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  1. #1
    Junior Member timpatrick's Avatar
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    bench press machine

    How do I compare the bench press machine to the actual bench?

  2. #2
    I Am JEFIT Legend Deviation's Avatar
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    You don't. Typically you'll be able to press more on the machine than with a barbell. In other words, they aren't interchangeable.
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  3. #3
    Moderator OptikaNET's Avatar
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    The range of motion is much less, the actual movement-path of the machine is usually unnatural, and it doesn't recruit the shoulder for stabilisation.

    About the best that can be said for benchpress machines is that they are useful if you are recovering from an injury because they don't stress the shoulder...

    Kind Regards
    Dave

  4. #4
    It totally depends upon the machine with regrads to ROM (range of movement). Some machines, say Hammer Strength, have a bi-lateral movement with independant arms so that you can actually acquire a deeper press than on a bench as there is no bar to restrict movement. Agreed that machines do not work your stabilisers however I wouldnt discount them completely. They are useful to the fact that you can more easily perform high intensity work safely, ie forced reps, drop sets etc and also this can be done when training by yourself. Also, some of these machines work in an arc like plane so that you can acquire a good squeeze at the top of the ROM that again you dont get from using a bar on a bench.
    The above said I do work bench, even more so I use dumbbells for the above reasons pertaining to some machines, the advantage here is that your stabilisers are employed to an even greater extent, the downside being the requirement to have a training partner to train to max intensity.

    I would never discount a "good" machine but there is plenty of rubbish out there. Machines and free weights both have their place in training, it is using them correctly that is the key. Some people avoid free weights as they are lazy and they like to be the "I bench this much" hero when in reality they dont. You also get people who wont touch machines as they see them as cheating etc. For me you should remove the hero and cheat thoughts completely and use the equipment that fits best with your goals.

    To finish though I would like to add that I always base my routines around free weights and I would never replace bench with a machine, machines for me are a nice addition but not a replacement. As Optikanet has mentioned, when coming back from injury that would make a machine a better option but that would be the only time.

  5. #5
    Moderator OptikaNET's Avatar
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    Good points, Tophalf. I was being overly generalistic and I do agree with most of what you've said with the caveat that, although there are good machines out there (I have always quite liked Hammerstrength equpment) you don't often find it in the common-or-garden gym. My current gym has adequate equipment but not good equipment.

    I don't currently use any press machines and I currently favour dumbell presses (flat, incline, decline) because I tend to have a lazy side and using dumbells prevents me favouring one side over the other.

    I used to Smith Machine my bench because I never had a training partner and I had some bad experiences with people I had asked to "spot" so it was the only way I felt safe, but the motion path is unnatural and when I realised that the weights I was lifting on the smith did not equate to weights I could lift on the free bar, that was something I had to give some thought to.

    At the moment, returning to the gym after a period of inactivity - and having some problems with a core-injury - I am keeping the weights low so Dumbells are fine. Once I start to lift heavier it may become an issue...

    I do actually sometimes use the Pec Deck (sometimes called Machine Flyes) because it allows me to achieve a peak contraction in the centre of my chest that I cannot quite get with dumbells, but it is always the last exercise on my list and I do find the movement tends to force me to arch my back and can also cause a neck injury, so I have to be cautious with it.

    Shoulders, on the other hand, are too weak to work with dumbells at the moment so I use machines, and I use machines almost exclusively for working back and legs (I used to squat a lot and will probably return to that later, the compound exercise I do for legs is lunges with dumbells).

    So machines certainly have their place in my workout, but specifically the machine chest press is one that I feel I grew out of. I used it as a beginner, and I have sometimes used it during injury recovery, but it really doesn't form part of my repertoir anymore.

    Kind Regards
    Dave

  6. #6
    Agreed Dave, good machines are not always easy to come by and a badly designed machine for me is a waste of time.
    It is definately horses for courses with training, a hell of a lot of people have injuries myself included. I injured a disc some years back and I was out of the game for what seemed like a lifetime. When I came back I had lost so much tissue some people in the gym though I had been in a car accident, not good. Took me 2 years to get back to what I would consider a proper routine and then more time to get back up to good working weights in my main exercises (squats, deads etc).

