Before you head over to your nearest online retailer to buy a new weight bench, it's worth thinking through whether you need a weight rack on your new weight bench or not.
Investing in the best weight benches is paying money for getting big pecs and big arms. Needless to say, getting a bench won't magically turn you into Chris Hemsworth, but it's a good start and adding a weight bench to your home gym setup is definitely an improvement in most cases.
Weight bench with a rack
Although we usually associate weight benches with heavy compound exercises such as the bench press, most models designed for home workouts don't come with an integrated weight rack. That's because most people don't have barbells and weight plates lying around at home. It's more likely that you will be doing dumbbell or even kettlebell exercises on the bench when working out at home.
But weight benches with an integrated rack aren't good for bench presses only. For example, standalone 'rackless' weight benches often come bundled up with a half cage that can be used for squats as well as holding the barbell when doing workouts that involve the weight bench.
These bench-plus-cage systems are best for home workouts as they offer the most flexibility, but they also take up a lot of space, not to mention the price: compared to standalone weight benches without a rack, weight bench systems can be quite pricey. A good example of this is the ProForm Carbon Olympic Strength System (opens in new tab) (retailer link), a very capable setup that will set you back £599.
That's not to say weight benches with integrated racks are always expensive. The Mirafit M1 Folding Weight Bench with Dip Station is under £100 and comes equipped with a rack, as well as being foldable and capable of producing an incline too: there is even a dip station on the end of the bench. That said, the Mirafit M1 isn't the sturdiest of benches and will only work with shorter barbells. You win some, you lose some, as they say.
Weight benches without racks
How about weight benches with no racks? Are they good for anything? As a matter of fact, they are good for most types of strength exercises you will perform at home, especially at the beginning. It's not like you will start your fitness journey by bench pressing 200 lbs / 100 kg. By the time you are able to work with weights that heavy on a regular basis – which could take anything from a year to a couple of years – you will know whether you need a bench with a weight rack or not.
Do you need a weight bench with an integrated rack for home workouts? The short answer is no, especially if you are new to weight lifting. You are better off getting a sturdy bench without a rack and adding a cage/half rack later on when you feel more confident working with heavier weights. If you insist on getting a rack with your new bench, invest a little bit more and get a weight bench-plus-cage system: this setup will provide a full body workout for longer than just a few months.