This is a comprehensive guide to help you buy the best adjustable weight bench for your home gym.
You'll learn about all the different features to look for in a quality adjustable weight bench, and what to avoid.
I've also included several adjustable weight bench reviews at the end of this page to make it easier to choose the right adjustable bench for your needs and budget.
Types of Adjustable Weight Benches
There are two main categories of adjustable weight benches:
- Flat to Incline Benches
- FID (Flat/Incline/Decline) Benches
It’s important to understand the difference between these so that you can get the right one for your training needs.
Flat to Incline Benches
This type of bench does NOT have any decline settings. The lowest it goes is the flat (0 degrees). It will adjust to multiple higher incline settings, with the highest setting being near-vertical or completely vertical (e.g. around 80 to 90 degrees depending on the model).
FID (Flat/Incline/Decline) Benches
FID benches do flat to incline angles (i.e. 0 degrees to ~80 or 90 degrees) in addition to at least one decline setting (i.e. the back pad goes below 0 degrees).
"Traditional" FID bench designs have just one decline setting of around -15 to -20 degrees. Whereas, "non-traditional" FID bench designs have multiple decline settings.
Let me explain what I mean by traditional and non-traditional FID benches in the subsections below:
Traditional FID Bench Designs
A traditional FID bench design refers to benches where:
- To achieve a decline setting, the back pad drops below parallel and the seat goes into an incline setting. This makes the entire bench straight, but at decline angle.
- The seat only goes to flat and incline settings.
- There's roller pads attached below the seat. For decline exercises, you put your shins/ankles behind to the rollers to lock your legs in place so you don't slide down the bench.
- The seat is "reverse-tapered" meaning it gets wider toward the edge of the seat. This is needed so you have enough room to keep both your thighs on the seat pad on decline. You need your thighs on the seat so you can lock your legs behind the roller pads. The drawback of a wide seat is that it can get in the way on flat and incline exercises; you have to splay out your legs out into a wider stance than you'd naturally use.
An example of a good traditional FID bench is the Rep AB-3000, which is shown in the image above.
EXCEPTIONS: There's some traditional FID benches that have most, but not all, of the design elements listed above. Examples:
- The Force USA Commercial FID Bench does not have a leg holder; nor does it have a reverse-tapered seat. The reason being is the decline angle is gradual enough that you can stay in position without sliding -- at least some decline exercises. Force USA designed it to include decline as a "bonus feature." They didn't want to lose the benefit of a narrower seat, which I think was a smart choice. People who want to focus on flat and incline work, but want the option to do light to moderate decline chest work, will appreciate this design choice.
- The Fringe Sport FID Bench does not have a leg holder. It does, however, have the wide reverse-tapered seat like most traditional FID designs. The reverse-tapered seat by itself will prevent or minimize sliding on most decline exercises, at least compared to a narrower tapered seat. However, I think it was a big mistake to not include the leg holders on this bench. First off, the decline angle is -20 degrees, which is steep enough that a leg holder would be desirable on heavier decline presses. Second, the only benefit of eliminating the leg holder would be added leg room; but you don't get that if you also have the big reverse-tapered seat, since that already interferes with your leg positioning. In other words, if an FID doesn't have have a leg holder, it shouldn't have a reverse-tapered seat either.
I still consider both benches above to be traditional FID benches despite being having a couple minor differences. They still have the same basic functions and design as other traditional FID benches.
Non-Traditional FID Bench Designs
A non-traditional FID bench design refers to a bench that utilizes the back pad end of the bench for decline work. That is, you lay down in the opposite direction that you would for flat and incline exercises: Your head goes on the seat, and your torso and thighs are on the back pad.
This reversed setup for decline is made possible by these design elements:
- There is a leg holder attached to the end of the back pad with two sets of rollers; one set for the back of your knee to go over, and the other for your shins/ankles to go against.
- The back pad does not go below the flat setting like it does on traditional designs. Instead, the seat goes into a decline position. When the seat is at a decline and the backrest is at an incline, this creates a decline plane from the perspective of laying on the bench in reverse.
This non-traditional design has 2 very important benefits that make it superior to traditional FID benches:
- You can use incline settings as decline settings. Practically speaking, you'd able to use the first few incline settings (i.e. up to ~60 degrees). Why not all? Because it'd be nearly impossible to safely climb into the leg holders at steeper angles. That said, the takeaway should be that you have access to multiple decline settings. Anything greater than one decline setting is a major benefit over traditional FID benches.
- The seat is narrow and tapered. This allows you to position your legs without obstruction when doing flat and incline exercises. Contrast this to the awkward reverse-tapered seats on traditional FID benches that force your legs to splay out on certain exercises.
The first bench to pioneer this ingenious FID bench design was the Nebula Fitness 1080 Utility Bench, which no longer exists -- Nebula Fitness was previously owned by Rae Crowther who then sold the brand to Rogue, which folded some of the Nebula Fitness products into their own product line...
...Nevertheless, the basic design still lives on to this day! Rogue has the AB-3 and Rae Crowther has the Pro Gold Utility Bench. And Rep Fitness has what I consider to be the best: the AB-5000, which I recently bought for my home gym, and I'm excited to start using!
Flat to Incline vs FID: Which Bench Is Right for You?
So, the major differentiation between these two types of adjustable benches is the inclusion or absence of any decline settings. Knowing which type(s) will work for you depends on whether or not you’ll be doing any decline exercises (e.g. decline bench press variations, decline sit ups or crunches):
- If you do plan on doing any decline exercises in your training, then you’ll absolutely need an FID adjustable weight bench.
- If you don’t plan on doing any decline exercises, then you’ll be fine with a flat to incline adjustable bench. OR, a non-traditional FID adjustable can work fine too -- Even though you don’t need the decline settings, other features in non-traditional FID benches may make it the right pick for you.
Weight Capacity Rating
The first thing to understand about weight capacity rating for a bench is that it includes your body weight plus the weight you’re pressing on it. Some people make the mistake of thinking that it refers to the max amount of weight you could put on the bar to bench press.
Look for a bench with no less than a 1000 lb weight capacity.
Assuming you’re not planning on becoming an elite competitive powerlifter, you’ll never actually “need” the full 1000 lbs capacity. That said, it’s always better to more capacity, than to be cutting it close. Even if you’re not that big and relatively weak on bench press now, you could very well end up getting close to the max weight rating on a bench with lower capacity. For example, a 315 lb bench at 185 lbs puts you at 500 lbs., which is around the capacity rating for many intro-level (i.e. cheap) adjustable benches on the market.
Additionally, there’s a correlation between higher max weight capacity and higher overall quality. That is, an adjustable bench with a 1000 lb+ weight capacity is much more likely to have other positives, such as:
- Sufficient amount of padding
- Quality high-density padding that won’t quickly lose it’s hold/shape
- Better upholstery with stronger stitching on the upholstery
- Easy, smooth adjustment
- A well thought out design
Note that this is JUST an correlation. Not all benches with high weight capacity rating will be high quality in other areas.
Possibly the most compelling reason to go with an adjustable bench with a high weight capacity is that there are many great 1000+ lb capacity benches available at comparable prices to some lower capacity adjustable benches.
Weight of Bench
Generally, the better adjustable weight benches will be on the heavier side. If you’re looking for a number, I’d say most “good” adjustable benches weight at least 70 lbs, though it can vary based on design...
...For example, the Ironmaster Super Bench Pro is only 68 lbs with the removable seat installed. But it has a unique and minimal design that eliminates the need for certain parts of the frame that would otherwise increase the total weight.
Of course, just because one bench is heavier than another, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. It’s just that heavy adjustable benches tend to have have larger frames and thicker steel. And that correlates with a stronger and more durable bench.
Bench Pad Length
Bench pad length for an adjustable weight bench refers to the length of the bench in the flat position, from the start of the back pad to the end of the seat.
The bench pad length is one of the less important dimensions to consider when choosing the best adjustable bench for your home gym. The main thing is for it to not be too short. That shouldn’t be a problem if you’re looking at even half-decent benches. I’ve never used an adjustable that felt too short.
Still, if you want want to be sure, look for a bench length of around 48 inches or longer. If it’s an inch or even a few inches shorter, that shouldn’t be a problem. I selected 48 inches as a rough guideline based on the IPF’s rules for benches to be no less than 1.22 meters (48 inches). Most adjustable benches will be around this length.
An example of a good adjustable bench that’s a few inches shorter than the rough 48 inch guideline is the Ironmaster Super Bench Pro. It’s 44 inches long. Part of the reason it’s relatively short is because the seat is removed for the flat position (the seat is otherwise always perpendicular to the back pad at all other angles). Forty-four inches is still plenty of space for anybody to position their body properly for flat bench press.
NOTE: Don’t confuse the bench length with the length dimension of the bench’s footprint. Sometimes these two dimensions will be very close. Other times, though, the footprint length will be a few inches longer.
