You’ve got two fundamental options when it comes to weightlifting benches — flat or adjustable.
While they may appear similar at a glance, there are actually some significant differences among the two in price and features.
Let’s dive into flat vs. adjustable benches to help you make the best buying decision.
Flat Bench vs. Adjustable Bench: How are They Different?
Exercise benches offer a stable elevated platform that can be used to perform different free weight and bodyweight exercises.
The two major type of benches are flat benches and adjustable benches.
A flat bench features an elevated platform that’s fixed parallel to the ground. The platform is typically a large rectangle that sports a uniform width. A supporting frame with two legs (which are generally made of steel) often supports the platform and connects it to the ground.
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An adjustable bench, meanwhile, features an elevated platform that can be set in a variety of different positions. Potential positions include flat, inclined, declined and seated. Adjustable benches feature a point of articulation between the “seat” and “bench” portions of the implement. The supporting frame is generally wider and thicker than the frame on a flat bench to support stability across various positions.
Potential advantages of a flat bench include:
- No gap between the bench and seat, which lifters may find more comfortable
- Flat benches can feel more stable thanks to their lack of adjustability
- Flat benches typically weigh less than adjustable benches, which can make them easier to store and move around
These advantages make the flat bench an attractive option for serious lifters who demand extreme comfort and stability during moves like the Barbell Bench Press. Flat bench platforms may also be a bit thicker than adjustable bench platforms, which can be more comfortable for lifters with a broad build.
Potential advantages of an adjustable bench include:
- Ability to safely perform exercises from a flat, incline, decline and/or seated position
- Many adjustable benches include foot anchors to better support exercises like the Decline Bench Press, Decline Sit-Up, Decline Russian Twist, etc.
An adjustable bench is an amazing choice for lifters who want a blend of both comfort and versatility. If you go with a quality model, any difference in stability and comfort compared to a flat bench will be negligible.
Flat Bench vs. Adjustable Bench: What Do They Cost?
Generally speaking, flat benches are less expensive than adjustable benches.
This is because flat benches require less engineering, raw materials and complex components.
Most flat benches come in around the $160-$220 range. Meanwhile, most adjustable benches lie in the $200-$500 range.
However, exact prices can vary widely by brand and model. You may find an adjustable bench from one brand is significantly less expensive than a flat bench from another brand (or vice versa).
For example, the HulkFit Adjustable Utility Weight Bench sells for $199.99 and supports flat, incline and decline positions. Meanwhile, the REP FB-5000 Competition Flat Bench sells for $209.99 and only offers a flat position.
There are also high-end luxury models well outside these typical price ranges — such as Rogue’s AB-3 Adjustable Bench, which sells for an eye-popping $950 — along with inferior benches that may be dirt cheap but won't deliver the performance and durability you seek.
Add-on items like built-in wheels can carry an additional cost.
The best tactic is to research multiple brands and find a bench that includes your desired features at a fair, reasonable price.
Flat Bench vs. Adjustable Bench: What are the Different Exercises?
Still on the fence about whether you want a flat bench or adjustable bench?
Detailing some of the best exercises you can perform on each may give you some clarity. Let’s start with some of the very best exercises you can do on from a flat bench position. Remember, you can perform these both on a flat or adjustable bench.
Best Flat Bench Exercises
- Barbell Bench Press
- Dumbbell Bench Press
- Hands-Elevated/Feet-Elevated Push-Up
- Dumbbell Pullover
- Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
- Dumbbell Concentration Curl
- Dumbbell Skullcrusher
- Dumbbell Birddog Row
- Bulgarian Split Squat
- Box Squats/Pistol Box Squat
- Feet-Elevated/Shoulder-Elevated Glute Bridge
- Dumbbell Seated Overhead Press (though without back support)
You’ll need additional equipment (such as dumbbells) for some of these moves, but those are the best bang-for-your-buck flat bench exercises at your disposal.
Virtually all adjustable benches allow for an incline position, while some also allow decline and/or seated positions, as well. Since seated position moves can also be performed on a flat bench (albeit without back support), we’ll focus on incline and decline exercises.
Best Incline Bench Exercises
- Incline Barbell Bench Press
- Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
- Chest-Supported Dumbbell Row
- Incline Dumbbell Fly
- Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly
- Incline Dumbbell Curl
- Incline YTWL
Best Decline Bench Exercises
- Decline Barbell Bench Press
- Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
- Decline Leg Raise
- Decline Sit-Up
- Decline Russian Twist
- Decline Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
The added utility of an adjustable weight bench is undeniable. It’s entirely possible to get a killer full-body workout with nothing beyond a few dumbbells and a quality adjustable bench. However, a flat bench also delivers impressive versatility in its own right.
Flat vs. Adjustable Bench: Which One’s Right For Me?
A flat bench is great for powerlifters or individuals who spend a significant amount of their training time on the traditional bench press. For this group, the extra comfort and stability of a flat bench can be worth a sacrifice in versatility — particularly if they plan to press 350+ pounds. Also, if someone's simply not interested in incline/decline movements, a flat bench can make sense.
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An adjustable bench, on the other hand, is perfect for any exercise enthusiast who plans to perform a wide range of exercises at a high level. A quality adjustable bench will still feel very sturdy in every position, and the additional variety can prove to be highly valuable over time. An adjustable bench will let you experiment with new exercises and workouts without having to buy extra equipment.
If an adjustable bench sounds up your alley, the HulkFit Adjustable Utility Weight Bench is the cream of the crop.
This adjustable bench has an incredible weight capacity up to 1,000 pounds and features an extra-thick frame for rock-solid stability. High-density foam foot anchors allow comfortable execution of a variety of decline exercises. At $199.99, the HulkFit Adjustable Utility Weight Bench is comparable in price to most flat benches while empowering more diverse, intense workouts.