    As for the Smith machine, I have to say I am not keen either, the linear movement just feels wrong, I prefer to work in a power rack so totally natural but I am lucky as I have one at home where I sometimes train (mainly legs, sometimes chest).

    Nice to see you do lunges, old school training, good stuff.

    Hope you can get back to squats soon, I cant do without them ;-)

  7. #7
    Moderator OptikaNET's Avatar
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    I can't go deep enough with squats. Recently I tried doing them at home with no bar or weights, but I still can't get deep enough...

    I really, really hate lunges. If it wasn't for the fact that I can feel they are very effective, I would drop them in a heartbeat!!! I actually put off working legs because I don't want to do them.

    But, much as I hate to say it, they work!

    Kind Regards
    Dave

  8. #8
    Moderator OptikaNET's Avatar
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    Chest, on the other hand, is my stubborn bodypart. No matter what I do I don't seem to get any growth at all.

    Kind Regards
    Dave

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by OptikaNET View Post
    I can't go deep enough with squats. Recently I tried doing them at home with no bar or weights, but I still can't get deep enough...

    I really, really hate lunges. If it wasn't for the fact that I can feel they are very effective, I would drop them in a heartbeat!!! I actually put off working legs because I don't want to do them.

    But, much as I hate to say it, they work!

    Chest, on the other hand, is my stubborn bodypart. No matter what I do I don't seem to get any growth at all.

    Kind Regards
    Dave
    I had a friend who struggled with squats, when he went low he basically fell forwards. I got him to put his heels on a board, job done, he could squat right down. Again though a very indivdual thing.
    I used to hate legs too, but due to competing I had no choice, I had to do them, The strange thing is I now enjoy training them, the feeling of achievement is greater than with other body parts due to the weights that get shifted and how utterly wrecked I am after training, thats me anyway.

    As for chest I had the same issue, I found sticking my chest out and not "reaching" with my shoulders at the top of pressing movement helped me to focus on the muscle tissue rather than just the movement itself. This in turn helped me get a better mind muscle connection and my chest improved from there. Never had that problem with my back or my shoulders but they always grew more easily so I think it is a genetic factor also.

  10. #10
    Moderator OptikaNET's Avatar
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    I always pull my shoulder blades together before bench press to isolate the chest better. Squats - if I go down far enough for my thighs to be parallel to the ground (ie 90 degrees), I can't get back up again - even without weight. Best I can do is about 60 degrees and that is really hard.

    The thing about legs is that I used to do a lot of cycling (and I still use the bike as my main way of getting around) so I've always had strong legs. Consequently, if I'm short of time and have to "sacrifice" a bodypart workout, it's always legs that go. I've tended to neglect shoulders too, not deliberately but because they tend to be at the end of my workout week.

    However, at the moment, I really want that bulging shoulders look so I have been targetting shoulders as my second most important bodypart after chest. The problem is that in trying to keep exercises that work the arms as far apart from each other as possible (to allow my arms to recover) I still have to push shoulders to the end of the week. (I try to work antagonistic muscles close together, so after working chest (my most important workout) I work back so that I am working antagonistically. This means I have to leave at least 48 hours before working shoulders. That means I need to insert either legs or arms. If I insert arms (which are important to me, so that's what I usually do) that makes it even more important to work shoulders later... It's a bit of a catch-22 situation.

    For chest - at the moment I'm trying to include compound exercises like dips, but I have previously ignored these because I am very weak in that direction and cannot lift my own bodyweight. Fortunately there is an assisted dips machine at my gym so I am trying to develop strength using that. Not seeing much improvement yet though...

    I do get DOMS from dumbell/barbell exercises, but Benchpress Machines (to return to the topic of this thread) just don't do anything for me at all - I only really feel them in my triceps.

    Kind Regards
    Dave

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