Compact, versatile and space-efficient, weight benches allow you to do far more than you might suspect. Beyond chest presses, rows, triceps dips and other strength-training exercises, weight benches can also be used to do so much more at home.
"Yes, benches can be used for bench and chest pressing," says Grayson Wickham, DPT, a certified sports and conditioning specialist (CSCS), physical therapist and founder of Movement Vault, a digital movement education platform. But, he says, "they can also be used for seated good mornings, step-ups, lateral raises, cow stretch, shoulder to overhead press, core work and more."
While most of those exercises can be done while standing or lying down, doing them on a weight bench takes your legs out of the equation, forcing you to recruit your core and upper-body muscles to do the work.
Adjusting the angle of the weight bench also allows you to target different muscles more closely. In other words, Wickham says, weight benches ultimately help you get stronger, faster.
With so many different types of benches on the market, the best bench for you depends on your fitness goals, space, budget and more. Read on to get some expert-recommended picks and learn what to look for when shopping.
The 5 Best Weight Benches
1. Best Overall: Rep Ab-5200 Adjustable Bench
Rep Fitness is known for their uber-adjustable, long-lasting weight benches. The Rep Ab-5200 Adjustable Bench doesn't just look hardcore — it is hardcore. It weighs in at 125 pounds and is as heavy-duty and durable as a weight bench gets. Luckily, it comes on wheels so you'll be able to cart it from one end of your home gym to another.
It can also be adjusted by increments of 10 and 15 degrees, which Wickham says allows you to completely sculpt your muscles. It also has a 1,000-pound capacity, so even the strongest powerlifters in the world can safely use this bench.
Buy it: Rep Fitness; Price: $449
2. Best for Bench Presses: Rogue Monster Westside Bench
Has waving goodbye to your gym meant waving goodbye to your right-hand spotter? Then you might consider this setup, which features spotter decks. These sling-like reinforcements can catch the bar should you fail the rep.
But Wickham advises against failing reps on the regular: "Failing reps really taxes your central nervous system, leading to greater muscle breakdown and greater risk of injury." In other words, it only takes one miss to welcome injury. Still, the few times a year — he recommends testing it once every 8 to 12 weeks — you do fail a rep, these guards could save you.
The Rogue Monster Westside Bench also comes with an extra-wide pad with a double-reinforced steel spine running underneath it, which work together to deliver maximum back support. By reducing flex in the pad itself, this feature reduces the potential risk to your spine, Wickham says.
The only downside of this bench is its price — ringing up at nearly $1,500. But you're paying for the quality — and most online reviewers say it's worth it.
"This is truly a magnificent piece of equipment," writes one on the Rogue website.
"Extremely happy with this bench, it is overbuilt, making it a rock-solid piece of equipment, and the fat pad is unbelievably comfortable and provides a great platform even for a large-framed person like myself...can't say enough good things about this bench!" writes another.
Buy it: Rogue Fitness; Price: $1,495
3. Best Multi-Purpose Bench: Sporzon Multifunctional Workout Station Adjustable Workout Bench
Benches are a great investment for your home gym, but with so many different types of strength equipment on the market it makes sense if you're feeling a little unsure about what to get. The good news is that the Sporzon Multifunctional Workout Station makes it easy.
It's not only an exercise bench, but it serves as a squat rack, leg extension and preacher curl bar in one. So if you're looking to trick out your home gym, this investment piece might be worth the additional splurge.
According to Wickham, the addition of the squat rack alone makes it worth the price. "For starters, squats are a great way to work your core and legs," he says. "Squatting is arguably the most functional movement we can master as humans due to the amount of times our daily movements require the squat motion," he says.
Buy it: Amazon; Price: $332.92
4. Best for Small Spaces: FlyBird Adjustable Bench
With more than 4,000 rave reviews, this Amazon Choice pick for weight benches proves that you can live in a teensy apartment and still get in on the gym-like action.
Designed with seven back positions and three seated positions, this wallet-savvy purchase gives you 21 different benches in one. And it folds completely flat. No bigger than an ironing board when stashed away, you can easily slide it under your bed or tuck it into a corner of your closet when you're done using it.
It's also ideal for doing other types of cardio and strength exercises, like jump-overs, burpees, triceps dips, rows, hip thrusts and incline or decline push-ups.
One happy shopper writes, "I live in a studio apartment and had a full bench that I couldn't stand looking at anymore. I wanted something just as functional but easy to store. This bench is perfect."
The one downside of the bench is that it's only for folks 6'2" and under. And with a 620-pound maximum capacity, some lifters with serious chest strength may not be able to press their heaviest weights. Luckily, most folks shouldn't have any issues.
Buy it: Amazon; Price: $169.99
5. Best on a Budget: Fitness Gear Utility Bench
For a no-frills, budget-friendly pick, stick to the Fitness Gear Utility Bench. Its simple design allows users to create a flat, incline or decline bench. "A bench that does multiple positions is a great investment," says Alena Luciani, MS, CSCS, founder of Training2xl.
That's because when you change the angle of the bench, you change the muscles being exercised, she says. "If, for instance, you do a chest press on a flat bench, it works a different angle of the pectoral muscles than if you did a chest press on an incline bench."
One caveat: According to multiple online reviewers, the instructions that come with the bench are a little confusing. "It is really easy to put together if you ignore the instructions," writes one. "Assembly instructions do not match the picture of the bench," says another. So, trust your gut, or call on your handiest friend for some assistance.
Buy it: Dick's Sporting Goods; Price: $99.99
What to Know Before You Buy
There are three main things to keep in mind while figuring out the best bench for you.
An adjustable bench allows you to control the angle in which you're seated or lying down. Angle determines what portion of the muscle fibers are being worked during an exercise, Wickham says.
While an adjustable bench is best for building full-body strength, "unless you're into bodybuilding and specifically working on building your upper body, you likely won't use an incline as much as you think," he says. It's worth considering whether you're going to use the incline (or decline, for that matter) before spending a little more on a bench that has these features.
2. Weight Capacity
If you're going to lift on a bench, you don't want it to collapse under the load. Factor in your own weight plus the weight you'll be lifting.
3. Size and Budget
Both the size of your home gym (or office-turned-gym) and budget are probably going to play a major role in what bench you get — and they should. There are weight benches available at every price point and size, so don't feel like you need to compromise on either as you peruse.
In the meantime, go ahead and use any old ottoman, bench or chair hanging around. "There are so many other pieces of furniture that can double as weight benches if you don't have or can't afford one," Luciani says.