Back Pad Width
The width of the back pad is one of the most important dimensions to consider when buying an adjustable bench. The main risk is getting one that’s too narrow. The narrower it is, the more likely your delts and/or shoulder blades will spill over the sides while bench pressing. Meaning, you’re less stable, weaker and more at risk for shoulder issues…
...This is the reason why Donnie Thompson invented the Thompson Fat Pad, which is a super wide 14.5 inches! However, that wide of a back pad is better just for flat weight benches, since the extra width is most beneficial on the barbell bench press exercise. Whereas, adjustable weight benches are meant to be used for much more than flat barbell benching. Having a super wide back pad on an adjustable weight bench would likely cause issues on other exercises -- this is probably why you don’t see any companies making super wide back pads for their adjustable benches.
So, you don’t want a super narrow back pad. And you don’t want a super wide back pad (not that you could even find one if you wanted)...
...What width should you look for? I recommend using the IPF’s specs as a starting guideline: Legal IPF benches must be between 29-32 cm, or 11.5-12.5 inches. However, with adjustable benches, I don’t think I’ve seen one that’s wider than 12 inches. With that in mind, I’d say the ideal range to look for 11.5 to 12 inches wide.
Let’s say you find an adjustable bench that has all the other features you want, BUT it’s narrower than 11.5 inches. In that case, you shouldn’t automatically disregard it.
As long as it's at least 10 inches wide, you should still consider it. If you're using the bench for mostly incline work, a 10 inch wide back pad is sufficient for most people.
If you're considering a 10 inch wide FID bench that you'd use for heavy decline pressing, then I might say to look for a somewhat wider option. This is because your shoulder joints are much more vulnerable when you're in the decline position (vs flat or incline) if your shoulder blades have insufficient support. It becomes dangerous if you're decline pressing heavier loads.
Don't consider any adjustable weight bench that's narrower than 10 inches. Ten inches should be the minimum.
Bench height for an adjustable bench is defined as the distance between the floor and the top of the pad when the bench is in the flat position.
I recommend buying an adjustable bench that falls within the IPF’s specs of 42-45 cm, or 16.5-17.5 inches tall. This is a must if you compete in powerlifting and plan on doing flat bench press training on your adjustable bench (though I'd strongly recommend a dedicated flat bench, in most cases). Even if you don’t compete, 16.5-17.5 inches is still an ideal height for achieving strong leg drive.
There are some benches out there that will be way too tall if you’re a short or even an average height lifter. I’m talking up to 22 inches high. With that height, lifters as tall as 5’9” might not be able to plant their feet flat on the floor.
I’d only recommend a taller bench if BOTH of the following are true:
- You don’t compete in powerlifting; or if you do compete, you have a dedicated flat utility bench that’s 16.5-17.5 inches tall for your bench press training.
- You’re very tall (e.g. 6’3”+) AND you know from experience that you’re more comfortable on a taller bench. Many taller lifters will still prefer the 16.5-17.5” adjustable bench So don’t just get a tall bench because you’re tall, unless you know it’s what you want.
In conclusion, almost everybody should get a 16.5-17.5 adjustable bench. Almost all good adjustable benches are in that range these days, anyway.
The footprint dimensions of an adjustable bench refers to the length and width of the entire bench, including the frame.
The only thing to consider when looking at footprint specs is whether or not the bench will fit where you need it in your home gym. Unless you have a tiny workout area, this shouldn’t be an issue even for an adjustable bench with a larger footprint.
Back Pad Shape
I'm a fan of more rectangular back pads. I don't see any real benefit in a curvy or tapered back pad. On the negative side, it could make doing exercises like hip thrusts or bench dips difficult or impossible since those exercises require a straight bench edge.
That said, a tapered adjustable bench is NOT the end of the world. It's just on small factor to weigh when deciding between different options.
As for seat shape, there is usually just tapered and reverse-tapered. I already covered this earlier when discussing traditional vs non-traditional FID benches. The only thing to add to what I said earlier is that all flat to incline benches will have a tapered seat.
Frame Tubing Size
Look for adjustable benches with steel tubing that’s anywhere from 2” x 3” to 2” x 4” on key parts of frame.
Some great benches will have smaller tubing in certain parts of the frame, which is fine if done intelligently. An example of a bench that does this is the Rogue AB-3, which uses both 2” x 3” and 2” x 2” 11 gauge tubing.
In the AB-3's case, there are two 2” x 2” tubes that run parallel to each other underneath the bench, from the front to the back feet. In a way, it’s like 2” x 4” tubing, but split apart.
Look for a bench constructed with 11 gauge steel. The only benches you’ll find with thicker steel (e.g. 7 gauge) throughout the entire frame are extremely overbuilt high-end commercial benches, which are overkill for any use outside of a high-traffic commercial gym setting.
The only time I’d recommend anything thinner than 11 gauge steel is if it’s an intelligently designed frame that uses variable gauge steel that’s thicker in structurally important places and thinner in areas that are less important. This is done to create a more economical bench that still has a high capacity...
...An example of such a bench is the Rep AB-3100, which uses thinner 14 gauge steel in some areas and much thicker 4 gauge steel in the most essential points:
Pad Thickness & Material
Components / Material
The bench pad consists of a 3 primary components:
This is the bottom of the pad. It’s flat and hard, and serves as a base of support. The frame is bolted to the bottom of it, and the padding is on top of it. Usually the base is a piece of wood, such as particle board, medium-density fiberboard (MDF) or plywood. Generally, plywood is strongest. In terms of thickness, it’s usually about a half in thick, give or take.
The padding forms the bulk of the pad, on the inside. It provides cushioning for comfort but without sacrificing too much support.
The idea is for it to be firm enough to support your back while pressing heavy weight, and to maintain its shape over years of use.
It should have enough compression for sufficient comfort. However, it should not be soft and collapsible -- That would be more comfortable, but it wouldn’t provide the support needed for performance. And it would become permanently sunken in over time.
The best pads have some type of high density foam, such as rebond foam and/or a rubberized foam like neoprene.
Upholstery refers to the fabric that wraps around the padding and the base of the pad. It holds everything together. The fabric is usually some type of vinyl. But not all vinyl fabrics are created equal when it comes to a bench application.
Many have a smooth surface, which is not ideal. Any basic texture will make a big difference in reducing sliding on the bench compared to a smooth vinyl cover. See the photo below for an example of an adjustable bench pad with a good basic texture:
Some adjustable benches have even better textures that are made specifically to be as grippy as possible. The Vulcan Prime Adjustable Bench is one of the very few adjustable benches with this feature:
This is grippy vinyl is the same type of material commonly seen on many competition style flat benches (e.g. the Rep FB-5000 Flat Bench).
While grippy vinyl is nice on an adjustable bench, it's not as necessary as on a flat bench. As long as your adjustable bench has any basic texturing on it, that’s good enough.
Generally, thicker pads are better. Usually 2-3 inches is a good range to look for when considering an adjustable bench.
While there are 4-4.5” “fat pads” (e.g. Thompson Fat Pad) available on flat weight benches, I haven’t seen anything comparable on adjustable benches. Most likely, that’s because these types of fat pads are really most useful for the flat barbell bench press scenario. Whereas, adjustable benches are used for much more than that.
Good upholstery is only as good as the stitching that keeps it together.
Quality stitching is a must if you want your pad to stay together. You can have the best material, but if the stitching is shoddy, it will start ripping at the seams sooner than later.
The main flaw with (almost) all adjustable weight benches is that they have a gap between the back pad and the seat, particularly in the flat and decline positions.
This is a natural consequence of the basic hinged adjustable bench design that allows for the bench to go into incline positions. If the seat and back pad were touching together in this hinged design, you physically wouldn’t be able to adjust it to high incline levels, since the two pads would hit into each other and prevent movement.
That said, some adjustable weight benches have better designs than others in this regard. There are some that have a variation of the basic hinge design, which allows for a very minor gap between the back pad and seat (e.g. compact hinge on the Rogue Adjustable Bench 2.0 has a minimal 1” gap).
I’ve seen a few different types of adjustment mechanisms on adjustable benches in my extensive research. The two most common types of mechanisms you should know about are the:
- pop-pin arc adjustment mechanism
- ladder adjustment mechanism
The overwhelming majority of adjustable benches on the market fall into these two categories. For anyone who cares, the next most common type is a telescoping adjustment mechanism, but that's more common in big box commercial gym equipment.
Pop-pin arc adjustable bench
These benches have a large steel adjustment arc attached to the back pad. It curves down and toward the front of the bench. The arc has multiple holes cut along the length of its curve.
Each hole is for a different incline setting. The arc passes through center of the frame (or goes just to the side). There is a pop-pin assembly connected to the frame; just adjacent to the arc such that the pin will line up with, and insert into, any of the holes.
To adjust the back pad angle, you do the following:
- Pull the pop-pin handle to remove the pin from whichever hole it’s currently in.
- Raise or lower the back pad, such that the pin lines up with the hole for the desired angle setting.
- Release the pop-pin handle. The spring-loaded pin will pop into the hole, locking the back pad into place.
Pop-pin steel arc adjustable benches (almost) always have the same mechanism for adjusting the seat angle settings. The main differences being that the arc is smaller and facing the opposite direction than the one on the back pad.
