Muscleforge - what's the heaviest you'd risk benching without a spotter?

Discussion in 'The Green Room' started by matthunter, Mar 30, 2018.

  1. matthunter

    matthunter Antira

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    I'm not a fan of the free weights area at the gym. It's bad for my self-esteem because I will subconsciously compare myself to the other users. For some reason, this doesn't apply with the resistance machines so I tend to use those.

    However. I do need to make some gains on my upper body and this means working out more frequently than I can fit gym sessions. I have a home bench and 6ft bar with a number of 5 and 10kg plates. My max so far is 55kg, which is quite pathetic but I've been getting held back by weakness in the surrounding muscles - since I started hitting my triceps more at the gym, I've been better. I am having to watch for strain in my lower bicep when lowering the bar however, but have some support sleeves now to mitigate this.

    My next issue, I suspect, is that I don't have a spotter at home to help me lift the bar from the retort (or place it back). My bench retort is quite narrow (about shoulder width apart) so I have to lie further down the bench and lift slightly further up my body to get the bar in the air, otherwise the lower "safety" catchers rub against my arms when doing the reps. This puts a bit more stress on the arms but I figure up to a certain point I can build those muscles to adjust.

    Question is, where is that point? Do any of you bench at home without a spotter and, if so, what do you press max? I'm hoping I can at least get to 70kg if not a bit higher (more than 90kg and I won't have spare plates for dumbbells anyway!)

    I figure I might be better swapping my current bench:

    http://amzn.eu/dku7aAy

    For a wider one like this:

    http://amzn.eu/6h8rXSi

    With my grip width, I'd then be able to lift from the retort closer to my actual rep lift position.
  2. matthunter

    matthunter Antira

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    Should add that's a 3 or 4 times 6 rep max not 1-rep, but still not great. Most sites suggest you should be able to bench about your own weight. Now I'm overweight, and most health sites suggest I should be 160-196lb. I've gotten down to 198 before (back up at 220 now :( ) but still carrying a lot of gut, so I figure I should be about 185lb or 84kg, which means even if I boost my lift a LOT I'm still only a novice lift... :(
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
  3. matthunter

    matthunter Antira

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    OK just managed 60kg for 5 reps but arms are aching now. At least I can go up for next set though.
  4. Man Afraid of his Shoes

    Man Afraid of his Shoes كافر

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    I have no idea myself, but it just so happens that the wife and I just joined the YMCA. I met with one of their "Coach Connections" guys yesterday. I told him I want to get rid of my gut and get stronger. He suggested a half hour of cardio followed by three sets of 8-12 reps on the weights altering upper body and lower body.
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  5. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    Without a spotter? I lift 800 pounds! I do this for 6,000 reps!

    Seriously, if you want to lift without a spotter--and DISCLAIMER: I'm no expert--I'd suggest you keep to weights you can do 6-10 reps with, and NOT go either to maximum or to failure. After all, you want to get in better shape, you don't want to set a world record for bench press and you don't need to workout to the absolute nth degree like a professional bodybuilder. 3-5 sets of 6-8 reps is a very solid weightlifting routine.
  6. matthunter

    matthunter Antira

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    Yeah I never go for 1-rep max unless I'm testing a new PB and pretty confident I can manage it. Example - tricep pulldowns... just hit 36kg on these but first attempt was to see if I could manage 3 reps. Managed 2x3 and left it there.

    Never go to failure either - if in the gym, releasing the weights back to quickly draws attention as the machine goes CLANG! If at home, die, probably.

    That said, I'd like to get my 3x5 rep up to a reasonable amount. My aim is to boost upper body mass so even if I can't lose the gut fully, the broader shoulders/chest/arms detract from it.
  7. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    Please report on your progress, I'd like to know. I'm in the midst of a weight loss plan myself, and I want to start lifting.
  8. matthunter

