Develop a strong upper body and core musculature by engaging in a regular weight bench workout. Exercises can include the bench press, flyes, pullovers and rows, as well as variations that target different regions of your chest, back, shoulders and arms. Perform multi-joint and large muscle group exercises, such as the bench press, before isolation exercises, such as biceps curls, for small muscle groups. Also use the weight bench for core exercises -- bridges and pushups.
Perform the classic bench press to develop your chest. Lie on the bench and hold a barbell with an overhand grip at slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lift the bar from its supports, positioning it above your collar bone. Slowly lower the bar until it almost touches your mid-chest. Then, press it back up to start. Perform two to four sets of six to 10 reps. Dumbbells will make this exercise more difficult because it requires balancing two weights. Variations include a change in grip -- close, wide or reverse -- or in the angle of the bench -- incline or decline. These variations allow you to isolate different regions of your chest or shift the stress to your triceps and shoulders. For example, a narrow grip -- of about 8 inches -- places more of the load on your triceps. A decline press challenges your lower pecs, and the incline press hits your upper pecs.
To achieve greater definition of your chest muscles and shoulder adductors, use rubber tubing or dumbbells to perform flyes on a weight bench. Begin by positioning the tubing across the backs of your shoulder blades and holding the ends in your hands. Lie lengthwise on the bench and bend your knees. Extend your arms directly above your shoulders, palms facing each other. Exhale and slowly lower your arms to your sides in an arcing motion until your arms are parallel with your body. Hold the peak position for a second and then return to starting position. Perform two to three sets of six to 10 reps. Keep your elbows slightly bent throughout the exercise.
Performing rows and pullovers will build the muscles in your upper and middle back. To perform a single-arm dumbbell row, stand with your right side next to the bench, holding a dumbbell with an overhand grip in your left hand. Put your right knee and right hand on the bench, and then bend forward at the hips until your trunk is parallel to the floor. Extend your left arm below your shoulder. Bend your elbow and slowly lift the dumbbell up to your trunk. Hold the peak position for a second, then lower the weight back to starting position. Perform six reps for four sets.
Biceps curls and triceps extensions will strengthen your arms. For example, to do a prone curl, set the incline of the bench to 45 degrees. Place your chest against the incline, holding an EZ-curl bar or barbell with an underhand grip. Extend your arms below your shoulders. Exhale and bend your elbows, drawing the bar as high as possible. Hold the peak position for a second, then inhale and return to starting position. For a triceps extension, lie lengthwise on the bench, holding a barbell with an overhand grip. Extend your arms to the 1 o’clock position so the barbell is in front of your eyes. Slowly bend your elbows, lowering the bar behind you until it almost touches your head. Hold the top position for a second, then return to start. For each exercise, perform two to three sets of six to 10 reps.
You can use the weight bench for leverage to perform core exercises, such as bridges, pushups and leg pull-ins. For example, begin a pushup bridge by assuming the pushup position in which you plant your hands on the floor and put your toes on the bench. Contract your abdominals and hold the bridge for 20 seconds. Take a rest interval, then repeat. Aim to build up to 60-second holds for two sets. Make the exercise more difficult by putting your hands on a medicine ball.
- Men's Health Maximum Muscle Plan: The High-efficiency Workout Program to Increase Your Strength and Muscle Size in Just 12 Weeks; Thomas Incledon and Matthew Hoffman
- The Men’s Health Home Workout Bible; Lou Schuler and Michael Mejia
- Men’s Health Best Abs; Joe Kita
- Shapefit.com: Flat Bench Abdominal Leg Pull Ins
- Human Kinetics: Utilize Proper Workout Structure and Exercise Order
- Women’s Health: All the Right Moves
- Men’s Health: The Strongman Challenge
- Encyclopedia of Muscle & Strength; Jim Stoppani