At this point, I don’t really need anything new for my gym. But when I saw the specs on the new Rep Fitness BlackWing adjustable weight bench, I knew I had to get one. It’s Rep’s flagship FID (flat, incline, decline), zero-gap bench and it’s got literally every feature you could want on a weight bench.
And with an MSRP of $730 (including the wide back pad and leg roller options), it should have every feature, right?
Does this bench live up to my very high expectations? Is it worth over $700 when there are some excellent benches out there for hundreds less?
The Short Version
If you are looking for an adjustable FID weight bench that’s built like a tank and will probably last you through at least one zombie apocalypse, the BlackWing is the perfect choice. No matter how much weight you are putting on the bar, the BlackWing is rock-solid and has every option you could want in a top-tier weight bench.
That said, not everyone needs a bench built like a tank, lifts thousands of pounds, or is preparing for the zombie apocalypse. I fall into all three of those categories, so as much as I like this bench, there are a few things I’m not so sure about.
Not because it’s bad in any way, but because it just might be more bench than I need.
The notable features of this bench are:
- Zerogap™ technology allows you to eliminate the gap between the seat and the back at any angle.
- A ratcheting seat allows you to easily adjust the seat without messing with the pull-pin.
- Closed ladder back adjustment keeps things safe and secure.
- Stores vertically to preserve your all-important garage space.
- Heavy-duty construction using 11-gauge steel.
All of those features are things that sound great on paper, but as I’ve used the bench, I’ve realized a few things…
I’ve never had an issue with the seat gap in my weight benches. I’ve never thought the seat adjustment should be easier than it already is on my AB-5200. And I rarely, if ever, put more than 225 lbs. on the bar.
My level of strength certainly does not require my bench to be built like a tank. Maybe just a well-built armored vehicle instead?
And that’s where my review would end if I did what most other home gym sites and YT channels do: Get the bench for free, look at it for a few minutes, and post a review. But that’s not how I do things (see my complete review process and editorial guidelines here).
Thankfully, I spend my own money on the gear I buy for my garage gym. That means there’s no way I’d just look at this $700 bench for a few minutes, decide I’m lukewarm on it, and then move on. For almost $700, I’m gonna use it for a good amount of time before I ever decide whether I like it or not.
And I’m glad I did just that.
What I’ve realized as I’ve used the BlackWing is that just because I never thought I needed something before doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy having it. I’m also starting to realize that there is significant value in sometimes buying more than just what you “need”. There were also a few quirks I needed to get adjusted to, and that took some time.
But that leaves me slightly conflicted about this bench. I cannot honestly tell you that you “need” this bench. You don’t. And neither do I. But I have grown to love it and I think you will too assuming there’s room in the budget.
So, if this bench fits your budget and your needs, head over to Rep to get one today (they ship really fast these days, and you’ll have it in no time!).
If the short review above left you more confused than when you started, read on, I’ve got a lot more detail for you.
And if you like the idea of the BlackWing, but want something a little more cost-effective, make sure to check out our other recommended benches here.
BlackWing Video Reviews
Unboxing video coming soon
Full review coming 4-6 months after the unboxing video
- Assembled Bench Weight – 131lbs
- Assembled Bench Length – 59.5”
- Assembled Bench Width – 25.8”
- Assembled Bench Height – 17.2”
- Back Pad Angles – -8, 0, 10, 20, 30, 37.5, 45, 52.5, 60, 67.5, 75, 85
- Seat Pad Angles – -10, 0, 8, 15, 30, 45
- Back Pad Length – 38.2”
- Back Pad Width – Standard: 12.2” & Wide: 14”
- Seat Pad Width – Standard: 12.2” Tapers To 8.5” & Wide: 14” Tapers To 8.5”
- Seat Pad Length – 15.6”
- Rear Foot Width – 25.8”
- Front Foot Width – 14.8”
- Front Handle Length – 6.9”
- Front Handle Diameter – 25mm
- Footprint – 59.5″x25.8” (10.7SQFT)
- Vertically Stored Footprint – 3.1SQFT
- Weight Capacity – 1,000lbs
- Frame Material – 11-Gauge Steel
- Pad Material – CleanGrip
- Handles Material – Knurled Stainless Steel
BlackWing Pros & Cons
Hardware quality (pop pins specifically)
Extra grippy back pad material
2 back pad options
Optional leg rollers
Can be used as a Nordic curl bench
Extremely easy to adjust
Both the seat and back pad need to be adjusted together
The auto ratcheting seat opens when stored vertically
The back pad material gets very dirty very fast
What I Like About The Rep Fitness Blackwing Adjustable Weight Bench
There are a lot of things to like about this bench. Some I liked right out of the box. Others kind of grew on me. And, as is the theme of this review, some things I both like AND dislike at the same time. Let’s take a look at the high points of the BlackWing bench.
