Incline vs Flat Weight Benches

Fitness Reality 1000

You have decided to take your fitness goals to the next level by creating your own home gym. This is a worthy endeavor and you should be commended. Before you can start, though, you need to decide whether you will buy an incline weight bench or a flat weight bench.

What is the difference and why does it matter?

Flat Weight Bench

The flat bench can be used for a variety of exercises; you can sit, lay down or stand next to it. It is the piece of equipment that people know the best, and they trust it more. That is why the flat bench is one of the more popular pieces of equipment in the gym.

For example, when lying on your back you can use it for a chest press; while sitting you can support your lower half while doing shoulder exercises; and if you stand next to the bench you can use it to support your body while doing rows for your back.

Jeremy Gray from Muscle & Strength explains that the flat bench is an integral part of one of the most referenced benchmarks (no pun intended) of fitness: the bench press. Gray argues that the flat bench press is one of 3 exercises that are a must for all gym-goers.

Versatile

In addition to seated and supine movements, flat benches do double-duty as a platform for exercises such as step-ups and box jumps. If you do not have wooden boxes at your gym, a flat bench can fill in.

The flat bench press allows for a more natural and fluid movement, which makes it easy to use. Unfortunately, it can translate into a serious injury if you are not careful. You need to be safety conscious when using either bench.

Usually, people use a spotter to help them. Your spotter should be a little bit more experienced than you so that they can show you where you are going wrong. Before starting out, take the time to learn proper form so that you do not injure yourself.

Pros

  • Flat bench pressing is one of the most important exercises you can do
  • You can do multiple exercises
  • There is a lot of information about flat bench exercises, so research is very easy

Cons

  • You can be injured easily
  • They can be pricey
  • You need to do research

Incline Weight Bench

Incline benches let us micro target specific muscles and extend the range of motion for exercises like bench presses. For example, performing presses on an incline bench can improve strength and conditioning of the clavicular head (the upper part of the chest) and shoulder activation. By working these muscles that are missed by more traditional movements we can get better results in physical appearance and strength. If there is one thing to learn from bodybuilding, it is that the ultimate physique depends as much on smaller intrinsic muscles as it does on the big major muscle groups. The incline also tends to involve your shoulders more, which means that you get a greater quality from your workout.

Decline

Another benefit of incline benches is the ability to add resistance by going to decline. That means, instead of adjusting the incline bench to sit up, you move it to lay back at an angle lower than parallel to the floor. This makes you work harder to perform exercises like crunches and chest flyes against the pull of gravity. Like the incline position, they also work smaller muscles that are often under-activated.

The Best Of Both Worlds?

Since incline benches are adjustable, it is worth noting that they provide “the best of both worlds.” Meaning, you can adjust an incline bench to lay flat, or to sit up or back. Because incline benches are adjustable they may provide less stability for exercises like box jumps, but they can usually fill in for most flat bench movements.

Consider your joint health

If you have an injury to your shoulders or chest, an incline bench may allow you to change your range of motion to accommodate. This can give your injured body part a little break while also strengthening support muscles around it to help protect it from re-injury. With any workout, it is wise to “listen to your body” and adjust or avoid exercises that cause pain or discomfort.

Minor Issues

Incline benches also tend to bulkier and cost more money. There are models that are aimed at home gyms, but they still tend to be pretty big. They also require more maintenance sine they have adjustable components that need to be taken care of.

Pros

  • Thanks to the stress placed on your muscles, you will be filling out areas on your chest that are often ignored
  • It allows you to vary the emphasis on the muscles as your workout
  • You will get more function when dealing with everyday situations

Cons

  • You need to start slowly
  • You need a spotter when working with heavier weights
  • An imbalanced routine will cause problems for you later on

General Warnings

If you are starting out on an incline bench, you need to have a professional or experienced lifter help you come up with a balanced routine. If you are not balanced, this will lead to some serious problems later on.

With both bench types, you need to learn the correct form before you can try lift heavier weights. As you start lifting seriously, you will need to find a spotter to make sure that you stay safe.

On an incline bench, make sure that you do not arch your back. This will lead to serious injury and means that your load is too heavy.

