Arrange your home gym at home is one of the most exciting things for anyone who loves bodybuilding. You should design your own workout space and choose your equipment carefully. The only downside is that a complete weight bench can cost an arm and a leg. And it hurts 🙁
It is therefore important to make the best possible choice from the start. So I tried to answer this question: How to choose the best all-in-one workout station according to its objectives and its means?
Focus on the practical aspects so as not to fall for useless or overly complicated equipment. The most important factors to consider are:
- the space you need;
- quality and durability;
- the price ;
- the technical aspects.
If you stay focused on these 4 aspects, you will avoid giving in to equipment that may be too complicated for you or inaccessible for your budget.
Table of Contents
- What is a complete weight bench?
- How to choose your bench?
- The best free-loading weight benches
- The best load-guided benches
- Things to Consider Before Choosing a Type of Bench
- Accessories for your complete weight station
- Conclusion on complete weight benches
What is a complete weight bench?
Let's start by specifying what we call "complete". In fact, it is not just a flat bench, but a complete device intended to work all muscle groups, both lower and upper body.
Indeed, a classic bench normally focuses on the muscles of the upper body: pectorals, triceps, shoulders, back and biceps. On the other hand, it absolutely does not solicit the quadriceps or the hamstrings.
Conversely, a multifunction strength machine must be able to replace a gym taking up as little space as possible. It is usually equipped with many accessories to achieve this.
However, you should keep in mind that the cheapest machines are not always very ergonomic. I even came across devices with some functions that are unusable. This is for example often the case with butterflies.
How to choose your bench?
You are probably looking for the best value for money to stay within your budget. Of course, if you want a complete weight bench, it is in your best interest to find the right compromise between price and quality. No question of buying the first cheap equipment, especially if you want to gain muscle mass.
Indeed, a weight bench is not the kind of unimportant piece of equipment. Take into account that it absolutely must be stable and solid fully charged.
Bench with free or guided load
If you weigh, for example, 80 kilos and you do the bench press at more than 80 kilos, a traditional bench must actually be able to carry more than 160 kilos without risk. Not to mention that the load is mobile and the thrust creates additional stress on the bed.
If you opt for a multi-function bench with loads guided by pulleys or a smith machine, you must invest in proportion to your current and future physical abilities. A first-price weight machine generally does not offer more than 40 kg of resistance, while a quality complete weight station can greatly exceed 100 kg or 200 kg.
Additional costs to consider
Whatever you decide, it's still better to do strength training without gym equipment than to buy anything if you have no budget for your equipment (or no space, of course). That being said, it is quite possible to find excellent complete benches for weight training at home in a reasonable budget.
However, keep in mind that if you choose a free weight bench, you will also need to invest in dumbbells, cast iron plates and straight or EZ bars. And that inevitably increases the final bill. But that's the price to pay for working many muscle groups.
You may also need to purchase a quality floor mat or cushioning tiles for your home gym. Don't worry, I'll make a little list at the end.
So here are my top picks for weight benches currently available for building your own gym.
This comparison of the best current complete benches is established in order of price. You won't find a foldable bench or a simple bench since this type of equipment cannot fall into the category of machines that work the whole body, even if they offer many possibilities.
The best free-loading weight benches
As stated in the title, these are free-loading complete benches, in other words usable with dumbbells or bars and discs. It is this kind of models that have been used for decades in the gym or at home, with more or less elaborate models.
Many bodybuilders have only known these and have achieved tremendous results with a good workout program. Their strong point and their weak point are at the level of the bench press. It's an exceptional exercise to strengthen the pecs, but it's very difficult to get out of it on your own when you're stuck under a bar that you've loaded a little too much 😅
The ideal is therefore to use them in the presence of another person, at least for the chest press. The other solution is to press with dumbbells rather than a barbell.
NOTE : Whatever the models offered in this list, they all offer very good stability.
Here are the 3 best models in this category:
No. 1: Titan Bench weight station
the Titan Bench from the Fitness Doctor brand is quite impressive for its price. Thanks to its 84 cm wide candles (the supports for the bar), it is very stable. The bar can be loaded up to 110 kilos, which will be enough for the majority of those who do strength training at home.
It is also equipped with ears, these bars at the foot of the candles to put the discs not used. It's still very practical and it stabilizes the bench on certain exercises with lower loads.