Ladder adjustable bench
These benches have distinct grooved slots cut into the steel on the rear frame post. The grooved slots may be cut into the frame itself, or into separate pieces of steel, which are then bolted to the frame.
The rear frame post in this style of bench is angled upward, usually starting near the rear feet and coming up toward the bench seat. The grooved slots going up this angled post make it kind of like a ladder, hence its name.
Each slot is a different back pad angle setting.
There is a steel "adjustment column" attached on the underside of the back pad with a hinge.
Note that the column may be one solid post. Though, more often than not, it’s two posts spaced apart but connected across at some point along their length. The hinge allows the adjustment column to swing forward (toward the seat) or backward (toward the rear feet).
The far end of the column has some type of steel bolt or rod that’s meant to hook into any one of the slots on the ladder. Once in the slot, the column will remain solidly in place, keeping the back pad stable at the chosen setting while under load.
Adjusting the angle setting is simple:
- Lift the back pad up. This will allow the column to swing out of it’s current position.
- Lower or raise the back pad to the desired setting.
- If you’re going to a higher setting, you can simply raise the back pad to the desired position and the column will fall right into the slot without you having to do anything else.
- If you’re going to a lower setting, you’ll have to pull the column out of the way a bit with your other hand to guide it to the right slot (if you don’t, the hinge will make the column to fall back to the original setting).
Some ladder adjustable benches have seats that adjust with a similar ladder mechanism. Others use a pop-pin adjustable mechanism for the seat. It depends on the model. But the split seems to be about 50-50. Though, usually the higher end ladder benches also have ladder adjustable seats. That doesn’t mean that a ladder bench with a pop-pin seat is low quality, though -- It’s just a correlation I’ve noticed.
Number of Adjustment Settings
Back Pad Adjustments
The more back pad settings, the better. More back pad angles gives you more variety in terms of the number of exercise variations you can perform to hit different muscles from different angles.
In terms of number of back pad settings, a flat to incline bench should have at least 6 settings and an FID bench should have at least 7. Any more is a bonus. Any less, and you’ll likely find that you aren’t able to get the desired angle on certain exercises.
For the flat setting to the highest incline setting, the angles achieved will go from 0 degrees to ~80-90 degrees. If it's a flat to incline bench, this is all you get...
...If it’s a traditional FID bench, then you get the 0 degrees to ~80-90 degrees PLUS one additional setting below the flat setting. This additional setting is the decline position and it will be around -15 to -20 degrees.
If it's a non-traditional FID bench (e.g. Rep AB-5000 and Rogue AB-3), the back pad does not actually go below 0 degrees; it only adjusts from 0 degrees to ~80-90 degrees. BUT you use the incline settings to achieve multiple decline settings by laying on the bench in reverse.
You don’t need as many seat angles as you do back pad angles. The main purpose of the adjustable seat is to keep you from sliding off the bench when your torso is at different incline angles. That doesn’t require a ton of seat settings.
As a general guideline, look for a bench with 3 or more seat angle settings, including the flat setting. Most decent adjustable benches will have at least this many.
If the seat uses a ladder system for adjustment, chances are it will have a max of 3 adjustment settings. The only ladder style seat I've seen with more settings is the one on the AB-3100, which has a fourth setting -- Even in this case, it's kind of an "unofficial" setting, since you're mounting the adjuster piece on a ledge above the third ladder slot. I explain this more and show a photo in the review section below.
The reason you (usually) see 3 or fewer seat settings on ladder-style seats is because it would be hard to fit more many ladder slots on the front post of the bench frame.
In terms of angles, it's ideal for the highest seat incline setting to be 30 degrees or greater. This is steep enough to prevent your butt from sliding forward without even having to think about resisting it -- even on low incline presses with heavy weight, which is when sliding is most likely to occur.
Not all adjustable benches have this high of an angle. Many have 20 degrees as the highest seat incline. While not ideal, it's still workable if the rest of the bench meets your needs.
EXCEPTION: The Ironmaster Super Bench Pro is the one good bench I can think of that violates the above guidelines with regard to the number of seat angle settings. Its unique design, which allows for other useful features, only allows for one seat setting: it’s always perpendicular (90 degrees) to the back pad.
This does not mean that the angle of the seat is always the same relative to the floor. The angle actually decreases relative to the floor as you make the back pad more upright, and it increases relative to the floor as you make the back pad flatter. But again, it always 90 degrees relative to the back pad.
Sure, it might be preferable to be able to independently adjust the seat angle relative to the back pad for some exercises. But this setup actually works out pretty well, since the seat is always plenty steep at whichever back pad angle you're at. So, you'll never slide forward.
NOTE: When the bench is flat, the seat is simply taken off, so you have room to use the entire back pad length.
Labels for Adjustment Settings
One convenient feature you don’t see on most adjustable benches is labeling that indicates the angle (in degrees) of each back pad setting.
This makes it easier to know if you’re using right setting if your routine calls for an exercise to be performed at a specific angle.
It also makes it easier to track your training in your workout log with greater precision. You can write down the actual number of degrees used on incline or decline movements. Having specific data like this in your workout log provides greater insight when analyzing past workouts.
For example, let’s say you have to train at another gym with a different adjustable bench because you’re traveling. If you only know you use a certain incline setting (e.g. setting number 3) on your bench at home, that probably won’t help you find the corresponding angle on the other bench. However, if the labels on your home gym bench allowed you to log (or just memorize) the angle used in your past workouts (e.g. 30 degrees), it’ll be much easier to estimate the best setting.
Back Pad Frame
There should be a robust support structure holding the back pad to the main bench frame, and by extension giving stable support to you and the weight you’re pressing. This part of the bench frame is sometimes called the "spine."
An adjustable bench's spine can be built in many different ways.
Often it includes a main post (or posts) running lengthwise down the middle of the back pad, along with lateral supports going across the width of back pad. The photo below shows an impressively sturdy version of this type of spine as seen on both the Rep AB-5000 and AB-5100 benches -- a large post going down the middle with three heavy gauge lateral supports:
Thicker steel is ideal in this particular region of the bench since it’s where the most amount of weight will be bearing down on. Plus, there’s no physical structure directly supporting the upper part of the back pad, so it needs robust reinforcement to support itself under heavy load.
Here's an example of a different type of spine design that works well, as seen on the Rep AB-3100:
As you can see above, it is not steel tubing. Instead, it's very wide steel channel. Instead of using extra thick steel in key areas, it spreads its support over a larger area of the bench pad using thinner steel. The adjustment column also bolsters support significantly.
Here's the last example I'll give -- of the Vulcan Prime Adjustable Bench:
It's basically a combination of the two examples above. It has a thick steel tube running down the center. It's not as wide as the steel channel on the AB-3100, but wider than on the AB-5000/AB-5100. And while it only has one lateral support at the top, versus three for the AB-5000/5100, it does have an adjustment column for extra support.
There are surely many more variations of these designs, as well as significantly different ones. The idea, however, is simple: the spine should be well-built and capable of providing substantial support.
I strongly recommend getting an adjustable bench with wheels. It makes it so much easier to move it around, which you will likely need to do frequently in your home gym.
Moving an adjustable bench without wheels means you have to either:
- Drag it, which can mess up your floor and the feet of your bench; or...
- Pick it up and carry it, which can be a bit strenuous since most decent benches should weigh at least ~70 lbs, with some weighing closer to 120 lbs.
That being said, the vast majority of adjustable benches these days come with wheels (usually standard). If there’s no wheels, chances are it’s a very cheap low end bench that you should avoid. Or conversely, it could be an extremely high-end expensive bench for big box gyms that’s designed to stay in the same place, which you should also avoid.
Related to wheels, another helpful feature is wheel guards. Wheel guards aren't that common, but they're a great bonus feature. They protect the wheels from damage (e.g. spotter accidentally stepping on the wheel; dropping a weight on the wheels).
The lift handle goes hand and hand with the bench wheels. You grab the handle and lift up. This tips the bench onto the wheels. Then you can maneuver the bench back or forth.
Although all benches with lift handles have wheels, not all benches with wheels have lift handles.
Sometimes the bench design doesn’t facilitate a lift handle, as is the case with the Ironmaster Super Bench Pro: There’s no vertical column in the front or back of the frame, where lift handles are usually put. However, you can just grab onto the backrest to maneuver the bench on its wheels.
Sometimes the bench manufacturer simply didn’t include a lift handle in the design to cut costs or poor planning. If this is the case, then it's probably a low quality bench.
Front Feet Position
Ideally, you don’t want the front foot/feet to be in the way of where you plant your feet and legs.
To avoid this problem, look for an adjustable weight bench that has either of these frame designs:
- A “tripod-style” bench has a single foot in the front. This front foot won’t get in the way since it’s in the midline of the bench and your feet can go on either side of it. See examples below:
The Rep AB-5000 is kind of a combination of both of the above designs, as a result of its unique T-shaped front foot:
- The "cross" part of the T-shaped foot is very narrow, similar to the AB-5100 and AB-3. You'll be able to comfortably plant your feet on either side of it without having to modify your stance.
