Ok, as promised. It’s time to carry on extracting elements out of the ‘Building muscles for tall men vs building muscles for short men’ article. To help you become a more effective lifter and to build more muscle, For tall and short Fitbuggers. Now back to the headline title…
Bench Press For The Loney Fitbugger
In general, this really shouldn’t be an issue if you attend a public gym.
Well… because it’s ‘public’. Meaning that if you need a spotter or any other assistance with the bench press (or any other exercise for that matter) you can just ask someone. No need to be scared. You won’t get rejected like asking a hot girl on a date. Actually, how about that… asking a hot girl in a gym to spot you. She could give you a whole different ‘view’ and ‘perspective’ while you bench :-D. Ok, enough naughty fitbugger thoughts.
Now, if you only have a home gym at your disposal, then the headline title can indeed become an issue. Especially as you have no one else around to help motivate you. But before we cover some solutions to overcome the problems of the lonely bencher. Let’s quickly cover some things that can’t be used as solutions…
Doing endless exercises for your chest in one day
There really is no need for this. The best way to get maximum gains is to focus on ‘Bang for your buck’ weight training. Meaning to perform only the exercises that matter the most and that’s it. No more, no less.
Trade the barbell for dumbbells
Now, the following could be my subconscious smart thinking, but in regards to performing barbell exercises vs dumbbell exercises, I have always chosen the barbell. And rightly so. Because by lifting dumbbells instead of the barbell, you intentionally choose to lift a lighter weight. Because dumbbells will always be lighter than the barbell in regards to ‘total’ weight. So don’t do that.
Trade the bench/free weight with the machine for bench press (vertical or horizontal press)
This is mostly common knowledge. But machine weights suck for performing the bench press to effectively increase gains. Unless you’re just starting out as life as a Fitbugger 🙂
Restricted range of motion – Which means you’ll totally screw up your shoulders the moment you decide to train insane and start increasing the weight. Because the machine puts you in positions that are unnatural to how we really move. And I can tell you know fellow fitbuggers. You really don’t want to be screwing up your shoulders. They are arguably the most delicate part of our body. You could end up with this….
Machines take away the need to balance the bar – Which is just less effective when your goal is to effectively build muscle.
Ok, so we’ve covered the things that we won’t be doing as a lonely bencher. So now let’s go over some of the things you can do to help you out when you’re alone with the bar.
You know the classic saying right. ‘Try things, take risks’…
Well, effectively building muscle (next level muscle) requires a lot of that. You know… like the scream ‘ONE.. MORE… REP!!’ And the funny thing about being able to push out more reps is that it’s mostly mental. You know…What you THINK you can Bench, and what you can ACTUALLY Bench. And I can sadly admit, that at times, I will regularly push less than what I’m actually capable of.
Well, I think it’s a case of being scared of things that actually never happen. Like this…
Ok these actually did happen. But these guys are just silly buggers. So don’t be scared of going all out, unless you’re a lonely bencher. In which case you will not…
#1 Train to failure
Because you have no one to spot you, motivate you to get that last rep out (Because you actually can – the mind), just stop pushing once you get to the 2nd/3rd to last rep of however many reps you have set. Otherwise you will be faced with the above… (But, it won’t ever happen… right ;-))
Jokes aside, just stop and keep on increasing your reps based on when you begin to fail. However, this sucks!
Because you know you can lift more, as previously stated. And training under this ‘train safe’ mindset automatically puts you in ‘take no risk/train at less intensity’ mode. Which sucks for building uber muscle mass, because muscles grow when you shock the hell out of them. So instead, get yourself or perform the bench press on one of these…
#2 Power rack
Most modern gyms will have one of these. The main benefit here is that you can now go all out at max intensity. And if you’re afraid of things that actually never happen, such as becoming trapped under the bar and dying a horrible weightlifting death. Then you can rely on the power-rack to save the day, as it has safety pins in place to catch the bar if you become trapped.
#3 Keep rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin
If that Limp Bizkit song comes one while you’re benching alone, then that’s a bonus. Because that is what you will do to ensure that you will never become trapped under the bar. When the weight becomes to much and you have completely lifted to failure. Simply role the bar down from your chest, to your lap. Sit up and lift the bar off of yourself with a overhand grip and move it to the floor.
#4 Let the plates fall
This last point is actually not good advice. But I’ll mention it anyway, as it’s one technique you can use as a lonely lifter. Simple take the collars off on each side of the bar. You know, those collars that prevent the weight plates slipping and sliding horizontally while you lift. Doing so will allow you to tilt the bar to one side once you have completely maxed out your reps. But like I said, this isn’t really sound advice and can be somewhat dangerous.
Don’t be a lonely lifter! Just train with someone present. Surely, your life can’t be THAT lonely. But if it is, do the above and build… some… real…MUSCLE!!!!
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Ok, if you’ve been around Stay-Fit Bug for some time, you’ll have probably stumbled upon the Building muscle for tall men vs building muscle for short men post. And since then, there have been dozens of comments on that post. Some I would even call mini essays.
Now, it was in that post where I talked about the exercises where taller guys are at a disadvantage compared to shorter guys in terms of exercise performance. One of those exercises was the bench press exercise. Now, it’s no secret that as a tall guy, you probably build stand out abs, shoulders and lats with ease. But when it comes to building your chest muscles (especially upper chest) you just struggle, and it seems like nothing you do can fix that. The main problem is that with such a large range of motion, your typical chest exercises force your chest fibers to exert more force than that of a shorter person with shorter arms. To make things worse, the increased range of motion will force a lot of the weight onto your front deltoids and of course, your long lanky arms. Yea, it sucks!!!
But there is a way to fix this. And it’s by doing what you’ve constantly been told not to do.
Shorten your range of motion
Yup, that’s right!
And… minus the traditional flat bench press exercise and add the decline bench press exercise.
Doing so will make your rep stroke shorter, as your body is adjacent to the floor. And you no longer have to deal with the long arm/front shoulder issue, where they would usually have to deal with most of the force, because your shoulders are now lower than your chest.
It is indeed only a small tweak. But it has huge benefits, because adding this tweak to your workout will allow you to add more weight to your bench press, which is of course one of the king compound exercises.
I’ll probably follow this up with some more tweaks, since that earlier post gets commented on regularly, so for now, stay tuned.
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