An adjustable bench – one that you can move up and down to hit different angles – is a staple in a solid home gym. But exactly how you adjust those angles depends on the type of adjustment mechanism.
The two most common styles of adjustment mechanisms on adjustable benches are ladders and pop-pins. Here’s a quick look at the difference between them.
Ladder-Style Adjustment Bench
You can identify a ladder mechanism immediately by just looking at it – it looks like a ladder, with multiple grooves cut into the steel on the frame.
A ladder is incredibly fast, convenient, and simple to use, and it’s easy enough to adjust with just one hand, with barely any effort (although you may need to use both hands when moving to a lower setting). You can switch angles in seconds. Lift the back (or seat) pad up, move it to the desired angle, and voila, it typically falls right into place. Just make sure the horizontal bar is securely set in the ladder grooves before you put your bodyweight on it.
Some adjustable benches feature a “closed ladder system.” This design keeps the ladder securely in place when adjusting the bench and prevents you from lifting the ladder out when adjusting angles. It is also required for the vertical storage of a ladder-style bench.
Ladder-style adjustable benches: AB-4100, AB-3000, AB-3100, AB-5200.
Closed ladder designs: AB-4100, AB-5200.
Pop-Pin Adjustment Benches
A pin-style bench features a little knob-like pop-pin underneath the back (or seat) pad. These benches typically have a curved spine lined with holes corresponding to different degrees.
These benches are also easy to use, although they are not as quick and effortless as a ladder. Simply pull the pin out of its current hole, move the pad to the desired angle, and let go of the pop-pin so it locks into the new hole. The term “pop-pin” refers to the pin being spring-loaded. These can be a little finicky to pull out (they may require a little wiggling), but they do help assure the pin securely pops back into position.
Pop-pins also ensure the pad is locked in place both up and down, and they also allow you to vertically store the bench. The pop-pins are attached to the bench, so you don’t have to worry about losing them.