I have always been a “loner lifter.” I was never much for gyms where people want to talk more than train, waiting in lines to get in the place and when you get in waiting in more lines to get the the equipment you want to use. This all happens while constantly being assaulted by bad music that is absolutely inescapable. I've had the privilege of training at a few truly great gyms but by and large it's a hard thing to come by! Even if you were so fortunate to find a truly great gym, then you have to deal with contracts, rate plans and their hours of operation which may or may not work depending on your lifestyle.

I figured out pretty quickly that the best gym you'll ever train at is the one YOU build.

Now, if you're serious enough to build your own gym from scratch, you're probably not the type to do a couple of sets of 10 just for the pump. You probably like to go a little heavy. More than likely, you like to go a little bit more than a little heavy. If you're a powerlifter like me, you're TOTALLY nuts. You're gonna need a free spotter.

I'd bought the barbell free spotter some years ago and it quickly became an absolutely essential piece of my basement gym. I cannot even count how many times it's saved me from being crushed!

I know a lot of folks like to put the guards in their power rack at a certain level to protect them and that in some cases can work out well enough. However, more than likely the guards are a little bit too high potentially causing the lifter to cheat the movement, or a little bit too low meaning that to at least some extent, there's a chance the lifter will end up at least partially pinned to the bench. Moreover, nobody is going to go for that last rep if they are aware that there is a possibility that they could end up tattooed to the bench. Ever been there? Not fun. More than that, it's dangerous. You should do everything possible to protect your safety. That can't be underlined enough!

My other obsession besides weight training is martial arts, boxing, and basically whatever combat sport I could get my hands on. Lots of pad work, and lots of heavy bag rounds. I'd made the mistake of skipping the warm up a lot of times on bench day and having a few sloppy punches thrown that I wish I could have rewound time and took back.

One day my shoulder had just about had enough of me abusing it and I woke up the next day in a great deal of pain. My shoulder had major problems.

Right or wrong, I personally have always been in favor of working around injuries rather than abstaining from training. The real problem is that I am a knucklehead. Other than lighten the load and pay more attention to the warm-up, I did nothing for my damaged shoulder. I grit my teeth through each and every single set. The pain started even before the first rep. Merely holding it out at arms length told me that I was really in for it. But I continued all the same. If my shoulder could talk, it'd have yelled every swear word at me from A-Z.

After eight months of abuse it was time to have enough personal integrity to admit that what I was doing wasn't working, or at least not well enough. If I continue to damage my shoulder at the same rate it heals, I'll not make any progress at all!

I'd made the realization that dumbbell bench press is much, much easier on my shoulders than barbell bench press, especially when the dumbbells are positioned in the “inverted V” position. For whatever reason, this was true in my case. I could train heavy again without pain!

Now I had a pair of “power hooks” and I loved them. They are a great product and they have lots of uses. But for going heavy on the bench I needed a solution that really gave me the confidence to put that extra weight on the dumbbell so I would be safe, and that I wouldn't dump the dumbbell on my concrete floor on that last rep. I'd ordered my dumbbell version of the free spotter and I've been very pleased with it. I cannot express how great it is to be back in the game!

This is a truly fantastic invention. I have only one regret... I should have placed my order much, much, much sooner!