Lift with a pal. Working with a spotter may seem like a no-brainer, but virtually all bench-pressing deaths happen when the lifter is alone. Never lift your maximum poundage without one or more spotters. If you're lifting really heavy weights, you need a spotter on each end of the bar.
Set the weight bench at an incline. Placing the top of your bench at a modest 10- to 30-degree incline can literally save your life, allowing you to roll the bar off your chest if you get stuck. If you have a bench that doesn't incline, rest the top end on a couple of equally sized weights. Make sure the incline is slight, otherwise you increase your risk of shoulder injuries.
Choose exercises wisely. If you can't find a spotter, choose exercises that give you an escape, such as dead-lifts, rows and dumbbell shoulder or chest presses.
Invest in safer equipment. Some fitness stores and catalogs offer a lifting tool that spots you on bench presses and squats of up to 500 pounds. Here's how it works - if you're stuck with a weight on your chest or shoulders, you drop the bar. A sensor then triggers cables that automatically pull the bar up and lock it into place.
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