Fixed vs. Adjustable Weightlifting Benches: What’s Best?

Picking the right bench for your home or garage gym can be a bit confusing. It doesn’t help that there are two different types and while they are mostly the same, there are some key differences. In this article, we’ll go through the differences, pros, and cons of both fixed and adjustable benches so you can choose the right one.

Adjustable benches have a backrest that can be set to different angles while fixed benches are just flat. Both types have their pros and cons. For most home gyms, an adjustable bench is better because it allows for more exercises but in some cases, a fixed bench can be better.

Below we’ll go into the exact differences, pros, and cons of both types. We’ll also figure out which bench is best for you.

The Two Types Of Weightlifting Benches

Guess what? Not all weightlifting benches are created equal! There are two main types to choose from: fixed benches and adjustable benches.

  • Fixed benches, also known as ‘flat’ benches are gym benches that are fixed in one position; flat. The seat and the backrest are one piece and not adjustable.
  • Adjustable benches consist of more parts that allow the user to adjust the angle of the backrest and sometimes also the seat.
Image of a fixed 'flat' bench.
Example of a fixed weight bench.
image of an adjustable weight bench.
Example of an adjustable weightlifting bench.

Both of these types have their pros and cons and are suitable for different exercises. Yes, there is a lot of overlap between the two types but there are also some key differences.

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of each type so you can make an informed decision for your workouts.

Differences Between Flat and Adjustable Benches

Weightlifting benches come in different shapes and sizes, each catering to specific workout needs. When considering your options, it’s important to understand the nuances that set them apart. Let’s delve into the distinctions between flat benches and adjustable benches across various key factors:

TypeFixed BenchVSAdjustable Bench
VersatilityOnly for flat exercises.VSAllows for fine-tuned muscle targeting.
Pad GapSingle pad without gapVSLarge gap on cheap models, minimal on better ones.
PriceAffordableVSMore expensive for similar quality
Load Limit500+ pounds, even on cheap modelsVS300 pounds for cheap models.
WeightLighter, easier to moveVSHeavier because of the adjustment mechanism
StabilityVery stable due to lack of moving parts.VSCan feel less stable, especially low-end models.

Muscle Targeting & Versatility

Flat Benches: Flat benches primarily emphasize horizontal pressing exercises. They engage the chest, shoulders, and triceps, making them ideal for classic bench presses and other similar movements.

Adjustable Benches: The flexibility of adjustable benches allows you to fine-tune muscle targeting. With the ability to incline or decline the bench, you can isolate specific portions of muscle groups. For example; this means better upper chest engagement during incline presses and enhanced lower chest involvement during decline presses.

Pad Gap

  • Flat Benches: Flat benches typically have a single and gap-free pad. That means you don’t have to worry about falling into a gap somewhere.
  • Adjustable Benches: In contrast, adjustable benches might have gaps between the seat and the backrest due to the hinges that facilitate angle adjustments. On some benches, those gaps are big, on some minimal. Smaller gaps require a more complicated hinge mechanism which increases the price.


  • Flat Benches: Flat benches tend to be cheaper due to their simpler design. They are a cost-effective option for those looking to set up a basic home gym.
  • Adjustable Benches: Adjustable benches often come with a higher price tag due to the added mechanisms that allow for angle adjustments. If you’re willing to invest in a bench that offers versatility, you’ll likely need to allocate a higher budget.

Load Limit

  • Flat Benches: Flat benches usually have a high load capacity, making them suitable for heavy lifting. Their sturdy design can handle substantial weights without compromising stability.
  • Adjustable Benches: While adjustable benches can also accommodate heavy loads, the presence of moving parts might impact their load limit. It’s important to consider the manufacturer’s load recommendations, especially if you’re into powerlifting or lifting very heavy weights.


  • Flat Benches: Due to their simpler construction, flat benches tend to be lighter in weight. This can be advantageous if you need to move or store the bench frequently.
  • Adjustable Benches: The additional mechanisms required for angle adjustments often result in adjustable benches being heavier. If you’re planning to set up a more permanent workout space, the weight might not be a major concern.


