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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 08-31-2010, 01:44 PM   #1
Jon Friedland
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Starting Strength without a Bench Press Spot???

Hi - After 2 years of CF I started SS today because over half the time I come in in the bottom 25% of the group here. I believe after a good deal of research that I can improve across the board on my WODs by getting stronger. My crossfit totals remain borderline novice/untrained despite 2 years.

Main issue I forsee is when the bench press weights get heavy. I don't have a reliable spotter at my gym. We have Smith machines which I know are seriously frowned upon, as well as some nautalis type machines that do seem to have independent movement and better range of pectoral motion, though from an upright seated position pressing out (similar motion ultimatly to a bench press).

Any suggestions for workarounds to the spotting question on Bench Presses?

Thanks
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Old 08-31-2010, 01:46 PM   #2
Jamie J. Skibicki
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Re: Starting Strength without a Bench Press Spot???

Ask someone for a spot. Tell them how you want to be spotted. Be specific.
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Old 08-31-2010, 01:58 PM   #3
Max Chianese
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Re: Starting Strength without a Bench Press Spot???

I never put safety clips on the bench press EVER. This way if you can't get it up(lol) you can just slide the weight off by leaning the bar one way.
I've had to do it a few times always works.

Spotting is safer but some gym idiots(gyms not boxes) follow the bar and assist you in reps.
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Old 08-31-2010, 02:08 PM   #4
Jon Friedland
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Re: Starting Strength without a Bench Press Spot???

OK thanks for the feedback, but I specifically trying to work around the issue of a spot, and dropping the bar in my gym would be awkward.

I am wondering if there is some substitute for bench press that would be recommended and does not require a spot. Like weighted dips maybe?

Thanks again.
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Old 08-31-2010, 02:56 PM   #5
Jamie J. Skibicki
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Re: Starting Strength without a Bench Press Spot???

Why can't you get a spot?
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Old 08-31-2010, 03:06 PM   #6
Jon Friedland
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Re: Starting Strength without a Bench Press Spot???

I go at 10am or so when the gym is nearly empty. And to ask someone to come over 3x so i can do 5 reps at a time would be disruptive to anyone who was not doing SS with me (and I will be the only one). So that's why I'm wondering if there's some good subsitute for BPs. Thanks.
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Old 08-31-2010, 03:10 PM   #7
Jamie J. Skibicki
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Re: Starting Strength without a Bench Press Spot???

No, there isn't.

Just ask for a spot.
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Old 08-31-2010, 05:03 PM   #8
Jared Ashley
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Re: Starting Strength without a Bench Press Spot???

Do you have access to a power cage?

I do my benching in a power cage. When benching, the level of the bar when it touches your chest is 1-2 inches higher than when you're just lying down on a bench unloaded. If you set the saftey bar just below the point where it touches your chest, but above the point where you'd get crushed by the bar, you won't need a spotter. This is what I do. Obviously this requires testing with a light bar.

It doesn't work for everyone... sometimes the spacing between levels for the safety bars is too wide, and one setting would result in crushing, the other doesn't allow you touch your chest. If this is the case, you're going to have to use a spotter or do what I did and use my own weights and build a custom cage.
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Old 08-31-2010, 06:12 PM   #9
Daniel Higgins
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Re: Starting Strength without a Bench Press Spot???

Here's what options I would suggest (in this order):

1. You live in Manhattan, so provided you have the means to find a membership to another gym or CF affiliate, I'd go that route. If you're in a commercial or similar type gym and care a lot about progressing, finding the right place with the right training environment is key.

2. Follow Jared's advice above.

3. Assuming you can't get the spot, you need to make sure your 3x5 attempts aren't max effort. So judging by how your warmups go you may need to be conservative in the amount of weight you add to the bar. Lets say for example you hit 135x5x3 last time (just arbitrary numbers, don't take offense either way). You may be *capable* of hitting 145x5x3 the next session but decide to take 140x5x3 conservatively. Since you've been training a while, going slow isn't a terrible thing. I know novice gains are meant to come fast but if you're anywhere near intermediate I suppose this isn't terrible. Correct me if wrong, Jamie.

4. Bench with the risk of having to drop the weight to the sides.

5. Switch to an alternative.

Honestly, swapping the barbell bench is the last thing in the world you should do. You probably have a good shot at any of the other options before going that route.
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Trying to get stronger...if I post inaccurate information, please correct me for the benefit of others and myself.
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Old 08-31-2010, 06:16 PM   #10
Jamie J. Skibicki
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Re: Starting Strength without a Bench Press Spot???

All this pales in comparison to "Asking for a spot". If the place is dead, ask staff. If you are uncomfortable asking some one for a spot, SS is not the program for you. Might I suggest a Tracy anderson workout.
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