10 Ab Exercises On A Weight Bench

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A weight bench is traditionally used to work out upper body muscles. Even so, you can also do a wide variety of ab exercises on a weight bench.

Before you give these ab exercises on the weight bench a try, keep in mind that you generally can’t target fat loss in specific body parts. These exercises can be helpful for building abs but relatively bad for losing belly fat. If that is your goal other lifestyle areas like your nutrition will have a bigger influence.

Also make sure the weight bench you intend to use is stable enough for the exercise to avoid any injuries.

It is definitely possible to train your ab with no-equipment exercises but a weight bench may offer extra benefits. You can hold the weight bench for stability, using a weight bench opens up specific exercises, it has a soft surface, and it allows you to make certain ab exercises weighted with a barbell.

Lastly, keep in mind that implementing these exercises can offer benefits but like any exercise, there is always some risk of injury. Especially if you have a sensitive lower back you want to be careful when doing these weight bench exercises for your abs and implement a good technique. When in doubt talk to an expert.

1. Crunches

Crunches are one of the most popular ab exercises out there and for a good reason, one study suggests they are more effective than sit-ups for building abs (1). One repetition of a crunch involves the following steps:

  1. Lie down on the weight bench on your back with your legs bent at the knees and your feet flat on the bench.
  2. You can place your hands behind your head, cross them over your chest, or put them anywhere else. The point is to not really use your arms or move them during the exercise.
  3. Raise your head and shoulders from the bench as much as possible while keeping your lower back on the weight bench. Make sure you don’t use your arms but your ab muscles to do this movement.
  4. Lower your head and shoulders until you are back in the starting position.

One study measured the difference in muscle activation between regular crunches, stability ball crunches with the ball against the upper back, and stability ball crunches with the ball against the lower back.

They measured that stability ball crunches with the ball against the lower back engaged ab muscles and obliques more than regular crunches. And that in turn, regular crunches activated these muscles more than crunches with the ball against the upper back (2).

The stability ball is a different piece of equipment but this suggests that using the weight bench in a similar position, with only your lower back resting on it, for crunches may offer the same benefits.

2. Sit-ups

Sit-ups are a typical ab exercise that you can also do on a weight bench. To do one sit-up take the following steps:

  1. Start lying down on the weight bench on your back with your legs bent at the knees and your feet flat on the bench. If you want to do weight sit-ups with a barbell, unrack the barbell and either hold it up in the air or against your chest.
  2. Curl up your body until your chest is close to your knees. Start with your shoulders and as you get closer to your knees more and more of your upper body gets off the ground. Make sure your abs and not the momentum of your arms power the movement.
  3. Slowly curl down your body again. Your lower back goes first and gradually more and more of your upper body touches the ground again.

To build the most muscle mass you want to do about 4 sets of 10-40 sit-ups depending on how advanced you are.

There are also sit-up benches which are weight benches specifically made for sit-ups. These allow you to put the bench in decline which can make sit-ups more challenging.

3. Reverse crunches

To do a reverse crunch take the following steps:

  1. Lie down on your back on the bench with a 90-degree angle in both your hips and knees. Your arms can hold the weight bench for stability.
  2. Slowly move your knees towards your chest while keeping your hips and knees in a 90-degree angle. To do this your hips and lower back will come off the ground. Stop right before the middle of your back would come off the ground too.
  3. Lower your lower back, hips, and legs back into starting position in a controlled motion.

Reverse crunches can be a good alternative to more traditional ab exercises like sit-ups and crunches if you have trouble keeping your neck and back straight.

4. Lying leg raises

To do one leg raise take the following steps:

  1. Start lying down on your back with your legs stretched and right next to each other on the weight bench. You can hold the weight bench with your hands for balance.
  2. Slowly turn your hips and move them toward your chest. In theory your legs should not really move relative to your hips. You can go as far as raising your lower back off the weight bench Keep the middle of your back on the weight bench.
  3. Slowly lower your legs back to the weight bench.

Ankle weights are especially good for making leg raises weighted since it is so hard to add other external weights to this exercise in a safe way.

Depending on the equipment available in your gym you can also do leg raises vertically on gym machines like the captain’s chair and hanging from a pull-up bar.

