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Default How to Properly Miss With a Barbell
by BendtheBar 01-14-2012, 09:06 AM

How to Properly Miss With a Barbell
by Mike Burgener, C.S.C.S. (1991)


It has been my experience that most high school coaches choose not to teach Olympic lifting movements, as well as other quick-lifting movements such as the power snatch, power clean, clean & jerk, push press, push jerk and Olympic squats because of safety considerations. If coaches do not believe that Olympic lifting movements can be taught in a safe and efficient manner, then the coach should not teach these movements to his students. I have found that kids make safety mistakes on the lifts due to misunderstanding of the the lifts or the lack of teaching by the instructor.

Teaching students to miss correctly is critical in the safety aspects of a weightroom and should be included in the lesson plans of all instructors. As an example, a student in a Northern California school district was performing the Olympic squat inside a power rack. A spotter was used, the pins in the rack were at the appropriate level, and experienced supervision was abundant in the weightroom. As the student was rising out of the squat, he realized the weight was too heavy. The bar rolled over his head as he rounded his torso, while he grabbed the pins in the rack for added support. The bar came down on the athlete's hand, severing four fingers. Everything was basically correct, spotters were used, collars were used and supervision was taking place. The problem with this situation was that the student was a victim of lack of teaching. Lack of teaching of what to do in case of missing with a weight.

Too much emphasis is placed on the responsibility of spotters. I believe that spotters are necessary, but, more instruction is needed. I have actually seen lifters let go of a bar while bench pressing for a personal record. The spotter is left trying to hold the bar in an upright row fashion while it comes crashing down on the lifter. The spotter feels badly, but the fault is the lifter's as well as the instructor who fails to teach his students never to release their grip on the bar until the bar is properly seated in the rack of the bench.

In the case of squats we use personal spotters. We use pins in the rack placed at the appropriate height allowing for a proper depth squat. We teach kids how to bail out with the weight when they see that they are going to miss. We teach them to never under any circumstances release the bar and grab anything else. We teach them to roll the bar off their backs, not over their heads, stepping forward and allowing the bar to come down on the pins in the rack. We don't just tell them how to perform this move -- we demonstrate this technique to them. They hear the bar hitting the rack pins, they see that it's okay to drop the bar, or bail out as we call it (Photo 1)

All the overhead movements face the same type of instruction and demonstration of how to safely miss with the weight. On many occasions, when I have seen kids miss with a jerk, the bar is either too far out in front or too far to the back. The student doesn't know what to do with the bar. He tries to save the weight, refusing to let go of the bar, and rides it down, getting pinned under the weight. Our philosophy is never, never save a weight. We demonstrate how to let the bar go back over the head while stepping forward when the weight is too far back and we are going to miss the lift (Photo 2). We demonstrate how to miss with the weight when the bar is too far forward. This technique seems to be natural, but, we still demonstrate missing the weight to the front and stepping back (Photo 3).

Needless to say, demonstrating to lifting students the dropping of weights as they come crashing down from a seven-foot height to a platform can be a hair-raising experience. the bars hit hard, sound loud and scare the students.

Our philosophy is that barbells, platforms and bumper plates can all be replaced.

Bodies cannot.
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:45 AM   #2
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Good read and important info.
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Old 01-14-2012, 12:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
We teach kids how to bail out with the weight when they see that they are going to miss.
This is often neglected by seasoned lifters. I don't think there is a heavy set I do that I don't run through how to dump it if need be.
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Old 01-14-2012, 12:13 PM   #4
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I used to practice leaving lifts on the pins. If I fail a squat or bench, I can lower it slowly to the pins. If I have to bail, I'll throw it the opposite direction of my head. Seated Press scares me the most, my head becomes a target.

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Old 01-14-2012, 12:25 PM   #5
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Seated press intimidates me as well. I have the pins real high so if I do fail horribly I can move it forward a bit and have some control.
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Old 01-14-2012, 01:09 PM   #6
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KBs have a similar issue, when they're headed overhead via a push press or a jerk, they may not get to their final lockout point and anywhere between the time of initiating the movement and the projected lockout, the KB can and very often does have a tendency to rotate around the wrist and end up between the forearm and the front of the body...so you really have to keep your mind on the lift, at all times, and know what to do when the thing comes crashing down at a weird angle.

It can't guarantee no injuries but it certainly lessens the probability of one.



Gyms or at least Fitness Centres, these days, though, seem to have a different ideal; they prefer to protect their weights and equipment and not have people drop things in the case of imminent danger to the person. If I ever need to drop the weightload, though, I will, whether the gym/fitness centre approves or not.
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Old 01-14-2012, 02:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BendtheBar View Post
This is often neglected by seasoned lifters. I don't think there is a heavy set I do that I don't run through how to dump it if need be.
I had that today with the squat. I knew the safety bar was but a couple of inches below my bottom point so I was easily able to quit the rep without getting hurt.
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Old 01-14-2012, 02:51 PM   #8
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Certainly something I should put more thought into, especially pushing closer to maxes.
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Old 04-24-2012, 05:34 PM   #9
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When I started doing snatches, I purposely "lost" some of the light practice ones backward and hopped forward to get out of the way. I thank Tommy Kono for that advice as he wrote that any serious training regimen must have an escape plan for a lift that goes bad. Practice dropping a few and you will always know what to do.

No panic, just preservation. I still think about that, as BtB mentions, when I'm going heavy in anything.

And as OR mentions, sometimes the exercise has it's own limitations. This is why I ditched Decline Bench pretty early on. No way I'm trusting some spotter to keep a bar off my throat!

Great article.
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