Safety Statment.

Insanity: repeating the same mistakes others made before you and expecting life to not kick you in the ass.

-Andrew Robb

Don’t do stupid shit. Just don’t.

Look, there’s crazy and then there’s stupid. I am, for the most part, not stupid. (my wife might disagree, especially when the subject is footwear or nasal irrigation but not on safety.)

If you’ve been sitting on the couch for the last 10 years, see a doctor before grabbing a couple of tires and pressing them overhead. Consider losing some weight and walking or running for a few months before you try a Tabata. Spend a few months doing body weight and dumbbell exercises before you grab a bar and try to press 225. It’s just common sense that you have to build up to this stuff.

The truth is there are no secrets when it comes to fitness. If you want to lose weight you have to exercise more and eat less. If you want to get stronger you need to pick up progressively heavier things over and over again. Getting in shape takes time and work. Don’t be stupid and try to push too far to fast. You’ll just get hurt.

Of course, so very few people will listen, they’ve been sold snake oil for too long by fitness mags, gyms, and late night infomercials. You don’t need results to sell a product, you just need slightly less outrageous claims. Compared to the idiots hawking things like the shake weight, you’ll sound perfectly reasonable and legit. Most people believe that six weeks of working with some kind of super secret program sold on late night TV will make them advanced enough to train like an Olympian. The painful truth is, if you’re not an advanced lifter, you shouldn’t train like one. How do you know if you’re advanced? THIS should shed some light on the subject.

Equipment safety is something I don’t think I should have to talk about, but I will.

I make my own stuff. How safe is it?

Reasonably safe*. Number one, I’ve got a general idea of how to put wood together in a manner that will support a human body. How did I develop this skill? Experience. I’ve been doing it for a while, building sheds, pickinick tables and the like. Number two, I have a pretty decent mechanical back ground. Starting with rebuilding lawn mowers in high school, going straight through years of owning 100,000 mile daily drivers and ending with my current job as a jet engine mechanic. These things aren’t necessary, but they do help me determine if something will function well or fail miserably.

Plus, I’m not stupid. If something is gong to hold my weight plus whatever I’m going to be working out with, I test it before I start blasting out reps on it. Usually by stacking sandbags on it. If It’s going to suspend me off the ground, I put some padding down the first few times. And I over build the hell out of everything.

Speaking of equipment, the biggest safety tool I have is a power rack. It has two heavy duty catch bars that keep a dropped bar from falling on me. If you don’t have a power rack, you NEED a spotter. Especially for bench press and back squats. DON’T be stupid and workout without one or the other.

Why shouldn’t I have to discuss equipment safety? Because we’re obsessed with safety at the moment. The way we go all OCD on playground equipment and poorly lighted stairways it should be the first thing we consider when looking at a piece of equipment. Alas, it won’t be. Eventually, some teenager is going to build a version of my redneck suspension trainer and his parents will react as if I told him to attach it to the top of the chimney and lay down rusty nails and kitchen knives as motivation to not fall off the roof. The stupid part is, after they trash all the kid’s hard work, they’ll probably text while driving the kid to the local sporting goods store to drop $250 on a TRX.

I built that thing and every piece of hardware on it will be rated to hold more than %250 of my body weight. I still use it weekly. It was a crazy idea, but not stupid.

I don’t understand our safety obsessed culture. I’ve long felt that taking smaller risks, such as balancing on top of the jungle gym, leads to a better understanding of what you can and can not do. Meaning that when it comes time to decide to jump off the roof with a friend on your back, you might reconsider.  But I can’t stop what the news reports on to garner ratings off of parental fears. I can’t stop people from filing stupid law suits for not understanding that coffee is hot, wet floors are slippery and that it’s a bad idea to drive like a moron around big trucks. No, not all accidents are the victim’s fault, but some are and when those people sue and win damages, I die a little inside.

Here’s my safety advice. If you go to buy a piece of equipment. Look it over for cracked welds, loose fasteners and damage. If you find anything, DON”T buy it, let alone use it. You don’t need it that bad. If you build something. Test it first and make sure there are people around when you do. Especially if it supports or suspends your body. At the least, put a mattress down or use it on a soft surface (carpet doesn’t count, I’m talking gym mats, pillows, deep sand or pea gravel, etc.) first. Any time you have the urge to try something new with it, wait five minutes, if it still sounds like a good idea then proceed with due caution.

Don’t waste years of training on a bad decision. Don’t destroy potential by pushing to hard. Be safe people.

*Reasonably safe is defined as not very likely to kill you due to catastrophic failure. Nothing I’ve built has failed yet, so I can’t give you a percentage. There are risks in using any piece of equipment, the only difference with home-made equipment is that you have no one to sue if you wind up paralyzed. It’s at your own risk, you should decide if the risk is worth it, not me.


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