The Best Way to Bench Press Alone Safely
How to push yourself the ~ right ~ way
We all remember Taylor Swift's hilariously cringe-worthy Apple Music commercial earlier this year, which depicted her getting so into singing along during her workout that she fell off the treadmill. Ouch. It's pretty impossible to forget, right? In the ad, Swift is rocking out to Drake and Future's "Jumpman" when she gets so caught up that she takes a spill. Well, last night, Drake and Apple Music debuted a new workout ad that echos T-Swift's in a seriously comical way. The timing of the commercial's release is pretty convenient, especially since Drake and Taylor have been spotted hanging out together recently amid rumors that there might be something romantic going on there.
In the new ad, the tables are turned as Drake is lifting in the gym and listening to music with a friend. After his gym partner leaves to take a phone call, Drake gets down to "Bad Blood"-after checking to make sure his buddy isn't watching, of course. In case you were worried, this includes signature Drake-style awkward dancing before he actually resumes working out. Then, when he heads back to the bench to finish lifting, he drops the barbell mid-bench press, which is funny but frankly looks a bit dangerous, too. It made us wonder: Is it ever okay to do heavy lifts like bench presses alone? (FYI, here's the difference between wide grip and narrow grip bench presses.)
In general, it's okay to get your bench press on solo, says Pete McCall, C.S.C.S., host of the All About Fitness podcast. "The important thing is to use a weight you know you can do for a certain number of reps, and as you feel fatigued or tired, STOP. Do not try to do that extra rep or two-that's where the danger lies." Yeah, because no one wants to take a barbell to the chest. Oof. McCall does mention that if you're training for a competition, on a heavy lifting program, or just looking to PR, you should definitely have someone spot you. Ideally, it should be someone you feel comfortable with getting pretty close to you, since correct spotting form can be a little, um, intimate. "Before the lift, let the spotter know how you want to be spotted or ask the spotter how they will spot you," he recommends. "It's important to have this communication to establish expectations of how she or he will help. A proper spot on bench press requires standing right over the lifter for the best leverage to help lift the weight. This could place the crotch of the spotter near the face of the lifter, so it is important that the lifter knows where the spotter will be so there is no surprise." Duly noted.
Another thing you should consider if you're benching alone? "Use a bench that allows you to keep your feet on the floor, since this lets you properly brace yourself for maximal control during the lift when lifting heavy." Plus, you'll feel more stable if you've got contact with the ground. (Side note: These breathing techniques will change the way you exercise.) It also might be worth it to swap the barbell for dumbbells when you're benching alone at a heavier weight than normal, he says. "If there is trouble, just bail and drop the weights on the floor. That way, there is no bar that can come crashing on the chest like in the Drake video." In fact, McCall recommends sticking with dumbbells or a weight machine in general if you're lifting heavy by yourself to minimize the potential for injury.
As much fun as it is to pump iron to amazing tunes, when you're working out the focus really needs to be on safety and preventing injury-especially when it comes to heavy barbell lifts. We guess we can thank Drake not only for the laughs but also for the reminder of what not to do in the gym.