I also like its wider-than-average bicep pad, which gives you greater comfort in use. I know, it's weird to talk about comfort for an instrument of torture 😂
The quad press and bicep desk (Larry Scott) meanwhile support 60 pounds, which is great. You can watch this video to see it in action:
Technical characteristics of the Titan Bench
|Maximum load on jack stands||110kg|
|Maximum user weight||120kg|
|Quadriceps extension and hamstring curls||60kg|
Titan Bench Highlights
- Very competitive price (especially with current promotions)
- Manufacturing quality
- Double bar support (presses and squats)
- Extra wide biceps desk
- Very stable, even when loaded
Weaknesses of the Titan Bench
- The Larry Scott desk would have been more effective with dumbbells (see next model)
- Limited to 110 kilos for the bench press (more than enough for 95% users)
- Slightly low candles for squats and not dissociable from the bench
2. Marcy MD857 Olympic Bench
Marcy is one of the largest manufacturers of home sports equipment in the world. It is renowned for designing high quality equipment and has earned a solid reputation in the fitness industry since its founding in 1959.
I have always liked the equipment of this brand that I have known for more than 30 years. I myself have owned a simple bench and a multifunction bench with guided load from Marcy and the quality is always there despite the very competitive price.
NOTE : This bench is unfortunately very often out of stock.
Marcy MD857 demo video in English:
Technical characteristics of the Marcy bench
|Maximum load on jack stands||110kg|
|total maximum weight||270kg|
|Maximum user weight||135kg|
|Quadriceps extension and hamstring curls||45kg|
Highlights of the Marcy MD857
- A real pro bench like in the weight room
- Impressive stability due to its large width
- Accepts a high load (270 kg)
- Exceptional squat racks in this price range
- Reclining backrest in 6 different positions
- Biceps curl cushion adjustable in 2 positions
- Possibility of declining
Weaknesses of the Marcy MD857
- The long bar must be 2.10 m because the support is wide (take this into account for the home gym space)
- The backrest cannot be raised to 90° for the shoulder press
- No adjustment on the leg press
#3: Gorilla Sports GS005
If you don't know this brand, Gorilla Sports is a French company that has been providing professional quality sports and fitness equipment for individuals since 2005.
Of course, it is possible to find even cheaper on Amazon. But you must never lose sight the importance of quality when it comes to equipment intended to carry loads.
Despite a relatively affordable price, the multifunction bench GS005 can support 280 kilos in total. It's already huge, unless you weigh 250 kilos 😉
Its 6-position adjustable backrest is of good quality and well adjusted. It is sufficiently comfortable and firm during training. It even allows a completely vertical position for the shoulder press.
Video of the bench in action:
Technical characteristics of the GS005
|Maximum load on jack stands||180kg|
|total maximum weight||280kg|
|Quadriceps extension and hamstring curls||60kg|
|Chassis Construction||Heavy duty steel|
|Height||90 to 110cm|
- homegym device for all body muscles
- Complete training station accepting a high load (280 kg)
- Reclining backrest in 6 different positions including 90° for the shoulder press
- 3-position adjustable bicep curl cushion
- Leg press 60 kg adjustable in 3 positions (leg extension and leg curl)
- Dumbbell rest with adjustable safety catch on 5 levels (90 to 110 cm)
- Dips handles included on the bar rest
- Possibility of adding an optional high pulley capable of pulling 100 kg
- Super fast and free delivery
Weak points of the GS005 bench
- Nothing planned for squats
- Not made for people over 1.90m
- The bench is not intended for decline
- Not everyone likes the butterfly module (but you can remove it)
- The dip racks are too far apart to be really usable
The best load-guided benches
This type of complete weight station aims to replace the many accessories and machines that are normally found in a professional gym. The objective is to allow you to have a perfect physical condition by making the whole body work in depth while taking up as little space as possible.
This multi-function strength machine is usually equipped with pulleys and metal plates that move back and forth along a column. The total weight of these plates is important since it must be chosen according to your current level and your objectives in the more or less long term.
Other machines guide conventional loads such as Olympic bars and discs along metal columns. Their advantage is that you can train with very heavy loads, even if you are alone. But beware, as you will see later, it is not the same price.
NOTE : The pulley reduction often increases the actual resistance.
The pulleys must absolutely be mounted on ball bearings to ensure their durability and quality of movement.
