Powerblock Weight Bench
Known primarily for their adjustable dumbbells, PowerBlock also offers their own take on the compact sports bench that will compliment any home gym.
We do mean “compact”. A first glance may have you wondering where the rest of the bench is. After using it a few times and acclimating to it, though, you’ll probably start wondering why other benches are so overbuilt. Like breaking in a pair of minimalist sneakers for the first time, equipment this small comes with a mild learning curve.
For something so small, the SportBench is not lacking in user-friendly features. Before we get into the review proper, here’s a brief rundown to satisfy your curiosity.
Adjustability. The back pad of the bench can be adjusted to 5 different positions, and the seat will incline as well. Because the gap between the seat and back pad is minimal, you won’t have any pesky problems with back placement in the supine position.
Options. The PowerBlock bench can accommodate a dip attachment if you wish, although that attachment costs extra as add-ons are wont to do.
Alright, enough warmup. We’ve done the heavy lifting, so read on and find out if the PowerBlock SportBench is right for you.
14-gauge steel tubing is durable but not too heavy
Comfy padded backrest is durable, won’t wear or tear
Total weight of 57 pounds, with permanently installed casters for moving
Requires almost no assembly, and fewer parts = greater rigidity
10 year frame warranty, one year for upholstery
550 pound user/weight capacity
If you have a large frame, not the best bench for you (comfort and range of motion reasons)
Could get a bigger, more featured bench at the same price point
The SportBench offers 5 positions. They are flat, 30 degrees, 45 degrees, 60 degrees, and 90 degrees which we also call “military.” This straight-backed seated position is what lets you do military presses with a barbell or dual dumbbells.
The weight capacity is 550 pounds, including the user and weights. It sounds like a lot, but it is about half of what heavier duty commercial benches typically offer. If you weight 220 or so on a 6-foot plus frame (for example) and you plan on approaching or surpassing your body weight on the bench press, this bench may let you down in the long run. It is certainly not a deal-breaker, but we’d be remiss not to point it out.
Construction is 2 by 3 inch 14 gauge steel tubing. Without getting into the minutiae of steel pipe sizing, the 14 gauge steel is thinner and has a lower tensile strength than the more typical 11 gauge that steel of gym-quality benches. This is what accounts for the lowered weight capacity; if you look at the frame design, it is identical to what you will find in many gyms. The higher gauge (less thick) steel also cuts down on total weight and surface area.
The widest part of the bench is the single rear leg, which is where the casters attached. It is 21 inches long. If you lay the bench flat and measure from the bottom of the seat to the top of the backrest, you will get 50 inches or just above four feet. If you measured from the floor to the flat surface of the padding, that would be 16 inches. It’s worth measuring your legs and deciding how much bending and folding you can live with before you make a purchase decision.
The seat piece is angle adjustable, for a customized fit, but is not height adjustable. Pad covering is black vinyl, with an unobtrusive PowerBlock logo printed near the top of the backrest. Cushions are tapered, with both seat and backrest tapering at the ends. This increases comfort and stability but may restrict movement for some users.
What People Are Saying
We found that the bench does not fold entirely flat. The front leg is immovable and will protrude above the level of the backrest. This may pose a problem if you want to store the bench under a bed, but we were unable to find any measurements for front leg height.
Overall, the bench made high marks for assembly ease, stability, and sturdy construction. Out of 176 total Amazon reviews, 66% were five stars at the time of this writing. The bench’s value is a common theme. It meets the needs of most recreational lifters, at a lower cost than comparable adjustable benches. Reviewers indicate the bench is easy to move, with the rear casters and permanently installed front handle. The bench is suitable for step-ups, but use caution before attempting plyometric box jumps on the bench.
The incline angle is easy to adjust, and the mechanism stays solidly in place once set. Compared to similarly priced benches, the height is ideal for a variety of users and will allow most users to rest their feet on the floor.
A word to the wise--if the bench wobbles when you receive it, check to make sure all the screws are adequately tightened. This could be a fluke, but we saw it in enough reviews that it bears mentioning. If you can’t resolve the wobble, call Powerblock customer service or the retailer you purchased from. You don’t want to jeopardize the warranty with too much DIY tinkering.
Upgrades and Extras
The dip attachment is a single piece that bolts to the back of the bench up top. Most adults will have to fold their legs in order to perform dips with it. The dip weight capacity is 250 pounds, which may or may not be enough for you to do plate-enhanced dips. The steel post and its comfort grip padded handles add 47.5 inches to the total height. The width of the dip attachment is 22.5 inches, which gives you an idea whether it will fit your arm span and chest size or not. An adjustable tension knob helps you stabilize the dip attachment.
The chin-up attachment is 82 inches high and mounts to the back of the bench in military press position. Many users will be able to use the chin attachment without bending or folding the legs. A point of fitness geekery: the image on the product page shows a model doing pull-ups, not chin-ups, even though the product is called a chin-up bar. Pull-ups are performed by grasping the bar with your palms facing away from you. To do a pull-up, your palms must face towards you.
It seems nitpicky, we know, but the kicker is that chin-ups will be difficult because of how the bar’s center support is positioned. Many of us like to switch between pull-ups and chin-ups, to hit different muscle groups. This will be inconvenient with the chin-up bar, though probably not impossible. Our very favorite pull/chin bars are ones that are just a piece of smooth metal with hand grips, with mounting assemblies on the sides, because they let us switch quickly between sets.
Comfort And Ease Of Use
Per our usual, do not attempt any lifts beyond your comfort zone without a human spotter present. Powerblock does not offer any safety attachments, and we can’t vouch for the effectiveness of competitors’ products. If you pair the bench with a set of uprights or squat rack, you will be able to at least use generic, universal fit squat safeties. Pin and pipe safeties attach to the rack, not the bench, so you can add some of those as well. Powerblock does not make anything that you can use as an upright since their bread and butter is made of adjustable dumbbell sets.
The Final Word
The possibilities for attachments are limited, with just the dip bar and pull up bar. You can’t add a leg station or attach fixed uprights to this bench. The 550 pound capacity won’t be enough for everyone. If you want to store your traditional dumbbell pile near the bench, you won’t be able to use a Powerblock stand. Their stands are only compatible with their selectorized dumbbells.
The frame is durable and rigid, with no moving parts. You cannot remove any part of this bench without rendering it unusable. Padding is comfy and shouldn’t present any problems. The price is reasonable, but this is far from the only bench available in that range. Many will have richer features that may appeal to you. If you are looking for a small footprint and easy transport, and you are willing to compromise on advanced features, the SportBench is for you and we are glad to have helped.