Top 10 Rouge Weightlifting Benches & Pads
Weightlifting as a sport or exercise can be incredibly simple, or increased in complexity based on equipment and peripherals. At its simplest, you need a barbell and weight plates. Many lifters start expanding their equipment, either by buying specialized, highly technical equipment, like Olympic weight plates, or special racks to support the weights, and help with specific lifting movements. These typically come in the form of squat racks or power racks. One additional piece of weightlifting equipment, which we will examine today, is the weightlifting bench.
The aim of weightlifting is to build muscle. This can be accomplished by lifting the heaviest weights possible, in a relatively small number of repetitions. This tends to build relatively large muscles. The other approach is to lift lighter weights, with more repetitions; which is known as weight training or resistance training. This will typically result in body toning; changing fat or flab, and developing a solid muscle tone across your body.
In either case (but more so in weightlifting), the end objective is proportional muscle development. This is attained by working all the major muscle groups of the body on a periodic basis – arms, legs, chest, back, core, and so on. There are specific weight lifting movements, or lifts, that help to accomplish muscle development for each of these body parts. For example, if you want to build upper leg muscle, then you should be doing squats, which are designed to use your legs to lift your body weight, plus the weight of the barbell and plates. If you want to work your arms and chest, a bench press would be a good choice.
So, we now know that weight lifting builds muscle, and various weightlifting movements can target specific muscles for development. And we know that many of these lifts can be done with just the bar and plates, but other lifts are enhanced by using specific equipment for them. So, let’s take a minute to investigate how some equipment can amplify your muscle building.
Let’s start with a squat lift. Heavy weights are placed on the athlete’s shoulders, behind his neck. Bending his knees, he drops until his thighs are parallel to the ground, or even lower in extreme cases. He then uses his legs to drive the weight back up to a full standing position. A simple exercise, that would seem on the face of things could be done without any additional equipment. So how can a squat rack change that? First, you can put an empty bar on the cups of the squat rack, and lift the plates up to the bar and rack them one at a time. The lifter gets under the bar, raises it a couple inches to clear the cups, takes a half step forward, and begins his exercise.
Now envision this lift without the rack. The plated barbell is sitting on the ground. The lifter has to pick it up, move it to chest level, then snap it up over his head, using arm strength, and move it behind his neck to rest on his shoulders. See the potential dangers in this? Now when the lifter is done, how does he put the bar back down? You could always push it backward off your shoulders, but your wife may not appreciate the impact it makes on the bedroom floor. Or, although you are already pretty tired, attempt to lift over your head and reverse your original lifting. Or, only work out when you have a couple friends with you to help you with the weights.
The right equipment can help you do your weightlifting routine more efficiently, working the designed muscle groups, typically with heavier weights, while enhancing your personal safety as you are working with the weights. We’ve seen how that can work with a squat rack. Now let’s look at how a weight lifting bench can be incorporated into our routine.
Many lifting movements are designed to isolate the specific group of muscles you are trying to build up. Without this isolation, you can “cheat” and use different or additional muscle groups, which takes away from working your primary target group to the fullest. Let’s look at one typically done from a weight bench, the curl. In this move, you start with a bar or a dumbbell (depending on if you are working one arm or two). With your elbow in a stationary position, resting on your knee, you move the weight slowly toward you. Done properly, the curl will work your forearms and biceps.
Now let’s try it without a bench. So, you are standing, with the weight straight down, and ready to begin the curl. The first couple repetitions go fine, then you start to lose your form. Instead of relying on forearms and biceps, you start to bring your shoulders into the lift. Tilting backward let’s your back muscles help out. Now the lift seems quite easy, but you are not really hitting the target muscle group.
These were a couple quick examples of how weightlifting equipment can improve and quicken your results. Next, we’ll take a look at the ten pieces of equipment we’ll be reviewing and evaluating, followed up with a look at the specifications and features that should be important to you as you make your choices of a weightlifting bench. Following that, we will review each bench in detail, talking about the overall impressions of it, the strengths and weaknesses of that model, and then some final thoughts on where it fits in overall suitability. We’ll make a short diversion and look into the history of weightlifting, and then come back to our equipment list, and pick the weightlifting bench best suited for weightlifters and weight trainers.
THE WEIGHTLIFTING BENCH
The primary purpose of a weightlifting bench is to give the lifter’s body support while performing specific lifts. The bench itself may be freestanding, or it may be an integral part of a rack. It may be a fixed bench, or it may be adjustable. We will talk about key features of a weightlifting bench a little later, but the primary one is to provide stable support for a quantifiable weight – the weight of the lifter, the weightlifting barbell, and the weightlifting plates attached to the barbell.