The most important quality of any weight bench is stability. The last thing you want when you are trying to lift heavy weights and stay safe is for your bench to shift, move, or wobble.
The BlackWing is as or more stable than other benches that cost almost twice what the BlackWing does.
This stability comes from some very heavy-duty construction as well as some thoughtful design. The wide, yet flat, front foot on the BlackWing is a great example of this design. Its wide footprint gives the front of the bench a lot of stability, but because it’s flat, it doesn’t get in the way of your feet.
A lot of benches designed with a single front post (what you want, btw) don’t do anything to address the lack of stability that a single front foot causes. With the BlackWing, the design more than addresses this issue.
Everywhere you look or touch, the BlackWing is overbuilt. I genuinely don’t see myself ever having to replace it because it wore out or broke. That simply won’t happen.
When I saw that the BlackWing used pop-pins to adjust the seat and leg rollers, that was almost enough for me not to order the bench.
Every pop-pin adjustable bench I’ve ever used has been a complete pain in the ass. The pins never, ever, ever seat right in their holes. I’ve often had them readjust mid-movement because they were not seated correctly.
The pop-pins on the BlackWing work like a dream. They were the very first thing I tested and tried to get to fail on this bench and I couldn’t do it. The pins seat and unseat easily and you are never fooled into thinking the pin is in place when it’s not.
I know it seems like a small thing, but for me this was huge!
Usually, when you look at reviews of high-end products, reviewers list the price as a negative. I almost never see things that way. In this world, you usually get what you pay for. The BlackWing is no exception.
But even better than that, the Rep Fitness BlackWing is better in almost every way than competitors that cost as much as $500 more! I have detailed comparisons below, but as an example, the Rogue Manta-Ray bench costs $1200 when you add the leg rollers (they call it a “foot catch”).
And sorry all you Rogue fanboys out there, the BlackWing is a better bench in almost every way. It is worth every penny it costs and then some.
Back Pad Material
On every bench I’ve ever had, I’ve added supplemental grip to the back pad while bench pressing (I’ve always used drawer liner as you can see in this YT video I made covering the topic). Very few benches have material that is grippy enough to keep your back from sliding if you bench with proper form.
The material on the BlackWing solves that problem. Now, this material isn’t unique to the BlackWing as it’s being used on several of Rep’s benches. But it is unique to Rep.
The only other company’s benches I’ve used where I felt there was enough grip on the back pad is Rogue. And sorry, Rogue, I’m not spending almost twice as much so my bench can say “Rogue” on the side.
Nordic Curl Versatility
Nordic curls have been around for a very long time. They are an excruciatingly difficult strength move to master and typically require a special bench whose sole purpose is this movement. They are also very, very, very good for people with bad knees (my 53-year-old knees definitely qualify here!). (source)
By adding the leg rollers to the BlackWing, you can not only do Nordic curls on the bench itself, but you can also use the decline angle of the bench to start off in an easier position (if you’ve ever tried to do a Nordic curl, you know how important it is to start learning this skill at an easier angle).
This one feature alone just saved me anywhere from $200 to $600 on a dedicated Nordic curl bench and reduced the amount of gear in my already cramped garage gym.
The Small Touches
One of the most satisfying things about buying anything “high-end” is the small touches. The little details that add to your overall enjoyment of the product. Do these details make the product work better? Sometimes. Do they make you happy you spent the money on a high-end product? Yep.
