A good bench for a gym you set up at home can really be the cornerstone of your workout program. It should have more than just your straight bars and yoke for benching weights. A quality bench will have a seat that inclines for use in other exercises and attachments that fit it. This is one of our faves:
Olympus MX WM-100 put out by IMPEX Fitness Products
This particular set has a detachable padded platform for strict curls that sits in an opening at the feet of the bench. In this same spot, a pull-down attachment for lats (that’s Latissimus dorsi) and reverse curls can be used. It has a T-bar that holds free weights with a post that the cable attaches through worked over a pulley and terminating with the pull-down bar. A third attachment will enable you to work the legs: quadriceps for the front in a seated position, and reverse leg curls when lying on the bench in the prone.
These attachments have pins that enable them to be set in securely. You can do a ton of exercises with this bench, and it doesn’t take up much room. You can fit the bench and all of your weights into about a 10’ x 10’ section with no problem. There are a few prerequisites for a good bench that are common to all, so let’s lay them out here.
- Solid: you want it to be of solid construction and either one piece, or several pieces that bolt together securely with sturdy bolts: none of these “rinky-dink” benches made of hollow steel tubing are worth the cost. Examine how the bench you’re interested in is made. It should be of rugged steel and squared, not rounded in its posts and supports.
- Attachments: As mentioned, these help to multiply the number of exercises you can do. The more the merrier, and make sure these, too, are quality pieces.
- Warranty: When you’re lifting heavy, accidents do happen and cables, pulleys, supports, etc., can become busted. You at least want the ability to replace a part or a piece if this occurs.
- Ergonomically viable: as with a “rinky-dink” bench mentioned earlier, you don’t want your two vertical posts for the bench to be so narrow that only an elf could fit his shoulders in-between them. The bench should be reasonably comfortable, with the surface well padded, and your feet should rest on the ground comfortably. Not too comfortably: you’re there to work out, not lounge.
- Steel: Yes, “Fistful of Steel,” to paraphrase Rage Against the Machine…don not settle for some kind of cheap aluminum bench. Steel is necessary to prevent stress from warping or bending it over time – same for your weights. We do not recommend vinyl.
The same vernacular adage applies, time and again: “Cheap you buy, cheap you get.” You can pick up an Olympus MX WM-100 for about $300, and the attachments run about $50 to $75 per. You can order it or another type of bench for yourself or find one used on e-bay. A good bench will enable your training to progress, and you’ll save yourself the price of a membership at the collective gym and ensure your privacy, as well. JJ out!