When it comes to weight bench exercises, the bench press may be king.
But there are plenty of other exercises you can do with this piece of equipment.
And you build muscle or burn fat without having to leave your home gym.
Here are some of the best weight bench exercises and how to do them properly.
A weight bench is a great tool to have in your home gym, especially if you’re starting out with weight training and want to get a comprehensive look at what different types of moves are available.
You can perform most of your standard barbell exercises, as well as supplementary lifts for developing muscle groups that you may not focus on during free-weight work.
It also gives you a place to put weights that aren’t attached to a bar; dumbbells can roll off or be hard to hold steady.
Plus, it lets you do sit-ups or crunches off something sturdy instead of just bending over or holding yourself up against something in your house—you know, like when we all did crunches holding onto our bedposts back in middle school.
While both forms of bench presses are effective, there are also some differences between them.
For example, incline benches place a greater emphasis on your upper pecs and front delts, while straight benches activate more of your triceps and shoulders.
That’s not to say that you can’t work both areas when performing a straight bench; simply move more slowly when you get closer to failure and make sure that you avoid any dipping of your head or lower back before locking out at the top.
However, if chest development is your primary goal, then incline benches may be right for you!
Whether you’re into bodybuilding or just want to tone up a bit, weightlifting is one of your mainstays.
It burns fat, increases lean muscle mass, and improves bone density.
It also raises your metabolism so you burn more calories even at rest.
In fact, in terms of calorie burn, weightlifting is comparable to running—burning around 500 calories an hour—without putting as much wear and tear on your joints.
The key to unlocking these weight loss benefits is using weights that are challenging for you but still allow you to perform multiple reps.
A few sets of 10-12 reps should do it; anything higher than that risks fatiguing your muscles without pushing them to grow.
Some weightlifting mistakes can actually lead to more fat accumulation instead of less!
For example, don’t make these three common lifting mistakes if you want great results:
Trying to build muscle?
Though it takes time, anyone can do it.
The challenge is figuring out how long that will take. Muscle growth is different for every person based on several factors, including fitness level and body type.
It also depends on what you’re trying to accomplish: building big, bulky muscles or leaner, more defined ones.
Most people who are new to weightlifting won’t see a change in their muscle mass for at least 6 months of regular training and healthy eating patterns.
Before then, you might see changes in strength and endurance—which are no less important when it comes to staying fit and reaching your fitness goals.
When starting out, stick with basic weight-training exercises that work for multiple muscle groups and increase intensity over time as you get stronger.
Include leg lifts and lower-body workouts, too—they’re easier on your joints than weight lifting.
And try not to focus too much on numbers like reps (repetitions) and sets (the number of times you repeat each exercise).
Instead, use a heavier weight load than normal, since resistance over time is key to developing strength and mass.
Work hard throughout each set so that your muscles feel fatigued by the end of each one; if they don’t feel tired by then, raise the weight next week.
Don’t forget about nutrition either!
A good diet rich in complex carbs and protein helps fuel muscle development, but plan ahead to make sure you get all your nutrients from whole foods.
Studies have shown that diets packed with junk food have a negative effect on workout gains by disrupting hormones and nutrient absorption.
Aim for natural sources of carbs like fruits and veggies instead of sugary snacks; organic beef, chicken, turkey, or fish instead of heavily processed meats; fat from nuts and olive oil instead of saturated fats from animal products (red meat is particularly bad for us); unsweetened dairy products rather than high-fat yogurts; natural sweeteners instead of refined sugar.
Let’s get into the good stuff then!
The best 18 exercises you can be doing with a weight bench to build the body of a Greek god!
The Bench Press is a staple exercise for most bodybuilders because it targets so many muscle groups, including your chest, triceps, and shoulders.
Lie on a flat bench with your feet on the floor and grasp a barbell above your head with an overhand grip.
Slowly lower it to your chest while keeping your elbows slightly bent.
Pause, then push back up until your arms are straight again.
Repeat 8-12 times. Your back should be in a neutral position throughout to avoid injury.
The single-arm row is a great weight bench exercise that really isolates your lat muscles, just like a dumbbell row only single-handed.
Here’s how to do it:
Place a dumbbell in your right hand, then grab onto the weight bench with your left hand for support.
While sitting straight up, bend over from your waist and pull your elbow towards your hip.
Pause, then slowly extend back out to the start position. Repeat 8-10 times before switching sides.
The dumbbell pullover exercise is a compound movement that targets your chest and shoulder muscles, as well as your upper back.
To perform it, lie on a weight bench with your back straight and place a dumbbell overhead with both hands while resting it on your chest.
Then slowly lower it behind you while allowing your arms to fully extend before pressing it back up in an arc above you.
Repeat for desired reps.
The seated shoulder press is a great way to blast your shoulders and triceps.
Begin by sitting with your back straight, holding dumbbells in both hands at shoulder height.
Tip: keep your elbows tucked in to avoid injury!
Lower your arms until they are parallel to the floor, then push them up again, taking care, not to lockout at the top of each rep.
Repeat for 10-12 reps to complete one set. Repeat 3-4 times for best results.
Lie facedown on an incline weight bench with your feet flat on the floor.
Rest a dumbbell in each hand along your sides, palms facing inward.
Straighten your arms and bring them back toward the sky as far as you can.
Imagine you are trying to squeeze a pencil between your shoulder blades.
