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RAW Lifting In Commercial Gym


I don't have access to dumbbells over 100#'s due to a current membership in an aweful commercial gym. The only reason I haven't quit is that the monthly dues are ridiculously cheap relative to other gyms in my area. I know heavy dumbbell work is essential for developing a strong bench for a raw lifter as getting out of the hole is a bigger priority than the lockout.

I currently do floor presses, BB bench press, close grip bench press and I am currently experimenting with 1 board presses. I have not neglected my upper back or anterior delts because I do a lot of heavy rowing as well. I eat right and generally get enough sleep. What I am currently doing is not giving me the results I want so I am looking to add and/or change things.

If you want to turn this into another Bullshit RAW vs. Shirted debate please go elsewhere. I need no-nonsense advice or suggestions to improve my raw benchpress given my current situation. Exercise selection and lifting technique suggestions would be most welcome.


Have you tried pause benches or weighted pushups off of plates? If you put plates in a backpack or have someone sit on your upper back while doing full ROM pushups on plates it could take the place of heavy DB benches.

Have a good one,



How about reverse band benches?

I never tried it, but I'd assume you bench in a power rack and connect the bands to the top of it and to the bar.

You'd have assistance throughout the lockout and the most difficult part off your chest.

Or just heavy partial benches where you don't lock out, and you set the pins in a power rack so you can rest the bar on them, but still be able to get the bar to touch your chest.


What aspects of form do you have to concentrate on when benching off of the pins like that? I can already se my arms wiggling in all sorts of awkward directions when attempting a 95% (1RM) lift.

Buffalokilla: Are you talking about using plates on the floor to hold you up while doinf a weighted pushup?


Shoulder work is also very important for raw lifters, but you probably already have that down. If you don't have access to heavy dumbells, I assume you don't have access to a cambered bar but if you did that would help replace the dumbell work. Make sure you're doing tons of speed work, since you don't have the benefit of the shirt helping you off the chest, so you'll have to make sure you're extra fast off the chest.


My $0.02: your program looks a little heavy in the lockout assistance for a raw lifter.

In your shoes I would can the variations, take something like Sheiko and go nuts with it. No special equipment, a bench, a bar, and a holy pile of volume.


Good Luck!


I see what you mean, but with the bench and power rack at my gym, I'm able to set the pins so that the bar is about 2" from the pins when the bar's on my chest (arched) and if I miss a lift, I can flatten my back, or 'deflate' my chest and the bar will lay on the pins with enough room to scoot out from underneath.

I have hit the pins a couple times while coming down, but that was because one side came down faster and the bar wasn't level. Bad form and lack of control on my part. For the most part though, I don't touch the pins at all.


-Work Military press ALOT, if you're like me military press is what makes my bench go up, when i'm not moving up I military press 2x a week.

-Work upperBack like a madman.
not rows-rows to neck,bands pull aparts.

maybe you need more hypertrophy? if so do a repetition day like 12-15 reps.

strenthening rotator cuffs, not for prehab or whatever for pure strength.
if you bench 225 you should atleast do 25lbs *8
315- 35*8
405- 45*8

my military-to bench
135- 225
185- 315
225- 405
try to atleast achieve that so you can rule out weak shoulders.

if you have theses lifts then depending on where you are focus on chest with paused benches.


oh yeah forgot about forearms, it may look stupid, but train the VERY hard. especially flexes(palm towards sky) if your hands get to crushed your body will shutdown. also do Hammer curls.


iso holds in the bottom position
oscillating isometric dumbel flys
bottom up presses


I'm sorry I cant contribute anything that hasnt been said already, but I think you're gonna need to find an avatar to go with a name like "lesboporn"


Yup - hands each on a small stack of plates.



Reverse band benches are essentially a lockout exercise, since the bands provide little assistance at the top of the movement; that really isn't what you're looking to improve.

Do speed work once a week; you can change it up and do it with a pause at the chest, developing speed strength has helped my bench a ton.

Also, bottoms up benching is good for the raw lifter, and is basically what this poster described above. You just set the bar on the pins (chest level) and that is where the rep starts.

Push ups on blocks or plates or even with push up grips are handy, since they allow you to go through a long ROM. And if you don't have any shoulder problems, below parallel dips allow this same type of ROM.

And as already mentioned, rotator cuff (external rotations), upper back work, and forearm work all help greatly.

At elitefts, search for "Benching for Strippers" by Jim Wendler, it has a lot of quality information.


Have you tried using the DBs on a slight incline? I'm guessing that youre posting this cuz sets of 8-12 on flat bench with 100# dbs are easy for you. Trying inclining the bench slightly, when that gets easy increase the incline til youre doing seated (or standing) mil presses with 100# dbs. ANd if thats easy then screw you, youre way stronger than me :slight_smile:


lesboporn (haha i feel all funny quoting that name to start a reply),

I am curious to see what kind of numbers you are getting as a raw bencher and what you've done to attain them


doing floor presses isn't all that useful for getting 'out of the hole' as you said, it's a better mid-range excercise in case you have a sticking point around that part of the ROM.

The weighted pushups from a plates is a good idea to make sure you really can get all the way to the bottom of the ROM, pause, then explode.

Also, you may want to try doing dips with a similar cadence, as well as incline benching with the dumbbells.

Also, try pausing with the heaviest dumbbells you can for a few seconds to almost hinder the stretch-shortening cycle factors to zero and then explode up from the bottom of the ROM. It's techniques like this that make box squats and board/floor presses so useful.

Also, I'm sure your gym has a power rack in it, you can drag a bench into the rack and do pin presses at the bottom of the ROM too.


Most has been mentioned already but I sometimes use 1 1/2 rep benches as my main assistance exercise.

Hope that helps



Two things:

I would say try 1-Arm heavy DB benching, but that may be more of a core-type move than anything.

The other would be to try 1-6 for a few weeks, then go back to what you were doing at the higher weight. I know I talk about this a lot, but you'd seriously be surprised at what gains you make.


lesboporn, how much do you bench now, and how much do you weigh?

Dumbbells can help, but they are not necessary to building a big raw bench. I would suggest staying with very basic exercises and rep schemes. 5x5, 5x3, flat bench, close grip, incline, etc. Also, after a certain point, dumbbells become a hassle. Getting into position with 175-200lb dumbbells is a pain in the ass.


I would agree with a lot of the advice already given. The only thing I can add, would be a low pin press as a max effort exercise.