Is this Genius or Idiotic?

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KenDowns
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Is this Genius or Idiotic?

Post by KenDowns » Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:43 pm

The problem: I work out mostly alone in my basement, a buddy comes by on Sunday and spots me on the bench, and my son spots me during the week.

But I have no squat cage, and no budget for awhile to get one, plus I haven't decided if I'd be better off finding time to go to the gym before I'd buy my own cage.

So, how to do squats without risking dropping a weight on my neck and ending up possibly paralyzed or "merely" with a broken bone or two?

So I pondered and pondered, and being a bit of a tinkerer I came up with what I call "waterbucket squats", and I'm wondering if this is genius or if I'm missing something and could be putting myself in danger.

The idea is simple. Instead of plates on the bar, hang the plates from the bar. I haven't actually measured, but the bottom plate is probably about 18-24 inches down from the bar. In the event of catastrophic failure and a fall forward the plates hit the ground long before my shoulders/neck/head do, and no heavy loaded bar comes down across my back, neck or head.

As for mechanical failure, this is not what I'm worried about. The rope is 200lb test, and I knotted it up so I can load the bar in about the same time it takes to load a bar for the bench.

Also, I use a standard bar that weighs only 10 pounds, so in a fall I imagine I might end up with bruise or a cut, but the key point is no heavy weight across the spine.

Mounting is simple. I rack the bar with the plates on two folding chairs and get under it in a squat somewhat between normal and sumo, and press up. Then I step back, wait about 2 seconds for the plates to stop swinging (I worried this would be an issue but it turned out not to be) and I'm right into the reps.

Now if I were a *real* engineer I'd practice falling forward with a small weight, but that I have decided not to do.

So it works great, but I'm wondering if I'm missing something. Can't imagine what it would be, but thought I'd run it past the experts.


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Post by Jungledoc » Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:10 pm

I think it's a great idea just for being able to get under the bar gracefully. I think that's the big advantage. A squat rack allows you to set pins so you don't have to drop the bar to the floor, potentially damaging the bar or the floor or both. If you were to fall forward with 45s on the bar, there is a 9-inch gap under the bar when it is on the floor. That should be plenty of room for your neck. Dropping the bar on your neck isn't the danger.

Usually the problem is just having to drop the bar, in which case you just drop it. Some mats made from horse trailer matting should save your equipment and floor in that case.

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Post by TimD » Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:36 am

It's a great idea, but it's already been thought of. Called a cable bar system. I don't know if JV invented it, or just popularized it. See the top photo here
http://jva.ontariostrongman.ca
Cables are hung from the end of the bar and clipped on to plate supports, which slide down a tube
Tim

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Post by KenDowns » Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:45 pm

TimD wrote:It's a great idea, but it's already been thought of. Called a cable bar system. I don't know if JV invented it, or just popularized it. See the top photo here
http://jva.ontariostrongman.ca
Cables are hung from the end of the bar and clipped on to plate supports, which slide down a tube
Tim
I think the difference is that my "waterbucket" system is still free weights, while JV's appears to be similar to a Smith in that it limits the motion to the tube.

Anyway, glad to hear it's not crazy.

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Post by Oscar_Actuary » Wed Feb 16, 2011 4:15 pm

sounds pretty smart to me.


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Re: Is this Genius or Idiotic?

Post by KenDowns » Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:53 pm

Well it turns out this is not a good idea - but not for any reason I thought of. It actually seems to reduce what you can squat.

Today I built myself a proper squat cage and did squats the regular way, plates on the bar instead of hanging from the bar -- and the big surprise was I could squat considerably more weight. So how could that be?

It has to be in the Physics of it, and I've only got one guess. A weight hanging from a bar is in every way the same as the weight on the bar -- except for one, the fact that it can swing. I was pretty sure the weight was not swinging, but the only thing I can figure is it was swinging very slightly. A weight on a rope will behave like a pendulum, with a natural period, and I believe the two weights would swing opposite to each other, possibly creating an imperceptible alternating front-to-back tugging, first on the left, then the right. This would mean I was pushing the weight and stabilizing against this.

Anyway that's the only theory I could come up with. If anybody is considering doing this I'd say get 50.00 USD worth of 2x4 studs and build a cage instead.

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Re: Is this Genius or Idiotic?

Post by stuward » Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:02 pm

The other point is that in the suspended squat, you start from the bottom from a dead stop. in the back squat you descend first and then have the stretch reflex at the bottom to help get you back up. I would suggest that the dead stop squats actually helped your back squat, allowing you to lift more.