Conclusion – Which One Wins?

This is difficult to say. Both have their pros and their cons. They also have different functions that play a huge role in your routine, and different problems if you are not careful. The end decision is up to you.

Whether you are finding your way through the strength training section of your local gym or considering what equipment to buy to work out at home, a bench will probably be one of the go-to basics. You can get a great workout with either option.

When it comes to range of motion and targeting intrinsic muscles, an incline bench provides the most versatility. When working out at the gym, use a flat bench for chest presses, flyes, step-ups, box jumps, hip thrusts, etc. The switch to an incline bench for a set to work every part of your chest and shoulders.

Weight Bench vs Swiss Ball

Weight Bench vs Swiss Ball

Almost anywhere you look in the fitness industry, there is a debate about something. These debates range anywhere from the amount or reps performed in each set, to the amount of weight you should use in exercises, to whether barbells or bodyweight exercises are "better". Today, we are going to look at whether weight benches or Swiss balls are better for your workout.

The Argument for Weight Benches

The basic argument for weight benches is that a solid bench provides the foundation you need when lifting weights. A solid foundation becomes more important as the weights get heavier. Having a firm foundation allows you to maintain proper form during the exercise. Proper form is important in exercise, especially when the weights get heavier, because bad form can often lead to injury. As this article from Harvard Medical School suggests, doing an exercise movement with control and proper form is key.

Having a good bench while performing chest exercises helps you to maintain proper form and positioning during the exercise. These factors become more important as you start using heavier weights, as the risk factor increases. Having a weight bench can also help you target the chest specifically and enables greater range of motion in exercises than the floor would.

The Argument for Swiss Balls

The argument for Swiss balls is essentially the exact opposite to that for benches. Proponents of using Swiss balls in exercise argue that the instability provided by the ball is exactly what you need. They claim the instability of the ball is actually beneficial in increasing your core strength and stability. Due to the instability of a Swiss ball, your core muscles have to be firing almost constantly to keep balance. This in turn creates a stronger core, and increases the stability and balance of an exerciser.

While you can perform a great many exercises with a Swiss ball, and many more than just chest exercises can be performed on weight benches, the argument for them all remains the same: a Swiss ball, due to its instability, forces the core to be in almost constant tension, thus strengthening it. For more information on Swiss balls, as well as some different exercise you can utilize them for, check out this WebMD article.

This video shows you how to use a swiss ball instead of a weight bench:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lTC9xmXcrA

The Answer to the Debate

Well, which one is better? The answer to this particular debate is that while the claims made by people who promote Swiss ball training sound nice, there is little actual science to back them up. According to this article on the NCBI website, there is no evidence that using a Swiss ball activates muscles in the trunk any more than using a regular bench. Several exercises were conducted in the study as well which lends it more credence.

This example highlights the need to have hard, scientific evidence backing up claims made in relation to exercise. While it seems logical that the core would be activated more by a Swiss ball, there is not enough evidence to support it. This fact seems to break down the fundamental push behind Swiss balls, which is that they produce greater core activation, and thus strength.

That said, the study showed that different people responded differently to the instability of the Swiss ball. This could potentially allow certain individuals to benefit more from training with one than others. As a general rule, using a bench is usually a safer and ultimately more constructive approach to gaining strength and muscle mass. This is because you can handle greater loads on a bench, which in turns activates muscle stimulation and growth to a greater degree.

Conclusion

In the end, exercise should be something that you enjoy. If you enjoy lifting lighter weights on a Swiss ball, or perhaps doing bodyweight exercises on one, than by all means continue using a Swiss ball. If you want to get bigger and stronger more quickly, using a solid bench for exercises is a better option, as it provides a stable foundation for you to lift progressively heavier weights. No matter which you choose, make sure you exercise in a safe and controlled manner

How To Use A Weight Bench With Leg Rollers

So you know how to use an adjustable weight bench. But, what is a weight bench with leg rollers and how do you use it? You’ve seen it in the weight room but you're quite unsure how to use it. The weight bench with rollers looks like your standard bench but it has this strange attachment. You think to yourself, “What am I meant to do on that?” as you walk past and avoid it.

