Last Updated on November 15, 2022 by Patrick
The Best Weight Bench Exercises for Legs
In the gym environment, weight benches perform a vital supportive function. They help you to focus entirely on the muscle that you’re targeting without worrying about your balance or control of the underlying apparatus.
Think of it like this: When you’re on an elliptical, you’re certainly targeting your leg muscles but you’re simultaneously trying to maintain control of your balance. While that has its own benefits, there are times when you want to get more bang-for-your-buck when concentrating on a particular muscle.
Plus, when you’re beginning a new routine or are inexperienced with a particular exercise, weight benches can help provide some stability. This means you can focus more on the correct posture and movement instead of relying on the momentum of the exercise movements (which is a bad practice!).
Why Use a Weight Bench for Leg Exercises?
Think weight benches are only used by bodybuilders when they’re pumping some iron? Think again!
Weight benches are surprisingly versatile – you can use them for equipment and body-oriented exercises. That means in addition to the infamous bicep curls, bench presses, and dumbbell-involving exercises you can also do some step-ups, core exercises, and even some cardio exercises like the box shuffle.
Alright, now that you’ve gotten some background about the machine let’s talk about what’s in it for you. First off, bench exercises can really lift your leg muscles to a new level.
We’re talking beyond treadmills and ellipticals now! We’ll explore the benefits of the weight bench for your legs through various exercises so that you can pick out what works for you and just “drag-and-drop” the exercise to your fitness regime!
The 5 Best Weight Bench Exercises for Legs
1. Bulgarian Split Squat
Also known as the bench lunge, the Bulgarian Split Squat is one the best weight bench exercises for legs.
This exercise targets your glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves. A full lower body workout is a great way to start the list right?!
With one leg pulled back in a fashion such that your foot lies comfortably on the weight bench, you’re simply going to relax your body and try to go as far down as you can. Since you’re relying on one foot to maintain your balance – you are also working to maintain your balance.
This exercise doesn’t have to be performed using any weights, but once you’re comfortable doing multiple reps you can carry some dumbbells to increase the difficulty.
2. Pistol Squat
If you’re struggling with squats, you can use this exercise as an intermediary point on your journey. Plus, they’re also known by a fancier name: The Pistol Squat.
You start off in a standing position with your hands clamped together (like you’re praying) and slowly bend your knees until your lower body touches the bench. Then, go back to the vertical position.
Once you’re comfortable with that, you can lift one of your legs /as you’re going down/ and balance using the other leg. Lastly, you can use your hands to hold to a weight to further increase the difficulty level.
Who said squats can’t be done creatively?
3. Step Down
The step down is exactly what it sounds like. You start off standing on the weight bench and slowly protrude your arms as you extend one leg downwards. As you can imagine, since you’re maintaining your balance with one leg you’ll be engaging your abs as well.
Working out your quadriceps and glutes is a great way to unwind after sitting in a chair for 8 hours (I can almost hear the IT guys and gals breathing a sigh of relief as they hear a way to fix their pain this is seriously one of the best weight bench exercises for legs for people with office jobs).
4. Step Up
Okay, I’m not playing a joke on you – the exercises are legitimately called “Step Down” and “Step Up”!
When performing this exercise, you’re going to do the opposite of what you did above. Standing in a vertical position facing the weight bench, you’re going to position your hands like you were boxing (but placed at the same level) and place one foot on top of the bench while using the other to “knee” the air. Then, come back down and repeat with the other foot.
These weight bench exercises for legs don’t require any weights on their own. If you want to make it more challenging, you can make your “knees” more explosive or carry a dumbbell while you’re doing it.
5. The Bridge
Remember how I said that if you sit at your day job then the Step Down is a good way to unwind? Well, The Bridge can work wonders as well. It seems a little counterintuitive at first, but trust me – it works.
With your back against the floor and the base of your shoes placed against the edge of the bench (the longer side), you simply want to lift yourself using your back muscles until your butt is off the floor (reasonably well!).
You’ll be working out your hamstrings for sure. But more importantly, you’ll be working out your butt as well – and strengthen it for the next 8-hour marathon that you do everyday.
6. (Bonus!) Box Squats
Box Squats are the last thing on the list because you’ve got to be careful when performing this exercise. Ideally, have a buddy around to monitor your movement just in case things start to go wrong.
You want to start off by putting a weight bar across your shoulders and grasping it by your hands just a bit farther apart. Then, you want to make sure that you’ve got the weight bench at an appropriate distance behind you such that you can squat on it. With the bar on our shoulders, move down slowly so that your butt safely sits on the bench and your legs in an “L” position. Then, stand back up to that standing position.
Again, make sure that you choose a bar that you can handle – it’s fine to start off light and work your way to heavier weights.
Well, would you look at that? Today, we’ve successfully talked about how you can effectively workout your leg muscles while using a weight bench with and without any weights. Which one of these weight bench exercises for legs is your favorite?
Till next time, amigo!
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Hey I’m Patrick!
I built my first home gym in 2012, when I decided I was tired of waiting in line for the squat rack and I started GGC in 2020 to help people find the info they need to improve their fitness and their lives.
I’m passionate about fitness, especially when it comes to working out at home. I’ve learned a lot over the years about what to do and what not to do, and my mission is to share that knowledge with the world!