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Old 12-13-2011, 12:06 PM   #1
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Gruesome Tales from the Garage

T NATION | Gruesome Tales from the Garage

Quote:
Spine Crusher Ken

The first story takes place six or seven years ago in my old two-car garage gym. I was training with two friends who were fairly accomplished powerlifters, along with a former Olympic female cyclist who was making the transition to powerlifting. She was a very experienced athlete and an incredibly strong woman, but was in no way prepared for what occurred that day.

My training partner Ken was a 198-pound Master's lifter who had been competing at a high level in powerlifting since the 1980s. Even though he was in his mid forties, he was still getting stronger and moving the biggest weights of his life.

We were squatting that day and Ken had worked up to around 700 pounds which for a 198-pound Master's lifter was impressive. He wanted to go for a 715-pound PR, but I knew he had more in him. I got in his head and pushed him to take 735, which of course he did.

Ken's 735-pound attempt started out fine, but as he started his descent he felt a crushing sensation in his spine just below where the barbell rested on his back. He let out an excruciating groan, but somehow managed to lean forward enough to get the barbell back into the racks before crumpling to the gym floor in a sweaty heap.

We were speechless. Ken lay motionless under the rack for what seemed like an eternity before his upper back suddenly went into a violent spasm. "I crushed my spine!" he screamed, "You need to call 911!"

I snapped back to attention. I asked Ken to move his arms and legs to ensure he wasn't paralyzed. He was able to do so. A wave of relief washed over me and although Ken was still in crippling pain, I was able to relax.

Now here's a point you have to consider: because none of us are right in the head by any standard, we view injuries, even severe ones, as part of the game and as a source of amusement.

This mentality is almost a prerequisite to being a successful powerlifter or strong man. The things that freak out most sane individuals we find hilarious. It's borderline crazy, but you have to be a bit crazy to willingly subject your body to the type of abuse that the sport requires on a daily basis to achieve a high level of success.

So Ken's lying on the floor moaning and unable to move, and my other training partner Chad and I burst out laughing. I hand the Olympic cyclist my cell phone and tell her to call 911. Her eyes are wide and she has this look of utter disbelief on her face. She then slowly backs into the corner of the gym and dials the phone.

Now that Ken has figured out that he's not paralyzed, his main concern switches to getting his new squat suit off before the paramedics arrive so they won't cut it off and ruin the suit.

In between stifled giggles and all out laughter, Chad and I drag Ken over to the bench and bend him over it face down while we attempt to extricate him from the suit without causing him too much agony in the process.

What made this surreal scene a memorable one was that it happened on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the middle of summer. We had the garage door wide open and my driveway faced my neighbors' houses.

I can only imagine what the neighbors thought as two bigger guys (Chad is 6'2" and weighs over 300 pounds) seemingly pinned a smaller, moaning guy face down and stripped him of his clothes.

By the time the paramedics arrived we'd successfully removed Ken's squat suit and briefs. As they put a neck brace on him and strapped him to a backboard, I grabbed my video camera and started filming the scene with Chad and I laughing in the background.

At one point one of the paramedics looked at me with a confused expression and asked, "You're not filming this are you?"

"Of course not, I'd never do that," I responded, but continued to film everything without missing a beat.

Once Ken had been successfully loaded into the ambulance, Chad and I returned to squatting. Throughout this entire ordeal our Olympic cyclist friend remained in the corner and never uttered another word. She never returned to train with us again.

As for Ken, he did indeed suffer a compression fracture of the thoracic vertebrae (or crushed spine as he eloquently put it). However he would return to training a few months later and went on to squat even bigger weights.
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Old 12-13-2011, 12:25 PM   #2
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Old 12-13-2011, 12:45 PM   #3
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Great story. Stuff like that scares me, but scares me into trying to get strong enough to hold my body together under weight like that instead of scaring me out of the sport.
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Old 12-13-2011, 12:48 PM   #4
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Dangerous sport, but considering the alternative, a healthy choice.

So many guys my age have bad backs, knees, whatever. Strength has always served me well.
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Old 12-13-2011, 01:04 PM   #5
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That is how this game is played. Just how it goes. I still get ripped for almost dumping my bench attempt on my face. You have to have a screw lose to be good at a strength sport.
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Old 12-13-2011, 01:08 PM   #6
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You have to have a screw lose to be good at a strength sport.
I agree. It's not for everyone.

Squats scare the crud out of me. I have to think about handling the dumping of a rep almost more than form.
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Old 12-13-2011, 01:21 PM   #7
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I love the fact that he didnt want to mess up his new gear haha!
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Old 12-13-2011, 06:01 PM   #8
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I do not fear squats as long as I have the pins set properly in the cage. Deadlifts on the other hand scare the crap out of me. I'm always afraid that my three bad discs are going to fly out of my spine or my displaced nerves are going to leave me paralyzed for life. Probably why I suck so bad at deadlifts.
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Old 12-15-2011, 07:14 AM   #9
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Stripping a moaning guy face down hilarious...but it's true, we look at injuries in a different way. (not that I want any)
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Old 12-15-2011, 08:45 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Off Road View Post
I do not fear squats as long as I have the pins set properly in the cage. Deadlifts on the other hand scare the crap out of me. I'm always afraid that my three bad discs are going to fly out of my spine or my displaced nerves are going to leave me paralyzed for life. Probably why I suck so bad at deadlifts.
This is my world too. Though I have been challenging the weight lately by squatting outside of the rack. That will be stopping, as weights are moving up.
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