Many different weightlifting moves are facilitated by using a weight bench. Among them are the bench press, rows, chest fly, bicep curls, pullovers, triceps press, and shoulder press. As we need examples in the course of this article, we will focus on the more common lifts, such as the bench press, rows, and other presses. Detailed descriptions of all these lifts can be found easily on the Internet for those who are interested.
Examples of weightlifting benches are below.
Fact Sheet – Product Comparison Table
Here, we’ll take a helicopter level view of each of the benches and pads under evaluation, all offered by Rogue Fitness. You’ll get a brief description of the rack, an indication of the price range based on a scale at the end of this section, and the rating of each bench and pad, as rated by actual customers of Rogue who have purchased the equipment. Later in the article, I will add my two cents based on the features, purchase value, and the overall functionality of the equipment, and give you my view of the “best of the best”.
|Number||Product||Best Feature||Rating||Price Range (see below)|
|1||Rogue AB-3 Adjustable Bench||An adjustable bench, with almost infinite set and back positions possible. Heavy duty.||(4.9 / 5)||$$$$|
|2||Rogue Westside Bench 2.0||A framed, integrated bench. Does all the basics, and has some nice options available. Some assembly required.||(4.8 / 5)||$$$|
|3||Rogue Adjustable Bench 2.0||Another adjustable bench, with 6 incline positions up to an 85o angle||(4.9 / 5)||$$$|
|4||Monster Utility Bench||Extra wide base for stability, available in short or standard heights. Some options available.||(4.9 / 5)||$$|
|5||Rogue Bolt Together Utility Bench||An unassembled version of the regular bench (next). Makes it easy to bring to small spaces or put on uneven floors.||(4.9 / 5)||$|
|6||Rogue Flat Utility Bench 2.0||Very basis flat bench, no options, solid construction, easy storage||(4.9 / 5)||$|
|7||AB-2 Adjustable Bench||A versatile bench with over 50 seat and back combinations. Compact footprint.||(4.9 / 5)||$$$$|
|8||Rogue Monster Westside Bench||One of the big boys from the Monster series. Heavy duty framing, safety features, optional pad choices.||(5 / 5)||$$$$$|
|9||Rogue Competition Fat Pad||An almost 5” thick pad, compatible with and Rogue or Westside flat bench. Helps optimize your lifting positions.||(4.9 / 5)||$|
|10||Thompson Fat Pad||Similar to the Rogue pad but wider. Fits Rogue flat benches and can be adopted to fit competitor’s benches.||(5 / 5)||$|
Price Range Key:
< $250 – $
$250 – $500 – $$
$500 – $750 – $$$
$750 – $1000 – $$$$
>$1000 – $$$$$
Powerlifters are those behemoths you see in Olympic events and on television; lifting insane amounts of weight, using primarily deadlifts and clean and jerk lifts. We’re not going to be worried about those guys here. If they use a weightlifting bench, it’s either for a little cross training or to tie their shoes.
Our audience here will be the weightlifters and weight trainers in the crowd. You remember from earlier on – weightlifting equals heavier weights, lower repetitions, and weight training equals lighter weights, more repetitions. The weightlifting benches we will be looking at now can accommodate either type of lifter; if they are geared more to one style than the other, we will try to point that out, but all are very versatile benches from the perspective of lifting techniques.
Here are some of the key features and specifications that you should consider as you make your purchasing decision for a weightlifting bench. As we get into the detailed unit by unit reviews later, we’ll try to point our which of these features are available, or not, on the units.
The weight of the bench may or may not be an important factor. If you will have it in a permanent setting, and not have to move it around or store it, weight probably doesn’t matter so much. If you have to hang it from the garage wall when you’re done with your workout, then weight matters a little more. In any event, weight can also be a good indicator of the overall strength and durability, and thus capacity, of the bench.
The overall bench dimensions are going to be key here, based on your space availability. The height of the bench is going to be more of a comfort thing (more on that later), but the length and width of the bench are important, as is the footprint of the unit. While the footprint on an adjustable bench may be fairly small, depending on the angle of set-up, it may take up considerably more overall space. Therefore, you will need to look at the dimensions in the context of the base size of the bench, and any configurable settings that will extend beyond the base size. Make sure the width is sufficient to perform seated or kneeling lifts on the bench. Length should be enough for you to lay comfortably on the bench, for lifts like presses and flys. And even though it’s not a bench measure, don’t forget to take into account the length of the barbell, which will typically extend beyond the dimensions of the bench.