    matthunter Antira

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    Sure - should add though that my aim is not necessarily weight loss but muscle gain, so even if eating healthier (well, cutting my booze intake) I'm not expecting a major drop in pounds. But I'll update with my lift/reps for various exercises next time I either use the home weights (bicep curl, shoulder press and bench press) or hit the gym (pec fly, tricep pulls, quads/hams, lat pulls).
  9. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    I saw this thread at work but wordforge is "read only" on my work computer. But it seems you have been given some good advice so far. I will add my 2 cents:
    I have had to bench without a spotter myself. The safest thing you can do without having a spotter is ALWAYS LEAVE ONE IN THE TANK! Yes I used caps because it's that important. You mentioned you just did several sets of six reps for example. Never try to get that "one more rep"! especially after doing a few sets. :nono: Never go to failure! :nono: Always keep control of that weight - don't let it control you! :nono: It seems everyone here so far understands the importance of variety, balance and cardio. It's all important! You might not be focused on weight loss but I bet you will lose fat if you keep lifting & manage your calories.
  10. matthunter

    matthunter Antira

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    Thanks OF. Yeah, I never try for an extra rep if I can't take it. That 6 reps workout is because I know I can lift a bit more than I am - I could have managed 8 reps on the first set so a 3x5 workout didn't seem appropriate. On the final set I'll happily drop to 3 reps if I feel the muscles giving, as long as the workout has gotten me to that point.

    Seems my bicep bar curl is a bit above average (40kg, 8-10 reps) so am not feeling as bad.

    Progress update: I'm 224lb as of this morning, or just over 100kg.

    No lifting today even though I don't ache from yesterday - have learnt that lesson before. Will be minimal exercise - dog walk - but trying to keep up diet. 250cal breakfast oatmeal/protein shake (15g protein), probably a tin of tuna for lunch with some diced pepper and sweet chilli, then gotta decide what to do with two duck legs for dinner - am thinking roast, debone and then stirfry with veg, rice, bit of chopped fried egg and kung po sauce. Peanut/choc protein bar (10g) for dessert.

    Allowing myself two glasses of wine (500ml) as it's the weekend. I'm trying to moderate my drinking - I can put back two bottles of wine a night and not get hungover but that's not helping, nor is the snacking I do alongside the booze. So trying to limit to 250ml glass per night weeknights and 500ml per night Fri-Sun. I don't crave snacks with that amount (or if I do they are more sensible i.e. a slice of toast rather than a big bag of Doritos and a choc bar).
  11. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    Yes that's a good diet. Protein shakes are great especially in the morning when I have enough on my mind getting to work and squeezing in my exercise plans, etc. I would say read the label though for the protein-to-calories ratio. Tuna & yogurt are GREAT sources of low calorie protein and take minimal time to prepare. My son eats almost nothing but apples & tuna when he needs to lose some fat. His program takes about three months and is not intended to be followed long-term. He started that in the army when he was getting ready for weigh-ins and he's doing it currently to fit into some clothes he bought on-line. I do not recommend that but he's 29 years old and his body responds a little differently than my 56 year old body! :damnkids: But glad to see you aren't trying to squeeze out too many reps without a spotter! If you ever do want to "go all out" just to test your strength/muscular endurance you can do it (safely) with body weight exercises like push-ups (press-ups I think they are called in the UK) and pull-ups/chin-ups.

    One thing above all that has helped me increase my strength-to-weight ratio (my fitness goal) is KEEP ACCURATE WRITTEN RECORDS! :yes: Measure your waist every day (at the same time every day) with a cheap flexible tape found in the sewing department of any department store. Measure it with the same method every time. If your waist starts getting smaller you will know you aren't just losing water weight when you do start losing weight (which you already are I'm sure). So many people only use a bathroom scale in their weight loss efforts - but my weight typically varies from 165 to 168 (I'm 70" tall) on any given day depending on hydration, bowel movements, etc. Recording and averaging your weight/waist measurements over a months time (I use an old-fashioned wall calender big enough to write on) is enough data to see if you are making progress. If not, tweak your program a little until you are. Also most bodies (especially middle aged bodies) have a two week delayed reaction. This means whatever sudden,drastic changes you make to to your fitness program (vastly increasing your cardio or cutting too many calories thru eating/drinking) typically take two weeks for your body to start reacting to these changes. Here's why: I know it might sound silly or simplistic but your body says "hey! I'm starving! I better slow down my metabolism!" but after a couple of weeks your body recognizes your caloric ingestion/expenditure as the "new normal" and adjusts accordingly. It's an evolutionary survival mechanism.