Ignore it no more; the weight bench with leg rollers can be your friend and an excellent addition to your workout program, as it is very versatile in offering you variations to train different parts of your body.

Weight benches with leg rollers come with an extension on one of the short width ends that have soft padded foam rollers attached to it. The purpose of these foam rollers is for you to put your legs into and secure them while performing certain exercises.

Most benches with rollers come with three rollers. The first roller sits close to the edge of the bench. The second roller sits only a few inches past the first. The third roller sits quite a few inches below the second roller.

  • First roller – Use for both leg extensions and leg curls (hamstring curls)
  • Second roller – Use for leg curls (hamstring curls)
  • Third roller - Use for leg extensions

A weight bench that comes with leg rollers can be utilized for a variety of different exercises. These exercises can target the thigh muscles, quadriceps and hamstrings as well as completing exercises that target the core abdominal area.

This article aims to improve your knowledge on how to use the weight bench with leg rollers for leg extensions, leg curls and core to train the quadriceps, hamstrings and abdominals respectively.

Instructions for using a weight bench with leg rollers for the quadriceps or knee extension exercise:​

  1. Set up the weight or resistance required for you to perform
  2. Sit facing forward at the edge of the weight bench with a 90-degree angle at both the hips and knees.
  3. Ensure your lower shins are behind the bottom roller and the top roller. Make sure you do not rest your ankles on the rollers.
  4. Extend your lower legs from the knee by applying pressure with your shins onto the roller to lift upwards
  5. Pause and hold for one second at the top of the movement
  6. Bend at your knees to slowly lower the rollers back down to the starting position
  7. That’s one repetition​!

You can make the exercise harder by adding weights or increasing the tension. Doing more repetitions or changing the tempo of the exercise by slowing down the movement on returning to the start position, putting your muscles under tension, can add a challenge.

Complete 3 sets of 8 – 12 repetition to increase muscle strength and size.

Instructions on how to use a weight bench with leg rollers for the hamstring curl exercise:

  1. Set up the weight or resistance required for you to perform
  2. Lying face down on the bench, ensure your knees are right below the edge of the bench.
  3. The back of your lower legs between your Achilles and mid calf should be placed underneath the lower roller
  4. Then raise the lever by bending your knees and applying pressure to the roller bringing it towards the back of your thighs
  5. Pause and hold for one second at the top of the movement
  6. Slowly lower your legs to the staring point
  7. That’s one repetition!

Again, you can make this exercise harder by adding weight or increasing the tension. Challenge yourself on this exercise too by slowing down the tempo of the return movement or increasing the number of repetitions you complete.

Complete 3 sets of 8 – 12 repetition to increase muscle strength and size.

Instructions on how to use a weight bench with leg rollers for the sit up exercise:

  1. Lock out the rollers or place enough resistance on that the moving parts do not move when pushed or pulled.
  2. Lie with your back on the bench with your shins placed behind the bottom roller and your thighs under the second roller to secure your position.
  3. Place your hands behind your head with an open chest
  4. Squeeze your lower abdominals and raise your upper body towards your thighs by bending at the hips until you reach 90-degrees
  5. Pause and hold for one second
  6. Slowly return to the starting position by lowering your upper body one vertebrae at a time
  7. That’s one repetition​!

Make this exercise harder by holding a weight plate across your chest throught the entire movement. Again, challenge yourself on this exercise by slowing down the tempo of the return movement placing your muscles under more tension or increasing the number of repetitions you complete.

Complete 3 sets of 8 – 12 repetition to increase muscle strength and size.

Get your muscles firing and stop the progress plateau and get the results you want with a weight bench with rollers. Stop walking past it and ignoring the benefits you could potentially obtain. Now you know what a weight bench with leg rollers is and how to use it, get into the gym and add it to your next workout to spice up your program and test your muscles in a different way.

