A sit up bench is just one of the awesome ways you can maximize your core gains at home. Everything you do interacts with this crucial muscle group, so investing here pays off further down the line.
Whether it’s physique, strength, or sports performance you’re looking for, this is the product for you and we’re going to look at the best sit up benches on the market.
Read on for reviews, our take on what to look for when buying an ab bench, and why you need one!
- Best Ab Benches and Adjustable Sit Up Benches
- Sit Up Bench Buying Advice
- How to Use a Sit Up Bench?
- Benefits of Using an Ab Bench
Best Ab Benches and Adjustable Sit Up Benches
1. Fitness Reality X-Class Adjustable Sit Up Bench
The weight capacity of 650lbs is great and the variety this bench can achieve is pretty impressive. It opens up a ton of possibilities and offers great quality padding, so our initial impressions are pretty positive.
We especially like the inclusion of the back extension pads and supports, since this is one of the best posterior core exercises around. The legs/feet of this bench look a little light-weight, but the rubberized feet are a great addition to the stability.
Overall, the let-down for this product is the semi-consistent quality assurance issues and bent parts. It’s also not best for shorter people, but clearly better for the taller trainee!
We like the product, but Fitness Reality’s general approach to selling and shipping seem to be the real problem. There’s a good chance your product will be fine, but we’d like to see these issues cleared away since this product could well set the standard for economy sit up benches otherwise!
In many ways, it’s simply more than an ab bench – offering variety, but with the blemishes of being a budget product/manufacturer.
2. Xmark Adjustable Ab Bench
This product cuts out a lot of the versatility we really enjoyed with the fitness reality product, opting for a minimalist design. The result is a product that is immensely lightweight, but also lacks the stability and versatility we’ve appreciated in other products.
This is a significant step down in some senses, though it obviously doesn’t aim to compete directly. It’s a simple, economy product that offers sit ups and very little else. It has a clear role and equally clear shortcomings.
The length is ridiculously short and makes this product very difficult for average and taller people. There’s not much variety with this product and it does struggle to establish itself for many of the intended purposes.
3. Valor Fitness DF-1 Adjustable Decline Bench
This is a heavier-duty product and we much prefer it to the lightweight alternatives we just looked at. The padding also seems to be well-made and the overall thickness is great, improving overall durability and comfort.
There’s good adjustability here – the angle itself changes, though the footplate is fixed, which could be an issue if you have especially long/short legs. However, it does the basics really well.
The problems with this product are pretty much twofold; the quality assurance for this product struggles and the construction. There are problems for metallic filings or debris, while also having poor assembly instructions and general difficulty to construct.
4. Vanswe Adjustable Sit Up Bench
You might recognize the sales material of this product from the first product we reviewed. This is because the Vanswe and Fitness Reality products are effectively the same; they are identical in design, with the difference consisting of coloring and branding.
This product comes with the exact same benefits and problems; too light-weight, relatively small, and tons of variety. Again, concerns for stability and durability in the legs and feet are the main problems.
Equally, the lack of unique design does contribute to a general concern for the state of the market. We’d like to see more initiative with this kind of product but – as with the Fitness Reality – it is a little too small and has poor overall quality assurance.
5. Finer Form Gym Quality Sit Up Bench
This product offers some interesting new design facets for our list. The pad and overall design are durable and stable, which we absolutely love. It’s also a bright red, floor-supported sit up bench.
It’s also got a gentle curve to it, which we really enjoy. This may add some risk if you’re doing sit ups wrong, but a well-controlled ab exercise on this product adds extra range of motion. It also improves the focus on the abs, rather than the hip flexors, keeping you safe and targeting the right muscles.
We really like this product, though it does offer very little versatility or adjustability. It’s a solid product and – if it suits you – you’re dealing with a perfect product. If not, there’s no way to get around it.
As with a lot of products we’ve seen, the quality assurance is poor – there are some missing parts with shocking regularity. Often, the warranty for the product is necessary and customer returns/complaints are pretty common.
6. Marcy Utility Incline Sit Up Bench
This is a very small product and we’re confused by the max height: we’re going to see lots of difficulty for anyone average or higher.
