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690 of 705 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2011
A weight bench is a simple enough thing but the exact details of making a good one are very important. Universal / Nautilus studied each one and really got it right with this one. I looked at many benches around this price point and felt like they all fell short somehow and I looked at more expensive benches thinking you get what you pay for and a more expensive bench must be better, but Universal really knocked this one out of the park and got it right. If you use dumbbells and maybe situps (no barbell*) this bench has everything you need and nothing you don't (which would mean excess size and weight!). Speaking of which, if you don't want the leg supports the bench is designed and painted such that you can leave that off and it looks equally sharp.
*see edit/update at the bottom

Pros:

Solid- when the box for this bench showed up I was surprised at how light the box was. It actually had me worried as I've tried out benches that felt like they had give and of course when you've got weights up and you need to focus on perfect form the last thing you want is the chance of feeling a slip or flex underneath you. All fears were gone after setting it up though. This thing is SOLID. The design is clever - the supports extend from your CG at an angle to the floor supports and rest directly on the foot piece rather than being bolted to the side. This is akin to holding a weight overhead instead of out from your body - it will just transmit the weight with nothing to flex. Benches where the supports are bolted to the side have to sink in as the shear force is absorbed and the repeated loading will loosen the nuts. Also the current design I received (not exactly pictured) has both supports meeting at and welded to an elbow at the same point where the seat meets the back rest so there are no holes for pins or bolts that may allow slop or loosening over time. This sucker distributes weight like a roofing truss and is NOT flexing. Bottom line is that this bench is very well designed to be solid without needing a bunch of big heavy bolts that you have to worry about loosening over time. There are just a couple light bolts so it doesn't slide apart when not under load. I think using good engineering design principles and reducing the need for the amount of steel required not only kept the weight down but probably the cost too.

Mobile- somewhat related, the next nice surprise was the easy mobility. I considered a nice solid Marcy and I liked that it felt like a tank when I sat on it but I didn't like you had to wrestle it like one to move it. Them's the breaks, right? Turns out it's not though- because of this bench being structurally intelligent instead of just being over-engineered it is not terribly heavy even though it's solid. This means that those of us who are trying to squeeze a few home gym items into a relatively small room will be able to quickly and easily get this bench stored against the wall. That goes for family members too, so if someone wants this out of the way so they can say hop on an exercise bike or lay out a yoga mat they won't have to struggle to move it because it only weighs about 20 pounds.

Comfort- The bench padding is comfortable without being too cushy. Some benches are so hard it is distracting. Some are so cushy that you feel like you're laying back on a couch. This one has a considerable amount of padding but also perforations to breathe so your shoulder blades don't stick against it like cheap car upholstery on a sunny day. This is not to say you'll want to hang out and watch TV from this bench, this is to say that your focus can stay on your form where it belongs.

Length- I'm 5'10" and scooted all the way back to the rest with the bench at the 45 incline the back of my skull rests at the top of the backrest. This is perfect for me. Again that is scooted all the way back, if you are slightly taller and like to have support for the back of your head you will *probably* still be okay. If you are a lot taller you may not share my opinion that this bench's length is just right, but I think for most of the population it will provide head support without being oversized.

Decline- This bench DOES have decline but I can understand why some of the reviewers have missed it. If you look at the bracket stops there are actually *4* brackets, one for 45 degrees, then 30, 15, and flat. But this is a 5 position bench? The trick is that the top of the bracket stop has a channel so the bottom of the support arm that attached to the back rest extends beyond the bottom stop bracket and rests in that channel to prevent lateral movement. There are two shock / wear plates on the support arm where it rests in that support bracket channel and the other contacts the back rest for support and to transmit load solidly. Again, a very clever design. If that description doesn't make sense then just hold the support arm against the back rest while lowering the back rest fully to decline and boom you are there. It will make sense once you see it, but again I don't blame anybody for not seeing this (I didn't at first either!) but the flat position really is flat (even though flat could possibly be convinced as "barely decline" if you were looking for it) and the decline position is a full -10 degrees. The only problem is Nautilus does a terrible job of telling the user how to get there.

This leads me to my only real CON of this bench: Documentation. People are using this as a 4 position bench instead of 5 because you are left on your own to figure out that the decline setting is not supported like the other 4 settings. Also there are no assembly instructions, just an exploded parts diagram. It still went together fairly easily, it's a simple enough design, but there are a couple details that I think at least merit a special note, e.g. when you put the back rest's support arm on you need to be aware that the wear plate near the top goes "up" and the wear plate near the bottom of the support goes "down" so that they contact the other bench parts when put in the decline setting. I initially put mine in upside down and it wasn't until I figured out how it was supposed to go into decline that I even noticed those extra plates I've been calling wear plates on the support arm and realized I had it upside down (since it doesn't matter for the other 4 positions). I consider this very minor in the big picture, especially because the bench itself is everything you could want in a dumbbell / sit-up bench and absolutely worth 5 stars, especially at Amazon's price, but it seems silly they didn't toss in a couple notes about assembly and usage that would have been very helpful if the other reviews here are any indication.

Please note the current model's design is slightly different than the picture, the back channel with the stop brackets now goes straight down to the rear "foot" rather than having the curve near the bottom in back as pictured - just something to be aware of if you are looking at the pic trying to better picture what I've done my best to describe above.

Last but not least, Amazon's item description gives a max user weight of 300 lbs. My bench has a sticker on it that shows a user + weight limit of 430 pounds. I've not sat on it with a combined weight of more than the mid 200's or so but I believe even that limit of 430 is probably conservative.

[...]

