Workout with One Piece of Equipment: A Bench

When I want to exercise outside, there are a few things I look for: good weather, flat ground, not a lot of people, and when possible, a bench! Whether you can find one bench, one ledge, one big step, they can all be used different ways to give your body a muscle-building boost. Here’s a full body bench workout next time you need to take your body weight workout to the next level!

*I am not a fitness or health professional. Please consult your doctor before starting a new workout regime.

Set 1

Single leg stand up (10 each side)

This exercise will work your glutes and legs separately, strengthening each side individually!

  • Start in a standing position facing away from the bench, with one foot hovering over the ground, all your weight on the standing leg, facing away from the bench
  • Sit down slowly on the bench
  • Stand up using just the leg with the foot on the ground
Start in a standing position, with one leg up
Sit down slowly
Stand up using only the planted leg

Make it Harder: Hold a weight in each hand.

Incline pushup (10)

This is a great modification for a pushup! Going from a knee pushup to a full-length pushup is quite a jump, so an incline pushup will be the bridge you need to get to that full pushup.

  • Start facing the bench, with your hands on the bench and your feet behind you, so that your body is at an incline
  • Lower yourself to hover your chest over the bench
  • Push the bench away to return to the starting position
Start facing the bench with your body at an incline
Lower yourself to hover your chest over the bench; keep your body in a straight line
Push the bench away to return to the starting position

Make it Harder: Make it a decline pushup! Put your feet on the bench and your hands on the ground for your pushup.

Box hops (10)

Box hops can be intimidating! But they are also very effective, especially for runners. The “explosion” of power to jump up on the bench will help you have more power springing forward on your run. Start small, maybe on a single step, and work your way up if you need to.

  • Start facing the bench
  • Get into a squatting position, feet hip-width apart or more, weight in your heels
  • Hop up on the bench to land in a squatting position
  • Stand up, squeezing your glutes (or booty)
  • Step down onto the ground, never jump, to return to the starting position
Squat in front of the bench, feet hip-width apart or more, with the weight in your heels
Hope up onto the bench, always landing in a squatting position
Stand up, squeezing your glutes (that’s your booty!); step down to the starting position, never jump down

Make it Easier: Do jump squats instead! You will still get the “power move” benefit, and you can build up from there!

Repeat 3 times

Set 2

Step up-knee drive (10 each side)

It’s important to work each leg individually as often as possible. It’s good for your balance, makes each leg stronger, and helps you understand which of your legs is naturally a little bit weaker. Knowledge about your own body is often very helpful!

  • Stand facing your bench
  • Step up with one leg
  • Drive your opposite knee up
  • Step back down to starting position
Start facing the bench, standing straight
Step up with one leg
As you stand up, drive your opposite knee up
Return to standing

Make it Cardio: Add a hop with your knee drive on the way up!

Make it Strength: When you step down, step into a reverse lunge!

Tricep dips (10)

Did you think pushups were the only bodyweight upper body exercise? Think again! Your triceps make up 2/3 of your upper arm, and this move works them well!

  • Face away from the bench
  • Put the heels of your hands on the bench behind you
  • Put your legs at a 90-degree angle
  • Lower your body down
  • Press your body back up to the starting position
Face away from the bench with the heels of your hands on the bench, knees at a 90-degree angle
Lower yourself to hover over the ground
Press yourself back up to the starting position

Make it Harder: Straighten your legs instead of bending your knees to add more bodyweight!

Mountain climber-jacks (4 mountain climbers, 2 plank jacks; 10 rounds)

This is your cardio move for the workout! Trust me, you will be out of breath for this one, and that’s a good thing! It’s also a bit of a brain exercise because it combines two moves!

  • Start in an incline plank position, facing the bench
  • Drive one knee toward your chest
  • Hop to switch knees
  • Drive the same knee toward your chest
  • Hop to switch knees
  • Put both feet back into plank position
  • Hop out to the side with both feet (like a jumping jack)
  • Hop to plank
  • Hop out to the side with both feet
  • Hop to plank
Start in an incline plank position
Drive one knee toward your chest
Hop to drive the other knee in; repeat on each side
Put both feet back to plank position
Hop out to both sides with your feet, like a jumping jack
Hop back to starting position

Make it Harder: Do this with your hands on the ground instead of on the bench!

Make it Easier: Choose either the mountain climbers or the plank jacks instead of both!

Repeat 3 times

Set 3

Lateral step up-knee drive (10 each side)

Moving laterally is great for your body! Almost everything we do in life involves moving forward, so challenging that works both your body and your brain. Lateral exercises like this will help your with your balance, strengthen your smaller stabilizer muscles, and help your agility!

  • Stand beside the bench
  • Step up on the bench with the leg closest to the bench
  • Drive your opposite knee toward your chest
  • Step back down to the starting position
Start beside your bench
Step up on the bench beside you
Drive your opposite knee toward your chest
Step back down to starting position

Make it Harder: Add a hop on the way up with your knee drive!

Plank tap series (5-6 rounds)

This exercise will challenge your balance, your abs, and your brain!

  • Get into an incline plank position
  • Tap one wrist with your opposite hand
  • Tap the other wrist with the opposite hand
  • Tap one elbow
  • Tap the other elbow
  • Tap one shoulder
  • Tap the other shoulder
Start in an incline plank position
Tap one wrist with the opposite hand, back to plank
Tap the other wrist with the opposite hand, back to plank
Tap one elbow with the opposite hand, back to plank
Tap the other elbow with the opposite hand, back to plank
Tap one shoulder with the opposite hand, back to plank
Tap the other shoulder wtih the opposite hand, back to plank

Make it Harder: Do this with your hands on the ground instead of on the bench!

Bulgarian split squats (10 each side)

This move is one of my favorites! It’s a strength move, an active stretch, and you can make it a cardio move, too, if you like!

  • Start with one leg behind you on the bench, the other leg slightly in front of you with the weight in your heels
  • Lower your back knee toward the ground, keeping your body upright
  • Stand back up to the starting position
Start with one leg behind you, your foot reston on the bench
Lower your back knee toward the ground, keeping your body upright
Push yourself back up to starting position

Make it Harder: Add a hop with the upward part of the movement!

Repeat 3 times

Need a Better Visual?

Check out the moves on YouTube!

Want more? Check out my Health and Wellness Page for more exercise ideas and tips to stay healthy on your travels!

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Published by quickwhittravel

Hey there! I am an avid traveller and adventurer, and you're always welcome to join me! The things I love most are God, my husband Steve, and seeing new places! My favorite places include Sydney, Australia; Ise City, Japan; and Bergen, Norway--but there's always room for more favorite places!

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