Weight Bench Buyer’s Guide
Lifting weight is serious business. Whenever you’re pushing heavy iron overhead, you risk injuring yourself. That makes it absolutely vital that the training equipment that you use is able to do the job properly. In a commercial gym setting, you can feel pretty confident that the gear is going to handle anything you can throw at it. When it comes to working out at home, however, it’s a whole different story. There’s a whole lot of home exercise equipment out there that can only be described as cheap and nasty. Nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to that most basic home gym requirement – the weight bench. Yet, getting the proper bench for the job you demand of it will allow you to train more effectively while giving you the peace of mind that you are performing on a safe, sturdy base as you throw around the heavy iron. Aside from this article, James, from Garage Gym Builder, has a great resource for finding the best weight bench for your home gym. There are tons of different brands, models, and specifications that can be quite confusing if you don’t know exactly what to look for. Check out their guide before you buy.
Weight Bench Basics
When it comes to home weight benches, there are three options:
(1) Bench Station – this is a bench that has two uprights to support a bench press bar.
(2) Utility Benches – these benches adjust for a flat, incline or decline surface.
(3) Standard Flat Bench – this does not adjust to give a variety of bench angles; it is simply a flat bench.
Bench stations are often very cumbersome and bulky. Many of them also include such extra options as leg extensions, shoulder presses and leg curls. In this article we will exclude bench stations.
What To Look For
Regardless of the type of bench that you’re after, the first and prime consideration must be what is the weight rating. Benches are rated in accord with the maximum load that are can handle. It’s important to know that maximum load also takes into account your body weight. So, if you weigh 200 pounds and you can bench press your body weight, then you need a bench that can handle a maximum weight of at least 400 pounds. When you consider that the whole point of training is to get stronger, you really need something that is about 100 pounds heavier than that.
The less expense utility benches don’t rate very highly. This is primarily a result of their high number of moving parts. The more moving parts a bench has, the more stress points there are. This then limits the maximum weight that the bench can support. A higher bench rating can only be achieved through quality construction, including strong welds and minimum moving parts.
Bench height is another crucial factor when buying a bench. If a bench is too high, you are going to struggle to get your feet on the floor, limiting your ability to push through the floor as you bench. This will also prevent you from achieving a proper lower back arch.
If a bench is too low to the ground, however, you will not be able to position yourself in the best position to use maximum force when doing overhead pressing work.
The firmness of the bench pad is important to getting the bench that will do the business for you. Use the following rule of thumb to see if the bench you’re considering is sold; if you can press your thumb into the middle of the pad and touch the wooden base of the bench, the pad is too soft.
The width of your weight bench is another factor that can affect your exercise performance. A bench that is too wide may restrict the movement of the lats, preventing the exerciser from fully extending the resistance as the elbows travel below the line of the body. This will limit the weight you can lift as well as the range of motion you can achieve. The correct width of a bench should allow your lats to extend over the side of the bench.
Should You Buy a Utility Bench?
A Utility bench will give you the freedom to adjust the bench angle. This will allow you to do a full range of incline, decline and flat bench work. That would appear to make the utility bench a rather obvious preferential choice. There are, however, pros and cons to getting a utility bench over a standard flat bench . . .
o The bench allows you to adjust to fully upright for shoulder pressing work
o You are able to adjust the bench to a range of incline and decline angles to work the chest from different angles
o Many benches feature a leg support to hold you firmly in place when doing decline work. Often this attachment will double as a leg extension / leg curl unit.
o Utility benches cost quite a lot more than standard flat benches
o Utility benches are generally not as sturdy as flat benches due to the number of moving parts
o Utility benches are often higher off the ground than flat benches to allow for the mechanism under the bench
Clearly, there is a price to pay for the luxury of being able to adjust your bench angle. For those with a flat bench, however, angled work can be achieved simply by placing the bench end on a raised platform.
Regardless of the type of bench you select, you will have a versatile piece of equipment that will allow you to perform a large range of exercises. Your bench will allow you to do the following exercises for the various parts of your body . . .
Ø Flat, incline or decline barbell bench press (ideal inclines angle to target the pectorals is 25-30 degrees).
Ø Flat, incline or decline dumbbell bench press
Ø Flat, incline or decline flyes
Ø Seated Barbell Military Press
Ø Seated Dumbbell Press
Ø Seated Lateral Raises
Ø Prone Reverse Flyes
Ø Incline Dumbbell Rows
Ø Decline Dumbbell Rows
Ø One Arm Row
Ø Lying Triceps Extension
Ø Overhead Triceps Extension
Ø Triceps Kickbacks
Ø Close Grip Bench Press
Ø Seated Dumbbell Curl
Ø Seated Concentration Curl
Ø Wrist Curl
Ø Bulgarian Split Squat
Ø Decline Leg Curl
Ø Seated Calf Raise
There you have it, an awesome resource for buying your first weight bench. you enjoyed this article, and want more of this type of content head over to GarageGymBuilder.com where they have a huge database of product buying guides and workout resources.