You can build muscle with a variety of gym equipment. Perhaps the most popular machine to help you build muscles in the upper body is the bench press. Many bodybuilding enthusiasts use bench presses to improve the tone of their muscles.
But does Planet Fitness have a bench press?
Well, the short answer is no, they don’t. But they provide bench press-like machines known as “Smith machines” rather than typical bench presses.
In this article, we’ll look at why Planet Fitness chose to go the Smith machine route.
Regular Bench Press vs Smith Machine
Those who want to lift heavier weights will definitely be looking for a bench press. This is a machine that allows the user to lift weights while lying down on a bench with their feet on the floor.
Working out with this machine will target the upper body such as the arms, pecs, and chest.
Most gyms have a regular bench press. But there are also some, like Planet Fitness, that have the Smith machine bench press.
With a regular bench press, the weights are free and can be moved in any direction. However, with a Smith machine bench press, the barbell is fixed. It is only allowed to move up and down in a straight line and is attached completely to the frame of the machine.
Usually, these bars weigh about 20 lbs.
This is considered safer, as there’s no need for a spotter on a Smith machine.
However, many gym rats don’t consider Smith machines to be as good as a traditional bench, and traditional bench presses are among the banned exercises at PF.
Why Doesn’t Planet Fitness Have A Bench Press?
Planet Fitness offers a variety of gym equipment for its members including free weights, treadmills, ellipticals, rowing machines, etc. They have various machines that can be used for the arms, core, legs, stretching, and weights.
For heavier weights, they have the Smith machine as a bench press substitute.
Does Planet Fitness only have Smith Machines? Yes, essentially all PF locations only use Smith machines and no longer offer bench presses or squat racks.
Instead of having a regular bench press, they chose to have a Smith machine replace the bench press for a variety of reasons.
If you are struggling to lift the weight in a Smith machine, you can simply slide the barbell into the hooks to give yourself a rest and lock the bar in place. This prevents you from accidentally harming yourself.
No Need for a Spotter or Partner
Additionally, with a regular bench press, you absolutely need a spotter to come to the rescue in case you can’t carry the weight. A spotter plays a very important role when you are attempting to carry a weight that you are unsure of.
With the Smith machine, you can lift weights without having the need for a spotter or a partner. They’re also very flexible and can be used in a variety of ways, including as a substitute for a squat rack.
Ease of Use
Not all people who go to the gym are also knowledgeable about the different equipment. Many gym equipment could be dangerous if it is not used properly. This is especially true with beginners.
As Planet Fitness’ offerings are definitely targeted at casual gym members, not to gym rats looking for a complete gym with a pool, sauna, etc.
Although there are trainers at Planet Fitness, they may not be able to see and assist all the members at the same time. Also, some members don’t really ask fitness trainers about how machines work.
Injuries can better be avoided with the Smith machine bench press than the regular bench press.
By improving safety, Planet Fitness will also be able to avoid hefty liability insurance as they also prevent injuries from happening.
The spotters, of course, may also push the lifters into giving it their best by
yelling at encouraging them, cheering “one more rep”! Additionally, Planet Fitness doesn’t allow those that slam weights or lifts loudly.
When that happens, the “lunk alarm” will go off.
Not all people are comfortable with the loudness of some muscle builders. Planet Fitness aims to provide a gym for those who want to work out in peace and quiet. That’s why they avoid equipment like punching bags, and why they have the lunk alarm.
Some people may feel intimidated if they hear or see such noises while lifting weights or doing workouts.
Planet Fitness aims to provide a gym for people who can’t stand the noise or those who get intimidated working out in other regular gyms like Crossfit gyms.
However, this doesn’t mean that serious bodybuilders may not benefit from working out at Planet Fitness. They still have a great selection of gym equipment that you can use to build and tone your muscles. You just have to know how to work out various areas of your body and make use of the various gym equipment available.
Bench presses are great for those who want to work out their upper body. While many who consider themselves elite gym-goers frown on them due to their limitations, the Smith Machine does a lot of what a standard bench press does.
Planet Fitness chose this kind of bench press for a few reasons such as for improved safety of users and for more beginner-friendly gym equipment. It fits into their Judgement-Free Zone ethos.