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Bench Press: Really Neccessary?

Due to working out alone in my garage, I have never felt sure of adding bench presses to my w/o. I’ve always substituted them with dips and overhead push-ups (I don’t know the name: basically, push-ups that are done with the body in a vertical position).

Does the bench press offer any advantage that dips cannot compensate? Shall I try to insert it, maybe utilizing a weight that I can manage easily?

[quote]
Does the bench press offer any advantage that dips cannot compensate? Shall I try to insert it, maybe utilizing a weight that I can manage easily?[/quote]

Nope. No particular reason to do them for anyone who’s not a powerlifter.

I’m sure you’ll get a lot of people telling you it’s blasphemy not to do them or some such nonsense, but there’s no physiological or biomechanical reason to include them if you’re significantly overloading the musculature and don’t need to perform the lift in competition.

Just make sure you use a full ROM and added weight on the dips and your shoulders will be healthier in the long run anyway.

-Dan

Depends.

If not, then it probably doesn’t matter. If you want something safe to do with a pressing motion, do pushups. If those are easy, switch to one-armed pushups. If those are too easy, do one-armed one-legged pushups with your foot on a box. If you can do that, you can easily bench 2x your body weight which is very good, and you don’t need a spotter or weights. You can/should vary where you put your hand.

I understand your safety concerns and avoid heavy weights when I don’t have a spotter. This way, you will still be making progress for the bench when you get a spotter.

Hope this helps…

jj

I stayed away from bench press until I had a power rack to do them in. Like you, I work out alone in my garage, and I didn’t feel comfortable going for a max with no one to help me get the bar off if I failed the lift. However, a la Dan John, you might be able to find or buy some saw horses to spot you. I’ve used that strategy in the past to good effect.

The fact is, you can’t really go for it in the bench press if you have part of your mind worried about whether you’ll be stuck under the bar. I’d stick with dips until I could find a decent power rack or similar support.

Dips are a great integration exercise and coupled with one arm pushups, real chest and shoulder and tricep builders.

I think you’re talking about handstand pushups there…

Dumbbells?

also something i’ve found great for chest building is an old tradmill, it has strong sturdy handles and the grip is wider than normal dip bars…great chest exercise.

[quote]jj-dude wrote:

If you want something safe to do with a pressing motion, do pushups. If those are easy, switch to one-armed pushups. If those are too easy, do one-armed one-legged pushups with your foot on a box. If you can do that, you can easily bench 2x your body weight which is very good, and you don’t need a spotter or weights. You can/should vary where you put your hand.
[/quote]

I worked my way up to 10 full-range 1 arm push-ups each arm (with no benching) and my bench went down to the point where I couldn’t even bench bodyweight anymore. I find it hard to believe that if I did one-legged off a box it would add over 200 additional lbs to my bench press.

To the OP, I’ve gutted bench before and regretted it (but did plenty of overhead pressing) – my chest got smaller and weaker. If you’re looking for a real world application, when benching I could toss guys off me in Jiu-Jitsu when lying on my back. When I wasn’t benching (even when doing the 1-arm push-ups) I could barely move them.

Dips are similar to benching so there may be some carryover, and everyone is different, but I’m not going to drop bench again.

Merry X-mas, ya’ll

[quote]EatSleepLift wrote:
Dumbbells? [/quote]

The bench press is only a necessity if your are goals are to improve upper body pushing strength, variety in a chest pressing movement, or if it is goal specific as in powerlifting. The fixed bilateral hand position the barbell places you in is not sport specific or functional in anything that mimics what you do in evryday movement. So, in my opinion you will not suffer if you do not barbell bench press.

As the previous e-mailer stated dumbbells are more suitable for chest developemment, unilateral strength, and functional carry-over to daily activities and sport due to the complete horizontal ab/adduction movement pattern and the various hand positioning you can use- neutral, pronated, supinated.

As well as the using bilateral, alternating, and unilateral pressing movements. Variuos push-up methods are o.k. until to some extent. The problem with push-ups is trying to provide enough overload to increase strength or hypertrophy.

One way to do this is to wear a weighted X-Vest, have a training partner place a plate on your back, partner push=ups with someone leaning on your shoulders with their bodyweight while you do push-ups, as the previous e-mailer stated inverted or handstand push-ups (those target the shoulders more than the chest), plyometric push-ups, or complex training where you superset dumbbell/barbell chest presses with a plyometric push-up or medicine ball chest pass.

Who say’s you have to go to failure? Put on enough weight so you can complete say 9 reps(barely) and do sets of 8.

I neglected the BP for a long time(flat-bench BB) because it was never a strong point and I always felt like a pussy only working with 250-275 when guys a lot smaller than me would use well over 315-350 for reps. I always chose DB’s or other exercises instead. This was a big mistake working my ego and not my chest.

Not long after I realized the mistake I was making and made the BP a priotity my chest development went to new levels and now I regret skipping it in so many chest workouts. Long story short yes it is a very effective exercise and should be included.

