Whether it’s at the gym or for when you’re working out at home, there is no more quintessential piece of exercise equipment than the humble weight bench. The bench can easily be considered of the essential pieces of equipment you need to get started in your home gym setup, and therefore certainly a worthy investment.
The ways in which an adjustable bench can elevate your exercise routines are numerous, allowing you to take dumbbell routines and resistance training to the next level or simply giving you a raised platform for your body weight exercises.
However you choose to use the bench, here are some exercises to get you started – all of which either rely on or are improved with the addition of a bench.
1. Dumbbell Row
A very simple one to begin, the dumbbell row is the perfect partner for your brand new bench. The dumbbell row is an excellent workout for your upper body which targets your back, triceps and activates much of the rest of your chest in the process. It’s an fantastic way to target muscles in the back without the need for complicated equipment.
As with all exercises, maintaining proper form is vital to getting the most out of it and avoiding injury. It’s important to continuously learn and maintain proper form in order to generate good habits in your workout, not allowing yourself to drop your guard and slip into lazier and less effective technique.
2. Leg Lowers
Leg lowers are an excellent core exercise which are made all the better by coupling them with a bench. Doing this exercise on a bench can allow you to ground yourself better through each rep by gripping onto the bench’s edge through the movement. Be careful not to raise your legs any higher than a ninety degree angle and, as with all exercises, to take your reps slowly. The slower you take each of your reps, the harder it is, and the more your muscles will be working.
There are many other great exercises for your core including different types of crunches and planks which can all be modified with the addition of the bench.
3. Concentration Curls
As with the tried and true bicep curl, the concentration curl is great for targeting those biceps directly and helping you to build those arms. However, in comparison, the concentration curl is a far more holistic exercise which targets much more of those biceps. Being in a seated position, the leg is able to anchor the arm during a concentration curl, allowing for your biceps to receive more tension during each rep. In fact, concentration curls are the absolute best exercise to target the biceps specifically, and they can only be done in a seated position, which is where the bench comes into the equation.
However, if it’s your preference and you’re going into it with proper knowledge of technique, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using the bench for a classic bicep curl instead. Every exercise you choose is always foremost about your own comfort.
4. Tricep Dips
Not everything the bench is useful for needs to be complemented with the addition of free weights. Triceps are muscles used constantly in the day to day but often neglected in the gym. Whenever you’re pushing, you’re using your triceps – this includes pushing open doors or rolling the shopping trolley along. If you’re building up your biceps then you’ll need to be working on those triceps, too.
The tricep dip is an excellent exercise as it not only activates and targets the triceps but it also engages the core. Be sure to keep your back straight during each rep and avoid ever locking your elbows or hunching your shoulders.
5. Shoulder Press
Whilst shoulder presses can be performed either while sitting or standing, the seated version is better at isolating the deltoids and building muscle. As your back is being supported by the back of the bench, the muscles which would otherwise be being used to stabilise your back can instead engage with the exercise. You can either use a barbell or a pair of dumbbells – the better option may simply come down to whichever one you are more comfortable using. If you don’t have access to a rack, your best option is most likely dumbbells.
Once again, ensure that you take each rep slowly and maintain proper form to avoid injury or strain – and be respectful by not dropping your weights following your set.
By focusing the exercises you choose to do around a bench, you’re allowing your muscles a freer range of motion (and therefore control) than what is provided by machines whilst also expanding your horizons beyond what can be achieved with free weights alone. The weight bench is sure to become the focal point of your workout, as it you continue to discover its versatility and the myriad ways in which it can enhance and expand your fitness routine.