Marcy Weight Benches | Marcy Utility Bench

The Bench

The bench is a basic piece of weight training equipment. Its primary purpose is to supply a platform on which a lifter can lay down and drop his elbows below the plane created by his back. This wouldn't be possible on a normal platform because it would simply get in the way. Weight benches are useful because they are just wide enough to support someone's back while leaving room for the arms to move.

The application I mentioned above is one of the most common for weight and utility benches, although there are a myriad of other uses as well. Some act as seats with back support, which is useful for seated overhead presses and various types of dumbbell curls. Additionally, most can also be set on an incline which makes them ideal for a myriad of other exercises, including the incline bench press, incline flies, and incline dumbbell curls.

Due to the versatility of benches, they are used in almost home and commercial gym. While home gyms may only require one or two benches, most commercial gyms make use of many. For home gyms, I feel the most useful and cost-effective combination is a utility bench combined with a power rack.

Exercises Done on a Bench

As I mentioned above, the bench is an important piece of basic gym equipment. It's almost impossible to put together a solid gym without having a bench of some sort. There are just so many exercises that take advantage of it, that I'm hard-pressed to find another viable solution. Here is a list of exercises that can be done on a bench; note that it isn't all-inclusive.

  • Bench Press
  • Incline Bench press
  • Dumbbell Press
  • Incline Dumbbell Press
  • Seated Overhead Press
  • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  • Arnold Press
  • Flies
  • Reverse Flies
  • Incline Flies
  • Decline Flies
  • Bent-over Dumbbell Rows
  • Lying Triceps Extension
  • Dumbbell Curls
  • Concentration Curls
  • Incline Dumbbell Curls
  • Box Squat
  • Bench dips
  • Lying barbell row

In addition to the exercises listed above, many weight benches also come with additional accessories that make them useful for performing other exercises that may have otherwise been difficult to do. For example, most high-end weight benches have either a leg extension mechanism or a preacher curl platform. Both of these help increase the versatility of the bench

Different Types of Benches

There is a distinction to be made between weight benches and utility benches. Most people assume they are the same thing, and some companies may market them as such, but each bench has a distinct purpose and use. Below, I'll go over some of the more common types of benches.

The Weight Bench

The weight bench is one of the more common types of bench. It usually consists of a bench surrounded by two supports and racks for a barbell. Many weight benches also have a place to hang standard Olympic weights. The most common exercise done on the weight bench is the bench press. Because of this, most weight lifters are very familiar with this bench.

The Utility Bench

The utility bench is different from the weight bench in that it doesn't have the rack for a barbell. Because of this, most utility benches aren't very useful for bench pressing unless you're working inside of a power cage or something of the sort. The utility bench is often capable of assuming several different positions and can have a multitude of uses. Most have an adjustable angle and height. The utility bench is useful for many exercises because the rack won't get in the way of the lift. Common exercises done on the utility bench are the dumbbell press, seated overhead press, and most incline exercises.

The Flat Bench

The flat bench is a lesser piece of equipment when compared to the utility bench. It's similar in that it doesn't have a rack for a barbell. The major downside of the flat bench is the inability to adjust its height or angle. In general, they're cheaper than utility benches and may be more comfortable for certain flat-back exercises, but overall I'd suggest the utility bench over the flat.

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    Bench Safety and Precautions

    Before I close this article, I just want to go over a few safety points and precautions that I feel need to be addressed.

    The first point I wanted to get across is that some exercises done on the bench shouldn't be attempted without a spotter. The primary ones that I am addressing are the bench and incline bench press. Both of these exercises can place you in a sticky situation if you are incapable of finishing the set. If you are using a power rack with appropriately placed spotting bars then this shouldn't be an issue. If you don't have someone to spot you, then I recommend just using a weight about 15% lower than your projected max for the set you are attempting.

    The second point I wanted to address has to do with the location of your gym area. I mentioned this in my power rack article as well, but I need to assume that not everyone is going to read all of my articles. Because of this, I just want to reiterate that it is not generally a good idea to be doing heavy lifts on a wooden floor without having adequate padding under it. If possible, I recommend doing your weight training in the basement or somewhere else with a concrete floor. This ensures that falling weights will not cause damage. As always, be careful with how you set down the weight no matter what and try to stick to using rubber weights as opposed to metal.

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