The weight bench is an ideal tool for novice weight lifters to use. Most benches can be adjusted for height and incline to adapt to the user and the various exercises, and they provide the user with the stability necessary to work on heavy loads.
The purpose of weight bench workouts is to develop muscular strength and hypertrophy (growth), especially for strength athletes and bodybuilders. You can perform many traditional exercises with dumbbells, such as chest presses, pullovers, rows and shoulder presses, without having to worry about maintaining balance. This stable environment allows you to lift a lot of weight to elicit hypertrophy.
There are two main types of weight benches: adjustable and nonadjustable. Nonadjustable benches can be either be flat, incline or decline, whereas adjustable benches can be adjusted to any angle between 0 and 90 degrees. Adjustable benches tend to cost about 9 to 10 times more than nonadjustable types, but they both take up the same amount of space. Before purchasing one, be sure that you will be using the equipment for the long term.
Weight bench workouts, when used with dumbbells or a barbell, provide excellent stimulus for muscle hypertrophy because the muscles are worked with some degree of isolation. Unlike working with exercise machines, which have a predetermined range of motion and path of motion, weight bench workouts require you to control the angle and direction of the movement, which strengthens your joint stabilizers more. Also, weight benches are very common in gyms, so you can do these exercises most anywhere.
There are only a limited number of exercises you can do with weight bench workouts, which can lead to plateaus and boredom. Most exercises where you lie on your back or sit with back support do not strengthen you trunk, spine and hips. Also, these workouts do not train your body in three-dimensional movement patterns and the lower extremities' strength and power (rotation, level change, explosive lower body force).
Although most nonadjustable benches do not need frequent maintenance, adjustable benches must be regularly checked for lubrication in the levers and springs, and can be costly to fix if you do not know how to do it yourself.
Beginners should combine other types of exercises to complement weight bench workouts. These include bodyweight training (push-ups, pull-ups, lunges), standing free weight exercises, cable exercises and power training (medicine ball throws). Combining different exercise methods offers different training benefits in various positions, which can help you perform better in certain sports and activities.
- "Athletic Body in Balance": Gray Cook; 2003
- "Essence of Program Design": Juan Carlos Santana; 2004