The best weight benches in the UK: My top 5 picks

2020 has been a strange year with the Corona-pocalipse which descended has impacted all our lives. There is a surge in people moving from public activities such as going to sports matches or using public gyms to something more private – think PPV TV and… Home gyms!

Stock levels across a lot of suppliers have been under pressure all year as a result, so trying to find the best weight bench here in the UK that is actually in stock and in budget can be tough. This is made worse by some sellers on the usual platforms price gouging – not something we can condone.

I’ve pulled together this guide to outline a few of the best benches I could find which were in stock (at time of writing!) and available in the UK across a range of different budgets.

At a glance…

 

What is the best weight bench to buy?

To keep this as clear as I can I’ve split out the range of benches into price brackets and simply picked the best weight bench for the money.

This guide is focusing on the best weight benches available in the UK – so sorry to our American readers!

Best bench under £500: Bulldog 2.0 Flat / Incline

The “cherry on top” price range. My current bench is a rock solid Legend 3103 which was shipped from America. But if I was buying a bench today what would I look for? Well I would want similar weight, stability and manoeuvrability (so a handle and wheels) to the Legend.

Crucially though, what else would I improve on? I would buy a bench with no pad gap between the seat and backrest, and I would look for one that had the angles for the FID settings marked. These are the only minor improvements I can think of.

Well step this way Bulldog Gear (again!) with a UK based, zero-pad gap FID weight bench with their 2.0 incline bench.

Best weight bench under £500 in the UK - Bulldog 2.0
No pad gap!

Best bench under £400: Bulldog 1.0 Flat / Incline

The “buy once, cry once” or “bench for life” price range. Following the recommendation above for the 2.0 zero pad-gap product line, if I had around £400 to spend I would be taking a look at the Bulldog Adjustable Bench 1.0. It has a ton of crossover with the 2.0 above – but crucially comes in around £100 cheaper.

The downside? Pad gap. Despite being a bit annoying it is not a deal breaker and easy to work around, so if you’re looking to pick up a “bench for life” the 1.0 could save you a hundred quid or so.

Some of the notable features that, in my opinion, make this an awesome bench for the money are:

  • 3mm / 11 gauge steel construction so very strong
  • 450kg capacity (including user weight) is ample for almost anyone who would be looking at this page
  • Laser cut angle markings are a really nice touch
  • Manoeuvrability – the handle and wheels are ridiculously butch (check them out!) and the whole bench has been designed to be stored vertically, making it a great weight bench for small spaces.
  • 30cm / 12” wide backrest is a nice option for those who prefer a wider base than the more common 10”
Fantastic “bench for life”

This bench is pretty comparable to some of the top end ATX weight benches available, but undercuts them massively on price (by around £200, or almost a third!) which is why Bulldog wins out here. I love the ATX product range, but I do struggle with their bench pricing which seems to be a touch high (at the top end).

Best bench under £300: FID & folds flat for storage

This price bracket will get us a decent bench, but we begin to face some compromises. So this is something a bit different – and a bit of fun, potentially. If you are short of space you might be looking for the very best foldable weight bench in the UK. If that’s you – then I have some great news!

Bulldog Zero Adjustable Bench FID – enter stage left!

It is an outrageously good bench considering it is foldable. The engineering is fantastic:

  • Folds flat for storage under a bed or sofa – therefore it’s the ideal weight bench for small spaces!
  • Built in wheels (which other foldable bench has wheels?)
  • FID adjustment built in to folding mechanism neatly. Really nice attention to detail here.
  • 150kg weight capacity – given it is foldable this is lower than the two heavier, more expensive options above.
Is this the best foldable weight bench in the UK? I think so
Is this the best foldable weight bench in the UK? I think so

Best bench under £200: Good quality flat bench

When looking for home gym weight benches under £200 compromise is – unfortunately – inevitable. Having been through a few benches in recent years, my advice would be to buy a top of the line flat bench for this budget.

Your money is going straight in to the steel construction and it will be all the better for it.

There are a few choices out there – Rogue have a nice flat bench, but it is out of budget at >£300 shipped. Similarly ATX do a premium flat bench for around the £295 mark which is fantastic, but as mentioned price wise it is top end. Interestingly they also offer an entry level flat bench (ATX FBX-610) which begins to make some sense at around £160. As well as a lower price, I prefer the three footed design it offers over the top-line ATX Monster model. The Monster does win out in weight however at roughly double the FBX-610’s 21kg and for that reason would be my choice between the two.

