If there’s one gym equipment that can help you with pretty much all the moves needed for a full-body movement, it would be none other than the weight bench.
It’s the central piece of gym equipment in a weightlifting set and one you’ll often see in a commercial gym or home gym. But one question that home gym enthusiasts often wonder is – “Do I need a weight bench?”
Some think adding such equipment at home is unnecessary and takes up too much space, while others believe it will enable them to target different muscle groups effectively.
So, before you click that checkout button and spend your money on a new weight bench, find out below if you need one. Let’s jump right in!
Do You Need a Weight Bench for a Home Gym?
Not really. A weight bench for a home gym is not essential. If you’re lifting weights for fat loss, general fitness, or HIIT, you may not need a bench because there are other floor and standing exercises you can do as an alternative to reach your goals.
But if your fitness goal is to build muscle mass and improve your strength, a weight bench will be a fundamental piece of gym equipment. Therefore, I recommend investing in one to increase the quality and variety of your workout routine.
On the other hand, if you’re strapped for cash or have limited space at home, it’s OK not to buy a weight bench. You can still make consistent gains with exercises that don’t require a bench.
For instance, you can do bodyweight workouts, standing exercises, and similar movements on the floor (triceps extensions, floor press, etc.) and use alternative equipment at home, like stairs, chairs, or a couch.
Best Ways to Get a Great Workout Without a Bench
A weight bench is a valuable tool, but it doesn’t mean you should buy one. Alternative tools and exercises are available to you even without a gym bench.
These tools include a chair (although potentially dangerous and uncomfortable as a bench replacement), a piano bench, and a stability ball.
My favorite chest exercises that don’t require a weight bench include the following:
- Cable crossover
- Floor press
- Svend press
Different Types of Weight Benches
Depending on your intended use and fitness goals, there may be a better type of workout bench for you. Here are the different weight benches you can find on the market:
1. Flat Bench
True to its name, the flat bench is the least complex type. It has a simple design: a bench platform and sturdy legs. This pad or platform provides free weights to sit on or lay down while training.
You can do many exercises with this type of bench, such as the dumbbell bench press, skull crushers, and concentration curls. I like this type of bench because it doesn’t have fancy features. It’s durable, affordable, and gets the job done.
But if you’re planning to create a makeshift workout bench for home use, a piano bench makes an excellent alternative to flat-weight benches. They’re firm, durable, have a padded seat, and are also stable.
Unfortunately, you can’t adjust its angles to other exercises, like the decline or incline bench press.
2. Adjustable Bench
Adjustable benches are sometimes referred to as FID benches, which mean Flat, Incline, and Decline, describing what these exercise equipment are all about.
Some people prefer this type of bench because it provides them with more exercise options. An adjustable bench helps people target different muscle groups in various ways.
For instance, declining the bench increases the difficulty level of certain moves by adding another layer of work against gravity. The added resistance makes exercises, like abdominal crunches, more intense.
Investing in an adjustable weight bench improves your muscular endurance, increases upper body strength, and prepares you for other exercises, like press-ups.
3. Folding Weight Bench
A folding bench is ideal if you’re looking for more portability. As the name suggests, you can fold this exercise equipment for easy storage. It is usually built with a joint closer to one end of the bench.
This design allows the user to raise one end of the bench or adjust it in the best position to perform specific weight-lifting workouts.
4. Abdominal Weight Bench
An abdominal gym bench is unique as it allows you to focus on ab workouts. It can be laid out in decline or incline and often comes with a foot roller for leg exercises. You can lock your feet on the foot roller.
To build core strength you can perform sit-ups at different angles and various ab movements in this weight bench to build core strength. You can also perform a plank knee-up, lying leg-raise, leg pull-in, and seated shoulder press.
5. Preaching Curl Weight Bench
The preaching curl weight bench is an isolation exercise bench that targets the biceps. What I like about it is that it lessens any cheating. It does so because you’re sitting down when you’re working out, so your back and straps stay stationary, and the biceps do the work.
This type of bench enables you to do seated curls with cables, bars, or dumbbells. Moreover, it has an adjustable seat and has the option to either use your right or left arm first.
However, a downside of this type of bench is that the fixed position may limit your range of motion.
6. Olympic Weight Bench
An Olympic weight bench usually has a multi-tiered re-racking system for safe and comfortable re-racking of barbells. A downside, however, is their large size and fixed angles.
Still, this is the type of bench that can handle enormous loads. If you used to exercise in a commercial gym, this is the type of bench you find there. Moreover, an Olympic weight bench is made of high-quality composite steel and is suitable for serious powerlifters.
Pros and Cons of Getting a Weight Bench
Here’s a summary of the pros and cons of getting a weight bench for your home gym:
- You can use it to target different muscle groups and for other exercises
- You can use it for body weight exercise and strength training
- It’s an essential component in a muscle-building program
- You can use it for post-surgery or injury rehabilitation
- A more excellent range of motion is achieved with a weight bench
- It can help you build bigger pecs
- It is an excellent long-term investment and can last for up to five to 10 years
- A comfortable lifting platform
- Some weight benches are comparatively costly
- It may have a large footprint
- Some weight benches are fit for a specific type of user only
- An adjustable weight bench may have a gap between the horizontal and flat portions. These gaps can be unsafe and uncomfortable (not all).
- The flat bench doesn’t allow users to perform decline and incline exercises.
How to Use a Weight Bench
Owning a weight bench opens up a new world of workouts, but knowing how to use it properly is vital to your success. Using it correctly also lowers your risk of injury.
1. If it’s your first time using a weight bench, begin with light weights and use the correct form.
2. Practice breathing correctly to perform workouts optimally and safely. Doing so also provides oxygen to your body so your muscles recover, minimises the range of motion, and creates stability in your torso and rib cage.
3. If you have an adjustable bench, adjust the bench or seat to suit the slope or make your workout more comfortable.
4. Decide the weight to use, as each user has a different weightlifting ability. For instance, some people can do more bicep curls than the bench press. You also have to decide whether to choose dumbbells or a barbell.
5. Lastly, pay attention to the four contact points: feed, hips, shoulders, and head (where the body should be in contact with the weight bench).
If you’re building your own home gym to make consistent gains, yes, you need a weight bench. It’ll even save you money in the long run.
Aside from not paying monthly gym membership fees, you will also have a warranty advantage and the freedom to determine how and when you need to.
A weight bench is versatile, and you can use it for chest presses, core exercises, lifting dumbbells, and more!
But then again, it’s not for everyone. Some believe it is only suitable for people with specific goals (increasing muscle mass and building upper-body strength). It’s also important to note that it has a storage footprint.
So, you have to consider the size of your home gym when planning to buy a weight bench. After all, you don’t want to waste your cash on purchasing an unsuitable weight bench only to replace it a few months later.
For access to more exercise and fitness articles, lifestyle tips, celebrity workouts, nutrition and health info, visit ExpertFitness.org.
Nathan Lloyd, MSc
LICENSED PERSONAL TRAINER
I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.
If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.