What to look for in buying a bench press?

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So you’re looking at buying a bench press? Lots to consider.

Firstly let’s define what a bench press is. In short, it’s a weight bench with a built-in bar rack. So something you can rack a barbell on at one end, lie down on (under the barbell) and bench press off. Lots of variety, including option to incline or decline, squat off, butterfly, preacher curls and leg extension attachments etc etc, but that’s it in a nut shell.

So when you’re ready to go - think about these points:

1) Have a look at your program and think about what you will be using the bench press for (or what you need to get out of it).

Ie. Is it just for barbell bench pressing, or will you be using dumbbells as well? Do you want to do leg work on it (some movements will require a separate leg extension attachment), curls (separate preacher attachment), shoulders / back (may require lat pull-down attachment) or squats (requires moveable bar holders), incline or decline work etc. It’s important to consider all of these things and ensure that the bench you get will allow you to complete the workout you want to complete.

2) How much weight can it handle?

This is sooooo important with the amount of cheap shit you can find on ebay and “reputable” bricks and mortar stores (nope – not naming names). Think honestly about what and how you will be lifting and ensure the bench you buy is strong enough. Read the ads carefully, and please please ask about the weight ratings. Think, if you’re 80kg and benching 50kg, your bench needs to be rated to at least 130kg. Assuming you’re going to increase that bench press – you should be looking for benches rated to at least 200kg. And if the seller can’t give you a weight rating – go somewhere else. Or be prepared to wear a barbell – sooner or later.

3) Is it nice and heavy and stable?

You do not want a light and poorly constructed bench press that is going to wobble everytime you press the weight. Not only is this unsafe it is really annoying when you are pumping some serious weights. You want your mind 100% on the job and not on the status of your wobbly bench press.

4) Where is the barbell holder situated?

This is a really important one because the barbell holders are often in really stupid places. The arms should also be in the right place. You do not want to have to lift the bar from a position that is behind your head. This is important. Go back to the first point. Can you do the exercises you want to do? Can you bench press, can you dumbbell press etc etc. Lay down on the bench and get a feel for where you would be lifting the weight from You need to make sure the bench will not prohibit you from safely completing your movements.

5) Is the price good?

Have a look around and find an equivalent bench or two and get an idea of price before committing. While you really don’t want to buy a cheap shitty bench, you also should make sure you don’t pay too much for a good one.

6) Finally, warranty

What is it, how long and what does it cover. As a last point, if you are looking at used equipment – all but the last point about on warranty will apply when shopping. BUT – check for structural rust as it can weaken the bench – which can lead to broken bench = fall down under weight = messy face.