Weight and Resistance Training - Squatting with the Big Girls

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11-15-2005, 12:16 PM
Hey, you guys. I haven't posted here in ages, but I have really made an effort of late to up the weights, so I would like to start again.

I am a little bit risk averse, so it took me a long time to make the switch from machines to free weights. Now, of course, I'd never go back. Similarly, I spent the longest time squatting with dumbells because I was afraid to use the bar.

Recently, however, I switched gyms and the new one, while much less well-equipped than my old, is extremely sparsely attended. Without all the trainers running around correcting form (sorry Mel, Meg - I know it's helpful but it's also intimidating!) and without huge hulking guys bogarting all the weights, I've been less afraid to sling around the iron. :D

So... a few weeks ago I tried squatting with the bar for the first time ever. I LOVED it. My form feels much more secure (the dumbells made me feel unbalanced, like I was going to topple forward), and I think I get a harder workout. At first I started with just the 45-pound bar, but I've worked up to an additional 10 pounds (I know for you veterans this is still nothing, but I was pretty proud the first time!).

Here's the question. To-date, I haven't been using the squat cage because it seems pretty baroque. I've just been using the regular rack with no squatter. How dangerous is this? I didn't even realize I was doing anything wrong until I checked out Stumptuous again. At this point I'm still not lifting a huge amount of weight and I feel very secure, but as I continue to pile it on, will this be a problem?

Thanks in advance for your advice!

Determined Gal
11-15-2005, 01:43 PM
Well...yes and no. If you are one of those people that like to go to failure, then I would definatley recommend that you use the cage. The cages' purpose serves as a spotter, so that way if something were to happen on your way down or up (cramp, weird pain, or just plain old "I can't get this weight the rest of the way up") the rack (squat cage) is there for you.

Free squatting is not a problem, but just make sure that it is with an amount of weight that you feel comfortable squatting with for full reps.

As you get stronger and stronger....you are going to want to pile on the weight, ( and I would suggest that you do anyway to expand your progress), but when you get to the point where it is a taxing amount of weight, then that's when you should use a spotter, or the the cage because then it can get dangerous.

By the way, how long did you take you to lose 107 lbs (if you don't mind me asking), you look great in your avatar.

Hope this helps!

11-16-2005, 05:42 AM
Hi Jennifer! :wave: Good to see you back posting again!

Aren't BB squats just the best? :D I agree with you about feeling more secure with a bar -- it gives me something to hang onto and definitely assists with balance. You should be proud of your 65# - that's nothing to sneeze at!

As for your question -- my gym has two squat racks and one cage. I hate the cage and never use it. If I'm going really heavy, I'll use a spotter, but often will squat lighter weights by myself using the racks. I figure the worst thing that can happen is that I lose my balance at the bottom and the bar will roll off my back and everyone will stare at me. :o So I agree with Determined Gal that it's not dangerous not to use the cage, so long as you feel in control of the weight. Now if you're going for a new world record ... different story.

Speaking of dropping weights and everyone staring at you, I saw a horrible accident at my gym last night involving a guy doing squats on a Smith machine, which some people think is 'safer' than free squats. He had it loaded up with three plates on a side and must not have set the safety stops because he ended up crashing to the ground under the bar. The bar couldn't roll off him since it's on the track ... you can imagine the noise this all made when it happened. I think he's going to be OK, but was very shook up -- my boss took him back in his office, got ice for his ankle, and got him calmed down. Hopefully nothing is broken, though I'm sure he's going to feel pretty beat up. Got to say that this reinforces my dislike of Smith squats as being artificially constrained in your movement.

Anyway, I digress! Congratulations on the squats and keep them up! Don't forget to add in some BB lunges and you'll end up with the cutest little you-know-what ever! ;)

BTW, I never, but never correct a member's form on an exercise unless asked, even if it looks like they're about to kill themselves. No one wants to hear it, especially the ones about to kill themselves. :dizzy:

11-16-2005, 09:22 AM
I like the power rack for box squats (you sit on a bench or box at the bottom position and then explode off of it) because I can adjust the pin height to catch the bar if I want to dump it forward at the bottom position, but most of the time I use the squat racks.

I think you are safer using the racks or cage than a random spotter, although an experienced spotter is very helpful. An inexperienced spotter almost decapitated me when I was attempting a max benchpress many years ago, and it has made me a bit wary. He mangaged to pull 385# over the back of the uprights with a panicky too vigorous spot.

My wife may not be all that strong, but at least i know she won't do anything crazy when she is spotting me.

11-16-2005, 10:23 AM
I like the rack thingy at my gym for squats. If I can't get back up, I can lean forward, duck my head down and get the bar onto the rack without killing myself. And I also agree with Mel on you not putting down the amount you are squatting. #65 squatted properly is WAY more impressive than the people that "squat" 100+ but have very improper form, don't go down far enough, etc.


11-16-2005, 10:56 AM
Thanks for all the kind words and advice! I am very happy to be squatting "correctly," don't get me wrong - just wanted to make sure it the rack is OK before trying more weight. I feel like I can definitely do a little bit more even now, but I've been concentrating on form (like I said, I'm a little risk averse, but I think it also keeps me from killing myself! :lol: )

That Smith machine story is terrifying, Meg! Luckily I never tried it; a trainer at the gym talked me out of it when I asked him how to use it and said the dumbell squats I was doing were actually better.

I definitely already do dumbell lunges, plus these nifty little lunge things holding onto a rail that *kill* the arse, plus good mornings and calf raises. My booty has improved by about a million percent already! :devil: But Meg, you got me curious; is there some way to do them with the bar? I never even thought about it!

You guys rock. Thanks again for the help!

11-16-2005, 11:08 AM
You do lunges with a bar the same way as squats ... rack the bar at shoulder height, duck under, set the bar on your shoulders, step back a few steps, and lunge away. I do alternating, stationary, and reverse lunges this way. The advantages of lunges with a bar are the same as with squats -- you can go heavier without worrying about losing your grip on DBs, plus the bar can help you stay balanced. Click here (http://www.fitsite.com/index.cfm?ContentID=10845&do=detail) for a little video.

BTW, since you're a pro squatter now :D ... one of the best investments I've ever made was spending $10 on a squat pad for the bar to protect my poor shoulders! Some gyms have them but mine doesn't and I was getting bruises from the bar until I bought one. Now I whip mine out for clients and tell them it's proof that I'm the best trainer in the place. :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

11-16-2005, 11:10 AM
Hey Congrats Teapot :bravo:

11-16-2005, 11:12 AM
Add this into your repertoire while you're using the rack for squats and lunges ... set the bar on the floor out of the way, grab hold of two of the pegs with your hands and do lunge jumps - like 30 or 50 (or 100 or whatever tickles your fancy :lol: ). When you hold on, you can really fly and get a h-u-g-e spread between your legs.