Need help with bench presses.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 30, 2008 3:37 PM GMT
    I work out alone. I still haven't found a workout partner. So when I do bench press, I rarely have a spotter unless there's someone else in the gym at the same time, which doesn't always happen.
    So when it comes to bench press, I end up using a smith machine if I'm doing high weight that I can't always lift all the way up to re-rack a barbell. It makes benching heavy weight a lot easier, which isn't necessarily what I want.

    I want to continue seeing gains on bench press, so is it better to use an actual bench and barbell with lighter weight that I know I can lift all the way up? Or is it okay to use the smith machine for this and stack on the weight?

    Thanks!
  • auryn

    Posts: 2061

    Sep 30, 2008 9:25 PM GMT
    I've made plenty of mistakes with barbells when first starting with them. Never over estimate what you can do, when you're alone. I do the Strong and Lean exercize and can do 12 reps at 115lbs. If I have the smallest sense that I'm not going to finish a rep, I don't go on. Having had to roll the bar off of myself, sit up, and then put the bar back on the rack without help is embarrasing.

    I want to do more than what I'm doing, but I know that will come with time and added strength.

    Be sure to do pushups and dumb bell presses too and I'm sure you'll build the confidence and strength to lift the amounts that you want.
  • Musclebucket

    Posts: 157

    Sep 30, 2008 9:41 PM GMT
    I use dumbells...and they make some pretty big dumb bells so you can still lift heavy. If you can't make it all the way up, you don't have to re-rack dumbells...just lower them ...or even drop them on the floor.

    Plus, dumbells don't allow one arm to "cheat" for the other since your arms are lifting independent of each other.

    Just my 2 cents...
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    Oct 01, 2008 5:38 PM GMT
    Auryn saidHaving had to roll the bar off of myself, sit up, and then put the bar back on the rack without help is embarrasing.


    Ouch, sounds a bit painful as well, depending on how much weight is on the bar.

    As of now I do mainly dumbbell presses due to the reasons Musclebucket mentioned, with the main reasoning being able to put the weights down if I can't press them all the way up. Is there any significant difference as far as muscle development in dumbbell press versus bench press? Do they both have their place, or can barbell press be replaced with dumbbell press to see the same results?

    Thanks for the advise guys.
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    Oct 01, 2008 5:44 PM GMT
    If you're looking for a range of motion that reflects that of the free standing bench press, I would recommend changing to dumbbell presses. I would also suggest that you not strictly rely on them. Using the smith machine has it's advantage in regards to the ability of using more weight. Set the "bumpers" at the point where your biceps and forearms make a 90 degree angle. This way, if you're unable to re-rack, you won't be caught with the barbell sitting on your chest.
  • vindog

    Posts: 1440

    Oct 02, 2008 5:21 PM GMT
    pyrotech said
    Auryn saidHaving had to roll the bar off of myself, sit up, and then put the bar back on the rack without help is embarrasing.


    Ouch, sounds a bit painful as well, depending on how much weight is on the bar.

    As of now I do mainly dumbbell presses due to the reasons Musclebucket mentioned, with the main reasoning being able to put the weights down if I can't press them all the way up. Is there any significant difference as far as muscle development in dumbbell press versus bench press? Do they both have their place, or can barbell press be replaced with dumbbell press to see the same results?

    Thanks for the advise guys.


    Using dumb bells also engages more stabilizer muscles than straight-up bench press with barbell. So I switch off.

    I actually, after years of working out alone, decided to hire a trainer just once a week for a few months. I've learned so much about form, circuits, new exercises, etc.

    I've been doing a lot of exercises (presses included) on the bosu and big balls (name escapes me). I forces you to use more core strength. We've also been working on FORM, big time. For example, we don't go all the way down to the chest plate on presses, but keeping a 90degree angle when at the lowest position.

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    Oct 03, 2008 6:54 AM GMT
    Smith machine isn't great as others have said because you won't get the work on the stabiliser muscles, and you really need to work these. Dumbells work just fine. I'm working out at home at the moment and I've got the same problem as you. What it means is that I have to stop one rep short of failure on the bar, which isn't optimal, but I'd rather do that than use something like the smith machine.
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    Oct 03, 2008 7:07 AM GMT
    Musclebucket saidIf you can't make it all the way up, you don't have to re-rack dumbells...just lower them ...or even drop them on the floor.


    No dropping the dumb bells its annoying and not putting shit back on the rack is just as bad.. those are like the douchest things you can do at the gym.
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    Oct 03, 2008 8:01 AM GMT
    I find that the a barbell benh easier purely because the bar starts at the top of the movement. With dumbells and heavy weights, I find I struggle to get teh weight to the starting position. Is it just me? Does anyone have any tips?
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    Oct 03, 2008 11:24 AM GMT
    The barbell bench press is great for building balance and stability. It also gives you a greater range of motion than the Smith machine. When I was starting out and didn't always have a partner or trainer, I'd do some sets on the Smith machine and some on the barbell bench, albeit with light plates to try and build up confidence and strength.

    It's always good to combine both dumbell and barbell exercises in a workout. using a heavy weight with dumbells can be tricky and risky, esp with your shoulder joints, so best to have a spot. I tend to place the dumbells on my front thighs and "kick" them upwards into position at the same time as I'm lying down.
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    Oct 07, 2008 9:56 AM GMT
    Bench on bench when you can with a straight bar. You did not ask about asking people around you, that might also be BP'ing, to spot you. I bench 400+ on a good day, and I never mind asking someone nearby to spot me and have rarely been turned down.

    Smith benching is good, but not a substitute for benching. The Smith controls the weight in every way but up and down. Good sometimes, but not always.

    Dumbells are great also, Makes you control the weight in 360 degrees, not just up and down. Probably better in the long run as you need strong shoulders, but you can not use as much weight.

    All good, but I would just ask someone to spot me on bench. Do the same for them. If you are afraid of lifting heavy, do a moderate weight, for you, but do more reps. I can lift heavy, but I can also die on half the weight if I do enough reps. I would rather be stuck under half the weight and get out than do a max and get stuck.

    Dumbells are a good alternative. You will definitely get stronger and you can always drop the weights if you get stuck.