As well as being small, it’s light weight in terms of the durability and overall structure. The build quality is not fantastic, since it is made of low gauge steel and there are many moving parts that are notably ‘flimsy’.
The stitching itself is pretty good, but the rest of the product’s durability and stability are questionable. Missing parts are common, additionally – so there are clear problems with this product at many levels.
It’s cheap and it’s small, but that doesn’t really offer the kind of functional value we’d like to see in a sit up bench.
7. Apex Utility Ab Bench
This is another minimalist product that brings out some of the easy, small, lightweight approaches we’ve already seen. This is clearly in the same niche but also runs into the same issues of functional value – stability, adjustability, and the versatility of the product.
The result is another “just does the thing” product. It doesn’t offer any significant innovation on the design of the sit up bench. The actual customer experience for this product is also pretty bad: the product itself is often totally broken, missing essential parts, and totally underperforming customer service.
The actual design is also very low adjustability, and the result is a very uncomfortable position for a lot of people. Again, the size of the product makes it suitable for very small people and nobody else.
Sit Up Bench Buying Advice
Durability and Build Quality
It’s not fun or flashy to talk about, but the durability of any home gym equipment is key. This is especially true when we discuss sit up benches for 2 key reasons:
- They have soft, squishy bits which are often susceptible to poor durability/damage risk
- They’re a piece of kit that – if you get the right brand/product – can last decades
You may only need to buy once if you consider the product durability and go with our favorite hard-wearing products. There’s always a small trade-off between the comfort and durability, but the latter is an essential factor to look out for.
“Buy cheap, buy twice” isn’t always true, but sometimes the price of a product is due to the quality of the materials. This means that you should consider durability before style or flash, and always choose the more reliable product if everything else is equal.
Adjustability and Versatility
The versatility of a product is always dependent on what you can do with it – and better adjustability really adds up.
The number of positions a bench can be set to offers more control over your own training. You don’t need it to be adjustable to every single degree, but 6 settings will usually beat out 4 settings.
The only time this isn’t true is when the moving parts (e.g. the locking pins or the levers themselves) are poorly made. We’ve seen products that fail often in these parts and it can really ruin your whole purchase.
Remember to look out for both the options you’re presented with and the reliability of that mechanism. It’s a huge selling point but also a huge risk factor if great care isn’t taken!
Size and Suitability
The size of a sit up bench is a real difference between products. There are some on the market that are simply too small – and the taller you are, the more of a problem this is.
Make sure to double-check the size of a bench and how long you are with your arms outstretched. There are a ton of different exercises you could be doing and having some surplus height/length is a huge bonus.
If you’re shorter, you can obviously get away with more, but you still need to check in with the minimums and check your space. This product shouldn’t take up too much space, but some collapsible models do seem solid, stable, and worthwhile.
Stability and Balance for Sit-Ups
This is one of the keys because it’s the one that affects training most acutely. If a bench wobbles while you’re doing basic ab exercise, it’s not great quality and you should be careful.
More stability is a better product – there’s no argument there. Durability and stability are the most fundamental benefits, while adjustability comes just afterwards.
Feet size, angle, and materials are key for stability. Equally, the width of both the pad and the attachments play into stability against the floor and your body. Keep your eyes open for these specs and try to get a feel for what you like using a gym or other public sit up bench equipment.
Versatility: Exercises Beyond Sit Ups
The more exercises you can do on a product – without compromising the quality or the basics – the better.
Training requires variety as well as specificity, and the more you can do with a single product, the better. We already discussed this regarding adjustability, but it’s also relevant for the attachments and features of each product.
The more you can do well, without compromising the basics, the better.
Value for Money
Duh; the more you save, the better.
Your cash didn’t just appear in your bank account, and spending it can be painful. Better value for money makes a hell of a lot of difference – especially if you’re really just here for the basics.
A sit up bench that helps you do better sit ups could be all you need, and this will allow you to play with the cheaper models. Obviously, this doesn’t mean throwing out all your standards, but it does mean you can scout out a bargain and save some money on the frills.
How to Use a Sit Up Bench?
The whole point of a sit up bench is to offer a more advanced variation of a sit up, but it can also bring versatility to your ab exercise training.
