A Dainty Diary of Lifting

Benching on my own


I recorded the first couple of sets from my benching today. Both sets are 100lbs x 8. Considering Jennifer Thompson makes 305 look like a joke, this certainly isn’t anything to write home about.

But I did have a reason for filming these sets, even if the end result was simply extended camera time for my crotch. I don’t normally bench alone on Saturdays, and so without feedback from other people I wanted to see what my pacing and technique were like. These were not bounced terribly, but that pause feels a lot longer when I’m under the bar. I’ve also been playing around with a slightly wider foot position; I want to see where it takes me because it’s keeping my ass down, eliminating the hip pain I feel with a narrower tuck and I think I’m getting more leg drive though that weight was so light and laughably easy that I can’t really pass judgement just yet. I also need to work on making sure that I set up straight, maintain the tightness in my arch and lower the bar evenly.

Usually, I rely on my Hostyle team to give me this kind feedback but it looks like I need to take a break from training with them for a while. Don’t get me wrong: I fully recognize the value of having a coach and I’ve found that in the age of the internet, sometimes the real experts are undervalued. A year ago, I hadn’t received any coaching and I was “deadlifting” like this:

I would venture to guess that without coaching, I would not have gone from the video above to a 360lb pull. And although my bench is still relatively weak, benching with the people at Hostyle has been hugely beneficial in terms of improving my technique and my confidence. Don’t get me wrong: I would like to keep training with them. But worthwhile coaching is expensive and I live in the real world, where my contract at work is done in a month and I’m graduating with no solid job prospects. I’m broke and I’m terrified. When I’m unsure about how I will pay for my rent or my groceries, there is no way I can rationalize paying for weekly coaching, especially on top of my regular gym membership.

So, I’m a little bit sad to be stuck in the YMCA where I outlift 98% of the other members and the chicks are all gaga for BodyPump. I can’t say I’m enthused about going to a gym where a 90 year old man routinely sits at the cable machine for 40 minutes because he spends time reading a book in between each of his 5 sets and refuses to work in with anyone.

But I’m dedicated to my training and I know I will make it work somehow. Right now my plan is to keep building my base strength on my own and if I can afford an OPA membership and the meet fees, then I will go back to Hostyle in the weeks leading up to a meet in July or August.

In the meantime, I will miss training with my team but I know they are compassionate enough to understand. In fact, one of my coaches texted me last night to check if I would be training today. I said I couldn’t afford it and he offered to let me lift in his garage for free. Maybe now I can stop worrying about what will happen to my deadlift if I can’t continue to afford my gym membership.


7 thoughts on “Benching on my own

  1. That sucks but I get the feeling you’re going to be ok…
    Actually, I would pay you for a coaching session and wrist strap tutorial. For realz, think about it.

  2. You know I would just lift with you as a friend any time, right?

    • yeah, I know, but what I need is someone to watch me, competently videotape me, and give me real constructive criticism, and if we lifted _together_ we’d have to spend half the time just loading and unloading the bar. Your time is worth something and I can say I was coached by one of the top female lifters in canada…

  3. Where is that bar hitting you? I can’t tell from the video–is it right at the nip line, or lower?

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