Recently, most people suddenly found themselves stranded in their houses and apartments with little to no good alternatives for working out. As months went by, pounds started stacking on top of us. However, there is some home gym equipment that can help us shed that weight and form a killer body just for the summer. The best sit-up benches can do exactly that and are surprisingly affordable and practical when it comes to small spaces and limited time to work out!
In this guide, we will go over some of the top models for 2021, their features, as well as their most notable advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, we will discuss all the individual aspects of a sit-up bench that you will need to pay attention to when you’re buying one. Now, let’s get started!
Bowflex Weight Bench Series
When it comes to leading brands in the fitness world, few are the ones that come close to the heritage and product line of Bowflex. Their weight bench series is no exception to that and are among the finest products in this niche. It is one of the most solidly built benches on the market and on this list but it comes with a price-tag higher than what most people are willing to afford for this type of gym equipment.
The heavy-duty commercial construction on this bench is made to last. It can withstand continuous daily usage in gyms, let alone a home gym where it will be used far less frequently. The adjustments can be done between decline, flat, 90, 60, 45, and 30 degrees. Adjustability is quite easy with a single button click. The seat pan can also be adjusted in order for you to use the bench for all sorts of other exercises.
One thing that makes this bench stand out from its competition is the fact that is has an insanely high weight limit. While most other benches could tolerate weights of up to 300-350 lbs, this one can almost double that at 600 pounds. There are smaller versions from the 5.1S, namely the 3.1S and 4.1S that are cheaper and can handle less weight. They also don’t sport the typical for the brand red and black leather and stitching. As a whole, if you’re willing to put the money aside for this sit-up bench, chances are you won’t be needing a new one for quite a while.
- Super durable construction
- Unique design
- 6 position adjustability
- Leveling legs
- Could be used for a variety of exercises
- Comfortable padding
- 600 lbs weight capacity
- Very expensive
- Relatively heavy
Marcy Utility Slant Board w/ Headrest
If you’re looking for something affordable, Mercy Utility Slant board is one of your best bets. It has a durable frame made out of heavy-duty steel tubing. This adds a ton of strength to the frame but also bulks up the weight figures making it slightly less-than-ideal to be carried around your home. Every part of the frame is powder-coated making the whole bench resistant to moisture, chipping, and other issues with the metal.
There are two locking pins on this bench that allow you to easily fold it and store it away. As a whole, especially when compared to some of the bigger benches out there, this one is quite slim, despite its relatively high weight-to-size ratio. The table’s weight capacity is also relatively low at around 300 lbs, making it good for sit-ups but not so good for other exercises that involve additional weights. As a whole, the board and padding for the legs are comfortable, although I would’ve liked it to be a little thicker. Still, for this price, there are few benches that actually compete with the completeness of this model.
- Excellent price
- Great for beginners
- Easy to fold and store
- Relatively comfortable
- Durable frame
- Low weight capacity
- Relatively heavy
- No wheels
Fitness Reality X-Class Multi-Workout
The Fitness Reality X-Class Multi-Workout benches are unique all-in-one tools that you can use to diversify your home workouts. Although expensive, these benches feature a premium construciton with a powder-coated stainless steel frame. And although the sturdy frame isn’t made out of aluminum, the bench still manages to keep its overall weight relatively low at 55 pounds. Also, thanks to that very frame you get the whopping 650 pounds of weight limit, which is among the highest, if not the highest limit on the market, especially at this price point.
For the bench, you have 1 flat and 3 decline adjustments, while you have 14 adjustments for the thigh support cushion height. Speaking of the cushion, both it and the bench use thick medium density foam wrapped in sweat and moisture-resistant double-stitched vinyl. To help you with various exercises, there are two push up and dip handle bars. The bench sits on two 24-inch wide stabilizers, making it quite stable even when used by bigger people. There are wheels built into the backside of the back legs that help you with transportation. There is no folding, however, which is a slight downside and would’ve been amazing. Still, this combo bench has a relatively low profile in terms of its overall dimensions, so it doesn’t take up that much space.
