It's a classic scene : in a gym setting with a number of people around (not all of them actively engaged in exercising), a person who wants to lift a weight/bar asks somebody to watch them, or spot them, and when they can't handle it anymore, the other person can safely lift away the weight onto the rack, so that the person exercising can stand up and walk away.

If there is no other person around, and they decide to lift the weight/bar anyway, and get unexpectedly exhausted, or any kind of unforeseen event happens (maybe one of the hinges break, or there's a mild earthquake, or a thousand other possibilities), they can easily die from having the heavy bar with its weights push down onto their chest or other body part near the head, killing or seriously injuring them.

If the setting is a private gym at home, with nobody ever coming there, it seems like a death trap. How can they dare to exercise there alone like that? I cannot imagine that every single person who has a little home gym always has somebody with them in their home.

Not being a gym-going person (I've actually never been in one outside of a school context), I've always wondered about this. Just the thought of ending up dying alone from your own weight/bar suffocating/crushing you sounds like a horrible way to die, and it doesn't seem far-fetched at all. After all, you may say to yourself: "I'm going to do 21 reps this time!", but you only have the energy for 20 reps, so the last one, intended to build up your strength further, instead causes you to die.

Maybe you'll answer that there are now some kinds of fancy security machines, but if so, I'm talking about all the years prior to this becoming common/standard.

2 Answers 2


The term you are looking for is using a 'spotter', and it is true that bench press can be dangerous, but deaths on it are very rare even for people that work out alone. There are several techniques you can use to bench safer alone. This being said, you should know your limits before lifting alone or use safety bars as shown in the picture below.

enter image description here

When benching, your chest expands. This allows you to set the bar where it can tap your chest but if you deflate your chest, the bar will rest on the safety bars.

Not all benches have these, but you can use the following items to bench safely alone.

  • Leave the collars/clips off when benching alone. This allows you to just tip the weights off onto the floor if you fail your set. Just be careful, as the bar will whip to the other side after the weight slides off. This can be dangerous to people or objects near your, which is why collars exist in the first place.

  • If you end up under a bar with clips, you can just roll the bar off of you. When doing this you need to make sure that you don't allow it to suddenly fall or bounce, as this can result in an injury and make rolling it off much harder. Once it is resting on your chest, you can roll it down towards your hips and eventually just sit up. At this point you should be able to get out from under the bar and either deadlift to the ground or remove the weights while it is resting on the bench. (A bit of personal experience, this one sucks compared to tipping the weights off.)

  • If all these outs still aren't good enough, just use dumbbells. They are healthier for your shoulder longevity, and produce the same hypertrophic results as the bench press.

  • 2
    Two observations from experience: In some racks it’s not possible to set the safety bars low enough for bench press (I guess they are only intended for squats) or the holes are spaced too widely. I’ve found a second set of the resting jaw thingies (where the bar rests initially) a few centimeters above my head to work better. Even if you can’t extend your arms fully to bring the bar back into the initial resting thingies, it’s basically almost possible to lift it a few centimeters above your chest and put it into the second set.
    – Michael
    May 22, 2021 at 10:17
  • 1
    In terms of using dumbbells, is it expected that the overall weight of the dumbbells will have to be lower than a bar with weights? I can bench my body weight on a bar but can’t imagine pressing two 90lb dumbbells.
    – JacobIRR
    May 23, 2021 at 14:41
  • 1
    Yes, that is normal. With the bench it is easier to stabilize the weight above you since your arms are both working to stabilize the same weight, so you will be able to lift more usually. May 23, 2021 at 15:40

Did anyone ever died for not knowing how the ledge works?

If the barbells lie on your chess, you press with one hand up, with the second down, and the barbells fall on the side making a lot of noise.

You don't see it in gym because people don't want to do that in gym, and gym owner doesn't want you to do that in gym, and it's more work to put the barbells on place, but if you're training alone, it's an easy and relatively secure option (unless the bench is insanely high).

Just invest in the good floor insulation.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.