Blog Fitness Workout Plans Bench Workouts For Strength And Size – How To Build Muscle On A Bench

Bench Workouts For Strength And Size – How To Build Muscle On A Bench

A common misconception about bench workouts is that they are only effective for developing the chest muscles. The truth is, when performed correctly, bench workouts can actually target all major muscle groups in the body. Think of the bench as a blank canvas that can be customized to your own fitness needs. By changing the angle of your body, grip width, and foot placement, you can engage different muscle groups to get the most out of your workout. You can even go as far as using the bench to work your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. In this article, we will share with you some of the best bench workouts for strength and size. But before we do that, let’s first take a look at the benefits of working out on a bench.

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Benefits Of Bench Workouts

Workout benches come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are adjustable, while others are not.

No matter what type of bench you have, there are a few key benefits that remain the same.

One of the main benefits of performing bench workouts is that they help to improve your posture. When you sit or lie down on a bench, your back is naturally aligned in a position that is good for your spine (4).

This is especially beneficial if you have a desk job or spend a lot of time sitting down.

Another benefit of bench workouts is that they help to increase your range of motion. This is because you are not confined to a certain space when you are working out on a bench (7).

This allows you to move your body in different ways, which can lead to improved flexibility and mobility.

Lastly, bench workouts are ideal for people of all fitness levels. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned athlete, you can find a workout that is perfect for your needs.

Now that we’ve gone over the benefits of bench workouts, let’s take a look at some of the best exercises you can do on a bench. 

Read More: Average Bench Press By Age: The Truth According To Experts

bench workouts

What Workouts Should I Do With A Bench?

The best type of workout to do on a bench depends on your fitness goals.

If you are looking to build muscle, then you will want to focus on exercises that target the major muscle groups in your body (6). These include the chest, shoulders, back, and legs.

On the other hand, if you are trying to lose weight, then you will want to focus on exercises that raise your heart rate and help you burn calories (10). 

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Here are a few of the best bench workouts for both muscle building and weight loss: 

Chest Workouts On Bench

Your chest has several large muscles that need to be worked in order to develop strength and size. They include the:

  • Pectoralis major: this is the large muscle that makes up the majority of your chest.
  • Pectoralis minor: this is a small, triangular muscle located underneath the pectoralis major.
  • Serratus anterior: this muscle runs along the side of your chest and helps to stabilize your shoulder blades.

When performing chest workouts on a bench, you will want to focus on exercises that target all of these muscles. Here are a few of the best exercises for building the chest

Dumbbell Bench Press

This is one of the most popular exercises for building the chest. It targets the pectoralis major and triceps.

To do this exercise:

  1. Lie down on a bench with your feet flat on the ground and your back pressed firmly against the bench.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and position them at chest level with your palms facing away from you.
  3. Press the dumbbells up above your chest and then lower them back down to the starting position. 
  4. Repeat for 8-12 repetitions.

The bench press can also be done with a barbell. However, the dumbbell press allows you to target each side of the chest individually. Doing so offers unique benefits that you cannot get from the barbell press.

For one, you’re able to move the weight through a greater range of motion. This helps to improve your mobility and flexibility (7).

It also forces your muscles to work harder since they are not used to working independently from each other. Because each side of the chest has to work equally, you’re not at risk of developing imbalances.

This is not to say that the barbell bench press is a bad exercise. In fact, it’s one of the best exercises you can do for building overall strength. It’s a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the chest, shoulders, and triceps (8).

But if you are looking to focus on the chest specifically, then the dumbbell press is a better option.

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bench workouts

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

The incline dumbbell bench press is a variation of the regular dumbbell bench press. The only difference is that the bench is angled at an incline, typically between 15 and 30 degrees.

This slight change in angle targets the upper chest muscles more effectively.

To do this exercise:

  1. Lie down on an incline bench with your feet flat on the ground and your back pressed firmly against the bench.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and position them at chest level with your palms facing away from you.
  3. Press the dumbbells up above your chest and then lower them back down to the starting position. 
  4. Repeat for 8-12 repetitions.

