I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” Abraham Maslow
As a kid I grew up helping my dad with odd jobs around the house and at his rental properties. Sometimes they were small repairs, and other times bigger remodels. One thing that stuck with me through this experience was that jobs were much easier when you had the right set of tools. It seemed like each job had it’s own set of special tools whether it be plumbing, electricity, demolition work, or framing.
I remember always thinking it was strange that my dad had so many tools. Then, as I gained experience doing the work with him, I realized that it really did make a difference. I would be trying to do a job with the wrong tool and then he would come over with the correct one and finish the job in a fraction the amount of time I had been working on it.
It’s not that you can’t do the job with different tools, it’s just SO much easier with the right ones.
The same is true for strength and fitness. There are more products out there than even I know what to do with. And they all seem to promise the same thing; better results in less time. I don’t think they’re all blowing smoke, but I don’t think they tell the whole story either. They are just different tools, and can be applied to different situations. Here are some things to think about when trying to decide how and what to work out with:
What is your goal? If your goal is to be a competitive weight lifter or power lifter, you have to use a barbell. That is the tool that is used in those sports, so to try and use something different would put you at a disadvantage.
In the case of most of the members at Deliberate Strength, the goal is to move better and get stronger SO THAT they feel better and have more confidence in their physical capabilities. For some, the barbell is a great tool. For others, it might be more body weight work and mobility. Our goal is to fit the right tool to the member, not the member to the tool.
Master the movements. Moving your body well is a skill and some exercises are simple to learn while others are more complex. The kettle bell swing is good example; it’s a great exercise that can be used in a lot of different scenarios. The scenario that it is not good at is using it with a person who doesn’t have the movement skill to do it. Rather than starting with a complicated movement like the swing, lets pick the foundational pattern, the deadlift and work on that skill for a while. Once the person is proficient at the deadlift, moving to the swing might be the appropriate next step.
Don’t undervalue simple. If you follow any fitness ‘experts’ on social media you’ve probably seen all sorts of crazy exercises with bands and stability balls. You may hear things like “Shock the body for results” or “Keep the body guessing with different exercises” from these folks. The truth is these things often over promise and under deliver. They are popular because they are sexy and look cool.
Dead lifts, squats, rows, push-ups aren’t sexy. But you know what is? Results. Master the basics of movements and you will see results. Challenge yourself with some weight for sets and reps that are appropriate for the movement and the goal and you will definitely make progress. Simple movements can produce awesome results.
The right tool for the right job makes getting the job done much easier. Define your goal, master the movements, and challenge yourself to stick with it. Just like a house isn’t built overnight, doing the right work, day in and day out will get the job done.