- The "stem" of the T-shaped foot extends forward, ahead of the seat; like a true tripod style foot, this "stem" portion won't be in your way since it's aligned with the midline of the bench. Additionally, the entire T-shaped foot is so compact that it doesn't take up much more room than an actual tripod bench foot would. However, it's not a tripod style bench because of its three points of contact. Arguably, it's better due to the increased stability.
One last piece of advice on bench feet -- I’d avoid the benches with the large U-shaped style of front feet if possible. These are likely to get in your way when using a wider stance:
Rubber Pads for Feet
Try to find a bench with some type of rubber or UHMW pad covering the feet. Ideally, the pads should be load-bearing. This has several benefits:
- It prevents the floor from scratching
- Protects the metal feet from getting scratched and then rusting
- If the pads are load-bearing, it greatly enhances the bench stability and reduces or eliminates wobbling if floors are uneven
Another important benefit of protective rubber pads is that they prevent the bench from shifting on the floor during training due to the anti-skid properties of rubber.
Seats usually come in one of two different shapes:
This is what most flat to incline benches will have, as well as non-traditional FID benches. The seat gets narrower toward the end. This allows you to position your legs off the end of the bench in a narrower, more natural stance. Without the taper, you’d have to spread your legs wider or shift your body further down the bench.
Traditional FID benches typically have a reverse-tapered seat that gets wider toward the end. The reason the edge of the seat needs to be wide is so there’s enough room for your thighs stay side by side on decline. Your thighs need to stay together so you can lock your legs in the leg holder and stop yourself from sliding down the bench.
Generally, I’m not a fan of this type of seat. It can force you to spread your legs wider than you’d like to on flat and incline exercises. This can be annoying and slightly uncomfortable. However, it’s something you can work around if need be.
While most FID benches have a reverse-tapered seat, a few do not:
- Some traditional FID benches have a tapered seat with a set of rollers at the end of the seat. You put the backs of your knees over these rollers to hold your thighs together on decline (and then put your shins behind the lower leg holder). The main issue with this design is that the rollers get in the way for non-decline work. You could remove them, but it may be impractical to constantly install/uninstall them, as was the case on my old Body-Solid GFID31 bench. My advice is to avoid this type of bench. Aside from the issues mentioned above, most of the benches with this design are lower quality.
- There are also some traditional FID benches with tapered seats that do not have roller pads or any type of leg holder attachment. Certainly, decline ab work would be a no-go on these benches, since you need your legs locked for that. You should be able to do some light moderate weight decline chest work, so long as the decline angle is low (15 degrees or less) and the bench is low enough to the floor (17.5 inches or less) for you to fully plant your feet. One promising bench I found with this design is the Force USA Commercial FID Bench -- I'd only consider a bench like this if you only want to do decline (excluding abs) occasionally. However, if you want to do decline work frequently (including abs) and with heavier weight, look for an FID bench with some type of leg holder attachment.
- Lastly, the "non-traditional" FID benches discussed earlier have a tapered seat, too. These are the benches where you lay on the bench in reverse do to decline, with the help of a leg holder attachment installed on the end of the back pad. This includes high quality benches like the Rep AB-5000 and Rogue AB-3. You get the best of both worlds with this design: a tapered seat AND a decline experience with no sacrifices on decline. Plus, multiple decline settings. It beats both of the two options, above, except in price.
Do you have limited space to move around in your home gym? Or maybe you have to move your equipment out of the way after your workouts (e.g. to park your car in a garage gym)?
In either scenario, a convenient feature to have in an adjustable bench is the ability to easily store it in a way that takes up less space.
The Rep AB-5000 is one bench that does this very well. First you put it in the flat position. Then you lift it by the handle, tip it onto the wheels,keep lifting until the bench is fully upright. It will stay level and stable because it’s rested on the end of the back pad and the wheel guards. No need to prop it up against the wall or other equipment.
There are also some “foldable” adjustable benches on the market that you can collapse after you’re done training. This would be useful if you needed to store the bench under a bed or something like that. Unfortunately, most of these benches are pretty lackluster on many of the other important features. That said, if this is truly a top priority for you, you could look into the Powerline PFID 125X folding adjustable bench, shown below:
Even if you are in a smaller space, I wouldn’t let storability be a make-or-break feature in your decision. Consider it a bonus if the rack you’re consider has an easy storage feature. If it doesn’t, you can very likely still store it out of the way by tilting the bench upright; you’d just have to lean it against a wall.
Almost all FID adjustable benches have a leg holder that either comes standard or is bought separately as an attachment.
You need the leg holder to keep from sliding down the bench on decline movements. On FID benches like the Force USA Commercial FID that don't have a leg holder attachment, you're limited to moderately heavy decline chest work; definitely no decline ab work.
You won’t see leg holder attachments available for flat to incline adjustable benches since they don’t have a decline setting.
The frame should have powder coated paint. Not regular wet paint coat.
The powder coating protects against scratches and chipping, which would then lead to rusting of the underlying steel. Some cheap benches may say they're powder coated, but it's either poor quality or it's not actually powder coated.
Since we’re on the topic of paint, it should be noted that some manufacturers offer multiple colors for the frame. Rep Fitness, for example, currently offers: red, blue, grey, metallic black and some models also have regular black.
Now, color should be at the bottom of your list of wants when considering a piece of equipment that’s meant for performance. However, if you’re picking between two comparable benches and one of them has your favorite color available, you may as well go with that one! Having a splash of color in your home gym can add a nice personal touch.
Best Adjustable Bench Reviews
Rep AB-5000 Zero Gap Adjustable Bench Review
The Rep AB-5000 came out in January 2019 and took the gym equipment industry by storm for two reasons:
Rep created a truly innovative design, which solved the one problem that always made adjustable benches subpar for flat benching: the pad gap.
The AB-5000 is the first “zero gap” adjustable bench thanks to its unique sliding seat mechanism. Now, you can do flat bench with a totally flat surface of support beneath you.
You eliminate the problem of your butt or lower back sinking into a gap; something that's not just uncomfortable, but also throws of your technique and strength.
The Rep AB-5000 is also an FID bench. However, it’s not like most FID benches: It doesn’t have the bulky reverse-taper seat to hold your legs in place for decline. Instead, uses takes a non-traditional FID design -- originally seen on the old Nebula Fitness 1080 benches -- where you do decline simply by laying on the bench in reverse (head to seat).
This means you can have a narrower tapered seat, which allows for better leg position on other exercises. Plus, it lets you use the incline settings as decline settings.
All important dimensions fall within IPF specs (17.5” height, 12” back pad width). And it’s overall very stable and more than strong enough (1000+ lbs rated).
All of the above design factors allow you to use this bench as the one and only bench in your home gym. No need to buy a separate flat utility bench, which means extra savings…
...And speaking of savings, the cost of the bench itself is extremely low for everything you get: $499 + S&H; plus an extra $89 if you want the optional decline leg holder attachment.
The most comparable bench to this is the Rogue AB-3, which is no doubt an excellent adjustable bench. However, it has a large gap. And it costs several hundreds of dollars more at $935 + S&H.
The only thing that could’ve made the Rep AB-5000 even better would be if it had grippy vinyl. It has textured vinyl, which is much better smooth vinyl. However, having more grippiness to reduce sliding when on flat bench press when you’re sweating would be nice.
That said, it’s hard to knock the AB-5000 much for not having it, since it is an FID bench. And I haven’t seen any FID benches with grippy vinyl. I’ve only seen it on a couple flat to incline benches. It's mostly just used on competition-style flat utility benches.
Rep AB-5000 - Key Features & Specs:
- First-of-its-kind sliding seat makes this the only true zero-gap adjustable weight bench on the market. Adjusting the seat is quick and easy. The mechanism is very well built and durable, so you shouldn’t have any issues with it breaking down in the future. The only (very slight) downside is that you need to adjust the seat whenever you adjust the back pad. But it really is a simple task; and well worth it since you’ll have no gap on every single bench angle.
- FID bench using a non-traditional but superior design where decline is done using the bench in reverse (head on seat, legs over back pad). This gives you access to the incline angles for decline AND it removes the need for the obstructive reverse-tapered seat used on traditional FID benches.
- 1000+ lbs weight capacity rating
- Robust 11 gauge steel frame using 2” x 3.5” tubing; extra thick (~0.4”) steel used for back pad support plates and adjustment arcs.
- Pop-pin arc adjustment mechanism
- 7 back pad adjustment settings from 0 to 90 degrees (increments of 15 degrees); decline angles are achieved by laying on bench in reverse on the desired incline angles.
- 5 seat pad adjustment settings from -15 to 45 degrees (increments of 15 degrees)
- All adjustment settings have laser cut labels showing the angle
- 12” wide back pad
- 17.5” height in flat position
- 53.5” combined pad length in flat position (i.e. 15.25” seat + 0” gap + 38.25” back pad)
- 21" x 57" footprint
- Weighs in at a hefty 117 lbs
- Has wheels and a lift handle to easily move it around your gym
- Can be stored upright without needing to lean it against the wall
- At just $499 + S&H (without the optional leg holder attachment), the AB-5000 is unquestionably the best value high quality adjustable weight bench on the market. It’s as good or better than other commercial quality benches that cost hundreds more. Plus, if you get it for your home gym, it can potentially replace your need for a standalone flat utility bench, saving you even more money.
