Thoughts on the Barbell, Its Use and The State of Our Professional State
This is a thoughtful piece of writing by Xavier Roy. The barbell is not always a necessity. It has limitations. And under improper conditions, it can be inappropriate. In the worst cases, it can contribute to or cause injury. I've personally seen and counseled a number of athletes who have suffered injury from being overloaded and improperly progressed. I've also successfully brought athletes back from injury, with the barbell being an integral part of their recovery and athleticism.
I can roll along the entire spectrum from "meathead" to "functional training" and do it well; with grace, dignity and purpose. The athletes with whom I've worked can attest to the fact that there is a way to successfully integrate all types of training into a program. We can use the barbell safely and effectively.
The barbell is not an inherently bad tool. Use of the barbell requires thoughtful consideration, good teaching progressions and proper athlete preparation. And so my goal is to help coaches develop that part of their coaching literacy, so they may know when a barbell might be appropriate. There is pressure to use bars in facilities where they are so ubiquitous. We must give coaches the competence -- and confidence -- to see how other modalities and implements can serve athletes to meet high-level sport demands, and support the preparation of beginner through elite athletes. Coaches shoulde use the barbell like a scalpel, not a sledge hammer; and build a comprehensive and varied toolbox.
There must be no zealotry in either direction, for or against the barbell. There must be advocacy for the athlete; respect for the demands of sport and the context of every situation. There must be comprehensive education on holistic programming and the importance of doing your due diligence with every athlete and team situation. There must be better design, equipment selection and layout of facilities to support a wide spectrum of programming styles and tools.
The professionalism of Strength & Conditioning in this country depends on our capacity to conduct ourselves with dignity and sincerity; ego and machismo must go. We must be teachers who operate in spaces that are classrooms, with any and all tools that might be necessary. We don't have to get out of the weight room. We must evolve from the old stereotypes of what the weight room has been, who resides in it and how they behave. We must create environments that support the physical education, physical literacy and physical preparation of all athletes. We must leave our athletes with the life-time skills of self-care and self-confidence in their physical selves. They deserve a positive relationship with exercise and resistance training. And that relationship might include a barbell and it might not. That should be up to each person and circumstance.
Here endeth the reading. - Tracy