Want to get stronger? Better hit the bench during your strength training routine.
Exercising with some sort of resistance, whether free weights, your own body weight, or weight machines, is important to increase your muscle mass, strengthen your bones, stay fit, and burn calories. One of the best places to do all three is your local gym bench.
Several basic free weight and body weight exercises require the use of a weight bench to help keep your balance. At the same time, it challenges you to balance using your core, whereas exercise machines often do all the balancing for you. Using a bench also enables you to isolate specific muscle groups you want to work.
If you’re looking to put your muscles on the bench, here are a few of the more popular bench-based exercises to get you started.
Looking to work your pectorals (chest muscles) and triceps (muscles on the back of your upper arm)? Then the bench press is the exercise you need. Lie with your head, shoulders, back, and bottom on the bench and place your feet on the floor. Your head should be directly under the bar. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the bar and hold it with an overhand (pronated) grip. Lift the bar from its holder and lower it toward your chest. Then lift the bar until your arms are fully extended. Slowly lower it back to your chest and repeat.
Lying Triceps Extension
Another bench exercise to work your triceps is the lying triceps extension. It’s similar to the bench press with a few variations. Again, lie with your head, shoulders, back, and bottom on the bench. Place your hands on the bar in an overhand grip, but with your hands close together (6–10 inches apart). Slowly lower the bar towards your forehead. Then raise it up until your arms are fully extended. Lower and repeat.
Work your chest muscles with dumbbell flyes. Lie on your back on the bench and place your feet on the floor. Instead of using a bar, you’ll hold a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip. Keeping your elbows slightly bent, press the weights upward over your chest and toward each other. Pause, then lower them back to each side. Repeat.
Get an abdominal workout using the weight bench. Lie on your back on the bench and hold onto the sides of the bench with your hands. Keeping your legs straight, slowly lift them together then lower them back until they’re almost touching the bench. Repeat.
Barbell Behind Neck Press
Shape your deltoids (shoulder muscles) and work your triceps with a barbell behind neck press. Straddle the bench, facing the bar. Place your hands on the bar in a pronated grip, a little wider than shoulder width. Keep your back straight, lift the bar, and place it behind your neck. With your elbows pointing to the sides, lift the bar up until your arms are extended. Lower the bar to the back of your neck. Repeat.
Dumbbell Bent Over Rows
Need to strengthen your back muscles? Try the dumbbell bent over row. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and place your left hand and left knee on the bench so you’re in a “bent over” position. Keep your back straight while doing this exercise. Start with your right arm straight by your side, then pull the weight up to your waist. Your right elbow should point towards the sky. Lower the weight and repeat. Switch sides.
A RICE Fix
Have shoulder pain? Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation should help overcome the problem within a couple weeks.
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