The knurled stainless steel handles on the BlackWing are a great example of this. The handle on the front of my AB-5200 is smooth metal. That handle has slipped out of my hand on more than one occasion. The medium-knurled stainless handle on the BlackWing will never do that. Plus it looks cool too!
The Rep logo under the front foot is another example. You’ll never see this unless you are storing your bench upright. But when you do, again, it looks pretty dang cool.
From the trim on the back pads to the beautiful metallic black finish (the other 5 finish options are all equally well-applied and beautiful), there are little touches and details across this bench that I enjoy every time I use the bench.
The ZeroGap™ Seat
As I stated earlier, I’ve never once felt the need to eliminate the gap between the seat and the back pad on my benches. Over the last 5 years, I’ve used the Rep AB-3000 and the Rep AB-5200. both benches have a back pad long enough to support my torso (I’m 6’6″) with no need to use the seat portion when laying down.
Also, it’s a very old habit for me to place the arch of the small of my back over the gap so it never even comes into play.
So, I wasn’t all that excited about the ZeroGap™ feature on this bench. But the more I use this bench, the more I appreciate being able to get rid of the gap. I don’t bother to do it on every movement, but I do make sure to close the seat gap when doing decline ab work (a rarity, but I have been doing some lately as I tested this bench) and when using it as a Nordic curl bench.
I also really like it when using the bench as a base for dumbbell and kettlebell rows. I didn’t realize how many times I hit my shin on the seat hinge on my AB-5200 until I started using the BlackWing.
Lastly, I’ve grown to love the ZeroGap™ on the rare occasion I feel like testing my flat bench PR. I used to use a competition-style flat bench (the Rep FB5000) when I wanted to go heavy on the bench press.
I like using the BlackWikng with no gap even better. At 6’6″, it gives a bigger surface area and more latitude for body placement without moving the bench.
For me, this isn’t a must-have feature, but it certainly is nice to have. And the longer I use this bench, the nicer it becomes!
What I Wish Was Different About The BlackWing Adjustable Bench
There are a few things I wish were different on the BlackWing. While it’s the “best” adjustable bench I’ve ever owned, it still has some room for improvement. Or I’m just being unrealistic and picky. Let me know in the comments which you think it is.
The ZeroGap™ Seat
Wait, didn’t I just list that as a thing I liked? Kind of. If you look closely, I say “I grew to like it”.
For the first two weeks I used the BlackWing, I hated it. So much so that I considered sending it back.
Previous to this bench, I’ve been training for a few years on the Rep AB-5200. With that bench, if you want to adjust the seat, you grab it and adjust it. Want to adjust the back? Same thing. Not so with the BlackWing.
When you use the ZeroGap™ adjustment to remove the gap, that means there’s no room for the seat or the back to adjust. They bind together if you try to move either one. For those first couple of weeks, every time I went to adjust the back or seat, they wouldn’t move until I adjusted the ZeroGap™ to allow them room to move.
Every time this happened, I wanted to throw the bench through my garage door.
But as time passed, I got used to it. Now, it’s second nature and I don’t even think about adjusting the seat the correct way. So, while I do wish the way this adjustment works was different, I’ve made my own adjustments and it’s all good now.
The Auto-Ratcheting Seat
I’ve already covered my disdain for pop-pins. So it was nice to find out that to adjust the seat upward, you don’t need to use one. The only time you need to pull the pop-pin on the seat is to lower it. This works really smoothly and really well when adjusting the seat.
If you never store your bench vertically, this remains a really nice feature.
If you store your bench vertically, this feature may cause an issue. As you lift the end of the bench up to store it, if you move anything more than slowly, the momentum of lifting the end of the bench allows the seat to fall forward all the way.
Because of the weight of the seat (remember, everything on this bench is heavy and overbuilt), that can cause a couple of problems. One is pinched fingers if you panic and try to grab it wrong (I definitely haven’t done that more than once 🤦🏼). The other is the loud clang as the seat rams into its endpoint and tries to tip the bench over.