- Comfortable padding
- Good for a multitude of exercises
- High levels of adjustability
- Great for beginners
- Has wheels for easier storage
- 650 lbs weight capacity
- Very stable
- Doesn’t fold
- Quite expensive
XMark Adjustable Decline Ab Workout Bench
The XMark Adjustable decline ab workout bench is a multi-tool that could be used for crunches, sit ups, and other ab exercises. It has a simplistic construction with an even simpler design that allows beginners to workout with it with ease. While this particular bench is somewhat on the expensive side of things, the brand is known for their regard for quality and long-term durability.
One thing that sets this bench apart is its high levels of adjustment. You can work with 12 different levels of decline that are all located on the 43-inch long front rail. It works with a pop-pin and is very easy to use no matter what you’re training. In the middle between the leg holders, there is a bullhorn handlebar that lets you mount and dismount the bench in a much safer and easier way. Another thing that adds to this bench’s practicality are the wheels. Still, at 66 pounds this particular model isn’t exactly lightweight and isn’t quite easy to be moved around a lot.
The star of the show here is definitely the extra thick vinyl cushions. They are made out of a tear-resistant Duraguard material which covers a thick pad of foam. The leg rollers are also quite thick at 4.33 inches each. As a whole, the comfort of this bench is almost second to none and, if you can spare the money, this should definitely be on your shortlist.
- Extremely comfortable
- Easily adjustable
- Lots of levels of incline
- Thick foam rollers for the legs
- Has wheels
- Durable frame
- No folding
- A bit heavy
- Fairly expensive
Stamina Pro Ab/Hyper Bench
If you’re looking for something that could combine a few workouts at the same time while being affordable and practical, the Stamina Pro Ab/Hyper Bench is just the right thing for you. As the name suggests, this gym equipment allows you to do both hyperextensions and ab exercises on the same machine from both sides. It is made out of heavy-duty 2-inch steel tubing that sits on a wide base for added stability and safety.
On the bench, there is an easily-adjustable thigh support and the overall levels to which you can adjust the bench are 4 which isn’t great but for a cheap combo bench isn’t bad either. The hand grips are wide and quite easy to reach from any position. The pivoting foam rollers play a major role in both hyperextension exercises and for ab crunches. Padding all around the bench is decent but not stellar. As a whole, this is a good all-in-one package that won’t burn a hole through your pocket and will have a decent-enough long-term durability.
- Combo bench
- Great for beginners
- Extended hand grips
- Pivoting foam rollers
- 2-inch steel tubes
- Padding could be better
- Relatively low weight limit
Finer Form Semi-Commercial Sit-up Bench
In the mid-range, there are plenty of benches that compete for the same thing. Still, brands like Finer Form deliver quite a lot of quality at a decent bang for your buck. With a 600 lbs weight capacity, this semi-commercial sit-up bench is everything you will ever need at your home gym. It has excellent padding all-around, 3-level rollers, a long and sturdy backboard with a wide stance to keep you safe. The feet have wheels on them and that, combined with the metal handle at the other side, make the bench also relatively comfortable to move around. It folds flat, although doesn’t completely fold, so it is also relatively practical in terms of storing it away. The frame of this bench is powder-coated and made out of steel, adding a ton of rigidity and long-term durability to it.
The bench comes in two colors – black with white stitching and red on black. As a whole, even if you aren’t sure about this product, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee so that you can test it out and see if it is the right tool for your needs.
- Very durable
- Heavy-duty construction
- Excellent padding
- Bullhorn handle
- Easily adjustable
- Long backboard
- A bit expensive
- A bit heavy
Sit-up Benches Buyer’s Guide
Sit-up benches have been gaining popularity in recent times because they do one very specific thing for our health – they take the usual sit-ups and they remove the risks associated with them. That allows people to do more reps, have their back hurt less, and avoid any potential injuries. It goes without saying that so many pros with not a lot of cons will get the attention of everyone very quickly. And so it did. Nowadays, this gym equipment is famous both in gyms and in homes of all sizes.
