It doesn't matter if you're a beginner to weight lifting or a seasoned veteran. Weight lifting accidents happen. You just need to make sure you're not one of the people having one of those accidents.
Many times, it's the seasoned veterans that have the weight lifting accidents because we become unaware of dangerous situations. We become comfortable lifting weights. We don't pay as much attention to certain situations. Beginners tend to be more cautious.
This is a subject you don't ever get much information on OR at least something I've never written about before.
I started thinking about topics that everyone needs to know about weight lifting, and I thought of weight lifting accidents because it's something I consciously try to avoid EVERY time I lift weights.
I'm happy to say I've never had a bad accident when lifting weights, but I've had safety in my head for many years due to several different jobs I've had in the past. Plus, I always think of keeping my kids safe and what might happen if they're outside or playing in the house.
It's good to always think about what might happen. I always try to stay away from dangerous situations that cause accidents. If you start thinking this way, your weight lifting workouts will be much safer.
Let's get to all the different weight lifting accidents and the advice I have for you today.
Always Use Weight Collars on Barbells and Adjustable Dumbbells
You MUST use weight collars at all times. If you've been lifting weights for a while, you most likely have become a little lazy at putting the weight collars on the barbell.
Please don't become lazy with the weight collars.
For example, if you're squatting with heavy weights… you might place all the weight on the barbell and then forget about the collars to ensure the weight stays on the barbell. Or you might never secure the weights on the barbell when bench pressing.
If you get a little off balance (which can happen often), one side of the barbell becomes lower than the other and the weights start to slide off one side of the barbell. This is a VERY dangerous weight lifting accident.
Once the weights slide off one end of the barbell, the other side of the barbell with the weights will go crashing down because you're not quick enough to adjust to the unbalanced weight.
The light side of the barbell will go flying into the air and could possibly come crashing down on you OR hit someone else. This is dangerous because the barbell is 45 pounds! If you've ever dropped 45 pounds from just a few feet, you'll know that it comes down hard.
You could break a bone, hurt your head, hurt others, etc.
A Close Call I Had With Adjustable Dumbbell Screw On Weight Collars
I had a cheaper pair of adjustable dumbbells that I had pretty much outgrown. The collars to hold the weights at the end were screw on collars. I had packed the dumbbell bars full of 10 pound plates so much that the collars were barely screwed on at the ends.
I made sure they were locked on good, BUT as you lift the collars may move slightly. I was doing incline dumbbell bench press at the time, and just as I was finished and sitting the dumbbells down the weight collar on one end of the dumbbell came loose.
That was a close call. Just imagine bench pressing with heavy dumbbells above your head and the collars coming loose. There comes the dumbbell weight plates right down on your head, chest, neck, and arms. Wow. I was lucky that day.
Please remember this and don't let this happen to you.
Backing Out of a Rack With Heavy Weights
If you are doing squats, barbell lunges, or overhead press you will unrack the weight and take a step or two backwards. Moving backwards with heavy weight is always dangerous.
A very bad weight lifting accident could occur if you don't make sure the area is clear and will stay clear as you back up with the heavy weights.
An example might be a busy and packed commercial gym with an open squat rack (not a closed power rack). You might back up when someone is walking past and the weight might come crashing down. Not good.
You need to make sure nothing is behind you that could trip you up.
For example, I sometimes use squat boxes for step ups and box squats. One time I left the boxes behind me and forgot. I almost had a bad accident that day but was lucky once again.
Please be safe and keep all the areas clear where you're lifting weights.
It's very important to keep your home gym very clean and organized. Don't throw weight plates around and leave them all over the floor. You can easily trip over them when lifting weights or when just walking through.
After a heavy set of weights, you can sometimes become light headed. You don't want to make the wrong step and fall over weight lifting equipment that you've left laying around.
Keep it clean and organized. You'll feel better about working out as well if you've got a nice and clean gym. Use weight holders in your home gym and always take the weight plates back when you're finished with them.
Dropping Heavy Dumbbells or Weight Plates
Don't try to carry too many weight plates at one time. I've done this in the past and have dropped a plate or two on the floor.
It won't take much weight to break your foot. If you drop a heavy weight plate on your foot, you could crush your bones to pieces and never recover.
