Should I Buy a Flat or Adjustable Bench?

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If you have included dumbbells into your workout routine, you will need a bench for those exercises, because a simple chair will not work. After a little research, you will see that you have two main options: the flat and the adjustable weight bench. The latter is more advanced and offers multiple workout options, but many people wonder if it’s really worth the investment. We will try to settle things straight for you in the following lines so you will know which one to pick.

Adjustable Weight Benches

This type consists of two parts, the seat that is the smaller and fixed part, and the backrest that is larger and mobile. It can be set to different angles so that you can pair it with various workouts involving lifting dumbbells or heavy weights.

The strong points

  • The adjustable bench provides an incline and decline position that can be adjusted according to the type of exercise you are about to perform. They usually range from a -10° decline position, which is slightly bent under the flat angle, to about +80° at the maximum incline. Therefore, you can perform a series of movements that will target multiple upper body muscle groups.
  • Add-ons are available with the adjustable weight bench. While not intended for heavy lifting on your own, some models come with weight bars and handles that help you position your weights at the end of each set, without any assistance from a spotter. Also, most models have a leg bar that enables you to work on your leg muscles as well, thus increasing the range of training possibilities.
  • You will get excellent support for strength training on an adjustable model. Thanks to the freedom it provides in movements, you will manage to engage even those muscles that are missed by regular movements. Hence, you will enjoy increased support in increasing your strength level.
  • Another benefit brought by the modifiable position of the backrest is the resistance brought by the decline option. As you lower the bench, you will get to engage the shoulders muscles more and you will have to maintain balance and stability using the smaller upper body muscles that are normally left aside while training.
  • The sitting position while lifting on an adjustable bench is ideal for posttraumatic training, in case you need to protect an injured shoulder or chest. The backrest allows you to safely rest your injured body part and avoid further injuries without having to skip training day.
  • If you use it for a home gym and you lack storage space, this model is what you need. It’s more space-friendly and it can even fold for easy storage, being ideal for small apartments or occasional use. Although the frame is heavier, most items come with wheels that make them easier to transport and move around.

The downsides

  • Weightlifters who use the adjustable bench complain about the gap that remains between the two parts when fully flattened or in an inclined position. This gap can measure a couple of inches, which will feel uncomfortable during a series of exercises. A way to minimize the discomfort is to place a rolled towel in the gap to even the surface.
  • Another design minus is the tall frame that sits around 20” above the floor. This was intended for aiding in working the legs using the leg bar, but it will feel uncomfortable while sitting on the bench because your legs will most likely hang in the air. A shorter frame would have been more suitable.
  • Since it has hinges, screws, and mobile parts, the upkeep is more demanding and there are higher chances of something breaking down. The fewer components to take care of and to replace, the more convenient the bench will turn out to be over time.
  • While the cases are very rare, the adjustable weight bench tends to be more unstable, which might result in accidents and injuries. Considering that it requires assembly, its safety can be questioned, especially if you assemble it yourself and you are not very familiar with the procedure.

Flat Weight Benches

The second type is a more basic one, with no modifiable parts and a limited range of training opportunities. With a flat bench, you can perform regular weight lifting movements lying on your back, so you will enjoy greater stability.

The strong points

  • As mentioned before, this type of bench is more stable and safer to use, considering you won’t have to assemble it, tighten screws or attach parts. The single-deck design makes it highly stable to the floor, with little to no wobbling. Also, the upkeep will be reduced in the long run, cutting on your expenses.
  • The straightforward design makes it more comfortable to use due to the lack of a gap between the two sections. The flat surface, covered in thick padding, won’t make your back hurt because of gaps and angles that can be adjusted. Plus, it is lower in height, so it’s more comfortable for your legs while you sit because your feet will touch the floor.
  • Just because it’s flat and fixed doesn’t mean you can’t use it for a whole range of exercises. Despite not having a changeable backrest, it can be used while seated, standing, or lying down. As such, you can work on your shoulders, arms, core, and leg muscles with the same efficiency as with the adjustable type.

The downsides

  • While it provides a more natural movement, this bench can be more dangerous while lifting weights because of the lying position. You will certainly need the assistance of a spotter to help you grab and put back the heavy weights. Trying to do this on your own might result in injuries.
  • The fixed design makes it less suitable for small spaces because there is no way of folding and storing it aside. You will have to find a spot for it and keep it there, which might be annoying if you don’t rely on a large space for a gym.
  • You won’t get any accessories with this model, only the rock-solid bench for your chest presses or dumbbells exercises.

In conclusion

Both types have their pros and cons, they both deliver a series of advantages while both of them can seem inappropriate for some of you. Before buying a certain type, you must analyze your needs and see which one is more likely to comply with them. The adjustable bench will seem more offering and more versatile, while the flat one is safer and simpler to use. At the end of the day, it’s important that you choose the one that is more suitable for your workout habits.

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