Jackassalope


For iron addicts like me, the absolute worst thing about coming back from a long and rather pleasant vacation is the fact that sooner or later, we have to get back into the gym and start working out again. This is a very painful and depressing experience, because you realise very quickly just how badly out of shape you really are. This does pass- if you're dedicated and careful, you'll be back to optimal shape within 2-3 weeks, but it still sucks to have to put in that work and feel the soreness and aches for a full week. And of course, you have to confront the humiliating fact that what you would normally consider to be "baby weight" has suddenly become much more difficult for you to lift.

On top of that misery one is forced to deal with an even more annoying problem.

As is normal around this time of year, gyms everywhere are flooded with people who have made half-hearted resolutions to "lose weight" or "get in shape". Fortunately most of these spastic overweight numbnuts tend to cluster around the circuit-training machines and treadmills and cardio equipment, rather than the altar of the iron god, the temple of steel, the crucible of pain, that is the squat rack.

Occasionally, however, some doofus will wander in, occupy precious space in an available squat rack, throw on a few plates, and proceed to make a complete and utter ass out of himself.

Such was the spectacle I had to witness last night.

I was in the secondary squat rack in my gym, wrapping up my third set of squats and grimly wishing that I could just skip the next two sets somehow, or at least shift over to my favourite squat rack over on my left. The rack I was in is actually a proper power cage, but it's on an elevated platform and I don't particularly like squatting in it. I finished up, saw that my rack was open for use, and immediately made a move to claim it.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw this thin bloke roughly my height walk over. This chap looked like he'd never lifted anything much heavier than a spoon his entire life. He tried to signal me and asked if he could use the cage I was vacating. I merely grunted, waved him on, and proceeded to setup my bar with weights and prepared to do my fourth set in a much more comfortable environment.

I turned my head over to the right, and saw that Mr. K'Nex-Man had put two plates on each side of his barbell. Assuming that he actually knew how to squat, I stretched out my legs a bit while I waited to duck under my bar and get on with my next set.

The guy proceeded to unrack the bar and squat... and it looked kind of like this:

Yep. Descent of maybe six inches into a crappy half-squat, then straight back up. FOR REPS.

I simply snorted in disgust and turned away, ready to get on with my next set. And if that was the end of it, I wouldn't have remarked on it at all- I see idiots with poor squat form all the time. I view them with the same kind of mild disgust that I would a patch of mould on the wall of the locker room. (Hey, I'm guilty of bad squat form myself on occasion. The difference is, I actively try to fix it.)

Unfortunately, things just went downhill from there.

This guy then added another two 45lb plates to the bar, bringing the total up to 315lbs. And proceeded to do the exact same thing, except that his "squat" was even more shallow than the first round.

Now that just pissed me off- not least because I can and do squat 315lbs just for giggles, all the way down to parallel. There is nothing that annoys a dedicated powerlifter more than seeing some moron who has no idea what he's doing, take up valuable rack real estate, and then abuse it, while pretending that he's making gains with horrible form.

What I saw next, though, is so... stupid that my brain is mewling feebly for mercy from the terrible beating it's taking in having to re-process the memory.

For his last set in the rack, this guy set the weight at 135lbs, unracked the bar- and proceeded to do JUMP SQUATS with a barbell on his back.

Now before anyone tries to correct me with comments about how this "develops explosive power", or how it's "part of CrossFit training and therefore a legitimate lift", let me ask you this: do you like having knees that work?

If the answer is yes, then my advice to you is, DON'T DO SOMETHING THIS GODDAMN STUPID.

What I saw looked rather a lot like watching a donkey pretending to be an antelope while wearing a saddle on its back. Indeed, I do believe that I have caught sight of the rare and exceptionally idiotic Jackassalopus vaccafoeda in the wild.

Next time, I'm bringing a shotgun and a gutting knife. Something that ridiculous needs to be hunted down and stuck on the wall as a trophy.

And as for the assertion that this "exercise" somehow "builds explosive power", why is it that every video I've seen showing barbell jump squats shows someone who is either really fat or skinny enough to resemble a celery stalk, and in both cases the person involved looks mostly like he doesn't lift?

THIS is what someone with REAL explosive power looks like:


And this is how someone like that works out. Notice that the closest he ever gets to this nonsense is explosive step-ups with a weighted barbell- which is quite a different story. When performed correctly and with light weight, such plyometric exercises can and do develop explosive power.


