Utility Benches: Uses, Benefits, Applications

Key Points

  • Using a utility bench significantly impacts and improves your workouts.

  • Utility bench exercises are varied, providing many options for designing an enjoyable workout routine.

  • Different types of workout benches allow you to customize movements and adjust equipment for your most efficient exercises.

If you want to improve your fitness, gain strength and look better, a utility bench is essential for your home gym. Also known as workout benches, exercise benches, and gear benches, this sturdy piece of equipment offers exercise versatility and safety when performing your workouts.

The utility bench is ideal for strength training and other types of conditioning.

A simple design makes this equipment accessible to almost anyone, regardless of fitness level, and provides support to prevent injuries. Its versatility allows you to increase the difficulty and efficiency of your workout efforts.

Benefits of Using a Utility Bench in Your Workouts

Maybe resistance bands have been working for you, and that's great. Perhaps you're a barbell junkie and prefer to do squats and lifts to demonstrate full body power. Have you considered how the utility bench can leverage your success and make your power moves even more efficient and effective?

Using a weight bench for exercise offers several benefits.

Utility bench for workouts

Increased Muscle Development

The weight bench allows you to perform exercises targeting specific muscle groups like the chest, back, arms, and shoulders. Bench presses, for example, are a great way to target chest muscles, while bent-over rows are efficient at sculpting and training back muscles.

You maximize muscle development in these areas when you focus on a specific muscle group.

Progressive Overload

Using a utility bench provides "progressive overload" — the gradual increase of weight lifted over time. This also improves muscle development as you adapt to the increased load and become stronger and more defined.

Improved Range of Motion

A utility bench provides more range of motion during exercise, which increases muscle activation and promotes better overall gains in strength and stamina.

More Stability

The weight bench features adjustable leg braces and safety bars, keeping you more stable during exercise. This added stability significantly reduces your risk of injury and allows you to lift heavier weights and perform exercises with better form, leading to more efficient movement and function of your whole body.

The Many Uses of a Utility Bench

When talking about home gyms, getting the most bang for your buck is important, right? Finding multifunctional pieces gives you the best outcome when customizing your workouts.

Some of the most common exercise types on a weight bench include free weights, kettlebells, and barbells. The most popular weight bench exercises include:

  • Concentrated curls

  • Bench press

  • Dumbbell rows

  • Lying tricep extensions

  • Shoulder press

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of exercises and movements you can do with a weight bench. The bench serves as a platform for step-ups, push-ups, and core work. It also supports stretching your muscles after a demanding workout.

While the function of utility benches seems straightforward, different design styles facilitate specific exercises. Regardless of your preferred exercise, there is a utility bench design that is perfect for your workout.

Types of Utility Benches

Utility benches come in all shapes and sizes. With adjustable features, built-in attachments, and contoured surfaces, you only need a little knowledge to apply its function to your ever-changing physique.

Here are some of the most common types of weight benches and the exercises they support.

Kettlebell workout on utility bench

Flat Weight Benches

The flat weight bench is a simple, straightforward option for weight training with no additional features. A flat bench platform on sturdy legs provides a surface for free weight and barbell exercises. The back pad remains horizontal to allow for a larger surface on which to work.

Choose a flat bench for a no-frills, economical approach to weight training that gets the job done.

Various exercises use flat benches. These include shoulder presses, chest presses, dumbbell rows, skull crushers, and other dumbbell and barbell exercise combinations. Fitness enthusiasts also use them for efficient bodyweight work with exercises like step-ups, tricep dips, and push-ups.

This bench accommodates exercises done lying down or sitting, making it a perfect addition to your home gym setup.

Adjustable Utility Benches

As you might have guessed, the adjustable utility bench has several different looks. Flat, incline, and decline positions give you more options for working out. These varying positions allow you to target muscle groups in different ways.

Using an incline and decline position makes it especially effective for zeroing in on smaller muscle groups you sometimes miss with traditional positions.

Declining your bench increases the difficulty of specific exercises by adding that extra challenge of working against gravity. Exercises such as abdominal crunches become even more intense with added resistance.

Adjustable weight benches are perfect for exercises like bench presses, dumbbell flys, incline presses, tricep dips, squats, and step-ups.