*Feb 2014 Update: After 2-1/2 years, I still love this bench. Last August I picked up a squat rack off craigslist and have been using this bench in conjunction with that for barbell training. Pulling the bench in & out of the rack when it's time to bench makes me appreciate the efficient design's light weight. The rack's j-hooks and safety pins make this bench better for me to work out by myself with than a bench with a built-in stand, plus it saves space since the bench can stay in the rack between workouts rather than needing room for a separate benching station. I'm still a lightweight and haven't had a total of more than about 350 pounds on this bench but it always feels rock solid.
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2013
I had concerns before I buy it because some people gave negative feedback to this product. I am 5'11" and it fits good. In order to help you how it fits to my body I've added a photo using this product, so that you can have an idea how it will look like when you use it. Even though it seem like my head doesn't fit at the top of the bench, it fits properly and it doesn't bother me at all. In a nutshell, I love this product, very useful and made with a quality material.
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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2011
For only ~$100, I don't know if you can do better. I heard bad things about the cheapo Apex bench and wanted something that wouldn't kill me. It was between this or the Bowflex benches. Since I hear bad things all the time about Bowflex products and they're all horrendously overpriced, I went with this one.

Pros:
- Sturdy (430lb weight limit). No qualms about stepping on this holding dumbbells.
- Very comfortable. Wide enough for an average person to lie down comfortably. Good height and length. Foam is dense but not hard and the surface feels VERY nice to the touch. Higher quality than I'd expect from a $100 bench.
- Easy enough assembly

Neutral:
- Item is slightly different than bench pictured. There is no rounded cushioning under your knees, it's just a flat cushion. It also appears to be lower than the one pictured.
- I'm 5'11" and the top of the bench hits my very upper neck. If supporting your head is important, be weary if you're above 6ft tall.

Cons:
- Foam rollers aren't the most comfortably thing in the world. I wish they had a vinyl cover or something.

Overall I'm very pleased. I don't like making compromises on quality but as far as a cheap bench goes, you can't go wrong with this one.
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82 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2011
Amazon really needs to change the photo on-line. This bench has been redesigned and is not the one currently pictured.

This bench would not due for an advanced lifter but should be adequate for the novice.

pros:

1) good value
2) mostly well made with good materials
3) nice incline feature

cons:

1) bottom seat should tip up for comfort when in incline position
2) leg holder not a good design
3) not a good crunch board
4) plastic leg caps keep falling off when moving bench
5) no directions for assembly or use
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2011
I suck at putting stuff together. My wife has to help me out every time. I know, I'm a sorry excuse for a man. But I put this bench together all by myself with little error (make sure the logo on the front is right side up). After assembling, working out on it is great. It's solid, doesn't wobble, and actually DOES have a decline position. At first glance it appears to only have 4 positions but simply removing the lock from the last notch puts it into a slight decline... Pretty nice!

So yeah, for the price it's not too shabby. Four stars.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2013
Needed a solid weight bench to start Beachbody's Body Beast program, and I'm glad I found this one! At the time this bench was $107 and had solid reviews which is why I decided to order it. Some of the unhappy reviewers complained about the assembly being difficult, or not having the best instructions. But I found it pretty simple to put together, and didn't really read the instruction because you can basically see how each part fits onto the bench.

I've been using this bench for about a month now and its met my expectations, and has also stood up to a lot of use during the start of my Body Beast program. The base is solid, and does not wobble or feel at all unsafe during use, which is an important part when you are using heavy weights and need it to be as stable as possible. It's also got 5 different positions(inc decline) and it still feels safe and not cheaply made at all.

If I had one gripe it would be the fact that the bench does not have an upright position setting, the highest it will go is still at a slight angle so for some of the moves in Body Beast you have to just sit up straight rather than rest your back against the back of the bench. But this is only a minor complaint, and does not really hinder the workouts in anyway.

If you don't want to spend over $200 for a bench, then this is probably what you are looking for.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2011
I usually go to the gym to work out. I bought this and a Select Tech 552 set to supplement working out at home for the winter.

Bench is sturdy, works for what it's worth but not quite enough to make me happy.

Decline position is not enough.
No 90 deg upright position.
The most upright position seems like it puts pressure on the padding structure.
Leg bars just seem not to be in the right position.
The seat only lays flat, would be nice to tilt upward slightly to keep you from sliding off.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2013
I received this bench yesterday and decided to assemble it this morning. It took me all of 15-20 minutes to get it together and was extremely simple. All holes lined up perfectly and all screws locked in tight.

The only thing that might confuse people is that the assembly instructions weren't entirely perfect. The drawing of the "button head cap screw" that holds the seat in place is shown as having a hex shaped screw hole, but it's actually a Phillips screw hole. It's just a matter of being smrtr than the manual. No problem.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2011
This product is great just one small con and that is there is not a complete up right position. So for sitting to do shoulder presses it gets challenging but can be done. The quality is good and the product goes together fairly quickly.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2014
First the arm that holds the bench, has two plastic caps on the end, neither is glued or snug tight so they come off whenever you adjust the angle of the bench. Second the legs have the same problem they all have plastic caps that aren't glued or snug so whenever you move the bench they come off. Third the decline angle of this bench is so small it's pointless the difference between flat and declined is meaningless. Fourth where you are supposed to put your feet on the ground behind the shin pads has two large bolts sticking out so you can't rest your feet on the metal comfortably. And last it doesn't adjust to a 90 degree angle I know it doesn't say that it does but for some reason i figured it would a 90 degree angle is very useful for a bench. All and all I would spend the extra money to get a better bench next time.
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