10 Ways a Weight Bench Can Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals

A weight bench is super versatile and there are a variety of ways in which utilizing one can help you reach your fitness goals whether it is to improve strength, build muscle or lose weight. You are able to work almost every single muscle in your body through the use of a weight bench, particularly all the major muscle groups. It would almost be possible to create an entire workout based from a weight bench if you wanted to. You can use the following 10 factors to reach your fitness goals whether it be muscular strength, hypertrophy or endurance, weight loss, sports performance or rehabilitation, there are a multitude of goals your can work towards with a weight bench. If you are interested in how a weight bench can help you reach your goal, keep reading!

1. Chest​

Improve your chest muscles – pectoralis major and minor.

  • Dumbbell bench press
  • Barbell Bench press
  • Incline dumbbell bench press
  • Incline barbell bench press
  • Decline dumbbell bench press
  • Decline barbell bench press
  • Dumbbell lying chest fly
  • Narrow arm dumbbell press
  • Incline push ups
  • Decline push ups​

2. Back

Improve your back muscles – Latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, Serratus anterior and trapezius upper, middle and lower

  • Incline reverse fly
  • Single arm row
  • Lying down incline dumbbell row
  • Lying down incline barbell row
  • Bench plank dumbbell row

3. Shoulders

Improve your deltoids anterior, middle and posterior and the muscles of the rotator cuff – Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres minor and subscapularis

  • Seated dumbbell shoulder press
  • Seated barbell shoulder press
  • Seated dumbbell upright row
  • Seated barbell upright row
  • Seated dumbbell front raise
  • Seated barbell front raise
  • Seated dumbbell lateral raise
  • Seated military press
  • Incline dumbbell lateral raise

4. Triceps

Improve the muscles of the triceps – Triceps brachii laterl head and triceps brachii short head.

  • Triceps bench dips
  • Dumbbell skull crusher
  • Barbell Skull crusher
  • Narrow arm push up
  • Kneeling one arm dumbbell triceps extension

5. Biceps

Improve the muscles of the biceps – Biceps Brachii long head and Biceps brachii short head.​

  • Seated dumbbell bicep curls
  • Seated barbell bicep curls
  • Alternating dumbbell seated bicep curls
  • Alternating barbell seated bicep curls
  • Dumbbell hammer curls
  • Dumbbell alternating hammer curls

6. Core

Improve the internal and external muscles of the core – rectus Abdominis, external and internal oblique’s, transverse Abdominis hip flexors and erector spinae.

  • Face down superman kicks
  • Seated Russian twist
  • Decline plank (feet elevated)
  • Incline plank (hands elevated)
  • Incline side plank (Elbow elevated)
  • Decline side plank (feet elevated)
  • Incline mountain climbers
  • Elevated feet plank to pike
  • Body lift (Lift upper body off floor by holding bench)
  • Half body on, half body off hold

7. Glutes

Improve your gluteus maximus, medius and minimus.

  • Feet elevated glute bridge
  • Single leg foot elevated glute bridge
  • Hip thrusts
  • Step ups
  • Single leg step up
  • Bench squats
  • Goblet bench squats
  • Side step ups
  • Dumbbell side step ups
  • Single leg dumbbell hip thrust
  • Single leg barbell hip thrust

8. Quads

Improve your quadriceps muscles – rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius and vastus Medialis.

  • Barbell assisted squats
  • Dumbbell step ups
  • Barbell step ups
  • Single leg step ups
  • Bench jumps
  • Bulgarian split squat
  • Leg extension using bench with rollers
  • Beginner bench assisted thruster
  • Kneeling hip flexor stretch
  • Burpee jump onto bench
  • Lateral shuffle over bench
  • Bench step up jump

9. Hamstrings

Improve your hamstring muscles – Semitendinosis, Semimembranosis and biceps femoris.

  • Dumbbell lying hamstring curls
  • Single leg, leg curl
  • Leg curls using bench with rollers
  • Hamstring stretch
  • Box jumpsCentre jump

10. Calves

Improve the muscles of your calves – gastrocnemius and soleus.

  • Calf raises
  • Calf dips
  • Seated calf raises
  • Singe leg calf raises
  • Single leg calf dips
  • Single leg seated calf raises
  • Bench jumps

These 10 factors are the reasons why a weight bench should be included in your workout program in order to reach your fitness goals. As you can see, you are able to work almost every muscle in your body and provide your body with a muscle stimulus variation in your training regime to reduce a plateau in results when working towards achieving the results you desire. So, start using a weight bench today!

