The weight bench is a critical piece of equipment in performing many exercises. Generally made with metal legs and a soft pad wrapped in vinyl, the weight bench offers great support for exercises that require the use of a barbell or a set of dumbbells. Weight benches are available in two formats; the stationary version that is usually attached to a barbell rack and the adjustable version where the back can be set to a decline, flat, or incline.
Stationary Style Weight Bench
The difficulty associated with performing dumbbell exercises on weight benches arises from starting with the weights in a low position (as opposed to having the barbell above your head before you start the lift with a fixed weight bench). Caution should be taken when making use of the adjustable bench as there is a specific technique involved in starting most exercises while lifting solo (see incline bench press with dumbbells for an example). If you have a partner, they can usually hand you the weights once your body is in position on the bench.
Stationary Weight Bench
These are more commonly found in areas designated for exercises like bench press (with barbell) or military press (with barbell). While these exercises can be performed with dumbbells, the stationary weight bench makes working out with a barbell much simpler (as opposed to having someone hand you the barbell weight each time).
To clarify, a stationary weight bench is not completely set in a fixed position. The seat (generally on the incline version) has a height adjustment feature that provides proper support depending on the user's height. A lower set seat is for taller individuals where a higher set seat is for those not as tall. This adjustment is commonly performed by pulling a knob that is attached to a pin out, while at the same time, lifting the seat up or pressing is downward to find the optimal setting. It is advised to use the hand bar attached to the seat to aid in adjustment. If the weight bench is older and difficult to adjust, a slight jiggle or shaking of the handle will help.
Adjustable Style Weight Bench
Adjustable Weight Bench
As with the stationary weight bench, the adjustable weight bench also has an adjustable seat but the major difference is the back pad. This back is fully adjustable as well. The most common versions allow for the bench to be set flat or at an incline with varying levels of incline from parallel with the ground to completely perpendicular. The majority of exercises performed on the adjustable weight bench will make use of dumbbells due to the variety of workouts the adjustable feature allows one to perform.
There are also some versions out there that allow for the back pad to be set at a decline. This version usually has some kind of foot pads to keep the body from sliding off the bench.