T Nation

Strange but true...

Well I hit another milestone the other day. I dumbell pressed 100lbs an arm for the first time in my life and I can credit many of the training principles I have read on T-Mag for this accomplishment. I did an easy 7 reps on the first set, but only managed 3 on the second. Either way, I am thinking I should be able to do 5x4 next time out.

Now here’s the interesting part. My bench press sucks. I don’t do much for bench press due to the lack of a spotter, but I am starting to struggle getting 235 up for 6 reps. When I did have a spotter a few years back, I could blast 6 reps with 275. I wonder is apprehension and fear play a part.

I really find this strange… because most people can bench alot more than they can dumbell press. Any ideas or suggestions?

The reason you probably find it strange that your DB press has increased and your bench has decreased is because in your mind you probably group both of these exercises as ‘chest’ exercises.

But your viewing the problem the wrong way. They’re not merely 2 chest exercises, but 2 separate events. Although they have many similarities, they do have their own unique requirements. The fact that you havent “practiced” one of the two events in a little while explains the drop in performance.

Specificity is a bitch.

The mental part can be huge. If you’re scared while lifting, it’s not going to go well. I do much better with someone at least standing there, even if he’s checking out the girl’s ass on the leg curl machine.

I used to have a hang up about having someone’s hands on the bar. I didn’t want them applying pressure, but I wanted their hands there. I guess “just in case” or something. I would be struggling on the fourth rep, they’d put their hands there, and the next 4-5 reps came up quickly.

Sorry about the typos, I meant to press Edit instead of Post.

Yes, dumbbell presses don’t translate to pure bench strength. I spent a considerable amount of time doing DB presses and neglecting bench work, when I finally got under the bar again I was shocked at how poor I was at it. I too used to be afraid of training bench without a spotter, but several things have changed. One, I know my body better so I know if I’m going to pin myself under a final rep and two, I don’t think training to failure is optimal. The lesson is if you want a big bench you have to train on the bench. So decide what your goals are. If you just want big pecs and could care less about your bench strength, continue as is. The reality is that both should have a place in your routine.

I am a real chicken sh** to bench without a spotter. I fear not so much the pain, but the humiliation of having a group of alarmed strangers yanking the bar off me. Without a spotter, I always stop a couple of reps short. Bawk Bawk.

you want to talk humiliating…
i’m a total newbie at strength training…i only started in november so i’m weak and chest is particularly weak since i’m female. hence i avoided doing bench presses because of just that fear of being stuck but one day a couple of months ago i tried and loaded up a bar with um…15 lbs.
and then i did get stuck and just lay there content to waste away and die rather than ask someone to help me…
i even heard someone say do you think shes ok? and then someone else said but its only 15 lbs…
i lived. it was heavy to me…

Yes, I think the humiliation of being stuck under the bar is just as much on my mind as getting hurt. Being inly 175 lbs, I don’t look like I should even be attemting to lift 225, let alone heavier.

That said, I am going to train bench press more.

Really just ask for a spot from someone. If you get a bad spot just ask someone else next time. Don’t let your fear of humiliation hold back your training! DB press is ok but Bench press is the King of chest exercises!

You hit the nail on the head. For any exercise I can freely dump the weight, I would tend to lift more weight for more reps. I don’t feel comfortable trying to max out on bench presses without a spotter or the Smith.

To get over this, try the Smith on flat bench a few times until you get a feel for your weight. Another thing to try is drop about 15% of the weight you use on dumbbells and have someone that looks like they know what they are doing spot you and make a commitment to do 1 and only 1 rep. You might find it easier than you thought with that extra “help” there. You have the safety factor even if they don’t assist and you’ll know better what you can really do afterward.

I personally have never been able to do more with dumbbells as with any barbell movement; I can’t personally imagine that, however, there were a few responses where more people felt like the barbell movement could be weaker for whatever reason. Maybe you just gotta start doing more barbell movements until you up your strength or confidence.

For me it was always the fear factor or being under a barbell loaded with too much weight which is one of the reasons I have a training partner now.