I don’t normally store my bench upright, but I’m currently testing 3 benches side by side and I need to store them upright. If you plan to store yours upright, be aware of this issue. It’s not a huge deal, but every time it happens I look for a way to keep that seat secure (there isn’t one built-in).
The Pad And Seat Material Is A Dirt Magnet
I don’t know that anything can be done to improve this, but the anal-retentive person that lives inside me wishes there was.
Simply put, this is one of the grippiest pad materials I’ve seen on a bench. That grippiness not only holds your back in place during the bench press, but it also holds every single spec of dirt and dust in my garage firmly to its surface.
Normally, I use a towel to wipe down my gear after training. But a dry towel doesn’t work on this bench. You have to use something like a wet wipe or spray cleaner to really get the dirt and dust off (I really like Wipex fitness wipes for this).
Not a huge deal (and if you’ve seen my YT videos, you know I don’t always have the cleanest gym), but it is something I do wish was different.
Rep Fitness Blackwing vs. The Competition
There are some very good benches in the premium bench category. The competition is stiff when you get to these price points. But it’s pretty obvious that Rep looked at every serious competitor to the BlackWing and designed it to be better than all of them.
Here are the four main competing benches I compared the BlackWing to when writing this review. None of them are anything less than outstanding in many areas. This isn’t a “good vs. bad” comparison. It’s “really good vs. a little better” in almost every case.
The Rogue Manta Ray is the most obvious comparison to the BlackWing I can think of. If I’m being honest, I’d be shocked if Rep’s engineers didn’t have one on hand while designing the BlackWing. Until now, the Manta Ray was the premier player in the adjustable bench game.
And for almost $1200 fully kitted out, it should have been! Yeah, you read that right, $1195.00 when you add the foot catch so you can effectively use the decline function of the bench.
That makes the Manta Ray $500 more expensive than the BlackWing. And that would be fine if it was a better bench. But it’s not.
The Manta Ray is not a zero-gap bench. It gets closer than other benches, but it’s definitely not a zero-gap offering (the seat gap on the Manta is 1″). The adjustments are harder to use as well. Everything on the BlackWing works smoothly and cleanly. Not so much on the Rogue.
The Manta has no knurling, no stainless handles, and only a couple of aesthetic features like laser cutouts and branding. The Manta Ray is 9 lbs. heavier, but absolutely no more stable than the BlackWing, in my opinion.
The only two things I could see people saying is “better” about the Manta Ray is that it’s made in the US and it’s constructed from 7-gauge steel. 7-gauge looks good on a spec sheet but is completely unnecessary in real life.
That leaves the made in the US part, and that’s worth a lot to some people. But for me, it doesn’t trump the fact that the Rogue bench is inferior in every other way while costing $500 more.
If I’m missing something here, please let me know in the comments.
My best friend’s college roommate was a strength coach for 2 different Division 1 baseball teams. The weight rooms for both of those teams were 100% Elite FTS. That’s where I was first exposed to this bench.
The 0-90 dumbbell bench (Elite FTS doesn’t necessarily believe in adjustable benches for most barbell work) was the very first overbuilt commercial adjustable bench I’d ever trained on. And I really liked it. Still do.
There’s also something to be said about the simplicity of this bench. Honestly, you probably don’t need more than the 3 back pad adjustments this bench has. Elite FTS is great at making dead simple, reliable, and extremely well-made gear.
But even considering all that, there really is no comparison when you look closely. While build quality is comparable between the 0-90 and the BlackWing, the feature set of the Black Wing, along with the aesthetics, set it well above the Elite FTS bench in almost every other way.
Especially considering the fairly basic 0-90 sells for $1283.00!!!
In the world of professional weightlifting, Eleiko is a go-to brand. Everything they make is of the highest quality. The Eleiko adjustable weight bench is no different. It’s a quality bench that sells for $1340.
For over $600 more, it should be better than the BlackWing in every way. And yet it’s not.
The Eleiko weighs 40 lbs less and you can feel that difference in its stability. I’m also not a fan of the polyurethane seat material. It’s hard, uncomfortable, and doesn’t breathe. I’ve never left more sweat on a bench than when I used the Eleiko.
