You won’t ever need to queue up for the ab bench in a gym. Why? Because not many people know what to do with it. I agree, it looks like a complicated device. However, once you know what to do with it, it becomes a versatile and very handy commercial or home gym accessory.
Name aside, this piece of equipment is not only for abdominal training. In this article, I will be sharing with you 7 sit up bench exercises for more than just your core.
1. Incline Leg Raises
This exercise targets your lower abs and obliques. A great feature of this exercise is that it will also engage your hips. You will feel your legs too, the first few times you try this one out!
Start lying face-up on an ab bench, gripping the pads behind your head for support. Keeping your legs together and straight, lift them to form a 90-degree angle at the hips. Try to keep your lower back on the bench as you lower your legs down to starting position.
Existing core strength is required to perform this exercise safely. Otherwise, it is possible to place excessive strain on your lower back. If you’re new to working out, be cautious with this exercise.
2. Reverse Crunches
Reverse crunches work your entire mid-section. They’re especially good for strengthening your upper abs and are safe to perform.
Do this exercise lying supine on a sit up bench. Keep your legs together and bent at the knees. Holding onto the top of the bench behind you, curl your hips and lower back off the sit up bench. Try to bring your knees towards your chest, using your abs.
A key element of this exercise is tempo. Roll your lower back and hips back onto the bench, lowering your knees, slowly. The more time under tension the more intense the core workout!
3. Push Ups
A great option for newbies is ab bench push ups. They allow you to perfect your push up technique under less load. This exercise will work your arm, chest and core muscles!
The handles at the top of the ab bench make a sturdy place to put your hands and support yourself. Start with your hands in place, your feet firmly on the floor and your body in a straight line. Lower your body down into a push up. Note, the angle of the bench/your body assists your arm and chest muscles with some of the load of the push up.
Your push ups should consist of slow and controlled repetitions. Changing up the width of your hands will hit your arms and chest from different angles. This is a beginner exercise. If you’re a seasoned gym-goer, this might not be as challenging as you’d like.
4. Decline Sit Ups
Decline sit ups are a great alternative to normal sit ups. They provide a much greater range of movement. They make a good addition to any intermediate to advanced training program. Working your abs from top to bottom, you’ll feel the burn with this one, for sure.
Observe correct technique to avoid lower back pain. Hook your feet under the anchors and lie back onto the declined part of the ab bench. Maintaining a neutral spine, use your core to lift your torso until it’s vertical.
Lower yourself back down to starting position slowly. As you do so, brace your core and focus on not hyperextending through your lower back. This will ensure you perform the exercise effectively and prevent injuring yourself.
5. Russian Twists
If you’re familiar with my blog posts, you’ll know I love a Russian twist. This version has you performing the exercise using a sit up bench instead of sitting on the ground. Russian twists will give your obliques a solid workout!
Hold a medicine ball, dumbbell or weight plate between your hands. Hook your feet under the anchors and bend your knees over the ab bench. Keeping your back straight, extend at the hips (lean backwards) to a level of resistance you can control.
From here, twisting through your core, move the weight to and from the left and right sides of your body.
6. Lower Back Extensions
If you’re into your squats and deadlifts, this is a beneficial exercise for you! It targets your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. This ab bench exercise provides a good posterior chain workout. It can be done with just your body weight (and an ab bench).
To make things simple, think of this exercise as the opposite of an ab bench reverse sit up. Instead of being supine on the bench, you will be face down. You’ll begin on a decline and then engage your core and pull your torso upwards until it is horizontal. At this point, your glutes will be working hard!
There are two things to keep in mind when doing this exercise. Firstly, maintain a neutral spine throughout this exercise. Don’t feel the need to overextend. An overextension, whilst increasing the range, does not increase the benefit of the exercise. Secondly, make sure you give your glutes a good squeeze at the top of the movement.
7. Decline Dumbbell Chest Press
Different from its incline counterpart, the decline chest press targets your lower pectoral muscles. A sit up bench is the perfect tool for performing this exercise. It offers excellent support through it’s securing pads, so you can focus on your lift.
Start this exercise by lying on your back on a decline. Have your feet in the anchors and knees bent over the bench. Using either dumbbells or a barbell, push the weights away from you. The top of the movement is when your arms reach extension.
Take note of your wrist positioning. Your wrists should be in a neutral position throughout your chest press. They should not be flexed against the weight of your dumbbells or barbell. At the start of the press, your wrists and elbows should be lined up.
A Few Final Words
I hope these sit up bench exercises have given you some inspiration! As you can see, there are a range of exercises you can do. They range in difficulty and target a bunch of different muscles.
The sit up bench is a versatile piece of equipment. It serves exceptionally well in a home gym if you’re looking for a workout ‘multitool’. What’s your favorite ab bench exercise? Let us know in the comments section below!