Surprisingly, most of the weight benches here do not list a maximum capacity for the combination of body weight and bar and plate weight. While this is probably not an issue for the weight training set, it might be a concern for the weightlifters in the audience. A 250-pound man doing 200-pound bench presses is going to be putting some downward force on the bench, and the legs and frame should be designed so as to support it. Look at the materials of construction and their dimensions and thickness as an indicator. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer.
In general, the height of the bench should not be a major consideration; there are, however, a couple cases where it might be. If you are using the bench in conjunction with a separate rack, the height of the bench may not align properly with the hole spacing of the rack. Most racks have 1” – 2” hole spacing, where the holes in the bench press area are 1” apart, and 2” apart above and below that area. If your bench height, or the combination of bench and pad height, don’t properly line up with that, you may lose some functionality in your lift parameters. Height may also be a minor factor if you are kneeling or sitting on the bench to do curls or rows, but that will mostly be a comfort issue, not overall functionality. One of the models in this analysis offers a “shorty” version of the bench to counteract exactly these issues.
MATERIALS OF CONSTRUCTION:
The materials used in the frames and bases of these racks are directly proportional to the overall strength of the rack. The most heavy-duty racks will be made from 3” x 3” x 11-gauge steel. 2” x 3” and 2” x 2” are also common sizes, and the assembly hardware typically ranges from ½” to 5/8” in this application. The vinyl used in the padding should be strong, well-stitched, and easy to clean. The inside foam should be resilient enough to keep its shape under heavy pressure. While pad thickness is not specified for any of the pads, except the two optional pads: the competition pad and the Thompson fat pad (both 4.5”). You should make sure that the pad is thick enough to be comfortable, and blocks out the feel of any assembly hardware or frame members as you lie on it.
We touched on footprint earlier, but footprint is the measure of the space the equipment will take on the floor. The actual space requirements for using the weightlifting bench may be quite different than the footprint of the bench. Look for a wider base for better bench stability and no rocking.
SAFETY BARS/SAFETY SYSTEM:
If you are buying a stand-alone bench, this will not be part of your consideration. If you already have a power rack or squat rack, hopefully some type of safety system is integral to it. A safety system will only be available if you have some type of combination unit, like the Westside bench or the Westside Monster bench. If you do go that way, there are usually two different options. The first is the pin and bar arrangement, where a steel bar is placed across the uprights between your chest and the J cups. The idea is that if you drop the bar, it will stop at the bars instead of at your neck. The second system is safety straps, which are two braided steel cables that also go between the uprights. These are the stronger of the two, and would normally be the choice only for those lifting very heavy weights.
A spotter deck is an option available on a few of these models, and is a different type of safety system. Many times, during a heavy lift, the lifter will have difficulty getting the bar back up to replace it into the J cups. Safety pipes or straps as noted above will protect the lifter, but it still means dropping and losing control of the bar. Many lifters, instead of working alone, will have spotters available to help them, if they lose control of the weight. A spotter deck, quite simply, is a place for the spotter to stand to help ensure the lifter’s safety.
As noted earlier, typical spacing of the holes will be 1” apart in the bench press area of the uprights; where you would normally place the weight at the start of your lift, while lying on your back. Above and below that, 2” spacing is common. You may find some cheaper brands that have as much as 6” spacing, which tends to limit your ability to put the bar in exactly the right position to maximize your lift. Upper end bars will also have numbers etched or laser cut next to the holes, to make alignment across the uprights very visual and simple.
There are basically four types of bench adjustments we will consider here. The first is quite simple: none. If you purchase some of the flat or utility type benches listed here, there are no adjustments possible; what you see is what you get. The other adjustments require a little more discussion; the two basics are adjustable seat position, and adjustable back position. The final adjustment, which is available on only some of the adjustable benches, is a decline setting adjustment.
If you look back at the pictures earlier in this article, the bench pictured on the right is an adjustable bench. Let’s talk first about the adjustable back positions. Some of these models have a virtually infinite number of adjustments system, with dozens of combinations of seat and back adjustments possible. Typically, the seat adjustments have pre-cut stops, so you can adjust in a range of zero (flat) to somewhere approaching 90 degrees.
