A Bench Workout for Beginners With Lots of Modifications

If you’re just getting started with strength training, the moves can seem intimidating. But this bench workout for beginners can help you ease into the exercises by offering accessible modifications that can help you feel more comfortable with some common strength-training moves.

In this 20-minute Sweat With SELF video, instructor Roz “The Diva” Mays—a NASM-certified personal trainer and pole instructor—will take you through modified versions of five popular strength-training exercises: the wood chopper, Romanian deadlift, squat and jab, burpee, and sit-up. For all of these moves, you’ll be using a bench to ease into these modifications. (Don’t have an exercise bench handy? Any sturdy chair or trunk that can hold your bodyweight can work just fine!)

Throughout the course of this 20-minute total-body workout—which also includes a warm-up to prep your body for movement and a cool-down to help bring you back to baseline—you’ll hit your upper body, lower body, and core. And the bench will provide some helpful modifications to help you do so.

A bench can make exercise moves more comfortable in several ways. In the seated wood chopper, for instance, the  provides support, which can be helpful if your knees tend to hurt in standing rotation-based exercises. A bench can also reduce your range of motion—since you’ll be placing your hands on the bench rather than the floor—which can make exercises like the Romanian deadlift and burpee easier as your body gets acclimated to the movement pattern.

Throughout this total-body bench workout for beginners, Mays encourages you to really focus on your mind-muscle connection as you complete the moves, thinking about engaging your core, squeezing your glutes, and keeping your spine neutral. Another big tip? Don’t worry about speeding through these moves. “In between sets, you are always welcome to take as much time as you need,” Mays says. “When you’re ready is the time to keep going.” Regardless of how quickly you’re moving, eat workout!


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