The humble weight bench makes excellent home gym equipment. It can help you build muscle, burn fat, increase strength, and tone up your upper body by isolating key muscles.
But if you’re still hesitating to spend your money on a workout bench or are currently away in your training space yet would still love to get in shape, you can try workout bench alternatives instead.
Some of these alternatives even use things already available in your home. So, without further ado, check out my top 10 favourite workout bench alternatives and why:
10 Best Workout Bench Alternatives You Can Find at Home
Your floor is a good workout bench alternative. Just look down, and there it is. You can always use a clean floor for exercising. It would also be better to have a thick exercise mat to cushion your body and prevent pains and aches later.
Among the many exercises, you can do on the floor include core, tummy, shoulder, hips, and ab strengthening. One of my favorites is to do a dumbbell floor press, which is excellent for improving lockout strength.
So, if you haven’t yet bought a workout bench for your home gym or you see all the benches occupied in your local gym, you know what to do. Right?
The chair is another good bench substitute. Simply place your head and shoulders on it to do a bench press, put your feet on it for a bridge position, or lower your hips to do an incline bench press.
However, ensure that your chair or chairs can hold your weight. They should be sturdy and don’t wiggle when you do your reps.
You can even use two chairs and put on multiple bed slats for a homemade workout bench. Simply position two chairs facing the weather and bridge the cap with the bed slats.
Moreover, this DIY bench replicates a weight bench structure. Use flat, durable wood if you don’t have bed slats. Make sure it’s durable and long enough to accommodate your torso and handle your weight.
3. Stack of Pillows
Another great way to incline bench presses home without an adjustable bench is using a pile of pillows or sofa backrests.
Sit your buttocks on the floor and lay your back against the makeshift incline bench. Then, do your workout as if it’s a workout bench.
The stack of pillows is one of the most preferred workout bench alternatives because it’s safer. The pillow provides good comfort, and it’s generally very stable.
4. Couch Armrest
You can use the edge of the couch as a workout bench, but the couch armrest offers more firmness. To use it, squeeze your hamstrings and glutes to keep your hips up as you work out. Also, engage your core with the couch supporting your head and upper back.
Keep your head supported, your chin tucked slightly, and your neck long throughout the exercise.
Lastly, consider using lighter weights than you would in an actual workout bench. Couch armrests less support your body, so use more strength.
5. Coffee Table
Next on our list is a coffee table. You can use it safely to bench press. Since it is narrow and long, it gives your arms a free range of movement and supports your torso.
This furniture is a good choice if you want to do a barbell or dumbbell bench press. A precaution, though, is to use only a solid wood coffee table. And if possible, put a yoga or camping mat on the table for support.
6. Piano Bench
A piano bench may be shorter than the standard weight bench, but it makes a great alternative. All you have to ensure is to keep your upper back and head supported by the seat. Your pelvis and hips can hang off the end.
When doing your workout on a piano bench, focus on engaging your glutes and core. Maintain a good contraction, so your hips don’t drop toward the floor.
What’s good about making a piano bench your makeshift weight bench is that it’s firm enough to provide support and has a cushion, making it comfortable.
Additionally, it has a good height for your arms or elbow to move freely. It is very sturdy when you do a bench press or any barbell bench press alternative you like.
7. Exercise Ball
An exercise ball is an affordable home workout equipment with many uses. It makes workouts more challenging because it has an element of stability.
You can even do a chest fly on it like the way you do on a weight bench. However, starting with a lighter weight on an exercise ball is best than you would on a workout bench. Once you feel stable with a Swiss or stability ball and after finishing your first set, you can already increase the weight.
Remember to rest your upper back and head on the ball, and use your hamstrings, glutes, and core to keep your hips up and parallel to the ground.
And because the exercise ball may rock slightly, plant your feet a little further apart. Doing this gives you a broader base of support.
Read More: Exercises to Do On a Weight Bench
8. Corner of a Mattress
Another good weight bench alternative is the corner of a mattress. Since it has free edges, your range of motion (ROM) won’t be restricted. To use it as a weight bench alternative, lay your back on the flat surface of the mattress with its corner aligned with the floor to provide support.
9. Stack of Books
You can also use a stack of books as a flat bench alternative. Applying weight to books piled on each other creates friction and a stable surface to use as a flat bench. You won’t even be sliding, and it’ll help you improve upper body strength and build size.
Just determine the number of books needed to create a space wide enough for your frame and start stacking the books together around one-foot height. Often, around 50 books are enough.
10. Log as a Homemade Weight Bench
If you have a log in your backyard, you can use it to create a DIY weight bench. It can even be one of the most cooling-looking and safest home gym bench alternatives when appropriately designed.
However, the weight bench will be safer and more stable if it’s bigger. A caveat is that you can’t quickly move it from one place to another.
Types of Weight Benches
There are different weight benches in the market, but I’ll share below some of the best weight benches in terms of features and usability.
The first option is a flat bench. It is simple-looking and has several advantages, like allowing you to do many workouts comfortably and providing stability. Another benefit is it’s more economical compared to other weight benches.
Adjustable weight bench
An adjustable weight bench is an efficient choice for gyms. It can work as a flat, incline, and incline bench that enables you to target specific muscles with barbells and dumbbells.
The crucial exercises you can perform with this versatile bench include incline bicep curl, chest-supported inverted rows, Arnold press, skull crutches, and bench pressing.
Read More: Flat Bench Vs. Adjustable Bench
Olympic weight bench
This type of bench is popular in fitness clubs and well-designed gyms. It is a professional weight bench that is longer and wider. In addition, it has an additional attachment, like a squat rack.
Fitness enthusiasts who work for their chest, triceps, and front delts can rely on bench press or bench press alternatives (using a weight bench) and a chest press (using a chest press machine).
Their difference is that the bench press is a free weight workout while the chest press is a machine exercise.
Specialist weight bench
This type targets specific muscle groups by restricting certain motions and focusing on precise movements. Examples include preacher curl benches and abdominal curl benches.
You can also focus on a chest workout by doing a dumbbell squeeze press, incline dumbbell bench press, or close-grip barbell bench press.
People Also Ask: FAQs About Workout Bench Alternatives
Are workout benches necessary?
No, you don’t necessarily need one for your home gym, but it is an essential piece of equipment. It’s beneficial if you invest in one if you want to increase the quality and variety of your workout routine.
What if I don’t have a bench?
You can use the floor or other makeshift bench if you don’t have a bench at home. You can even accomplish a chest-crushing exercise with just a pair of dumbbells and little else.
How long should a workout bench be?
The International Powerlifting Federation states that a workout bench’s width should not be less than 42 cm and not more than 45 cm.
Are adjustable benches worth it?
Yes, they are worth it. Adjustable benches allow users to target different muscle groups and perform various exercises. This means greater size and strength gains.
How can I do dumbbells without a bench?
You can do a dumbbell workout without a bench by doing a dumbbell push-up, dumbbell floor press, Svend press, reverse dumbbell chest press, and a standing chest press.
Thank you for arriving at the end of this post to know some workout bench alternatives you can try at home.
While there may be drawbacks when dealing with a makeshift home gym, there are also undeniable benefits. These include flexibility in schedule, no need for a commute, and you spend less money than when you’re outside.
So, go ahead. Find items in your home and mix things up for more gains.
For access to more exercise and fitness articles, lifestyle tips, celebrity workouts, nutrition and health info, visit ExpertFitness.org.
Nathan Lloyd, MSc
LICENSED PERSONAL TRAINER
I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.
If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.