Does anybody here ever feel like they suffer from paranoia? I guess before you all start answering yes or no, let’s get an actual definition of what paranoia is. Paranoid thinking is when a person is heavily influenced by the fear that there is some kind of threat against them, and this fear can become so intense that the person becomes delusional. Basically, being paranoid means that you think everybody (or everything) is out to get you. You walk around freaked out because you think people are trying to hurt you in some way, even if they haven’t done anything or even met you.
Got it? Okay, now…do any of you ever feel paranoid? The reason I’m asking you about this is because sometimes I think I might have a mild case of paranoia. No, I’m not talking about screaming and pooping in my trousers when random people look at me on the street because I think they might be plotting to shoot my cats. I’m talking about weightlifting and strength training. In recent years, I’ve felt a slight buildup of paranoia about the strength world. This isn’t a general, irrational fear either. This one is very focused and specific.
Let me get to the point. Over the last ten years or so, it seems like the world of strength training has been drifting away from barbell-centered lifting. There has been such a rapid growth in the last decade of training methods that are designed to build strength and athleticism without using a barbell. What am I talking about? Things I’ve seen like battle ropes, TRX suspension training, exercise bands, stability balls, medicine balls, kettlebells, sand bags, that type of stuff. These things have been growing enormously popular in recent years. Sometimes it seems like they’re all I hear about anymore when I read strength training stuff.
I’m getting a little freaked out because I worry that we’re eventually going to live in a country where the barbell gets thrown in the outhouse and everybody thinks you can get strong by using things that are made of plastic or rubber.
Now, here’s an important point to mention. I personally think that there is solid benefit and value to every type of equipment I just listed. Kettlebells, exercise bands, stability balls, and all these other systems have some outstanding positives. They’re fun, you get some strength benefits, and they can add a little variety to your training program. However, I’ve always classified these things as assistance or supplemental exercise. That means that they get used at the end of a workout, after the athlete has worked hard on barbell movements like cleans, snatches, squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and so forth. The barbell is supposed to be the foundation of the training program; it should be emphasized above all other components in the workout. The reason for this is that I believe there is absolutely no better way to develop strength than by using barbell movements. A workout where the athlete performs snatches, back squats, RDLs, military presses, and then moves on to do some core work with medicine balls, rotator cuff exercises with exercise bands, or some other movement-centered work with another piece of equipment…that sounds excellent.
I know that we’ll always have people in the strength world who want to invent the next big thing. There’s a lot of money to be made if you build some new thingamajig and convince a lot of people that it’ll make you look like the guys on the Bowflex commercials. I also know that some people don’t need to pound out squats and pulls to accomplish their athletic goals. Got it. But I worry that the progressive pussification of America that we’ve been watching during our lifetimes is eventually going to trickle into strength training, and those of us who are old-school weightlifting types will be dismissed and ignored. We’ll lose jobs and clients because we believe in doing squats and barbell lifts, and the people we’re trying to coach start to look somewhere else because they think our methods are outdated.
I hope I’m totally wrong about this. I actually hope I just have a mild case of paranoia, and the barbell is still safe and sound as the lord of strength development. Please feel free to let me know if that's the case. But if my fears are justified, and the ShakeWeight people are waging war against our squat racks, then let’s make sure we fight to the last breath. Keep the bar in your life and circulate as much propaganda as you can to convince the uneducated masses that the ThighMaster won’t make your legs awesome. No retreat, no surrender.