We are lucky that CrossFit came around and created a demand for bumper/ rubber weight plates. Up to a few years ago, you could only find them in Olympic Weightlifting gyms. Or they were extremely expensive and shipped from across the United States with humongous shipping costs. When I first started playing with the Olympic lifts, we were working out at the Solano Athletic Club with metal plates and there was no way we could drop those weights.
Now it seems that all lifters, from beginners to elite, from body building to power lifting, if they have bumper plates, they think that dropping all weights, from warm-ups to maximums, is the way it should be done. In truth, although our barbells and weight plates are of great quality, if you don’t control the lowering of the barbell, the equipment will break or will definitely wear out faster. Truly, dropping weights isn’t necessary 80% of the time, maybe more!
How do you lower weights under control?
In competitions, Olympic Lifters will get their lift disqualified if they let go of the bar before it passes their waists. With those maximum weights, you just let the bar free fall in front of you, but you keep your hands on the bar and try to slow the descent and then don’t let the bar bounce all over the place. With light or warm-up weights, you lower the bar to your thighs and then lower it to the platform.
When Can you drop weight?
That's simple, anytime you cannot safely use as spotter and your form is compromised. Observe the examples below:
The main cause of several broken bars....and bruised spotters:
We have had several broken bars from one lift specifically.....the Back Squat (or variations). Someone will try a weight they think they can get, but have not requested spotters, they get stuck and they drop the weights from off their backs. A few times a coach has stepped in to assist by spotting, but the weight is dropped onto them. That hurts!
There are plenty of people at the Compound, so squatting maximum loads without a spotter should not be an option. Plus dropping weight in the bottom of a Squat is not very good for your training anyways. You should work and fight to stand up with the weight on your back and your spotter should give 5%, 10%, whatever is necessary to help you stand up. This will make you a better squatter for the next time you Squat.
The first priority for all the lifters at the Compound is safety. So having the option to dump the weights is awesome. But, the second thing we need to is save the equipment. Here is the proper way to spot someone in the Back Squat: