The 9 Best Olympic Weight Benches
Why Go With an Olympic Weight Bench (As Opposed to a Standard One?)
This is helpful for establishing a baseline weight before adding any individual plates.
In the long term, an Olympic weight bench represents a much wiser investment than any standard model.
Amateur weightlifters may not be able to spot a lot of divergence between an Olympic weight bench and an average one. But the differences are substantial, and they could have a lasting impact on everything from a person's ability to avoid injuries to his or her ability to develop muscle.
Olympic weight benches are longer (approximately five feet) and wider (11 inches) than their standard counterparts. This may seem minor until you consider that a weight bench's support is essential to avoiding routine injuries. On average, Olympic benches are also heavier and more stabilized than their traditional counterparts, which means that they won't buckle under overwhelming stress.
Most Olympic benches come with a seven foot, 45 pound barbell. This is helpful for establishing a baseline weight before adding any individual plates. What's more, there are certain Olympic benches that come with their own set of free weights, or several matching plates (i.e., 2.5-45 lbs) that add up to a total of 300 lbs.
In the long term, an Olympic weight bench represents a much wiser investment than any standard model. Olympic benches are so reliable that, between barbell weight and body weight, they can accommodate up to 600 pounds, and a lot of these benches provide so many features that they can address a full range of strength-training workouts.
Several Basic Exercises That You Can Do on a Weight Bench
The most common exercise associated with a weight bench is the bench press. In accordance with its name, a bench press requires that you lie with your back resting flat against the upper half of the bench. Your feet should be placed firmly on the ground, positioned parallel with your shoulders. Raise your arms to lift the barbell, which should be placed along the overhead rack.
Hold, and then push the barbell back up until your arms have straightened out.
Pick up the bar with both hands, and then lower it until it rests within an inch of your chest. Hold, and then push the barbell back up until your arms have straightened out. Now repeat, bearing in mind that you can work the deltoids and the triceps by doing the same exercise while placing the bench at an incline.
Assuming you prefer to start in a standing position, move around to the back of the bench. Placing your hands parallel to your shoulders, grab the barbell and pull it up until it rests beneath your chin. Hold, and then lower the barbell until it reaches your stomach. Lift the barbell again, and repeat. This exercise, known as the barbell hang pull, is great for building your deltoids, your rhomboids, and your glutes. You can increase the difficulty by moving your hands closer together, or by increasing the weight on the bar.
On days when you want a break from the barbells, you can do some abdominal lifts to tone your core muscles. Lying flat on your back, take hold of the sides of the bench with both hands. Now raise both legs until your feet are approximately six inches higher than your waist. Hold this position for 20 seconds, and then lower your legs. Rest, and repeat. Over time, you can attempt to hold longer with each lift.
The goal with each of these exercises is to work up to doing 3-4 sets during a workout. To avoid muscle strains, it's best to focus on doing different exercises (thereby developing different muscle groups) on different days, and to avoid doing too many repetitions in one sitting.
A Brief History of The Weight Bench
The earliest form of repetition-based strength training was a push-up. Unlike lifting rocks or other massive objects, the push-up was an exercise that anyone could do. This might explain why the push-up dates all the way back to the Ancient Greeks and the Ancient Romans, and it also might explain why the push-up has remained so popular to this day.
Soon after, people began referring to weight boxes as benches, and the modern weight bench as we know it was born.
The only problem with a push-up, at least from a bodybuilding perspective, was that people would need to place static weights around their shoulders if they intended on building any additional muscle after arriving at a certain point. This proved to be difficult in that the ground had zero give. The Ancient Romans were the first to come up with the idea of pushing static weights forward, while gaining additional support by lying flat on their backs.
It wasn't until centuries later that the use of weighted bars came into play. These bars were important because they equally distributed the weight, thereby creating an opposing force that stimulated a person's muscles (a dynamic which would later become known as contraction).
Early barbells were designed with fixed orbs on either side. Iron plates were introduced during the 1800s, allowing for the easy addition or removal of weight from a standard bar. The first floor press (i.e., a chest press attempted while lying on a mat) was completed by a Russian bodybuilder named George Hackenschmidt in 1899. Floor presses remained a standard technique until the 1930s, at which point bodybuilders transitioned to pressing weights while lying on elevated boxes. These early "boxes" provided increased flexibility, while also eliminating a variety of safety concerns associated with pushing weight up from the floor.
The term bench press was popularized during the 1940s. Soon after, people began referring to weight boxes as benches, and the modern weight bench as we know it was born. Today, weight benches represent the central fixture of a multi-billion-dollar industry. You can find weight benches in every gym, and they are the most popular piece of fitness equipment that is sold for use within the home.