Something miraculous happened on Friday night. I got out of work late so I went to big Globo gym because, well, its nearby. Say what you will about this gym, it does have 8 power racks and plentiful benches. I’ve only had to wait for a bench once in 3 years and I’ve never had to wait for a power rack. So you can imagine my surprise when I strolled out of the locker room and realized that all 8 power racks were taken. Not only were they in use, they were all being used for squatting!
“What the hell”, I thought, “is there some new social media challenge craze?”. To say this was anomalous behaviour for this gym is pure understatement. Sure, there are a few lifters at this place that powerlift or Olympic lift, but we never all train at the same time. I was training deadlifts so the lack of free power racks was no hinderance. A bigger issue was that I forgot my chalk. Globo gyms don’t do chalk so I was sh*t out of luck, grip-wise.
As I warmed up I took a gander at the power racks. 2 of the racks were being used by these Oly lifting guys who were doing front squats. The other 6 racks, however, were being used by gangs of youngish dudes, not really teenagers but let’s say they aren’t pushing 30 either. And these guys were making every rookie error possible save one. J hooks set way too high, backing up blind to re-rack the bar, using the silly foam bar pad, wearing gloves, using too much weight, knees way forward and, it goes without saying, not squatting to depth. I’m not talking missing depth by a little bit, more like quarter squats. So I didn’t see “knees caving in” because nobody was squatting deep enough to make that error apparent.
While it’s easy to lampoon a bunch of foam pad using young guys who quarter squat not terribly heavy weight and enthusiastically high-five each other, let he who is without sin throw the first wrist-wrap. Honestly, I thought it was cool, but remain slightly baffled as to why the sudden popularity. In an earlier post, I discussed the taboo of giving advice in Globo gyms. At a rack right next to where I was deadlifting these 2 guys set the J hooks noticeably higher than their shoulders (!) and had wrapped a towel around the bar as there were no more foam bar pads(cringe). The first guy who un-racked narrowly missed dumping the bar in my direction so I felt it was OK to point out that putting the J hook far lower and not using the towel would make for an easier, more stable lift. Didn’t say a word re: form, though I was dying to do so. Squats are not exactly enjoyable at first. If you compound that with doing the lift wrong, you’ll probably quit after a few weeks. Time will tell, I guess, if there are legs to this squat craze.
Without chalk, my deadlifts didn’t exactly go as planned. My grip strength is a weak point, and my deadlift form tends to go to hell when I feel the bar slipping from my hands. So instead of working up to heavy weight, I stuck to sets at 70% for volume and then did accessory work. Note to self – keep some chalk in the car as well, and maybe get used to lifting straps or hook grip.
Good to see all those guys giving it a go in the squat rack. I’m more than a little jealous since it’s been 3 months now since I’ve done a low bar squat. My rotator cuff is not getting better so I have yet another ultra-sound scheduled for next week. My physical therapist, sports friendly though he is, would freak out if he knew I still bench and deadlift heavy. I’m 8 weeks out from the next competition. I had registered for classic powerlifting as well as stand alone bench, but it’s fairly apparent now that I’ll only be able to do bench. The record for for this federation in my age/weight class is 10 kgs heaver than my best competition bench, however I have bench pressed that weight “touch and go”, and can now bench within 5kgs with strict competition form. I’m certainly going to give it a shot.