High school football player dies bench pressing in basement

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 …

13 thoughts on “High school football player dies bench pressing in basement”

  1. this is a pretty silly article. Keep in mind that nothings impossible, ure literally saying people cant learn how to squat or bench press without a coach? Of course a Powerlifters bench press is pretty complex compared to a normal bench press performed for only chest hypertrophy like bodybuilders do. basically its just lay down on the bench unrack and press for the pump. which also includes not the bench ure Personal record but more a weight u can control for about 8-12 reps so wheres the danger on that? 2 spotters? for the 60-80-100 kg pressed in regular gyms? lol Now this is where my second argument comes in and its called Linear progression! if u add weight slowly. second thing NEVER USE A THUMBLESS GRIP! And then we have the Squat, i learned squatting ALL BY MY SELF! AND WATCHING VIDEOS and i wouldnt get a red light in a competition for my form so whats that about seriously? Deadlift OK this is one many people dont get easilly, BUT U CAN STILL learn it and by starting way down with ure weights ure certainly not gonna kill ureself.
    Im sorry but why dont u keep these things in mind?
    besides that miost commercial gyms have Personal trainers that will teach u how to half squat with a bad form so whats the deal?=

  2. Thanks J. But the thing is I have gained muscles and many people have advised me the same thing, but this didn't worked out well. Because muscle grows but still there is always a layer of fat which is very loose even after hard cardio work out majorly jogging. So no sure, asked many gym trainers but even they don't have any thing to say. I am waiting scooby research on this and gives me some good answer, because the way i am dedicated to gym and still after years of workout the result is not very good.. Scooby help me mate.. :)

  3. Hi Scooby,

    I have one very important question which has not been answered by any gym coach, doctor and any dietician. Well I am 22 year old guy and have been working out since last 5 years. But i have my skin which is very bubby, i dont eat much only i eat is good nutrition diet and good workout 5 days a weak approx. You can actually pull and stretch my skin and my tummy is like bubby, like a girl has after pregnant, you can say totally opposite of toned skin. This too after working out a lot. And major thing i gain very soon like may be 3-4 kgs a week and loose very soon, very soon. So help me, i read a lot about you really hope something good from you..


  4. @Pizzaholic and not just a personal trainer, a coach – powerlifting coach. Many personal trainers dont know squat about powerlifting – pardon the pun. I put myself in that same category so you personal trainers dont get all mad at me :)

  5. I love the fact that you mentioned the need to get a coach for the main powerlifting lifts. There is way too much bad information on technique for these exercises online. Not to mention many people, just from being sedentary throughout the day, do not have the adequate mobility, (be it ankle, thoracic spine, or hip) to preform these exercises safely.

  6. @tomzcv, a father has something far more important than coaching ability, the strongest possible interest in your welfare. Consider yourself very fortunate that your dad is so involved in your fitness pursuits!

    I would suggest that both you and he together join a powerlifting club or at least do one personal training session together so you learn how to properly and safely spot each other, especially with squatting.

  7. Hey scooby, I'm 14 and doing Deadlift, Squat, powerclean and Press.
    My father knows how to do these exercises, and spots me.
    The thing is that since I started doing them my strength and speed has drastically improved after only 2 weeks.
    I'm able to add weight to the squat or any other exercise almost every 2 sessions, and I only add the weight up when my father tells me that my technique is clean.

    Do you think I'm safe from injury?
    He was also never coached, he read a book on how to perform the exercises, and the gym personal trainers told him that he's doing them okay.

  8. Many thanks for this article. And I'm very very sorry for this teen. If he had known Scooby, this couldn't have happened.

    Please go on educating the world! Some may find you blunt or whatever but only the truth hurts and only the truth saves.

    I do bench press at gym with Smith machine but never have thought of doing this at home alone!

  9. Great Points! People just never believe that accidents do happen. "What if there was an earthquake while I was squatting?" haha!

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