The Best Weight Benches 2017 – Top Picks & Reviews
- Our Top 5 Weight Bench Picks
- Factor To Consider When Buying a Weight Bench
When it comes to building muscle, the saying “use it or lose it” takes on a literal meaning. In the absence of a constant impetus to grow, your muscles would be more than happy to kick back and relax. But, unlike people, who gain weight and volume when they forego training, muscles shrink.
To keep yourself in top shape, whether it is for aesthetic, functional, or professional reasons, weight training is essential. And, in order to perform some of the most important lifts, you need a weight bench.
However, there are a ton of weight benches out there with seemingly not much differentiating them. But, only small percentage of them have the potential to fully address your fitness needs. So, how do you identify the best weight bench for your unique requirements? Well, that’s what this article is about.
Our Top 5 Weight Bench Picks
|MODEL||PRODUCT DIMENSIONS||ITEM WEIGHT||USER RATING||PRICE|
|Power Block Sport Bench||50 x 21.5 x 18 inches||57 pounds||4.5/5||$$$$$
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|Universal 5 Position ||51 x 17 x 25 inches ||21.5 pounds||4.2/5||$
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|Body Champ Olympic BCB5860||76 x 56 x 55 inches||78.5 pounds||4.2/5||$$
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|Bowflex SelectTech 5.1 Adjustable||54 x 19 x 9 inches||63 pounds||4.1/5||$$$
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|Marcy Diamond Olympic Bench||62 x 23 x 7 inches||114 pounds||4.1/5||$$$$$
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There’s a lot of information here. So, we’ve divided the article into two parts. First, we have our list of the best weight benches of 2017 highlighting the best weight benches on the market. After quickly scanning these products, move to the next section where we look at the factors to consider when buying a weight bench. We’ll discuss all the details involved in buying a weight bench. After you go through the buying guide, jump back to our list of the best weight benches to pick a product that meets your requirements. Or, if you feel like exploring more options, you can do that too. So, let’s get started.
#1 Bowflex SelectTech 5.1 Adjustable – Our Top Pick
The Bowflex SelectTech 5.1 Adjustable weight bench offers 5 angular adjustments for the backrest and one for the seat. This covers decline, flat, incline, and upright positions. It has a detachable leg brace for sit-ups too. However, unless you own a bench press stand, you cannot do bench presses with this weight bench. Also, you can’t do leg curls or leg lifts because the leg brace is static and there’s no provision to load weights.
Although this weight bench is mostly wobble-free, there is a semi-critical design flaw. In the flat position, there is a wide gap between the seat and the backrest. This leaves the lower back unsupported, causing some safety issues.
But, despite the shortcomings, a majority of the customers are extremely happy with their purchase. The product’s Amazon ratings prove this sentiment. Also, Bowflex is a brand owned by Nautilus, one of the world’s leading fitness equipment manufacturers.
This is a fantastic bench for home use. But, there are better products for those with commercial aspirations.
- Good for home users
- Supports decline, flat, incline, and upright position
- Reasonably priced
- Acceptable construction and build
- Not good for commercial users
- Lower back unsupported in flat position
- Requires stand for bench press
- Can’t do leg curls and leg lifts
- Emits a pungent odor at the start
#2 Universal 5 Position – Best For The Money
The Universal 5 position weight bench provides a 10° decline, along with 0°, 15°, 30°, and 45° inclines. It covers most of the angular positions except 60° and 90°. However, you can’t adjust the seat’s angle. Although the leg brace allows for sit-ups, the machine doesn’t support bench presses, leg curls, and leg lifts.
When it comes to build quality and construction, this weight bench is mostly flawless. There’s a tiny problem with the plastic cap securing the leg brace popping out. But, you can easily solve that problem with some duct tape. Apart from this, the seat and backrest are well-padded, the leather cover is thick and durable, the frame is sturdy, and the welds are strong.
Interestingly, Nautilus owns both Bowflex and Universal. Thus, in terms of brand value, the Universal 5 stands on the same footing as our top pick. Even with regard to customer ratings, the Universal 5 goes toe to toe with our top pick.
Now, the best part – the price. The Universal 5 is so reasonably priced that it overshadows most of the negatives. For this price, the utility, build quality, customer approval, and brand value that this product offers is unbeatable. That’s why this is the best weight bench for the money.
- Significant economical advantage
- Good build quality and design
- Popular and reputed brand
- No 60° and 90° position
- Does not support bench press, leg lifts, and leg curls
#3 Marcy Diamond Olympic Bench – Best Olympic Weight Bench
I’ll get right to it, the Marcy Diamond Olympic Bench is fantastic at what it does. It’s compatible with Olympic weights and it offers decline, incline, flat, and near military press position. Plus, you get a bench press stand, sit-up leg brace, bicep curl pad, leg curl brace, and leg lift brace.