5. Side plank dips

To do a side plank dip take the following steps:

  1. Put one forearm on the weight bench with the upper arm of that arm vertical to support your body.
  2. Walk away from the bench with your feet until your body is in a sideways plank.
  3. Move your hips as far down as comfortable.
  4. Move your hips as far up as comfortable.
  5. Return your body into the position of step 2 in a controlled motion.
  6. Repeat the same number of repetitions while leaning on your other arm.

By doing side plank dips on a weight bench instead of on the ground your body can go through a larger range of motion.

This sideways movement will mainly engage your oblique core muscles but also your abs to some extent.

6. Weight bench knee tucks

To do two weight bench knee tucks take the following steps:

  1. Sit on your hands and knees in front of the weight bench with your feet pointing towards it.
  2. Put one foot on the weight bench with your upper foot as the contact point with the bench.
  3. Put your second foot on the weight bench in the same way.
  4. Walk forward with your hands until your body is in a straight line. Keep your arms slightly less than stretched and vertically to the ground.
  5. Move the knee of one leg to your chest as far as you comfortably can. Keep your back straight throughout the movement.
  6. Return that leg to the position in step 4 in a controlled motion.
  7. Repeat the same movement with your other leg.

You can also do a more challenging version of this exercise on the stability ball.

7. V-ups

To do a v-up take the following steps:

  1. Lie down on the weight bench on your back with your legs stretched and right next to each other on the bench. You can hold your arms against your chest if you are relatively new to ab training, stretched above your head if you are more experienced.
  2. Keep your legs slightly less than stretched while you move them up slowly. At the same time curl up your upper body starting with your shoulders and continuing with the rest of your back until your upper body makes a V-shape with your legs. Make sure you use your abs and not the momentum of your arms to power the movement.
  3. Slowly lower your legs and upper body again. If you will do more repetitions you can keep your feet hovering just above the bench and your lower back pressed against the weight bench with the help of your abs. If you are done you can lower your legs.

Like with all of these exercises make sure you use the right technique when doing V-ups to avoid any injuries, especially if you plan to do weighted V-ups. If the described angle is not yet within your capabilities you can start with repetitions with smaller angles and build up from there.

8. Russian twists

The Russian twist is an ab exercise that involves twisting. Because of this, Russian twists also engage other core muscles like your obliques. To do two Russian twist repetitions take the following steps:

  1. You start sitting at the end of the weight bench with your legs bent at the knees and your feet hovering in the air. Make sure your back is straight and at about a 45-degree angle with the weight bench. If you want you can hold an extra external weight against your chest.
  2. Slightly twist your upper body to one side and then the other.
  3. Return to starting position.

By doing Russian twists it becomes easier to avoid putting your feet on the ground.

Make sure you don’t twist too far and keep your back straight to avoid any injuries. Even with the right technique Russian twists are not for everyone. If you have any back, neck, or shoulder issues you likely want to pass on this exercise.

9. Bench rainbows

To do two bench rainbows take the following steps:

  1. Sit on the weight bench facing the extended side of the bench with your legs bent at the knees and your feet hovering right above the bench.
  2. Move your feet held together to one side of the bench and move them down to right above the ground.
  3. Move your feet back into starting position.
  4. Repeat the same movement to the other side of the weight bench.

By combining both an upward/downward and sideways movement you engage both your abs and other core muscles like your obliques with bench rainbows.

10. Plank knee to elbows

To do two plank knee to elbows take the following steps:

  1. Sit on your hands and knees in front of the weight bench with your feet pointing towards it.
  2. Put one foot on the weight bench with your upper foot as the contact point with the bench.
  3. Put your second foot on the weight bench in the same way.
  4. Walk forward with your hands until your body is in a straight line. Keep your arms slightly less than stretched and vertically to the ground.
  5. Move the knee of one leg to the elbow of the opposite side as far as you comfortably can. Keep your back straight throughout the movement.
  6. Return that leg to the position in step 4 in a controlled motion.
  7. Repeat the same movement with your other leg.

You can also do knee to elbows by moving your knee to the elbow of the same side. This version will focus more on your abs alone and less on your obliques than the opposite side version.

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Author:

Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.