NordicTrack Utility Workout Bench review in a sentence: A basic yet sturdy adjustable weight bench for home strength training.
After all, some of the best home gym equipment has maintained the same general design for decades (here’s looking at you, weightlifting belts), and the best weight bench doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel–err, weight plate; it just needs to facilitate all of your favorite muscle mass building exercises when you need it to.
If you already have a set of dumbbells or barbells, purchasing a quality weight bench is potentially the last piece of that particular puzzle. There are some things to consider before buying a weight bench for your home gym, though, so make sure you’ve asked yourself all the right questions before clicking that “Purchase” button.
The NordicTrack Utility Workout Bench isn’t pulling any punches in terms of performance, design, or adjustability options, and that’s just how I like it. And as you’ll find in our full NordicTrack Utility Workout Bench review, this is one piece of gym equipment that’s well worth the investment.
NordicTrack Utility Workout Bench Review: Price and availability
The NordicTrack Utility Workout Bench is available now at NordicTrack for $299, which is marginally more expensive than the Mirafit M1 Folding Weight Bench (£99.95), and definitely on the higher end for weight benches in general, which can range anywhere from $50 to $500, depending on the style and overall quality.
As of this writing, NordicTrack had plenty of these bad boys in stock, but that might change over the next few weeks, after all those holiday cookies (and the accompanying guilt for your expanding gut) kick in.
To complement this bench, NordicTrack’s Select-A-Weight 55 Lb. Dumbbell Set is also available from their website for $599, and that comes with a 30-day iFit Family membership – a $39 value, which is better than nothing.
NordicTrack also sells standalone Hex Dumbbells – ranging from 5 to 40 pounds each – that have rubberized ends, which don’t make nearly the same racket as traditional steel dumbbells if you accidentally clink them together. Nor will they vibrate your limbs as drastically during such collisions. (They’re easier on your floors, too.) The NordicTrack Vault comes with its own set of dedicated dumbbells and kettlebells – ranging from 5 to 30 pounds – if you can afford the $2,999 Complete package.
For $349, the company’s SpeedWeights are basically the same as their Select-A-Weights, but the former tops out at just 12.5 pounds instead of 55; it’s a less-bulky option for those who only require a fraction of the weight in their home gym. Both of these adjustable dumbbell sets were on sale for Cyber Monday, so expect additional price drops over the holidays.
The NordicTrack Utility Workout Bench is backed by a 30-day warranty for parts and labor.
NordicTrack Utility Workout Bench Review: Assembly
The NordicTrack Utility Workout Bench comes in one rectangular box that’s heavier than it looks (the bench itself weighs 62 pounds), which is probably why NordicTrack recommends you recruit a gym buddy to help with assembly. Unwrapping everything is a somewhat tedious task, but to reiterate from the user’s manual (page 7), this streamlines the process more and lets you check for missing parts as you go.
It took me about an hour (at a casual pace) to set up the NordicTrack Utility Workout Bench by myself, which I must admit is a bit tricky with only one pair of hands. As you attach each piece to the bench’s steel frame, be careful to avoid fully tightening each screw or bolt too soon; otherwise, the end result may come out mysteriously lopsided.
This is more important than you think since an unbalanced bench will inevitably result in an unbalanced form, increasing the chance for eventual injury. Heck, use a level to make sure the backrest lines up square with the floor it’ll be resting on, and don’t be afraid to loosen and retighten various pieces as necessary. Symmetry is key here.
Note: I’d also suggest investing in foam padding of some kind for your workout area, both to protect the floor and offer some noise dampening as you clink those dumbbells around.
NordicTrack Utility Workout Bench Review: Performance and ergonomics
Measuring roughly 11.5 inches wide at the base and 9 inches wide at the top, the 34-inch-long backrest is spacious enough for larger frames, and at 2 inches thick, there’s plenty of high-density foam back support to boot. I never felt like I was going to slip off either side of the bench as I leaned back, which can be a real concern if the backrest is too narrow. (Or inadequately padded. Or both.) The box stitching is another mark of quality here, as cheaper benches just stretch out their seat covers and staple them to the back.
The equally wide seat has a similarly tapered design, with a simple knob to adjust the angle. There’s a 3.5-inch gap between the seat and backrest, which might be a little uncomfortable for smaller frames (ie, boney butts). Nevertheless, at nearly 20 inches high, this bench should fall into the Goldilocks Zone for most average-sized adults; NordicTrack says the bench is meant for ages 14 and older, and it can support up to 610 pounds – 300 for the user, and 110 for the extra weight. Impressive.
Once assembled, it was easy enough to pick the bench up by its built-in handle and wheel it around my apartment. Some weight benches are collapsible and can easily slide under a bed when not in use, but this isn’t one of them; make sure you’ve got the space for it before you purchase. That being said, it’s easy enough to tuck this thing in a corner or use it as an ad-hoc coffee table. (Hey, I live in New York City. Every square inch of my apartment is valuable.)
There are plenty of exercises you can do on a regular ol’ flat bench, but NordicTrack includes five different incline settings to adjust, in addition to two decline settings and a fully upright (ie, military) position. Most budget benches don’t have decline or military settings, which explains part of the premium price point here. In my testing, adjusting the seat/backrest angles is a cinch.
I tested out the NordicTrack Utility Workout Bench for about a month, and it pairs pretty perfectly with the NordicTrack Vault, not to mention the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight Dumbbell Set. From incline bench press to bent-over rows to isolation curls to tricep kickbacks and much more, this might be the most fundamental piece of gym equipment you never knew you needed. (A leg bar of some kind would have made for better stability when it comes to decline presses, though.)
Note: if you already own a squat rack, you’ll definitely want a weight bench to go along with it.
NordicTrack Utility Workout Bench Review: Verdict
The traditional weight bench isn’t an exciting piece of gym equipment, I’ll admit, but it’s still one of the most fundamental pieces of fitness gear you can own. And while $300 is on the expensive side for this premium model, the NordicTrack Utility Workout Bench should earn its keep in no time. It’s a slick-looking bench that has plenty of padding and plenty of adjustability. Plus, its steel construction is built to last.
I’d recommend the NordicTrack Utility Workout Bench to weight lifters of all skill levels; it’s never too soon to own your weight bench, after all, and if strength training is new to your fitness routine, this weight bench sets the bar in terms of overall quality and functionality.
NordicTrack Utility Workout Bench Review: Also consider
The Mirafit M350 Adjustable Weight Bench has seven backrest and five seat positions so you can lock it in the exact position needed for any workout. The thick padded cushions and strong steel frame are ideal for heavy use. Great for dumbbell work and ab workouts.
The Again Faster Team Adjustable Bench is a heavy-duty but lightweight bench for home workouts. It has a solid 4 to 14 variable gauge steel frame and durable thick antislip padding. The maximum weight capacity is 450kg, plenty heavy for most workouts people do at home.