What’s the Difference Between a Ladder-Style and Pop-Pin Bench?

Man adjusting a ladder-style adjustable bench

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 Benches

Ladder-style adjustable 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.

Closed ladder adjustable bench

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, AB-5200 2.0

Pop-Pin Adjustment Benches

Pop-pin adjustable bench

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-pin adjustable bench

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.

Look for high-quality pop-pins made from anodized aluminum and benches that feature a bearing system, which makes the adjustments smooth and secure.

Pin-style adjustable benches: AB-5100

Other Adjustment Benches

On REP's newest benches, you may also find another option: a ratchet-style pop-pin adjustment system. 

This patent-pending seat design is new to the US, and it makes it easier to adjust your seat angle – and simultaneously more secure. Simply lift the seat pad to adjust it upward; the pin is angled in a way that you don’t have to pull the pin out to raise it (ladder style). To move the seat down, pull out the pop-pin and lower. It combines the ease of a ladder adjustment system with the security of a pop-pin. 

Hybrid adjustable benches: The BlackWing™ bench.