Weight bench exercises that are perfect for home | MuscleSquad

icon Nov 11, 2021 - Jamie Grover

Weight bench exercises that are perfect for home

A weight bench is one of the most important additions to any gym as it gives you access to seated, flat and, in some cases, decline exercises. Some weight benches are flat and can't be adjusted, but we always recommend that people invest in an adjustable bench wherever possible.

To give you an idea of just how much you can do with an adjustable bench, we've put together this guide of some of the key exercises you can perform with a bench and a pair of dumbbells to work your body. 

Chest Exercises

Dumbbell Chest Press

Dumbbell chest presses are absolutely the best chest-building exercise you can do with dumbbells. With an adjustable bench, you can set the back rest to different angles. An incline angle will place more emphasis your upper chest, whereas decline will work your lower chest. Press the dumbbells up from a prone position and then bring them down slowly until the dumbbells are in line with your chest. You can also perform these with a pause at the bottom to really push yourself!

Chest Flys

You can perform chest flys on a bench by using a pair of dumbbells or a resistance band. If you’re using a band, place it underneath the bench. Leading with your elbows and keeping your arms from bending, bring the dumbbells/band together above your chest. Squeeze at the top of the movement, and then bring your arms back until your elbows are in line with your body.

Close Grip Dumbbell Press

Another excellent chest-builder is the close grip dumbbell/band press. Once again, if you’re using a band, place it underneath the bench. This exercise works by keeping your elbows tucked by your sides and keeping your wrists perpendicular to your body (instead of at right angles like regular dumbbell press). Press the dumbbells together, push up and squeeze your chest at the top. Keep your elbows tucked by your sides for maximum burn. The close grip press places an added emphasis on your triceps as well as working your chest.

Shoulder Exercises

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Unsurprisingly, the dumbbell shoulder press is the #1 shoulder exercise to do with a weight bench. Set your bench to a seated position. The lower the angle, the easier it will be Press the dumbbells up and together over your head, and then bring them back down until your elbows are slightly past parallel to the ground.

Lateral Raises

The dumbbell/band lateral raise is a staple for building your side delts. If you’re using a band, place it under your feet to keep it still. Sit on the end of your bench and lean slightly forwards. Leading with your elbows, bring the dumbbells/band upwards and outwards to your sides until your arms are parallel with the ground. Slowly lower them down, making sure not to let them fall too quickly to complete the movement.

Arnold Press

Arnold presses are favoured among bodybuilders for their effectiveness at hitting all parts of the shoulder. With your bench in a seated position, grip the dumbbells with your palms facing inwards towards your body and the dumbbells close together. As you press upwards, bring your elbows out whilst simultaneously twisting your wrists so your palms face outwards at the top of the movement. On the way down, simply do the inverse of this.

Back Exercises

Single Arm Rows

Single arm rows can be done with either bands or dumbbells and are great for building a thicker back. With one knee at the back of your bench and one hand at the front, keep your back straight and pull the dumbbell/band upwards whilst keeping your elbow tucked by your side. You can also do a variation of this with two dumbbells and your bench at a 45-degree angle. For this version, lay on the bench with your chest down and pull both dumbbells up and back with your elbows tucked.

Dumbbell Pullover

The dumbbell pullover is a great exercise to do from home that will target your lats and help to build a wider back. Lie flat on your bench and press one dumbbell upwards so it’s over your face. This is your starting position. Flare your elbows slightly outwards and keep your arms neutral. Leading with the elbows (not the palms), bring the dumbbell back behind your head until you feel tension in your back, then return it over your head to complete the movement.

Leg Exercises

Bulgarian Split Squats

The absence of a barbell doesn’t mean you have an excuse not to train legs. The Bulgarian split squat can be used as your primary leg pressing/squatting movement. Holding one or two dumbbells (depending on how heavy they are), place your back foot top-down on your bench. Your front foot should be in front of you. Lunge/squat forward until the top of your thigh is parallel to the ground. Once you’re finished, swap legs and repeat.

Leg Curls and Leg Extensions

No leg curl/extension machine? No problem. To do leg curls at home, set your bench to a flat position and place it in the corner of a room. Place two dumbbells securely on the bench to weigh it down. Then, grab a resistance band and stretch one end round the back of the bench, using it as a support. Put the other end round your ankles and lie on the floor, stretching the band more if you need by moving further away from the bench. Then simply bring your heels upwards until you feel tension in your hamstrings.

To do leg extensions with your bench, set it to flat and place one end of the band round the back of the bench. Lie flat and place the other end of the band round your ankle. Keeping your thigh still, extend your leg to create a 90-degree angle. This exercise needs to be done one leg at a time.

Arm Exercises

Incline Dumbbell Curls

Set your bench at a 45-degree angle for incline dumbbell curls. Keep your elbows tucked and curl the dumbbells upwards, control them on the way down and repeat.

Dumbbell Preacher Curls

Set your bench to a seated position and stand behind it. With the back of your arm resting against the bench, curl the dumbbell upwards. This variation ensures maximum bicep isolation as it limits any swinging from the rest of your body.

Tricep Dips

You can also do tricep dips on your bench. With your hands close together, place them behind you on the edge of your bench. Straighten your legs and keep them out in front of you, then lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the ground. Push yourself back up to the start position to complete the movement.

Key Points to Remember when Using your Weight Bench

  • All you need to build muscle effectively at home is a pair of dumbbells, a set of resistance bands and your bodyweight.
  • Make sure your bench is adjustable so you can do a range of exercises.
  • For an effective home workout, make sure you are keeping the intensity high enough. Push yourself so you could physically do no more than 3 more reps after finishing every set.
  • Check out our workout plans here.
Happy training!
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