If you’re going to splurge on any piece of fitness equipment for your home gym, invest in the right fitness bench.
Adjustable benches are literally the foundation for many exercises. So, choosing the right fit and quality materials are crucial.
The wrong fitness bench can lead to improperly performed exercises, less efficient results and injury.
When setting up a home gym, most people focus on the latest and greatest in equipment, without considering proper size and fit in relation to their goals and space. This is especially true when it comes to benches. They might all look the same, but they couldn’t be more different. A bench that is too small or too large can be uncomfortable and increase your risk of injury.
Remember, not all gym equipment was created equal. Take your time, do your research, talk to fitness professionals and follow these important tips to ensure your bench is right for your needs.
So, what should you look for?
The first and most important thing to look at is height. A bench that is too low or too high can make it difficult, even impossible, to maintain proper form. If you can’t place your feet comfortably on the floor you run the risk of straining your lower back. A bench that isn’t high enough will place your hips too low, preventing you from being able to successfully drive through your lower body to achieve a challenging enough lift. This can result in injury and less efficient exercises altogether. The ideal height for a bench allows you to keep your feet flat on the floor while supporting your back.
Next, consider the length of the bench in relation to your height. There are a lot of small benches out there. They’re marketed for small spaces and as budget friendly. The downside? You risk serious injury if you purchase a bench too short. Having your head hang off the top of the bench is fun for no one. It can lead to neck strains and worse. Make sure you’re getting a bench that you can lie back on and be supported from just below your butt to just above your head. Proper support means better form and more efficiency in all of your lifts, which means better results faster.
Bench width. Now, this is as much about personal preference as it is about safety. You want to find a bench that’s wide enough that there’s no overhang, which reduces your stability, but not so wide that it gets in the way of your movements. Additionally, are you looking for a bench that is a uniform width from seat to head? This is completely about preference. Some benches come with a slightly wider seat and that’s ok. What feels right for you?
One component of fitness benches that often gets overlooked is bench padding. The padding on a bench is its least durable feature. It goes through a lot in the way of everyday wear and tear. Make sure when you’re looking at benches you choose one that is made from high quality, durable material. The right padding can also reduce discomfort and strain in the joints. It should lend stability and prevent slipping. The key things to look for when it comes to padding are: thickness, firmness, consistency and durability. Is it thick enough to support your body weight without bottoming out? Is it firm enough to provide additional support without having lumps or being uneven? Will the materials withstand natural wear and tear? Will they compress over time?
5. Weight Capacity
Don’t forget to take into account the weight capacity for any bench you are looking at. Most people won’t need anything too excessive, but it’s important to consider both the weight of the user and the amount of weight you/they plan to lift.
Additionally, it’s important to consider price point. Odds are, if you’re getting a bench that’s under $200 it was meant for someone under 5’2”. It won’t be comfortable, and you will likely spend more to replace it when you’ve finally had enough. Spending a little more upfront on something quality will save you hassle later. With that said, figure out what you’re comfortable spending and stick within your budget.
7. Personal Preference
Lastly, consider personal preference and comfort. Do the height and width of your bench feel comfortable? Do you feel like you’re straining to get yourself into proper position? Are you well supported? If things don’t feel right when you set up to do an exercise, chances are they aren’t. The amazing thing about a home gym is that it can be 100% personalized for you and your use. Don’t settle for equipment that doesn’t work for you in your space. If you put in the money to build a home gym, build one that’s so right for you it would be crazy NOT to use it.
A quick bonus?
Invest in an adjustable bench. The more angles you can get, the better. Being able to adjust the angle you’re working at can increase the number of exercises you can do. It will also allow you to hit muscles at a number of different angles preventing overuse injury. And don’t worry if your preferred bench doesn’t have a decline setting. While it can be a plus for some, most people will never need or use it.
In the end
Ultimately, when setting up your home gym, it’s essential to consider the size and fit of your fitness equipment in relation to you and your body. When selecting a bench, approach it like Goldilocks. You want something that isn’t too small or too tall. Nothing too soft or too firm. Nothing too hot or too cold…wait, that’s porridge. What we’re trying to say, is that to ensure exercises are the most effective and safe, you need to find a bench that is just right. So, take your time. Do the research. Choose quality. Finding the right size bench is an investment. It’s a purchase that ensures you’ll be able to perform exercises with proper form and avoid injury for a long time to come.
If you have questions about what equipment is best for your home gym or how to select pieces that are right for you, let us know. It’s what we do and we’re here to help.
For additional blog posts tackling all kinds of topics from how consistency is the key to unlocking results to the straight goods on supplements, you can also find us at Sandbox Fitness & Therapy