How to Bench Without a Spotter
Here is what you need to do...
So you want to know how to bench without a spotter. Well, as a certified personal trainer, my very first instinct is to yell, "Don't!" But I know that sometimes you can't find a partner to tag along to the gym, or you find yourself alone with nobody to ask for help. If that's the case, then I suppose you should have a little bit of advice on how to go about solo-benching.
The first thing I'll recommend (and, frankly, this goes for benching even with a spotter) are a solid pair of wrist wraps. I use Grizzly Fitness Power Training Wrist Wraps personally. A good pair of wrist wraps will offer your wrists the necessary support to take on a hefty amount of weight from the bench press. You have to remember that the series of bones inside of your wrist are all very small and very susceptible to injury. With wrist wraps you can rest assured that there is a far tinier chance for your wrists to get injured during a solo-bench.
Secondly, it is important to choose a bench press that offers spotter bars. If you have to move into the squat rack to satisfy this requirement, then by all means do your bench pressing inside of a squat rack. Spotter bars are imperative to assure that you will be able to stop the massive amount of weight you're benching from potentially landing on your neck or chest, which can cause serious damage and even death. Place those bars just an inch or so above chest level. It might be scary if the weight falls, but you will be safe, which is the most important thing.
If you really cannot find a setup that offers spotter bars, then you have to consider two things. First, that there is always the potential you will not be able to lift back up the weight that you are bringing down. If this happens, you need to be able to sustain the weight on your chest and tip the bar safely onto the ground. To avoid this kind of instance, try and keep the weight to something you can easily do 8-12 reps of, this way you will either never have a problem returning the weight to the rack, or you will be able to easily and safely handle it if the weight has to be lowered all the way to your chest.
Finally, make sure you feel confident that day. If you're going to spot alone, you want to be sure of yourself. Don't imagine accidentally dropping the bar or not being able to get the weight up. Instead, picture yourself pushing that weight like you're superman or the hulk.
Difficulties people often experience or parts that need special attention to do it right.
The most difficult part of benching without a spotter comes in the form of safety. It is absolutely imperative that you maintain the safest possible procedures and that you wear wrist wraps to prevent your wrists from sustaining injury. And again, I do not recommend that you ever bench without a spotter if at all possible.
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Funny or interesting story about this topic...
Before I became a personal trainer (and this is embarrassing to admit) I used to occasionally bench without a spotter. I was never extremely strong as a teenager. One day, though, I decided I was going to put up 225 as many times as I could. I had been benching 205 for about 6 reps no problem. I figured 225 would be no problem. I was alone in the weight room, and I threw two 45's on each side, listened to them clang together. I sat down and took a few deep breaths, my confidence high. Then I laid back, gripped the bar, and lifted to weight into starting position. It felt heavy, but I assumed my confident nature and got ready to lift the hell out of that weight. I brought it down once and...nope; I couldn't get it back up. I had to let it rest on my chest until I felt comfortable to tip the weights off of each side. Luckily nobody was around, but even being by myself I felt my cheeks get red with embarrassment. I'm lucky, though, that I was embarrassed and not injured.
When did you first do this & how did you get started?
After my first bad experience, I started paying attention to the true amount of weight I could lift. I typically bench with wrist wraps, so that was no problem to continue. And I made sure that I was always prepared to take care of myself if, for some terrible reason, an injury happened. Spotter bars and an escape method are necessary in order to safely (and I say safely loosely) bench without a spotter. I wish you luck, and I hope these tips help prevent you from any injury. Happy benching,