This post is half scary story, half public service announcement. I’ll start with the story:
I was at the gym this morning lifting and the usual crowd was there. We have a pretty good group in the morning and we all know each other, always chat and actually hang out outside of the gym. Its really great to have friends who love to work out as much as you do! But, thats totally not the point of the story. One of the gym goers in the morning is not part of our group so I don’t know him very well. We say hi, we smile and then we go about our workout, but I’ve been watching him for a few work outs now. He is pretty scrawny, at least for a hardcore lifter, but lifts more weight than I could ever imagine. He’s stronger than I thought. Anyway, this morning I was using the cable machine, which faces the benches where this guy was doing bench presses. Like I said, he lifts a lot of weight, but doesn’t usually have any trouble with it. This morning, though I noticed he was struggling on his last rep. I watched him struggle for about 5 seconds and then I realized that he wasn’t going to make it. The bar, which had more weight on it than my body weight- seriously-, came down his chest and his face turned bright red. I ran over, grabbed the bar and pulled hard as I could. Unfortunately, though I may work out a lot, I am NO match for a 200lb barbell. I pulled as hard as I could and he mustered up a bit of strength to try to push it up, but I couldn’t get it off his chest. I screamed REALLY loud until I got someone’s attention and two of the larger men in the weight room ran over and grabbed each side of the bar and together we lifted it off his chest. Luckily, the guy was totally fine, but I was so scared! I’m shaking just reliving it right now!
That brings me to the public service announcement part of the day:
1. If you are lifting (especially bench press or squat) USE A SPOTTER. Even if you think you can do it, if you’ve done that weight a hundred times before, you need someone near you. There have been so many tragic stories of people lifting alone who got in really big trouble. Lifting may be great for you, but it can be deadly.
2. If your earphones are so loud that you can’t hear other people around you, they are too loud. I had to SCREAM to get the attention of those two men who eventually came to help me. They had their music up so high and they were so engrossed in their own workouts, that they weren’t paying attention to what was going on around them. I really can’t imagine what would have happened if I couldn’t get their attention. There was no way I was strong enough to lift that bar on my own
3. If you do find yourself in a difficult spot:
a)while bench pressing you can (if the weight isn’t too heavy) tip the bar to one side and let the weights fall off the bar. This should lighten the load enough for you to lift it again
b) while squatting, ALWAYS have the safety bars up. They are lose horizontal bars that run a few run feet above the ground. If you have put too much weight on the bar and can’t come to standing position, you can drop to your knees and let the safety bars catch the weight for you.
Maybe this seems a little pedantic, but this morning really freaked me out and I don’t ever want to be in that situation again. I’m so thankful that those two guys were able to help me and I’m also really glad I went with my gut and tried to help that guy. I knew he was in trouble and I couldn’t just sit by and watch.