Construction quality and design wise, there aren’t any major negatives to point out. The machine has a durable build and there aren’t any design flaws that limit the usability of the machine. Plus, it is compatible with Olympic weights.
Before we discuss the brand value and customer approval, I want to discuss the value for money. You see, the machine is versatile. But, at the same time, you need additional accessories to make full use of the machine. The unit itself is pretty reasonable. However, if you want to level-up to full functionality, it could cost you a lot more.
With that out of the way, Marcy is an established brand in the fitness space. The company has been around since the 1940’s. When it comes to customer reviews, this product shares nearly the same customer review profile as our top pick. But, there’s a significant gap between the number of reviews.
- Supports a large number of exercises
- Good quality build and design
- Olympic weight compatible
- Reputed and popular brand
- Full functionality requires additional equipment
#4 Body Champ Olympic BCB5860 – Best Weight Bench Set
The Body Champ Olympic BCB5860 is a fully-functional weight bench. I mean, you get a seven-position backrest adjustment, a leg brace for sit-ups, a preacher curl pad, a bench press stand and rollers for leg lifts and leg curls. Pretty much everything you need.
However, there’s are some quality issues with this bench. First, some people have found this machine to be hard to assemble. After you do assemble it, you’ll run into some design issues, such as the awkward distance between the bench press stands and limited roller adjustment for leg lifts and curls. The upholstery work doesn’t seem durable and there are some stability issues. Also, the machine is not truly Olympic weight compatible. You must be very careful about the weights you’re going to buy for this one.
However, this machine does have many favorable customer reviews. This suggests that for most people it overcomes the quality issues when it comes to functionality. When it comes down to it, functionality is more important than some small issues. Price-wise, this weight bench is more economical than the Marcy Diamond Olympic Bench. This gives it a slight edge.
- Affordable price
- Fully functional
- Poor build quality and design
- Requires additional equipment for full functionality
- Weak brand
#5 Power Block Sport Bench – A Bench Worth Mentioning
The Power Block Sports Bench is another interesting weight bench that caught our attention – but, not from a utility perspective. Although it offers 5 backrest positions, 0°, 30°, 45°, 60°, and military, it comes with no decline adjustment. What’s more, there’s no leg brace for sit-ups. So, this is a very basic weight bench. However, not everyone needs every option. It does the simple things well.
But, what it lacks in utility, it makes up for in construction and design quality. The thick frame, secure joints, and comfortable padding all contribute towards making this an extremely robust weight bench.
And, the bench height is appropriate for people on the shorter side as well. This can be hard to find on the market, currently.
Enjoying mostly positive reviews, this product rates high in customer satisfaction. The negative reviews mostly indicate that this is a beginner level bench that does not support heavy loads. So, keep in mind that this is a beginner bench. That’s not necessarily a bad idea to start with a simple, well-constructed bench.
- Great design and durable built
- Reasonable price
- Suitable for shorter people
- Limited functionality
- Suitable for beginners
Factor To Consider When Buying a Weight Bench
In this part of the guide, we’ll go through the factors to keep in mind when buying a weight bench. We’ll talk a little about some of the pros and cons of buying a weight bench, but put more emphasis on explaining the important factors that you must consider when buying a weight bench. At the end of this section, I will also point you to popular brands in this space. This way, you can expand your options beyond the products listed here.
Should I buy a weight bench? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
The weight bench is an integral piece of equipment when it comes to strength training. Strength training, as opposed to cardiovascular training, focuses on developing your body’s muscular system. For simplicity sake, strength trainers categorize these muscles into 11 muscle groups. If you want to make it really simple, you can think of three groups: upper body, lower body, and core.
There are two main methods in which you can train these muscle groups – body weight training and free weight training. Body weight training involves learning progressively difficult versions of an exercise to add the resistance necessary to trigger muscle growth – using just your body. In free weight training, on the other hand, you add resistance by increasing weight. This eliminates the need to master new exercises as you get stronger.
Another advantage of free weight training is that you can isolate certain muscle groups to selectively develop them. Isolated workouts don’t work well with bodyweight workouts because most bodyweight exercises involve compound movements that employ multiple muscle groups.
Lastly, the progressive nature of bodyweight workouts raises the entry barrier for these exercises. Compared to bodyweight training, free weight training is easier to master and practice. But, the disadvantage to free weight training is that it is expensive. Bodyweight training requires little to no equipment and can be done anywhere at any time. With free weights, your workouts are limited to when and where you have access to equipment.