It’s got a fairly large seat gap and the pad itself is smaller than the Rep model. The seat and back also have a lot fewer adjustments.
I would take this bench in a heartbeat if someone gave it to me, but if I’m spending my own money (which I did on the BlackWing), I’m going with Rep all the way.
I wanted to include the Buzz-Saw for two reasons. First, I’ve used tit a fair number of times. Second, I wanted to show what other companies are able to offer at a similar price to the BlackWing since so far I’ve only compared it to much more expensive models.
My first impression of the Buzz-Saw was that it focused more on bells and whistles than on stability and quality construction. (To be transparent, I’ve only used the V1 of this bench and they have since released a V2)
There are no wheels and no captured adjustment ladder. The finish is spotty (as it is with every single Bells of Steel product I’ve tried) and the welds remind me of Titan Fitness (IYKYK).
I think the biggest issue that sets Rep apart from a company like Bells of Steel is that Rep’s engineers are out to develop unique products that serve lifters well. That’s because they all lift themselves. Bells of Steel (also a lot like Titan) has made a name copying what other companies are doing.
So many of their products come across as less expensive knock-offs of other quality gear. They are after price point first and all else comes second. This bench is no exception.
Look, I really like some BOS products. Sometimes, a less expensive knock-off is just what you need.
But sometimes, you can spend just a tiny bit more money and get a vastly better product. This is one of those times.
Alternatives To The Rep Fitness BlackWing
Normally, in this part of my gear reviews, I recommend a step-up option. Something that costs a bit more, but may be worth the price difference. I can’t do that in this review. Even benches that are almost twice as expensive are not as good as the BlackWing.
So instead, I’ll list out a couple of less expensive alternatives that are still excellent benches but may be missing a few features you don’t actually need.
The Rep AB-5200v2 is an excellent alternative to the BlackWing and will come in at a couple of hundred dollars less if you factor in the leg roller price on the BlackWing. You are giving up the ability to decline, but as I cover in this article, decline on a bench is often very overrated.
*technically you can get a declining post for the 5200v2, but without leg rollers, it’s not very useful.
If you need to spend less than that, I highly recommend going with a flat bench. Low-priced adjustable benches are pretty much terrible across the board. You are much better off with a well-made flat bench than a cheapo adjustable one that isn’t stable or safe.
Of all of the gym gear that Rep Fitness makes, their benches have always been and still are, their forte. They made their reputation on their benches and with good reason.
The BlackWing represents the culmination of everything Rep Fitness knows about making weight benches. It’s truly the best weight bench on the market at any price.
Now that you know that, you should probably head over to Rep and order yours now.😉
Why did you say that 7-gauge steel, as used on the Rogue Manta Ray, isn’t a benefit?
If you were building a base to stack cars on top of, it might matter. But the simple fact is that even the strongest 350lb lifter trying to PR a deadlift wouldn’t come anywhere close to stressing 11-gauge steel.
Using 7-gauge looks cool on paper and in real life. But that’s where the benefit ends. It’s overkill for the sake of overkill, not a functional benefit of any kind.
Is the wide back pad worth the upgrade?
For me, it’s not. At 53 years old, my bench press PR days are far behind me. If I was still trying to push weight like I did when I was in my 20s, I’d opt for the wider back pad.
Where it might come into play is using the bench as a Nordic curl bench. I do feel just a bit cramped on the narrow back pad and the extra 1.8 inches you get with the wide pad may make that better for me.
So, I guess the answer is “it depends”. If you are benching very heavy or using the Nordic curl function, you may want to opt for the wider pad.
How does the powder coat hold up?
I’ve been using Rep benches for years now and have never had any issues with their finish. I always opt for metallic black (because black is the best color!) and have been pleased with the finish every time.
Rep Fitness BlackWing adjustable weight bench
Rep's new flagship adjustable bench was built to compete with top of the line benches that cost almost twice as much. Not only does it compete, but it's better in most ways.
- zero gap seat
- grippy pad material
- 6 available finishes
- 11-gauge steel
- Easy to adjust
- zerogap adjustments take some getting used to