This is a story about a workout that I witnessed somebody
perform about 10 years ago in a university gym in Canada.
It's a true story (just ask the ambulance driver!).
Now, if you've spent any time in a gym, you've probably
seen people using exercise form that is less than perfect.
What I was about to watch, however, was the most atrocious
exercise technique I've ever seen in all my years of
It was about 1 in the afternoon and I was just starting
into my workout when I noticed "Dave" (not his real name)
lay down on the bench adjacent to the one I was on. Like
me, he was doing flat barbell bench press that day.
He was fairly short, medium build, wearing a tank top to
show off what he plainly thought was a magnificent physique.
It wasn't, let me tell you that right now.
Barbell Bench Press
"Dave" proceeded, without an ounce of warm-up, to load
225 pounds on the bar. He convinced some poor sap to spot
for him then took the weight off the rack. It dropped
straight down onto his chest like a stone. His spotter
freaked out and pulled desperately to get the bar off his
chest while "Dave" struggled and kicked to get the weight
up. It was a titanic struggle. He looked like a fish out
of water with a tomato stuck on his head. That's how red
in the face he was.
Finally, they got the weight up and his spotter attempted
to put the bar back on the rack.
"Dave" said "What are you doing? I've got 5 more reps!"
I almost choked. This was going to be an interesting
"Dave" finished off by struggling out 2 more reps, then
did 2 more sets just like that (with a new spotter each
time, of course - nobody in their right mind would go
through that twice!). "Dave" must have learned his lesson
though, because instead of letting the bar drop and stop
like on his first set, this time he actually bounced the
thing off his rib cage like a trampoline, arching his back
like he was being electrocuted.
It was time for squats. Now, I wasn't supposed to do legs
that day but I just had to see this spectacle so I did
legs anyway, just to be in the area.
"Dave" put 315 pounds on the bar right away. I watched him
wrap his knees and cinch his lifting belt so tight he
looked like a toothpaste tube that had been squeezed in
He recruited another sucker... I mean spotter, for his
first set. He stepped under the bar, unracked it, stepped
back and started to lower it.
It was like putting a bowling ball on a celery stick. His
legs were shaking like Elvis on 10 cups of coffee. His
back was so rounded over, you could have set a dinner
plate between his shoulder plates without dropping a potato.
He lowered the bar exactly three inches then held his breath
and began to try and come back up. No luck.
stepped in, helped him back up and tried to guide him to
the racks. No dice. He immediately dropped back down
again. Two inches this time. I swear his knees didn't
shake this time simply because they bowed in so much, they
were braced up against each other!
He made his spotter do one more rep after that one, dropping
only an inch on the last rep. Two more sets just like that
By this time I had pretty much scrapped my workout for the
day, completely out of morbid curiosity. I told the weight
room attendant to dial "9" and "1" and keep their finger
on the "1." His workout wasn't over yet!
Barbell Curls In Squat Rack
"Dave" unloaded the bar then set up in the same rack for
barbell curls. He put a pair of 35's on the bar, which he
had no business even doing for the "squats" he had just
finished with, much less for barbell curls.
Luckily, he hadn't yet uncinched his lifting belt from the
previous exercise, thereby saving precious seconds of time
and, also, evidently cutting off the flow of blood to his
He stepped up to the bar, took as wide a grip as I've ever
seen anyone take on a bar, then lifted it to the start
position. He took a deep breath and held it. Then, with
totally straight and locked legs, he thrust his rear end
backwards then forcefully thrust his hips forward,
catapulting the bar up and off his thighs. He looked like
he was trying to ring a doorbell with his hip bone.
The bar made it about halfway up before he locked his
elbows and leaned back about 45 degrees to keep it moving.
Finally, the weight made it to the top. He held it there
for a microsecond then dropped it heavily to his thighs.
Then he did it again. And again. And again.
The only good thing I can say about it is at least he had
the decency not to subject a spotter to it this time.
I sat there wondering what he could possibly come up with
for a finale and I was not disappointed.
And The Final... Pec Deck
He walked, or rather, strutted over to the pec deck and set
the pin to the bottom of the weight stack.
I motioned at a few nearby people to watch this as I felt
something special was coming.
He sat on the machine, arms covered in sweat. He wrestled
one arm pad up to the center position. Impressive. He
turned and, with Herculanean effort, wrestled the other one
to the center position. Veins starting popping out and his
face was beet red.
I had a feeling this was it. I was right.
With the loudest bang I've ever heard, both his arms slipped
off the pads, the weight came crashing down, and "Dave" was
shot 6 feet straight out of the machine across the floor,
skidding on his face right at somebody's feet.
Now, as an adult, I have never wet my pants, but I have to
tell you, that moment was the closest I've ever come.
That's how hard I was laughing.
I didn't see "Dave" back in that gym ever again.
The moral of the story? Big weights only look cool if you
can lift them without getting shot 6 feet across the floor
on your face.
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