Several months ago I began weight lifting. I had tried eating low fat, eating less, etc. etc. and I was getting nowhere. I was up to 280lbs, was tired all the time, and most scary of all was starting to lose effectiveness at work and at home. I didn't like where I was headed.
Two books helped change that direction. I read The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite and learned why eating right is such an uphill battle. Gaining the knowledge in that book really helped give me the motivation to eat right, as opposed to following fad diets.
Then I read The New Rules of Lifting: Six Basic Moves for Maximum Muscle and I thought, YES! Natural movements based on movements we do in nature are very important to avoid injury, and building muscle mass is the only way to improve metabolism, because muscle is so metabolically expensive.
One of the major exercises recommended in the "New Rules" is the squat. The squat works BIG muscles, and therefore the metabolic gains you get from building muscle through the squat reap huge benefits. I didn't have a squat rack, so when I began I was doing one dead lift and then lifting the bar over my head to begin the squat. This was fine for the first month or two as I was doing very low weight; I had to start with doing the bar only. However, as my weights have increased through various workouts (the squat or some variation is omnipresent in the "New Rules" no matter what new routine you are on)I began to have problems. Not in my legs or back mind you, but my wrists.
I knew I was hurting myself picking the bar up over my head, so I bought a squat rack here at Amazon. Problem solved... for a month or two...
Then I began to get more pain. Not in my legs or back (I am VERY careful about form and not overdoing it) but my neck and shoulders. It just hurt like heck to do the squats because of the bar on my neck and I really wasn't looking forward to them.
Then I happened upon this little device. I was contemplating buying the very expensive safer squat bar, but this looked so much more reasonably priced and from the reviews I read seemed effective. I had to give it a try.
It has only been a couple of days working out with this device but I can tell it is very well made, and my neck and shoulder pain is entirely gone. I am actually comfortable doing squats! I never had pain in the legs or back, but wrist pain and neck and shoulder pain from the bar were really starting to discourage me. This is an awesome and affordable little product and it WORKS. It even changes your form a tiny bit in that it makes it easier to do the squat correctly.
Since reading those two books, and putting the ideas into practice I have lost close to 30lbs. I have been lifting the whole time with rest periods built in between phases and have some hard places where I used to have soft and flabby places. That means I have built muscle mass, and that I have put on muscle weight, which means I have lost more than 30lbs of fat off my frame.
My pants don't fit and they are falling off my waist. I have had to buy smaller belts. I am putting off buying new cloths for the time being because I know I am not done.
It has been about 5 months since I started lifting, and the results have been INCREDIBLE. A big reason for my success thus far has been the squat, and this little attachment for your bar makes the squat MUCH more fun to do, and that is a great benefit. Other things helped as well. If your goal is to get in shape, it helps a lot to get right with God first. There is a book I want to read on the subject that looks interesting: Fit for Eternal Life. I definitely see a connection between getting our souls in order, and getting our bodies in order.
Best yet, it is made in the USA (thank God some things still are!)
I strongly recommend this product. Squats are a very important part of any lifting regimen. If my experience is any indication you will experience weight loss, an increase in energy, a much easier time going up stairs, and your wife (or husband) will be thrilled with the results. Get a good bar, a decent squat rack (here is mine: Squat Rack and this little device and watch your body change!
Best thing since sliced bread!
- Eduardo Nietzsche
I originally bought this intending to give to a female friend of mine, since she has a hard time doing squats due to her trapezius and neck being a lot bonier than mine (she's a super-lean marathon runner trying to put on some muscle), but I think I'll keep it for myself, heh!
All the rave reviews are spot-on: this thing ain't cheap, but it works beautifully! It lets me focus on my glutes and legs, with a little help from my lower back of course, pushing the weight up...without having to worry about keeping the bar properly balanced and not leaning or rolling too far forward or too far backwards throughout the squatting motion. Squatting now feels like a completely different exercise, much safer for my lower back and knees. Like one other reviewer, I can see myself making significant increases in the amount of weight used.
I totally agree that it's far better than using a foam bar pad, which I had always used before, and that having a towel underneath it is a good idea. I may keep the foam pad for good-morning exercises, haven't had a chance to try those with the Manta-Ray yet.
Now, I'll grant that nearly fifty bucks is a lot of money for a device that's used for only two exercises, squats and lunges. Perhaps someday Walmart will sell this device, or a Chinese knock-off of this device, for one half or one third of the current price. But considering that it will probably last forever (very sturdy material) and that those are two of the three most important lower-body weight exercises(deadlifts are the third, 80% of leg machines are completely useless), and the fact that the squat is considered by many to be THE most important weightlifting exercise of all---it's money very well spent.