Page 1 of 1

Safety when Lifting Alone

Posted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 3:45 pm
by john_d
Due to my circumstances, I have to lift without people spotting me. I have some concerns about the safety of my lifts. I would appreciate it if anyone could answer some questions about safety, or comment on my concerns.

Bench press: I perform this in a power cage with safety catches. First: how safe is the average safety catch? Second: when the barbell is on the safety catches, it mostly doesn't touch me. However, it does touch at the sternum, and I feel some pressure. Should that be a concern? The pressure isn't injurious when the bar isn't loaded, and when I put 50 lbs on the bar, the pressure feels the same. I can also roll the bar back to where it doesn't touch me, and slide under the bar to where it doesn't touch me. I'm still concerned that at heavier weights I might be unable to move the bar or slide, and the pressure could be injurious.

Overhead press: I can't do this standing in a power cage. I read people writing that you don't need a spot for this exercise, since if you failed in the exercise, you could just drop the weight. Is that right? It seems wrong to me. The barbell could hit you on the way down.

Deadlift: Again, I read people writing that no spot is needed. But I can imagine hazards: falling over, the barbell falling and hitting knees and fracturing them, or tearing skin on shins, for instance.

Bent-over row: Similar concerns.

Squat: I can have side catches when squatting. Still there could be damage from falling over, or the barbell hitting the body on the way down.

Chin-up: I use an assist machine for this (not sure of brand, it's at a commercial gym). If I were to fall straight down could I cause the machine to collapse on me?

Safety when Lifting Alone

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 8:28 am
by wes
John, I always lift alone and bought a power rack for that reason.

First of all, the main concern is getting pinned under the bar. So for safety purposes, the bench press and squat are the exercises you want to do inside the rack.

Even training to failure, you won't completely lose all of your strength and the bar won't come crashing down. You'll still be able to guide the bar down somewhat.

Shoulder press is so much lighter than what you can hold at your upper chest it will be a non-issue. Lower the weight down and re-rack.

For deadlifts, I recommend straps for safety purposes. It is possible to lose your grip much more easily than to fail the lift in an uncontrolled manner. You have to lower the weight and work on your form if you're concerned about falling over.

For bent over rows you can lean back just a little. You'll feel a much more solid base. The downside is that your back will be slightly angled and not parallel to the floor.

If failing during squats lower the weight as far as you can and, if necessary, fall forward so the bar is caught you can get out from under the it.

For the bench press, a heavy bar can be uncomfortable, but you'll be able to roll it so you can escape. You can also consider raising the catches so the bar stops an inch or so above your chest. You can then use a technique where you pause at the bottom, essentially lifting from a dead stop. Alternatively, you can perform an inclined bench press which gives you more area to lower the weight to safety.

I've never used an assisted pull up machine so can't comment.

In general, I recommend lifting a lower weight and really focusing on form, including breathing. You're much more likely to fail in form before a catastrophic fail with crashing weights. Unless you are in some sort of competition, there is really no reason to risk injury with weight that is too heavy.

Re: Safety when Lifting Alone

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 7:06 pm
by john_d
Thank you for this advice, Wes. I will put your recommendations about equipment and form into practice.

Re: Safety when Lifting Alone

Posted: Sun Jul 10, 2016 7:55 am
by Jungledoc
Hey, welcome to the forum.

I agree with what Wes said, but would add one thing. Never use a so-called "thumbless" grip for bench press. This is also referred to as the "suicide grip" and for good reason. If you google "bench press accidents", most of what you find that look like serious accidents involved this grip. With your thumb around the bar the bar won't fall suddenly from your hand. I bench without a spotter most of the time, though I'd prefer not to. I also try (and try and try) to be smart about how close to failure I push my lifts.

Also, remember that with weights on the bar, there is space between the bar and the floor when it falls, so the bar won't crush your foot, or even your neck. There's a video out there somewhere of a young man losing control of the bar just as he was racking the clean in Olympic lifting. He stumbled backwards, then fell with the bar still racked. He fell with the bar above his neck, but was just fine.

Know the difference between a strong effort and exceeding your reach!