The other manufacturer we’ve looked at is Bulldog again. I’m not as fond of their flat benches mainly due to their 49cm height (the FID is 45cm) – but 49cm is still within the spec we would look for. Just as a shorter individual I need to be extra cautious!

They offer a flat pack bench which is pretty much identical to the bolt-together Rogue flat bench so well worth a look in.

What would I actually buy? Probably the bolt together Bulldog for the extra weight, but I would be torn between it and saving a bit of money and buying the welded Bulldog flat bench instead. It is lighter by a few kilos than the bolt-together, but it is also around £80 cheaper

Maybe one compromise deserves another!

Best bench under £100: Cheap, may be flimsy

At this price point we are – unfortunately – out of options. This is the “short term fix” price range. That said, there is some opportunity!

If we can stretch a little bit, we have the welded Bulldog flat bench I covered above which comes in at £115. It is undoubtedly the best weight bench for around £100.

Respecting the budget a bit more, we are into generic items from Amazon and using much lower quality steel in the construction. I would suggest looking second hand and picking up a used bench of better quality. I would not overpay for a used, junk bench however, so it depends on if you have a decent second hand market where you live.

When pushed, I would go with something like this if you were wanting the best weight bench available on Amazon for this budget. 

It’s not great for the reasons discussed below, but it’s better than nothing if you’re building out a home gym.Maybe just budget to replace it in a year or so.

What should I look for when buying a weight bench?

Having owned more than four (yes four!) different weight benches in as many years I have a reasonable idea what I’m looking for in a bench. In short, you want a weight bench that is:

  1. Strong and stable – a wobbly bench will rob you of the opportunity to maximise your bench press, seated military press, etc.
  2. Adjustable – I strongly believe that a FID (flat / incline / decline) or FI (flat / incline) is the most space effective solution for a home gym as it is so versatile while taking up as much space as a bog standard flat bench would.
  3. Height – you really want a bench around 17”-19” high from the ground to top of the pad. This is competition spec height and it will be what you’re used to (if you have worked out in commercial gyms, that is). I’ve had a few benches higher than this and it is a compromise.

I’m really focused on build quality and overall integrity when I’m looking to buy a weight bench. Having a sturdy base to bench on is crucial to adding weight to the bar and increasing your bench press.

My Legend 3103 FI Bench
My Legend 3103 FI Bench

For example I want it to be as heavy as possible (40-50kg) as this indicates it is made of thicker – and therefore stronger – steel. 11 gauge steel is 3mm thick and is really what we are looking for as a baseline in home gym equipment. The heavier weight keeps the bench anchored during sets as well – I use quite a bit of leg drive when bench pressing and even so my Legend 3103 bench is absolutely anchored to the spot just adding to my confidence!

Pretty much everything else is in the ‘nice to have’ bracket to me (e.g. I don’t care too much about leg attachments, for example!)

What is a FID weight bench?

I’ve covered what FID benches are in detail previously – but in summary an FID weight bench is one that can be used in flat, incline or decline positions as required.

Having used FID, flat and FI (flat / incline) benches I will be sticking to flat / incline for the foreseeable future.The upside they offer in rock solid stability for bench pressing in the flat position outweighs the benefit of decline work for me personally.

Can you keep a weight bench outside?

You can keep your weight bench outside but I would not recommend it. Most benches are basically metal with padding covered with vinyl for the base itself. There is risk – ironically more so on cheap benches which you would probably be more likely to keep in the garden – that exposed wood on the underside of the padding would take on water and lose form / rot.

Personally I would not do this unless it was under a very good cover or weather proofed somehow (e.g. keep in a shed) as the UK weather absolutely WILL impact the bench. 

Conclusion

Unfortunately the usual law applies here – the more you spend, the better the product you get. Prices range from around £100ish for a reasonable flat bench all the way up into the thousands. We’ve covered the best benches in the sub-£500 range as this is where the most ‘bang for buck’ happens.

What we really need to consider is – what are we actually paying for? Where does our money go? In the case of gym equipment the raw materials are high value – getting good quality box section that is 11+ gauge steel, machining it to length, welding etc it really does add up. Plus manufacturers – like it or not – do need to make a profit to incentivise them.

Thinking about it – benches require MORE engineering (welding, cutting, etc) than many power racks. In that context, sub-£500 looks a bit of a bargain for a top of the line bench…

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