Pause and return to starting position.
Lie faceup on a weight bench with a dumbbell in each hand.
Bend your elbows 90 degrees and raise your arms out to each side of your body, palms facing each other.
Lower them back down to starting position slowly and repeat.
You can also do these on an incline or decline bench if you want to hit different parts of your chest.
Make sure to keep your arms at an angle, but not locked out, throughout.
Incline Front Raises is a weight bench exercise for working out your shoulders and arms.
Begin by sitting at an incline bench with dumbbells in either hand, at your sides.
Raise them straight up until your arms are at eye level.
Keep a slight bend in your elbows.
Slowly lower them back down to start position, making sure to keep your upper arms close to your sides throughout.
Repeat 10-15 times.
Seated lateral raises are an easy way to tone your shoulders and upper back muscles.
Sit on a flat bench holding dumbbells in both hands, keeping your arms by your sides with palms facing forward.
While keeping your arms close to your body, raise them out to each side until they’re parallel with the floor.
Lower them back down slowly to complete one rep.
Lie on your back on a weight bench.
With your feet firmly planted on the floor, hold an EZ bar in your hands over your head with palms facing up.
Press the bar overhead until your arms are extended above you. Slowly lower back to starting position and repeat for desired reps or time duration.
Ensure that you do not jerk or bounce your upper arms off of the weight bench during movement—keep the movement slow and controlled at all times throughout exercise.
To perform an incline bicep curl, position yourself on an incline bench.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand, so the weight behind with palms facing forward.
Slowly raise your hands to shoulder height as you exhale.
Hold for one second at that point before slowly returning to starting position as you inhale.
Bulgarian split squats are similar to regular front lunges, except that you hold a dumbbell in each hand with your back foot up on a bench behind you.
You can do this with the top of your foot flat on the bench on your toes with your foot flexed.
These force you to stabilize your upper body more, so they’re a great exercise for beginners as well as anyone looking to increase core strength and balance.
Crunches are typically done in a lying-down position.
Reverse crunches are done from a sitting or standing position and force you to engage your abdominal muscles harder to support your body weight.
To do reverse crunches, lie back on a flat bench with your hands behind your head, knees bent and feet on the floor, hip-width apart.
Tuck your chin down toward your chest and use your upper abs to bring both of your legs up toward your torso until they’re almost touching; lower them back down.
That’s one rep.
Do 15-20 reps for three sets, resting for 30 seconds between each set.
Some of us are blessed with biceps that bulge from our shoulders—but most of us aren’t.
If you’re lacking behind, try doing some concentration curls to help focus your efforts on a specific set of muscles instead of trying to work all three at once.
Concentration curls isolate your biceps, making them do most of the work so you don’t need to use as much weight in order to see results.
To perform these successfully, start sitting on the edge of a weight bench.
Hold the dumbbell between your legs with your elbow resting on your knee.
With an overhand grip pull up until your hand is close to your shoulder, then slowly release back to full extension.
The Seesaw Shoulder Press is an excellent way to build your shoulders and arms.
You’ll need a weight bench for support, but you can get some additional work in your core muscles too.
Place two dumbbells on either side of your chest, and lift them up into starting position with palms facing each other.
Lower one of the weights down to a 45-degree angle, then press it back up towards your forehead.
Switch sides and repeat for 3 sets of 12 repetitions on each arm.
Developed by legendary Chinese martial artist Ho Yin, Dragon Flags work a number of your core muscles at once—including transversus abdominis, obliques, rectus abdominis, and erector spinae.
To perform them:
Lie with your back on a bench, holding onto its sides with both hands.
Lift your legs in front of you and suspend them straight out from your body at roughly a 90-degree angle.
Then lower your feet so they’re just above (and touching) the floor, then slowly raise and lower them as though you were pedaling an imaginary bicycle.
Complete as many repetitions as possible without breaking form, then repeat on both sides.
Hip thrusters are an incredible glute exercise you can do at home or in your gym.
They’re easier to do than squats and help tone and strengthen your butt faster.
Lie on your back on a weight bench with your feet flat on the floor and extend your arms, which should be perpendicular to your torso at about ear level.
Your hips should be raised from the weight bench so that only your knees, shoulders, and head are touching it.
Then, lift your hips up by pushing through your heels until your body forms a straight line from knees to shoulders.
Hold for one second before lowering back down.
Start out with two sets of 15 repetitions for three sets total during each workout session.
To begin, lie on your back on a flat weight bench.
Grasp a dumbbell in each hand with your arms extended above your chest, and your palms facing forward.
Lower both arms until they’re at a 45-degree angle from your torso.
Pause for one second before pushing back up to starting position.
The decline push-up is simply a push-up that’s performed on a decline, or an angled, surface.
Decline push-ups are often used by bodybuilders to target their upper chest and triceps muscles.
Regular push-ups can work for these muscle groups as well, but by performing them on an incline you can isolate your chest more and leave your triceps with no choice but to get stronger and bigger.
Push-ups require very little space and equipment; a decline version can be done at home with nothing more than flooring and wall space.
If you don’t have access to floors and walls, however, there are other alternatives—though some of them may cost you a bit of money in order to complete properly.
All you need to do is put your feet up on the bench or any raised surface while performing push-ups.
The weight bench is one piece of equipment not everyone thinks to much about.