A bench is only as good as its pad. You can’t be out there benching on the frame.
Whether you want a flat bench or an adjustable one (or both), there are several different types of pads to choose between.
First, there are two main types of bench pad material. The standard grippy vinyl is the most common covering you’ll see on benches, especially the older models.
Then there’s the CleanGrip material, a newer, grippier, denser option.
You’ll find CleanGrip pads available for many of the newer benches, as well as CleanGrip upgrade options for some of the others. You can also find CleanGrip pads that are wider than normal, which brings us to the second type of pads.
You can also find bench pads in different widths: standard and wide.
The height and length are about same, depending on the specific bench. And they come in the same color and design. Some wide pads come in both wide and standard sizes, depending on the bench. Some benches let you choose a wide or standard pad from the get-go when you order your bench, whereas others automatically come with the standard pad but have the option to purchase an additional wide pad. Wide pads are made for various flat and adjustable benches, but not all of them.
Bottom line: The specific options really depend on each individual bench.
Standard Pads vs. Wide Pads
Here’s a closer look at how standard and wide pads compare.
Size: 11-12" wide
- Standard pads fall within the International Powerlifting Association’s competition standards. According to the IPF Rule Book a bench must fall within 29-32cm, or about 11.4-12.6” wide.
- Smaller lifters can get a full range of motion on a standard pad, whereas that may be limited on a wider pad.
- Standard pads tend to start at a lower price point.
A standard pad provides less shoulder support for people with shoulder restrictions, mobility issues, or a wide frame.
Size: About 14” wide
- A wide pad is ideal for larger lifters with broad shoulders. A standard pad may be too narrow and not as comfortable.
- People who want more shoulder support or have shoulder restrictions can benefit from a wider pad.
- A wide pad can also simulate a floor press, without having to go on the floor.
- A wide pad can help lifters attain better shoulder and back positioning by preventing the shoulders from hanging off the edges.
- Wider pads can also help reduce the risk of a shoulder injuries, due to the leverages.
- Wide pads don’t comply with IPF width guidelines, so competitive lifters who want to train optimally for a meet may be surprised if they practice on a wide pad but step onto the platform to find a different-sized bench.
- A wide pad is typically more expensive than a standard pad, if you’re on a tight budget.