It’s Official: the Bench Is the Most Underrated Piece of Equipment at the Gym

Photo: Getty Images/Andersen Ross Photography Inc
I can say with full confidence that I have never once, in my entire life, used the bench at the gym. The idea of bench pressing absolutely terrifies me due to my not-completely-irrational fear of dropping a weight on my face and effing up my teeth forever, and my strength training moves have traditionally been strictly relegated to the floor.

But a recent video on trainer Meg Takacs' feed had me completely reconsidering my relationship with the oft-intimidating piece of equipment. Instead of lying down on the bench and lifting weights over her head, which is what pretty much everyone else ever uses it for, she integrated it into her HIIT workout for a series of ultra-intense full-body moves that I am now dying (and also kinda dreading) to try.

Takacs' bench workout consists of six moves, and none of them require a single piece of equipment aside from a free-standing bench and your own strong body. But don't let the fact that there are no weights involved fool you: This workout is no joke, and you'll be feeling some serious second-day soreness from the neck down. The best part? It's super quick, and can be tacked on as an added bonus after your usual cardio workout. "Crushing these kinds of circuits after your next treadmill workout is going to give you the badass vibe you need to go crush the rest of your day," Meg writes on Instagram.

Watch below to try the workout for yourself:

1. Push-up flies: With your hands on the bench slightly farther apart than your shoulders and your feet on the floor, lower into a push-up. When you press up, fly your arms up and behind your back, then return to the bench.

2. Jump overs: Place your hands on either side of the bench with your feet off to one side. Jump over the bench onto the opposite side, and repeat as quickly as possible for an intense mix of cardio and strength training all in one.

3. Single-leg jump ups: With your hands on either side of the bench, bend one knee so that your foot is lifted off of the floor. Use the opposite leg to jump on top of the bench (with your other leg still lifted the whole time) and back down to the floor. Repeat on opposite leg.

4. Single-leg squats: Place one foot on the floor and the ball of the other foot on the bench with your arms in front of your chest and both knees slightly bent, and squat down towards the floor. Repeat on opposite leg.

5. Single-leg donkey kicks: Place the ball of one foot on the bench and hands on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Kick your opposite leg up towards the sky, then place it on the ground behind your hands and jump up, using the bench for support and pulling your knee into your chest.

6. Spider push-ups: Put your hands on the bench and one foot on the ground in a single-leg push-up position. Lower into a tricep push-up (with your arms held tight into your chest) and pull one knee into your elbow to crunch your oblique. Repeat on opposite leg.

For more body weight workouts we love, check out Charlee Atkins' 8-move ab workout (spoiler alert: it is hard). And here's how to finally make mountain climbers more manageable, once and for all. 

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