A weight bench is one of the first pieces of equipment you should purchase when you are setting up a garage gym. A weight bench is important because it’s used for a large variety of exercises; not just for your chest, but also your triceps, back, and abs. Let’s be honest though – you want it to bench press.
Not only do you need a weight bench, you want a quality, reliable bench. A bench not only has to support your weight, but also the additional weight of what you’re lifting. As you get stronger, the weight it needs to safely support goes up. You need a bench that can handle your gains; it needs to be strong and stable under any load.
Safety isn’t the only reason to buy a nice weight bench. Comfort is just as important. Anyone who has ever purchased a budget desk chair should know how uncomfortable cheap padding is after very little use. When you have 200+ pounds pushing your back and ass into a bench, do you want to be on a $50 bench with ½” of dime-store padding, or a well constructed, 2-3″ thick pad of high density foam?
Now that we know why a bench isn’t the piece of gear to be overly thrifty on, let me give you the rundown on a handful of weight benches you may want to consider when shopping around. I will cover standard flat utility benches and a small selection of adjustable incline benches, but no decline benches or Olympic benches (you’ll typically have a rack in a garage gym making an Olympic bench sort of a redundant piece of equipment).
Also, for the reasons discussed above, I won’t be selecting any of the extremely low-end benches for this article. We’re talking about benches for our garage gyms here. We want equipment durable enough to outlive us; equipment our great-grandchildren can bench press on.
Want your bench’s specifications to be within the parameters set forth by the International Powerlifting Federation? You can see the current IPF equipment specs here.
Rogue Flat Utility Bench 2.0
Manufactured by Rogue Fitness in Columbus, Ohio, the recently updated Flat Utility Bench 2.0 is available in black, black, or black. The single piece steel frame is built with strong 11-gauge, 2″x3″ steel and this bench has a weight capacity of more than you can lift. The pad is high-density, very firm Neoprene and the legs are slightly angled outwards to improve stability – and it does improve stability. It weighs in at 40 pounds, it’s 18″ high, and has a footprint of 47″ x 14″.
I own this bench, and one of my favorite things about this bench is that the cushion is a full 12″ wide. Sure, that’s supposed to be the norm, but so many other mid-range benches out there now have gone with narrower 10″ cushions to save a few bucks, and that’s just not how it should be.
Along with all of the improvements that came with the 2.0, Rogue still managed to knock a few bucks off the price. The Rogue Flat Utility Bench sells for $175 and comes completely assembled (and it ships UPS still). It has a solid 5-star review, and it should be near the top of your list. This bench is all pros and no cons.
CFF Flat Utility Bench
The CFF Flat Utility Bench has an 11-gauge box-steel frame – the base is 2″x2″ steel and the frame itself is 2″x3″. The bench has a total load capacity of about 700-pounds which is fine for most people, but stronger bench pressers will want to look for something with a 1000+ pound capacity. The height is good at 18″, and the pad width is good at 11″, but the length of the pad runs small at only 43″ (versus the 47-48″ that would be considered normal.)
The CFF Bench has wheels for easy mobility, and rubber feet for stabilization. The rubber feet are good, but the wheels seem pointless for a 40-pound bench. All-in-all this is a very middle-of-the-road utility bench. It’s stronger than box-store junk, but not quite as strong as commercial-grade equipment. At $140 though, it’s appropriately priced and should last for many years.
Rep Flat Utility Bench
The Rep Flat Bench is made of 11-gauge, 2″x2″ box-steel, and is rated for 1000-pounds. At $149 with free shipping, this seems like a good deal. Well it’s not a bad deal, but I personally prefer the more stable feeling of 2″x3″ steel in equipment that is expected to hold a great deal of weight. This is especially true when there is so many pieces held together with bolts rather than the frame being a welded, single piece design. It’ll hold, but it won’t feel nearly as stable and secure as something like the Rogue Utility.
