Continuing our series on home workout equipment, at #8 we have the familiar weight bench. Some folks would probably list it higher. Personally, I think even number eight is being generous. But they can certainly be useful.
Let's look at some of the various types of benches available.
The regular flat bench is usually what people think of as a weight bench. It's the bench with a rack for the barbell. However, there are two basic types here: standard and Olympic. If you read the post on barbells, you know the difference between the standard and Olympic bars. Make sure you get a bench to match the bar. Olympic bars and benches are better because the wider rack allows you to change plates without the bar tipping off the rack.
Next up is the incline bench. These are quite common and allow you to change the angle of the bench for various incline exercises. This versatiliity is very handy and highly recommended. Again, these can come with standard or Olympic racks.
Finally, we have what is commonly referred to as a dumbbell bench, which can also be flat or incline. These have no rack so they're nice for use with dumbbells where you don't need the rack and it can get in the way. But you can also use this type of bench with a barbell if you have stands or a power rack. I have both, so this is the type of bench I use.
So what can you do with a weight bench? The most obvious lift is the bench press (one of the powerlifting "Big 3"). There are plenty of variations (e.g. incline, dumbbell, close-grip, etc.) and they're excellent for the horizontal push movement pattern. But there are other things you can do with a bench, some of which I'll be writing about soon. Suffice to say it's a valuable piece of equipment.
Why don't I rate it higher? Because most of what folks do with a bench involves laying down on it and I'm not a big fan of the laying-down exercises. Standing up for deadlifts, squats, overhead press, etc. activates much more muscle including your core. (This is also one of the reasons I'm not a fan of machines for strength training.) For horizontal pressing, pushups activate more muscle and your core. But benching is useful and allows for pushing heavier loads which is always fun.
Benches take up a fair amount of space so they're better suited to a home gym than a studio apartment. But if you've already invested in a barbell and plates, this is a good addition.
A couple things to watch out for include too much padding (which affects your stability when lifting) and a bench that's too wide (which can interfere with your movement).
They tend to be reasonably priced with new dumbbell benches coming in well under $100 and flat benches not much over it. You can get fancier benches that include things like leg raise attachments and so on but they're generally not worthwhile. Used benches (often with weights included) are commonly available as good local deals.
So if you're lifting weights and have the space (and money), by all means get yourself a bench.
Be seeing you.