Unsolicited Advice

In spite of the hustle, the folks waiting outside my gym every morning at 4:59 am don’t look particularly fit. And though they have the willpower to roust themselves out of bed, their overall training intensity is surprisingly low.

The trickle of members at this hour makes it easy to pick out new faces. One younger, pudgy fellow has become a regular over the last several months. Unfortunately for him, I haven’t seen much improvement.

Occasionally he and I set up for leg day on adjacent squat racks. Once he gets going, I can see immediately one obstacle to his progress. He has simply too much weight on the bar — more than me in fact, and I’ve been trying to perfect this movement for 30 years. He squats down only a quarter of the way, the best he can do under the circumstances.

Any experienced lifter knows that form is always more important than weight. Should I say something?

When I was a beginner, I had only monthly magazine subscriptions and library books to learn from. The gold standard at the time, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding, presented the reader with fitness concepts from the 1960s.

Nowadays, for this guy and everyone else, there is no excuse for bad form. The totality of human squat knowledge exists a few clicks away inside your phone. Heck, I have my own YouTube channel with at least 20 videos about squat technique.

In reality, the fellow next to me is just plain lazy. He lacks the intellectual curiosity to get his form right, and he also won’t push his body. Using an unmanageable weight is one genre of cheating. Lighter weight but more range of motion is more painful (and more effective).

I decided to keep my mouth shut. My advice wasn’t going to make a difference anyway.   

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