I realize he looks like a rough cut for the masks of comedy and tragedy, and the weight gym is full of both, but really he is just a glorious toy that lets me do a front squat without having to choose between dogging the weight or mauling my wrists. After my recent adventure with this lift I decided I was overdue to own Stingray, having already adopted his brother Manta a year or two back.
Both gizmos are simple aids to load distribution. I used to use a foam cylinder pad on squat bars; after observing regretfully that they were not reliably available in the gym I bought one of my own and engrossed it with precious curlicues in violet fabric paint so that the average testicleer would flinch from absconding with it. One morning, though, I saw someone training with a Manta, asked to try it, ran home and bought one off the Net. There is no intrinsic virtue in proving that you can tolerate the weight of a bodyweight-plus bar teetering off your seventh cervical vertebra when you can diffuse it over your entire upper trapezius. Sting gives the same mercy to your collarbones when you are holding the bar in front.
One of the trainers had a rude suggestion about Sting’s purpose when I extracted it from my gym bag. It doesn’t quite work.
I waited till I got home to test the proposition.
Front squats are humbling. If you can recruit your butt and solar plexus and god knows what else to bust up a bodyweight-plus bar resting on the back of your neck, you can feel like a total doofus trying to coax half-bodyweight up for ten reps or so when it is hovering just above your collarbones. But it is nice to feel righteous post-workout pain in my legs again, perfusing the quadriceps where it belongs instead of in my joint capsule.