Weight benches are an ideal tool that can be used in any training program that is focused on increasing strength and are a great way to optimise your workouts. There are a variety of types such as flat benches, folding benches, and Olympic benches, which can be tailored to your specific needs and exercise goals.
What are the benefits of weight benches?
Weight benches are ideal for helping to increase strength, as they provide a solid base, allowing users to train at or near their limit.
Including a weight bench in your workout takes you from being able to only do standing exercises to adding seated, lying, leaning and a number of other different variations to the mix. This versatility enables you to perform a variety of exercises that make for an incredibly well-rounded workout programme.
Stability is essential for those with joint issues, as training with heavy weights can exacerbate such issues. Performing exercises from a stable seated or lying position gives you full control of the weight, minimising risk and allowing you to train in a confident manner, whether you have a pre-existing joint issue or not.
The simplest form of many exercises is the variety performed from a sitting or lying position, as it allows you to focus solely on the exercise at hand. This makes weight benches ideal for users of all abilities, as newer lifters can learn the exercises safely, while more experienced users can push themselves to their limit on each exercise.
Trying to create variety in a workout can often be time-consuming, having to move between different pieces of equipment to keep your body guessing. Using a weight bench allows you to dramatically increase the versatility in your workout without having to move around, perfectly optimising how you train and saving you time.
The best way to build muscle is to train with as many different exercises as possible. Weight benches allow you to hit your muscles from more angles, which is especially true of adjustable benches, and allow a greater range of motion in exercises like the bench press. This makes them almost essential when it comes to building muscle.
Types of weight benches
Barbell benches are those that come with a barbell rack around the upper part of them. These are designed for people planning to use them for heavy barbell exercises, such as a bench press. Most home users will opt for a Standard bench which will be compatible with Standard Barbells, though more experienced users seeking to work with heavier weights may well opt for an Olympic bench for use with an Olympic Barbell.
Utility benches are those designed to be adjustable to a variety of increments. These are the most versatile benches and are ideal for people planning to perform a wide range of exercises on them.
Flat benches are the most basic of all benches, they are free-standing like a utility bench but don’t feature any adjustable incline settings. These are best suited for people on a budget or those who only plan to perform exercises that require a completely horizontal bench, such as dumbbell press, bent over rows, seated dips etc.
Things to consider
The adjustability of the seat is an important consideration, as the angle of the body will determine what portion of muscles will be targeted. Not all benches offer a range of adjustability that allows for decline presses (for the lower chest) or upright back support for overhead presses (for the shoulders). Some benches feature adjustable seats so that when the backrest is inclined the seat can also angle up to prevent the user from sliding downwards as well as encouraging the lower back to remain flat.
You should work out how many exercises you are hoping to perform and make sure your chosen bench can accommodate all of them.
If you plan to use your bench frequently, for heavy training, or with multiple users, make sure it is designed to endure the wear and tear you are going to put it through.
While weight benches are generally very sturdy, robust items, if you feel you are particularly heavy or are planning to lift particularly heavy weights, make sure the weight capacity of the bench you're looking at is great enough for you to use it safely. Don’t forget to take into account the maximum weight that you’re planning on lifting in addition to your own body weight!
If you have limited space to train in, ensure the dimensions of the bench you are considering are suitable for the environment it will be used in. This is especially important if you are looking at a barbell bench.
Folding or not
Some benches have the ability to be folded away after use. If you are planning to store yours in between sessions, make sure it is foldable and, if so, what its dimensions are when folded.
Make sure checking the price is the first thing you do, as this saves you wasting your time analysing a bench, only to discover it wasn’t in your budget to begin with. This is especially important on higher-priced equipment.
Weight bench maintenance
Weight benches should be cleaned after every use to stop them from becoming stained or smelly. You may also want to occasionally apply a mild lubricant, such as a light grease, to the moving parts, in order to ensure they continue to operate smoothly.