There are a ton of great exercises you can do with a sit up bench. We’ve written a whole article on this topic, so we recommend you give that a read – in the meantime, we’ll cover some of the absolute basics.
Using an Ab Bench for Core Training
This is one of the obvious things you’re going to get from a sit up bench and it’s probably the reason you’re shopping for one in the first place.
Increasing the range of your sit ups is one of the best ways of improving core strength and making it a more valuable use of your training time. The more range and control you can add to your ab exercises, the better core strength and stability you’ll experience.
This is why a sit up bench includes a foot-anchor and back support: these are the two most common problems with the regular version of this common core exercise.
Healthier lower back and spine
The sit up bench takes out the discomfort that some people experience in the lower back by offering a semi-solid pad to support the lower back.
This is important because one of the key reasons to train the core is to support the lower back!
With 80% of people experiencing debilitating back pain at some point, the last thing you want is to increase your risk. A good, supportive lumbar pad can really reduce risk and make core training safer.
Targeting the abs
It’s easy to cheat a sit up and we totally understand why, when your core starts getting tired it can be a horrible experience. This can reduce control in the spine/hips and start building over-used hip flexors rather than ab muscles.
A poorly performed sit up doesn’t add to your core but can increase your injury risk. Getting it right is hard, especially when cheating reps can be so easy.
Supporting the feet above you and reclining your torso forces the load onto the abdominal muscles. In this kind of situation, curling up the spine and activating the target muscles is both easier and more natural, which helps you reduce the risk of poor form and thus injury/poor results.
Other Core Exercises and Their Benefits
There are a ton of useful core exercises that can be performed with a single piece of equipment, if it’s stable and you’ve got the know-how. As before, our complete article on the exercises you can perform with a sit up bench is more exhaustive, but the basics alone are key.
First, it allows you to train each of the planes (mentioned above) more effectively, strengthening the sagittal, lateral, and rotational core muscles. The variety it opens up is one of the key reasons you should consider investing – and why it’s a key piece of home gym equipment.
Consider exercises like the dragon flag or the leg raise on a bench, the Russian twist on a bench, or the side leg lift. These offer some different exercises you’d struggle to perform effectively without a sit up bench. This kind of variety and versatility is a key selling point and training benefits!
Benefits of Using an Ab Bench
Core strength is important because of a few key things it does for you:
- It supports your spine, one of the most commonly injured and important areas of the body.
- It is crucial for transfer of force in every other exercise, making it a limiting factor in many big, heavy compound lifts
- The core affects injury risk for other joints and muscles
Clearly, the middle of your body is a great place to start. The ‘core’ includes the muscles affecting the spine, such as the abs, obliques, lower back, and other deep stabilizers in the hips.
It’s not just about six pack abs, however – let’s take a look at what core strength is, how it works, and how it relates to your choice in sit up bench!
Why Is Core Strength So Important?
The point of core strength is stabilizing the spine – whether that’s to reduce pressure on the most important part of the body or to drive the barbell up with the legs. Anything worth doing comes through the core.
The strength and stability of your core muscles are key to performance and results across the board. They also occur in 3 dimensions; forwards and backwards (sagittal), sideways (lateral), and rotational. You should be training all of these movements for the best results.
These also target specific muscles, so you could easily have strong abs – which work sagittaly – but weak obliques, which work laterally.
Excessive weakness in any of these planes is a risk factor for serious injuries in the spine, hips, and knees. The most impressive feats of athleticism require huge strength in these muscles – such as those seen in Olympic level gymnasts.
A good (ideally adjustable) sit up bench lets you train your core comprehensively. It offers a way of training each of these planes and doesn’t limit you. With the addition of extra options, you’re going to get better training value for your money.
The best product from our list is clearly the one that implements the basics beautifully, and the features are suitable and responsible.
You can’t innovate on the sit up bench much with the decades of use it’s already seen, but we are really happy with this list of examples. Obviously, our favorite is either the Fitness Reality bench for its adjustability or the Finer Form bench if you’re looking for a solid, but basic, product!
If you’re looking for a sit up bench then this is a great choice, and clearly provides great value for the money. A good investment here is going to save you tons of headaches with replacements, tears, or wobbly ab exercises!