If you want to build a big bench press, you are going to need a good gym to train at or some great bench press equipment. In this article, I will be revealing what to look for when purchasing bench press equipment for your facility or home gym.
The two most important pieces of bench press equipment are the bench itself and the barbell. You do not want to go cheap on these two pieces of equipment (though a high price tag does not guarantee quality, either).
Chosing a great bench to press on is key when it comes to bench press equipment. However, the actual bench you press on depends on how much free space you have in your home gym or facility.
You have two options: a dedicated free bench or an adjustable bench. A dedicated free bench is optimal; these have a better “feel”, are more sturdy, and I have found I can bench more weight when using one.
However, if you have space or budget constraints, you can bench press in a squat rack by rolling an adjustable free bench into a squat rack. This is a very common practice in home gyms.
Deciding on the actual bench itself is a major decision and there are many factors to consider. As a result, I created an entire article dedicated to finding the perfect bench – see my bench press for sale article for tips on picking the right bench.
The barbell is the other key piece of equipment. The difference between a good and bad barbell is the difference between night and day. A standard olympic barbell weighs 44.1 pounds, (this is traditionally 45 pounds in the USA).
A good barbell has the following qualities:
- Accurate weight
- Good knurling
- 7 feet in length
- 2 foot collars
- 1 inch thick
- Tested to 1,000 or more pounds
See the Bench Press bar article for more information on what to look for when getting a barbell as well as more information on each of these bars.
Weight plates are one area that you can save a lot of money on when getting bench press equipment. The weights simply sit on the barbell, so buying fancy plates is not nearly as important as grabbing a good barbell and bench.
If you buy plates used, you can get them as low as 50 cents a pound. High-end plates cost up to 2$ a pound when new, so your decision should be focused purely on how much you want to splurge.
Ivanko plates are the gold-standard, and I have never had any problems with them. However, if you are looking to get away with some cheaper weight plates, here are a few things to consider: weight, diameter of the plate, and diameter of the hole.
Cheap weight plates may often claim to be 45 pounds but may weigh as little as 42 in order to save money. If you are buying your weights used, be sure to weigh them before purchasing.
The diameter of off-brand weight plates often is not accurate either. Plates should be ~ 17 and 5/8 inches in diameter. This is a factor if you want to do any deadlifting, as the size of the plate dictates where the bar is positioned. Finally, the diameter of the whole is important – make sure if fits on a standard barbell.
Weight plates are one place you can save when getting bench press equipment. If you are just constructing your gym, for example, you can get great deals on weight plates by buying them as part of a combination package.
For example, you can get the 300 pounds of York Barbell (top-tier brand) weight plates plus a high quality bar and collars (the bar and collars can run 200$+ alone) for a low price.
The Ader Sports model offers 300 pounds of plates and a barbell along with a stand-alone bench press. Considering that stand-alone benches usually run around $400 without a bar or weights, this is another great deal.
While none of these things are absolutely necessary, here are a few accessories that can be beneficial when considering bench press equipment.
- Fat Gripz or Fat Bar – Great for reducing strain the wrist shoulders and wrist.
- Weight clamps – not used frequently when benching, but if you plan to use your barbell for other purposes, these would be a good idea.
- Boards – For board pressing, though you can make your own with plywood.
- Wrist Wraps – Wrist wraps are essential for any strong bencher looking to keep his wrists healthy.
- Bands and Chains – Training aids used by geared lifters.
See my weight training accessories for more details on each of these products and how you can use them to improve not only your bench press but your overall weight training sessions.
Bench Press Equipment Recap
When it comes to getting bench press equipment, the key aspects are getting a good bench and barbell. Beyond that, you can always save money by picking up cheap weight plates.
Additionally, for those short on space, considering using a free bench inside a squat rack to bench with. Any facilities or serious benchers should opt for a dedicated bench whenever possible though, as the stability and width of a good dedicated bench press is a nice feature.