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A Philosophy of Strength & Health

This blog is devoted to physical health and performance, and is a continuation of my old blogspot site, which I’ve been writing since 2006. My primary interest is in athletic development, particularly the appropriate application of weight training and weightlifting movements in programming, along with advocating for female athletes and the inclusion of women coaches in sport and sport performance.

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 athletic journey.

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 dangerous tool. Use of the barbell requires thoughtful consideration, good teaching progressions and proper athlete preparation. Coaches should use the barbell like a scalpel, not a sledge hammer; and build a comprehensive and varied toolbox. 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, whether it is to meet high-level sport demands or support the preparation of a novice athlete.

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 consideration of the context of every situation. There must be comprehensive education on holistic programming. There must be better design of, equipment selection for and layout of facilities to support a wide spectrum of programming needs.

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

Tracy Fober