Foldable Weight Benches

The foldable weight bench is ideal for home gyms and limited spaces. It stores easily after you finish your hard work.

Most foldable benches also function as adjustable utility benches, providing the same benefits and functionality as other benches while being easier to store.

If you select this type of bench for your home workout setting, choose a model with a reputation for sturdiness, strength, and quality construction. This ensures it can take the added weight of you and your workout equipment.

Utility Stools

The utility stool resembles a padded chair that maintains an upright position. Some utility stools have footholds at the bottom of the bench. These great features provide added control and more stability for your workouts.

The utility stool is an excellent option for any move from a normal seated position. Concentration curls, military presses, wrist curls, and other exercises allow you to isolate muscles for efficient, fat-burning, and muscle-sculpting results.

Olympic Utility Benches

The Olympic utility bench may be a perfect choice if you're into serious heavy lifting. An Olympic weight bench construction pairs nicely with Olympic-sized bars and weight plates, which dwarf standard weight plates and bars.

These weight benches are wider and longer than standard ones and are built to handle heavier weights.

Chest press on utility bench

With a broader base, heavy padding, and a more durable frame to support increased weight, the Olympic bench offers a wider adjustability range to accommodate different exercises and user heights. Some Olympic benches include additional features like squat racks and attachment points for other accessories.

These innovative features make the bench a more versatile piece of equipment that facilitates even the most vigorous and demanding workouts.

What To Look For When Choosing a Utility Bench

When considering which bench is best for your unique situation and fitness goals, think about your specific needs. Look for these features and benefits to find your perfect piece.


The size of a weight bench matters. Even minor differences in dimensions can affect your overall experience. Even a few inches make a significant difference in the stability and performance of your exercises.

The distance from a weight bench seat or back pad to the floor is typically 16 to 18 inches. Choosing a weight bench with the appropriate height is crucial to fit your body and personal comfort preferences.

Pad Style and Width

Weight benches vary slightly in seat and back pad width. Wider pads offer increased comfort and support, but be sure they don't impede your range of motion or limit movement. Plush, thick padding makes for a comfortable workout, but firmness is also a factor in ensuring proper exercise form and efficiency.

Finding the right balance between comfort and support is critical to selecting the bench that suits your needs.

Adjustment Settings

Weight benches offer a variety of adjustment settings. These settings adjust a bench's angle and position, moving the seat and back pad to different heights. These adjustments enable you to target different muscle groups and perform exercises more easily and efficiently.

Carefully read product descriptions of different benches to determine those offering the best position options for your desired workouts.

Weight Capacity

What kind of weight must your weight bench support? Your chosen bench supports your body weight and any dumbbells, barbells, and other equipment you use with it.

Weight capacities for benches vary, usually ranging from 500 to 1500 pounds — more for heavy-duty models. To ensure you select a bench with the appropriate weight capacity, factor in the weight of your body and the equipment you plan to use. This is the maximum capacity needed for your weight training routine.

Add-Ons and Additional Features

Several add-ons and additional features are used with weight benches to enhance their functionality and versatility.

  • Leg developers allow you to perform leg curls and extensions to target the lower body.

  • Preacher curls attachments target the biceps, giving you an enviable upper-body definition, coordination, and strength.

  • A tricep dip attachment allows you to perform dips, which is particularly effective for targeting triceps and chest muscles.

  • A lat pulldown attachment sculps and trains muscles in the shoulders and upper back, giving you that lean, V-shaped physique many find so attractive.

  • Weight plate storage on some weight benches is a convenient way to keep weights organized and easily accessible, making your workouts more effective.

  • Resistance band pegs give you the option of attaching resistance bands, which add a boost of extra strength to your workouts.

Dumbbell exercise using utility bench

Ready, Set, Workout!

You've got the equipment and you've got the drive. It's time to combine the most effective exercises for workout and fitness success.

If you think getting a full-body workout with a utility bench is impossible, think again.

Chandell Stallworth, a New York-based certified personal trainer and nationally certified Pilates instructor, believes wholeheartedly in the effectiveness of the weight bench.

