IM HYBRID TRAINING The Raw Story By Eddie Avakoff, owner of Metroflex LBC An argument for ditching all of that cool weight-room gear. T he squat is everything that’s right in the world of weight training. A quote written on a wall inside Metroflex LBC reads: “The squat is the perfect analogy for life: It’s about standing back up after something heavy brings you down.” That sums it up right there. The squat is a movement that can be deemed applicable training for just about any sport or endeavor. Squats test the strength of your legs, core, and anterior/posterior sys- tems (depending on how you squat). Squats also test sheer explosive power. Squats are one-third of the sport of powerlifting, an enormous component of Olympic weightlift- ing, and the root of everything “functional.” Squats have become the strength benchmark in the gym. “How much you squat?” has be- come as much of a validation as “How much you bench?”—a question that dominated the scene in the 1990s until the early 2000s. Funny enough, the squat was revered with the same validity back in the ’70s and ’80s, a classic age in the weight room. With the new-age rise of functional fit- ness, the squat has seen a resurgence in the mainstream community. And rightfully so. It’s an all-encompassing movement that serves a purpose for just about any sport. Of course, much like the movement’s exposure to the masses, niche equipment has also risen to the surface of mainstream training. This equipment is made for specialists of the movement, not for the masses. Although most of our one-rep maxes could use the additional stability of a belt, is it necessarily in our best interest to always strap one on? What I’m getting at is specialized equip- ment designed to aid the squat has become a backbone of mainstream training with the 84 april 2017 | ironmanmagazine.com The word “funcTional” implies everyday applicabiliTy, and when’s The lasT Time you needed a belT and special shoes To geT in and ouT of a chair? squat. What should be saved for elite spe- cialists (highly skilled lifters who use these tools as a strategy into larger lifts) is now being overused by anyone, often for vanity and self-inflation. And there’s an irony here. If someone’s training the squat in order to build their core and their legs, yet they insist on using a belt, knee sleeves, Olympic shoes, wrist straps (to support the stress of a low- bar back squat?), an eight-foot bar, and the whole nine yards, how do they expect to place any stress on the body itself? I mean, if the belt stabilizes the midsection, elevated shoes allow for an easier drop into the hole, and knee sleeves and the bar allow for a faster bounce out of the hole, then when does the body get to do any work? And that’s what we’re supposed to be training, right?