    Last word of advice and you probably already follow it but here goes: never take fitness advice from a person fatter or weaker than you are. :lol:
    They are full of excuses for why they can't exercise "right now" but plan to in the future :dayton: love to tell you why you're "doing it wrong" :dayton: repeating outdated fitness "facts" they find on the internet :dayton: and they all have story about a guy who won iron-man competitions but dropped dead of a heart attack at 45 years old. :dayton:
    Bottom line they are a black hole of negativity and because they are lazy, undisciplined and don't give a shit they want everyone else to fail at self improvement. The world is full of them which is fine, that's their choice and I respect that.
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  12. matthunter

    matthunter Antira

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    Well, managed 3 sets of 5 reps with the 60kg bench but my lower bicep pain is back with a vengeance so no more for today (had intended to do bicep curls and shoulder press too).
  13. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    I'm scratching my head trying to figure out how you can have bicep pain from bench pressing. :chris: It's a straight pushing exercise using primarily chest, triceps and shoulders.
    It would be like having triceps pain from a chin up. Is it actual muscle pain or joint/tendon/ligament pain? Granted sometimes it can be hard to tell or a combination of these things.
    Could be something wrong with your form or technique some how. Regardless smart to lay off for a bit or (what works for me) find alternative exercises to allow you to keep training if even at a slightly lower intensity.

    Your bicep pain is a good example though of one lesser thought about reason for cardio - it speeds up healing and speeds up alleviating muscle soreness/tenderness. The reasoning behind this being cardio pumps more blood/oxygen into all your muscles and flushes out toxins at the same time. It just makes senses - double your heart rate, double the rate of blood flow, speeding recovery of tissues. That said it should be some kind of cardio where you are moving your entire body - just plain running is great for that, or even speed-walking.
    If it's a treadmill don't hang onto the sides or handles for support constantly though - your upper body wouldn't get as much of the healing/flushing benefit then plus it's just not as "natural" a movement for your body. Using the handles occasionally to monitor your heart rate is okay, assuming you have access to a treadmill with sensors in the handles. If not, no big deal, running is fine just some type of cardio that keeps a fast, steady blood flow for 20 minutes or so at a time but doesn't overwhelm you - just energizes you.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018
  14. matthunter

    matthunter Antira

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    Bicep pain is actually pretty common for benchers, apparently. Google "bicep pain when benching" and you'll get a ton of results, largely suggesting tendonitis but I doubt mine is that - is too high up and pain is gone in about an hour. It's the "pinch" supporting the weight at the lowest point that hits it.

    It may very well be my form - as I mentioned I think the design of the bench is hampering my initial lift. I just managed 3x6 shoulder press (40kg) and no pain.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018
  15. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    Really? There's a scientific reason for everything. That makes sense though! As soon as you lift off your leverage is at it's worst angle - your chest/triceps can't engage yet.
    My suggestion - raise the support bars so you don't start out (or come back to resting) so close to your chest. True, your range of motion will be reduced, but that part of the range isn't working the intended muscles that much anyway. In your case it's negatively affecting your assisting/stabilizer muscles! Again I didn't notice your bench design. Are the supports adjustable? If not I don't know how you could solve that problem. Yeah google has answered more questions for me than you can imagine. I'm constantly learning more & more - things I wish I knew when I was much younger! :damnkids: Fitness science advances more & more every day. Sadly shysters take advantage of this, but that will never go away.

    Side note this is why I don't bench - I use dumb bells & kettle bells & push ups for my pressing exercises because it lets the shoulders & joints move & rotate more freely.
  16. matthunter

    matthunter Antira

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    Update: gym today

    15 min treadmill (no running - I do a full incline powerwalk to mimic a hill trail, burned 285cals) warmup

    Pec fly machine - 99kg 3x6reps with final 1x8 reps at 86kg

    Shoulder press machine - I'm gonna say 4x5reps at 45kg (actually 1 set at 50kg, 2 sets at 45 and 1 set at 40)... the 50kg lift wasn't hurting my shoulders or arms but I had to arch my back which is bad form, plus my lower back needs some strengthening.

    Tricep pulldown machine - not great. Managed about 3 reps at 42kg but then had to drop to 32kg for 3x5reps. Was aiming for at least 3x3reps at 42 but had done the shoulder press first so tris might have been stressed.

