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The Problem?

I recently became a member at LA Fitness to use their basketball courts and discovered a problem that I didn’t even know still existed. As I look out on the gym floor, I see the masses of people doing their thing and among the cringe-worthy sights… this one pops out the most.

Letting the dumbbells touch at the top of your DB Bench/Military Press variations.

Please stop this. Here’s why.

What’s the Big Deal?

This may seem nitpicky and very unimportant but this is actually something I strongly believe everyone should avoid doing. I try to limit the times I speak in absolutes or say “this is wrong, don’t do it,” but I may have to use a free pass here. I can’t think of any reason why I would want to allow the DB’s the bang against each other – or why I would recommend it to anyone.

First and foremost, and I didn’t even mention this in the video above, but this is not good for the equipment. If you get a couple of heavy DB’s banging against each other for 8-12 reps, multiple times a day, for a few months… your dumbbells are going to look like crap.

If you’re in a facility, it’s disrespectful to the owners and to the equipment to tarnish the dumbbells. Again… tiny details but a mighty impact over time. Nobody wants to train in an environment that looks like the equipment isn’t valued.

Secondly, this has a negative training effect. Let’s look at a DB Bench Press. You are loading the pecs with tension during this exercise. Every time those DBs come crashing into each other, even if it’s just a tap, you are redistributing the tension. In other words, you are losing chest activation and losing opportunity to make maximal gains.

Whether you realize it or not, you will not get the same contraction within the reps OR from rep to rep during your set. This means you’re not going to successfully overload the muscle you intend to and, in turn, not get the most out of your training.

Lastly, this is just unsafe. When you begin to move heavy weight overhead or above your face, the last thing you want to do is challenge your grip. If you allow the DBs to hit each other, you may knock one loose. You may lose your grip. You’re definitely going to lose some pec activation. All of these could lead to potential injury, with the worst case scenario being your face crushed by a dumbbell.

It’s just not worth it.

The Solution?

The solution is really boring and simple. Slow down, OWN the movement and control the weight. Here’s the deal… if you can’t pick up both dumbbells from the rack, walk them to your bench, properly set yourself up for the press, knock out the lift, properly de-load yourself from the lift and walk them back to the rack… they are too heavy for you.