T Nation

Bench Program w/o Spotter

To begin, I understand you should use a spotter in your power movements. But many of us face situations where we are not lucky enough to have a qualified spotter for those lifts. For those of us that still want to lift to increase strength, is there a program created for us to follow?

I have read both 531, and 531 for Powerlifitng, and have seen that Jim speaks about leaving “one or two reps in the tank.” He typically does not advocate working to total failure. Conceptually, do you think programming in lower %'s for an extra set would be enough to increase strength without the use of a spotter?

Ex: The regular 5’s week is 65%x5, 75%x5, 85%x5(+)
At a 315 bench, you are using a 285 training max, so your sets are 185x5, 215x5, 245x5
Total working volume 15 reps & 3225 lbs moved (should be more based on last set’s reps)

W/o Spotter: 65%x5, 75%x5, 80%x5, 80%x5
315 bench, 285 training max, sets are 185x5, 215x5, 230x5, 230x5
Total working volume 20 reps & 4300 lbs moved.

If you took away 5% from each of the final sets, did an extra set at that same %, and stopped at the prescribed week’s reps, would this be enough/too much to build bench press strength month to month?

Although this changes a lot about the basics of 531, i either have to adapt it in some way, or move on to a different type of programming, as i am getting too uncomfortable working at the final rep weights and %'s to not have a spotter consistently.

Just keep the percentages the same. The program works.

Ask for a spotter at the gym…

If you plan on benching without a spotter, make sure you don’t collar the weight, also if you can bench on a rack that either has a lot of hook positions or something that you can catch the barbell on in worse case scenarios

I’ll play the naggy bitch on this one: always, always, at least have someone in the room when benching. Unless you have a rack setup that can save your ass. I know more than a few guys who have torn pecs on relatively light weights. Imagine setting up with a warm up set, not thinking you need a spot at all, and hearing your pec snap.

Depending on what that “relatively light” weight is, it still might be a few hundred pounds hanging above your face/neck/chest. (I know one guy who benched low 500s raw, and tore both pecs with 315)

Squat, you can be in a rack and fall over if somethin breaks. DL, you can let go of the bar, worst case. Bench, find a spotter.

[quote]dwfox wrote:
But many of us face situations where we are not lucky enough to have a qualified spotter for those lifts.

Uh… what…?

I have just the answer for you bro

The gym i lift does not have consistent people there. I cannot depend on having someone there available for a spot. Sometimes i am the only person there, except the girl working the front desk. If i program in a heavy triple or single, and have no one to spot me, i cant perform that lift.

What i am trying to do is find a more self-dependent lifting program, so if i do not have access to a spotter i can still get good work in. I used 531 as an example because i was using that routine with great success until i lost a couple lifting buddies, and i am at the point where my final lifts at the working reps are pretty close to the maximum amount i can accomplish at that weight.

I can lift in the power rack, but the rack has shitty hooks that force you to extend the weight up and over them to get it out of the hooks, forcing you to loose the tight back in benching. The holes in the rack are also not closely spaced, so getting the weight in a similar place for a bench set-up is off by an 1.5" to 2" inches either too high or low depending on hook placement.

I guess i should be asking if anyone has any advice or experience putting on strength while benching in a power rack with the safety pins, and how they dealt with the problems of getting the weight out of the hooks while maintaining a tight back. And if anyone has had success with a routine where they did not have a lifting buddy.

Lift in a power rack, problem solved. I don’t know if any of the posts addressed this. I get a little adhd.

Power rack, get the safety pins to save your ass, if you don’t have a power rack and only a bench, you can get a little creative and stack boxes on each side and figure out what height you need so the plates don’t bang on them. ORRR you can do what many people do, don’t collar the sides and if you can’t bring the weight to lock out, tilt the bar to one side and let the plates fall out and do the same for the other.

i found this video from when i used to train in a commercial gym. i had to come up with creative ways to do things. it’s pretty funny to see now but it was affective. the only downside was there was a huge herd of fast soccer moms standing there waiting for their aerobic steps.