I think the Bench Press could be pretty dangerous if you don’t have either a spotter, or a power-rack.

Like others have said, just get some dumbbells. Walmart has adjustable dumbbells pretty cheap. I can get at least 3, 25lb plates onto each side of each dumbbell that I got from Walmart. 152.5lb dumbbells are usually more than enough weight for most.

IMHO, I prefer to use DB Presses and dips for body development and “sport-specific”/realworld strength. That said, the classic BB bench is the best exercise around for maximal upperbody loading. Quite simply, you can only truly max-out your pressing strength on the bench, which is necessary for overall development. At least, this is how I understand it.

I’ve worked out alone or in garages for years, and still generally prefer it that way. As a result, I rarely benched near my max. Seeing as I feel this is necessary every now and again, what I suggest for garage/solo trainees is to use dips, DBs, and overhead work while building up your pressing strength and musculature. Then, during a power cycle where your primary goal is strength, work up to your 75-85% alone and then find a buddy, or a trainer at a gym, and use a facility’s equipment for the 3 weeks or so you need to get your “maxing” done.

Since you’re not likely to be benching every day, it’s probably not going to be a big deal to pick up a one day pass or something to the local gym for those three weeks. Or you could just wait and buy a power rack or something. If you want to bench and are short on cash, you might also look into the floor press. This is a bench, but without a “bench”, you lay on the floor. I’ve not tried it, but have some friends who do it as part of their wrestling routines at home. I think Pavel Tsatsouline advocates it as well.

Just a thought,
-B

I only flat benched bodybuilding style the first 2 months of my training, because it hurt my shoulders.

For 5 years, my only straight bar benching was done incline, or flat close grip.

After those 5 years, I was shown how to do a powerlifting style flat bench, and after 2 months I had worked up to the same poundage I did on the incline.(which was very respectable)

A few years later, of course, I could do more, both in the gym as in competition.

From a bodybuilding standpoint, it’s useful, but definately not necessary.

From a powerlifting standpoint, it’s definately necessary(duh), but can be substituted for some periods of time, to give your body a break.

NOTE : I’ve never had a shoulder injury(outside of a broken collarbone due to a fall)due to benching or any other kind of press.
Something to consider.

What realistic about laying on your back and pushing up ? Honestly, to the poster who said he can toss around guys on top of him…try going up against a skilled BJJ white or blue belt (let alone purple or higher) and benching them off you. You will get armbarred so fast your head will spin. See Zuluzinho v. Nogueira in the Pride Open weight GP earlier this year.

Benching is great for chest mass and powerlifting. Otherwise, dips and incline benching and some close-grip and floor presses are fine along with overhead work. If you’re looking to increase your athletic performence, flat bb benching is not where it’s at.

Surprised how little mention DB benching recieved. Assuming you have some DBs, I would go that route until you could set up some kind of self-spotter. Also, depending on what your goals are, try 1-Arm DB benching.

Hang whichever side is holding the DB slightly off the bench(edge of bench should be between your scap and spine), and hold bench next to your head with free hand. This is a bit more sport-specific(again, depending on sport), as it is a sort-of integration move, working most of the shoulder girdle as well as the ‘core’ muscles.

[quote]t3h_Squirr3l wrote:

Honestly, to the poster who said he can toss around guys on top of him…try going up against a skilled BJJ white or blue belt (let alone purple or higher) and benching them off you.[/quote]

I’m a blue belt in BJJ. My buddy who’s a brown belt and went to the Mundials (as well as won the Pan-Ams as a purple belt) told me that when he gave up benching he didn’t feel as strong. He was doing lots of overhead pressing with kettlebells but felt not only weaker, but also more prone to injury.

Besides being able to lift people up or push them away, he said it also helped to push their arm or head around for control.

Just to chime in once more. I do jujutsu and I agree that bench presses will let you practice being in a position to push people off you, also endangering you for an armbar. I like pushups mixed in because they let me practice moving my body and I find they make me faster on the floor for certain movements.

I didn’t say the BP is bad – not at all – but I also wouldn’t bench heavy alone. The issue is chest development vs. safety, as I read it…

jj

The BB BP can build you a monster chest and/or some triceps. What’s not to love?

who says you gotta use a bar?use dumbbells,if you cant complete the rep then drop it,you’ll never need a spotter.If you insist on the bar,why not just ask a friend or two(depending on their build) to help you out

Thanks guys, you’re awesome, I didn’t expect so many responses in such a short time!

In any case, yeah, I alredy utilize dumbbells; I was wondering though if for strenght purposes the bench press was more adequate. There’s a friend of mine for example that can lift less weight dumbell-wise, but he has always worked out with the standard bench press, and he’s definitely stronger than me in the sense, that when we do some stupid playful stuff hitting each other (not humping), he wins all the time. But that might just be a genetics case.

I also feel like dips are optimal for aestethical purposes, but even when I add weight, I never feel stronger if I limit myself to them.