There are many angles and positions from which you can train your shoulders. A good weight bench can make certain exercises even more effective.
This weight bench is often not essential but it does allow you to focus more on the deltoids alone. In turn, this could offer more results and improve mind-muscle connection.
1. Seated shoulder press
For this first exercise, you preferably have a weight bench that can put its back pad vertically. That being said, you can also use a sturdy flat bench.
Besides one of these, you also need some resistance. You will likely prefer two dumbbells or a barbell but other options like kettlebells, resistance bands, and a workout sandbag can work too.
Once you have the required gear, take the following steps to do a seated shoulder press:
- Raise your weights up to shoulder height with a clean motion.
- While keeping the weights at shoulder height, sit down on the bench. If you have a vertical pad, put your back against it. If not, keep your spine more or less straight.
- Slowly push up the weights until your arms are slightly less than stretched. Throughout the first part of the movement, you want to point your upper arms slightly forward at about 45-degree angles or more to the horizontal line of your shoulders.
- Lower the weights back to the position of step 2 in a controlled motion. Again, keep the angles of your upper arms in mind in the second part of the movement.
Similar to the regular version, the seated shoulder press mainly works your front deltoids, side deltoids, triceps, and trapezius muscles.
By sitting down, you have to pay less attention to balance, leg muscle engagement, and core muscle engagement. Especially with a weight bench with a vertical pad.
2. Chest-supported rear delt fly
To do a chest-supported rear delt fly, you need an incline weight bench and two one-handed resistance types. For example, take the following steps to do the exercise with two dumbbells:
- Set the incline weight bench at about 30 degrees.
- Pick up two dumbbells and lean against the weight bench with your chest against the top part. Let your arms hang down for now. Keep your shoulder blades back and down if you really want to isolate the back part of your shoulder muscles.
- Move the dumbbells sideways and upward in a controlled motion until your arms are about horizontal.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells back into the position of step 2.
As the name implies, this weight bench exercise focuses on the rear (back part of) the deltoid muscles.
By doing the movement with your chest against the bench, you don’t have to pay attention to balance or work your lower back muscles as much as in the bent-over version.
3. Incline bench press
As the name implies, you want an incline weight bench for the next exercise. Additionally, you need some type of resistance. Typically something that can go heavy like a barbell is used.
Once you have these, take the following steps to do an incline bench press:
- Rack the barbell at a height where your arms are slightly less than stretched if you lie down on the bench and put your hands on the bar. Add the desired number of weight plates and find a spotter if needed.
- Lie down on the weight bench with your shoulder blades pulled back and down. Put your hands at about shoulder width on the barbell.
- Push the barbell up to unrack it and move it forward until your hands are above your chest.
- Slowly lower the barbell to your chest. Keep your upper arms at 45-degree or smaller angles to your sides.
- Push the barbell back into the position of step 3 in a controlled motion.
Most people know the bench press as a weight bench chest exercise and this area is still the main focus. However, the bench press also works your triceps and front deltoids a nice amount too.
Changing the angle of the weight bench actually influences what parts of what muscles you work in what ratios. The more incline you go, the more the bench press will focus on the front parts of your shoulders and upper chest.
You will likely have to lift less because these muscles are not as strong as the chest but this is not necessarily a bad thing.
4. Seated lateral raise
In the next seated exercise, a flat bench will do. A vertical back pad is not as useful for seated lateral raises as for the shoulder press. Additionally, you need two pieces of one-handed resistance.
With these things you can take the following steps to do a seated lateral raise:
- Pick up two dumbbells and sit down on the weight bench in a way where you can let your arms hang down for now. Keep your arms slightly less than stretched throughout the exercise.
- Slowly raise your arms sideways and upward until they are about horizontal.
- Lower your arms back into the position of step 1 in a controlled motion.
Seated lateral raises are a shoulder isolation exercise that focuses on the side parts of your deltoids.
Sitting down on a weight bench does offer some benefits similar to the chest-supported rear delt fly (less balance and core engagement).
However, the effects are not as big since you just stand up straight during the regular lateral raise. This is not as much of a difference as the bent-over vs chest-supported positions.
5. Seated front raise
The equipment requirements for the seated front raise are the same as the lateral version. Take the following steps to do the exercise:
- Pick up two dumbbells and sit on the end of a weight bench. Let your arms hang down beside you for now. Keep your arms slightly less than stretched throughout the exercise.
- Raise your arms forward in a controlled motion until they are about horizontal.
- Slowly lower your arms back into the position of step 1.
Seated front raises look and are similar to lateral raises but by changing the upward direction you focus on a different part of your shoulder muscles.
More specifically, seated front raises mainly work the front parts of your deltoids.
6. Feet-elevated pike pushups
A weight bench is definitely not the only option for people who want to do feet-elevated pike pushups.
That being said, this is still a shoulder exercise you could consider if you don’t have a lot of shoulder training equipment or simply want to switch things up.
Take the following steps to do a feet-elevated pike pushup:
- Sit on your knees right next to the weight bench.
- Put one foot on the bench, then the other foot, and raise your hips until your upper body is almost vertical or as far as comfortable. If needed, you can go less vertical for balance.
- Slowly lower your upper body by folding your arms until your head is right above the ground. Similar to the shoulder press, you want to point your upper arms somewhat forward in relation to the horizontal line of your shoulders.
- Move your body back into the position of step 2 in a controlled motion.
You can describe pike pushups as upside-down shoulder presses. By changing the angle, you can use your body weight as resistance for your front deltoids, side deltoids, triceps, and trapezius.
One downside of pike pushups is that the floor gets in the way of a full range of motion. You can resolve this somewhat by elevating your hands with pushup bars.
Additionally, it is hard to adjust your resistance during pike pushups precisely.
So most people will prefer one of the other bench shoulder exercises but you can try out feet-elevated pike pushups to see how much you like them.