Rep AB-3000 FID Adjustable Bench Review
The Rep AB-3000 is in my opinion the best budget FID bench you can buy. It does everything good, but nothing great. If you want a well-rounded FID bench for a low price, then this is probably the right adjustable bench for you.
That being said, I would strongly recommend this only if you already have a dedicated flat utility bench or are planning to buy one. Ideally, you don’t want to use the AB-3000 for flat barbell bench press, for these reasons:
- It has a 2” gap, which actually isn’t that bad as far as gaps go. Still, it’s a big enough to cause issues when flat benching (i.e. your butt or lower back will sink into it).
- It has a reverse-tapered bench seat that gets wider toward the end. As discussed earlier, this type of seat is required for this type of bench. It keeps your thighs together so you can lock into the leg holder on decline. However, it also forces your legs to splay into a wider stance on non-decline lifts. This is the case on all benches with a similar traditional FID design; it’s not specific to the AB-3000.
Lastly, the AB-3000 could’ve been improved by having better seat incline angles. The highest it goes is 20 degrees. On heavier low incline pressing movements, you may feel like the 20 degree seat angle isn’t steep enough to hold your butt in place. You will have to focus more on using your legs to keep your butt in the back of the seat. A max seat angle of 30+ degrees would have been ideal.
Those are the negatives. But there are many positives, including:
- Great stability
- Robust frame strength (1000 lb capacity)
- Tripod design for better balance/stability on uneven floors; also, the front foot is out of your way
If you have a flat bench already, and you want a second bench that lets you do incline and decline, I would strongly suggest the AB-3000. Especially if you don’t want to break the bank.
However, if you have a flat bench already and want an adjustable bench for incline only (no decline), then you should also strongly consider a flat to incline bench like the Rep AB-3100 or the Vulcan Prime Adjustable Bench -- instead of the AB-3000.
Rep AB-3000 - Key Features & Specs:
- FID adjustable weight bench
- 1000 lb weight capacity rating
- 11 gauge steel using 2” x 3” tubing on the main parts of the frame; thicker steel is used on the ladder portion as well as on the reinforcement steel under the seat portion of the frame.
- Ladder style adjustment mechanism for the back pad; telescoping pop-pin adjustment mechanism for the seat.
- 7 back pad adjustment settings from -20 to 85 degrees (-20, 0, 20, 30, 50, 65 and 85 degrees)
- 5 seat pad adjustment settings from 0 to 20 degrees (increments of 5 degrees)
- Adjustment settings do not have labels for the angles
- 11.5” wide back pad
- 17.5” height in flat position
- 2” gap between seat and back pad in flat position
- 54” combined pad length in flat position (i.e. 15" seat + 2” gap + 37" back pad)
- 26” x 54” footprint
- Weighs 85 lbs
- Has wheels and lift handle for moving it around the gym; lift handle is conveniently located, though some have reported that wheels could move a bit smoother.
- At $249 + S&H, this is the best budget level FID bench you can buy. Not the best overall, for sure, but it’s a solid setup that won’t break the bank.
Rep AB-3100 Adjustable Bench Review
The Rep AB-3100 Adjustable Bench is an extremely price competitive flat to incline adjustable weight bench. Rep did a superb job of putting all the essentials you need in a flat to incline bench.
In order to minimize the price tag, there’s absolutely no bells and whistles on this bench. That is what you should expect in a budget bench.
Like I said, Rep absolutely nailed the essentials on this bench:
- It’s strong, with a 1000 lbs weight capacity rating. It achieves this in a very smart and economical way:
- Using super thick 4 gauge steel only at key structural points (i.e. the vertex of the frame, under the seat/backrest hinge).
- Everywhere else uses much thinner 14 gauge steel, which is sufficient for this variable gauge steel design. Importantly, it’s also lighter than if it used the standard 11 gauge steel everywhere. Being lighter also greatly reduces manufacturing and shipping costs.
- The back pad is an impressive 11.75” wide. That’s within IPF specs and it’s wider than what you’ll find on the vast majority of adjustable benches on the market. There’s only a few adjustable benches with wider back pads and they’re 12” at the widest; a mere quarter-inch more than this bench. No complaints here! This bench will give your upper back and shoulder blades plenty of support.
- 17.5” height, which is within IPF specs and is in the ideal range for achieving good leg drive.
- It has a tripod design, with one foot in the front and two points of contact in the back. This means you’ll never have any issues with the front foot getting in the way of your foot position. Plus, the tripod design helps improve the bench's balance and stability on uneven floors.
- The gap is relatively small at 2 inches. That’s not minimal. But it’s on the lower end of what you’ll see on most adjustable benches (2” - 4”+).
Originally, I thought this bench only had a max seat setting of 20 degree, as is the case with the AB-3000. I reached out to Rep for confirmation on this, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was wrong! It has an "official" max seat incline angle of 30 degrees, which is great -- you won't slide out at this angle. Here's the even better part...
...There's an unofficial fourth seat angle setting of 45 degrees, which is even better. You can achieve this angle by mounting the seat adjuster on top of a ledge just above the highest ladder slot. It is secure. If Rep didn't intentionally design the seat this way, then this a happy accident for sure:
The only notable shortcomings of the AB-3100 are that it’s not overbuilt and that it doesn’t have a ton of back pad incline settings. But for a $189 adjustable bench, I don't see those as very valid criticisms. It's exactly what you should expect...
...If you want a flat to incline bench with those and other premium features, you should look at the Vulcan Prime Adjustable Bench. It has plenty of bells and whistles, at a higher yet reasonable price.
Rep AB-3100 - Key Features & Specs:
- Flat to incline adjustable weight bench
- 1000 lb weight capacity rating
- Variable thickness steel from 4 to 14 gauge using 2” x 3” tubing: Extra thick 4 gauge steel to reinforce the vertex of the frame (below where the seat meets the back pad). This is the most structurally vulnerable part. Thinner and lighter 14 gauge steel is used on the rest of the frame.
- Ladder adjustment mechanism on the back pad and on the seat.
- 6 back pad adjustment settings from 0 to 85 degrees (0, 30, 45, 60, 75 and 85 degrees)
- 4 seat pad adjustment settings from 0 to 45 degrees (0, 15, 30 and 45 degrees)
- The forth setting is kind of an unofficial setting, but it's fully functional for all practical purposes. I explained this and showed a photo, a few paragraphs above.
- Adjustment settings do not have labels to show the angle
- 11.75" wide back pad
- 17.5” height in flat position
- ~2” gap between seat and back pad in flat position
- 50” combined pad length in flat position (i.e. 13" seat + 2” gap + 35" back pad)
- 23” x 49.75” footprint
- Weighs 77 lbs
- Has wheels and a lift handle to move the bench around the gym
- At $189 + S&H, this is the best value budget flat to incline adjustable weight bench I’ve seen on the market.
Vulcan Prime Adjustable Bench Review
The Vulcan Prime Adjustable Bench is an excellent choice for certain lifters. It's ideal for those who already have a dedicated flat utility bench and are seeking a quality adjustable weight bench; but who do not need a decline option.
This is a tank of a bench, made from large 3” x 3” steel tubing that’s more than thick enough (11 gauge or thicker). It’s stable. And as a very nice bonus, it’s one of the few adjustable benches on the market with grippy vinyl; the same kind you’ll commonly see these day on competition-style flat benches.
It also has a tripod-style design: 2 feet (or points of contact) in the back, and one foot in the front. This gives you better stability on uneven floors. It also ensures the front of the frame is never in the way of your feet on any exercise.
Possibly the most attractive features that the Vulcan Prime Adjustable Bench boasts is it’s impressive 12 adjustment settings for the back pad. This gives you access to any incline angle you could possibly ever want, all on a well built ladder adjustent mechanism. Oh, and you can’t beat the price ($369.99, US shipping included).
The main competition for it is the Rogue Adjustable Bench 2.0. It is over $200 more expensive than the Vulcan. It’s surely an impressive bench, but not objectively better than the Vulcan feature-wise…
...The Vulcan has it beat in terms of:
- Back pad incline settings: 12 vs 6
- Seat incline settings: 3 vs 2
- Upholstery material: Grippy vinyl vs regular vinyl
- Points of contact: Tripod design vs 2 feet in front/2 in back (the Rogue’s front feet are well-sized and well-placed, though)
- And as mentioned, in terms of price as already mentioned: $369.99 shipped vs $545 + S&H
Whereas, the Rogue wins when it comes to the:
- Pad gap: 1” vs 1.5” -- both impressive
- Back pad width: 11.25” uniform width vs tapering from 10” at the top to 12” at the bottom
Furthermore, if you were to consider a bench that’s $200+ more than the Vulcan, then you may as well also consider the Rep AB-5000 or AB-5100. Even though these benches have a decline option, they’re great for the flat to incline angles since they don’t have a bulky seat like most FID benches do. Luckily, you don't even have to pay for the decline feature, since the leg attachment is sold separately ($89).
