I like to consider myself a pretty even keeled guy. Outside of the occasional Tracy Anderson soundbite or random person who drives 20 MPH below the speed limit when I’m on my way to work, there’s not much that really gets my blood boiling. Even when I was a pitcher back in my college days, my mound demeanor was fairly consistent. I wasn’t one to yell at the umpire about balls and strikes, and I tried my best never to show much emotion, figuring it was best to show the other team that I was never rattled.
I remember one game my senior year where I gave up two base hits and a walk to start off the game. My coach, the antithesis of calm and collected, called timeout and stormed out to the mound.
“Tony,” he said, about two inches from my grill and pointing his finger at me, “get your head in the game. You’re acting like you don’t even want to be here” I replied, “I got it coach.”
I ended up pitching a complete game, winning 5-2. Without throwing a temper-tantrum.
So, fast forward to two nights ago when I received the following text message from a friend of mine down in New York City:
Looking at gyms in NYC. One gym is BANNING squat racks. So, the opposite of the predator handshake.
No shit it’s the opposite of the Predator handshake (which, by the way, is the most awesome thing ever). Banning squat racks is a complete and utter FAIL.
Being even termpered my ass: I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to drop kick a puppy more in my life than after reading that message. Really? Banning squat racks? What’s next – banning vegetables from grocery stores?
After a few more text exchanges, my buddy went on to say that he went to join “x” gym chain (name omitted for fear of riots that may ensue, but I’m sure you can figure it out), and neither affiliate he visited in the upper west side had a squat rack. Apparently, according to the fitness managers of said establishments, too many people were getting injured, and that my buddy, assuredly, could garner the same benefit from using a Smith machine instead.
What the what!?!?!?!?!?!
Are they serious?
Firstly, lets just get one thing straight: squats don’t hurt people. What people THINK are squats hurt people.
Secondly, machines are never superior to free weights. Ever.
Thirdly, and most importantly, I’d argue that the Smith machine is more dangerous. The Smith machine locks you into a fixed plane of motion, which develops what is called ‘pattern overload syndrome’. This was coined by Paul Chek and is explained as:
People get a pattern overload from using the Smith machine. The more fixed the object, the more likely you are to develop a pattern overload. This is due to the fact that training in a fixed pathway repetitively loads the same muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints in the same pattern, encouraging micro-trauma that eventually leads to injury. If Johnny Lunchpail always uses a Smith machine for his bench presses, he ends up working the same fibers of the prime movers in the bench press all of the time: triceps brachii, pectoralis major, long-head of the biceps, anterior deltoids, and serratus anterior. But he can’t change the pathway, the bar will always be in the same position. This commonly leads to chronic injury over time. The weight is stabilized for you. However, the joints operate in multiple planes. Use of the Smith machine, greatly decreases stabilizer activity. That creates a problem when the trainee returns to free-weight training. When that happens, the trainee is exposed to the three-dimensional environment called real life.
If squatting in a SQUAT rack (what it’s actually designed for) is so dangerous and too many people are getting injured, why stop there?
Lets ban bench pressing because it can lead to shoulder impingement.
Lets ban pull-up bars because people may lose their grip and fall.
Lets ban deadlifting because we all know that it’s the deadlifts that are hurting people’s backs, and not the fact that they have hip flexors stiffer than a table and have the movement quality of a pregnant hippopotamus.
While we’re at it, lets also ban treadmills because they may lead to shin splints, and step-aerobic classes because we run the risk of people tripping over their pink dumbbells and pulling a groin (not to mention the risk we run of people’s ears bleeding from the cheesy 80’s music).
In fact, lets just get rid of dumbbells altogether because people may drop them on their toes!
In fact, it’s probably best to just shut down every gym in the country because people may actually sweat, and that’s just icky.
Needless to say, whomever they are, the fitness managers of the aforementioned establishments should be ashamed of themselves. I’d be curious to hear everyone eles’s thoughts on this. I have to assume you’re as fired up about it as I am.