While I was at the “local gym” today, I observed the following:
Two different fathers each with one of their boys…
One of the kids is about 12 years old, and the other was about 14. Both were obvious newbie’s to training with weights. I was glad however, to see boys that age spending time with their fathers. Hoping to see a demonstration in proper training techniques and fitness, I watched both parties closely while I took small breaks between my own training sets. Each father, at different places in the gym talked to their boy’s before starting the “routine.” I was shocked at what I witnessed next. Father “1” as I will call him, very quickly had his son warm up on the plate loaded chest press machine, with a fast set of 10 reps, and no weight. “OK”, I thought “What’s next?” Soon after the father loaded the chest press with 45’s on each side. Not a whole lot of weight for the average gym-goer, but for a 12 year old….? Hmmm. The kid was able to pump out about six half-decent reps, but with bad form. Next, the dad jumped on the machine himself and loaded it up with 3, 45’s on each side. This guy had no warm up, no prep, nothing. I was starting to worry about what he would have his son do next. After he struggled to get his weight up for a set of eight, he took only a 45 off each side and pointed to his son. “WHAT?”, “You have to be kidding me,” I thought. Sure enough, this 110 pound 12-year-old jumps on the machine and with everything he has pumps out 3 horrible looking reps, arching his back, kicking his legs, and distorting his arms to finish the job. When he was done, his dad gave a very quick nod to his son, and started loading the machine back up for himself.
Father “2” meanwhile was in the middle of his “benching” session (shocking, it wasn’t even Monday) while his son watched him. Soon after I watched father “2” approach the biggest guy in the gym for some advice. I actually paused my IPOD just so I could try to listen to this exchange. As I strained to listen, I caught the dad asking the big guy (6’3”, 260 lbs easy) the best way to get his 14 year-old son’s bench up. (I think I laughed out loud.) Needless to say, the big guy proudly started telling the kid how to progress on his benching routine and finished up by saying that he would rep out with 225 before he knew it. The kid after hearing this “sage advice” found the nearest empty bench and loaded it up to 185. After getting the very first rep stuck on his chest, he approached his dad and the “big guy” for more advice to what could have gone wrong. By now, I was locked in watching, like a bad reality TV show. I turned and finished my set hoping it would go away.
As I turned to catch my breath, I spied father “1” and his 12-year-old son approaching the smith machine with all the determination of an angry bull in their eyes. “Oh boy” I thought, “this should be good.” I watched closely as dad quickly explained something to his boy. Immediately after, he loaded up the bar with about 150 lbs and started reps of upright rows. His son followed dad’s lead and left about 100 on the bar and was able to rep out about 3 horrible semi-reps again. Back to my set.
I was clearing my bar and ready to move away from all of this when I turned to see Father “2” and his boy still benching. It has been at least 30 minutes and they were both on the bench still. Even more shocking, the big guy has now stopped his routine and become the coach of this 14-year-old boy. (he didn’t even have to show his credentials…after all, he was ‘big’.) Dispensing some more advice to the boy, the son puts 185 back on the bar! No, he did not move the bar from his chest without help, but he was able to lower it, for what its worth. Dad was proud…I could see it in his eyes. Time for me to move to the other side of the gym
After I find the pull up bar on the other side of the gym, I rep out about 10 chin-ups. Taking another break, I notice father “1” now on the same side of the gym as I am with his “wonder boy.” (I thought I turned this show off?) Sure enough I witness dad-of-the-year loading up the leg extension machine for his boy. He proceeds to tell his son something and then watches the son strain to rep out some very bad leg extensions. Shaking my head, I go back to work. About 15 minutes later, I am changed and ready to leave the gym for the day. A quick hour long Sunday session and I am feeling good. Before I leave, I decide to see what father “2” and son are up to. As I glance around to find them, I see them in the same place I noticed them about 50 minutes ago…on the bench. Dad is doing inclines and his son is right by his side trying to do barbell incline movements with a huge amount of weight on the bar.
It’s no wonder why so many “lifters” out there are injured. It’s no wonder why so many people think that the bench press is the only way to go when you start a workout. It’s no wonder why it takes me a week or more of constant “education” to clear the dogma that exists with young lifters. It’s no wonder why the toughest people to train are the middle age fathers who really believe they know what is best because they get their training education from FLEX magazine. I am sure that I can predict the training future of both of these boys if they don’t get “help” soon. I am sure it will probably not be good. My hope is that someone (anyone) will help to educate both boys. I hope more so that it doesn’t come from the biggest guy in the gym just because he is big.
So the cycle continues…