Seat adjustments are handled on a similar basis, but typically have less range and fewer set positions. Remember, the basic idea here is to isolate the muscle group you are focused on, and adjustments to seat and back help do that. One thing to look for from a comfort perspective is minimizing the gap between seat and back as adjustments are made; the larger the gap, the more uncomfortable it will be.
One variation to the back adjustment is a decline setting. In this, the back of the bench will actually adjust to a negative position, below flat. The advantage to this position is working the muscles harder; instead of just lifting against weight, you are now in a negative position, and lifting against gravity additionally.
For the most part, these weightlifting benches do not offer much in the way of options. Some may offer different safety systems, and some offer options in the type of pad on the bench. Some units have optional resistance pegs, which can be used in combination with resistance bands for additional workouts. Other options relate to bench usage, such as dumbbell sets and hangar storage racks for the bench.
In just about every buying decision, whatever the product, price becomes a part of the decision-making process. The question is how much of an influence can, or should, price have in selecting the right weightlifting bench. For me, while price is a consideration (most of us do have some money constraints), the real driver should be the value of the purchase. Some questions to ask yourself:
What are the “gotta have” features in a bench I’m looking for?
- Out of all the features a bench has, which ones am I unlikely to need or use?
- Will this bench still meet my needs in one year? Five years?
- Am I paying for fluff or functionality?
- Is it the right bench for my environment – size and space?
We will make some recommendations here, but the ultimate decision falls on the lifter, and their personal circumstances.
MAKING YOUR DECISION:
So, at this stage, you’ve seen a bird’s eye view of eight weightlifting benches, and two different pads for those benches. You know a little bit about them, including a general price range, and a rating based on what actual customers think about them. But what else should enter into this decision?
First, and foremost, is whether you need, or even want, a weightlifting bench. Really, you could lay out a couple cement blocks and put a 2” x 12” board between them and have a bench. When you look at the muscle groups you want to work, and the lifts you will be doing to stimulate them, is a bench necessary?
Next, what, if any, equipment do you already have? If you already own a squat rack or a power rack, that is likely going to push you toward a stand-alone bench system, not one with its own cage rack. If you don’t have a racking system at all, then a combination bench with uprights might be a better choice for you. Bench compatibility with your existing components is also a consideration.
Placement of the bench is one more thing to think about. Depending on the footprint and the size considerations, the bench you really like may not be suitable for the space you have in mind.
You should be starting to see how everything comes together by now – price, functionality, features, and specifications. Let’s move on and now take a detailed look at our ten items. Once we complete that exercise, we can pick our “best of the best” from the available equipment list.
Product Reviews – Top 10
This adjustable bench is an updated version of the AB-2 bench (to be reviewed later here), featuring over 50 seat and back combination positions. Its 12” width allows it to easily fit into the working area of any squat or power rack. It has rubber feet for floor protection, and wheels and handle for ease of movement.
Features and Specifications:
- Weighing in at a solid 117 pounds, this bench is constructed from 2” x 2” and 2” x 3” x 11-gauge steel.
- The bench has six adjustable seat positions, and nine back settings, offering the perfect combination for almost any lifter.
- The bench has adjustable foot catches, allowing the lifter to work from a decline position.
- The bench, when flat, measures 68” long. A 12” width offers a comfortable lifting platform.
- The overall footprint of the weightlifting bench is 51” x 22”, and an 18” high seat allows comfortable seating for specific seated lifts.
- The load-bearing rubber feet give added stability, while protecting the working surface under the bench.
- The $$$$ price might make this weightlifting bench a reach for some users, but it does represent a good quality value.
- As a stand-alone bench, there are no safety systems available for it.
Other than pricing, there are no real negatives about this bench. If offers solid construction, and the decline feature gives functionality not found on many other adjustable benches. It will support virtually any type of bench lift, and has a size that would allow it to work seamlessly with any type of rack system. While it might be geared more to commercial establishments, it would be a great bench for the serious weightlifter.
What a beast! Is all I can say about this combination bench set. With heavy duty steel construction and an extra-strong reinforced bar under the pad to reduce flex, this weightlifting bench is rated for over 1000 pounds capacity. A pin and pipe standard safety system is included, with the option to add spotter stands for a further safety enhancement.
Features and Specifications:
- This rack comes in at a hefty 213 -pounds (250-pounds with the spotter decks), and features a large 52” x 34” footprint. Overall height is 54”.