Or, just keep it simple and go with the Vulcan Prime Adjustable Bench. You'll save $200 and get a great flat to incline bench.
Vulcan Prime Adjustable Bench - Key Features & Specs:
- Flat to incline adjustable weight bench
- 1000+ lb weight capacity rating
- 11 gauge steel using 3” x 3” tubing; 3 gauge steel and 7 gauge steel are used on the adjustment column piece and the ladder, respectively
- Ladder adjustment mechanism is used for both the back pad and the seat
- 12 back pad adjustment settings from 0 to 85 degrees (0, 10, 20, 30, 35, 40, 50, 55, 60, 65, 75 and 85 degrees)
- 3 seat pad adjustment settings from 0 to 30 degrees (increments of 15 degrees)
- Adjustment settings do not have labels to show the angle
- Back pad tapers from 10” to 12”. Having a uniform 12” width would have been ideal. This isn’t a huge issue for the Vulcan Prime since most people buying this bench will likely have a dedicated flat bench with a wider pad.
- 17.75" height in flat position
- 1.5” gap between seat and back pad in flat position
- 47” combined pad length in flat position (i.e. 12” seat + 1.5” gap + 33.5” back pad)
- 50" x 29" footprint
- Weighs 97 lbs
- Has wheels and lift handle for easy transport
- At $369.99 with free US shipping, this is a super competitive option for anyone in the market for a flat to incline bench
Rep Victory Adjustable Bench
The Victory Adjustable Bench is a flat to incline adjustable weight bench that is part of Rep Fitness’ commercial line. In and of itself, it’s a pretty solid bench. After all, it would have to be since it’s made for use in commercial gyms.
Its standout features include:
- Super sturdy frame that uses large 2” x 4” oval tubing made of 11 gauge steel. That gives it an easy 1000+ lbs weight capacity rating.
- A desirable tripod-style design with one foot in the front and two points of contact in the back. You won’t have any issues with the front of the frame getting in the way of your foot positioning. Plus, the three points of contact prevents wobbling on uneven floor surfaces.
- It uses electrostatic painting, which is supposed to be a slight step above regular powder coated painting for preventing scratches, chipping or fading over time. It’s also able to be retouched on-site if needed, which is something that commercial gym owners would want. For home gym owners, regular powder coating is sufficient to protect against scratches and chipping; not to mention, damage is less likely to occur in the first place since it’s probably just you using the equipment.
- Thicker than normal upholstery material to protect against rips and punctures to the material itself. It’s also reinforced with double stitching that provides greater protection against tears to the seams. This is the type of upholstery characteristics you'd want in a commercial bench that receive a lot of use, day in and day out.
Some other positives include a good bench height (17.5”), sufficient backrest adjustments (7 positions from 0-90 degrees) and great seat adjustments (4 positions, from 0 all the way to 45!).
For all of these good points, the price is reasonable at $449 + S&H. That’s not bad at all even for home gym users...
...BUT, this bench has an Achilles heel that makes it harder to recommend: Its back pad is on the narrower side at 10 inches wide. This width can work for a flat to incline bench, but it's not ideal. I'd be fine with it if the bench was $50-100 less. But at its current price, there are multiple comparable options in the same price range and lower:
- Rep AB-5100: This is at least as strong, stable and secure as the Victory bench. It has a much wider 12” back pad and one more back pad incline position. Plus, it has the option to add a decline attachment now or in the future. It all It does all this at $399 + S&H, which is $50 less than the Victory bench.
- Rep AB-5000: This does everything that the Rep AB-5100 does, with one additional standout feature: a sliding seat that allows for a zero gap experience at every position: flat, incline and decline. Of course, you have to pay more for this. $499 + S&H. Still, that’s just $50 more than the Victory adjustable bench, so it’s still the same price range.
- Vulcan Prime Adjustable Bench: Like the Victory bench, the Vulcan is a flat to incline setup. It, too, is overbuilt, incredibly strong and stable. It also has a 10” back pad in the shoulder region (it tapers to a wider 12” further down). However, the real advantages of the Vulcan over the Victory bench start with it’s incline settings: it has an astounding 12 positions! That’s twice as many as the Victory bench has. Another standout difference is that it has grippy vinyl as opposed to textured vinyl. The grippy vinyl has much more traction and will eliminate or at least greatly reduce back slippage even while sweating. The price for all of this is $369.99 with free US shipping. Considering the additional features compared to the Victory, and the $115+ price difference, the Vulcan is an absolute steal.
Rep Victory Adjustable Bench - Key Features & Specs:
- Designed specifically for commercial gym use
- Flat to incline adjustable weight bench
- 1000+ lb weight capacity rating
- 11 gauge steel frame using 2” x 4” oval tubing
- Pop-pin arc adjustment mechanism for back pad and seat
- 7 back pad adjustment settings from 0 to 90 degrees (0, 15, 30, 45, 60, 75 and 90 degrees)
- 4 seat pad adjustment settings from 0 to 45 degrees (increments of 15 degrees)
- Adjustment settings do not have labels to show the angle
- 10” wide back pad
- 17.25” height in flat position
- Just over 2" gap between seat and back pad when the bench is in the flat position
- Just over 52” combined pad length in flat position (i.e. 15" seat + ~2" gap + 35" back pad)
- 55" x 26" footprint
- Weighs 85 lbs
- Has wheels and a lift handle to easily move it around the gym
- The Victory Adjustable Bench goes for $449 + S&H. This is not a bad price, especially for a bench that’s explicitly for commercial use. I have no doubt it’s more than strong and stable enough. However, the narrow 10” back pad is a negative at this price. You can do better for a similar price (AB-5000, AB-5100), or less (Vulcan Prime).
Ironmaster Super Bench Pro Review
The Ironmaster Super Bench Pro is the latest and greatest version of the original and very popular Ironmaster Super Bench. This bench is from the makers of the Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbells, which are undoubtedly one the best adjustable dumbbell sets on the market.
This upgraded version came out in December 2018. It is similar to the original Super Bench in terms of basic style and design. There were also some major changes made in this redesign that addressed the most common complaints customers had about the original.
Before getting into the specific changes between versions, I’ll go over the basic design of the Super Bench Pro:
- The entire length of the bench is made up of the just the back pad. The seat does not factor into the bench length like it does on all other adjustable bench designs. There is a unique adjustment arc mechanism that attaches to the bench/back pad at two different points; all other benches with adjustment arcs attach at one point. There is a large support column under the back pad. This column connects the back pad to the frame and acts as the pivot point when adjusting the angle. So, when adjusting to any incline setting, the front end of the bench always dips below the height of the bench in the flat position (17.2”).
- The above-described design is what enables the Ironmaster bench to have no gap in the flat or decline position. There’s no gap because it’s only the backrest.
- There is of course a seat, but it’s detachable. You take it off for flat and decline exercises. It inserts into one of two steel tubes on the back of the back pad. The reason for two tubes is to give you two different height options for the seat.
- Decline positions are achieved by lying on the bench in reverse, such that you use the incline positions for decline. However, this does require buying the optional decline leg holder attachment separately.
The standout pros of the Ironmaster Super Bench Pro over many other benches include the following:
- A whole suite of optional attachments are available to greatly expand the number of exercises you can do on it. This is a big selling point for some people who want to save money and/or space by building upon a modular system; as opposed to buying separate pieces of equipment to achieve the same capabilities that will inevitably cost more and take up significantly more room in your home gym. The fleet of attachments currently available for the Ironmaster Super Bench Pro include the following:
- Decline/Crunch Sit Up Attachment
- Dip Bar Handle Attachment
- Chin Up Bar Attachment
- Preacher Curl Attachment
- Hyper Core Attachment
- Dumbbell/Barbell Spotting Stand Combo (for the dumbbell stand only, get the Dumbbell Spotting Stand; for barbell spotting stand only, get the Spotting Stand Base and the Spotting Stand Barbell Adapter)
- Unfortunately, there is one cool attachment that works with the original Super Bench only: the Cable Tower Attachment. It isn’t compatible with the Pro bench because of it’s shorter height.
- An impressive total of 11 back pad angle settings, ranging from 0 to 85 degrees (as noted earlier, decline angles are achieved laying on bench in reverse). You’ll be able to find the perfect angle for any incline or decline exercise you want to do.
- Super easy adjustment. The Super Bench Pro uses a foot lever instead of a pop-pin to adjust the adjustment arc. So you don’t even have to bend over change the back pad angle.
- It can double as an inversion table! First off, this is not an advertised benefit and likely is not officially advised. But it’s one of the first things I thought of when looking at the bench design. And I’ve read customer reviews of others using it for this purpose. This is only a possibility because you can achieve high angles of decline with the entire bench being straight from top to bottom (i.e. no seat forcing your head to bend at higher declines, which would happen if you tried on other benches like the Rep AB-5000 where high declines are possible). So how exactly would you use it for inversion?