The Rep Bench is of a good size. It’s 47″ long x 17½” tall, and it does have a 12″ wide pad – and that pad is a nice 2½” thick. The bench itself is warranted for 5-years, but sadly the pad is only warranted for 90-days. 90-days is an alarmingly short warranty for that pad, and it makes me question how well it’s put together, but at the end of the day I may just be over-thinking it. This bench does have a lot of positive feedback so it’s certainly not going to be a disaster or anything like that.
York Barbell ST Flat Weight Bench
Manufactured by York Barbell, the York ST Flat Bench is offered in white or silver. It has high density foam in the cushion, is suitable for heavy workouts, and weighs about 55 pounds. The bench height and length are pretty standard at 19″x 42.5″.
This is a great option for those who want a strong, nearly-commercial bench, but who don’t have a huge budget. Priced at only $189, this is a quality weight bench from a company that’s been in business for a long damn time.
American Barbell Flat Utility Bench
Waiting on full specs from manufacture. In the meantime you can see the bench here.
Rogue Monster Utility Bench
Manufactured by Rogue Fitness, the Rogue Monster Utility Bench is a heavy-duty bench made with 11 gauge 3″x 3″ steel. It has an extra wide 24″ footprint with rubber feet which are great for uneven surfaces. It is available with a normal cushion or a Thompson Fat Pad. The Fat Pad cushion is 19.75″ high and 47″ long. If you’re a big guy, this bench with the Fat Pad is for you. I actually really want one of these for myself.
Regardless of which pad you get on this bad boy, this is one beefy bench. It’s $255 for the standard pad and $295 with the Fat Pad. Both sold directly from Rogue.
Legend 3100 Utility Bench
Legend Fitness makes commercial-grade gym equipment, and all Legend equipment is made to order – that means there is a lead time. The upside to the wait is that your bench will be any color you want. There are 16 frame color choices, and about 90 upholstery color choices. If you’re really hardcore, you can have logos embroidered on the cushions of your Legend Fitness gear.
The 3100 Utility Bench is 19″ high, 45″ long, and weighs about 56 lbs. It uses thick, high density foam in the cushion and it is very comfortable (I know!). In my experience, the best price on Legend gear is by buying direct from Legend. This bench will run you about $349 before freight.
Precor Icarian Flat Bench 101
Precor is found in many upscale health clubs. It’s built to be used all day, every day, and not fail. This bench is made of 11 gauge 2″x4″ bent electroweld steel , has a 2″ thick foam pad, and has a 10 year frame warranty. It’s 17 inches high, 53 inches long, and sells for about $450. This product should be ordered directly from Precor. I couldn’t find a better price than the MSRP from Precor.
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Adjustable Incline Benches
Adjustable benches will set you back some cash – that is if you buy one of reasonable quality. Anything under $300 is probably garbage, and there is a good chance you’ll be very disappointed in the stability and feel of a cheap bench. It’s helpful to know what angles you expect out of your incline bench before you pull the trigger on one.
My biggest suggestion is make sure it adjusts to 80-85 degrees if you intend to use it for shoulder work. You don’t actually need 90 degrees; it feels awkward and actually kind of pushes your upper body forward too far. Also make sure the seat itself adjusts. Some cheaper units just stay flat so you just slide right out of the seat at many incline positions.
York ST Adjustable Incline Bench
This is the adjustable version of the York ST Bench (above). The York incline adjustment system allows you to easily make adjustments to the 6 different back positions. This bench sits on wheels allowing for easy movement around the gym floor. This bench is made of heavy steel and has high-density foam padding with a durable powder coated finish. It is available in white or silver, weighs about 100 pounds, and is 57″ long by 19″ off the ground.
You used to be able to pick this bench up at Rogue Fitness, but they’ve switched to only selling the flat variation of the ST. My guess is because they now manufacturer many of their own benches; many of which are in this guide. You can still get it at a competitive price at Amazon. They offer the pictured bench in white, and a silver version with an alternate pad shape that I personally think is silly.
