Some days you get into the gym and feel completely overwhelmed. As if it wasn’t hard enough to walk through those double-doors in the first place, a crowded floor can turn that sweat session into a stress session. Good news: With just a bench—and some dumbbells—you can do a slew of total-body toning movements.
How to: Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie face-up on a weight bench with your feet flat on the floor. Position your hands by the shoulders with dumbbells in both hands (a). Straighten your arms and lift the weights over your chest (b). Lower the dumbbells until they nearly touch your chest, then press back up. That’s one rep.
Trainer notes: “Make sure your lower back is pressed against the bench to support the core and stave off lower back injury,” says Bulvanoski. “Also, control is key. Make sure you’re controlling the dumbbells on the way down. We definitely don’t want you to smack yourself in the face.”
Works: Biceps, lats, upper back, traps
How to: With feet at shoulder-width distance, hinge forward at the hips maintaining a flat back and place your right foot on a bench, holding a dumbbell in your left hand (a). Bend your right elbow and pull the dumbbell up to the side of your chest (b). Pause, then slowly lower back to start. That’s one rep.
Trainer notes: “This stance is different than your typical single-arm row with a knee up, because I find it helps the client stay away from that cat/cow positioning in the back,” she says. “You really want to make sure you’re not putting unnecessary stress on the lower back.”
How to: Sit on the edge of a bench and place your palms facedown next to your thighs, fingers gripping the edge. Place your feet on the floor in front of you (you can bend your knees to make this movement easier). Keeping your arms straight, scoot forward until your hips and butt are in front of the seat (a). Bend your elbows and lower your hips until your upper arms are parallel to the floor (b). Push back to start. That’s one rep.
Trainer notes: “You really want to make sure that you’re keeping your back directly next to the bench,” she says. “That way, you won’t put unnecessary burden on your rotator cuff and you’ll really feel the burn in the triceps.”