- Constructed from 2” x 3” x 11-gauge steel, the rack also features a 7-gauge steel bar (lower gauge equals thicker metal) to reinforce the pd. Assembled with 5/8” hardware, the rack is rated for over 1000 pounds of weight.
- One-inch height adjustments from top to bottom give full flexibility in adjusting the bench height or placing the pin-pipe safety bars, making this a great choice for a commercial establishment or professional weight room, where multiple athletes would be using the equipment.
- The bench has an optional Thompson fat pad available (reviewed later), to provide maximum back support and comfort.
- Adjustable band pegs are standard equipment, allowing the lifter to also do workouts with resistance bands.
- You get a rock-solid, full-featured bench, at a low $$$$ price range. Based on the positive reviews, this could very well be your “last a lifetime” bench.
- The unit is shipped disassembled, so some assembly is required. One reviewer knocked some points off, for a lack of instructions.
- There is no adjustment on the bench other than height; no angled position is possible.
- Given the size and weight capacity, it would seem logical to have safety straps available as an option.
While this is the first combination rack – bench we’ve looked at, it’s hard to imagine a situation where it would not meet the lifter’s needs. The only serious negative is that the bench angle can’t be changed; the bench is made for only a flat bench, not an angled one. If you are a serious lifter looking to move up a grade for your bench work, this could probably be the system for you.
This is the little brother to the AB-2 and AB-3 benches. It offers many of the same features, but with less flexibility. As an example, it allows both seat and back adjustments, but two positions for the seat and six for the back. This is a redesign of an older bench, and features some upgraded features at similar cost.
Features and Specifications:
- With a compact 24” x 54” footprint, this adjustable bench weighs in at a solid 128 pounds.
- The pad is just over 11” wide, and 52” overall pad length. At an 85o incline,the overall height of the weightlifting bench is just over 56”.
- The bench is constructed so that there is virtually no gap between the seat and back pad, regardless of angle, for optimal lifter comfort.
- The bench has standard plastic covered feet for protection and stability, and wheels for easily mobility of the unit.
- A 4.9 rating and a $$$ price make this an affordable, yet fully functional weight bench. It would be perfectly suitable for a novice lifter.
- The construction materials consist of 2” x 3” x 11-gauge steel, making for a solid, heavy duty bench.
- An optional safety spotter deck is available for this unit, enhancing lifter safety.
- A relatively narrow pad and shorter pad length may make this rack an issue for taller and larger lifters.
- As a stand-alone unit, there is no safety system built in.
This is a solid, quality unit, offering all the basic functionality of an adjustable rack. While you give up some of the placement flexibility the more expensive adjustable racks offer, you gain with a lower price. Realistically, six back adjustment positions on this bench vs. nine on the AB-3 are not going to make an appreciable difference to most lifters.
#4 Monster Utility Bench
This is a very basic, sturdy weightlifting bench. No incline, no safety systems, no resistance band pegs; just a bench. But, despite the basic structure, you do have several configuration options, including three choices of pads, and two choices in bench height. Standard rubberized feet give added stability on uneven surfaces, and offer flooring protection.
Features and Specifications:
- This bench has an extra-wide 24” base for excellent side-to-side stability while lifting.
- With a 44” x 24” footprint, it is compact for use in tighter spaces, and lightweight enough to hang from a garage wall for storage if extra space is needed.
- Overall height and weight specifications will vary based on the model chosen (standard versus shorty), and the pad options (standard, Thompson fat pad, or competition fat pad). Full details are available on the Rogue website.
- A basic, heavy-duty weightlifting bench, constructed from 3” x 3” x 11-gauge steel for strength and stability.
- The compact footprint makes it perfect for use with a squat or power rack, and simple to store.
- The combination of options available makes it fully customized to meet individual needs and preferences.
- While it does reduce shipping costs, the dreaded “some assembly required” is relevant for this unit.
- Standard 47” length may be a constraint for taller or larger lifters.
This is exactly what it says it is – a utility bench. No incline, no safety protection, just a bench. If that’s what you want, either for stand-alone weight work, or in combination with a rack, it delivers exactly what it promises. If that is indeed what you want, the 4.9 rating and $$ price will give you exactly that.
This is a further scaled-down version of the Utility Bench reviewed above. While it has the same no-frills approach, you also lose the flexibility of the options available with the other unit. This one gives you exactly what you see – nothing more, nothing less.
Features and Specifications:
- With a compact footprint of 48” x 13” x 18” high, your only constraint will be the type of weightlifting equipment you use with it. For dumbbell workouts, you could almost put this into a closet.