    Bicep pulldown machine (lat machine but I used close grip with palms facing toward me) - I hadn't done bicep work for a while because of the pain after benching so started light at 8 reps (52kg), then realised it wasn't hurting so went up to 66kg for 6 reps, then 78kg for 6 reps (hard but doable) and down to 72kg for a final 6 reps.

    Food: Breakfast oat/protein shake (250cal, 15g protein), post-gym protein shake (about 200cal, 30g protein) plus a chicken/chorizo sandwich (~450cal, 25g protein) for lunch. Homemade red lentil and chicken curry for dinner with a naan bread (no more than 600cals in the curry, dunno about the bread). Protein bar for dessert (about 200cal, 10g protein).

    I do have a birthday party to attend tonight but will be limited to 1 beer as need to drive home. Just hope it doesn't make me snacky.
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  17. matthunter

    matthunter Antira

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    PS mods if you think this is more suited to Blue Room since it's now a semi-fitness blog, go ahead.
  18. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    yes that incline treadmill is no joke! Some of my cardio routine is walking full-out at a 15 percent grade. I'm a numbers/data geek and the walking only burns 2 calories-per-minute less than running an 8 minute mile pace. But the incline walking is much, much easier on your joints and works the often neglected posterior muscles much more efficiently than running on a level surface.
  19. matthunter

    matthunter Antira

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    3x5 bench with the 60kg again but much less pain this time - I raised the stand a bit as OF suggested which has helped inasmuch as it made me realize my grip was a bit narrow, so my tris were doing a lot of the work and extra load on the elbow joint. Wider grip puts the shoulders and pecs into play more. Feels like I can add another 5kg next time.

    Edit: managed 1x4 reps at 65kg just to check I could lift it.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2018
  20. Nautica

    Nautica Probably a Dual

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    I normally bench w/ two 45kg plates, sometimes with two extra 10kgs, no spotter, on a Smith machine. Try for 3x15 reps, usually make 15 - 12 -10. The Smith machine is good because I can just twist my wrists to catch the bar if I get into trouble on a rep, but generally I'm not going to failure. IF I were lifting on a regular bench, I'd either do fewer reps or less weight.
  21. matthunter

    matthunter Antira

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    Gym again today - short session as got tied up dealing with students:

    Stayed at 99kg for the pec fly (3x6 reps) as it was a lot harder than my previous lifts so suspect I've underestimated my ability before and been "building" but I could have gone up faster. Aim to try 104kg next time.

    5x6reps of bicep pulldown at 79kg (previous post should read 79 not 78) now that the bicep pain has decreased. Also did 1x4 reps at 86kg to check if I can increase next time (aim for at least 3x5 reps at 86kg)

    2x6 reps at 45kg and 1x6 reps at 50kg shoulder press machine. I'm lifting 45kg easier at home with a free bar, but the machine isolates the shoulders (I think my pecs engage on the free bar as I'm lifting from under my chin instead of resting the bar across my shoulders).
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  22. Captain X

    Captain X Responsible cookie control

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    Found a t-shirt for you when you're working out. :ramen:

    [​IMG]
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  23. matthunter

    matthunter Antira

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    Went for 3x5 reps bench at 65kg but only managed 2x5 then 1x3. Was a real struggle on the last rep to even get the bar off the stand as my tris were still hit from last gym session, they went wobbly so decided not to risk another rep. Defo sticking at 65 until I can lift without excess strain at start of 3rd set. Will need to buy more plates if I go up much more anyway - I do have some more 10kg plates but they're on my curling/shoulder press bar and hate shifting them about.

    Edit: Gotta say - if you wanna feel powerful after a workout, do some bicep pulls or lat pulls. I've been focusing on my arm and front chest too much but the pulldowns hit your upper back and give you a really good "stretched wide" feeling to your upper body as your shoulders are pulled back. I'm still feeling the bicep pulls from Monday in my rear shoulder muscles and it gives you the whole "raaarghhh!!" arms out pumped feel:

    hulk_rough_by_samuca.jpg
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2018
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  24. matthunter

    matthunter Antira

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    Check. 3x8 reps even, though left arm was weakening on last set.
    20180414_111124.jpg
    Only one more plate to add! Though there's a slider that locks in up to 7.5kg more. After that, I could move the armrest pins back (currently on second notch out of five) so the start position is further behind me.

    Also check: 3x6 reps - went for a fourth set but only managed 3 reps, though did go back later and see if I could manage 93kg (just about - 1x3 reps).

