Once considered the domain of men, bench exercises prove beneficial for women as well. In fact, both the American Heart Association and the Women’s Heart Foundation recommend two or three 20-minute sessions of strength training per week as part of the minimum fitness guidelines for adults. Do not fear that you will develop those stereotypical bulging muscles. Bench exercises can help you build strength while toning your body and burning fat.
If you want to rock sleeveless dresses, try this bench exercise that targets your front and outer deltoids. Sit on the edge of the bench with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, weighing anywhere from 5 to 20 lbs. Keeping your grip firm but not too tense, raise one of the weights until your arm is stretched overhead. Avoid over-extending your arm by keeping your elbow slightly bent. As you lower the weight, slowly raise the weight in the opposite hand. Make sure to hold your body straight as opposed to leaning toward the weight. Inhale on the exertion and exhale on the release downward.
Some bench workouts also can raise your target heart rate, making them cardiovascular workouts as well. Such is the case with bench push-ups, an all-over body workout. The key to making these push-ups work your body is to keep your arms wide, further apart than your shoulders. Stand with your feet apart and your palms on the bench. Inhale and contract your abdominal muscles as you slowly lower your upper body, led by your chest, to the bench. Hold the down position for two beats before exhaling and pushing your body upward. To further strengthen your upper arms and pectoral muscles, lift one leg at a time as you do the push-ups.
Split Stance Dumbell Curl
If your time is limited, try exercises that target multiple muscle groups, like the split stance dumbbell curl. Set one foot on the bench, set at a height slightly higher than knee level. This position makes you engage your core muscles to maintain balance during the exercise. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, with your palms facing forward and your arms relaxed at your sides. Inhale and do a bicep curl with both arms, keeping your upper arms still. Pause at the top before exhaling and slowly releasing the curl. Repeat this move for at least 10 repetitions.