T Nation

Lifting W/O A Partner

I have been lifting for about the last 3 years without a partner. I have made slow progress and I’m not entirely unhappy with where I am at right now. What I have come to realize is that I’m not that strong. Compared to most guys in the gym I can hold my own, but I know I’m capable of much more. Here are my numbers:

5’7", 180lbs
12%bf

Max Bench 245lbs (dropped 250 on my chest, no spotter) Goal-315

Max squat 300lbs. Goal 400+

Max DL 365lbs Goal 400+

Lifting heavy on DL’s is easy (what’s a spotter gonna’ do on that?). My problem is that since dropping 250 on my chest I’m a little gun-shy about going all-out heavy. My gym is small and almost deserted when I’m there. I’m looking for some advise or tips on working out alone and using heavy weights.

[quote]PGJ wrote:
I have been lifting for about the last 3 years without a partner. I have made slow progress and I’m not entirely unhappy with where I am at right now. What I have come to realize is that I’m not that strong. Compared to most guys in the gym I can hold my own, but I know I’m capable of much more. Here are my numbers:

5’7", 180lbs
12%bf

Max Bench 245lbs (dropped 250 on my chest, no spotter) Goal-315

Max squat 300lbs. Goal 400+

Max DL 365lbs Goal 400+

Lifting heavy on DL’s is easy (what’s a spotter gonna’ do on that?). My problem is that since dropping 250 on my chest I’m a little gun-shy about going all-out heavy. My gym is small and almost deserted when I’m there. I’m looking for some advise or tips on working out alone and using heavy weights. [/quote]

Well, instead of going heavy on bench you could switch to dumbbells that way you wouldn’t have to worry about a spot.

Or if you have a power rack you could bench in the power rack.

Another option is to bench in the smith machine. But I will get flamed for mentioning that so i’m not going to. But it would be a better option than dropping 250 pounds on your chest.

I’ve read that bench press is by far the most dangerous lift. You can also unload a squat without a spotter if you get stuck.

#1 Ask for a spot once in a while. Just be sure to coach the spotter on exactly what you want first.

If you can’t get a spot, here’s some other options.

#2 Lift lighter weights explosively! Remember Power = Force * Distance / Time.

#3 Use chains and bands. This will allow the weight to be lighter when your mechanical leverages are at their worst and heavier when their at their best.

#4 Use close grip, then when you start to get tired, rest the bar on your chest momentarily and widen the grip to get a few extra.

what you could also do is chec out Prospot machines which are like a smith machine but they give you the free motion of free weights.

and no I don’t work for the, I’m just looking into getting one if they give it to me for a good price.

http://www.prospotfitness.com/pages/videos.html

My gym doesn’t have a lot of fancy equipment. No squat rack, just a smith machine. No bands or chains. I did db presses for chest for a couple of years because of a shoulder injury. I prefer them to BP, but something inside me wants to work on “big numbers”. Bragging rights.

Benching 315 is way cooler than pressing 100lb db’s. I could probably do BP in the smith machine, but then it wouldn’t be a true BP.

If you don’t have a power rack, can you set up a couple boxes on either side of the bench at just the right height where pins on a power rack would be otherwise.

You could try floor pressing as well.

Lifting by yourelf is fine. I have been doing it for 2 years in my home gym and have been able to get my max bench above 300 pounds using flat bench presses and dumbbell presses( together with training my entire body). If you can get your 100# db presses for 10 reps you should easily be able to bp 300#.

By the way 245# bench is pretty darn good at your height and weight IMO.

Are there any spare benches you could place on both sides?

Not a flame, but the problem with benching too heavy in a Smith is, let’s say the bar gets stuck on your chest… you can’t roll it and you can’t dump it off the side.

You’re stuck.

You’re getting sleepy.

You’re cold and blue.

Bob

[quote]dre wrote:

Another option is to bench in the smith machine. But I will get flamed for mentioning that so i’m not going to. But it would be a better option than dropping 250 pounds on your chest.

[/quote]

Bob, that’s why Smith’s have safety catches, just like a power rack. Set the safety to your chest height or slightly higher, no worries. Even an inch or two below your chest height probably wouldn’t crush you, you could figger out a way to wiggle free.

I’ve worked out on my own in my garage for almost 2 years now. I have a squat cage and I’ve failed many times while benching and squatting. I’ve competed in 5 powerlifting meets and have added just over 350 lbs to my total. Based on that I’m happy. Otherwise I do wonder if a partner would help/hurt, would a gym atmosphere help or hurt/distract me, am I pushing myself hard enough or too hard, would the advice/interaction with people at a gym help/hurt me. The only thing I’ve missed from a gym is a lift off when max benching. Plus I can crank the Pantera!

[quote]BMRSNR wrote:
I’ve worked out on my own in my garage for almost 2 years now. I have a squat cage and I’ve failed many times while benching and squatting. I’ve competed in 5 powerlifting meets and have added just over 350 lbs to my total. Based on that I’m happy. Otherwise I do wonder if a partner would help/hurt, would a gym atmosphere help or hurt/distract me, am I pushing myself hard enough or too hard, would the advice/interaction with people at a gym help/hurt me. The only thing I’ve missed from a gym is a lift off when max benching. Plus I can crank the Pantera![/quote]

I can’t wait to have a house with a basement so I can build my own gym. Grungy as hell, motivational posters, no waiting, loud music, chalk bucket, fart without offending…it will be sweet. Pantera will definately get some air time in my gym.

Try the Waterbury 10x3 method for a while.
Your strength will increase and the low rep scheme keeps you from getting as fatigued as the normal 8-10 method.

[quote]squeezer wrote:
Bob, that’s why Smith’s have safety catches, just like a power rack. Set the safety to your chest height or slightly higher, no worries. Even an inch or two below your chest height probably wouldn’t crush you, you could figger out a way to wiggle free. [/quote]

Go figure… I’ve never noticed them… but then, I can count the number of times I’ve used a Smith on one hand (no, that’s not supposed to be an elitist statement at all).

Bob

i train w/o a partner as well. I know at times it sucks and that is why I only go max weight about once every 3-4 chest sessions. When I do I warm up and start loading, when approaching my max I will just ask someone to spot. Ive never had anyone say no.

Best of luck to ya.

mp

You could always substitute incline presses for when you want to go heavy on chest. If you fail, you just roll the bar down to your thighs, then stand up. No, it won’t feel good, but it won’t crush your chest either.

DB

[quote]Norwell Bob wrote:
Not a flame, but the problem with benching too heavy in a Smith is, let’s say the bar gets stuck on your chest… you can’t roll it and you can’t dump it off the side.

You’re stuck.

You’re getting sleepy.

You’re cold and blue.

Bob

dre wrote:

Another option is to bench in the smith machine. But I will get flamed for mentioning that so i’m not going to. But it would be a better option than dropping 250 pounds on your chest.

[/quote]

Exactly, and this one guy did just recently die, from “safely”-benching on a smith machine… He got stuck/crushed under the weight, alone at the gym…
All hail the holy smith machine… Right…

Anyways, something like the power rack, or staying in the range of 3-5 RMs and learning to get a feeling of when you can’t push that one last rep…
Just an idea…
Good luck anyways.

I also have to train alone. I’ve spent my share of time pinned under a bar waiting for someone to come along and help me out from under it. As the weight went up waiting was no longer an option. I learned first to roll the bar down my body onto my thighs then wiggle out from under it. After that I learned to feel when I was approaching failure - and I don’t go for that last rep.

Sure, lots of people will tell you, “don’t be afraid to fail”. Well if you are alone, you have to be careful. Learn where failure is and stop just short of it.