    No tricep work today as I want to see what I can manage on bench press when they're fully rested. Instead did 3x5 reps of 76kg lat pulldowns to further work the biceps but also rear shoulders, plus 3x6 reps at 86kg leg extension.

    Only 10min cardio for warmup, but it's a great day so headed to the beach later to walk the dog, will be several miles and a trek through sand dunes.

    Trying to decide whether to spend money on more plates or better bench - unfortunately an Olympic width bench is either quite expensive, or a bit too big for the available space. I found one that looked like it would fit and was only about £150 but it was an adjustable back and the support beam looked flimsy as hell - true enough one reviewer said it dropped a notch on him mid-lift and he nearly pinned himself with the bar! There's a much better-looking one but I'd have to clear some space in the bedroom for it.

    http://amzn.eu/7zDf5Yk
  25. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    you mentioned rear shoulders AKA rear delts. Good thing you are thinking of them too. A lot of people neglect them because there aren't a lot of exercises that engage them directly and it can be hard to feel them really working. Also you can't see them so (like many muscles on the back of our bodies like glutes and hams and back) out of sight, out of mind. Rear delts are the one muscle where I use isolation exercises. In my case bent over one armed rear delt raises, like the woman in the pic. Notice a slight bend in her elbow. Too much of a bend and you feel it in your back - and this should be an isolation exercise, not a compound movement. Also you have to bend way over or you end up engaging more of the middle delt head instead of the rear delt. For me the only way to bend way over is to brace with one arm on a coffee table and lift with the other, then switch off. Also too heavy a weight and you have to use momentum and other muscles swing it up - defeating the purpose of feeling that muscle (and that muscle only) really working. The slower you can do these, the better so definitely use lighter versus heavier weights for this exercise.

    delt.jpg
  26. matthunter

    matthunter Antira

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    Fuck it, I've ordered the bench. Arrives Monday so may put off bench tomorrow so I can test it.
  27. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    it looks sturdy and reliable and safe - I think you're getting your money's worth.
  28. matthunter

    matthunter Antira

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    Bench assembled and just about fits the bedroom with enough room to walk past it in the middle of the night to get to the bathroom for a piss without banging my shins on it. Could remove the leg extension part for extra space but figure I may as well get my money's worth - though will mean buying more plates if I wanna put a decent load on it.

    It's a lot wider, which is what I wanted, but so wide a 7' bar would be better - my 6' one just about fits but only has an inch either side of the plates.

    Seems easier to lift the bar but couldn't attempt too many reps - tri pain was back after assembling the thing - wasn't too tricky (IKEA could learn a thing or two - I guess when your customer base might include a large number of bodybuilders you take care to make assembly as stress-free as possible so they don't show up at the store to complain...) but solo assembly of these things always involves a bit of hefting.
  29. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    DUDE! The product description says you should use a 7 foot bar. :shep: That's why you barely have clearance with the 6 foot bar. My opinion: spring for a full 7 foot bar.
    Otherwise you can never get even close to pushing yourself. Seriously, if you feel like you are even starting to get weak you better not do another rep. :nono: I don't want to log into wordforge and and see a pic of you injured. :( I know a guy who lost some teeth in a bench pressing incident. Please get that 7 foot bar!
  30. matthunter

    matthunter Antira

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    Yeah am going careful while I ponder options - it's actually about 3 inches clearance either side of the catchers before the plates so not as bad as I thought and I'd have to be very imbalanced anyway to get the plates that out of kilter. My issue is I use 1-inch standard plates, not Olympic, but most 7' bars are Olympic so I'd need to change plates and that's costly. OTOH, there's a 6'8" York "Beefy" bar that handles standard plates so am looking at that.

    In the meantime I've had to take it easier as my form was definitely being hampered by the previous bench - most of the work was being done by my triceps hence my arm pain. The new bench means I'm hitting the chest more and this obviously needs work - while I tried it out and I can lift 65kg I am still feeling a decent amount of training from dropping back to 55kg - did 3x8 reps today and am definitely pumped across upper chest which I was only rarely feeling after lifts on the previous bench as the arms were overcompensating. So am gonna stick at 55kg until it feels trivial (up the set number) and then move up, instead of aiming to move up as soon as I can. Let the other muscle groups catch up.