Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A curse or a blessing?

Recently, I came across something interesting in Shape magazine. Or maybe it was Self know, it could've been Oxygen magazine too. I really can't tell the difference. Regardless, it was something I recognized immediately, something that was out of place, yet appropriate for this periodical. It was this.

Stability Ball Body Bar Hip Lift?

This magazine had taken one of the newest, best exercises the Strength and Conditioning world has received in many years and bastardized it. Bret Contreras popularized / invented the exercise we know as the barbell Hip Thruster. He actually even invented a "machine" (really, a platform) on which to do the exercise with a resistance band over your lap. Through EMG studies, his own success and success with clients, the exercise took off and is now widely used. Strength coaches of all disciplines have been getting behind this exercise (pun not intended, but totally intended) for the last year or two. 

Bret took a normal rehab/prehab/activation exercise that has been around forever and did something ingenious with it: he loaded it up with a barbell! Who would've thought that taking a great exercises and adding a shit-ton of external resistance would add up to great results?

So, is this a great thing for Bret, or is it a sign of the coming apocalypse? Sure, it is a great thing that his exercise has reached the level of popularity that someone at a nationally known magazine picked up on it and figured out how to make it suck  and used it in their "workout", but is that ok? Can you be happy when your exercise is being used incorrectly and to get minimal results? Eric Cressey has pointed out numerous times that when you use an unstable surface (in this case, the swiss ball) that all it really does is  allow you to use less weight, thus decrease your results. If the exercise is described as using a body bar, what is the heaviest anyone will go? 36 pounds? I think that is where they max out. 

I am sure that, if asked, Bret would be happy that someone in the masses reading that magazine would be able to benefit from his exercise, even if it was only a very small percentage. I suppose that is the correct answer; after all, as strength and conditioning coaches we should want for ALL people to get better/stronger/faster, not just our own clients. That is what really counts, isn't it?

Still, I think I would be a little pissed if I was him. Go do some hip thrusters now.

And make sure it's heavy.

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