Unless, You Know, You’re “That Guy”
So I was at the gym the other night, and an interesting thing happened to me. It was a clear cut reminder as to why it’s usually a very good idea (if you can) to train with a partner. You might not even do most of the same things, but for those certain exercises that require a spotter, it’s generally nice to have.
I, the other night, was not so fortunate. I was in the gym, getting my fit on, and was enjoying my work out. I was doing my bench press sets, and was having a grand old time. I regularly do three sets, with an eight rep max. What that means, is I find a weight that I can comfortably do for eight reps, and feel relatively exhausted after each set. I had done my first set and everything was great.
I started my second set, and got to the last two and started to struggle a bit, but pushed through. I knew that the last couple of reps at the weight I was at was just a touch of a challenge, so I took an extra 30 seconds rest to make sure I was good to go. I started my last set and pushed through with ease. Right up until my last three reps. I got to six, slight struggle. Seven and I barely made it, and without actually thinking I attempted the last rep. I got half way up, and a stern realization hit me: I was not going to make it.
I did not have a spotter with me, as I was the only one in the gym. My first thought was I would be okay, but I then quickly remembered, as I looked over to my side, that I had completely forgotten to put the brackets in place to stop the bar, in case this shit happened.
Under normal circumstances, I would be fucked. But I am not completely stupid. Instead of dropping the bar on my chest, I brought it down to stomach and rolled it down, sat up and shimmied out from under it. I managed to do it without getting hurt, because I knew how to.
[Lincoln’s note: this is why when you are bench pressing alone you should NEVER put collars on the bar. If you have to you can dump the weights to the side rather than taking the bar on your body. It makes a huge clang and everyone thinks you are an idiot, but it is a hell of a lot better than getting crushed by the bar.]
Not everyone is that lucky. Injuries are quite common from mistakes like that, as it happens all the time from people trying to look tough. I wasn’t trying to look tough, I was just by myself, and made a slight calculation error (two days later I did the same weight without problem).
Ensuring your station is properly adjusted and set-up for you to use is just as important as having the proper technique when lifting a weight. As I said before, you don’t always need a spotter, but you probably should have one for heavier weights. It’s one of those pesky safety measures put in place to keep you from dieing. Along with that, don’t push yourself without having someone to cover your ass so you don’t die.
Don’t try to be a hero in a gym, and ask for help from someone. Although it might seem awkward, most people are fairly okay with spotting for a random person, as gym karma kicks in, and they will usually ask someone else down the line. It’s kind of like an unwritten etiquette rule. Personally, I would rather help someone that potentially watch someone get hurt, or die.
This also goes for not knowing how to properly use equipment. If you aren’t sure, ask someone that is using it. They “usually” know how to do it safely. There is a video going around Facebook right now that I can’t help but get pissed off every time someone shares it and I see it on my feed. It’s someone that clearly doesn’t know what the hell he is doing with a dual cable machine, and hopping into the air, jumping off the back panel, and slamming on the ground. Instead of stopping the guy, the douche in the video records it over his shoulder and shames him. No one else even helps the guy either.
That annoys me because he can clearly get hurt and no one cares. Don’t be that guy either. Like I said always ask. The key to getting better is to do it properly and safely. And when you do learn, pass it on.
There’s my rant for the day.