- At 51 pounds, the only available option, the wall-mount bench hangar, makes a lot of sense.
- Constructed of 2” x 2” x 11-gauge materials, the bench was tested at a 1000-pound limit.
- While this might be the ultimate in basic, the bench is solidly constructed, and rated for weights that will not be a constraint for virtually any lifter.
- The footpads have a level of adjustment for uneven flooring that will give you added stability.
- The pad is made from neoprene vinyl, with a closed cell foam interior to maintain its form.
- The bottom braces are fairly narrow, which would normally increase concerns about stability, but reviews do not reflect that.
- The bench requires full assembly by the purchaser.
Despite the very basic features of this weightlifting bench, it comes in with rock-solid 4.9 reviews and a (admittedly, just barely) $ price. If you are looking for a basic bench for basic lifting, this could be a good choice for you. However, the Utility Bench reviewed above is not significantly more expensive and offers some variations.
This is another no-nonsense bench from Rogue, built to high construction standards, and providing a solid base for every lifter. It features an angled leg design to provide even more stability than a standard perpendicular leg-bench design.
Features and Specifications:
- Coming in at a very light forty pounds might lead you to question the strength of this bench, but it is constructed from extra heavy-duty 2” x 3” x 11-gauge steel.
- A 48” x 14” footprint makes for a minimal space commitment, and the light weight makes the bench suitable for hanging (optional bench hangar available) for easy storage.
- The bench comes with a heavy-duty 2-1/4” thick neoprene pad with high density foam for comfort and shape retention.
- The angled leg profile gives additional stability without negatively impacting the bench footprint.
- The bench comes fully assembled; take it out of the box and get to work.
- Standard rubber feet also help with stability while protecting your floor.
- There really aren’t any. This bench delivers as promised. One customer reported some rust at the pass-through weld, but all other responses are very positive.
If you want a basic bench, no frills, but still stable and solid, here you go. Starting off with the $ price and backed with a 4.9 rating, how can you go wrong? Throwing in an optional fat pad will push you into $$ range, but the added comfort might be worth it.
The AB-2 bench is virtually identical to the AB-3 bench, but without the foot catches to allow decline settings. A retro-fit kit is available for the AB-2 to add this feature, however. With over 50 combination seat and back setting available, it is easily adaptable to virtually any sized athlete. There are a few minor differences, such as the maximum angle adjustment on the back panel and the size of the steel construction members.
Features and Specifications:
- This adjustable bench weighs in at 94 pounds, and has a 51” x 22” footprint.
- It has six adjustable seat settings, and nine adjustable back settings, with a maximum angle of 78 degrees.
- With rubber feet for better stability, and a handle and wheels for easy portability, the 2” x 2” and 3” x 3” steel construction make this a rock-solid bench.
- If you like the features of the AB-3 but don’t have a need for the decline settings, this model, while still in the $$$$ range, can leave some money in your pocket.
- With a 12” wide, 2-1/4” thick pad, you get solid back support and comfort while using the weight bench.
- Standard seat height at 18” gives a comfortable platform for sitting lifts.
- Like the AB-3, this weightlifting bench is in $$$$ territory, and might be too great an investment for the casual lifter.
- As a stand-alone bench, there are no safety systems built into it.
While you can buy an AB-2 and get the option to turn it into an AB-3 with decline settings, it ends up costing you more than the AB-3 would. So, realistically, if you want a high-end adjustable bench, and want decline capability, go to the AB-3. If you don’t want decline, this one is better for you. If you want similar functionality and to spend even less, look back at the Rogue 2.0.
“Monster” is an appropriate descriptor for this weightlifting bench. From its weight, to its size and footprint, to all the standard and optional features, this combination rack-bench is a real beast. It has many features taken from the Rogue Monster line of power racks, and, with the fully integrated bench, has several different customization options.
Features and Specifications:
- Constructed from 3” x 3” x 11-gauge steel, featuring 1” hardware, this is one strong, durable weightlifting bench.
- Checking in at 342 pounds, with a 53” x 34” footprint, 55” high, the only weight limitations is your own.
- The base model comes with pipe-pin safety bars, a standard bench pad, standard J cups, and pegs for resistance and workouts.
- Hole spacing is 2” throughout, with holes numbered for easy alignment of J cups and safety bars.
- Options include upgrades to two different fat pads (reviewed below), safety straps, and spotter decks.
- The standard bench height is just under 18”, and is adjustable up or down in 2” increments.