  • Flat Benches: Flat benches feel more stable (when comparing a fixed and adjustable bench of the same quality). With no moving parts, they provide a solid foundation for heavy lifting, ensuring you can focus on your form and performance.
  • Adjustable Benches: While adjustable benches offer versatility, the inclusion of hinges and moving parts can introduce a slight degree of instability, especially during heavy lifts. During most dumbbell movements this won’t be an issue since the weight isn’t heavy enough. When bench pressing heavy, this might become a problem. Higher-quality benches greatly reduce this problem.

Fixed vs. Adjustable Bench For a Garage Gym

Now, let’s bring this battle of the benches into the context of your garage gym. Your space is precious, and you want to make the most of it, right? So, which bench should you pick?

In most home and garage gyms, an adjustable bench is going to be a better choice. You get more exercise options and a mid-range adjustable bench is going to be plenty strong and sturdy.

Low-end adjustable benches can feel a bit rickety and if your budget is very limited, a flat bench will get you something that feels more stable. However, if you get a mid-range adjustable bench, it will be great for most people.

The majority of home gym owners won’t lift super heavy weights that require a flat bench. So you might as well take the extra exercise options an adjustable bench offers.

If you don’t need all the adjustability and just need a flat bench, save yourself some money and space and get a fixed bench. However, you have to be very sure you don’t want any adjustability.

Another reason could be that you need a high load capacity. If you bench very heavy (400+ lbs.), a fixed bench is going to be sturdier and more stable, especially when using the same budget.

Pros and Cons Of Fixed Benches

Fixed Bench Pros

  • Reliable: Fixed benches are super simple and thus reliable.
  • High load limit: Fixed benches generally have a load limit of 500 pounds or more.
  • Affordable: These benches don’t cost that much, even the high-end ones.
  • Compact: Flat benches take up less space than adjustable ones.
  • Lightweight: Flat benches are much lighter than adjustable ones.

Fixed Bench Cons

  • Limited Versatility: While any bench adds a ton of exercise options, fixed benches aren’t as versatile as adjustable ones.

Pros and Cons Of Adjustable Benches

Adjustable Bench Pros

  • Exercise Options: Adjustable benches add the most exercise options.
  • Exact muscle targeting: The adjustable angles allow you to target muscles exactly right.

Adjustable Bench Cons

  • More Expensive: Adjustable benches cost more than fixed ones (for comparable quality)
  • Lower Load Limits: A similarly priced fixed bench will have a higher max load limit.
  • Less Stable: The adjustment mechanisms add some play which decreases stability. This is mostly an issue with cheaper models.

Flat Bench Exercises

The flat bench is a simple piece of equipment but it allows you to do a lot of exercises that would otherwise be impossible or difficult to do;

  • Bench Press
  • Dumbbell Press
  • Dumbbell Flyes
  • Dumbbell Pullover
  • Foot Elevated Push-Ups
  • Skull Crusher
  • One Arm Bent-Over Rows
  • Reverse Flyes
  • Tricep Dips
  • Step-Ups
  • Seated Shoulder Press
  • Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Banded Lying Leg Curl
  • Hip Thrust

And that’s just a selection of the most common ones. There are more different and variations of these exercises that can also be done with a flat bench.

Adjustable Bench Exercises

An adjustable bench allows you to do all the exercises above when in the flat position. On top of that, an adjustable weight bench adds a lot of different exercise options, mainly incline (and decline if available on your bench) variations.

  • Incline Bench Press
  • Decline Bench Press
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes
  • Decline Dumbbell Pullover
  • Seated Incline Bicep Curls
  • Decline Sit-Ups
  • Chest-supported Db Row
  • Y-raise
  • Incline Rear Delt Raises

What’s an “FID” Bench?

You might have seen the abbreviation “FID” mentioned in the context of weight benches but what does that actually mean?

“FID” stands for Flat, Incline, Decline. It refers to the adjustability features of certain weight benches that allow them to be set at different angles: flat, inclined, and declined.

Not all adjustable benches are FID benches since some lack the decline adjustability.

A weight bench with FID capabilities can be adjusted to these three different positions, offering versatility for performing various exercises that target different muscle groups at different angles. This adjustability is particularly useful for exercises like bench presses, shoulder presses, and other movements that require different bench angles to effectively engage specific muscle groups.


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.

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