I’m glad you’ve asked whether the bench press roll of shame is safe and effective.
You’ll typically see countless videos online of people using this method for a failed bench press.
Plus, there are just as many articles espousing the virtues of the bench press roll of shame.
However, if you’ve ever tried it, or watched someone else perform it, you probably aren’t so sure about its effectiveness.
So, allow me to reveal everything you need to know about the bench press roll of shame.
Bench Press Roll of Shame
The bench press roll of shame is neither safe nor effective. And yet, you’ll find plenty of articles and videos online stating that it is. The roll of shame typically leads to abdominal bruising. However, it can also cause rupturing of the abdominal lining or an abdominal bleed-out. The worst case scenario is death, which has occurred on a number of occasions, generally due to the barbell crushing the neck.
1. What is the Bench Press Roll of Shame?
The roll of shame is simply a method to get out of a failed bench press.
Basically, you would typically use it as you come towards the end of your set and find that you’re unable to re-rack the bar.
Your muscles are too fatigued to pump out another rep and you find yourself with a weighted barbell literally stuck to your chest.
You could of course just lie there and either wait for someone to come and help you, and if not, maybe you’ll end up being crushed to death.
So, some “genius” invented the roll of shame, whereby you roll the bar down your sternum, the middle of your chest, across your abs, and finally down to your hips.
From this position you are able to sit up and are no longer in a potentially life-threatening position (and yes, people have died from being crushed under a barbell while benching).
Now, this all sounds great in principle, and you may even be able to get away with this with a fairly light bar, but it is actually far more dangerous than you realise.
Firstly, I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of people who use the roll of shame end up with some bruising to their torso.
I mean, it stands to reason that when you’re literally being “crushed” by a weighted object, you’re going to end up with a few scrapes or blemishes.
With that being said, there have been incidents which have caused rupturing of the abdominal lining and abdominal bleed outs.
Yes, I’m sure many people have “safely” rolled out of a failed bench press with just a couple of bruises on their stomach.
But, why would you chance it in the first place?
So, for me, I would never class the bench press roll of shame as safe or effective, and I believe it should be avoided altogether.
The Bench Press Roll of Shame Video
2. The Proper Way to Bench Press
For me, if you’re going to bench press heavy then you have to either use a spotter or a power rack.
In fact, I personally always prefer to use a power rack, as there’s no guarantee that a spotter will be able to help you during a failed rep.
However, if your gym doesn’t have a power rack then a spotter is your only alternative if you’re benching heavy.
Now, you’ll often hear that you can also bench press without collars.
But, even this presents dangers to both you and others in the gym.
It appears that many people feel embarrassed to ask someone to spot their bench press.
However, I’d rather ask someone for help rather than being potentially crushed by a barbell.
As for using the power rack, this is the perfect way to bench press.
Firstly, you must ensure that you retract your shoulder blades, which will then elevate your chest and torso.
This way if you fail a rep, you can leave the bar on the pins, and when you return to lying completely flat on the bench you’ll have enough room to safely remove yourself from the power rack.
3. Always Leave “One in the Tank”
You’ve probably heard about the benefits of training to failure.
But, then again, you may have also heard about always leaving one in the tank.
There are certainly benefits to doing both.
However, I would always approach the bench press slightly differently to the other lifts.
And the main reason for this is the danger posed by having a weighted bar directly over you with no means of escape.
With literally every other single lift you have the opportunity to get out of the way.
Even with squats and overhead presses you can simply drop the bar.
The same can be said for performing dumbbell chest presses, as you can drop the dumbbells to either side of you.
However, when it comes to the barbell bench press, a failed rep could cause you a great deal of trouble.
Obviously, you’re now aware that I’m not a fan of the roll of shame, benching without collars, and even a spotter may not be able to “help” if required.
So, I will always look to bench in the power rack.
With that being said, I rarely still, if ever, take bench press to failure.
Therefore, I always end my set at least one rep before failure.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t get stronger or build muscle, of course you can.
You can still progressively overload in terms of weight added, more reps, or shorter rest periods.
However, I strongly believe that the bench press is one exercise that you should always have fully under control.
So, please don’t try to go to failure when benching.
4. Do You Really Have to Bench Press?
If you are in a situation where there is no spotter available and your gym doesn’t have a power rack, then you don’t have to bench press.
I know benching is typically viewed as the most “bro” of all exercises.
And there are those who simply can’t live without their beloved bench press.
However, you can build a strong, muscular chest, without ever actually benching.
Plus, is missing out on one bench session during the week really going to make that much of a difference?
In fact, if you are a regular bencher then actually using different exercises every once in a while could lead to better all-round chest development.
And there are plenty of great chest exercises that don’t require the roll of shame, and that won’t bruise, injure, or seriously harm you.
The 8 Best Chest Exercises (No Bench or Dips)
So, I hope you understand that the bench press roll of shame is neither safe nor effective.
Granted, there are many articles and videos online that claim that this is a great way to get out of a failed bench press.
However, you’ll typically end up bruised most of the time, and there is the chance of something far more serious occurring.
The best way to bench press is to always use a power rack, and if this isn’t possible, simply ask someone to spot you.
If neither option is available to you then you’ll need to use alternative exercises to train your chest.
With that being said, whatever you choose to do, it will always be better than using the bench press roll of shame.
Hi, I’m Partha, the founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I’m someone who’s been passionate about exercise and nutrition for more years than I care to remember. I’ve studied, researched, and honed my skills for a number of decades now. So, I’ve created this website to hopefully share my knowledge with you. Whether your goal is to lose weight, burn fat, get fitter, or build muscle and strength, I’ve got you covered.