The co-owner of the Iron Pit gym in Bloomington watched the Instagram video montage posted by ESPN’s SportsCenter with amusement and just a little disdain.
“Nothing like that will ever happen here,” Matt Andrews said firmly as footage of dangerous weightlifting stunts, mostly performed by young adult men, flashed across the screen.
Guys holding weights while standing on round weights tilted on their edges, kettle bells and a deadlift bar. Another man walking while carrying a bar full of weights and with someone on his back. It goes on and it’s hardly alone.
“At best, stuff like this leads to a feeling of inadequacy in the general public and fear of going to the gym (because) I can’t do that,” said Wil Fleming, weightlifting coach of Bloomington and Northern Graduate, who works with local athletes as well as some of the world’s best weightlifters, like Mary Theisen-Lappen.
“At worst, it leads to injury. There’s a guy balancing on a kettle bell. What’s your rescue plan on this? It’s a broken ankle, a broken femur, whatever. This stuff is detrimental to the general public in terms of deception. »
In another video on the SportsCenter stream, a young man holds a barbell with a single thin gray weight on each end and does a backflip while holding on to the bar. Fleming’s trained eye spots a barbell that probably only weighs five pounds, not the usual 45, and the weights don’t exceed 10 pounds either.
Other stunts he sees thick weights on bars that are actually foam. He knows this because he has a side stack, used when working with younger or newer lifters on good form. But most people won’t notice either, giving the figurative stunt more weight than it perhaps deserves.
“Who’s going to stop and think how much it costs?” says Fleming, as the weights clang and rattle around him while being used in the usual way. “Most of this stuff is for impressions and likes, not for training. And almost guaranteed someone takes a walk in the gym, that’s not how they train. probably the result and they did it by chance and did it on the 20th take.
“The work they did was probably simple, things anyone can do in the gym. Like pull-ups and squats, pretty normal stuff and they got good at those and it gave them the ability to do circus tricks in the gym.
It goes on and on as the anonymous search for a sliver of fame and apps like Instagram and TikTok make it easy. All it takes is a big name account with someone tasked with scouring social media for outlandish posts to find their latest video dropper.
Some of the videos are just supposed feats of force that could result in serious injury. One shows a man grabbing seven of what appear to be 25-pound weights from one side of a barbell at a time, then spinning them and dropping them to the floor.
Then there are videos where a degree of difficulty is added to a normal lift, like the one with a guy doing a 600-pound no-hand squat. For what reason, Fleming does not understand.
Not stupid enough? How about a guy who grabs a 100-pound dumbbell, then stands on it, turns sideways, and does a one-legged squat before jumping (or falling).
“A barbell back squat, which is a really good move, helps you get stronger, helps you build muscle mass, all kinds of good things,” Fleming said. “And someone decided to stand on one of these big exercise balls and do it and film it and a million views later people were like, ‘Well, that’s maybe a good idea.
“Truly, it took something really good and threw away all the benefits and made it risky. I can’t even imagine doing it.
Nothing wrong with staying traditional. (i.e. do not deadlift with Legos under bare feet).
“When you’re evaluating an exercise, what’s the benefit to you and what’s the risk to you?” said Fleming. “In many cases, the benefits of physical activity and stronger muscles, greater muscle mass and denser bones are a benefit that far outweighs any risk, such as losing one weight over your toe or a bit bad shape.
“With this stuff, there is no advantage. So squatting without hands, you gain nothing, but you risk more. It’s a simple equation.
keep it safe
Speaking of math, chances are most weight rooms and gyms don’t condone or allow such risky behavior.
“Fortunately, in a lot of good gyms with good strength coaches, local high schools run a pretty tight ship,” Fleming said. “But it’s when the cat isn’t around that the mice will play. Or it is the children who set up a gym at home who do it.
“A lot of it is just a matter of education. This is not real training. They are influencers, with air quotes around them. Are you an athlete or just someone trying to prepare to run a 5k or do a triathlon, or lose 20 lbs. These things are of no use to you. I hope education and good trainers and personal trainers can put everything together for people.
And there are responsible social media accounts that offer the right way to lift weights.
Fleming lists Eric Cressey and Jason and Lauren Pak as two good examples.
Start (in a good way)
The thought of getting into weightlifting can be daunting.
“I even train lifters who are incredibly strong and have American records, and it’s taken them a long time to get there,” Fleming said.
It starts with finding someone who can demonstrate the correct technique. It could be a certified coach or trainer, maybe even a family member, friend, or former high school or college athlete who is an experienced weight lifter.
“Ask them to teach you how to use dumbbells, dumbbells, whatever is readily available at almost any gym,” Fleming said. “Not necessarily the machines because some of them are unique to certain gyms.”
That said, machines can be an easy way to help people lift things. But free weights will provide a better workout because of the stabilization they need, which translates into a core workout.
A place like Iron Pit can be a place to find coaches no matter what lifting level an athlete is, from professional bodybuilders and powerlifters to weekend warriors.
“Training to lose weight and training to lift as much weight as possible are very different,” Fleming said.
He suggests that one core set of exercises, which train the legs, midsection, forward and backward thrust, done consistently, is more important than trying to do dozens of different lifts. And yes, a little pain is part of it until the body gets more used to the job.
For children as young as 11 or 12 or adults in their 60s or 60s, the right coaching is important in determining what is best for each individual. As with any sport, the fundamentals are key, so start with light weights, develop good technique, and then keep adding weights a little at a time.
Even if it doesn’t bring in thousands of views on social media.
“The simplest coaching idea I’ve ever used,” Fleming said, is, “Let’s put less weight on it, because I know you can do it better that way.”