T Nation

Tested on 1 RM DB Bench

I am a current college baseball player, have been lifting 4 years and am in a baseball program that has a pretty solid lifting program and philosophy. We max out every fall when we get back to school (and also periodically) on 3 lifts, squat, deadlift, and dumbell bench. Testing day gets pretty competitive, as guys want to show the coaches that they’ve put in their work over the summer.

Doing a 1 rep max on dumbell bench instead of barbell is pretty awkward and not really an ideal test for upper body strength, but its what we do. I’m looking for any advice you guys have on bringing up my 1 RM with dumbells, specifically if there are any technique things that I can do to be more efficient. right now I try and do the same things that I would do with a barbell (arched back, shoulder blades retracted, squeeze the shit out of the bar, etc).

Testing protocol is as follows: sitting on bench with DB’s resting on legs, lay back on the bench and spotter helps to raise DB’s to the top position (arms straight), from there you lower the dumbells until you touch your chest and press back up, 1RM

You seem to have the right ideas already. I’ll reiterate gripping as tightly as you can though, that is probably even more important with dumbells. Also, how heavy do these dumbells go?

Sounds more like a 1.5 rep max with the way y’all start. I’d focus on setting up each set like you would for testing, and keep the reps between doubles and sixes. Also, like the guy above me said really focus on gripping the shit outta the db’s. Good luck man, let us know how it goes.

Remember that when going for reps only push the weight as hard as you need to to get it done. If you train PL you put a lot of time into being as explosive as possible, which will mess you up and burn you out when doing reps. Also save the leg drive for later in the reps when you start to tire. I believe Dave Tate had a video on this exact subject not too long ago.

Last thing, don’t forget to breathe. Some folks get to concentrating so hard they forget to breathe properly.

I’ve been training with DB Presses as opposed to bench press due to sprained wrist. I’ve been sticking to the progression (adapted from Doug Hepburn) where you begin with 5x3 at a certain weight and aim to add at least one more rep per set.

So for example:

3,3,3,3,3 … next workout 4,3,3,3,3 … 5,3,3,3,3 … 5,4,4,3,3 …

There’s no limit on how much extra you want to do but the goal is to always have at least 1 more rep (PROGRESSION!)

I’ve been doing this starting with 5x3 @ 110 for the past month and a half. Today I am doing at least 5,3,3,3,3 @ 120 during my workout. I don’t really have any assistance exercise. I’d jump straight to standing DB Shoulder Press and then Barbell Row using same progression.

Just some food for thought…

paused reps are great with dumbbells also I have done band resisted dumbbell presses which also works great.

also I played college baseball years back and I never quite understood why coaches always wanted us to dumbbell press instead of bench. You actually get more shoulder rotation in my opinion on dumbbell presses than a properly executed barbell bench press. Just a rant really.

Get tight, and when you think you’re tight, get tighter.

[quote]sid17 wrote:
…right now I try and do the same things that I would do with a barbell (arched back, shoulder blades retracted, squeeze the shit out of the bar, etc).

Testing protocol is as follows: sitting on bench with DB’s resting on legs, lay back on the bench and spotter helps to raise DB’s to the top position (arms straight), from there you lower the dumbells until you touch your chest and press back up, 1RM
[/quote]

Have you been training the DB Press over the summer?
Familiarity makes a difference at the top end.

I trained both DB and barbell bench this summer. Usually close grip barbell, triples, doubles and singles. DB’s I keep the reps between 2-6. I’ve gotten more comfortable with going very heavy on DB’s, but it just seems sometimes like there’s so much that can go wrong and lead to instability or having to do another half rep at the beginning in order to bring the DB’s up to the start position (usually a weak spotter). Very frustrating, as sometimes I feel like I’ve got plenty of max strength, but fail on a 1 RM due to instability.

While this has nothing to do with your post, since you are a baseball player I would suggest you read a ton of Cressey’s stuff if you haven’t already, he seems to specialize (and do quite well) with baseball players.