To understand what these benches are and what you need to be looking for in one, let’s first discuss the different types out there…
Types of Sit-Up Benches
There are a few major types of sit-up benches used nowadays. These are:
- Adjustable sit-up benches
- Non-adjustable ab benches
- Folding sit-up benches
- Curved ab-benches
- Combo benches
Let’s start with the most common version of the sit-up bench now.
Adjustable sit-up benches
As their name suggests, adjustable sit-up benches are made so that you can choose from many different levels of difficulty. This is typically done by removing and placing a lever in any of the pre-drilled holes that control the angle of the slant board. The higher you go with that adjustment, the more difficult the exercise will get.
These types of benches are excellent for beginners as they allow you to work your way up the difficulty ladder. For that same reason, they are also great long-term investments. One major disadvantage, however, is that they have more moving parts and are, thus, more prone to breaks and wear and tear. They are also slightly more expensive, although they are still the dominant type out there and certain brands make quite the budget models.
Non-adjustable ab benches
Contrary to adjustable benches, non-adjustable ones come with a fixed angle that is somewhere in the middle between hard and easy. They aren’t great for beginners, nor they are a good long-term investment. The reason for that is because they offer the same amount of resistance for your ab muscles, allowing them to get used to the repetitive nature of the exercise. If you have one of those already, one way to spice things up is to use medicine balls with different weights.
Apart from being slightly cheaper, these fixed benches are much more durable, making them a decent option for someone that just wants to casually incorporate this type of machine in his/her home workout.
Folding sit-up benches
Folding sit-up benches are perfect for people living in small apartments. They are typically adjustable and can be folded up after you’re done training with them. They are usually on the budget side of things but are quite flimsy and have a ton of moving parts, meaning lots of places that things can go wrong.
Curved ab benches are also fairly common in the fitness world. Just like the folding ones, they are also adjustable in most cases. The main difference here is that the slant board has an outward curve to it. This makes your spin curve outwards more during a full sit-up range of motion. That on its own creates more resistance for your abdomen and back muscles, ultimately resulting in a harder exercise and better overall effect.
Combo benches usually offer a mix of a few gym machines. Most commonly, they are a mix of a hypertension bench and a sit-up bench, so that you can train your back and abdomen muscles on the same gym equipment. They are always adjustable on both sides and are relatively sturdy. They do, however, cost slightly more since they offer more workout options.
If you want to learn how to make the perfect killer abs, make sure to check out this article on the topic! Now, let’s dive into the features that you will need to be paying attention to…
Features to Look For
Out of all the various features a sit-up bench could possess, few are the ones that are really important to its overall quality and practicality. These specific features are:
- Materials & Build Quality
- Price & Warranty
The weight capacity of any sit-up bench is its major differentiating factor when it comes to its durability and build quality. Most heavy-duty benches will be able to carry around 300-350 lbs. This is more than enough for most people and is a good testament to solid build quality and materials. Cheaper models, however, often offer weight capacity limits of around 200-250 lbs. One golden rule of thumb is to have your weight and add 50 lbs to it to find the ideal weight capacity for your new sit-up bench. This will ensure that it can handle both you and any potential gym equipment that you decide to use along with the bench, such as a gym ball.
The comfort of a sit-up bench is everything for some people. Since the exercise is typically quite grueling and painful to do, having a bench that is well-padded is paramount. The main thing to look at is the thickness of the padding of the slant board. Anything less than 2 inches isn’t recommended and won’t be comfortable for your back and legs. Typically, premium models have a padding of around 2.5-3 inches and are super comfortable and soft, allowing you to do longer sessions of more reps.
The material of which the board padding is made (and covered) is also important. Synthetic leather is a common choice since it is soft and easy to clean. Real leather and polyurethane are also used, although in either expensive benches or models that are too cheap.
Materials & Build Quality
As I already mentioned, the thing that makes a bench last long is its frame construction and the materials used in it. Most benches will be made out of aluminum since it is fairly durable and super lightweight. Steel (stainless or not) isn’t rare either, although it is heavier and makes the bench much less practical.
No matter the material, look for models that have their frame powder-coated. This will make it more resistant to chipping, peeling, or any other type of damage to the pain and/or frame. Powder-coating, however, will bulk up the price, so make sure you weigh the long-term durability towards your current budget.
