Never cross, step on or even approach too closely a loaded bar

The bar is a sacred object for the lifter. No, I’m not taking poetic license here: sacred means that something is connected to something transcendent. The loaded bar a lifter is ready to lift is sacred to the bone.

Be especially watchful with the deadlift bar. It’s on the ground, you might (if you are not a lifter) miss it and when you are too close, you commit the mortal sin: you step over it.

The reaction the bar-crosser will face is unpredictable. It can go from silent anger to outbursts of outrage. I’ve been told of a warmup area in a World Olympic lifting championship where the lifter grabbed the bar-crosser by the arm and made him uncross the bar. Why? I don’t know… It was so shocking to him that he wanted to undo the horror. And yes, he made the man uncross the bar with violence.

Of course I had my share of bar-crossers. Lifting in an ordinary gym has this danger: you need to place your deadlift bar as close to the wall as possible to avoid this possibility. I remember once I was at the training platform (also sacred ground) and a man deliberately crossed my bar several times. That was back in the backlands. Later someone told me he was into black magic stuff. Imagine that…

And there are always the clueless members who manage to do it, in spite of all your protective measures. Once I just picked up my stuff and left the gym. Depending on when it happens, it can totally destroy your training session.

The only person who can cross, uncross and handle the bar is the lifter and/or whoever he authorizes. Usually his coach or training partner.

This picture is the end of a especially intense training session. A friend picked up the moment on his cell phone.

Lifters have rituals because rituals are part of cultures. Powerlifting is more than the act of lifting loaded bars. It defines a culture. People who participate in it will share different levels of commitment, but sooner or later they will develop their own rituals. Some are very personal, others are collective.

The sacredness of the loaded bar is not negotiable.


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