A weight bench is a versatile piece of training equipment that can allow you to get a great workout in without even having to move your location. If you’re travelling and making a visit to a non-EFM gym, you might find yourself in a crowded gym and find a weight bench as the only available piece of equipment.
Or, you might be working out at a hotel gym with limited equipment available. If this is the case, fear not! The full body workout that follows will allow you to hit every muscle group in your body without having to sit around and wait for equipment to free up.
Exercise # 1: Dumbbell Bench Press
You don’t need a bench press bench to get a great chest workout in. In fact, benching on a plain old flat weight bench without uprights is a far better option than jumping on the bench press bench. On the plain weight bench you’ll be using dumbbells. This will allow you to work each side of the body individually. You’ll also be able to get a far better stretch at the bottom of the movement and a corresponding superior contraction at the top than with a bar. In addition the dumbbells require far more balance and support than a straight bar, requiring you to recruit a lot of synergistic muscles to support the movement.
Here’s how to do the dumbbell bench press:
- Position the dumbbells at the foot of the bench and sit on the bench. Bend down to grab the dumbbells, lifting them up to rest on your knees. Roll back to a lying position, using momentum to kick the dumbbells into a fully extended position (arms locked) above your chest.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells out to the side and down until they are parallel with your shoulders.
- Pause and push the weight back up so that the dumbbells come together but do not quite touch.
Exercise # 2: Incline Rowing
Now that you’ve hammered your chest with a pressing movement, it’s time to hit the back with a great pulling exercise to thicken the lats. This movement will allow you to directly stimulate the latissimus dorsi and rhomboids without straining the lower back. Simply move the angle of the weight bench from flat to around 30 degrees. Now position your dumbbells (you should be able to use the same weight as on the previous exercise) at the end of the bench under the angled portion.
- Lie face down on the bench so that you are facing towards the dumbbells on the floor. If your weight bench has a pair of foot pads, hook your ankles under them for support.
- Reach down to grab the dumbbells at arms length. Hold the weights with an angled grip.
- Keeping your lower back flat against the bench, lift the weights as high as you can toward the bench. As you lift raise your chin up, keeping your elbows in at your sides.
- Pause at the top to feel the flex in your mid back before slowly lowering the weight to the start position.
Exercise # 3: Split Squat
You don’t need a squat rack to get an effective thigh session in. The split squat requires nothing but a pair of dumbbells and a weight bench. Here’s what you need to do:
- Stand three feet in front of the bench with a pair of dumbbells in your hands. You feet should be shoulder width apart.
- Place your right forefoot on the bench behind you. Take a second or two to establish your balance.
- Descend into a squat / lunge until your left thigh is parallel to the floor.
- Pause to feel the squeeze in your leading thigh and your rear hamstring and then raise to the start position.
- Complete your reps on one leg and then repeat with the other leg.
Exercise # 4: Seated Shoulder Press
The seated shoulder press is a foundational mass builder for the deltoids. You should do the exercise with your weight bench in a flat rather than at a 90 degree angle. When you are able to lean back on the bench, there is a tendency to push into the bench, which dissipates your force.
- Position the dumbbells at the foot of the bench and sit on the bench. Bend down to grab the dumbbells, lifting the weights up to rest on your knees.
- In a single move, swing the weights up to shoulder level, with palms facing forward.
- With your lower back slightly arched, press the weights overhead, so that they come together but do not touch at the top. You do not want to lock out at the top, as this will take the pressure off of your shoulders.
- Slowly lower the weights to shoulder level and repeat.
Exercise # 5: Skull Crusher
The Skullcrusher is a very effective triceps isolator that can be done on the flat weight bench. While doing this movement, it is vital that you focus on isolating the triceps as the only moving muscle group.
- Grab hold of a pair of dumbbells and lie down on the bench. Place your extended arms above you, straight up towards the ceiling. Your palms should be facing each other.
- Bending at the elbows, lower the weight slowly to your ears. Keep your elbows in as you lower the weight (imagine that you are holding a basketball between your elbows; if you let your elbows out, it will drop on your face!).
- Slowly and deliberately, raise the weights back to a fully extended position. Lower and repeat.
Exercise # 6: Alternating Incline Dumbbell Curl
The incline dumbbell curl is a great move to increase the bulk of your biceps. As with the previous exercise, however, it is vital that you keep your elbows in at your side in order to isolate the working muscle group.
- Set the angle of the bench to 30 degrees then lie on the bench with a dumbbell in each hand.
- Start with the weights hanging down at your sides, palms facing towards each other. Starting with your right arm, supinate the hand so that the palm is facing forward. Simultaneously curl the weight up toward your armpit. Keep your elbow in at your side as you do this.
- In the fully contracted position squeeze tightly. Then reverse the motion, simultaneously beginning the curl with the left hand.
There you have it. Six moves that will allow you to hit your entire body with nothing but a weight bench and some dumbbells. Follow this set / rep scheme to get the most out this program.
Amazing workout set for you:
- Dumbbell Bench Press
- 4 sets of 12/10/8/6
- Incline Rowing
- 4 sets of 12/10/8/6
- Split Squat
- 3 sets of 12-15 each leg
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press
- 3 sets of 12
- Skull Crusher
- 3 sets of 12
- Incline Dumbbell Curl
- 3 sets of 12/10/8
As you can see, the humble weight bench can provide a very thorough upper body workout so next time you’re looking for a fantastic upper body routine to help with strengthening and toning the upper body, head for the weight bench!
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