A weight bench is traditionally used to work out upper body muscles. Even so, you can also use it to do a variety of leg exercises.
Leg exercises can help you strengthen your muscles, strengthen your bones, control weight, improve your mood, and many more things.
Before you give these exercises a try make sure the weight bench you will use is strong and stable. For some exercises, it may also be smart to do them next to another stable object you can hold for balance.
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 sensitive knees you want to be careful when doing these weight bench exercises for your legs and implement a good technique. When in doubt talk to an expert.
Table of Contents
1. Bench squats
Bench squats are one of the most popular leg exercises, squats, with the help of a weight bench. To do a bench squat take the following steps:
- Stand in front of the bench with your back towards it. Your feet should be at about shoulder-width.
- Slowly lower your hips by bending your knees until you sit down on the weight bench. You will likely have to bend forward for balance but keep your back in a straight line throughout the movement.
- Pause a second or two on the weight bench.
- Push yourself up again into starting position.
By doing squats this way you avoid using momentum or bounce to push yourself up.
If bodyweight bench squats are too easy for you, you can also try doing these with 1 leg. You can also add external weights like a weighted vest, dumbbells, or a barbell.
For step-ups your weight bench needs to be sturdy, stable, and nonslippery. If it has these properties to do weight bench step-ups take the following steps:
- Stand upright in front of the weight bench with your feet at shoulder-width.
- Raise one foot and put it on the surface of the weight bench. Make sure your sole is entirely on the seat.
- Raise your body by exerting pressure with the leg of the foot that is on the weight bench.
- Put your second foot next to the other one.
- Step down with the first foot.
- Step down with the second foot.
- Do a repetition with the other foot first.
Weight bench step-ups are generally more challenging for your leg muscles than regular lunges. This can lead to more muscle growth.
3. Hip thrusts
Hip thrusts are similar to glute bridges but instead of doing them on the ground, you use a weight bench to elevate your upper body. To do a hip thrust take the following steps:
- Sit right in front of the bench with your back slightly over the edge. Make sure the bench is stable. It is possible you have to put the bench against a wall. Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width in a position where your knees will be at a 90-degree angle in the next step.
- Move up your hips until your body is in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Slowly lower your body again.
One of the most common types of equipment to add extra resistance to hip thrusts is with the help of a barbell.
4. Bulgarian split squats
Since one leg will have to exert so much effort, Bulgarian split squats are generally a more advanced leg exercise than regular squats and lunges. To do a Bulgarian split squat take the following steps:
- Stand in front of the weight bench with your back towards it. Keep about half a leg distance between you and the weight bench.
- Move one leg back and put the foot of this leg on the surface of the weight bench. The top of your foot should lean on the surface.
- Slowly lower your hips by bending the knee of your stretched leg until your hip is at about the height of your knee in the previous position. Use your arms for balance if needed.
- Push yourself up again into the position of step 2.
Don’t forget to do a set of repetitions balancing on the leg of the other side to keep your muscle distribution balanced.
5. Calf raises
Make sure your weight bench is stable enough and your shoe soles non-slippery enough for this next exercise to avoid any injuries. To do a calf raise with the help of a weight bench take the following steps:
- Stand on the edge of the weight bench. The ball of your feet (the front part of your feet) should be on the edge of the weight bench, your heels should hover in the air.
- Lower your body as far as possible while keeping your feet in the same position.
- Raise your body as far as possible again keeping your feet in the same position.
As the name implies this weight bench exercise is for training your calf muscles.
You can also do a calf raise while sitting on the weight bench. Potentially with external weights like a weight plate on your knees to make it slightly more challenging.
6. Bench jumps
The box jump is an exercise to improve jump height that is generally done on a plyo box. If you want to do bench jumps make sure your weight bench is very stable, sturdy, and nonslippery.
If you have a suitable weight bench to do a bench jump take the following steps:
- Stand upright in front of the weight bench with your feet at shoulder width.
- Bend into about a quarter squat while you swing your arms back.
- Swing your arms to the front again and at the same time jump forward on top of the weight bench. When landing you want to have your knees more or less at the quarter squat again. If you are squatted lower, this may be a sign the weight bench is too high for your current jump level.
Make sure you pay attention to using the right technique to avoid any injuries. For box jumps it is also smart to start with a low height and build up from there. Being too optimistic about your capabilities can be especially punishing when doing bench jumps.
There are many objects more suitable than a weight bench for box jumps but if needed you could do it.
7. Leg extensions
To do a leg extension take the following steps:
- Sit on the weight bench so that your knees start at a 90-degree angle. Keep a good posture throughout the exercise.
- Stretch your legs slowly.
- Lower your feet back to the ground in a controlled motion.
Leg extensions are a more isolated but less challenging way than lunges and squats to engage your quadriceps, front thigh, muscles if you only use your body weight.
Most people want to use something like resistance bands for building muscle to make the exercise challenging enough. This is typically needed to see any significant muscle growth and strength progress.
You could also consider using other at-home-friendly leg extension equipment options like heavy ankle weights but these may not be challenging to train strong muscles like your quadriceps.