Complete Guide To Weight Benches: Types and Uses

There is a surprising amount of different types of weightlifting benches out there. In this article, we’ll clear up which types there are, what they’re for, and what kind of bench you should use.

There are many different types of weightlifting benches. Some are used for a lot of different exercises while other benches are only for training a specific muscle. For most people, an adjustable bench is the most flexible and will be the only bench you need for a home or garage gym.

In the rest of this article, we’ll go into the specifics of the different types of benches. What do they look like, what’s their function and how can you use them?

Types of Weightlifting Benches

Weightlifting benches come in various types, each designed to cater to specific workout needs and exercise variations. Understanding the different types of weightlifting benches can help you choose the right one for your fitness goals.

Here are some common types:

Flat Bench

A flat bench is a simple and basic weightlifting bench with a flat, horizontal surface. It provides a stable platform for various strength training exercises. You can’t adjust anything on this bench, it’s just flat and fixed.

Use: Flat benches are primarily used for exercises like bench presses, dumbbell presses, and chest flyes. They are also suitable for seated or lying exercises that target multiple muscle groups. Some flat benches are stable enough for step-ups and hip thrusts but not all. 

Here are some of the most popular exercises you can do with a flat bench:

  • Bench Press
  • Dumbbell Press
  • Chest Flyes
  • Decline Push-Ups (with hands on the bench)
  • Skull Crushers (lying triceps extensions)
  • Hip Thrusts

Adjustable Bench

Adjustable benches have a versatile design with an adjustable backrest and sometimes adjustable seat. You can incline or decline the backrest to perform exercises at different angles.

Use: Adjustable benches are ideal for a wide range of exercises, including incline presses, decline presses, shoulder presses, and seated curls. They offer variety in targeting specific muscle groups.

Here are some exercises you can do with an adjustable bench, on top of the ones you can do with a flat bench.

  • Incline Bench Press
  • Shoulder Press
  • Incline Dumbbell Press
  • Incline Flyes
  • Seated Dumbbell Curls
  • Seated Shoulder Raises (with the bench in the incline position)
  • Chest supported row
  • Reverse Fly

FID Bench

An FID bench, or Flat-Incline-Decline bench, allows you to adjust the bench’s angle from flat to incline to decline, offering a comprehensive range of workout options. 

A normal adjustable bench isn’t necessarily an FID bench since not all adjustable benches can adjust to an incline setting. However, all FID benches are adjustable. 

Use: FID benches are versatile and suitable for various upper body exercises, from flat bench presses to incline curls and decline sit-ups.

With an FID bench, you can do all the movements you can do plus a few extra:

  • Decline DB press
  • Decline fly
  • Decline situp

And pretty much every other decline version of a movement you can think of. 

Folding Weight Benches

Folding weight benches are designed for space efficiency. They can be easily folded and stored when not in use, making them ideal for small home gyms.

Flat, adjustable and FID benches can be folding but most of them are not. When unfolded, they have the same functionality as a fixed bench, when folded, they are easily stored away. 

Specialty Benches

Bench Press Rack

A bench press rack is a bench integrated with a rack or framework to hold a barbell. It provides added safety and stability for heavy bench press exercises.

You can get bench racks without safety pins like the ones you can see in the picture below. However, there are also ones with built-in safety pins. If you’re lifting alone, those safety pins could save you so it’s worth looking for a rack that has them.

The height the barbell is held is adjustable on most of these racks and this is an important feature to look for when shopping for a rack like this. That’s because the different heights accommodate people with different arm lengths.

It gets a bit confusing since some people will refer to this type of bench as a weightlifting bench. So let’s call this a bench press rack from now on. 

Use: Bench press racks are primarily used for bench presses with barbells. They are essential for powerlifting and strength training. You could do some other exercises in the bench rack but it’s mainly for bench pressing.

Utility Stool

A utility stool or utility bench is a compact piece of gym equipment that looks like a tiny chair without armrests. The backrest is at a 90 degree angle to the seat. 

You’ll see these stools in some commercial gyms. That’s just because these are a compact way to get more benches for seated exercises.

In home or garage gyms, they are pretty rare. That’s because an adjustable bench can do the same thing. And many exercises that would be done on this seat could be done on a flat bench without a backrest.

Use: Utility stools are used for seated exercises like seated dumbbell curls or seated shoulder presses. 

Ab Bench

An ab bench is designed with a decline angle and leg rolls to support abdominal exercises, making it easier to engage the core muscles. At the top are leg rollers to lock yourself in. Usually, the angle is adjustable.

Many FID benches will have leg rollers built in so you can turn it from a normal bench into an ab bench. 

Use: Ab benches are used primarily for ab exercises, including decline sit-ups, leg raises, and twists, to target the abdominal muscles.