If you've just done a heavy set with dumbbells and you're trying to not drop them before you get back to the dumbbell rack, just go ahead and set them down. I've done this before as well and have almost dropped the dumbbells due to my grip giving out before I made it back to the rack.
Let your grip rest a few seconds, pick them up, and take them back. It's okay to be delayed a few seconds versus breaking your foot.
Make Sure You Have a Good Grip On the Bar
If you're doing an exercise like reverse grip bench press, you can easily lose the weights if not gripped properly. Make sure you have the bar gripped properly BEFORE unracking the weight.
If you like to use a suicide grip on the bar (not closing your fingers around the bar), you can easily lose the barbell. Imagine the bar slipping forward out of your hands while bench pressing. This would be a very bad weight lifting accident!
Use weight lifting gloves that grip the bar very well.
Let's say you've strapped 100 pounds around your waist with a hip belt and you start doing chin ups with your legs crossed. What if your grip slips or fails and you go crashing down on your knees? This would hurt very bad and possibly damage your knees greatly.
No matter what exercise you're doing, make sure you have a good and stable grip on the bar.
If you're using any home made equipment or unconventional weight lifting equipment, please make sure the area where you're gripping the weight is not slippery. Always be careful and think ahead. Don't use the equipment if you're at risk.
Don't Trust a Spotter
If you're accustomed to using a spotter when bench pressing or during other weight lifting exercises, you should NEVER trust that spotter with your life.
If the spotter is a stranger, you definitely should not trust them!
Let's say you are getting ready for a heavy set of bench press and you have a spotter helping you for safety reasons. You expect the spotter to help you unrack the weight. As you're unracking you relax a little because you know the spotter is helping you.
The spotter relaxes too because he/she thinks you've got it now.
The weight comes crashing down on your chest! This could really, really hurt you bad. This would be a horrible accident.
Please don't trust a spotter. Act as if you don't have a spotter at all times. The spotter is there for backup only. Don't lift more than what you can handle on your own.
I have never used a spotter, and I have done just fine during all of my workouts. Use power rack safety bars and other safety features of your weight lifting equipment at all times.
If you decide to ignore safety, you'll have to be lucky to avoid a serious weight lifting accident.
Losing Balance With the Push Press or Other Explosive Movements
If you're really trying to press some heavy weight over your head, you might be using the push press exercise.
If you know how to overhead press correctly, you'll know the barbell does travel over and even behind your head.
If you get a little too heavy with the weights and start cheating too much, you could press the weight too far behind your head and you could lose the weight.
The weight will come crashing down behind your head, and then who knows what might happen. You'll probably fall backwards and you'll be lucky if the weight doesn't come crashing down around you.
You've got to be very careful when using any explosive movements or exercises that require great balance like the overhead squat.
If you've never tried an overhead squat before, you BETTER start out with light weights. You can lose your balance very easy, and an accident will be right behind.
Pre-Workout Warm Ups and Specific Exercise Warm Ups
You can definitely have all types of weight lifting accidents from tendons giving out, muscles tearing, and more.
If you don't take the time to warm-up properly, you're adding more risk of a weight lifting accident! Did you know that eating healthy foods also decreases your chance of serious injury? Make sure you're eating well at all times throughout the day when you're working out with weights.
I've tried to take shortcuts when warming up, and all I got were strained muscles. My left arm was blue one time a couple days after a workout, and I never felt one thing during the actual workout. I do remember skipping a few specific exercise warm-ups that day and lifting really heavy. It wasn't a serious injury but it could have been.
Don't make the same mistakes I have made.
You should do everything you can to avoid every weight lifting accident possible. You won't be able to make continuous progress with building muscle and strength if you're injured from an accident OR from not warming up properly.
Don't Believe Me? Watch This!
You might think some of the above that I've talked about might not be possible. Watch this video:
Now do you see why you should always pay attention to what you're doing? You can become seriously injured when lifting weights carelessly.
You might feel safe because others are helping you or spotting you during your workouts. If you watched the video above, you'll see why you aren't safe.
Always choose weights that you can handle on your own without any assistance!
Can You Think Of Any Other Weight Lifting Accidents?
I know I haven't covered even close to all the possibilities of weight lifting accidents.
If you want to add to this page, please leave comments below.
You've probably had some weight lifting accidents yourself or have witnessed others having them. The more information we can get out there, the more people can avoid these situations.
Good luck and be safe out there.