Incline presses can also be done with a barbell. However, the dumbbell press is a better option for targeting the chest muscles specifically. 

Push-Ups

Push-ups are a great bodyweight exercise for building the chest. They can be done anywhere and don’t require any equipment (9).

To do a push-up: 

  1. Start in a high plank position with your hands placed shoulder-width apart and your legs extended behind you.
  2. Engage your core and lower your body down until your chest is just above the ground.
  3. Push yourself back up to the starting position. 
  4. Repeat for 8-12 repetitions.

If you are new to exercise, you can modify this exercise by placing your knees on the ground instead of keeping your legs extended. As you get stronger, you can begin to do them with your legs extended.

You can also make them more challenging by placing your feet on an elevated surface or by wearing a weight vest.

bench workouts

 

Dumbbell Flyes

Dumbbell flyes are a great exercise for targeting the chest muscles. They help to stretch out the chest muscles and improve your range of motion.

To do this exercise:

  1. Lie down on a bench with your feet flat on the ground and your back pressed firmly against the bench.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and position them at chest level with your palms facing away from you.
  3. Press the dumbbells up above your chest and then lower them back down to the starting position. 
  4. Repeat for 8-12 repetitions.

Read More: Push Ups Vs. Bench Press: Which Workout Is Better For Maximum Gains?

Back Workouts On Bench

Your back has several large muscles that need to be worked in order to develop strength and size. These include the:

  • Latissimus dorsi: this is the largest muscle in your back. It runs from your lower back up to your arms.
  • Trapezius: this muscle is located at the base of your neck and extends down to your shoulders.
  • Rhomboids: these muscles are located between your shoulder blades.
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When performing back workouts on a bench, you will want to focus on exercises that target all of these muscles. Here are a few of the best exercises for building the back:

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Single Arm Dumbbell Row

The row is a “pull” exercise that targets the muscles in the back. These include the latissimus dorsi (lats) and the trapezius (traps).

The single arm dumbbell row is a great exercise for targeting these muscles. It also helps to improve your posture and can be done with relatively heavy weights (1).

To do this exercise:

  1. Place a dumbbell on the ground next to a bench. 
  2. Bend over and place your right hand and right knee on the bench. 
  3. Pick up the dumbbell with your left hand and row it up to the side of your chest. 
  4. Lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position and repeat for 8-12 repetitions. 
  5. Switch sides and repeat with the other arm. 

Arm Workouts On Bench

Bench presses are a great exercise for building the chest, but they also target the muscles in the arms. The triceps make up two-thirds of the muscle mass in the arm (3), so it is important to focus on exercises that target this muscle group.

The bicep, on the other hand, is a small muscle group. As such, it doesn’t require as much attention when performing arm workouts on a bench. 

Tricep Extension

The tricep extension is a great exercise for targeting the triceps. It can be done with dumbbells, barbells, or cables.

To do this exercise:

  1. Sit on a bench with your back pressed firmly against the pad. 
  2. Pick up a dumbbell with your right hand and position it above your head. 
  3. Keeping your elbow stationary, lower the dumbbell down behind your head. 
  4. Extend your arm back up to the starting position and repeat for 8-12 repetitions. 
  5. Switch arms and repeat with the other arm.

how long after starting to work out do you see results

Tricep Dips

Tricep dips are a great bodyweight exercise for targeting the triceps. They can be done with or without weight. 

To do this exercise:

  1.  Position yourself in front of a bench or chair. 
  2. Place your hands on the edge of the bench and position your feet on the ground with your legs extended. 
  3. Slowly lower your body down until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. 
  4. Press back up to the starting position and repeat for 8-12 repetitions.
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Ab Workouts On Bench

The muscles commonly referred to as “abs” are actually a group of muscles that make up the core (2). These muscles include the:

  • Rectus abdominis: this muscle runs down the front of your stomach and is responsible for flexing the spine.
  • External obliques: these muscles are located on the sides of your stomach and help to rotate and flex the spine.
  • Internal obliques: these muscles are located on the sides of your stomach and help to rotate and flex the spine.