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Re: Is this Genius or Idiotic?

Post by Kenny Croxdale » Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:30 pm

KenDowns wrote:The problem: I work out mostly alone in my basement, a buddy comes by on Sunday and spots me on the bench, and my son spots me during the week.

But I have no squat cage, and no budget for awhile to get one, plus I haven't decided if I'd be better off finding time to go to the gym before I'd buy my own cage.

So, how to do squats without risking dropping a weight on my neck and ending up possibly paralyzed or "merely" with a broken bone or two?
Ken,

Here are some alternatives.

Step Ups
http://exrx.net/WeightExercises/Quadric ... tepUp.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

These are basically One Leg Squats. The beauty of Step Ups is you pretty much eliminate the weak link in a traditional squat, the lower back.

The lower back burns out before the legs are fully worked.

"Bulgarian Leg Secretes" goes into this.
http://www.enhancedfp.com/training/stre ... terry-todd" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Belt Squats
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PldcPTOACm4" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The Belt Squat allows you to eliminate the lower back from the squat. Thus, allowing the legs be worked to the limit.

All you need is a loading pin for weight plates, a dip belt and some boxes.

You can purchase a loading pin from IronMind Or Atomic-Fitness.

I've use the Belt Squat since 1998 to train my legs for powerlifting. It is my favorite leg exercise and has a lot of carry over to traditional squats.

Trap Bar Squats
http://exrx.net/WeightExercises/Quadriceps/TBSquat.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The Trap Bar works the leg more like a squat than a deadlift.

Kenny Croxdale

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Re: Is this Genius or Idiotic?

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:58 pm

I want to see pictures of the $50 materials cage.

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Re: Is this Genius or Idiotic?

Post by Jungledoc » Sun Mar 27, 2011 2:44 am

Yeah, I'd like to see it, too. Someone posted some photos on a web site a few years ago of a wooden one. He used 4x4s.

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Re: Is this Genius or Idiotic?

Post by stuward » Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:40 am

This is one of the nicer homemade racks and cost $140.
http://www.home-gym-bodybuilding.com/ho ... -rack.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

You could probably do this for $50.
http://twobargarage.net/diy-squat-rack/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Here's another option if you have some scrap scaffolding.
http://forums.johnstonefitness.com/show ... hp?t=43766" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

This guy has a lot of good ideas. There's a cheap squat rack here and a home made loading pin among other things.
http://www.angelfire.com/ny5/shenandoah ... tonic.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Is this Genius or Idiotic?

Post by KenDowns » Sun Mar 27, 2011 8:47 am

Oscar_Actuary wrote:I want to see pictures of the $50 materials cage.
Oscar and Jungledoc, I'll be very happy to post pictures, if you can give me a week. Reason is, my bar is a 5' 200# capacity Walmart item. I'm happy to say I've outgrown it, and am ordering a 7' today, but for yesterday I temporarily fixed the width of the cage for the 5' bar. This week I'm going to permanently fix it for the 7' bar. While I'm doing that I'll have the major pieces dis-assembled for better photography.

Kenny: I tried all of the alternatives, Bulgarians, step-ups and lunges particularly. At some point a couple of months ago I decided I wanted to gain a foundation in the 'big 6', and that led first to my "waterbucket squats" attempt, and frustration with that led to building the cage.

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Re: Is this Genius or Idiotic?

Post by jps » Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:16 am

Jungledoc wrote:Yeah, I'd like to see it, too. Someone posted some photos on a web site a few years ago of a wooden one. He used 4x4s.
I did that.....look here

I swear that set up could have held 400+ lbs. It was very stable due to it being bolted to the wall. I eventually added safety bars too. I spent 40-50 at lowes....then I found a rack on craigslist for 100....so it was taken apart and used in other home projects.

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Re: Is this Genius or Idiotic?

Post by KenDowns » Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:20 am

power-cage.png
power-cage.png (33.71 KiB) Viewed 5409 times
power-cage.png
power-cage.png (33.71 KiB) Viewed 5409 times
Oscar_Actuary wrote:I want to see pictures of the $50 materials cage.
Well I'm no draftsman, but here's my best attempt at a diagram. Photos to follow next week.

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Re: Is this Genius or Idiotic?

Post by jps » Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:53 am

Very nice.....looking forward to the pictures!


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