Please, dear Lord, let it be March already, when all of these numbskulls are out of the gym and we actual lifters can get on with going straight into beast mode...

Just remember: it could ALWAYS be worse...

Squat nerd technical note
The reason why (raw) powerlifters obsess about how deep we can squat is because, when performed incorrectly, squats can severely damage your knees, back, and shoulders- pretty much in that order.

When you do half-squats, you apply significant shearing stresses upon the ligaments that hold your knee joint together. Take a look at this diagram, which shows the angles at which various shearing stresses and compressing forces work upon the knee joint:


What that diagram basically says is that flexion between 90 and 135 degrees- i.e. hips at or below parallel with the knees- is the right range at which to apply stress in order to avoid injury. Any powerlifter who's been doing squats for a while can tell you this.

What the diagram also says is that if you don't go down to at least parallel, you're applying significant shearing stresses to the knee above the 45-degree point of flexion.

Now imagine adding the impact of jumping up six inches from the floor and back down again, with 135lbs on your back, to those existing shearing stresses. Can you say "*POP* goes the kneecap"?

End of technical digression

Comments

  1. Did you at least offer the guy some advice?

    I know there are occasional know-it-alls who will rebuff you out of ignorance and pride, but there might be a chance the guy would listen to you and do things the right way.

    I give the SOB credit for at least taking that first step into the Gym, even if it was on a stupid New Year Resolution whim.

    If you pointed out what he was doing wrong and ignored you, well then he'll f--- his joints up soon enough, pay for it in pain, and be out of your way by March. However, if you never even spoke to him, you were basically cheating yourself of the opportunity to fix the problem.

    Look, the guy asked you for permission to use the rack, so he obviously held a sense of respect for you. Hell, there's a good chance he was intimidated.

    Now here's the real point I want to make. You don't get to be swole if you don't get into the gym and hit the iron. You don't get the girl if you don't go out to the club/party/venue and approach. You don't get the degree if you don't go to class. I don't need to tell you this.

    You know we live in a society filled with cucks, pansies, K'nex men, male feminists, and whole host of "men" who aren't fit to lick their forefathers' boots.

    It's easy and fun to sneer and laugh at these guys, but what we should really be doing is spreading the manosphere gospel to those who need it most. That's how we actually fix the problem. Talk to these guys. Teach 'em to lift. Teach 'em to approach. Teach 'em the way the world really works.

    Maybe 4 out of 5 K'nex men ignore you or scoff, but the 1 who listens is potentially another footsoldier in our ranks.

    We have to reach out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you at least offer the guy some advice?

      I rarely, if ever, offer advice in the gym anymore. Partly because I never feel like my form is perfect, so I try not to lecture others about theirs. And mostly because such advice is rarely taken well- most guys either don't listen or get actively hostile when you try to tell them.

      And I understand why those guys get annoyed. A bit over a year ago I was in a gym in London working out and one of the trainers came over during my warm-up sets and started lecturing me about my squat form because my first few sets looked weird. (He was right about that, actually- I knew what the problem was and fixed it on my own.) Then he started telling me about "functional" lifts and deep squats and CrossFit- at which point I got rather annoyed and told him point blank whether he minded if I got back to my workout. He didn't like that at all.

      The only thing worse than watching some doofus with horrible form in the gym is having to listen to lectures from the wannabe coaches. So I try not to be one.

      It's easy and fun to sneer and laugh at these guys, but what we should really be doing is spreading the manosphere gospel to those who need it most. That's how we actually fix the problem. Talk to these guys. Teach 'em to lift. Teach 'em to approach. Teach 'em the way the world really works.

      Maybe 4 out of 5 K'nex men ignore you or scoff, but the 1 who listens is potentially another footsoldier in our ranks.

      We have to reach out.


      I agree completely. Which is why this blog, and others like it, exist.

      If you look through my blog archives, you'll see a set of posts targeted specifically at helping men to understand how to perform the big lifts properly, along with accessory exercises and the right ways to rest and heal after a hard workout.

      I personally blame this sort of thing on personal trainers and "box gyms" like Planet Princess/NYSC that operate on "churn" rather than on results. I used to go to an NYSC gym; NOBODY there ever did heavy squats or deadlifts, and I worked out on treadmills, stationary bikes, and isolation exercises for years. I had to fundamentally change huge parts of my life to get rid of those bad habits.

