Exercises with a sit-up bench use the standard or modified sit-up movement and a bench. Bench sit-up exercises employ versatile movements that are modifiable to your needs and stabilize your abdominal muscles. The exercises are additionally modifiable to the ab bench which is similar to the sit-up bench. The most significant difference between the two is that sit-up benches are specifically used for sit-ups. Sit-up-focused workouts target the core, but specific exercises like the incline leg raise or lower back extensions emphasize specific muscles. Benches are also versatile tools to have in your home gym as several workouts employ a sit-up or ab bench to help you build core strength.
The ab bench and sit-up bench are complicated devices to use if you don’t know what to do with them. Sit-up exercises are suitable to incorporate into bench workouts as they’re versatile and strengthen your entire midsection. The bench becomes an especially handy commercial or home gym accessory once you’ve become familiar with sit-up exercises.
Below, we’ll look at seven exercises with a sit-up or ab bench. We’ll go over what the exercises are, the steps to complete them, and additional tips. Some exercises are beginner friendly while others require experience.
1. Incline Leg Raises
Incline leg raises target your lower abs and obliques. The exercise will also engage your hips and legs so you get the most out of it as a sit-up exercise.
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 the sit-up bench 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 are a type of sit-up exercise that involves a bench and works your entire midsection. Reverse crunches are good for strengthening your upper abs and are safe to perform. The workout, alongside other sit-up bench exercises, consequently counts toward our list of most effective ab training workouts.
Perform 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. Ab Bench Push Ups
Ab bench push-ups are beginner-friendly workouts that function as sit-up exercises. Push-ups on an ab bench 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 an alternative bench exercise for normal sit-ups. Decline sit-ups provide a much greater range of movement. They make a good addition to any intermediate to the advanced training program. Working your abs from top to bottom, you’ll feel the burn with this one, for sure.
Observe the 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
Russian twists are a form of exercise that modifies standard bench sit-ups by employing a bench and left-to-right twist. 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
Lower back extensions are another type of modified sit-up bench exercise. Lower back extensions are ideal for those who enjoy squats and deadlifts as it targets your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. The 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
The decline chest press targets your lower pectoral muscles. A sit-up bench is a 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.
There is a variety of sit-up exercises with a bench to choose from. The exercises we’ve listed above range in difficulty and target several different muscles. Remember to listen to your body and its limits. The sit-up and ab bench are versatile pieces of equipment, so follow the listed instructions and find what works for you. The sit-up bench serves exceptionally well in a home gym if you’re looking for a workout multitool that’s adaptable to your needs. Discover your favorite and modify it safely to match your goals.