Adjustable vs. Flat Weight Bench: Which is Right For Me?


There are literally hundreds of pieces of equipment in a gym, including machines, weights, racks, chairs, mats, and so on. With how technology has progressed and the available machines you have at the gym (cable and free weighted), you may be wondering if a bench is a viable tool to achieve your fitness goals. Moreover, do you need one and an adjustable one at that?

Adjustable weight benches in conjunction with free weights are used to achieve just about any fitness goal, and it is recommended. These benches can help you isolate, condition, and work your muscles at various angles (rear, front, upper, middle, and lower) by positioning your body accordingly.

Suppose you are wondering whether you should purchase an adjustable bench for your home gym, or perhaps you have seen individuals at your local gym use them and adjust them to various angles, not knowing what exercise they are doing or muscle group they are training. In that case, this article is for you. We’ll look at why an adjustable bench surpasses a flat bench in most regards, also discussing its pros and cons.


Adjustable weight bench overview

Many individuals think that a simple bench in the gym is not a luxurious piece of equipment, and they are often considered to be archaic. It is a bench, after all, and compared to other pieces of gym equipment, many people may even think, why do they still have benches in general?

Moreover, if you ask gym rats what they would use a bench for, the first response is that they will use it for one or two common exercises (chest press or bicep curls). Most gym-goers only know a handful of exercises (bench press, squats, etc.), and they don’t know what capabilities a bench actually has if used in conjunction with body positioning and isolation.

They will never consider all the positions that a bench can provide to their body, isolating muscle groups or creating compound exercises just with the shift of a position.

If you are able to set up your body in all these significant positions to attack your fitness goals, then the next logical step in your thought process would be to understand that an adjustable weight bench can give you many more options in terms of body positioning than a flat bench can.

Even though you may not realize it (because you don’t know all the exercises you can utilize with a bench), an adjustable weight bench offers way more versatility in terms of exercise variations than a flat bench.


Do You Need an Adjustable Weight Bench?

Now that you know how vital an adjustable weight bench can be, you may be wondering, well, your fitness goals, weight, height, method of training, body parts worked, etc., don’t require a bench.

No matter your fitness goals or training method, an adjustable weight bench can be used to achieve the results you are looking for.

Besides enduring cardiovascular exercise to lose weight (running, swimming, cycling, etc.), an adjustable weight bench is the singular piece of gym equipment that can take your training to new levels. Used in conjunction with barbells, dumbells, and body weight, it can help you achieve any result.

The one thing to note is the situation you are in. This means are you using it for home purposes, or are you at the gym and would like to use it. For home purposes, we strongly recommend an adjustable bench (we will go over the reasons in the following headings).

If you are at the gym and can choose between anything, we still recommend an adjustable bench because of the type of exercises you can do with it. However, you may be injured or have specific needs, and thus you should use the equipment that compliments your body or health conditions.

Even though an adjustable bench may not seem like much, experienced fitness individuals use it for purposes of toning, conditioning, strength training, muscle building, and more.

This means that no matter what reasons you go to the gym or exercise at home, an adjustable weight bench can benefit your training program.


Adjustable vs. Flat Weight Wench: How Do You Decide?

There are several factors to consider when determining which bench is right for you. Although we stated that an adjustable bench far exceeds a flat bench, there are still some instances where you would want to use a flat bench.

Price: Adjustable vs. Flat Weight Bench

If you are looking to train from your home, the first thing you will indeed be looking at is how much a home gym setup will cost. A flat bench is notably cheaper than an adjustable bench due to an adjustable bench’s manufacturing process and interchangeability.

Flat benches range in the $50 mark, while adjustable benches (depending on the model and capability of it) will cost double and even triple that. You do get cheaper adjustable benches, but you would need to check the quality and stability of those.

Check out this flat bench on Amazon here

Check out this adjustable bench on Amazon here

Exercise variety: Adjustable vs. Flat Weight Bench

Without a doubt, an adjustable bench offers way more in terms of versatility. A flat bench limits you to either laying down, sitting up, with you having to stabilize your core for any seated exercise or bending over the bench in one way or another to perform a rowing exercise.

Depending on the positioning of your body, you will only be able to target specific areas of your muscle groups.

For example, a flat bench would only be able to work your middle chest area no matter if you were using dumbells or a barbell for chest press. Having an adjustable bench would allow you to angle the bench up or down and focus on your upper or lower chest.

