You never want to be the guy who gets the attention of everyone in the gym for failing, but sometimes it’s just how the cookie crumbles.
In this case, this guy crumbled under too much weight while doing a back squat on the Smith machine.
As it happens, this is a fairly common mistake. Lots of guys think that Smith machines are inherently safer than a free squat rack, because the Smith machine tracks your movement and seems to give you the option of racking the bar at a lower height.
Clearly, that’s not always the case:
god: “i’ll never give more than you can handle.”
god: “lol my bad.”
— 6eige (@AntVersusAnt) June 21, 2017
Instead of helping this guy out, the Smith machine actually dooms him to a fate of choking himself out with his own right knee (and then suffering what we can only imagine is pretty terrible low back pain), simply because the machine locks the 315-lb barbell horizontally.
Typically, the best way to escape from a squat you can’t quite manage is to simply let the bar roll off your back and fall to the ground behind you—no harm, no foul. And sure, gyms typically frown on dumping the weight, especially because it can potentially damage the barbell and/or the plates. Given the choice between (at worst) a fine and the structural integrity of your thoracic spine, we know what we’d pick. But this guy doesn’t have that option, because he’s using a Smith rack.
Also: If you haven’t already weaned yourself off using a neck pad on the bar, start now. A neck pad introduces instability to the lift and makes controlling the weight more difficult—and that’s the last thing you need when you’re going for a personal-best back squat.
Want to improve your squat and get your technique in order? Try these tips, programs, and moves from Men’s Fitness, and bounce back stronger: