Is it possible to increase your bench without benching?

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  1. #1
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    Is it possible to increase your bench without benching?

    As I've said before, I don't have a spotter, so I can't really bench. I do DB presses and flies for my chest, though, which I love doing and have had nice gains in. Can I add more to my max bench (I max when I occasionally get a spotter) without actually benching? I know the best way to gain strength is to go heavy with low reps, but since I can't, would it help to go light with a lot of reps, or would I not gain much strength? Or if I continue to do DB presses and flies - going heavy on those - will that alone make me bench more? Thanks in advance.

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    what does not having a spotter have to do with anything ?

    you simply don't train to eccentric or coccentric failure. I've benched w/o a spotter for the past 15 years...
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  3. #3
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    Well considering I've almost not been able to get the weight up before, I wouldn't like to try it again. So not having a spotter means you can die... Anyways, will presses and flies help with benching?

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    not having a spotter just means you shouldn't use the collars so you can dump the weight if you fail. You can also do cumulative fatigue stuff, for example 90% of your 1RM for 4-5 sets of singles/doubles/triples whatever, you just need to figure out what weight to use, but that is just trial and error.
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    You can die? If you drop it in your face sure, but you dont bench to your face.

    I've done a situp with 225 from a decline position, and I've stood up with 225 on an incline bench. If I got stuck under 405 I'd figure something out.

    If you bench in the 3-5 rep range instead of trying for singles you shouldn't have that problem, does your bench only have one area to hold the bar? I can do a quarter rep and still rack the bar at my gym. Then just use your favorite max calc if you need that ego boost.

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    So long as you don't 1rm you should be able to bench without a spotter. Don't use clamps (or collars or whatever) so you can let gravity take the weight off.
    "in the howling bleeding nights, the dogs plunge into the Volga and swim desperately to gain the other bank. The nights of Stalingrad are a terror for them. Animals flee this hell; the hardest stones cannot bear it for long; only men endure."

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    Yes, you can die. You bench below your face, but then on the way up the bar crosses above your neck and head, correct? So if you were to drop it on your neck or head, I'd say there's little chance of survival...

    Plus, I can't really just drop the weight off because there is a wall pretty close to where the weights are (it's in my basement and I don't think my dad would be too happy about that ). Although if it really were a life or death situation, I'm sure it wouldn't matter that much, but anyways, let's just pretend I don't even have a barbell. Will the DB presses and flies still help since the presses are pretty close to the movement of the bench?

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    I bench to failure every single set without a spotter. When I run out of steam, I slowly lower the bar to my chest. Then I situp, moving the bar to my lap. Then I get up and simply remount the bar.

    The key is to not drop the bar.


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    What if your abs are not strong enough for you to do a sit up with a lot of weight?

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    As Duncan said, do not use clips. If you fail, leave it on your chest, and tilt one end down. Thatll dump the weight, and you might just live.

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    Well, thanks for the advice. I think I'll give it a try. My max bench is about 180, so how many sets and reps would you suggest for gaining strength? I do five sets of five reps for all my other exercises, so maybe I should keep the same amount and adjust the weight accordingly. Should I do benching before or after my DB presses, or on a different day altogether (such as a Mon/Thurs split or something, I currently don't do anything on Thursdays)?

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    One set to failure will work for improving strength
    "in the howling bleeding nights, the dogs plunge into the Volga and swim desperately to gain the other bank. The nights of Stalingrad are a terror for them. Animals flee this hell; the hardest stones cannot bear it for long; only men endure."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squaggleboggin
    Yes, you can die. You bench below your face, but then on the way up the bar crosses above your neck and head, correct? So if you were to drop it on your neck or head, I'd say there's little chance of survival...
    If that is your technique to do so. I have hit complete failure only once and that was my arms with dumbells, but I still hit my chest, not my face.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squaggleboggin
    Well, thanks for the advice. I think I'll give it a try. My max bench is about 180, so how many sets and reps would you suggest for gaining strength? I do five sets of five reps for all my other exercises, so maybe I should keep the same amount and adjust the weight accordingly. Should I do benching before or after my DB presses, or on a different day altogether (such as a Mon/Thurs split or something, I currently don't do anything on Thursdays)?
    You sound like you need a bit of direction. In terms of movements close grip bench presses and board presses are likely to have the best carryover to the barbell bench press. Flies are a waste of energy in comparison imo. Need strong triceps for a big bench.

    My advice. Look in great detail at how Westside Barbell structures their bench press training. It is for the most part regarded as the most effective overall program for increasing bench strength. I am thinking long term it likely has the highest success rate. You might want to start with a simpler setup but the reading will teach you a great deal beyond what you can get elsewhere. Elite fitness systems is where the articles are located.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squaggleboggin
    What if your abs are not strong enough for you to do a sit up with a lot of weight?
    Start training your damn abs.

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    I think you can increase your bench without benching. Westside is all about training with assistance and accessory lifts, etc. My bench went from 315 to 350 on Westside without actually benching for reps.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squaggleboggin
    Yes, you can die. You bench below your face, but then on the way up the bar crosses above your neck and head, correct?
    Only if you bench press with incorrect form. Push in a straight line. Check out the link in Mudge's signature for information on proper bench press form.
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    People will argue on benching straight up and down or not, but I wont go above my face when doing reps. Also, get as far under the bar as you can without interfering with your reps, this enables you to unrack and re-rack the weight with less risk of injury or failure to rack.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudge
    People will argue on benching straight up and down or not, but I wont go above my face when doing reps. Also, get as far under the bar as you can without interfering with your reps, this enables you to unrack and re-rack the weight with less risk of injury or failure to rack.
    Not only that, but you can maintain a tighter torso, and therefore a more solid pressing surface, because you don't have to rotate your shoulders as much to unrack the weight.
    The only time it's bad to feel the burn is when you're peeing...

