Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Flat Bench - Has It Lost It's Appeal?

For some, seeing a flat bench in a training facility is taboo.  But we think differently of this training tool
Has the Flat Bench lost it's appeal in the functional fitness gym?

Is what was once the cornerstone in fitness now becoming obsolete in the Functional Fitness arena?  Walk into any commercial [dare we say 'globo'] gym and you'll see more than a  few Flat Benches.  For some, the revolution away from the days of the seated Bicep Curl or the Dumbbell Fly has brought about an adversity to the tool that was used in those exercises.  Yes, the Flat Bench is in some places, becoming obscure.

But with the advent of more functional training, should we steer away or are there ways to use the flat bench that maybe we just hadn't thought of?  If we could re-invent it's usefulness, would it find it's way back into the gym?

We've got some ideas that will get you pulling out and dusting off that seldom used piece of equipment and have you trying to catch your breath in no time.

The Shoulder Press - Really?  Can't I just stand while performing strict presses?  Yes, you could.  But have you ever noticed you or your clients, flexing knees or hips and turning the ever useful strict press into a push press? or push jerk?  Or have you ever come up off your heels when trying to max the lift?  The seated shoulder press takes the lower body out of the equation immediately and forces the work into the right muscle group.

The L-Sit or Straddle L - Great for the core, the L-Sit [arms locked in a body supporting position with feet straight out in front] is often performed on parallelettes.  For beginners, keeping the feet parallel to the floor is too challenging as the 8"-12" height of parallelettes doesn't provide enough height off the floor.  Using the bench provides a higher platform and training this position with the feet not quite parallel is still beneficial.  As your skill and strength improve, lift the legs higher and higher.  *Note: try the Straddle L as a variation - hands are placed inside the legs rather than outside the hips.

Elevated Push Ups - It's true that there are plenty of things to elevate your feet with, but if you are using your bumpers for Back Squats or Deadlifts then the Flat Bench makes a great choice.  And elevated Push Ups are a great way to bring Death by Push Ups [1-2-3-4-5... increase reps every round and perform within one minute on a continuously running clock] to a whole new level.

Assisted/Scaled Dips - With the feet on the floor and facing away from the bench place your hands behind you on the flat bench.  Lower your body to the ground while keeping an "L" position.  To increase difficulty, elevate your feet on a stack of bumpers.  This exercise is a great precursor to static dips on a dip bar or ring dips.

Ring/Bar Rows - Elevate your feet on the flat bench to enhance the difficulty of the Ring Row or Bar Row.

As you can see, the flat bench is a great tool for the functional fitness gym and in a basement gym where the plyo box isn't as practical, the flat bench steps in as a great platform to elevate the feet or upper body to perform some great all around strength and core exercises.

Have a use for the Flat Bench you'd like to share?