Flat weight bench vs adjustable weight bench: if you're into lifting, getting the right bench could be the most critical decision you make about your home gym.
How to put together the perfect home gym is a complicated and highly controversial topic. First of all, you have to decide on what equipment should you get first? Do you need a weight bench? If so, should it be a flat or an adjustable bench? Which is the best weight bench for home use? It's exhausting.
It is worth noting that flat and adjustable weight benches come in many shapes and sizes, and you can get decent quality versions of both. More spartan adjustable benches, such as the Mirafit M1 Folding Weight Bench, can be bought for under £100/$100, but admittedly, these might not stand the test of time, especially if you usually man-handle your home gym equipment.
Conversely, there are expensive and sturdy flat benches on the market that cost a fortune and will probably last a lifetime. In all honesty, there are more important things to consider before buying a new weight bench, like whether should you get a weight bench with or without a weight rack, but for the sake of argument, we'll discuss the former weight bench feature in this article.
Flat vs adjustable weight bench – Price, availability and where to buy one
Simple flat benches can be bought for as little as $50/£50, but these probably won't last too long, not to mention the safety concerns. Working out on a weight bench usually requires people to hold heavy weights over their head or body; you don't want to risk going cheap on the bench and putting the integrity of your skill in danger.
Prices of decent quality branded weight benches start from around $150/£150: these will be sturdy enough for most home workout fans and will provide a good return on investment in terms of the amount of use you get out of the bench. However, we recommend going a little bit expensive and getting a model for $200-300/£200-300: weight benches in this category represent the best value for money and will most likely last for quite a few years.
The best weight bench brands/retailers in the UK are Mirafit, sweatband.com, Decathlon, Argos and Amazon UK.
In the US, have a look around at Dick's Sporting Goods, Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon US.
WINNER: As expected, flat benches can be enough for cheaper, so if the price is your main concern, they are your best option.
Flat vs adjustable weight bench – Versatility
You might think that flat weight benches can only be used for one or two different exercises: you couldn't be further from the truth. Apart from the apparent bench press, you can also perform pecs flyes, dumbbell pullovers, and iso-dumbbell holds, to mention a few exercises. And that's just the pecs! Dumbbell/barbell skull crushers will build monster triceps; Bulgarian split squats and glute bridges will tone the legs and the glutes.
You can perform all the same exercises using an adjustable weight bench plus incline versions of some workouts, such as incline bench press, incline pecs flyes etc. Adjustable benches are also great for working the shoulders and the back: strict presses are best done on a bench with an upright seat, while reverse flyes and barbell rows can do wonders to your upper back.
WINNER: You can perform loads more exercises using adjustable weight benches; it's a no-brainer
Flat vs adjustable weight bench – Durability
The longevity of weight benches depends less on their foldability and more on their overall quality. That said, fewer moving parts usually means less wear over time, so flat weight benches enjoy a slight advantage in this respect. This advantage soon disappears when you start looking at weight benches that aren't in the cheapest category.
For example, despite being a foldable bench, we are pretty sure the ProForm Carbon Olympic Strength System (retailer link) will last longer than your will to workout. If you are happy to shell out a little bit more than the bare minimum for a weight bench – something we wholeheartedly recommend for various reasons – you should be worried about durability too much.
WINNER: Flat benches are generally sturdier than adjustable benches due to having fewer moving parts.
Flat vs adjustable weight bench – Verdict
Should you get a flat or an adjustable weight bench?
If you're on a tight budget and are happy to think outside the box when it comes to performing exercises, you can definitely make a flat bench work. There are many ways to alter workouts (in a safe way) to work the same muscles from different angles using a flat bench.
Beginners are also better off using a flat bench; it's best if they get used to basic exercises before splashing out on a complex adjustable weight bench.
That said, if you take home workouts seriously and plan on using the bench for longer than just a couple of months, a quality adjustable weight bench is a must. These allow you to perform a wide variety of exercises that can help develop muscle faster than doing the same standard bench press over and over again.
We can't stress enough, though, that we aren't recommending complete beginners spend their savings on a high-end weight bench because 'it's an investment in their health'. Be sensible and think through why you need the need bench for before you open your wallet at the checkout.