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    I have a Cross-Bow, so dont have that problem. SLOW, CONCENTRATED, and HEAVY.

    But that would hurt,

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    I would not feel comfortable benching near max weights without a spotter, plus I would be unhappy not being able to push to failure.

    In answer to your question...yes, by constantly getting stronger on flat dumbell press, you will certainly push your barbell bench up further.

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    Yeah, if you are happy with 5 pounds here and 5 pounds there, you can certainly see those gains without actually doing bench. If you're looking for big gains, you need to bench. Either way, it depends on your goals and what you want to achieve.
    yay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CowPimp
    you don't have to rotate your shoulders as much to unrack the weight.
    Part of the reason I also like a lift off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Saturday Fever
    Yeah, if you are happy with 5 pounds here and 5 pounds there, you can certainly see those gains without actually doing bench. If you're looking for big gains, you need to bench. Either way, it depends on your goals and what you want to achieve.
    At one time I was benching quite often and maxed around 400 lbs for a single. At this point I was handling about 150 lb dumbells for 4 in the flat press. After about 3 months of no benching at all, and only flat presses w/ dumbells I was up to about 160s for 4. I then went back to bench and hit 425 lbs for a single. 25 lbs in 12 weeks without benching once...rather significant. At the time I hit my all time best bench press I was only benching once every three weeks.

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  25. #25
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    That makes you very unique indeed GoPro.

    There is a strong neural component to maximum demonstrable strength on a given exercise. Most people using the example you gave would have not been able to press even the 400 lbs after a 3 month layoff. Now, if they had increased their strength in the involved muscles using a different movement like the dumbbell press they would most likely quickly progress to beyond their 400 lb maximum after a few sessions to re-acclimate the nervous system to the barbell press.

    Now, if one does not regularly perform barbell bench presses and never achieved much in the way of strength in the movement and neural maximization to the movement then it stands to reason that if they greatly increased their dumbbell pressing strength once they returned to barbell presses they might find they were stronger than previously simply due to their great increase in strength of the involved muscles.

    SF's point is that for maximum strength in the bench press one must practice the movement and that is an absolute truism (and it is true for virtually any movement).

    The answer to the fellow who started this thread's question is most likely yes he can due to the fact he does not seem to have barbell benched a great deal in his life. That said, he may still find it takes a few sessions of barbell benching to really translate his increased pressing strength from dumbbell use.

  26. #26
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    I was going to add some benching onto my schedule on Thursdays, but I'm not sure if it'll work. I currently do DB presses, DB flies, and abs on Monday; DB curls, hammer curls, military presses, and shrugs on Wednesday; and deadlifts, squats, and skullcrushers on Friday. I don't know where else to put the benching because after DB presses and flies, I don't know if I'll have enough strength to have a benching workout of much value. I was going to do 5x5 w/115, 3x3 w/135 and 2x2 w/155 lbs (max 180 lbs), but like I said, I don't know where to put this into my workout or if I should just give DB presses a good try first.

  27. #27
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    Why the need to have a big barbell bench press? What are you training for?

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    The real reason for this is that I would simply like to be stronger and build more muscle; I want more power. I want a way to keep track of how much stronger I'm getting, so I thought I'd keep track of my benching. Maybe I should use the deadlift to guage my power instead, considering I dislike benching and like deadlifting very much. Plus the deadlift is more of a total body workout. I do need something to assess my arm strength too so I can make sure I'm getting somewhere with my workouts. I guess DB presses will guage that then.

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    Absolutely, dumbbells will do just fine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chris mason
    That makes you very unique indeed GoPro.

    There is a strong neural component to maximum demonstrable strength on a given exercise. Most people using the example you gave would have not been able to press even the 400 lbs after a 3 month layoff. Now, if they had increased their strength in the involved muscles using a different movement like the dumbbell press they would most likely quickly progress to beyond their 400 lb maximum after a few sessions to re-acclimate the nervous system to the barbell press.

    Now, if one does not regularly perform barbell bench presses and never achieved much in the way of strength in the movement and neural maximization to the movement then it stands to reason that if they greatly increased their dumbbell pressing strength once they returned to barbell presses they might find they were stronger than previously simply due to their great increase in strength of the involved muscles.

    SF's point is that for maximum strength in the bench press one must practice the movement and that is an absolute truism (and it is true for virtually any movement).

    The answer to the fellow who started this thread's question is most likely yes he can due to the fact he does not seem to have barbell benched a great deal in his life. That said, he may still find it takes a few sessions of barbell benching to really translate his increased pressing strength from dumbbell use.

    I agree that there is a strong neural component involved, but I feel that the dumbell bench press so closely resembles the barbell bench press that the crossover is very easy. I also strongly believe that since ROM with dumbells is greater, as well as use of balance and stabilizer muscles, that once returning to bench press, the exercise itself became almost "easier," sort of like going from flat barbell bench to smith bench.

    However, I AM somewhat unique in that I am often able to not do a given movement for weeks at a time, and return to it with no strength lost...and often strength gained if I was purposely working toward that goal.

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