Question: I joined one of those 24-hour gyms, but because they don’t always have someone working there they don’t have a traditional bench press station. What is a better substitute? The Smith machine or dumbbell bench press?
Answer: People!… When you join a gym please make sure that the facility has someone there to maybe give you some customer service. 24 hours means that if you need help that it should be available 24 hours. Did you ever ask them what would happen if someone was training and had, let’s say a… Heart attack! Who would call the ambulance? Or would the little 18-year-old tart who can barely spell her name just step over the body and wonder what kind of exercise the person was doing to turn himself blue. Maybe that wasn’t the answer that you were looking for but it’s my column and you’ll just have to deal with it.
I’m hoping that by “traditional” bench press station, you meant a bench that you place a bar across.
Here’s the deal, almost 90% of the people out there that use a bar to bench press with are setting themselves up for injury. I know all you friggin’ muscle heads will be crying for my head but that just shows how stupid you can be. Any time you introduce a linear apparatus (i.e. straight bar, smith machine, chest press) to multiple joint scenarios you invite injury potential because a linear object needs the levers (your skeleton) to be perfectly balanced. If there is any weakness, let’s say… In your right shoulder, then your left shoulder will be doing most of the work when your pressing and the left shoulder will become injured.
I know it’s a crazy concept because all the idiots at the gym are walking around trying to be tough guys/girls. Pushing through the pain of shoulder injuries that are caused by their own ridiculous misconception that bench pressing will give you the strength and power necessary to move mountains. The reality is that injury-free training will give you the consistency to build muscle to move mountains. Now off my soapbox… Try doing dumbbell presses. Dumbbell presses allow the wrists and elbows to move in a more natural motion throughout the full range of motion. Thanks