The bench press is the most dangerous exercise among the popular lifts. A single slip and you could end up dead or seriously injured. Here are a few ways that will allow you to bench press safely when you are alone in the gym or at home.
1.Bench press in a power rack.
The safest way to bench press would be in a power rack with the safety pins ready to catch the barbell, if something goes wrong. To tell the truth benching in a power rack could be even safer than benching with incompetent spotters. Make sure that the safety pins are set at the right height – you should be able to bench press with a full range of motion but also your face and ribcage must be protected.
2.Use a bench press station with safety pins.
There are many bench press stations that come with safety hooks. If your gym has one – use it. The set-up should be the same as with the power rack – not too high but also not too low. This one is not as safe as the power rack and usually the safety catchers are too short. Be careful and evaluate the situation with caution. If it doesn’t feel safe, don’t do it. Remember: you are the only one responsible for your body.
3.Don’t forget to use chalk.
Using chalk is a great way to add some safety to your bench press workout. During a heavy set your hands will get sweaty and the bar will be more likely to slip out of your hands. Using chalk will reduce the likelihood of this to happen.
4.Don’t use thumbless grip when you bench press.
One of the most stupid things you can do when you bench press is to use the thumbless grip. Without your thumb around the bar it’s easy to lose control and kill yourself. This topic is very important and you can read a dedicated article here.
If you don’t have a competent spotter, power rack or special bench press station with safety hooks – you have no business doing barbell bench presses. Instead you can try the good old dumbbell bench press which is much safer version of the exercise to do alone. However, don’t go too heavy. This is an assistance exercise and maxing out is not needed. Your face will appreciate it.
6.Control the bar the whole time.
Control the bar during the whole execution of the movement. When re-racking the bar do it smoothly. Don’t just drop it on the hooks because if you do so, it may bounce back and fall on top of you.
7.Don’t train your ego. Train your muscles.
Never overestimate what you can do – especially when you are alone. Even if you do have all the required safety to bench press alone, there is no reason to fail a rep. Avoid failure because it has negative impact on your mindset.