Product: Bowflex 5.1s Stowable Bench
Price: $231.00 / £169.55 (prices always changing but check for special offers)
Best place to buy: Amazon.com
Guarantee: 15 years frame, 1 year upholstery
My rating: 9 out of 10
The Bowflex 5.1s Stowable Bench, Product Overview
If you’re making the most of daily workouts at home – whatever your exercise of choice – you may well have been thinking about how you can improve your home gym set-up.
Of course, dumbbells and other free weights, or bands, may be your item of choice, but what about investing in a weight bench?
A bench can help you unlock a whole new range of exercises to spice up your workouts and help keep those gains coming. Think about adding presses, flys, curls, split squats and more to your training, or incorporate it into tougher cardio workouts by using it for box jumps or bench jump-overs to increase your heart rate and burn stubborn fat.
Ideally you’ll want to go for an adjustable weight bench where you can alter the seat and backrest whilst remaining comfortable, to really maximise on the different workout opportunities a bench can give you.
The Bowflex 5.1s Stowable Bench, is one such weight bench that offers all of these added workout possibilities, and some. And with its easy button ‘click, lift and go’ feature, you can easily stow it to save space when not in use – a real plus for those of us with minimal room at home.
I’ve used the bench myself so I’m going to be walking you through some of my favourite aspects of it within this review.
If You Pay a Little More, You Can Expect Quality
Now we don’t all have limitless pockets when it comes to spending out on things, but I’m a firm believer that investing in good, durable equipment as opposed to something cheaper and flimsier, will pay dividends. This is important – not just in terms of your safety (you don’t want frames or seats buckling, ripping or wobbling) but also actually saving you having to fork out more money a couple of years down the line in replacements when the cheap one you purchased dies a disappointingly premature death.
Bowflex is a reputable company and builds some of the best quality, and most highly rated, products on the market. The Bowflex 5.1s Stowable Bench is no exception to this and a lot of online reviews would agree.
Made from heavy-duty commercial steel, it’s built strong to last, with a 600lb load capacity and high density foam padding that provides a nice comfortable, and supportive platform for your workouts. It’s fully adjustable too across six positions from decline to flat and then 30, 45, 60, and 90 degree angles. And if the sturdy construction wasn’t already enough to convince you this bench was built to last, its 15 year warranty should provide you with added reassurance.
Overview of the Bowflex 5.1s Stowable Bench features
Adjustable to six different angles from a 17 degree decline to 90 degree incline with an easy selection knob to adjust between positions quickly and easily
Easy button click, lift and go to simply and easily fold away, carry and store – saving space when not in use
Removable leg hold-down brace to add support in decline position
Transport wheels to easily move across the floor
Load capacity 600 lbs (272kg)
Product dimensions: (LxWxH) 61.3 x 28.1 x 49.5 inches (155 x 71 x 125 cm)
With a lot of weight benches offering weight capacities of up to around 770 Ibs (350kg) +, I’m surprised the Bowflex’s max load isn’t higher – especially as it’s so well-built and sturdy. It’s not the cheapest either and is placed in the higher price bracket of adjustable benches. This could be because of the folding feature which takes away some of the benches rigidity, but still – for the price this is a pretty low max weight threshold.
Granted we won’t all need anything over 600lbs, but when you take into account your body weight + whatever you’re lifting, a 250Ilb person benching 300lbs isn’t left with that much room for manoeuvre. This is really only a problem for heavier weightlifters though – but a factor to keep in mind when looking to invest in any weight bench.
Although the 5.1s loses some points in terms of weight capacity, it wins some back here. There are so many adjustable benches that stop short of full incline, but with 90 degrees of incline under its belt you can get in a full range of exercises without having to resort to buying a separate bench just for this angle. The bench also includes five other angles ranging from 90 degrees all the way down to flat and then a 17 degree decline.
Another feature I really like is the introduction of adjustable height stabilising feet which are great to combat uneven floors as you can adjust any of the legs to avoid wobble. I have to say this is the first time I’ve seen this feature on any weight bench I’ve used – so a big plus for me here.
As well as an adjustable back, the 5.1s also includes an adjustable seat – a really important feature that should not be overlooked, especially for incline presses when the last thing you want is for your butt to slide off the seat. When lifting heavy you want stability, and you get it here in spades.
As I mentioned, Bowflex builds some of the best quality gym equipment available and their previous two weight benches – the 3.1 and 5.1 confirm this. The build is solid, made from a heavy-duty commercial steel construction which makes it feel rock solid underneath you when you’re bench pressing. Often times, especially in gyms, I’ve felt the weight bench wobble underneath me, or click or move – and the last thing you want to be thinking about whilst trying to smash your PB is whether the bench underneath you is going to hold out. I’ve actually had some of my best workouts whilst using this bench in all its positions.
Of course the build quality means it’s slightly heavier than some other benches out there -but the increased stability more than makes up for the added weight when moving it across the floor or stowing it away.
Although sometimes overlooked, I think comfort plays an important role in defining a good quality weight bench. If I’m uncomfortable and feel unsupported when I’m lifting whilst seated or lying down I find that really affects my workout. As well as a sturdy base, the 5.1s is made from high density foam padding providing a really comfortable platform for any exercise. A potential negative here – which doesn’t overly affect me but may affect others – is the gap between the seat and the back pad, especially when lying flat, which may be too large and uncomfortable for some. If it does cause a problem this can easily be solved by putting an item such as a towel or cushion in between the gap – so not a complete game-changer.
Wait, you mentioned there’s a 5.1 model too?
Yes, and essentially they’re pretty much the same – both having adjustable seats, six back positions, a 600lbs weight load and made of the same high quality material.
The difference with the 5.1s is its stowability. It’s a fold flat version of the 5.1 which means it can be more easily stored and takes up less room – which is perfect for me as I have little storage space and need something easily stowable that doesn’t compromise on quality. Of course foldable benches are nothing new, but for Bowflex this is the first model that includes this functionality – very useful for tight training spaces.
Should You Buy It?
The Bowflex 5.1s Stowable Bench is, in my opinion, one of the best available. In terms of build quality, comfort, adjustability, support and stability it ticks many of the boxes you’d want out of a bench. That said, if you’re on the shorter side you may find the gap between the seat and back pad too big, and if you’re on the heavier side you want to check that the weight capacity of the bench is sufficient and gives you enough room for progression. If not then this may not be the right fit for you.
All in all however I’ve got a lot of love for this bench and the positives for me more than make up for any downsides in max load weight or the gap between the seat and back pad. If you’re looking for comfort, support and adjustability to help fire up your workouts and enable you to continue smashing your PBs, then this is a bench you should consider. And with a premium build quality, the slightly higher price tag will more than pay for itself over time.
Just so you know…
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