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If you’re serious about training and don’t want to end up on the floor with your body bruised as much as your ego, investing in a quality bench is fundamental.
Providing stability and support, a decent bench is essential to avoid injury, especially if you plan to lift heavy.
There are so many different types of weightlifting bench to choose from and the right one for you will depend on your experience, how heavy you lift and how you are going to use the bench.
Benches have a “maximum user load” for both the bench itself and the weight stands (that’s if it has weight stands – not all do). If you are planning to lift HEAVY on your bench then double-check this before you buy.
Weight benches come in all different shapes and sizes. Check the dimensions of your weight bench – will it work with your existing equipment? Will it fit into the space you have available? Compact versions are great for garage gyms and tight spaces and some benches fold up for storage when not in use.
You want your bench to be as sturdy as possible but remember that sturdy usually means it will be heavy – if you need your bench to be portable then bear this in mind!
Not all weight benches can be used for all exercises – make sure the one you have chosen allows you to train the way you want to train. For example, some benches are fixed in a set position. Other benches can be adjusted to accommodate an upright seating position, different incline angles, flat level and decline position. The more positions available, the greater the variety of exercises that can be performed on the bench.
Olympic or free weight bench?
Olympic benches are made for heavy lifting (these are the ones you’ll usually see in commercial gyms). They are designed to accommodate the standard 7ft Olympic weightlifting bars whereas free weight benches are generally much smaller (in length, width and sturdiness).
Free weight benches are used with shorter barbells or dumbbells and are much more affordable, lighter (easy to transport) and tend to have more adjustment options.