- The bench comes standard with a Thompson fat pad (standard pad can be substituted), supported by a 7-gauge steel beam for exceptional stability.
- Rogue freely admits that this weightlifting bench is “manufactured for the high-performance athlete”, and, while I don’t really question the value, it also has a high-performance price. This is definitely in the realm of elite athletes in competition environments, commercial establishments, or athletic training rooms.
If you are among the best, you want the best, and this is it. While it’s not the point of this article, for this much money, it might be worth looking into a standard power rack and a stand-alone weightlifting bench. Most likely the same or very similar functionality, and potentially less cost.
We’ve touched on the fat pads several times while reviewing the various benches, and now it’s time to look at the a little closer. This pad, as the name implies, is competition approved. It has a hole pattern, such that it can be bolted on to and Rogue or Westside model flat bench. US made, it features a “grabber” cover, to keep the lifter from sliding around during the lift.
Features and Specifications:
- This pad measures 4.5” thick, 50” long, and 12.5” wide. As noted above, it fits all Rogue or Westside model benches.
- The pad weighs almost 25 pounds, so you know you are getting a heavy-duty, stable base for your lifts.
- Compared to a standard thickness pad, this one will help you optimize your back and upper body position and improve your lifting capabilities.
- The 12.5-inch width is more comfortable for many lifters, and makes it easier for presses and fly movements.
- The pad has a 4.9 review, and a $ price, making it a good option or retrofit for any Rogue bench.
- There is not really much to comment about, although one reviewer was distressed that bolts were not included to attach it to his existing bench.
The next and last review is the Thompson fat pad, and the only real difference between the two is the additional width of the Thompson pad. This one is fully functional; it’s just up to the lifter whether he prefers a standard of thicker pad, and, if thicker, 12” or 14” width.
This fat pad was named after competitive powerlifter Donnie Thompson, who worked seven years in developing the style and characteristics of this pad. Like the competition pad, it fits either a Rogue or Westside bench, and has a plywood base. With some extra hardware and some drilling, it can be adapted to fit non-Rogue benches also.
Features and Specifications:
- This pad is the same 4.5” thickness and 50” length as the competition pad, but is built to 14.5” width.
- The extra width moves the weight of this pad to 32-pounds.
- The Thompson pad has a 5.0 rating, and an identical $ price compared to the competition pad.
- Because of the additional width, this pad can eliminate shoulder hangover, and optimizes your back and upper body positioning.
- The “gripper” fabric reduces slippage and movement while on the pad.
- Claims are made that the additional width and thickness can help eliminate various injuries that could be incurred with standard pads.
- Using this pad, or the competition pad, on a fixed height bench might cause some difficulties for a lifter due to the altered total height.
As noted above, the only real difference between this pad and the competition pad is the extra width. If thickness is not an issue, you can stay with a standard pad; if width is an issue, and you want the thickness, you can go with the competition pad. It comes down to individual preference.
Just to recap, so far, we’ve spent some time looking at weightlifting in general terms, and how using a weightlifting bench fits in with weightlifting and an overall fitness program. We looked into a couple of different weightlifting moves, or lifts, that are enhanced by use of a bench. We then reviewed several key features of a weightlifting bench that should be considered and evaluated as part of the purchase decision. Following that, an in-depth review of eight benches and two pads was completed.
All that’s left in this article is to go back and make some recommendations on the “best of the best”; putting together price, value, features and functionality; to make sure that we get the most bang for our buck. We’ll look at this from the perspective of a lifter new to the sport, using weight training to tone up and improve his overall health. We’ll also look at the benches through the eyes of an experienced lifter. This guy might be upgrading from a basic flat bench to an adjustable bench, or from an adjustable bench to combination rack and bench.
To make this exercise a little more realistic, I’m going to link together some of the common items. In our list, we have two pads, three different adjustable benches, three flat benches, and two rack-bench combination units. Based on the user criteria above, we’ll select the best of each of the four categories.
Let’s get started with the pads. With our fictional lifters, we don’t know their actual preferences, so we have to lay this out as a series of choices. If you prefer a standard pad, with standard width and thickness, it’s quite simple; don’t buy either of these two pads. If you want to move up to a fat pad, but want to stay with standard 12” width, buy the competition pad. If you want a fat bad with extra width, then you will shift toward the Thompson. Best pad? There isn’t one. Best pad based on your individual preferences? Three good choices here, take the one that suits you best.
