-732
- Olympic weight plates
Sit on the bench and position your legs under the extension pad. Check that your knees do not extend past your toes as this could cause damage to your knees. Activate your quads and lift the weight as you exhale. When you reach your maximum extension, pause and slowly lower the weight to the starting position as you inhale. Activate your core to protect your lower back and keep your body stable during the movement.
Standard and Combo Benches
Similar to Olympic benches, standard and combo benches feature many of the same attributes, including leg extension weights, racks for bench presses, and preacher curl pads. The key difference is the slightly smaller size of the racks. Be sure to keep your weight size in mind as you are deciding on the right weight bench for your needs. If your weights are Olympic size, you’ll need an Olympic bench, if you lift standard weights, choose the standard bench. If you’re looking for an economical option, take a look at the selection of Marcy Standard Bench Sets which include vinyl covered weights, heavy duty bar, and 3 spring clips all for one price.
So, whether you are working on the 6-pack, bulging biceps, or Superman sized pectorals, you can accomplish all that and more with the right weight bench. When it comes time to invest in the right bench for your training goals, ensure you’re purchasing the best, high-quality home weight bench available. Marcy benches are constructed from heavy-duty welded steel frames intended to withstand daily use and feature high-quality padding for added comfort.
Marcy has all the accessories you need to complete your workout. Look to us to provide a complete selection of weights and more.
Medhi. (2017, March 17) How to Overhead Press with Proper Form: The Definitive Guide. Retrieved from https://stronglifts.com/overhead-press/
Cespedes. (2017, September 11) Standard vs. Olympic Weight Bench. Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/307203-standard-vs-olympic-weight-bench/
(2016, August 10) Kettlebell Incline Flye: The Must-Do Chest Move. Retrieved from http://www.coachmag.co.uk/kettlebell-exercises/5656/kettlebell-incline-flye-the-must-do-chest-move