Every home gym needs a weight bench. Strength training is one of the most common types of training done by fitness enthusiasts. Building muscle burns fat and has transformative effects on the physique. In order to target specific muscle groups and perform certain lifts like the bench press and dumbbell flys, a bench is needed. A weight bench is a main component of any weight lifting set. It is a 3 foot long board that a lifter lays or sits on in order to perform various weight lifting exercises. The exercises done on a weight bench often involve a barbell or a set of dumbbells. Its primary purpose is to make lifting free weights safer and offer support for the lifter in order to encourage proper form and technique.
Weight benches come in many forms. The ones present in home gyms are usually more basic. A basic bench is sturdy and offers the support needed when lifting heavy. The construction of a weight bench includes a strong metal base and an upholstered bench. Many models can be adjusted to incline, decline and lay parallel to the floor. Although true, weight benches are also available in a fixed position. The fixed positions available are fixed horizontal, incline and decline while other weight benches have only one adjustable portion. Those wanting a weight bench in their home gym have many options to choose from. The bench can be purchased alone but are also available with other workout equipment attached like bench extensions, leg curl attachment and a barbell stand. Many weight benches equipped with a barbell stand even have a safety feature to eliminate the need for a spotter.
Obviously there are several options to choose from but there are four basic types of benches. The four main types are the flat bench, adjustable bench, multipurpose bench and the ab bench. A flat bench is the most basic weight bench. It is best used for the bench press, curls and dips. Adjustable benches can incline and/or decline while multipurpose benches are adjustable and come equipped for a vast number of attachments. Lastly, abdominal weight benches are designed to support ab specific lifts and feature foot rollers. No matter what type of weight bench is chosen, always select one made with high quality materials. A bench will change the way you lift at home and help build muscle by targeting major muscle groups to maximize gains.
Types of Weight Benches
There are a variety of weight benches on the market. Manufacturers are always coming up with something new, tweaking basic designs and improving users’ workout experience in the process. There are many weight benches to choose from but all of them are one of the four basic types. These types include flat weight benches, adjustable benches, multi-purpose weight benches and abdominal weight benches. Each of the four types have their advantages, add variety to one’s workout routine, are convenient and really easy to use. Continue below to learn more about weight benches and what they can do for you.
Flat Weight Bench
The flat weight bench is the most common type of weight bench. Users have the option to sit upright on the bench or lie down to perform various lifts using a barbell, dumbbell(s) or kettlebell(s). Although common, flat weight benches are quite limited. They do not allot any room for attachments but some lifters do not have a need for the additional option. Flat benches may not provide many options to users but they are well built and comfortable thanks to the use of sturdy and very durable materials.
Adjustable Weight Bench
Adjustable weight benches provide users with more options. They are able to lie flat, incline and some even decline which means muscle groups are targeted more effectively. There are many adjustable benches on the market but all of them allow users to create various positions to suit exercises in their workout plan. Some even have incline degrees that correspond to particular exercises. Adjustable benches come in numerous styles and variations and several come with an attachment or two. This may include but is not limited to preacher curl or leg lift attachments.
Multi-Purpose Weight Bench
Multi-purpose weight benches are designed to accommodate a number of attachments to provide workout variety. Their design also offers convenience. The variety this type of weight bench delivers directly translates to full body training since multi-purpose benches are able to support a full body strength training routine. Users can easily target and/or isolate a specific muscle group ranging from the upper arms to the legs. Multi-purpose benches lie flat, incline and in some cases, decline. This is very convenient for users since they can use one bench during training instead of having to switch between different benches to perform various workouts in their routine.
Abdominal Weight Bench
As you may have guessed, abdominal weight benches are all about training the abdominal muscles. They are able to support a number of abdominal exercises including hip and leg raises. Abdominal weight benches can support such moves due to their design and the presence of often padded foot rollers at the end of the bench. This type of weight bench is available in flat and adjustable designs, are quite sturdy and are able to provide users with a very comfortable workout experience. As a plus, they improve efficiency by providing the body with the support needed to properly perform exercises.
How to Use a Weight Bench
As you know, a weight bench has one purpose and that is lifting. It shouldn’t be used for steps up or any other activity besides lifting. It can tip over, you can injure yourself and there is really no reason to use the bench for anything other than its sole purpose. Even though it shouldn’t be used for anything else, there are so many exercises suited for a weight bench. The only thing you need to know is how to use the bench properly to increase efficiency. Here’s how to correctly use a weight bench.
