I had I guess what some would call an epiphany a few years ago while training in a commercial gym.
It was a very busy day and the place was absolutely packed.
All the regulars were there, plus a whole bunch of new members.
I was bench pressing, doing my top end set and told my spotter my rep goal for the set (4 reps.)
To my left was another group of three guys also benching, taking turns one by one.
I banged out my third rep, descended to attempt my fourth and with a little extra force completed the set.
I jumped up off the bench and my spotter said,
“I don’t know why you ever ask for a spot, I never touch the bar.”
I laughed and proceeded to the water fountain.
On the way back my attention was caught by the three guys aforementioned that were benching beside me.
The one who’s turn was up was beet-red, grimacing, pushing the bar with all he had while the bar was affixed about about eight inches above his chest.
His spotter shouted “Three More!” and took a deadlift grip to the bar and pulled with what seemed to be some appreciable effort.
The two managed to get the bar to full extension and proceeded.
This time the bar dropped very rapidly and sat on the poor guys chest for what seemed even to me like an eternity.
That bar wasn’t going anywhere.
I actually felt myself moving toward this poor guy as it was obvious that he was done and needed some assistance.
Then I heard him say with a whisper an almost painful,
His friends moved to either side of the bar and lifted the weight from his chest.
The bencher sat up slowly and started rubbing his left shoulder.
He was hurting.
I then got to thinking that what I witnessed was not only unproductive but also probably sort of precarious in the sense that those last several reps probably:
- Added very little if anything to his quest for strength and size (his partner was doing virtual shrugs.)
- Severely stressed the guys central nervous system.
- Obviously aggravated his shoulder.
It was then that I decided that I would never ask for a spot again.
If I can’t perform the weight/rep myself I don’t do it.
In fact other than very rare, well-planned max effort single rep attempts, I stay at positive failure, often even remaining a couple reps shy.
Progress is better obtained by positive true adaptation.
Give “Spot-less” training a try!