Wednesday, April 21, 2010
The Right Tool For The Job
Many in the iron game are fixated on the barbell. They look at it as the ultimate tool to build strength; and for the weightlifting zealots, it is the tool for developing power. Because we all know that weightlifters are the strongest and most powerful athletes, right? So then we should train just like they do because...well maybe... not...it depends, right?
Don't get me wrong. I love weightlifting. There are 4 different barbells in my home gym. I enjoy training with the barbell and teaching people how to use a barbell. It is almost a lost art in this country. But for every technically sound, good squat, clean or power snatch in this country, there are about 363,765 really ugly lifts. Lifts by people who have no clue, and maybe no business, using a barbell. Are they accomplishing anything that really helps them become a better athlete at their sport? If so, can you demonstrate the cause and the effect or are you just parroting what you've heard others say?
I don't fit the person to the exercise; I fit the exercise to the person and the purpose. And there are lots of ways to develop strength and power. Just as you can't use a hammer to solve every problem, neither should you think a barbell is best the tool for every athlete.
I know women who can deadlift over 2x bodyweight, but they cannot use their legs effectively to clean 60% of their bodyweight. They can "pull" but cannot use their feet and lower extremities to "push" the weight off the ground. And we all know men who pile on the plates to squat, and then, well, fail to do anything that resembles a squat. Pffft.
Quality of movement matters to me, not the amount of weight on a bar. And every exercise in a program has a purpose toward developing awareness, alignment, mobility and strength in the context of the individual athlete's goals and needs. Each exercise is preparation for or complimentary to the end goals of efficient movement and force production. Each exercise is part of plan to develop physical competencies and movement algorithms. There is no room or time for stupid strength in this house. There is no OTW.
There is no shame in using other implements in the gym to achieve strength and power goals. There is wisdom in having a robust tool box and set of methods to help the human body learn to move effectively and efficiently.
So much to say.