The idea of having no emotional biases for any exercises was first presented to me by Paul Chek a long time ago. In case you are not sure what I mean, here is an example of “emotional biases” in action.
Until 2007 I lived in Denmark and between 1999-2007. I was the Head Strength Coach for Team Denmark, the Danish Equivalent of Sport Canada. I was very fortunate to have a job description that allowed me to focus on an exclusive group of athletes. One group of athletes I did not work with was the National Sailing Team, but I watched their strength and conditioning programs.
Initially, their program was created by a strength coach who used to be the Olympic Weightlifting Coach for the national team. During that time the first exercise in their strength training program was power cleans, because “power cleans are good for grip strength and sailors need grip strength.” (Those where the strength coach’s exact words when I asked him why he started the training program with Power Cleans.)
A couple of years later, a younger strength coach, who was a mountain climber, took over. Now, the first exercise in the sailors’ strength training program was pull ups, because “pull ups are good for grip strength and sailors need grip strength.” (You guessed it, I asked him.)
Their biases in exercise selection were obvious. The question that should have been asked was, “What is the best way to develop grip strength if you are a sailor?” and approach the answer from a clean slate.
There is one more angle to this point. In 2006, I attended The Russian Kettlebell Certification, which was a great learning experience with ONE (natural and understandable) caveat that characterizes certifications that are based on one piece of equipment. Naturally, in order to make his certification as valuable as possible, Pavel tried to show how to train for any goal using a kettlebell. And in the first few days after the course, I found myself thinking, “How can I train this with a kettlebell?”
I had gotten a “mind virus” that had the name of “Kettlebell” (It could have had any other name, dumbbell, barbell, etc.). Can you understand how I was limiting myself with the structure of the question? By asking, “How can I train this with a kettlebell?” I was immediately excluding the possibility that the best way to train a certain client for a certain goal would involve ANOTHER piece of equipment (or no equipment at all).
The right question to ask is, “What is the best way, equipment or no equipment, to train this client for this particular goal (ex. Legs) at this point in time?”
You know the saying, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” The implication is that in order to effectively train our clients we need a variety of tools in our tool box. Here is a short list of the most important ones (in random order).
Barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, clubbells, cables, tires/kegs/logs, swiss ball, balance boards, suspension straps, body weight/animal movements, boxes/hurdles/medicine balls, tubing/bands/chains, sleds, grip etc.
It is clear that the more tools you have in your tool box (= the more different types of equipment you can correctly, effectively and safely include in your clients’ programs) the greater the likelihood that you can choose the best possible type of equipment for your client at any point in time.
The ability to optimally answer the question, “What is the best way, equipment or no equipment, to train this client for this particular goal (ex. Legs) at this point in time?” has one tremendously important implication. You CANNOT follow “trends.” As soon as we start paying too much attention to “trends” we get biased and tend to see only what is currently trendy.
It is, and always will be, your goal, to strive for an unbiased knowledge of the pros and cons of different types of equipment, and subsequently use the right piece of equipment at the right time.
What about you?
Do you have any emotional biases towards certain exercises?
To Your Success,
PS: When you understand how important it is to choose the exercises with the highest degree of transfer as well as HOW to choose exercises, your emotional bias for certain exercises can be released (if you want to!). If you want to be FREE to choose the RIGHT exercises then you want to attend “Beyond Functional Training’. Click here to learn more.