High school football player dies bench pressing in basement

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People always ask why I dont have videos about how to squat, benchpress, and deadlift on my website and YouTube channel. They also ask why I dont have these powerlifting exercises in my teen workouts, this is why:

These exercises are dangerous when done incorrectly and one cannot learn to do them properly thru watching a video, you need a coach standing by your side to instantly correct your form. Typically a coach will have someone lift the bar without any plates at all until the student can do flawless form with their eyes closed. This is the only teaching method that is safe with squats and deadlifts.
This tragic death is a good reminder to people why I am such a stickler for safety, I am actually known by my friends as the “Safety Monitor”. All the exercises on my website and YouTube channel are designed with two things in mind: safety and effectiveness. All my exercises can be safely done without a spotter and without special equipment if done as I illustrate. People always ask why my teen workouts only have bodyweight exercises and some limited (and very specific) dumbbell exercises, its because teens should not lift weights unsupervised. Why? Because to stay injury free when lifting requires you to always be asking “what if”:
  • What if my shoulder gave out while benching my max?
  • What if my knee gave out while squatting?
  • What if my cat was startled and jumped on me claws-out while doing my 1RM?
  • What if there was an earthquake while I was squatting?
Mature, intelligent adults naturally ask these kinds of “what-if” questions but teens typically dont. Teens brains are still developing and they are thinking about other things because of the hormones raging in them and safety is typically the last thing on their minds. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. At my gym I routinely see clueless 40 year old adults who are just 9-1-1 calls waiting to happen. On the other hand there are also teens, like michaelzwarszawy who sent me the link to this news report, who are more knowledgable about technique and safety than most adults. Anyway, that is why my teen workouts are safety-limited to bodyweight exercises and some dumbbell exercises that are nearly impossible to get hurt on because most teens are impatient for results, lift too much weight, and get injured. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees with me here, teens should not lift weights unsupervised.
This tragic event also highlights the need for proper safety equipment. To do some exercises, like those listed above, requires either two spotters or special equipment designed to safely limit the range of motion. If you dont have the proper safety equipment or spotters then you should not do these exercises, do some from my website that can safely be done solo.
Exercise Equipment needed to do safely without spotter Equipment needed to do safely with spotter
Bench Press A sturdy squat rack (about $1000) with the catch bars set so that if the bar were dropped it would not contact the chest or head. An real standard olympic bar using 50mm hole diameter plates, not some cheap knockoff using 1″ hole diameter plates. A real olympic bar uses plates with a 50mm dia hole for a reason, because the larger diameter allows the plates to smoothly slide off in an emergency. ‘Safety collars’ must NOT be used – the weights need to be easily dumped in an emergency.
Squats A sturdy squat rack (about $1000) with the catch bars set so that at the bottom of every rep, the olympic bar touches the catch bars. An real standard olympic bar using 50mm hole diameter and no safety collars as above. Two spotters, one for each side.
Most gym equipement these days has well designed safety stops which limit the range of motion and prevent injury should you “lose it”. I am constantly appalled at how many people dont bother to use these safety stops! They are there, use them! If you are unfamiliar with the equipment in your gym, hire a trainer for a few sessions and have them show you how to safely use all the equipment.
I harp a lot on safely limiting the Range of Motion. More is not better, but that is a topic for a video …
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