The weak point of the compound home gym bench is that almost all movements are unidirectional. The machine does not give you latitude and your exercises do not mobilize the stabilizer muscles. It is therefore perfect for increasing strength and volume in very safe training conditions, but less so for improving movement balance and stability.
I therefore recommend that you still invest in adjustable dumbbells or TRX straps as a supplement to work your muscles in a more natural way from time to time.
Here are the best complete weight benches in this category:
4. Marcy Eclipse HG3000
This model is recognized as one of the best compact weight machines. Its compactness makes it ideal for congested areas while maintaining a sturdy build quality.
Its pulleys can be used to optimize the work of certain muscle groups. You can for example use the high pulley to isolate triceps, lat pulldowns and abs. While low pulley is perfect for rowing or bicep curls.
The Marcy Marcy Eclipse HG3000 delivers incredible workouts with a 150-pound vinyl-protected weight stack. The pulley system generates a resistance of 90 kg. The first impression of this equipment is that of its durability and solidity.
|Maximum real resistance||90kg|
|Maximum user weight||135kg|
|Quadriceps extension and hamstring curls||72kg|
- Very affordable in terms of quality
- Compact, reduced footprint
- Fairly easy to assemble (allow 2 to 4 hours)
- Impeccable manufacturing quality (reinforced pulleys and sealed bearings)
- Sufficient resistance for the majority of athletes (90 kg for the press and 72 kg at the level of the pulleys)
- EZ bar included
- Not for users over 1.90m tall
- Looking a bit outdated
- A foot support in the front would have been welcome (as on the Sportstech)
5. Sportstech HGX100
The German manufacturer always offers equipment offering an interesting quality-price ratio. In addition, their sports equipment is always original in its design. And this home gym bench is no exception to the rule.
What surprises right away is the quality of manufacture and the very flattering presentation. The professionally designed front foot support facilitates the use of the high and low pulleys.
|Maximum user weight||135kg|
|Quadriceps extension and hamstring curls||55kg|
- Heavy and stable device
- Users are unanimous regarding the quality of the product
- Exercises presented on the frame itself
- Pulleys operate smoothly and quietly
- Perfect for fitness enthusiasts who want a muscular physique, but not necessarily a big volume
- The filler is not enough for men who want to bulk up a lot
NOTE : It more than deserves 9/10 if you have enough 55 kg
6. MAXXUS Multipress 8.1 Smith machine
To be honest, we switch to a completely different world with this complete weight station. It's like going from a modern SUV to a Hummer H1. We love or we hate this world of brutes with discs to be moved all the time in the old fashioned way...
Maxxus offers several variations of its Smith machine, such as the Multipresse 9.1 and the Multipresse 10.1 which offer a little more equipment on the same technical basis.
The prices may seem high to you, but it's nothing compared to the competition which happily exceeds 5000€.
Either way, it's an enthusiast's product that will make you happy if you have the necessary space at home. If you have the budget and the passion, you cannot regret this purchase.
Failing 8.1, you can see 7.1 in action here:
|Maximum load training bench||300kg|
|Maximum load long bar||250kg|
|maximum load butterfly||120kg|
|Traction pulley maximum load||120kg|
|Quadriceps extension and hamstring curls||80kg|
- Long bar included with a load capacity of 250 kg
- Impressive smoothness of operation
- Abilities far beyond most “normal humans”
- Steel cables tested up to 1 ton
- pull-up bar and dip station integrated
- If you break it, you make headlines and maybe a world tour in a circus 😂
- Apart from the price, nothing
- You have to buy the Olympic discs in diameter 50 mm
Things to Consider Before Choosing a Type of Bench
What space to make a weight room?
This is a question you need to ask yourself to find your ideal homegym accessory. Of course it seems obvious, but do not forget to check this point before buying sports equipment for the home. Indeed, a complete multi-purpose bench takes up space and you must know its total dimensions in use before choosing.
In addition, it is necessary to provide a sufficient space in your home gym around the bench itself. So measure well before ordering. Make sure there will be enough space when you add a 150 or 180 cm long bar above the candles. To be comfortable, you need to have about 9 m² free for a classic bench, but a homegym station can require 15 m2 or more when it has several workstations (for example a bench on one side and a roman chair on another side).
