Benches are like Goldilocks and the three bears. Some are too hard. Some are too soft.
And some are justtttt right. That's how Sam Pizer describes REP’s new CleanGrip pads.
Pizer is on the engineering team at REP that came up with the CleanGrip bench pads, which are grippier yet easy to clean, and firmer yet more comfortable. That all might sound contradictory, but it’s not.
The trick for the former is fourfold: the material used, the specific design imprint on the vinyl, a proprietary treatment applied to the material, and a lack of perforations.
Like most of REP’s innovations, the inspiration behind the new bench pad came from customer feedback. People wanted an even grippier pad to help hold them in position when bench pressing, and they also wanted a material that was easy to clean.
The perforations in the previous pads helped prevent lifters from sliding, but they also tended to trap a little bit of debris, making them harder to wipe down and keep clean. But a coarse surface isn’t the only way to reduce slip on a surface. So, engineers went to work to enhance the material itself and the treatment of the material.
The new surface is so sticky and has such a strong resistance that it’ll hold onto and shred a paper towel, so you need to clean it with standard gym cleaner and a rag. Yet if you look closely, the pad itself is actually smoother, without the little holes that can collect chalk and dust.
The new (aptly named) CleanGrip pads are also different below the surface. The edges of the pad are reinforced, so the material stays taut and firm. No bunching or looseness, like the material around the corners of many other bench pads.
Furthermore, many bench pads trade comfort for firmness, or firmness for comfort (enter: the Goldilocks analogy). Firm benches tend to feel like you’re lying on a rock. Or you just sort of sink into the comfortable benches, which makes it impossible to keep your form tight.
The CleanGrip foam pad is super firm – so it’s more durable over time and won’t lose its shape – but it’s not miserable to lie on.
“We looked at the different pads we’ve made and pulled the best features of each to make the perfect bench pad,” Pizer says. “The magic is where it’s supportive but still comfortable – between a La-Z-Boy and a park bench.”
How does Pizer know the pads hit that magic spot? He and REP’s team use the equipment themselves. And they run products through REP’s consumer testing group for feedback.
“Ultimately, this comes from lifters, for lifters,” Pizer says.
REP plans to integrate the new pads for future benches and wide pads, so expect to get very familiar with this new material. You’ll be glad you did.
Did you know?
The exact thickness of a bench pad depends on the bench type and style. REP aims to keep all its benches within IPF specs for height, and to accomplish that requires varying degrees of thickness. A flat bench typically has a thicker pad, whereas an adjustable bench usually has a thinner pad to reduce the gap between the seat and back pads. So, depending on the bench’s function and characteristics, engineers use different formulations for the foam.