One of the things that have come under fire in the last couple of weeks is the case of Kevin Ogar, now infamous for missing a snatch attempt and paralyzing himself from the waist down.
While this is tragic in its result, it is a reminder that athletes and trainees need to learn to respect the weight. Kevin was an experienced lifter, and even though I do not like the often reckless culture of CrossFit, the guy was doing something he had done hundreds of times.
What went wrong, in my eyes, is respect.
I will not be linking to the video, because I don’t want to keep perpetuating the views of a man becoming paralyzed, it just isn’t my style. Instead I will give a small play by play.
Kevin was attempting a snatch on a platform with a weight that he could easily handle. If you don’t know Olympic lifts, even weights you can handle often just miss due to technique or fatigue. In this case, I think it was a combination of both.
The day before Kevin had done some intense work, which 100% is going to effect and inhibits the central nervous system; and due to the level of competition, probably the parasympathetic nervous system as well.
This in itself can lead to a missed rep or two. Nothing to write home about.
What happened when he missed is something that seemed innocuous but was anything but. The organizers and loaders for the competition had left the rubber bumper plates behind the platform. In order to streamline loading, or just in an act of laziness, they left the weights in a dangerous location in the case of a missed lift.
They lost respect for what was going on.
When Kevin Ogar lost the weight, he had the bar rebound back and in his own words, had the bar hit him in the back.
Even if this turns out to be untrue, and Kevin was hurt before the bar landed, this was a negligence and disregard for the severity of injury from weight training.
Every day people enter gyms around the world and decide to place themselves beneath massive amounts of weight, and propel themselves explosively in a variety of directions.
What people fail to realize is that this can be DANGEROUS and injury is LIKELY when you are untrained or are under educated.
From box jumps to Olympic lifts to deadlifting; improper form or over aggressive loading or loss of technique and we can have blown ACLs, gashed shins, broken wrists, torn labrums, bulged disks and more. These things happen when we begin to lose respect for that which we use to temper our bodies and build ourselves up.
When we begin to lose respect for the weight, it tells us we did so, it reminds us of its power
Too often when I am working on mobility with a new client and we are beginning their ascent to fitness, a question of intensity leads people to wondering why I am so committed to proper movement over hard work (at first).
I have respect for the process and respect for the weights.
One of the athletes I work with always wanted to work harder; he wanted more work and faster progress. When we started deadlifting and he was using only the bar, he was curious why we spent so much effort on his technique.
We explained that his technique would eventually be the limiting factor in him being strong. Weakness in his base would lead to plateaus sooner then he would want. We battled (and still do) over how much he can do and when. The other day though he deadlifted 375 lbs for 3 reps with a trap bar, he is 14 years old and weighs about 150/60.
His respect for the weight is there now. He understands what a bad lift could do to him. Why we focus on technique and proper mobility.
Yet we get athletes brutally strong, we want as much strength as possible, yet we always have an eye on performance and injury reduction and maintain our respect for the weight.
I am a speed coach. I am a strength coach. I work with some of the top athletes on Long Island. We teach respect for what we do. We ask for mastery of the basics that will lead to the capability of performing advanced practices when needed. Respect the process and you will gain more.
How does this impact you?
Learn to respect the process you are taking to achieve fitness. Today is not the only day left in your training career if you do things correctly, but it could be if you do things improperly. Respect the weight on the bar, respect its ability to crush you. That respect will keep you honest and allow you to progress and proceed through training with safety and strength.
Respect yourself. Respect your sensibility. Respect results.
Yet above all, always remember to respect the weights