- First, you’d need to have the optional decline/ab crunch attachment to use if for this purpose.
- Then you position the bench at the desired decline angle and secure your legs in the decline attachment. Higher decline settings give you more of an intense inversion effect; the caveat is that the higher the decline setting, the harder it is to secure yourself in the leg holder. If you’re using it alone, there’s probably a limit to how much of a decline angle you can get into, since you essentially have to climb into the decline attachment -- this guy is able to safely climb into and out of what appears to be the 40 or 50 degree decline setting on his own. Higher decline positions are likely possible if you have someone else with you help you increase angle while you’re still on it (and bring it back down after you’re done). That being said 40 degrees is more than high enough to get a good inversion effect -- if you’ve ever tried it, you’ll know this. In fact, it’s recommend to start inversion stretching at just 20 degrees. Then, assuming you do enough sessions throughout the week, you can increase by 10 degrees per week. If you plan on doing inversion therapy as a serious part of your training, it probably makes sense to get a dedicated inversion table since it’s easy to achieve higher angles safely, by yourself. But if you want to use it in a less regimented manner, then the Ironmaster Super Bench Pro is more than capable.
- Once positioned, allow your back to relax and stretch out. Hold the stretch for 1 to 5 minutes depending on your experience.
- After finishing the stretch, do a sit up and grab hold of the handle on the decline/crunch attachment. Then carefully remove your legs from the rollers and dismount.
- DISCLAIMER: Only do inversion training if you don’t have any relevant medical issues (e.g. blood pressure issues, heart conditions, glaucoma, retinal detachment, osteoporosis, back fractures or certain other back issues, among possibly other conditions). As always, it’s advised to consult your doctor!
- It’s lightweight at just 68 lbs due to its unique design that eliminates the need for a traditional frame that would otherwise add to the weight. This makes moving it around your home gym a very low effort task; the included wheels also help with this, too.
- It’s easier to make the Ironmaster bench take up less space when not in use by putting the back pad in its upright position. The feet will still come out to the same distance, but the back pad itself will be totally out of the way.
Here are the main cons of the Super Bench PRO compared to other adjustable benches:
- It has a relatively narrow back pad. It’s 10.5”, which is acceptable, but definitely below my ideal range for an adjustable bench: 11.5” - 12”. On the bright side, this 10.5” width is an improvement over the original Super Bench which was a half-inch shorter at just 10”. Ultimately, this bench can still be an excellent choice even with the 10.5” width depending on how much you value the other positive features.
- Lower max weight capacity of 600 lbs on incline settings. This is due to the weight limitations imposed by the relatively weaker seat attachment. If you’re a 200+ lb guy who can incline press 300+ lbs (or any other combo approaching 550-600 lbs total), you’ll probably want to consider an alternative adjustable bench.
- Even when using the higher of the two seat height settings, you’ll still feel a bit too low on higher incline and upright positions. This is because the seat-end of the bench necessarily dips further below the 17.2” pivot point as the the incline angle increase -- At the upright incline setting (85 degrees), the seat will sit at 12.5” or 14.5” above the floor, depending on the seat height setting. There’s no way around this flaw due to the design. While inconvenient, this shouldn’t be a deal breaker.
If you’re interested in the differences between the original Ironmaster Super Bench vs the Ironmaster Super Bench Pro, I’ll quickly review them below:
- The Pro is at a better (i.e. lower) height of 17.2″ in the flat position, which is within IPF specs. The original was 20” high, which left many users unable to fully plant their feet on the floor for exercises in the flat position.
- The pro comes standard with a pair of wheels. You had to pay $30 extra for the wheels on the original.
- The pro has better stability thanks to a wider footprint with larger steel tubing for the feet.
- The pro was built with with a knob to fine tune the fit of the attachments on the bench. You can now achieve a tighter and more secure fit.
- The Pro has an upgraded pad with higher density foam. The original received a lot of complaints about the padding being too soft and not supportive enough.
Overall, the Ironmaster Super Bench Pro is a solid, feature-filled bench in its own right. Even more so when coupled with its ability to be expanded with other attachments. And the price is attractive, too: $369 with free US shipping.
Since there’s no gap on flat or decline, you don’t really need a second dedicated flat bench (unless you want one with a wider pad). So that’s even more value in the form of savings.
However, you should consider alternative adjustable benches if:
- The 600 lb max capacity on incline settings is insufficient for you now or in the foreseeable future.
- The 10.5” back pad width is too narrow for your shoulders or your personal preferences based on using other benches.
Possible alternatives include:
- Rep AB-5000: This matches or exceeds the Ironmaster bench in several key features: 12” back pad, similar height (17.5” vs 17.2”), 1000+ lbs capacity in all positions, multiple decline positions (achieved in a similar way: by laying in reverse on the bench and using a decline leg holder attachment), zero gap on all positions (achieved via a sliding seat). It falls short in that it doesn’t have a ton of attachments to expand it’s capabilities. It’s also more expensive at $499 + S&H (plus $89 for the optional decline attachment). That’s still a great value for what you get, but it’s still a notable step up in price vs the Ironmaster. Like the Super Bench Pro, the AB-5000 makes buying a dedicated flat utility bench unnecessary due to it’s no gap feature.
- Rep AB-3000 + Any Decent Flat Utility Bench: The Rep AB-3000 is a decent all around FID bench. It does all the basics very well. In terms of how it excels over the Super Bench Pro, it does so in just a couple key ways: It has 1000+ lbs capacity in all positions and the back pad width is a full inch wider at 11.5 inches. Other than these two features, I like the Ironmaster Super Bench Pro much more. Of course, the only reason I’m bringing the AB-3000 up as an Ironmaster alternative is if the Ironmaster is insufficient for you in either of the above-mentioned ways. If that’s the case, the AB-3000 is a possible replacement. However, I would strongly suggest also buying a dedicated flat bench to complement the AB-3000, since it has a 2” gap that will get in the way when doing flat bench press. Luckily, the cost of both the AB-3000 and a good flat bench is comparable to the $369 price of the Ironmaster Super Bench Pro. The AB-3000 is very competitively priced at $249 + S&H. Then you can get a good flat bench for anywhere between $90 to $200 -- My top recommendations would be:
- Rep FB-5000: $149 + S&H -- I own this one and it's great!
- Vulcan Prime 3x3 Flat Bench: $200 with free US shipping.
- Rep FB-3000 Flat Bench: $94 + S&H. This is an excellent value, but you do lose out on the grippy vinyl you get with my above two recommendations.
- All in all, the combined price of the AB-3000 plus whichever flat bench you get, will be anywhere from $343 + S&H to $449 + S&H. This is still in the same ballpark as the Ironmaster Super Bench Pro, which is $369 shipped.
Ironmaster Super Bench Pro - Key Features & Specs:
- FID adjustable weight bench
- 1000 lb weight capacity rating in the flat position; 600 lb capacity in the incline and upright angles.
- 11 and 12 gauge steel using 3” x 3” and 2” x 3” tubing
- Pop-pin arc adjustment mechanism for the back pad. This is a different type of arc than on other benches, as it connects from one point of the bench to another (other benches arcs only connect to the bench at one point).
- Seat pad is always perpendicular (i.e. 90 degrees) to the back pad. You remove it for flat bench or decline use. And you can put it into one of two height settings so that your butt is closer to or further from the floor.
- NOTE: Although the seat’s angle relative to the back pad does not change, it’s angle relative to the floor DOES change based on the back pad angle.
- 11 back pad adjustment settings from 0 to 85 degrees (0, 5,10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 and 85 degrees); decline angles are achieved by removing the seat and laying on bench in reverse at the desired incline angles.
- Adjustment settings do not have labels to show the angle
- 10.5” wide back pad
- 17.2” height in flat position
- NO gap between seat and back pad in flat position or decline positions (because the seat is removed, leaving just the 44” back pad)
- 44” total pad length in all positions
- 20.75” x 47” footprint
- Weighs 68 lbs with removable seat installed; 64 lbs without the seat
- Has wheels for easy transport. It does not have a lift handle; likely because the unique frame design doesn’t allow a handle to be put anywhere that makes sense. That said, you can easily lift the bench by the back pad since it’s a relatively light frame. Then, just push or pull the bench on the wheels to move it where needed.
- You can put the back pad in the upright position to save some extra space when not in use. The frame’s feet will still be on the floor, but the main part of the bench will be up and out of the way.
- At $369 with shipping included for the continental US, the Ironmaster Super Bench Pro is definitely a contender as far as home gym adjustable benches are concerned. It’s not the best overall, but it’s price plus some of its unique features and extensive accessory options will make it the best adjustable bench for many lifters.
Rogue AB-3 Adjustable Bench Review
The Rogue AB-3 is a behemoth of an FID adjustable bench. It’s an excellent product, but you’ll end up paying around $1000 after shipping for all of that excellence.
It comes with the decline leg holder attachment standard. As an aside, there is a retro-fit kit available for the AB-2 bench (which is basically the AB-3 without the leg holder attachment).