Adjust, Adjust, Adjust
If you have a flat bench, you do not have to worry about adjusting the angle of the bench since flat weight benches do not have the option. For the other types of weight benches (adjustable, multi-purpose and abdominal) you always want to experiment with the angles prior to starting your workout. Depending on the exercise you would like to perform you either want to incline or decline the bench. Please note that incline will target the upper chest (or other area of the body) while decline focuses on the lower. Make your adjustments, do a trial set and adjust again if needed.
Keep Your Feet Flat
During almost every lift, well every lift that engages the upper body, always keep your feet flat on either the floor or the bench. You never want to have your feet in the air because it compromises stability. Lifting requires as much stability as possible. Controlling the weight is completely up to your muscles and doing that without anchoring the body first is tough. Having your feet firmly planted is also more comfortable. If using an abdominal weight bench or a lower body attachment that may require users to elevate their feet, stabilize with your core.
Always Use the Bench for Support
Now it is time to actually lift something. No matter what lift you are performing, use the weight bench for support. The body must sit snugly against the bench. This will encourage better form and prevent you from arching your back in an attempt to gain momentum to perform a lift. From there you can proceed with the selected exercise making sure to maintain proper form. During the concentric phase of the lift use the bench to support the body as you use your muscles to complete this phase and slowly transition into the eccentric or lowering phase of the lift to activate more muscle fibers and repeat until your set is complete.
Using any type of weight bench is a cinch. The key to correct use is using the bench as intended. It is there for support, stability and comfort in addition to promoting good form and technique. All you have to do is adjust it, keep your feet flat and use the bench to support your body during every lift. In addition to what was just mentioned, remember to always give the bench a once over before use to make sure nothing is loose or out of place.
Benefits of a Weight Bench
You can do a lot with a weight bench. Users can strengthen the arms, build the chest, work those hard to reach back muscles, get super strong abdominals, well developed legs and more. Better yet, benches are a great way to add variety to your weight training routine. Isolations promote progress. Aside from getting you closer to your goals, weight benches are available at a variety of price points and come in many styles meaning it’s quite easy to find one that suits your needs as well as your budget. The above are all reasons to run out and buy a weight bench but let’s go over some of the other benefits.
Ease of Use
There is nothing difficult about using a weight bench. Anyone at any fitness level can use one. The lifter just adjusts and sits/lies down on the bench while keeping their feet flat and uses the bench to support the body during each lift. It is that simple.
It Supports Heavy Lifts
A weight bench is able to support light to heavy lifts with ease. With heavy lifts the lifter needs balance and stability which is exactly what weight benches provide. They will not buckle or tip under the pressure which allows you to focus solely on the lift.
Weight benches, more specifically adjustable, multi-purpose and abdominal weight benches help lifters confuse muscles by targeting them at a variety of angles. To create microscopic tears in the muscle fibers and continually encourage the muscles to become bigger, stronger and more resilient, you have to change up your routine. Working muscles the same way training session after training session will cause you to plateau since the body adjusts to a routine after about 2 weeks. Experimenting with incline or decline provides that much needed confusion and makes it easy to change up your routine.
Helps Target Those Hard to Reach Muscles
Performing lifts in a seated, reclined or completely horizontal position targets those hard to reach muscles since either the upper, middle or lower portion of the body is isolated. When a lift relies solely on the upper body and cannot depend on the lower body to bear some of the weight (or vice versa), more muscle fibers in the target area are activated with every repetition.
Encourages Proper Form and Technique
Using a weight bench encourages proper form and technique by taking care of the basic principles of proper lifting. Positioning the body snugly against the bench keeps the back straight and the spine in a neutral position and also prevents users from arching their back (arching can result in back pain, strain or injury). Weight benches even teach users how to fully engage the muscles being targeted and how to follow through on the entire concentric and eccentric phase of each lift.
A weight bench, no matter what type, is very compact. This piece of equipment can add so much variety to your routine without taking up space. Many even fold for easy storage. The best part is, several benches have a rack for dumbbell storage.
Tips for Buying a Weight Bench
Consider Your Current and Future Goals
Before buying a weight bench, take a moment to consider both your current and future goals. There is no point buying a basic flat bench if you see your routine evolving in a few months or so. Really think about what you want from your weight training program.