IronMaster Super Adjustable Bench
Probably the most interesting adjustable bench on the market, the Ironmaster Super Bench is a rather versatile piece of equipment. Unlike any other incline bench, this thing accepts accessories like a crunch attachment and dip station (huh?). It also has the most possible angles than any other bench I know of – 11 to exact; ranging from flat to 85 degrees.
The Super Bench has seriously deviated from normal bench specifications. When it’s flat, it sits an incredible 20″ off of the ground, and shorter people have to come up with create ways to get their feet flat on the ground when benching. The price is very reasonable at about $325, and it has a crap load of positive reviews, so I guess people are willing to overlook the odd dimensions since the bench is affordable and stable.
Overall specifications when flat are 17″ x 41″, 20″ high. The pad itself is slim at only 10″ wide though. It’s rated for 1000-pounds flat, and 600-pounds in incline positions. The lower rating is likely due to 12-gauge steel being used rather than 11-gauge. An interesting bench though. It’s not for me, but it could be for you.
Legend Fitness 3103 Adjustable Bench
First off, I own this bench. I’ve had it for years now and I can tell you that it is a beast. It’s mounted on 11 gauge 3″ x 3″ steel frame, and the padding is nearly 3″ thick and very comfortable. Its adjustable from flat to 85 degrees with for a total of 7 back angles and 3 seat angles. It weights about 100 pounds and it’s measurements when flat are 21″ high and 55″ long. The pad is 10″ wide by default, but it can be ordered with a 12″ pad as well.
As with all Legend products, there are hundreds of color combinations that you can select from when ordering. Unfortunately there is also a lead time since it is made to order. Order directly from Legend for the best price. MSRP is $649, but you’ll have to call Legend to get an actual quote.
Rogue AB-2 Adjustable Bench
The Rogue AB-2 has the most possible seat adjustments with 6 seat angles and 9 back angles that range from flat to 85 degrees. Made with strong 11-gauge steel just like all Rogue benches, the adjustable bench also has a handle and wheels for moving it around (nearly 100 pounds), load bearing rubber feet, and a pretty thick pad.
The total length is 52″, and the height is 17.25″. This bench is a little too pricey at $815 if you ask me, but it does look sturdy as hell. If you like this bench but not the price, see below!
Rogue Adjustable Bench 2.0
I guess the AB-2 Bench from above wasn’t a very good seller considering that $800 price tag, so Rogue has introduced the 2.0 at a much, much more affordable price.
The 2.0 doesn’t have nearly as many possible positions, but it should be enough for most people. This bench has six incline positions ranging from a flat 0° to about 85°, and the seat can be set in two positions; either flat or at an angle for incline positions. Both models have the rubber feet, wheels, and a handle for moving it around.
One of the benefits of this version (other than the much lower price) is that there is practically no gap between each cushion. I know I’m not the only person who dislikes incline benches for flat work because of the 2-3″ gap normally found, but that won’t be a problem with this bench. This bench is made with 2″x3″ 11-gauge steel and measures 11.25″ x 17.5″ x 52″. $545
Precor Super Bench
I’m fairly certain this used to be part of the Icarian commercial line, but now they’re calling it the Super Bench. This, like the Precor 101 Flat Bench listed above, is a high-end commercial weight bench. It’s built with 11 gauge 2″x 4″ steel, has a handle and wheels for easy mobility around your gym, and has a nice 2″ thick foam padding. There are seven back positions from flat to 90 degrees. It’s measurements while flat are 19″ high by 54″ long.
Have $1050 lying around? Buy a rack! This is a very nice bench, but it’s just too damn expensive. If you must have it, you can order it from Precor and get your choice of color (with a lead time), or you can actually pick this up on Amazon at its normal MSRP with free shipping for Prime members.
There are a lot of options out there and a wide range of prices when it comes to weight benches. You can spend less money than any bench on this page, but I do not recommend it; not if you want a stable, reliable, and safe piece of equipment holding you up.
If you have experience with any of these benches that you’d like to share; either good or bad, please do. Or if you have had a great experience with a bench not covered here, bring that up as well. Leave a comment below. Thanks for reading, and please share this site with a friend.