I've been training pretty seriously since the beginning of the summer, with reasonable results for a beginner I think.
My problem is throughout the summer I always worked out with a spotter. However, since I went back to school I've had to workout by myself. This is alright for most exerciseís but Iíve been afraid to use the bench for incline/decline and regular bench press incase I am unable to lift the weight back up. The gym I work out now doesn't have the benches with the safety on them either.
So Iíve had to rely on the Smith Machine. But for some reason, I never felt like Iíve been able to work the muscles as much, and my progress has defiantly slowed on my chest.
I guess my question is if anyone else has had this problem, and if so, what can be done about it? My workout is suffering because of it.
agreed, use dumbbells. smith machines don't have the same slightly arc'd ROM as a freeweight barbell, plus poorly maintained machines have added friction, which reduces poundage, yada yada.
dumbbells require even more use of stabilizer muscles than barbells, so expect to drop poundage a little at first, but then expect to start making good gains since you're not used to the different stresses of DB pressing.
bench in a cage.
DB is a viable option
or you can work with weight that you can handle for 8 and dont' try to go too heavy that you know you'd fail at 3. This will take a while to practice. Check your ego at the door. or you can ask for a spot from some random guy.
I wouldn't do that. But if you go tot he gym around the same time each day, you're bound to see who kinda knows what they are doing and who doesn't.
Just the other day, someone in my gym asked some "random" guy for a spot. The lifter was benching almost 200. The spotter, when he was helping on the last rep, used one arm and yanked the bar up. And God forbid the lifter truly failed--that guy couldn't haul up 200# with one arm and get it safely to the catches.
Be careful whom you ask to spot you...
Just to expand on this as it's not always that obvious, or at least it wasn't to me. You drag a free bench into the cage, set up the safety rails to where the bar would fall onto such that it won't hit you if you fail and drop the bar, then start stacking on weights. So yes, cages can be used for benching too.
Getting a spot is simple if you're even remotely experienced. If you know how much weight you can handle, all you need is very slight assistance on the last rep. I've had girls who weigh 110lbs spot me while I was benching close to 300lbs, it's not a big deal as long as you know your own limits
And if you really know your own limits, you can bench without a spotter at all. I do probably 75% of my benching without a spotter, and I never get stuck. I can tell when I've got 1 rep left