WestAussieGuy saidThanks for all the awesome advice and suggestions.
I want to make a couple of points of clarification...
The first being that we don't have a bench press bench at my gym, strange I know, but in their wisdom they simply don't have them...
The second being that when I was using dumbbells for chest work, I was finding that I was getting lower back issues, I think from when I was returning the dumbbells to the floor via my lap. It seems to put a lot of strain on my lower lumbar. And the gym has a strict "do not drop dumbbells on the floor" policy. So, you may see my conundrum...
All-in-all, the Smith Machine doesn't seem to hurt me and I seem to be getting some slow gains, but I was thinking I may be able to get better gains with a different attack!
Thanks again guys its always great to hear from you all...
You can do chest presses on the floor
, if your gym has a slightly padded floor as it should. Keep your knees bent and feet flat on floor. I see guys doing this occasionally whether there are benches available or not.
Lower back problems
You may know this. If not, to prevent back injury, keep your abs flexed and pulled in so your lower back is as flat as a board, and do not arch your lower back.
This is considered by many trainers and physical therapists as proper form for any exercise whether standing, sitting or laying. (I read/heard of some exercises saying to arch the back, but not for people with back problems.)
This is easiest if laying flat on the floor, with knees bent and feet flat on floor. Flex and your abs in to press your lower back flat against the floor
throughout the whole press. Do not arch your lower back. You can do this laying on a flat bench. It is easier to keep your back flat if you put your feet on the bench. You have more power and balance if you feet are on the floor than on the bench, but this is harder for those with lower back problems.
Discussion on giving and reading advice on a forum
I can relate on both sides. I figure that a forum like this is meant for anyone to contribute. So it is OK to say what you wish. Still, I say or feel like saying "I'm not a trainer, or what do I know, or this is just my thought" if I say something on the forum or talking with people at the gym. I learned and still learn a lot by asking questions. It also makes me confused. Certified and experienced trainers and people with degrees in this and related fields give me totally contradictory information sometimes. It looks as if this is just as much an art as an science. It's what works for you.