Barbell In Another Dimension

When it comes to training strategy it is tough to please everyone. Whether it is a test of beliefs, a test of text and context, or just some good old fashioned argument I have learned that there is a lot of strong opinions on which answer is the best one.

Everyone has their own methods that have worked for them and that is a good thing. I think that it is a good thing we have the ability to share information (most of the time). The consequence however being that it is tough to be able to formulate your own answers when you have so many
"right" answers being thrown at you.

Kind of gives you that feeling of being stuck at a fork in the road and you need to make the decision of whether turning left or right will get you to your destination.

When I train my clients it is a certainty that I am doing what I need to be doing in order to cater to their goals. Whether they are aware of it or not (most of them well aware) however is I have two orders of business that I feel the need to tend to throughout the process. I want them to get stronger and I want them moving well in multiple planes of motion. The questions being of course what tools do I have, what is my environment, and how do I effectively draw from both disciplines.

Then of course I need to remind myself of the idea of text vs context because even after being at this for years I tend to label things.

I begin to think strength and a barbell pops in my head. I think barbell and I think squat, deadlift, clean, press.

I begin to think three dimensional movement and Freemotions, kettlebells, and Vipr's.

Soon these thoughts run through my head.

  • Equipment doesn't grow on trees
  • I don't like labels
  • I do however like barbells
  • Strength is very good. Well oiled movement is very good.
  • Use what you have, give what you've got

To put this last statement into perspective, welcome to my second office.



This is where I spend my time coaching U of C baseball and when it comes to weight room you are looking at it. Thirty five players, three squat cages, three barbells, some plates, bands, and the rest being turf. 

And I dig it.


We use barbells a lot and with the intention of both strength and three dimensional movement. There really is no choice in the matter and it has worked well as a result of concept, eliminating labels behind equipment and disciplines and ultimately making the most of what we have.


Sometimes when you reach that fork and have to make a decision of left or right it might just be best to hit the gas pedal and drive that vehicle right up the middle.


The barbell has become one of those vehicles for me. I love squats, deadlifts, presses, and olympic lifts but my appreciation for the barbell has brought its use to another level.


Not Quite That Dimension







Suitcase Deadlift


The suitcase has become a favorite of mine for a number of reasons. It's ability to hinge and mobilize the hip laterally has made it a favorite. Not to mention its ability to load the hip, trunk and mid back on a much more unique angle.



Alternative to: 

  • DB or cable side bends
  • Windmills  

1 Legged Deadlift

A twist on a dumbell variation that I have really come to appreciate. Once again you are providing a rotational hinge on the hip. I prefer the back foot touching down as it allows you to make the most of the working leg rather than just trying to stay upright at the expense of shutting down the glutes. Once again the ability to touch down gives you the perfect opportunity to apply force to the ground with your foot as well as force to the bar by strangling it with your hand. That force production allows you to understand what needs to go to work before you get the bar off of the ground.

 Alternative To

  • DB  1 legged RDL

Landmine Press

Not only a shoulder friendly alternative to vertical presses. The wide reaching landmine press has become one of my favorites in the sense of hip and trunk anti rotation. Force production from the feet is vital to get the most bang for your buck and when you have that dialed in you have a press that will absolutely rock your hips and torso. A staple with my baseball players.

Alternative To:

  • DB overhead pressing
  • Palloff press
  • DB 1 Arm incline chest press
  • Low to high chops

Barbell 1 Arm Bent Over Row

Any pulling patterns that require you to load the hip and I dig it. Kroc rows as well as 1 arm DB bent over rows are two of my favorite back builders so why not apply it to the barbell. I prefer the rotation the shoulder receives with the dumbbell.

But when life gives you lemons, grab the salt and tequilla (and/or a barbell).

Alternative to:

  • Kroc Rows
  • Split stance bent over DB row
  • Standing cable row

Barbell Chop

The trunk and thoracic stability, ground force, the rotation, the potential for explosiveness, and the way you can teach the hip to coil and uncoil the sake of producing and absorbing force. 

All of these characteristics of the barbell chop make this an absolute favorite for me regardless of the long list of toys we now have at our disposal when it comes to rotation.

Alternative to:

  • Cable low to high chops
  • Med ball tosses

Would I consider the barbell to be the pinacle of multi dimensional movement? 

I certainly wouldn't compare it to some of the versatility of some of the latest tools targeted to movement but it certainly has its place. 

If the expectation is to get people moving in other dimensions I think that the barbell is still at the top when it comes to producing force and 
developing strength in multiple dimensions. 

Not a new concept by any means but a concept that requires you to think in multiple dimensions.

(Honorable mention to Sorinex for the badass t-shirt)