5 Workout Bench Alternatives for Working Out at Home

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The edge of your bed or armrest of your couch make great weight bench alternatives for at-home workouts.
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'You don't know what you have until it's gone' is a pretty universal concept. Whether it's public transportation, a dewy summer morning or even running water, there are plenty of things we all take for granted every now and again.


A closed gym will certainly make you realize that you've taken the weight bench for granted — and how hard it is to recreate a weight bench at home.

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While there's nothing that can truly replace a weight bench when it comes to function, there are some common household items that can make an excellent (and safe) temporary swap. Try these four at-home weight bench alternatives.


What Can I Use if I Don't Have a Workout Bench at Home?

1. Piano or Dining Table Bench

Remember those hours you (or your kids) have spent practicing the piano? Or maybe your dining table pairs with a bench rather than chairs. It's time to put those benches to another use.

In most cases, a piano bench will probably be shorter than your standard weight bench, so your entire body may not fit, says Samuel Chan, CSCS, physical therapist at Bespoke Treatments in New York City. But the key is to make sure you keep your head and upper back supported by the seat. Your hips and pelvis can hang off the end.


"Focus on engaging your core and glutes, maintaining a good contraction so that your hips do not drop toward the floor," Chan says.


Before you start using just any household object as a weight bench alternative, make sure you prioritize stability, says Carolina Araujo, CPT, a New York-based strength coach.

A super-cushioned couch or armchair probably won't provide the safety and stability you need to do exercises properly. Look for a surface that's firm but comfortable and gives your back plenty of support.

2. Coffee Table

Not everyone has a bench around the house, but a coffee table can work, too, Araujo says. "Coffee tables are a great option, because they're close to the ground, which means you can keep your feet planted on the floor," she says. "You want to root your feet into the ground for extra stability."


If your table is too tall and you can't reach the ground, you can also bend your knees and put your feet flat on the table (as long as your table is sturdy enough, of course).

3. Couch Armrest

While you can use the edge of the couch as a bench, Chan prefers the armrest, as it provides more firmness. When you're lifting weights, you'll want to feel as stable as possible, which typical cushions don't provide.



Chances are, your armrest will support even less of your body than a piano bench, though, so it's especially important to focus on your form. Engage your core and squeeze your glutes and hamstrings to keep your hips up as you exercise, Chan says, with the couch supporting your upper back and head.

Also, keep your head supported, not allowing your neck to extend backward. Keep your neck long and tuck your chin slightly throughout the exercise. Lastly, consider using lighter weights than usual. Since you're less supported with an armrest, you're using more strength to support your body.


4. Couch Cushions

The couch itself doesn't really work, as the backrest hinders your range of motion when lying down (however, you can use it for seated exercises). But you can put the removable cushions to good use.

If your couch has removable cushions, try stacking them on the floor as a makeshift bench. Depending on how many cushions you have, you can stack them on top of one another to add a little elevation, Araujo says.


"This may not work if your couch is too squishy, though," she says. "When you lie down on the cushions and pick of a pair of weights, you don't want to sink too far, because this can affect your stability and control."

Can You Use Your Bed as a Workout Bench?

Like the couch, you can use your bed as a workout bench for ‌some‌ exercises, Araujo says. Seated moves, like shoulder presses or concentration curls, are doable on your bed. But choose a lighter set of weights, as you won't have back support.

5. BOSU or Stability Ball

If you have a BOSU or stability ball at home, these can also double as a weight bench. There's just one big difference: They're unstable. While that makes exercises more difficult, it also helps build balance and core strength, Chan says.


That also means form is especially crucial. Rest your upper back and head on the ball, using your core, glutes and hamstrings to keep your hips up and parallel to the ground. Since the ball will cause you to rock slightly, you may want to plant your feet a little further apart to give you a wider base of support.


"When you lie with your torso across a stability ball instead of a weight bench, your core muscles must work overtime," Chan says. "So much so, that you want to lift lighter weights until you've mastered this new challenge. You can also ask a family member to help you stabilize the ball at first or wedge it between two chairs."

Related Reading

How to Bench Press Without a Bench

When all else fails, you can use the floor instead of a bench. This is probably the safest alternative if a proper weight bench is unavailable, though you sacrifice some range of motion, since your arms can't move below your body.

But this limitation may actually benefit your strength gains, Chan says. If you're performing a chest press, for instance, you won't be able to lower the weights or barbell to chest height. But the shorter range of motion will also prevent you from using momentum to lift the weights.

Plus, your leg drive is reduced with a floor press, which means you have to use more upper-body strength to lift and lower the weights. And you can try single-arm chest exercises for even more challenge.

You can also tweak floor exercises to make up for the shorter range. If you're performing a chest press or chest fly, raise your lower body into a glute bridge, pressing your heels into the ground and raising your hips toward the ceiling. This adjustment recruits more muscles across your body, making the exercise more of a challenge.

Want to make floor exercises a little more comfortable? Lie a yoga mat on the ground for a little extra cushion.

Want to Invest in an At-Home Bench? Try These Products




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