The best exercises for targeting these muscles are those that involve trunk rotation and/or flexion. Here are a few of the best exercises for working the abs on a bench: 

Feet Elevated Cross-Body Mountain Climbers

This exercise is a great way to target the rectus abdominis muscle. It also helps to improve your cardiovascular endurance. 

To do this exercise:

  1. Start in a push-up position with your feet on an elevated surface and your hands on the ground. In this case, the elevated surface will be the bench. 
  2. Bring your right knee up to your chest and then return it to the starting position. 
  3. Repeat with the left leg and continue alternating legs for 30-60 seconds. 

Bench Reverse Crunches

This exercise targets the rectus abdominis muscle. It is a great exercise for beginners because it is relatively easy to do. 

To do this exercise:

  1. Lie down on a bench with your back pressed firmly against the bench and your feet flat on the ground. 
  2. Grip the side of the bench where your head is and raise your legs up so that they are perpendicular to the ground. 
  3. Keeping your legs together, slowly lower your knees down towards your chest. 
  4. Once your legs are as close to your chest as possible, reverse the motion and return to the starting position. 
  5. Repeat for 10-12 repetitions.

bench workouts

Lower Body Workout On Bench

Your lower body is made up of muscles responsible for moving your hips, knees, and ankles. These muscles include the:

  • Quadriceps: these are the muscles located on the front of your thighs. They are responsible for extending the knee.
  • Hamstrings: these are the muscles located on the back of your thighs. They are responsible for flexing the knee and extending the hip.
  • Glutes: these are the muscles located on your buttocks. They are responsible for extending the hip.
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The best exercises for targeting these muscles are those that involve knee and/or hip extension. Here are a few of the best exercises for working the lower body on a bench: 

Bench Step-Ups

This exercise is a great way to target the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. It also helps to improve your balance and coordination.

To do this exercise:

  1. Start by placing your right foot on the bench and your left foot on the ground. 
  2. Keeping your core engaged, press through your right heel and raise your body up until your left leg is parallel to the ground. 
  3. Slowly lower your body back down to the starting position and repeat for 10-12 repetitions. 
  4. Switch legs and repeat with the left leg.

bench workouts

Bulgarian Split Squats

This exercise is a great way to target the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

To do this exercise:

  1. Start by placing your right foot on the bench behind you and your left foot on the ground in front of you. 
  2. Keeping your core engaged, slowly lower your body down until your left leg is parallel to the ground. 
  3. Press through your left heel and return to the starting position. 
  4. Switch legs and repeat with the right leg. 

Glute Bridge On Bench

This exercise is a great way to target the glutes. 

To do this exercise:

  1. Sit on the floor with your body perpendicular to the bench. Your shoulders should be resting on the bench, in line with your hips and your feet should be flat on the floor. 
  2. Keeping your core engaged, press through your heels and raise your hips up until your thighs and torso are in line with each other. 
  3. Hold this position for 2 seconds and then slowly lower your body back down to the starting position. 
  4. Repeat for 10-12 repetitions.

The Bottom Line

The bench is a versatile piece of equipment that can be used for a variety of different workouts. By incorporating some or all of these exercises into your routine, you can target any muscle group you want to work on.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. 4 Bench Back Exercises (2022, ammfitness.co.uk)
  2. Abdominal Muscles (2021, clevelandclinic.org)
  3. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Triceps Muscle (2021, nih.gov)
  4. Common posture mistakes and fixes (2022, nhs.uk)
  5. Muscle growth and exercise (1990, nih.gov)
  6. Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods (2019, nih.gov)
  7. Range of Motion and Sticking Region Effects on the Bench Press Load-Velocity Relationship (2019, nih.gov)
  8. Single vs. Multi-Joint Resistance Exercises: Effects on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy (2015, nih.gov)
  9. The rise of push-ups: A classic exercise that can help you get stronger (2019, harvard.edu)
  10. Weight-Loss and Maintenance Strategies (2003, nih.gov)
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