Decide on A Type
After you have taken the time to consider your goals, decide on the type of weight bench you want. Remember that the four main types are flat weight benches, adjustable benches, multi-purpose and abdominal benches. Flat benches are basic but more than capable of suiting one’s weight training needs while adjustable and multi-purpose ones offer incline options as well as attachments and abdominal benches do a great job at targeting the abs. Along with deciding on a type, think about whether you want one that folds for convenient storage.
A simple online search can show you all of the choices available and help you make a decision. Once there are a few benches you are interested in, you can research further by checking out customer reviews, reading full descriptions of several benches, learning more about the manufacturer and comparing the prices of different benches from various retailers.
Check for a Strong, Sturdy Foundation
At this point you probably have a handful of weight benches you’re thinking about buying. The best way to finalize your decision is making sure it has all the must haves like a strong, sturdy foundation. A weight bench lacking this is utterly useless and using one of such poor quality can result in an injury.
Consider Your Comfort
In addition to a strong, sturdy foundation put comfort into consideration. The weight bench you decide to buy should be firm yet comfortable. Look for benches with adequate, high quality padding that won’t flatten considerably with heavy use.
Try It Out
You can try out a weight bench or any other piece of gym equipment at most retailers and specialty fitness stores. Go in, give them a try and check for the must haves mentioned above including stability and, of course, a comfortable seat. When trying out the weight bench, make sure to use it as you would at home. Wear comfortable clothes on your trip to the store so you can do a few test lifts.
Complete the Purchase
Once you have decided on a weight bench, complete your purchase. Weight benches can be purchased online, at a trusted retailer or a specialty fitness store. When it comes to weight benches, one high quality bench isn’t better than the other. They are lightweight, assembly is pretty straightforward and all require very little if any maintenance.
Weight Bench Workouts
Weight bench workouts are awesome. They’re intense and using a bench is a very effective way to weight train. Aside from getting a weight bench, all you have to do is select the right amount of weight to lift. Whether you are using a barbell, dumbbell(s) or kettlebell(s), a trial and error period is required. This period is intended to help you select a weight that is challenging but manageable. Once you have found that weight, try the workouts below.
The Upper Body Builder
This workout is sure to kill the upper body resulting in bigger, stronger muscles. It is definitely a challenge but you are going to love it, especially when you start seeing progress. This workout targets the triceps, biceps, forearms, the chest, shoulders and upper back.
You will need:
- Flat weight bench
- Set of dumbbells
* A 5-10 minute warm up and cool down period is recommended. Don’t forget to stretch after your warmup to get those muscles nice and pliable.
Dumbbell bench press – 5 sets of 5-7 reps with 30 second rests between sets
Rest – 30 seconds
Kneeling one arm row – 3 sets of 10 reps per side with 30 second rests between sets
Rest – 1 minute
Lying flies – 5 sets of 10 reps with 30 second rests between sets
Rest – 1 minute
Lying tricep extensions – 5 sets of 5 reps with 30 second rests between sets
Rest – 30 seconds
Tricep kickbacks – 5 sets of 5 reps with 30 second rests between sets
The Six Pack Session
You will need:
- Abdominal bench
Warm up and stretch – 10 minutes
Leg raises – 5 sets of 10 reps with 30 second rests between sets
Sit ups – 3 sets of 5-7 reps with 30 second rests between sets
Rest – 1 minute
Crunches (doing them on a declined weight bench is much more effective than the traditional crunch) – 3 sets of 10 reps with 30 second rests between sets
Hip Raises – 5 sets of 8-10 reps with 30 second rests between sets
Cool down – 5 minutes
The Full Body Bout
The full body bout will get your entire body in shape. This workout focuses on the arms, chest, legs and abs.
You will need:
- 1 multi-purpose bench with preacher curl and leg roller attachments
- Set of dumbbells or a barbell and spotter
Preacher curls – 3 sets of 5 reps with 30 second rests between sets
75-degree incline dumbbell/ barbell press – 5 sets of 5-7 reps with 30 second rests between sets
Rest – 1 minute
Lying hamstring curls – 3 sets of 8-10 reps with 30 second rests between sets
Lying leg raises (bench should be flat) – 5 sets of 10 reps with 30 second rests between sets
Leg extensions – 5 sets of 10 reps with 30 second rests between sets
Crunches – 3 sets of 10 reps with 30 second rests between sets
Hip raises – 5 sets of 10 reps with 30 second rests between sets
Rest – 1 minute
Dumbbell bench press – 3 sets of 10 reps with 30 second rests between sets