“I only start counting when it starts hurting. That is when I start counting, because then it really counts. That’s what makes you a champion.” So said Muhammad Ali, and although he was talking about situps not bench presses, he could have been describing all the lifters who lift weights until they collapse.
To the skinny layperson, this sounds like a terrible idea, and in fact it is. Laying on your back with 250 pounds of weights hanging over you, with only your almost-exhausted arms keeping the bar from crushing your throat might not seem like the best time to force a last rep, but sometimes you just need to push through one last rep, even if you’re not sure you’re going to make it. A lot of racks have safety bars to catch the weight if you drop it, but they can be annoying to set correctly, and many people just forget about them. For this reason, several people die every year when they can’t make that last rep, and don’t have a buddy ready to get the weight off them before it asphyxiates them.
So if you are working out in your basement, don’t have a friend with you shouting at you and ready to grab the bar, and don’t want to become one of those “several,” then then MAXX Bench is designed to for you.
The MAXX Bench looks like a regular bench, only it has what amounts to a car jack bunderneath. This is strong enough to support a 4X4, so it’s fine for you and your barbell, no matter what kind of weights you throw on it. The idea is that you lift as normal, then when you’re about to collapse, you hit a foot pedal that drops the bench down, lowering your neck below two safety bars at either side. Thus, even if you drop the bar, you won’t crush your own windpipe.
It sounds ideal, but as one lifter pointed out to me: “Good luck hitting that foot lever with 300 pounds on your neck.”
Aside from this admittedly large issue, the MAXX bench design is ingenious. You can even buy the bench itself and swap it into your current setup, something that might be attractive to gyms that don’t want to replace entire machines. The best option is probably a hybrid use: Maybe the best idea is to have a bench buddy who kicks the lever for you. Two safety fall backs are usually better than one.