Until recently, if you wanted a super high quality FID bench with this non-traditional FID design, the AB-3 (or the similarly expensive AB-2) would be your only choice. So at that time, you’d have to find a way to justify the price. However, it’s a lot harder to justify now with the recent introduction of the Rep AB-5000 to the market.
The AB-5000 has the same basic design as the AB-3 (i.e. laying in reverse -- head to seat -- and using a leg holder on the back pad for decline). Plus, it also has the unique sliding seat for a zero gap benching experience. Like the AB-3, it’s also built like a tank…
...And it does all that for a fraction of the cost of the AB-3. It’s just $588 ($499 for the bench + $89 for the decline attachment) + S&H -- so nearly $350 less than the AB-3!
Now, the AB-3 does have 9 back pad positions vs 7 for the AB-5000, and 6 seat positions vs 5 for the AB-5000. However, since the AB-5000’s available positions are perfectly adequate, that’s not a compelling reason to go for the AB-3, in my opinion. At least, it’s not enough of a reason when you also have to pay an extra $350.
Rogue AB-3 - Key Specs & Features:
- FID adjustable weight bench that uses a non-traditional FID design like the Rep AB-5000: For decline, you lie on the bench in reverse (head on the seat, torso/thighs on back pad). This turns the incline settings into decline settings. Plus, it allows for a narrower tapered seat instead of the obtrusive reverse-tapered seats used on traditional FID designs.
- 1000+ lbs weight capacity rating
- 11 gauge steel using 2” x 3” tubing; also uses two parallel 2” x 2” tubes that run parallel down the midline of the frame (i.e. similar in effect to one 2” x 4” tube)
- Pop-pin arc adjustment mechanism for both the back pad and the seat
- 9 back pad adjustment settings from 0 to 78 degrees (0, 8, 18, 28, 38, 48, 58, 68 and 78 degrees)
- 6 seat pad adjustment settings from -15 to 40 degrees (-15, 0, 10, 20, 30 and 40 degrees)
- Adjustment settings do not have labels to show the angle
- 12” wide back pad
- 18” height in flat position
- Has a large 5.5” gap between the top of the seat and the top of the back pad in the flat position.
- NOTE: The seat and back pads have angled-in edges, such that the gap between the bottoms of the pads is approx. 2”. This makes the gap appear smaller. However, the gap at the top of the pads is what matters, because you’ll have no support in that 5.5” region if you end up placing your butt or lower back on that part while benching.
- 52” combined pad length in flat position (i.e. seat + 5.5” gap + back pad); combined pad length length plus the length of the decline leg holder attachment is 68”
- 51.25” x 22.5” footprint
- Weighs 117 lbs
- Wheels and lift handle for easily moving the bench around your gym; the lift handle is on a swivel joint, which some people like and others don’t
- At $935 plus S&H, the Rogue AB-3 is most certainly on the high end of the price spectrum. You’ll pay a lot, but you’ll also get an excellent quality FID bench. As I discussed above, it’s hard to recommend the AB-3 now that the Rep AB-5000 has come onto the scene with comparable features at a MUCH lower price.
Rogue Adjustable Bench 2.0
The Rogue Adjustable Bench 2.0 is a top contender among flat to incline adjustable benches. Like all Rogue products, it’s overbuilt, very stable, safe and secure. It can take anything you can throw at it.
Its standout feature is its minimal pad gap of just 1 inch. Until early 2019 when the Rep’s AB-5000 zero gap FID dropped, you couldn’t find any adjustable bench with a smaller gap than this.
It’s main competitor in the flat to incline space is the Vulcan Prime Adjustable Bench. They’re both similarly overbuilt with thick, robust frames. And they both have ladder style adjustments.
The Vulcan has the Rogue bench beat on:
- The number of back pad adjustments: 12 vs 6
- Seat adjustments: 3 vs 2
- Upholstery: Grippy vinyl vs regular vinyl
- And definitely on price: $369.99 w/free US shipping vs $545 + S&H
On the other hand, the Rogue bench wins in:
- Pad gap size: 1” vs 1.5”
- Back pad width: 11.25” uniform width vs 10” (the Vulcan does taper to 12", but it's 10" at the top where width is most important)
The decision comes down to your preferences on certain features, and your budget.
Rogue Adjustable Bench 2.0 - Key Features & Specs:
- Flat to incline adjustable weight bench
- 1000+ lbs weight capacity rating
- 11 gauge steel using 2” x 3” tubing
- Ladder adjustment mechanism on the back pad and the seat
- 6 back pad adjustment settings from 0 to 85 degrees
- NOTE: I contacted Rogue and they did not have any specs on the specific number of degrees for the four other settings between flat and upright.
- 2 seat pad adjustment settings
- NOTE: One setting is 0 degrees, or flat. I reached out to Rogue for the incline setting but they said they didn't have that spec. However, it appears to be around 20 degrees, which is a mild incline; 30 degrees or more be more ideal; though it's possible that wouldn't be possible with the type of hinge they use to achieve the minimal 1 inch gap.
- Adjustment settings do not have labels to show the angle
- 11.25” wide back pad
- 17.5” height in flat position
- 1” gap between seat and back pad in flat position
- 52” combined pad length in flat position (i.e. seat + 1” gap + back pad)
- 24.5” x 54.5” footprint
- Weighs 128 lbs
- It has wheels and a lift handle for easy transport in your gym. Notably, the handle is all the way down at foot of the bench, an inch or two above the floor. This means you have to bend over and exert more energy compared to most other benches with handles that are typically higher up. This is not a huge deal, but it's worth noting since this is a very heavy bench at 128 lbs.
- At $545 + S&H, this is not cheap for a flat to incline bench, especially when comparing it to the likes of the Vulcan Prime Adjustable Bench, which retails for over $200 less and has free shipping. That said, the minimal pad gap plus the robust and stable frame, makes this a possible option to replace the need for a separate flat utility bench in your home gym -- making it easier to justify the higher price tag.
To wrap things up, let me quickly summarize my recommendations for the best adjustable benches for home gym owners. My choices are based on a holistic assessment of each bench's specs and features relative to its price.
The Best FID Bench Is...
My #1 pick for the best FID adjustable bench is the Rep AB-5000 Zero Gap Adjustable Bench. In fact, it's my #1 overall pick for any type of adjustable bench, FID or flat to incline.
It nails everything: construction quality, weight capacity, stability, back pad width, multiple decline angles, and a patent-pending sliding seat for a no gap experience at every angle.
It beats out other benches that cost twice as much, or more. It's an absolute bargain at $499 plus shipping. While that's an unbeatable price for this bench, it's not a cheap purchase in absolute terms. However, it can actually save you money since the zero gap feature means you don't need to buy a separate flat bench.
My runner up for best FID bench goes to the Ironmaster Super Bench Pro. This bench addressed all the major complaints people had about the original Super Bench, discussed earlier.
There's still some room for improvement with the Super Bench Pro (back pad could be wider; higher capacity on incline would be ideal). But there's a lot more to like about it than to criticize.
When you consider all the adjustment angles, the gapless experience on flat and decline, the plethora of attachments available, and the very reasonable price of $369 shipped -- it should be obvious that many home gym lifters will consider this to be the best adjustable bench for their needs.
The Best Flat to Incline Bench Is...
My #1 pick for the best flat to incline adjustable bench is the Vulcan Prime Adjustable Bench. It's an absolute tank of a bench with an 11 gauge 3" x 3" frame that utilizes extra thick 3 gauge steel on the adjustment column and 7 gauge steel on the ladder.
What makes the Vulcan Prime shine the most is its extremely high number of back pad angle positions: 12 settings total from 0 to 85 degrees! That is insane. You'll never have an issue finding the optimal angle for any incline exercise with this bench.
A big bonus of the Vulcan Prime is that it has grippy vinyl upholstery, which is super rare for adjustable benches.
My only critique of this bench is its tapered back pad that's only 10" wide at the top. A uniform 12" width would be ideal.
That said, 10" width is acceptable for a flat to incline bench. The reason being -- if you're shopping for a flat to incline bench, it's probably because you want it for mostly incline work. You can get away with a narrower pad for incline movements. You probably already have a dedicated flat bench with a wider pad for flat benching, or you're planning on getting one.
As long as you're not planning to use this bench for flat barbell bench press, where a wider pad is most beneficial, then the Vulcan Prime Adjustable Bench is arguably the best flat to incline bench you could buy for your home gym...
...At just $369 shipped, it's undoubtedly the best flat to incline bench for the price. You have to jump up another ~$200 for anything comparable.
My runner up pick for best flat to incline bench is the Rep AB-3100 Adjustable Bench. This is an all around good flat to incline bench.
It's strong enough (1000 lbs capacity), has enough back pad settings (6), has a wide pad (11.75"), an ideal height (17.5") and a stable feel.
There's no truly exceptional features. Importantly, there's no real negatives, either.
What makes this well-rounded flat to incline bench one of the best adjustable weight benches is the fact that it's very inexpensive for everything you get: $189 plus shipping. If you're on a tight budget, this is a no-brainer.