Apart from free weights such as dumbbells, or resistance bands, the weight bench is undoubtedly the most important piece of equipment for your home gym set-up, especially if you want to build muscle and strength by lifting heavy.
When weightlifting there are three main body positions you take up to move the weight around – standing, seated, and laying down. Using a bench will help you to perform exercises in all three positions, expanding the amount of exercises you can do and helping you to achieve your fitness goals.
And weight benches don’t just have to be for weights – you can incorporate them into calisthenics (body weight exercises) by performing dips, decline and incline push-ups and step ups, or into a rigorous cardio routine to help shift stubborn fat too! They are a really functional piece of equipment that will help you to expand your workout options, and once set up the weight bench can help you to train safely.
So what do you look for when buying the home gym weight bench? There are several set-ups you can go for depending on your individual needs and goals and I’ve laid out some considerations you may want to take a look at before you put your hand in your pocket.
What’s Your Budget?
Firstly you need to set yourself a budget in terms of the maximum you’re prepared to spend. A weight bench should be an investment however – both in your health and fitness and your safety – and should ideally last you for years. We all want something that’s durable and of high quality but we don’t all have deep pockets, so really consider what you’re prepared to spend and do some research. Having a budget will also help you to assess what your priorities are too.
What Are Your Goals?
Are you training for muscle gain and strength? If so then a sturdy, good quality bench is a must. Or perhaps you just want to maintain your current strength and physique – in which case a more basic option might be enough. You might even be looking for the bench you buy to be your sole piece of home gym equipment and provide you with everything you need instead of having lots of individual weights and bars – in which case you may want to look at more versatile options. Your fitness goals will shape your choices when it comes to choosing the right home gym weight bench for you.
Do You Know What Your Needs Are?
This segues us nicely into discussing what your needs are. It might be great to have a bench with lots of advanced features but is that really what you need – and could it actually constrain you in terms of the exercises you can perform that are already part of your training routine? An important consideration here is establishing your needs and choosing what will be right for you. Perhaps make a list of all the exercises you want to do whilst taking into account any other equipment you may have, or are wanting to get, and then have a read of my quick summaries of the three types of weight bench below.
Do You Have Enough Space?
This might seem like an obvious question but really think here about whether you have enough room to not only fit in a bench, but be able to train on it too. Do you have enough space to fully extend your arms on both sides when performing exercises such as chest flys or bench presses? Is there enough space for your legs to hang off the end of the bench when laying down or seated on it? Measure the space you have and take the dimensions of any weight bench you’re looking to buy into account.
The Home Gym Weight Bench – What Are Your Options?
Now you have a better idea of what may be a good fit for you, take a look at my summary of three of the most popular types of weight bench below to help you make a decision.
The simple flat or adjustable weight bench
Simple, but still very effective, this type of bench doesn’t come with any additional stands or extra add-ons, but it’s light and easy to move around. It’s also a flexible option if you want to use it in conjunction with a lifting stand or frame you may already have, or are looking to buy in addition.
I recently did a review of the Bowflex 5.1s adjustable weight bench that’s also easy to stow away – perfect for smaller home gym spaces.
The barbell weight bench
With an integrated barbell rest, this type of bench is perfect if you want to incorporate bench presses into your workout and don’t already have a stand or frame to hold your barbells.
Certain types of barbell benches also come with leg curl attachments to add new dimensions to your workouts.
I’ve just done a review of the Gorilla Sports Weight Bench with adjustable barbell rack, that also folds away nicely saving you space.
The multi-function weight bench
The multi-function bench has a host of all-in-one functions that are perfect if you want to perform a good range of exercises to a basic level. If you want a versatile piece of equipment that contains most, or all of the functionality you need, then this is perfect as you won’t have to buy lots of separate pieces of equipment to go with it.
There are other options out there that cover the commercial gym market which I won’t touch on here. They are typically more solid and durable and a lot heavier as they’re designed for heavy use and therefore come with a much higher price tag. If you’re a serious weight or power-lifter however you may find a commercial option more suitable.
I’ve just done a review on the HOMCOM Multi Gym Workstation – a great multi-function bench for home gyms that doesn’t cost the earth.
Do your research
So there you have it. We’ve covered the main things to consider when choosing the right sort of home gym weight bench, and hopefully this article has got you thinking about what may work best for your needs and in your home environment.
My advice is to do a bit of research and know what options are available to you in terms of your budget, goals, needs and the space you have available. And make sure you buy something that will last – check the warranty on any product you buy to ensure it’s going to withstand your workouts. Get all of this correct and the right weight bench will help you maximise your gains and help sustain your workouts well into the future.