If you have space, then it's perfect. Otherwise, you may need to redesign the layout of the apartment or choose equipment that saves considerable space, such as a foldable weight bench. If the space saving is not enough, turn to nomadic equipment such as resistance bands where the TRX straps. Anyway, there are plenty of pieces of equipment for building muscle at home today.
Why pay attention to the quality of the weight bench?
The quality and durability of the multi-function bench you are interested in should definitely be taken into consideration. Indeed, the bench press is a major polyarticular exercise for muscle gain that requires solid and stable hardware. You should choose based on your current and future fitness level.
For example, an 80-kilo man doing 80-kilo bench presses with a barbell and Olympic plates exerts a much greater force than 160 kilos on the bench due to the movement of the load. If you repeat these sessions several times a week for years, you must be able to rely on high quality materials.
So just because you're looking for affordable hardware doesn't mean you have to buy just anything. This is why the models that I have just presented to you are not the cheapest on the market.
If you choose one of these models, you will not be disappointed. But if you set your sights on another complete weight bench, take the time to take a good look at the technical characteristics and read customer reviews.
How to choose a complete training station?
If you are looking for a multifunctional bench press bench, you already know that price is an important aspect when choosing equipment for your gym. However, that doesn't mean you should go for the cheapest bench. I did this kind of stupidity before you, don't worry 😉
When I was 20, my bank account was about as empty as outer space. A friend I used to work out with and who knew just about welding convinced me that we'd better buy the metal tubing and make our own bench. Oh fools!
You probably guess the rest… Finally, let's say that the bench never went beyond the stage of buying and cutting square steel tubes. In fact, we spent money on the raw material and the cutting tools without ever succeeding in assembling the frame properly 🙁
In short, I ended up buying a complete bench and the rest ended up in dead loss. And it's finally so much the better because I doubt very much that the bench would have resisted. At the time, I weighed 83 kilos and lifted up to 120 kilos in the bench press. Looking back, I think we were crazy 😉
Sorry for all that talk, but just to let you know that sometimes, we can't afford to buy the cheapest if you understand what I mean.
Sure, you can scour the Net and find a cheap multi-function bench for a hundred bucks, but I guarantee you're going to bite your fingers for it. Is it worth the cost of saving up to struggle with every workout? I don't think so, especially for sports equipment that should last for years.
Accessories for your complete weight station
Even if a free weight bench can be multifunctional, it is not enough on its own for your session. You are missing at least 3 important things for a workout at home:
- Cast iron discs with suitable weights;
- At least 2 dumbbells and a long bar;
- A floor mat large enough for the bench.
Of course, you can also bring weight training clothes and gloves to protect your hands. But since you're at home, no need to show off 😉
Although it is not the subject of this article, you will probably also need a drawbar if you want to develop a harmonious musculature with concrete abs and back muscles. Unless it's already integrated like with the Maxxus multipress.
Don't forget also that a good home gym must include cardio equipment, unless you are used to running regularly or doing other activities to boost your heart rate.
Cast iron bars and discs
Buying the best home multi-purpose bench won't do you much good if you don't have the cast iron plates and dumbbell set or barbell to load them onto. If you buy the discs separately, pay attention to choose the same diameter. For personal use, I recommend bars with a diameter of 28 mm.
The ideal is to have 2 sufficiently heavy dumbbells like the adjustable models in the links below and a bar of at least 1.50 m which will be used for the bench press and squats. If you want a bar dedicated to biceps triceps, buy an EZ bar as well. You will not regret it…
Of course, the amount of cast iron you need depends on whether you are female or male, as well as your current physical ability and your goal. You can choose from the different models currently available from Amazon (table updated regularly):
The floor mat
A floor mat will be useful for several reasons:
- Noise reduction for neighbors
- Floor protection in the apartment or house (especially if you have tiles)
- Greater comfort if drops of perspiration fall on the ground during the session
Conclusion on complete weight benches
If you are a bodybuilding fan and want your home gym, a complete multifunction bench is the equipment of choice. However, its price can hurt your wallet very badly.
You must therefore make the right choice from the start, without forgetting that the quality must be there. Otherwise, you will not enjoy doing your strength training sessions at home and you will give up.
Leave a message in the comments box below to ask your questions or tell me which weight bench you chose for the home and if you are happy with it. THANK YOU !
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Last updated on 2022-03-03 / Affiliate links / Some images are sourced from the Amazon Product Advertising API