Primarily only found in gyms, exercise benches are useful pieces of equipment which help allow for a range of resistance exercises to be performed using free weights, which would otherwise be impossible or difficult to perform.
There are multiple types of exercise benches:
- Flat exercise benches
- Incline benches
- Ab benches
- Multi-purpose benches
- Hyper extension benches
Flat exercise benches
These are normal, horizontal exercise benches which you generally lie on as you perform upper body exercises. This is where the name ‘bench press’ comes from, as you can lie on the bench and push a barbell up from your chest, before lowering it back down, completing one rep. These benches are strong and stable, in order to support both you and the additional weight you are lifting, meaning they are usually he cheapest to buy.
They are slim so that your movement when lifting is not restricted, making it easier to lift weights. If you were to lie down, and attempted to perform a chest press using two barbells for example, you will find that your arms are impeded by the floor.
These benches are set at an angle, often adjustable, to change both the difficulty and muscles used in certain exercises. A number of fitness professionals claim that performing chest exercises at an incline provide more benefits than when using a flat bench.
These benches will normally be at a decline, sometimes adjustable, in order to increase the range of motion for each repetition when you perform sit ups or other abdominal exercises. There are footpads which you place your feet underneath to help keep you in place whilst your perform the exercises. They make abdominal exercises harder than when you use a flat surface, helping you improve more.
These benches are very versatile, allowing you to use the bench either flat, at various inclines, or sometimes even at a decline. Depending on the bench you use, you may also have footpads and other restraints to help keep your body in place during exercises.
Some may also have a tower rack as part of it, allowing you to rest a barbell on it. Multi-purpose benches are generally the most expensive because of the multiple features.
If you are looking to buy a multi-purpose bench, check around for which features you want, such as attachments to allow you to perform the preacher curl.
Hyper extension benches
Sometimes referred to as a Roman Chair, a hyper extension bench is used to perform back extensions. Your lower body rests on the bench, which is usually at an incline, and your upper body then hangs over it, free from obstructions. You would then extend your back, lifting your upper body up as you target your lower back muscles, glutes and hamstrings. You then lower your upper body back down to complete one rep.
You may also have a bench where you site with your legs secured parallel to the floor, and lean back, before raising your upper body back up, to complete one rep.