"You can definitely get a good full-body workout using your exercise bench and whatever weights — whether dumbbells, a barbell, or a kettlebell — you have available," Stallworth says.

Follow these most effective moves to shred fat and uncover lean, sculpted muscle in no time.

Single Leg Crossover

The single-leg crossover is a great workout bench move for targeting the lower body. It targets the glutes, quads, and hamstrings, helping to work on your balance.

For an extra burn and burst, use dumbbells or ankle weights — but be sure you have a stable surface to land on while you work on your balance and coordination.

Place one foot on your bench, stabilizing it as you lift the other foot off the ground, crossing it behind the foot resting on the bench. Tap the toe of your moving leg on either side of the bench, crossing behind you as you keep your other foot firmly planted on the bench.

Repeat 10 to 20 times on each side.

Lateral Hops

Lateral hops effectively strengthen calves, quads, arms, and hamstrings. It's also a surefire way to get your heart rate up.

Lean forward over the length of your bench, keeping a slight bend in the knees. Make sure your shoulders align with your hands and wrists. Engage your core as you hop your legs and jump to the opposite side of the bench.

Hop back and forth for a minimum of 10 to 20 reps.

Single Arm Dumbbell Row

Build enviable arms and upper back with the effective dumbbell row. Use a mirror to ensure good form as you perform them.

Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and bend over to place your left knee and left hand on the bench. Be sure your shoulders align with your hand on the bench and your left knee is in line with your hip. Engage your core, keep your back flat as you let the dumbbell hang, then pull it upwards. Bend your elbow up and back and then gently release back down until your arm is straight again.

Repeat for 10 to 15 reps and then switch sides to repeat movements with your left hand.

Bicep curls on utility bench

Step-Up with Kick Back

Step-ups target the hips, hamstrings, quads, and glutes. This comprehensive movement tightens and tones all the muscles in the lower body.

Stand on the side of the bench and step up with one foot, digging your heel into the bench. Keep your torso upright as you raise to stand on the bench with one foot. Take the leg on the floor and kick it back behind you as you raise up. Contract the top of your glute with the extended leg. Bring that foot back in place on the floor, moving in a fluid motion as you balance on your other leg the whole time.

Perform 10 reps on each leg.

Dumbbell Pullover

Dumbbell pullovers work the biceps, lats, triceps, and pectoral muscles. Use a weight you are comfortable with to avoid injuring your head or face as you start.

Lie down on a workout bench, holding a dumbbell on one end. Extend your arms above your head, then lower the dumbbell to behind your head.

Repeat this movement for three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

Incline Push-Up

An incline push-up is slightly easier than regular push-ups, yet it still gives the triceps, core, and pectorals an excellent workout.

Place your hands on the bench just wider than your shoulders, with your chest over the bench. Walk your feet back so that your whole body is straight from your shoulders to your feet. Bend your elbows back toward your body and lower your chest until it almost touches the bench. Press back up until you fully extend your arms.

Perform three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

Tricep Dips

Triceps are the glamour muscles that pop in summer tees, swimsuits, and evening wear. Working them out is important to ensuring upper body balance and strength.

To perform a tricep dip, sit on the side of the bench with your hands beside you. Extend your legs straight out in front of you, then bend your elbows to lower your body toward the ground until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Press through the bench until you extend your arms again.

Aim for three to four sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

Side Plank

What would a whole-body workout be without some core work? A side plank trims the waistline and contributes to full-core strength.

Begin with your palm on the bench and your elbow straight or a bent elbow and forearm on the bench. Walk your feet out to the side and stack your top foot on your bottom foot while keeping your knees straight. Ensure that feet, hips, and shoulders are in line while pushing hips away from the floor. Maintain this straight line from head to heels, holding for 60 seconds.

Try two repetitions on each side.

Back row on utility bench

Design Your Best Workout Yet!

Utility benches are an effective tool for achieving whole-body fitness. This equipment provides a versatile, challenging workout by incorporating exercises that specifically target different muscle groups.

As you consider the perfect choice for your fitness needs, know that you are taking steps to uncover your best body yet.

For more tips and advice on how to optimize your health and wellness, visit FitnessCorner. Happy training!

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