This is just one example, and although we can’t go through the list of all the exercises you are able to do with an adjustable bench, the main thing to consider is that an adjustable bench can help you work the rear, front, upper, middle and lower parts of a muscle group whereas a flat bench will only allow you to work one characteristic respectively.

Angles, Isolation, Conditioning Exercises: Adjustable vs. Flat Weight Bench

Due to you being able to place an adjustable bench into just about any position, it can help you work angles in your muscle groups, help you isolate muscle groups, and is fantastic at improving conditioning.

Moreover, it caters to the fact that you do not have to be of average size or weight to utilize it correctly because it is adjustable.

For the most part, this is because you will typically be using dumbells with a bench for all your exercises. Dumbbells are great for toning, muscle building, and strength training, and because they are free weights, you can isolate and condition your muscles to a higher degree, mainly when used with an adjustable bench.

For example, let’s take a bent-over row as an exercise using dumbells with a bench. Some individuals may have shorter arms than others, and adjusting the seated portion of the bench to fold up could make things much more manageable. This means that you will not have to stretch out your arm to an uncomfortable position, or with it folded up, you can work a different portion of your back because you can angle your body differently.

Time: Adjustable vs. Flat Weight Bench

Most individuals complain that gym takes a lot of time, and fair enough, it does cut into your schedule if you are consistently going. However, If you are looking to save time, then an adjustable bench is what you should consider.

With just an adjustable bench and some dumbells, you can literally move through a full-body workout without having to leave to go to another machine or use other weights. You can even do split routines working one body part, and 70% of your workout could be done using dumbells and an adjustable bench.

For example, you can use the adjustable bench in a flat position to work the chest and then position it upright to work shoulders and arms. You could then angle the bench to work your back (doing rows), then flatten it out again, and utilize it as a stopping point for squats. The variations are endless, and as you can see, moving through exercises that you would think to require different pieces of equipment can all be done, helping you save time and energy.


Pros and Cons of Adjustable Weight Benches

We have discussed some of the pros of an adjustable weight bench, which include it being versatile for exercises, saving you time, and only needing to be used in conjunction with dumbbells or some body-weighted exercises.

There are some cons, though, and the only one we touched on is the price. Depending on the adjustable bench you are purchasing or using, it may have some other flaws, such as not being flexible enough or of poor quality.

Due to the nature of how they are built, they may have additional pieces of equipment attached to them that will get in your way when you are trying to use them for a different exercise. An example of this is a bench having a section for leg extensions.

Poor quality will come in when the adjustable areas of the bench are loose or not appropriately designed. This can cause the backrest to wobble slightly, and if you are using heavy weights for a specific exercise, this could result in injury.

The last con of an adjustable weight bench that many individuals find annoying is the gap between the backrest and seat. Although this could be annoying when you are positioning the bench for specific exercises like decline having multiple benches would just not be viable (unless at the gym). Nobody said exercising is easy, and the gap in an adjustable bench doesn’t warrant any need for concern.

Pros and cons of adjustable weight benches table

Adjustable weight bench prosAdjustable weight bench cons
Simple to usePricier than a flat bench
Can save you time in your routine not moving to other equipmentHas a gap between the backrest and seat
Adjustable to almost any angleMay wobble or become loose if the quality is poor
Can implement a variety of exercisesBulkier than a flat bench
Can work rear, front, upper, middle, and lower muscle groupsMay have other pieces of apparatus attached to it.
Can help isolate muscle groups betterMay not be adjustable enough
Helps with angling your body to perform exercises better or differentlyMay be inappropriately designed in terms of size and height

Conclusion

Although we did not go through and list all the possible exercises utilizing an adjustable bench, we concluded that it is way more beneficial than using a flat bench, generalizing the characteristics that make it better.

We discovered that they open up many more exercise possibilities that can be used for any specific fitness goals (isolation, toning, muscle size, strength, etc.) because they are adjustable. A flat bench is limited in its capability of allowing you to position your body to work specific areas of muscle groups.

An adjustable bench and some dumbbells will allow you to work every single muscle group and area of that muscle in your body, including the rear, front, upper, lower, and middle sections of that group, respectively.

A handful of negatives (none being deal-breakers) come with an adjustable bench, but the positives outweigh those considerably and any characteristics of a flat bench.

Hence, whether you are going to the gym or perhaps considering purchasing a bench for your home gym, you should consider choosing an adjustable bench that will fit your workout routine.

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