      Delete
  2. Eduardo the Magnificent6 January 2016 at 22:56

    Don't get me started on gym atrocities. Working out in boots and jeans. Shitty form. Women in makeup and yoga pants. I'm not a fan of everything Rippetoe does, but he does make everyone who joins his gym learn how to properly squat, even seventy year-old ladies. Of course, the meatheads at the desk would first have to acknowledge that not every day is National Bench Press Day for that to work elsewhere.

    I blame this "never squat below parallel" phenomenon on Ahnie. His bodybuilding "encyclopedia" told people not to because it was damaging to the knees. Problem is, there's tons of pics out there of Ahnie squatting ATG, and at the time he published the book he was endorsing anything that paid him a buck. Wouldn't doubt that a knee specialist told him to add that little nugget and paid him handsomely for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course, the meatheads at the desk would first have to acknowledge that not every day is National Bench Press Day for that to work elsewhere.

      Friends don't let friends skip leg day, bro. =)

      I blame this "never squat below parallel" phenomenon on Ahnie. His bodybuilding "encyclopedia" told people not to because it was damaging to the knees.

      Really? I didn't know that was the source. I'd seen and heard the usual nonsense about "deep squats are bad for the knees" many times before I started doing squats, of course, but I never knew that Ahhhnuld was the reason behind it. And as you say, there are plenty of pictures of Arnie doing very deep squats with very heavy weights from back in the early days of his bodybuilding career.

      Delete
    2. Eduardo the Magnificent7 January 2016 at 23:45

      I don't know if Schwarzenfraudder is the precise culprit, but I know there are bodybuilding types who worship him, and he deliberately misled people when he did mags and interviews and gave advice. His autobiography gives his original workout regimen (Reg Parker's workout), and everything else he said after that was different. He might not be the only one to blame for all the misinformation out there, but he definitely played the biggest part.

      Delete
  3. So are you saying Rowing, Swimming, Pullups, Pushups, and armor squats are a bad training regimen? Man, I have been doing it wrong for four decades.

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    Replies
    1. Only if you do them the way CrossFitters do. Especially pullups.

      (As that video shows, you can extend the horrors of bad CrossSh*t form to almost any form of exercise you want.)

      Delete
    2. Naww, I do them military style. straight, from the floor, full arm tension. The same with pushups. Straight, hold halfway for 30 seconds to build endurance, then ten fast ones.
      Armor squats I got from the SCA, and involve doing 5 point bodybuilders in full armor. Not the most comfortable exercise, wearing 120 pounds of platemail, but neccessary to be able to get to your feet in a rough battle.

      and rowing? well, it's just rowing. good core burn (in my experience) and keeps your stomach tight, as long as you row with your legs instead of your back.

      I know people gripe about situps, but I haven't yet found anything better than suspended situps for keeping your stomach tight.


      Basically I do this because I don't have the patience to learn all the fancy bodybuilder exercises that everyone always talks about.

      BTW...what the hell was that guy doing on the rings? trying to have an orgasm? I haven't seen anything that messed up since kindergarten. I don't see the fitness value of swinging like a monkey having an epileptic seizure, unless you are simply trying to work on your stamina... it looks like hard (and stupid) work.

      Delete
    3. Basically I do this because I don't have the patience to learn all the fancy bodybuilder exercises that everyone always talks about.

      Same. For me it's just the basics- lift heavy sh*t, rest, repeat.

      BTW...what the hell was that guy doing on the rings? trying to have an orgasm? I haven't seen anything that messed up since kindergarten. I don't see the fitness value of swinging like a monkey having an epileptic seizure, unless you are simply trying to work on your stamina... it looks like hard (and stupid) work.

      It was a parody :).

      Unfortunately, what he's making fun of is a real thing.

      Delete
    4. crossfit, the food pyramid, veganism, socialism, egalitarianism, atheism, just looks like another terribly stupid idea expanding into a movement.

      Ah well, I guess stupid is it's own reward.

      Delete
  4. My experience at gyms has always been the same. The regulars won't waste their breath unless they see that you're committed. When I started, this usually meant a solid 3 months of showing up 5 times a week before anyone would give me the time of day. Of course the regulars were always polite but they would never go out of their way to offer advise or anything else.

    That time gets shorter if you show up already in shape, with your notebook and already knowing the gym etiquette.

    When I became a regular I ended up doing the same thing - why bother offering usually unwanted advise to someone who's not going to be around in a few weeks anyway? One thing I figured all gyms should do though is tell all their new members what "working in" means and when it's ok to ask. For example, don't ask the guy benching 405 if you can work in when your max is only 95.

    ReplyDelete

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