Over 12 years ago, I came across me intellectual mentor, friend and hero, Howard Bloom. I emailed him to ask him about his belief in God or gods. He sent back a fantastic two paragraph note that I still have in my Bloomian folder. But I won’t write it out for you. Sorry if it seemed I was going to. What I will write out is how he influenced me by asking me to look at things right under my nose as if I had never seen them before. And to proceed from there. 12 years later, here I am. Trying to find a way to look at things differently. Trying to find a way to write science as art. Trying to see if I can’t radically alter your perceptions and mine.
You Can Throw Away Your Straight Bars (if you so choose)
A straight line. That is all a barbell is. Ask yourself whether the user should conform to the tool or the tool to the user?
Human beings are rotational, rotary, twisty, circular, assymetrical and imbalanced. It’s how we are.
Arthur Jones realized this and dismissed the barbell as a tool of any importance. And he was almost right. But somewhere along the line, his message was lost to the machismo-cult of strength. Now I’m not a High Intensity Training Jedi – I abhor low volume machine only training. But Arthurs message was spot on. And my message? The barbell is a dumb tool.
Listen, the barbell CAN be useful. But it is no axiom. It is no essential. You do not “need” to train your body with a bar. Dumbbells will not only suffice, they will do your joints good. They will allow for rotary shear minimization in odd planes when you perform your frontal and sagittal feats of heaving might.
They will also better stimulate the entire musculature chain of movement pattern through spreading activation demands to muscles that were let off the hook due to the stability the barbell provided.
The only thing the barbell does better than the dumb-bell or well designed machine is feed your ego by allowing you to lift more loads that no one will ever really care about. We went the way of art, cognition and intellectual development when we strayed from our more ape-like ancestors. We didn’t go the route of strength because both are un-necessary for creative endeavors. You don’t need to be stronger to look better, you need to be smarter. A better physique looking physique is not the pursuit of the ancient caveman, it is the pursuit only made possible in the modern world of abundance and the appreciation for a certain type of aesthetic.
We Are All The Same AND We Are All Different, At Once
There is no exact right or wrong when it comes to the interpretation of general principles of human functionality and response. This matho-mechanical thinking, flimsily disguised in the veils of reason and logic, is the foundation upon which the boring, mundane, grey and dead fitness industry IS that way. Averse to creativity, shielding itself from criticism using the imaginary powers of “evidence based” thinking. Us humans are all as different from one another, as we are the same. Each person is a unique signature expression of the human project. All the same essentially, but different at the same time fundamentally.
The DIFFERENCES create the rules of individualization. Taking the essential block of human function and response, and carving it with the specific and uniquely sharpened chisel of individuality.
These differences in body-structure result in unique movement signatures. In unique responses and in unique journeys. There is not mathematical formula that can predict the future functional state of a living biological being. And when math, physics and thus logic and reason fail us, we see how biology, art and creative drive can save us.