A few safety tips:
• Always breathe when exerting yourself. If you hold your breath, you will restrict the blood flow through your neck to your brain, and you might pass out. This is not desirable when you are holding a heavy weight. So, grunt and groan if you need to let the air out as you exert yourself. Let the neighbors wonder what the noise is all about; that’s better than losing consciousness and having the weights fall on top of you!
• Also, you should not train alone. Use spotters. Weight lifters who have trained alone have died when they could not raise the bar after doing a set of bench presses, and it rolled back onto their throats, crushing the windpipe.
• When you are training alone, do not put the outside collars on the bar. Leave them off, so if you get stuck, you can push up on one side of the bar and the weights will fall off of the other end, allowing you to free yourself. Learn from an experience Ed Bernd Jr. had:
Once he forgot to set the stops on his power rack while doing bench presses, and the bar – with more than 200 pounds loaded onto it – rolled back across his throat. There was no time to think, just to react, and he started shoving as hard as he could with both arms.
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One side of the bar lifted, and the big Olympic plates fell off the other end. Then the bar tilted back the other way, and the weights on the other end clanked noisily to the floor – allowing him to throw the now-empty bar off of him. If collars had been holding the weights onto the bar, he wouldn’t be here today to write this blog!
• When lifting the bar off the floor, as in the deadlift or the heavy clean, you can use straps wrapped around your wrist and around the bar to ease the strain on your hands, allowing you to lift more weight. Your trainer can show you how this works.
Just remember, if you use straps, use short ones, just barely long enough to go around the bar, so that if you let go, the bar will fall freely.
Several years ago, a lifter training in Ft. Lauderdale used long straps that wrapped around the bar several times. As he lifted the bar overhead, he lost his balance and released his grip. But the straps, which were still wrapped around the bar, did not come loose. He fell along with the weight. His elbow hit the platform with the weight still in his hand, causing severe injury to his elbow and arm
• Also remember, when lifting weight off the floor, keep your back flat. You can do this by selecting a point high up on the wall in front of you and watching it. This will keep your head up and your back in the correct position. Have your trainer or coach check out your form from time to time.
As always, gather information at beta, but do not make your decisions at beta. Remember that your brain operates much more efficiently at 10 cycles per second (alpha), so enter your level, analyze all of the information that you have and make your decisions at alpha. Then test them at beta, and keep making adjustments by making decisions at alpha and acting on them in beta, until you find the best method for you. It is much faster this way than trying to make decisions at beta and also act on them at beta. That would be like an athlete using only one leg instead of two.
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