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Progressing Presses

Hi Thibs,

My girlfriend started training last year. She’s on an upper/lower split and is making really good progress on all of her lifts except the dumbell bench.

The problem is that jump between the dumbells is too big. She can get a set of 10 with the two 10k bells, but is only good for 2 reps with the 12s. There are no 11k bells.

A work around I’ve come up with (that I’m actually pretty proud of) is to get her doing push ups with her hands up on an aerobics step. The step is raised to standard bench height using those plastic feet that you get to put under them. She can progress this by gradually removing feet so the step gets lower and lower, thus making it more challenging, until she’s good to do push ups from the floor.

I’m wondering if you have any ideas of how to work around the fact the jump between the bells is too big? How would you approach this problem with a client of your own?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

Honestly I wouldn’t have that problem because I almost never use DB presses in the training of any of my clients (or myself)… haven’t used them in years.

One way to do things is to increase the difficulty of the lift without having to add more weight. For example doing low double contractions (lower the bells to the chest, lift them 1/3rd of the way up, lower back down, lift completely… this is one rep) or doing your regular reps then adding top, then bottom partials. For example, have her do the 10 full reps, then 5 top half partials and 5 bottom half partials.

Oftentimes the issue is more mental than physical with women. They perceive the weight as too heavy for them and that kills their confidence and they just subconsciously stop producing force.

Hey RDS… You could get a couple of platemates. I’ve used them for stuff like side laterals when between DB weights. They come in 1 1/4 lbs and 2 1/2 lbs.

forgot pic

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
Honestly I wouldn’t have that problem because I almost never use DB presses in the training of any of my clients (or myself)… haven’t used them in years.

One way to do things is to increase the difficulty of the lift without having to add more weight. For example doing low double contractions (lower the bells to the chest, lift them 1/3rd of the way up, lower back down, lift completely… this is one rep) or doing your regular reps then adding top, then bottom partials. For example, have her do the 10 full reps, then 5 top half partials and 5 bottom half partials.

Oftentimes the issue is more mental than physical with women. They perceive the weight as too heavy for them and that kills their confidence and they just subconsciously stop producing force. [/quote]

ah good call with the partials, I’ll start getting her to do 1.5 reps.

I think you’re right about the mental side of it too. When I’m there to spot her she always beats PRs

Thanks coach

@EM - wow those look great! I’ll check them out, thanks

although Coach, I have to ask: Why do you not use dumbell presses anymore?

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
although Coach, I have to ask: Why do you not use dumbell presses anymore? [/quote]

(1) I’m all about performance, to me the set-up and bringing the weight down waste too much energy and can eventually lead to a decrease in performance especially with heavier weights. I highly dislike the energy cost of taking them out of the rack and bringing them back (we`re talking heavier weights). It’s not out of lazyness, It’s just a waste of energy and takes me out of my zone.

(2) When you get to a certain strength level it is increasingly difficult to bring the dumbbells in the starting position and potentially more dangerous when you lower them back down.

(3) I’m a big lift guy. I do not use many different exercises. To me, the key is to reach a high level of mastery and performance on the big basic barbell movements. This is done through frequent and voluminuous practice. I prefer to invest more training sets on those movements.

(4) From the mental side, a big barbell bench improvement gives a bigger boost than a big improvement on DB presses, and increasing motivation through accomplishment is a big part of being successful in your goals.

(5) Even though it is technically possible to have a greater range of motion with DB pressing, I find that a lot more people instinctively use bad form on the DB than on the bench.

Interesting, yeah I’ve thought that getting the bells in position is probably wasting a lot of energy, but she’s not strong enough to really use the bar yet (also she’s kinda scared of it), at least not when I’m not there.

I will definitely consider what you’ve said though and try and get her using the bar as soon as she is able/comfortable. In he meantime I’ll try to push ups idea I had and the 1.5 reps on dumbell presses.

Thank you for your time

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
Interesting, yeah I’ve thought that getting the bells in position is probably wasting a lot of energy, but she’s not strong enough to really use the bar yet (also she’s kinda scared of it), at least not when I’m not there.

I will definitely consider what you’ve said though and try and get her using the bar as soon as she is able/comfortable. In he meantime I’ll try to push ups idea I had and the 1.5 reps on dumbell presses.

Thank you for your time[/quote]

Yeah, I use them with my wife too from time to time as these are not an issue either.