Ever worry that you might fail a bench press and find yourself pinned by a barbell? You’re not alone — it’s a common concern on the internet among fitness forums and Reddit threads alike. Here's the solution you've been looking for.
As any trainer can tell you, when you’re benching without a spotter, there’s no easy way out of a failed press. You can choose not to use clips and let the weight fall off either end of the barbell or rely on the dreaded “roll of shame,” which can be dangerous when you lift heavier weight. (You can also choose not to push to failure, but finding that point isn’t always easy for beginners.)
If you absolutely cannot find a spotter at your gym, benching in the squat or power rack has long been my personal preference when pressing to failure — and some might consider this the safest alternative to a spotter. Knowing that you’re absolutely safe might help you grind out an extra rep, too.
If your bench press has plateaued and you’re no longer making strength gains, it’s also a good aid in helping push past that plateau, though you shouldn’t rely on a squat rack as an excuse to fail every time you bench press; if you’re failing that often, perhaps it might worth it to reconsider your program or the weight itself.
Just bring a bench to the power rack and set the safety bars low enough so you can reach the full range of motion, but high enough that if you fail, you can gently set the barbell down without hurting yourself. Here’s a video that demonstrates how to do this:
Of course, if you’re in a crowded gym and taking up a squat rack that might otherwise be used to actually squat, just use the traditional bench press and ask for a spotter. According to Kenny Mahedeo, a certified personal trainer, it’s generally bad gym etiquette to use a squat rack to bench press during busy hours —unless your gym’s bench press is already taken or your gym does not have an adequate bench press at all.
So when in doubt, simply ask for help; there’s no greater compliment than to being asked to spot someone else, after all.