New Year’s Challenge: Make the Most of a Weight Bench

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

Increase your strength with the help of a weight bench. Today’s techniques and exercises will help you get more comfortable using a weight bench.

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We’re at the end of the week, and you’re still going strong! Weight training may feel a little intimidating, but we’re here to help. One of the less-talked about tools that can help you gain strength is a weight bench.

This simple piece of equipment can come in a few different forms. Some are slightly padded while others might be more of a utility bench with a hard surface. Adjustable weight benches, which you can use in a gym or in your home, let you set up the bench in different positions, so you can sit or lie down on it.

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3 Weight Bench Exercises to Try 

For today’s fitness activity, SilverSneakers LIVE trainer Shannon Thigpen guides you through a few simple techniques and exercises that use a weight bench. If you’d like to try these exercises at home and don’t have a weight bench, you can use the seat of a sturdy kitchen chair.

As always, safety is key. Get your doctor’s OK before beginning a new exercise program. If you have a chronic condition (including osteoporosis), balance issues, or injuries, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

Exercise #1: Bent-Over Row

  1. Stand to the side of the weight bench and place one knee on the bench. Hold a light weight in the opposite arm.
  2. Pushing your hips back and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel with the floor.
  3. Let the dumbbell hang at arm’s length from your shoulder, palms facing in.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you row the dumbbell up to the side of your torso, keeping your working elbow tucked close to your side.
  5. Pause, then slowly lower the dumbbell. That’s one rep.
  6. Do 8 to 12 reps, or as many as you can with good form.
  7. Switch sides and repeat with the other arm.


Exercise #2: Incline Forearm Plank

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  1. Place your forearms flat on the bench, your elbows should be directly underneath your shoulders. Focus your eyes between your hands and engage your core.
  2. From here, lift your hips toward the ceiling until your body forms a straight line from head to ankles.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds, or as long as you can with good form.


Exercise #3: Chest Press

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand, and lie faceup on a bench. Position the dumbbells just outside of and above your chest, palms facing away from your body. If you have cranky shoulders, try angling the dumbbells so that your palms face each other. Your elbows should flare about 45 degrees away from your torso. Do not let them flare straight out from your sides. Brace your core to press your low back into the bench. This is your starting position.
  2. From here, press the weights up and together until your arms are straight, but not locked out.
  3. Pause, then slowly lower the weights to return to start. That’s one rep.
  4. Do 8 to 12 reps.

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