Last updated on July 7th, 2021 at 01:50 pm
There are few other pieces of equipment you’ll buy for your home gym that are as important or as used as a solid and reliable weight bench.
When putting together my gym, a bench was one of the very first purchases. I went to my local Play It Again Sports and found a basic flat bench that seemed to be in good condition. I was on my way home happy for less than $50.
Unfortunately, that happiness didn’t last long. I quickly realized that this bench wasn’t going to work for me. First of all, one day in my hot garage and it started to smell. And not a light, I can deal with it, smell. A terrible smell that reminded me of what a gladiator’s locker room must have smelled like in ancient Rome. There was simply no way I was going to lay down on this thing! I haven’t bought a second hand piece of equipment since.
I also realized that I wanted more than just a flat bench. I wanted something that would allow me to do a slight incline press. I wanted something to sit in and brace my back against when doing overhead presses. I wanted an adjustable, not a fixed, bench.
Show me the money…
Through the entire process of building my home gym, I was constantly reminded of the Ben Franklin quote:
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”
Every time I’ve tried to cut a corner or go cheap, I’ve ended up paying more in the long run. To use another well worn quote, “Buy nice or buy twice!”. But that being said, I’m also a big believer that there is absolutely no need, in most cases, to buy the most expensive and overbuilt piece of equipment.
Now that I’ve owned this bench for a while, I feel very comfortable in recommending it to others. It has served me well and held up admirably, even after a lot of use. I only have a couple of nit picky things I wish were better and none of them would dissuade me from buying this bench again. In fact, when making my usual pro vs. con list when evaluating things, the pro list far outweighs the con. If I had to buy another weight bench tomorrow, the Body Solid GFID 225 would find itself once again in my list of finalists.
The short version:
It’s easily adjustable
- It has the four positions I use most. Decline, flat, slight incline, upright (as well as a traditional 45 degree incline I rarely use)
- It’s well built and durable
- It folds flat for storage
- It’s stable
- It’s reasonably priced
- It looks nice in my gym
The long version:
When I dream about building my ultimate, unlimited budget home gym, it looks very different than the spartan space I use in my garage now. I would find room for a ton of things I don’t currently have. One of the differences would be the benches that I use.
If money was no object, I would own at least 4 different benches. I would have a dedicated adjustable decline bench like this one from XMark. I would have a fixed flat bench like this one from Rep Fitness. I would have an adjustable incline bench like the Body Solid being reviewed here. And I would have a fixed upright (military press) bench like this one you can get over on Amazon. This mimics what I used when I worked out in a commercial gym and it’s what I prefer. It’s not, however, what my budget prefers!
That adds up to over $1000 in benches alone. If that’s in your budget, go for it!!! If not, that’s where a single adjustable bench that covers all of your needed positions comes into play. Here are the things I considered when I decided to buy the Body Solid GFID 225:
That’s where my search for a new bench started. I began by asking myself if the bench I was looking at covered all of the positions I needed in a single footprint. There are a lot of adjustable benches out there, but there aren’t a lot that do everything I need.
This is one of the things I love about my Body Solid bench. It offers a slight decline (I don’t use my bench for ab work, only decline presses, so a slight decline is all I need and want). It goes without saying that it can lie flat. It offers a slight incline (important for pressing while preventing shoulder injuries), which a surprising number of adjustable benches don’t offer. It goes to a 45 degree incline for traditional incline pressing. And it sits almost upright, perfect for seated military type pressing. In one bench, the GFID 225 covers all of my positional needs.
Among adjustable benches, there is another issue that I came across when comparing them. While I found several that adjusted to the needed positions, I found very few that had two very important qualities when being adjusted.
First, the Body Solid bench is extremely simple to adjust. It slides up and down with ease. This cannot be said about a large number of other adjustable benches on the market. Some of them are downright hard to adjust. Others I would even consider dangerous.
Second, once in place, the Body Solid bench is… well… solid. It locks firmly into position. It’s legs are far enough apart so that it is stable. I feel very safe and comfortable using it in every position and it doesn’t wobble. This can’t be said of some of the cheaper options I found when looking around. Many of them wobbled alarmingly or didn’t feel like they safely supported my weight.
Speaking of safety and stability, I’ve found the build quality of this bench to be very good as well. I will say that I tried some more expensive benches that were noticeably better built. The thickness of the steel used to make the Body Solid bench is good, but when compared to other, more expensive options, is only slightly thinner. I don’t think that this would ever cause a problem when using it, but it is something I noticed.
