The Right Tool For The Job

Somebody referred to my bar--the Hexlite Bar--as a crutch--right in front of me.  It's not the first time someone has spoken in a negative manner of the bar right to my face.  Rippetoe told me, in front of an entire basic barbell certification class, that he thought it was worthless. I just smiled.

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... 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.


Anonymous said…
Your hex bar is one of the best tools we have in the weight room - "bar" none!

Tim Clark
Tracy Fober said…
Thanks, Tim. I appreciate the feedback!
Anonymous said…
Who is rippetoe?
Amie said…
I agree completely...we should not fixate so much on the outcome, but rather the process we use to achieve the outcome, in this case, gaining strength. There's more than one way to get there, and getting people to lift successfully should be the goal, not how they lifted. Well said my friend!

PS 499 more to go :)
Chris Centivany said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Centivany said…
At least they were respectful enough to dole out their criticism in your presence.....
Kevin Moody said…

Great post. Right on the mark. Looking forward to catching up with you at GAIN 2010.
Anonymous said…
Dave Matthews sucks bro
Erik Blekeberg said…
Great quote!

"I don't fit the person to the exercise; I fit the exercise to the person and the purpose."

I don't have your hexlite but, I do use a 45lb trap bar and I think the trap bar is fantastic for teaching proper hip movement. I see people insulting things calling it cheating and I realize they don't understand how messed up people are. If everyone bent perfectly from the hip and knew how to use their glutes and hamstrings then MAYBE we could just use the barbell.

I doubt we will see the day.
Joe Przytula said…
Mark seriously needs to take a basic motor learning course.

ps- thanks anonymous! I thought I was the only one who doesn't get Dave Matthews.

My video response to him would be something along the lines of Ramones "I wanna be sedated"; or maybe Elvis Costello "monkey to man".
Boris said…
Well said Tracy. Great post.
Tracy Fober said…
Thanks Kevin, Erik, Joe and Boris.
I appreciate your input and kind words.

And hey Joe, just ask the guys in the Valley Park gym about my taste in music. Not your average bro.
Tracy Fober said…
And thanks to you too, Aims!
Rob said…
Jeez this kind of thing really annoys me! A Crutch, worthless! What a load of bollocks! Just because the deadlift is a standard well known lift doesn't make all other similar movements pointless! I believe the trapbar is more functional than the deadlift. Any heavy weight lifted of the floor is gonna cause some kind of training effect. The trap bar is somewhere between the squat and deadlift and saves the lower back. Check out Defranco, it's a staple of his training which speaks for itself.

Thanks Rob Russell
Chris Melton said…
Like the old saying goes, "there is more than one way to skin a cat..". I've never used your bar, but have used a trap bar and found it really useful. Hey, don't worry about it...if it works, use it!
Physioguy said…
The Hexlite was a great purchase for me and my practice. I focus on proper movement patterns, and then strengthen them. The Hexlite has helped tremendously with my clientele (injured workers), and what's more, clients like it.

So, better movements, safer exercise, ultimately better results I don't see a downside.

Ultimately, it is another tool in the box. But it's nice to have that hex-wrench when you need it, you know? ;)

Tracy Fober said…
Thanks so much Jamie!

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