Up until this year neither of us had ever benched on a competition style bench. All of my benching was either on narrow crappy health club benches or more commonly off a flat bench inside a squat rack. This is what I started with t my department’s gym. Then off a cheap flimsy $20 Walmart bench off a used Powertec rack. That thing wobbled like crazy and it was a good thing I couldn’t bench much past 250 lbs back then. We upgraded to a Rogue flat bench and then a R6 rack. This was more stable, but was inconsistent where to place the bench in the rack for repeatable set up. The more I trained, and the more I practiced my cueing, the more having an exact set up each time became important to me. The Rogue bench also is fairly narrow and still has some play in it on our garage floor. Another thing that came up in training is that if one person was squatting and the other was benching it was a tight fit, and sometimes not possible for us both to work at the same time if say someone was using the box squat or we both wanted to use bands.
Enter getting invited to train at Kabuki Strength Lab with Chris Duffin this summer. We got the fanatic opportunity to train with the guys down there for three days and drool over the Lab (gym). Of course the mono lifts, bars, strongman gear, etc were awesome, but working on a solid competition bench was the thing we were surprised the most about making a difference for both of us. Literally that night in our hotel room we researched and made the decision to buy a dedicated bench for our garage gym.
The requirements we had in a bench were as follows: we wanted it to be solid and heavy duty, it had to have a built in spotter system for benching alone, needed to be able to use band pegs, have a spotter deck and we wanted a Thompson Fat Pad (see below for more).
The Rogue Westside bench was the only bench we found that fit those requirements within our budget. Elite FTS has some really cool looking benches, but the ones that had all of those features, especially spotter arms and the ability to use bands all got up over $1000 (many over $2k and no Fat Pad). Some of the semi custom smaller welding shops I’ve bought other gear from had bench options around the $600-900 range, but they din’t include at least one of the features I wanted. Another advantage to the Westside was the compatibility with our existing Rogue products with the same J hooks and band pegs.
The Fat Pad was a feature we really wanted in our bench. We fell in love with Fat Bells from Rogue. We are both really active on Instagram (@BrooksLaughlinFit and @AmandaLaughlinFit) and tagged Donnie Thompson in our posts. Donnie started DMing us back and he has been a great wealth of information on his products, such as the Fat Pad, and body tempering.
In talking to Donnie and watching his videos on the benefits of the Fat Pad it became a priority to have on the bench for us too. Both of us have had minor shoulder issues, so that is one area we are super cautious about. So the fact that the Fat Pad offers extra support, better scapular movement and better lat engagement appealed to us. Now that we have one, I hate benching without one, like when I use the flat bench for dumbbell work. I feel more rooted to the pad and both my lats and shoulders feel absolutely rooted to the bench.
According to Donnie these are the benefits:
Benefits of the additional thickness and width:
- Scapular movement is uninhibited and eliminates AC tears
- Very little to NO Translational loading
- Common Pec Tweaks are a thing of the past!
- Angry Humeral wear on the bicep tendon and soft tissue GONE!
- Promote Scapular movement
- Eliminate Shoulder Hangover
- Optimizes Back and Upper body Positioning
- Increases mechanic leverages
Base Price: $725
+Spotter Decks: $70
+Thompson Fat Pad upgrade: $50
Total Cost $845 plus shipping (We ordered a bunch of other stuff, but freight was around $250). We paid full price for this and have no affiliation with Rogue or financial affiliation with Donnie Thompson.
Assembly was a bit of a hassle with this, especially compared to the other Rogue items we already had (R6, GHD). Now all of them included crappy instructions but you could pretty much figure out how to bolt it together by looking at the pieces. With the Westside bench if you don’t measure the front crossmember compared to the rear crossmember the pad will not mount. These two pieces are not matched, so you can’t just use the same holes. The first time we put it together the pieces were not even. The second time the Fat Pad was not aligned so we had to move the rear crossmember a second time. A detailed diagram and better written instructions from Rogue would have avoided this. The assembly still only took about an hour total, but would have been closer to 30 minutes (and pissed me off less) had they had even halfway decent instructions).
Specifications (from Rogue)
- Made in the USA
- 2×3” 11-gauge Steel Uprights with Westside hole spacing
- Total Height: 54-5/8”
- Bench Height: 17.5” (adjustable up and down by 1″ increments)
- Weight Capacity: 1,000+ LBS
- Your choice of either a 12″ wide standard bench pad or a 14.5″ wide Thompson Fat Pad (at additional cost)
- Bolt-Together Design with 5/8” Hardware
- 7-Gauge Reinforced Steel Spine Under Pad
- Laser-Cut Rogue Side Panels
- Infinity J-Cups with UHMW inserts to protect the bar knurl
- 24” Pin/Pipe Safety Set
- 4 Adjustable Band Pegs
- Optional Spotter Decks (at additional cost)
- Color: Black
The bench is solid and has zero quality control issues. It assembled flat and level. No bolts have come loose after three months of use. I am not a heavy bencher, so it hasn’t seen much over 300 lbs, but it doesn’t even budge when I have it loaded with chains.
If you are looking for competition style bench that allows you to bench solo (safely) and use band pegs, this is a fantastic option. If you have no interest in band pegs and always have a lifting partner, some cheaper options from Elite FTS, or Beast Metals, etc might be a more economical option. However I am a “buy once, cry once” kind of person and would want to have these features as options to use if I ever needed them in the future. Regardless of what bench you get I highly recommend the Fad Pad be purchased with it or added, it is by far my favorite feature on this bench.
Overall this bench fit all the reasons we wanted in it. My set up, especially consistency, has improved significantly. Before I had to think about getting into position and do a bunch of “pre flight” checks prior to starting the lift. Now I feel my set up is reaching the unconscious competence level where I do not even have to think about the set up part of the lift.
Check out and subscribe to our YouTube channel for a soon to be uploaded video walk through and review of this bench and many other pieces of gym equipment, including the eccentric hooks you see above.
For a full list of what’s in our garage gym click here.