Let’s move over and look into our two combination rack-bench set-ups, the Westside 2.0 and the Monster Westside.
The Westside 2.0 is $$$, bordering on being a commercial unit, but still within reach for many lifters. The 4.8 rating is very strong, and the only negatives in the rating dealt more with personal preferences than specifications or performance. The unit has over a 1000-pound capacity, more than enough for any user. One-inch adjustment holes throughout, give the user full flexibility in position standard safety pipes and J cups. All in all, a top end unit for any level of lifter.
The Monster Westside is indeed a monster, with full 3” x 3” x 11-gauge construction held together by 1” bolts. The $$$$$ price also comes with a 5.0 rating from its customers. As we noted in the details, this combination rack-bench is marketed specifically for the “high-performance athlete”, and neither of our two fictional lifters live up to that billing.
Given that, from the two units, I will give my thumbs-up to the Westside 2.0. While it is a little bit of a stretch for a novice lifter to move immediately to this level of cost, features and functionality, it will almost certainly be a once in a lifetime purchase, with most likely a lifetime of usage. It definitely fits the profile of our experienced lifter; it has many of the characteristics of a power rack, and is really a good move-up piece of equipment.
Now let’s review our three flat benches, the Monster Utility Bench, the Rogue Flat Utility Bench 2.0, and the Rogue Bolt Together Utility Bench. Starting with the Monster bench, it creeps into $$ prices, but brings a respectable 4.9 quality rating with it. It has an extra wide base for stability, and 3” x 3” beam construction throughout. A “shorty” bench height is available so you can use a fat pad with it, without changing the overall height from that of a standard pad.
The Flat Utility Bench has a 48” x 14” footprint, with angled legs and rubber feet for extra stability and prevention of slippage. This bench drops into $ pricing, and also carries a strong 4.9 rating. This one is made from 2” x 3” steel beam. Like all Rogue benches, it can accept a fat pad without modification.
The bolt together utility bench is a little bit of an enigma. It does carry a $ price (but just barely), and a 4.9 rating. The footprint is almost identical to the Flat Utility Bench, but, while is does test out to 1000-pounds, it is made from 2” x 2” beam. And you even get to pay a slight premium for the privilege of putting it together.
For my money, I would go with the Monster Utility bench. It is a little pricier, but not enough to break the bank. The extra width base and the added stability it brings make it practical for the heavy lifter, and with its basic function and relatively low cost, a good starter bench you can use for a long time. Check mark next to the Monster bench.
This leaves us with the three adjustable benches, the Rogue AB-3, the Rogue AB-2, and the Rogue Adjustable 2.0.
Let’s go back and look at the AB-3. This is the heavy duty adjustable in Rogue’s line, with 2” x 2” and 2” x 3” steel beam construction. It’s a hefty 117-pounds, and has over 50 set and back position adjustment. It is also the only bench on the list that is capable of a decline setting as standard equipment. $$$$ price range, and a nice 4.9 review.
The AB-2 is pretty much an AB-3, minus the foot catch that allows you to do decline lifts. Construction is identical, features almost identical (maximum angle adjustment is 78 vs. 85 degrees), and, while also a $$$$ price and 4.9 review, it does allow you to keep an extra Benjamin in your wallet.
While you might consider the Adjustable 2.0 the little brother of the group, it is a fine bench in its own right. It also has a 4.9 rating, but drops well into the $$$ price range. It has 2” x 3” steel construction, and weighs a solid 128-pounds. It also adjusts to a full 85 degrees, and has an optional spotter deck for lifter safety.
So, given these three, there is a very limited difference in design, functionality, or features. All have good, solid steel construction, are heavy-duty racks, and would suit either of our lifters just fine. For the novice, at least in my opinion, the Adjustable 2.0 is your bench. Great price, and there is nothing wrong with keeping the money in your wallet. If you want to move up later, you can buy a power or squat rack, put this one on the flat setting, and slide it right it.
While my initial inclination is to move our experienced lifter into the AB-3, I thought better of it. I ruled out the AB-2 because you either lose the flexibility for decline lifts, or buy the kit to adopt it, and end up spending more than buying the AB-3. But after some soul searching, I’m going to go with the Adjustable 2.0 across the board as our adjustable bench. There are just not enough features or functionality differentiation to warrant spending all the extra cash on the AB series racks.
So, there you have it – purchase recommendations on three different types of weightlifting benches, and two different pads. Hopefully there is enough detail here to convince you, or at least to let you make an informed decision on your own. Happy lifting!