Since the main idea behind sit-up benches is that they’re the perfect apartment companion, having a bulky and heavy bench isn’t really logical. This gym equipment is meant to be moved around your home and stored easily rather than stick to one place forever. This is why most benches have a thin profile, enough to cover your back and try to take as little space as possible. Weight-wise, companies try to shed off the extra weight by all sorts of different weight-cutting strategies.
How portable a sit-up bench really only depends on its dimensions and weight. As I already said, aluminum benches are much lighter and easier to move around. Smaller benches are advised for people that live in small apartments or want to store the bench in a tight space. If you’re looking for something truly portable, look for a folding bench. Another feature that greatly helps with moving the bench around is whether or not it has wheels. Some benches have two lockable wheels on one side to help you move them around (by lifting the other side and putting the bench on its wheels only).
Maintenance-wise, sit-up benches aren’t very demanding. As with most gym equipment, you will have to keep them dry by wiping them down. That should be done after each training session. Not a lot of people know that but sweat is quite corrosive and can damage all types of surfaces from leather to metal. Additional maintenance that will be needed will involve the mechanical parts of each sit-up bench. That’s usually the lifting mechanism or any other part that moves. Make sure that all the nuts and bolts are tight and that there are no squeaking elements.
Price & Warranty
When it comes to the price, sit-up benches cover a very wide range. There are some budget models that don’t have a lot of adjustabilities and aren’t the sturdiest which will set you back no more than 50-100 bucks. However, as the weight capacity increases, the frame becomes steel and more features are added, the price bulks up. Typically, a mid-range model costs anywhere between 100 and 200 dollars, with the high-end sit-up benches costing as much as 300-500.
In terms of the warranty, most are covered by a limited 1-2 year warranty, although certain manufacturers offer limited or full coverages for their benches for 5-10 years. These are typically more expensive but are well worth the money.
If you want to learn more about some of the most common gym mistakes people do nowadays, click here!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are sit-up benches any good?
Sit-up benches are really good at one specific thing – training your core muscles. They are much harder to execute than regular ab rolls or any other core exercises that are done on a flat surface. The reason for that is the fact that you’re in a declined position and it takes much more effort to roll up.
What types of sit-ups are the best to do?
Some of the best sit-ups you can do are the full ones. They begin at the ground level and go all the way up. These types of sit-ups can exercise your back. abdomen, shoulders, and hips. You can also make these even harder by using a medicine ball of different weights. On the contrary, some of the weakest sit up out there are ones that don’t go the full range of motion or are assisted by an elastic band or a person (trainer).
Which is the hardest sit-up?
Arguably the hardest sit-up out there is the Janda sit-up. This is a fact agreed between most bodybuilders mainly because you’re only using your abdomen muscles and no other muscle group to support the movement.
Are sit-ups a waste of time?
This is one of the biggest debates in the sports world right now. Flat sit-ups have been recently deemed outright dangerous because they put too much pressure on your spine and don’t exercise your core muscles well. Using a sit-up bench, however, you remove some of that stress and allow your body to use more of its muscle groups for the movement of getting up.
Which is better – to sit up or to crunch?
Each of those two exercises is beneficial in its own unique way. Crunches are much easier on your back and other parts of your body. They are also better for people with different types of injuries. However, unlike sit-ups, crunches only target your abdominal muscles. Still, they do let you perform a higher rep count which ends up burning more calories.
How many sit-ups a day is okay to do?
Typically, there is no set-in-stone number that defines how many crunches or sit-ups you can do. However, you can find that number out for yourself by observing the stress they’re putting on your body. Typically, 2-3 sets per 40-50 sit-ups is a normal amount per workout. Whether or not you will work out every day, however, is an entirely different topic.
Finding some of the best sit-up benches on the market nowadays is going to depend on a few key factors. First, start by figuring out your budget. Then, move onto making a list of all the models within your budget range. After you’ve done that, start comparing them by their most important features. Look at things like build quality, comfort levels, how easy they are to adjust, reclining abilities, and others. A few additional features won’t hurt either, so don’t shy away from counting those towards the “pro” column for each product.