How A Weight Bench Can Help Improve Your Core Strength

A weight bench can help you improve your core strength more than you would think it could. The weight bench is versatile. It can be used in many ways for a variety of muscle groups and that includes the core.

The core does not just refer to your abdominals. It is a collective term referring to your entire torso including your abdominals, oblique’s, lower back (erector spinae) and gluteal. These muscles work to stabilize and protect your spine during movement. There are muscles of the inner core and outer core.

The inner core is comprised of the diaphragm, pelvic floor, multifidi, deep cerviacal flexors and transverse Abdominis. The outer core is responsible for movement more so than the inner core. It is comprised of the Latissimus dorsi (lats), spinal erectors (erector spinae), gluteal complex, quadratus lumborum and hip flexors.

You can utilise the weight bench to improve the strength, size and endurance of these core-based muscles, and improve your core overall. Improving your core strength and stability will show results in many different sports and activities, as well as in everyday life.

There are many different types of weight benches that you can use to your benefit when training your core. This includes the standard flat weight bench, adjustable weight bench, 90-degree weight bench and the weight bench with leg rollers. All of these weight benches can be used in different ways to supplement your core training routine.

This article will run through how each type of weight bench can be used to improve your core strength.

Standard flat weight bench:​

The standard flat weight bench can be utilized for the following exercises and their respective core musculature:

1. Straight leg raises

This exercise works your lower abdominals comprised of the rectus Abdominis, internal abdominal obliques and the transverse Abdominis.

2. Gluteal bridges (Feet on bench)

This exercise works your rectus Abdominis, erector spinae, hamstrings, adductors and the all important and main muscle the gluteal.

3. Single leg step up


This exercise works your gluteus maximus and minimus and core stabilizers erector spinae rectus Abdominis and oblique’s.

4. Hip raises (Back on bench)


This exercise works your gluteus maximus and the abdominal muscles rectus Abdominis, oblique’s and erector spinae.

5. Superman kicks.

This exercise works your gluteal and erector spinae of the lower back.

6. Incline plank

This exercise works your rectus Abdominis, erector spinae, oblique’s and gluteal.

7. Incline side plank


This exercise works primarily your Oblique’s and rectus Abdominis.

8. Seated Russian twist with weight plate

This exercise works your rectus Abdominis and your external and internal obliques.

9. V-sit with knee tucks

This exercise works your rectus Abdominis and the oblique’s.

10. Elevated mountain climbers



This exercise works your transverse Abdominis, rectus Abdominis, oblique’s as well as your gluteus maximus, medius and minimus.

​Adjustable weight bench:

The adjustable weight bench can be utilized for the following exercises and their respective core musculature.

1. Decline abdominal crunches

This exercise primarily works your rectus Abdominis.

2. Decline oblique crunches

This exercise predominantly works your oblique’s as well as your rectus Abdominis.

90-degree weight bench:​

The 90-degree weight bench can be utilized for the following exercises and their respective core musculature.

1. Dumbbell side bends

This exercise works your external oblique’s.

2. 90-degree L sit hold

This exercise works your rectus Abdominis, erector spinae and hip flexors.

Weight bench with leg rollers:​

The weight bench with leg rollers can be utilized for the following exercises and their respective core musculature.

1. Crunches

This exercise works your rectus Abdominis, transverse Abdominis and oblique muscles.

2. Oblique crunches

This exercise works the oblique’s and hip flexors predominantly as well as your rectus Abdominis.

3. Back extension

This exercise works the erector spinae and the multifidis.

Try adding these exercises to the end of your usual workout or a selection of these exercises that work your entire core. By doing so, you will be able to improve the strength of your core musculature. To improve the strength of your core as much as possible via these exercises, try to do 3 – 5 sets of 8 – 10 repetitions of each exercise. Now your have an idea of what exercises can be done on what type of weight bench, put them together and try it for yourself and improve your core strength!