Preacher Curl Bench

A preacher curl bench has a unique design with a seat and an angled surface for performing preacher curls, which isolate the biceps. You sit on the seat pad and let your upper arms rest on the angled pad. From there you can grab a barbell and do curls. This position and the fact that your upper arms are kept in place, this focuses all the stress on the biceps.

Use: Preacher curl benches are used exclusively for bicep exercises, particularly preacher curls.

Multifunctional Bench

Multifunctional benches combine various features, such as adjustable angles, leg developer attachments, and more, providing a wide range of exercise options.

These benches can vary quite a bit in looks and functionality. That’s why it’s hard to describe. Usually, a multifunctional bench is in some ways a combination of an adjustable bench and other features like a leg extension or preacher curl. 

Use: These benches are versatile and can accommodate a diverse set of exercises for both upper and lower-body workouts. 

They aren’t as good as if you had a separate bench/machine for each exercise but they’re good for home gyms when you’re short on space and money. 

Uses of Weight Benches

Unless you do purely Olympic weightlifting, bodyweight exercises or Yoga, you’ll need some type of bench. Especially if you want to work out with dumbbells or barbells. 

A bench allows you to support your back without being on the floor. This allows you to let your elbows to go lower than your body which massively improves the range of motion and thus muscle growth. Also, being on the floor isn’t that nice. 

Here are the primary uses of weight benches:

1. Building Upper Body Strength

Weight benches are a fundamental tool for building upper body strength. Exercises like bench presses and overhead presses, performed on a weight bench, target the chest, shoulders, and triceps, helping you develop muscle and increase strength in these areas.

Many muscles can be trained without a bench but it does make it a lot easier and more comfortable. 

A bench can actually be used for a few lower body exercises as well like; Step-ups, hip thrusts, Bulgarian split squats, and box squats.

Targeted Muscle Engagement

Adjustable weight benches allow for precise targeting of specific muscle groups. By adjusting the bench’s angle, you can emphasize different parts of a muscle. For example, incline bench presses focus on the upper chest, while decline bench presses engage the lower chest.

Specialty benches take that a step further and are designed to target one muscle group exactly. Often these benches are not much use for other muscles.

Exercise Variety and Customization

Weight benches open up a wide range of exercises. From chest and shoulder workouts to arm and back exercises. Extra exercises can be used to improve muscle and strength growth.

As said above, many muscles can be trained without a bench but you’ll lack range of motion. A bench is also just way more comfortable than the floor. 

Core and Ab Workouts

Some weight benches, such as ab benches and benches with decline positions, are excellent for core and ab workouts. Exercises like decline sit-ups, leg raises, and twisting crunches can help strengthen your core muscles. A bench with leg rolls is very useful for this purpose.

Which Type Of Weight Bench Do You Need? 

A good adjustable or even better, FID bench, will cover most of your needs in a home or garage gym. Those are so flexible that you can do pretty much all exercises you could possibly want to do. 

  • A good adjustable bench or, even better, a flat/incline/decline (FID) bench, offers immense flexibility for a wide range of exercises.
  • These benches allow you to perform nearly any exercise you can imagine.

Folding Bench for Space Efficiency

Choose a folding bench if you really need the extra space after using the bench. If you can get away with not using a folding bench, that’s always the better choice. Folding benches are more expensive and less sturdy than a comparable non-folding bench. 

  • Opt for a folding bench if you require extra space after your workout sessions.
  • Keep in mind that folding benches tend to be pricier and less sturdy than their non-folding counterparts.

Specialty Benches for Specific Needs

Specialty benches like a bench rack or preacher curl are nice additions if you have the space, need and money. The bench rack is easily replicated with a power rack and safety pins. The preacher curl bench is harder to replicate and is a nice addition if you really want to focus on your biceps. 

  • Specialty benches like bench racks or preacher curl benches can be valuable additions if you have the space, specific workout needs, and budget.
  • Bench racks are easily replicated with a power rack and safety pins.
  • Preacher curl benches are excellent for concentrated bicep workouts.

Utility Stool vs. Adjustable Bench

In a home gym, I don’t see the point of a utility stool. Just use an adjustable bench with the backrest in upright position and you’ve got a better version of the utility stool. And if you’ve got a fixed bench, many seated exercises can be done without a backrest anyways, it just requires a bit more stabilization.

  • In a home gym, a utility stool isn’t necessary.
  • An adjustable bench with the backrest in the upright position is a more versatile alternative.
  • For fixed benches, many seated exercises can be done without a backrest.


Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to After working out in many different gyms for almost 20 years and helping people build their own home gyms, i've learned a few things i'd like to share with you.

Recent Posts