The free weight spectrum

We’ve all seen some weird stuff in the free weights area, from the slightly odd and the wildly hilarious, to the downright dangerous.  Sometimes there’s just so much (and I hesitate to use this word, because I hate it) ignorance on display.  Sometimes you’ll see something really interesting that looks effective and fun.  My workout the other day looked like someone had set up a little panorama to illustrate the spectrum of duh.

At one end of the free weights area is the Smith press machine.  Not my favourite bit of kit, but one of our PTs (speciality: biomechanics.  The guy’s a genius)  was using it and getting what looked like an awesome workout.  He had the bar set only a couple of feet above the ground which confused me at first.  But as I watched, he did a set of pushups, then flipped over to use the bar to do a set of pulls in a kind of reverse pushup position.  Finally, he stood up and did a set of burpees.  Quick, efficient, whole-body workout.  Awesome.

Then there was me.  I was plugging away at my New Rules of Lifting for Women workout; not exactly original, but a well-designed, effective workout.

Next up was a guy doing set after set after set of dumbbell chest press.  It’s obviously an effective exercise, but do you really need to do 20 sets of 20?

Next to him was a group of kids doing basically the same thing.  We’ve all seen ’em; they hang out in packs, doing more posing and showing off than actual training, and the amount of noise they make is apparently the best indicator of an effective workout.  They had a bench and a pair of dumbbells that was obviously too heavy for any of them, but macho pride meant none of ’em was giving up.  Macho pride also meant that the grunting, swearing, cheering, clapping and general egging on was deafening.  Joy!

And finally, at the “duh” end of the spectrum.  The squat rack is tucked into the very end of our free weights.  There was one guy using it, who looked like he knew what he was doing…until he set up an empty Olympic bar in the rack, and started to do bicep curls with it.  Sigh.  I have no words…


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Beth
    Sep 08, 2009 @ 14:54:19

    Oooh, my PT has had me doing that same push-pull superset on the smith machine. He is also a genius and does biomechanics! Fab!

    You had me literally laughing out loud at the other stuff. Where do they get these ideas???!!! Oh I know – from the guy who does bicep curls by rocking his whole body back and forth without moving his arms ….


  2. Laura
    Sep 12, 2009 @ 22:16:24

    LOL and welcome to my world! Why do so many guys make those dying water-buffalo noises when they do bench press? I swear, the weight room where I work sounds like something from “Animal Planet” on Mondays (unofficial National Chest Day in the US; is it the same in the UK?)

    I wouldn’t call myself a genius at biomechanics, but I do that same superset all the time with clients. It’s one of the few valid uses for a Smith Machine IMO. (When giving tours of the gym I’ve been known to tell people it’s a towel rack :D)


  3. Nancy K
    Sep 13, 2009 @ 07:53:38

    Oh guys, I’m so glad it’s not just our gym with its share of try-hards and show offs! What is WITH the grunting? Either it’s some kind of “look at me, I’m incredibly manly” signal, or it’s a mating call. I don’t know which is worse…

    Laura, love the use of smith machine as towel rack – and an adjustable one too!! 😉


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