Six Best Exercises For Strength Using A Weight Bench

Weight benches are incredibly useful pieces of kit. It's no secret that you can use them to do a whole range of strengthening exercises. Whether you're at the gym or at home, they're an essential tool for working out.

Why use a weight bench?

The idea of the weight bench is that it supports you – and your weights – while you work out. Different weight benches have different maximum weight loads.

Some of them adjust, some of them are flat. All are designed and shaped to provide a durable base for you to work out on. Plus, they're wide enough to support your body but slimline enough so that you can get a full range of movement.

And unlike machines, weight benches allow you to use free weights so you can strengthen the whole of your muscles while moving naturally.

How to get stronger using a weight bench

We've spoken before about the benefits of using a weight bench. And although they're a common piece found down at the gym, many people rely on the machines to get their strengthening exercises done.

This is because they don't realise that they could be getting a fuller, more beneficial workout done by doing the same exercises, but on a weight bench. So, to help you get the most out of your workout, we've put together the six best strengthening exercises you can do on a weight bench:

1) Bench press

Bench presses are fantastic exercises. Not only do they target your chest area, but they also work several muscles at once. Ideal if you're short on time or just want to get the most out of your training.

By using a weight bench, you can plant your feet into the ground for maximum stability to take the heavy weight of a loaded barbell. It also allows you to arch your back, so that you can get full extension of your chest muscles. The classic bench press is done using a flat weight bench.

However, you can train at both an incline or a decline to emphasise both the upper and lower parts of your chest.

2) Skullcrushers

If you haven't seen them before, traditional skullcrushers are when you lie down on the weight bench with your knees bent and your feet flat (up on the bench, as if you were going to do a sit up).

Then, using either dumbbells, a barbell, an EZ curl bar or cables, you keep your arms perpendicular to the floor and your hands just over your forehead. With your elbows tucked in, push to raise your forearms so that they are at right angles to your biceps.

Then slowly move them back down. Ideal for working your triceps, there are a variety of skull crushers that you can do using a weight bench. And by putting the bench at different angles you target more specific areas of your triceps, making your workout a lot more controlled and beneficial.

3) Reverse flies

These are most commonly done using a machine. But by doing them on a weight bench, you can move more naturally and concentrate on using your back more.

Use an adjustable weight bench and put it at an incline position of around 45 degrees. You can then sit facing the bench and with dumbbells, perform reverse flies. For variation, you can do these with a flat weight bench lying down, or kneeling on the bench to isolate each side in turn.

4) Concentration curls

These are great for building up your biceps as well as controlling your movements. Bicep curls are notorious for bringing out bad form, rushed reps and improper technique.

Concentration curls allow you to isolate each arm while you curl, using your inner thigh as a support as well as a guide for the full movement. With your body supported while at a slight angle, you can get a fuller range of motion and really add on the weight as you curl.

5) Barbell hip lifts

When you do these on the floor, you're limited in how much you can raise your hips. That means it's tricky to get the most out of this fantastic exercise. Load up your posterior chain and train your lower back as well as your glutes and hamstrings by doing barbell hip lifts on a weight bench.

By placing your feet flat on the floor, the barbell across your hips and just your upper back on the weight bench, you have much more freedom to thrust upwards. The exercise is therefore more difficult and you engage your muscles much more.

6) Core exercises

When it comes to strengthening your core, weight benches are an essential piece of kit. And to be honest, we found it hard to choose just one core exercise. The solid, slim, raised platform allows you work your lower abs and your obliques – something which can be tricky when just using the floor.

Our favourite core exercises to do on a weight bench include:

  • Seated knee tucks – sit on the weight bench at a right angle to the seat and lean back with your legs off the floor. Bring your knees into your chest and repeat.
  • Leg raises – using a weight bench for leg raises means you can fully extend your core. This is because you can start with your legs at a lower position than when you're just doing them on the floor. This helps to emphasise the whole of your ab muscles so you can train the lower part of your stomach as well.
  • Russian twists – doing this classic core exercise on a weight bench is great for adding that extra level of intensity. Sit on the edge of the bench with your feet raised and as you twist, allow the weight to drop slightly lower than waist height, while maintaining your balance. The extra dip will really help work your obliques.

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