Benching w/ the Smith Machine

Not my first option. I've been working primarily with dumbbell presses, but without a spotter, I can't really work with the higher weights. I really want to start moving up to higher weights, so I'm looking at this option. My first option would be a squat rack, move a flat bench in, and have those side bars locked in so if I fail, it doesn't come crashing on me. But, sans that, it looks like my best option to do barbell bench presses is the smith.

Any tips or advice on how to actually make this thing a functional?

I'm no expert. Now that I have divulged that critical information I'll say that I don't think you can get the proper form on a smith machine. I recommend the rack or higher an immigrant as a spotter.

lol@immigrants. I was worried about the form too, because it keeps the line of the bar straight up and down, but a bench press is supposed to s-curve (path from your nipple line, then press up to eye-line).

From what I have read, going heavy on a smith machine is not ideal because of the path. Also, by benching without the smith machine you are controlling the weight in all planes of motion therefore getting a better workout even if the numbers on the weights are lower.

Unless you work out totally on your own there is always someone in the gym prepared to spot lifts. Just make sure they know what they are doing.

"Unless you work out totally on your own there is always someone in the gym prepared to spot lifts. Just make sure they know what they are doing."

That's the problem. I don't trust any of those guys to start heaving 80lbs. dumbbells for me, let alone spot me. To top it off, you start getting bad advice, then you have to counter-argue, then before you know it you've spent 20 minutes arguing, 2 minutes training...aargh.

I guess I'm off to craigslist:

"Wanted: Dumbbell chest press spotter for 10 minutes on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Must speak english, bench press AT LEAST 1.5 his own bodyweight, and enjoy long walks on the beach. Kettlebells, clubbells, and Excel a plus. Mentzer disciples need not apply."

LOL!

hehe.

Just stop before failure. Not difficult.

No need for a smith. I bench alone and do fine. I mainly do 3 or 5 reps with approx. 240-250lbs and have never been in any kind of serious trouble. Im not a big bencher by any means but still...

what todd said. I rarely ever use a spotter, just know your limits... I think training to failure is a technique that should be used sparingly, and the same goes for 1 rep maxes... going to failure and/or performing 1 rep maxes twice weekly would be counterproductive for most people IMO.

It's generally considered bad form for the bar to end over your eyes. At least for powerlifters. In fact i think Tate says that using that type of form causes shoulder injuries.

-doug-

Doug:

I forgot where I read that it was supposed to end by your eyes.

Should it go in a straight line then? From nipple line straight up? Or should it end elsewhere? (clavicle, neck?)

just use an olympic bar and dont collar the plates. if it gets too heavy just let the bar slide to one side and the plates will fall off then swing it the other way and the other plates will fall off.

one thing i had found when i was bench pressing that the smith worked great for was top half reps. basically you put about 30-40lbs more than your max on the bar and you put it in a spot so youre only moving it from where you arms start out at 90 and just go up.

I just set up the power rack where the pins are just at or below my chest and the j hooks are set where you can unrack and rerack the bar with no problem.

I can use a bit of an arch and touch my chest no problem and when I get to failure I just let it settle on my chest deflate a bit and slide out from under the bar.

I hate using friggin spotters.

Too many times have I had some asshole grab something I was still pushing on or grab it so hard and fast that it throws me out of whack and hurts something.

"Wanted: Dumbbell chest press spotter for 10 minutes on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Must speak english, bench press AT LEAST 1.5 his own bodyweight, and enjoy long walks on the beach. Kettlebells, clubbells, and Excel a plus. Mentzer disciples need not apply."

That's just silly......he doesn't have to speak english.

Should it go in a straight line then?

Depends who you ask, but the argument for a straight line is it shortens the distance. IIRC, I believe that's what Westside recommends, a straight line from the lowest part of your chest....but I might be wrong.

i would like to suggest that you go to a gym that isn't for women...

nah, i'm just kidding...but seriously, there's no dumbbells heavy enough for you?

even at the 24hr commercial gym i used to go to, they had dumbbells up to 150lbs

and to offer some other suggestions:

know your limit, lift within it (lol, i stole that from the anti-gambling commercials, "know your limit, play within it") a couple of people have already mentioned it, but you should be able to feel which rep is pretty much your last (safely last)

and a weird suggestion that you might want to try in case you did get stuck but you left the collars on...

when i didn't ask anyone for a spot and i went until failure (i was 16 years old, i had a lot of stupid ideas about training back then) i would roll the bar down to my abs and sit up, i'd roll it a little further down then stand up with the bar and walk backwards towards the rack

or even if it still collared just slide it to one side let the bar hit the ground and toss it over

and also, if training alone...train safely

Benching alone is never a great idea.

Even if you stop before you hit failure, there's always the chance you could be weaker than normal due to a cold, lack of sleep, food, etc.

Getting stuck under the bar is fucking scary. Trust me on that one.

If you can't afford one of those hyper-elaborate Smith machines, get some steel cables and secure the bar to the bench. In the event of failure, the bar won't crush your chest.

Some guy on eBay sells the cables under the brand "My Spotter." $12 is probably worth your life. (And no, I'm not a shill for them. I'm just far more content benching with it than without.)

Paw is right. Straight line for powerlifters. Might be safer on the shoulders, so its what i do.

-doug-