A few weeks ago, you might have come across news or a video featuring fitness influencer Justyn Vicky, who tragically broke his neck failing a 210kg squat, costing his life. He made this attempt with another person spotting him, but unfortunately, the spotter could not assist when Justyn struggled to lift the weight.

Consequently, Justyn fell to the floor with the bar still on his back, causing the bar to roll forward across his neck before he fell backwards. The video was abruptly cut at that point.

This video quickly went viral, prompting numerous fitness influencers, coaches, and coaching companies to point out Justyn’s mistakes during the attempt.

The videos that gained popularity shortly thereafter were on how to safely unload/dump the bar, although this method didn’t apply in Justyn’s case. He likely didn’t want to endanger his friend, who was almost hugging him from behind during the attempt.

Another popular topic of discussion revolved around the spotters/spotting technique. Even my mother, who is not well-versed in barbell strength training, knew that one spotter is drastically insufficient to spot a 210kg squat.

Let’s say he got two spotters that day, which is still in insufficient, there is still a significant risk in an environment where people don’t frequently spot each other.

Now, imagine you’re the lifter. Would you want to ask two random individuals at the gym to help if you fail your maximum squat attempt? It’s a daunting risk to take without assurance that these two individuals truly understand what to do.

On the flip side, if you’re a potential spotter and a random lifter asks for your assistance with their maximum attempt, would you accept?

Maximum attempts have a high likelihood of failure. What if the lifter suddenly drops the bar? Are you both equipped to handle it? What if it falls and injures you?

In my view, the most sensible solution is to use safety bars on your rack. This way, you can ensure that when properly set, no one is in harm’s way.

Please watch this video if you’re unfamiliar with how to set them up.

The guideline of placing the safeties below the crotch is just an initial guidance. People with longer torsos may need to set them higher, while those with long legs might need to lower the safeties. Once you find the correct height for you, establish your own marker, such as the tip of your fingers, knuckles, or wrist. Nevertheless, for most individuals, the “below the balls” guideline appears to be both sufficiently accurate and easy to remember.


My interest in fitness started when I was around 19 years old. Being overweight for most of my growing up years, I decided to do something about it. After months of not being able to achieve the desired results, I began poring through books and articles about training and nutrition. The more I read, the more interested I became in this field, and got better results when the the newly discovered knowledge was applied. After 1 year of persistence and hard work, I lost 24kg and felt fantastic. The sense of achievement motivated me to pursue a career in working with people to help them achieve their own fitness goals.

After achieving my weight loss goal, I tried a variety of training programs for a few years, looking for a new goal to train towards. After aimlessly moving around from program to program, I chanced upon a book called Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, written by renowned strength and conditioning expert, Mark Rippetoe. Little did I know that this book was about to change my life and coaching career.

At that point, I had experience training with barbells and was relatively familiar with it but never have I come across any material that gave such explicitly detailed explanations of how to perform the barbell lifts. I devoured the book and modified my lifting technique and program. In just a few months, I was pleasantly surprised by how much stronger he had become. I now had a new goal to work towards – getting strong.

With full confidence in the efficacy of the Starting Strength methodology, I began coaching my clients using this program and got them stronger than they ever thought was possible. The consistent success my clients achieved through the program cemented my confidence in Mark Rippetoe’s teachings. I then decided to pursue the credential of being a Starting Strength Coach and I’m currently the first and only certified coach in Singapore and South-East Asia

In my 9 years of experience, I have given talks and ran programs at numerous companies and worked with a diverse group clientele of all ages with a variety of goals. Today, I specialise in coaching people in their 40s, 50s and beyond because it brings me a great sense of satisfaction to be part of the process of improving this demographics’ health and quality of life by getting them stronger.