So, based on your current level of fitness and future goals, you can choose between bodyweight training and free weight training. And, if you choose to go the free weight route, you will need a weight bench and appropriate weights too if you want to train without joining a gym.
Okay, so what are the factors that I must consider when buying a weight bench?
There are five main parameters that I look at: utility, build quality, customer ratings, brand value, and value for money. So, here’s a breakdown of the main points relevant to each parameter.
These factors reflect the versatility of the machine. Ideally, a weight bench must support lower body, upper body, and core training. That’s why when you’re shopping for a weight bench, look for the following:
- Backrest Position: The common backrest positions available on a weight bench are decline, flat, incline, and upright. Some machines offer multiple incline positions, such as 15°, 30°, 45°, and 60°. The more positions the machine has, the more range of exercises it supports.
- Leg Brace: Many weight benches have a leg brace with foam rollers. This allows you do sit-ups on the weight bench. Doing sit-ups is an excellent way of improving your core strength. In my opinion, this feature you will really want to have.
- Leg Lift/Curl Support: The leg lift/curl lets you exercise your lower body. Although squatting is the best lower body exercise, leg curls, and leg lifts are great for people who don’t have the balance and flexibility to do squats, or as an accessory.
In addition to this, some weight benches support bench presses and preacher curls. Although not essential, these are nice features to have.
Build Quality and Design
When it comes to build quality, there are four things that stand out for me. First is the frame strength. Next, comes the weld quality at the joints. Then, I look at the quality and comfort of the seat, backrest, grips, and foam rollers. Lastly, I consider the stability of the machine. The adjustable nature of weight benches makes them slightly wobbly. But, it shouldn’t wobble so much that it throws off your workout and jeopardizes your safety. Unfortunately, these factors are very hard to assess when shopping online. You’ll have to rely on customer reviews to point out such flaws.
When evaluating the design, ask yourself, “Does any aspect of the machine prevent me from using it as intended.” For instance, if the bench is too high, your feet will not reach the ground; if the bench press stand doesn’t go low enough, you can’t do decline bench presses; and if the backrest and the seat aren’t parallel at the flat position, it creates form issues. Again, you must rely on hands-on experience or customer feedback to learn about design issues.
Customer Rating and Brand Value
Popular sites, such as Amazon, give you access to a large number of customer reviews. Use them to the fullest. When doing so, look for positive and negative points that customers frequently express. After that, weigh the frequent complaints against the frequent praises to get a feel for the product’s customer approval. Don’t go by the 5-star ratings alone. Read all types of reviews. I like to look at 3-star reviews for the most balanced reviews.
Judging brand value is a little harder to do. But, the company website is often the first place to begin. Also, look at the company’s social media platforms. The best test of brand value, however, is calling the toll-free number and talking to a customer support executive. The interaction will reveal a lot about how the company perceives its customers. Of course, if there is no website, no manual, no Facebook page, and no toll-free number, the brand sucks.
Value for Money
I put this at the end because you can’t appraise the value of a product unless you know what separates good products from bad ones. Using the four parameters mentioned before, you can get an accurate sense of a product’s worth. Making a value based decision is the smartest way to spend your money.
Yes, I’m all pumped about buying a weight bench. What are my options?
Well, there’s the easy way and the not-so-easy way. The easy way is to use the information here to select a product from the ones on our list of the best weight benches of 2017. The not-so-easy way is to do your own research to find the product of your choice. If you’re willing to spend time and effort into that, you’ll be well rewarded. If you’re doing your own research, you should check out weight benches from Marcy, Bowflex, and Universal.
Based on our list of the best weight benches of 2017 and the factors to consider when buying a weight bench, you might already have a good idea of the right product for you. However, I’ll quickly summarize what we’ve learned here.
To start with, no product can get everything right. This leaves customers with a dilemma – do I go for economy, utility, or durability. Unfortunately, the truth is that with the current products on the market, you can have only two of the three.
That said, if you’re not looking for a full-fledged weight bench with bench press stands, bicep curl pads, and leg curl/extension rollers, the Bowflex SelectTech 5.1 is a good choice. As you advance, you can supplement the bench with other equipment. However, if you are more ambitious, plan for a higher budget.
Until a decade ago people had to rely on gyms to get access to fitness experts and equipment. Today, thanks to online instructional resources and e-commerce platforms, anyone with an internet connection has access to everything they need to begin and sustain their fitness plan within the comfort of their own home.
However, if you’re not careful about the products you buy or the information you trust, you may lose your money, or worse endanger your health. Hopefully, this thorough guide will help you navigate the sea of options out there and choose the right one with ease.