I would also note that for safety, I don’t lift huge amounts of weight at home, alone. The Body Solid GFID225 is rated to 800 lbs. This is more than enough for my needs. I strongly feel that if you need more than that, a fixed bench will be more appropriate to your needs.
The padding is comfortable and is holding its shape over time. It springs back from compression nicely. It’s a very enjoyable bench to use with enough padding to make it comfortable. Unlike some other, overstuffed benches, it is not too puffy or padded, which can make some benches feel unstable and unsupportive.
One thing that did happen that I wasn’t happy with at first, was that there are some trim “buttons” (really more like large thumb tacks) that are used to finish off the look of the seams around the outer edge of the cushioned parts of the bench. These buttons popped off almost immediately. They have no functional benefit that I can see, but having them come off right away was a little disappointing.
The only other small complaint I have about the build quality of the bench comes from its ability to fold flat to store under a bed. This is a function I don’t currently use, but it’s nice to have in case the situation arises. The drawback comes when I move the bench. I’ll pick up the handle on one side, rolling it along using the wheels on the other side (a really nice feature). When I set it back down, I have to then pull the bottom side feet out just a tad. It doesn’t set back down fully extended. It’s hard to describe here, and it’s a very minor thing, but it’s worth pointing out.
A big factor in a bench for me is comfort. A lot of the benches I tried were either too narrow or too wide. Some had too much cushion, some not enough. A few weren’t long enough (I’m 6’ 6”, so this is a big concern for me).
One thing I really like about the GFID 225 is that the lower portion of the bench, I’ll call it the seat (i.e. where your butt goes), is wider than the top portion. This is a very nice feature. A lot of the benches I looked at are the same width throughout. That usually meant one of two issues. Either the seat was too narrow, and therefore uncomfortable to sit on, or the top was too wide, making it uncomfortable to press from because the width restricted the movement of my arms and shoulders.
The Body Solid bench is the perfect width on both parts for me. It’s comfortable to sit on. It’s comfortable to press from. It’s wide enough to provide solid support, but not too wide to be effective. This is one of my favorite parts of this bench.
I’ve read a few negative comments about the gap between these two sections of the bench. People have said that it’s uncomfortable and too much of a space. For me, it’s not a bother at all. When I’m laying on the bench, I position the arch at the small of my back over this gap. I never even feel it or know it’s there. It has never been a problem for me.
If I were to change any one thing in regards to comfort it might be the angle of the seat portion. The seat on the Body Solid GFID 225 is always flat and parallel to the ground. This is fine when in a decline or flat position. It’s not ideal when inclined. I’d rather see the seat tilt back/up just a little when using it in the inclined position. Sometimes, with a lot of weight over me, I feel like I’m sliding towards the end of the bench. Of course, I’m not. It just feels that way.
I’ve used some fixed position incline benches before and the seat portion is tilted back. In fact, it’s one of the things that my second choice had over the Body Solid option. That little angle of the seat always makes me feel a bit more secure. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is something I notice.
Another thing I ran into on many of the benches on the market was too much complexity. When you start looking at them, you see models that have all kinds of extensions, contraptions, and attachments. They sure look cool. And it makes it seem like you are really getting a lot for your money! Unfortunately, none of those benches (at least that I saw) were very well built.
I needed a solid, stable, adjustable bench. Simple, effective, and sturdy. It seemed that the more “stuff” and extra features a bench had, the less stable and safe it seemed. At some point, all the extras are just gimmicky and not helpful. The Body Solid covers all the bases you would need without adding things you don’t.
Fit and Finish…
A final point is how the Body Solid bench looks. It’s nice. Really nice. The corners and edges are rounded, clean, and don’t have any sharp edges or unfinished bits. It’s well designed. The material covering the top portions is nice, easy to clean, and durable. The legs are thick and stable. The wheels are substantial and high quality. It even has a nice looking raised logo on the front that is mile nicer than a traditional ugly decal you’d see on a lot of fitness equipment. It’s a great looking bench and I love how it looks in my gym.
And, as a highly appreciated bonus, it does not smell like unshowered gladiators either!!!
I compared the Body Solid GF 225 to quite a few different benches before buying it. Being a central piece of equipment in my gym, I took my time. I would recommend that you do the same. There are some extremely worthy options out there that are all worth considering. Your individual needs and body type should be considered when choosing one. Not to mention your budget! In my opinion, this Body Solid bench is a very worth option.
If any of you have the Body Solid bench, I’d love to hear what your experience has been. Let me know in the comments below!