A weight bench is the central piece of equipment in almost every weightlifting set. A basic weight bench is simple: a board roughly a foot wide and three feet long is suspended above the ground on legs. This board is usually padded for comfort. The weightlifter sits, lays downs on his/her stomach, or puts his/her back against the bench and does various exercises. The exercises done usually involve barbells and dumbbells, and are why the bench is called a "weight" bench. Additional pieces of equipment can be added to or positioned around the bench so that more exercises can be done.
Two primary attributes to consider when assessing a weight bench are its sturdiness and its support. In order to support the weight of the lifter, dumbbells, and barbells while in use, the bench has to be sturdy. The primary pieces of the bench should be made out of metal, and should be thick enough so as to not bend. The bench should also be balanced and supported so that, when in use, it does not tip. Since many exercises take place at one end of the weight bench, the bench should have sufficient support so that it does not fall over and injure the user when weight is not evenly distributed on top of it.
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Weight benches are not necessarily parallel to the ground; some have their benches positioned upward at sharp angles, while others have benches that dip downward. These angles are used in different exercises and promote the use of specific muscle groups. When a person is lying on a bench and his head is up, they are doing incline exercises. When a person’s head is down, he is doing decline exercises. Incline and decline exercises tend to be more difficult to do than their traditional counterparts.
Weight benches usually have other pieces of equipment around them or attached to them that allow additional exercises to be done. Large barbells can be positioned over one end of a weight bench to assist with doing a bench press; the equipment that holds the weights above the bench is called a stand, though it may also be referred to as a rack. Leg attachments can be added to one end of a weight bench so that exercises called leg curls and leg extensions can be done. Bench extensions can also be added to hold a person in different positions when doing crunches and sit-ups on the bench, thus working different muscle groups.