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I just started to go the gym, and I could bench press with dumbbells of 15kg for 10 reps, but trying the same thing with even 8kg on the bench press machine strains out my arms a lot more. The stack weights are numbered in sequence so I assume 8kg means the sum of weights. Are machines just inherently harder to press or have I been dumbbell pressing with an improper form which has caused minimal muscle development? Thanks!

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The only way to determine progress is by having a point of reference. Doing two similar exercises, one at an earlier point in time and the other later doesn’t provide a good point of reference. However, doing the same exercise is a good point of reference. While it might not seem like a big difference, “same” and “similar” can give very different results when using them as points of reference. Therefore, the best way to determine progress is by repeating your point of reference.

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