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Behold! New this year (2012)

Down with the "women's bar"! A Rant

I'd like a shot at whoever came up with this women's bar nonsense.

The 15 KG weightlifting bar, or "women's bar," as it is more commonly known, provides a lighter weight alternative for beginners or anyone who may not be ready to wield the 20 KG bar.

This bar has a thinner diameter - 25 mm, compared to 28 mm in the men's, or standard, bar. Some versions are also shorter and have differences in knurling. This difference in diameters is dramatic!

Where does this notion come from that women have smaller hands than men? Some do, but not all. I'll bet not even most do.

The problem comes when this 15 KG bar is mandatory for women in competition. I own both bars, and I've competed both in meets which require women to use this bar and those which do not use this bar at all. The women's bar does not fit my hands. Using it is a handicap.

Not only is my grip hindered, the difference in weight distribution is tremendous when you snatch in the 40s. Think about what a dramatic difference the distribution of five kilos is when the total weight is 40 KG. If I were a physicist or mathematician, I could make a quantitative argument; but what I can say is the bar behaves differently at this weight. The loaded 15 KG bar needs a different trajectory, because it wants to fly away from me when I pull it the way I pull the 20.

I spent the past several weeks training with both bars and then the 15KG bar exclusively for a meet which imposes this bar on all women. Although I did become more adept with it in training, it didn't really pan out in competition. In competition, your body retreats to its most hardwired training, and for me, that's the standard bar, the one that feels good in my hands and behaves the way I expect it to in a lift. I take responsibility for my performance and I'm not looking to make excuses, but I know this bar affects my lifts, especially in the heat of a meet. I'm going to avoid meets which require that I use this bar.

If these bars are used in a meet, they certainly should not be mandatory. Nor should they be based on gender. That's ridiculous. In some elite meets, I understand that some men use the 15 KG bar. That makes sense if it is correlated to hand size.

If this bar is designed to fit smaller hands, then only those with smaller hands should be using it in a competition. If this bar is designed for lighter weight, then let's have 15 KG bars with the standard 28 mm diameter (there are such training bars - aluminum, just 15LBS). But if it is designed to address gender, then the philosophy is fatally flawed to begin with.

The solution is simple: change the structure of the meet so everyone on the 15KG bar goes first, and the 20KG bar goes second. Or do like we do in Oregon and don't allow 15KG bars at all. We're old school here.

Who benefits from the 15KG bar the most? Equipment makers and distributors. If the buyer is convinced they need a supply of two different kinds of bars, the seller can sell twice as many bars. Why do we have so many machines in the industrial fitness complex box gym model? Because equipment makers and distributors convinced everyone they needed to buy all this junk. If we compromise, ask who we are compromising for.

Our responsibility is not to equipment makers or salesmen, nor to the mostly men in charge who impose arbitrary rules based on flawed ideas. Our responsibility is to ourselves, to our communities, and to the lifts themselves, to perfect this experience as much as possible.

Here are a couple pictures of my hands after a few weeks of training with both bars. Because my grip is different - my fingers are curled well under my palms - it's screwing up my callouses. You can see a lower second row setting in on my palm, some new ones on my fingers, and the bigger damage - the longstanding callous on the side of my hand, between thumb and forefinger, split down to the pink meat. That smarts. Almost as much as having my performance compromised because I'm forced to use equipment that doesn't fit.

Come on, folks. If you have this bar in your gym and you want to use it in your meets, fine. But give us women the choice to use it or not.

Going Under

Doubt - It may lead you to confirm belief.
Question - It may lead you to understand.
Honor obstacles - For a set amount of time. Your strength to overcome them may gather.
Rest - So your energy may be restored.
Release control - To remember it is only an illusion.

Go under.
Shut out. Be silent. Give over. Lie in the darkness. Be weak for the moment. Incubate.

Emotion points you down to dwell where the mind and spirit can reset. Exercise your intelligence in these murky depths. Release your grasp so your muscles do not become rigid around an idea. You will be rigid when you are dead.

What comes from strength goes to strength. If you are on the right path and in fact strong in your footing, you will emerge renewed, enhanced and sure. Bank your embers to build yourself dynamic and hot, not a cold automaton enslaved to your higher ideals through rote and routine. Only then can you be free in your chosen path, and your fire will burn bright.

Dariotis Memorial 2012

Took 2nd Place in 63 KG with a 95 KG total today at this very large meet at Thrush Sports Performance Center in Sumner, WA. That's John Thrush mugging in the background in my blurry phone pic! Wish it was clearer! Impressive facility, friendly meets, lots of amazing lifters.

Not my best performance, but after a number of significant physical setbacks the past few months, I'm plenty happy.

Bottles in Window photo retrospect

The Nightlife

Bumper racks

My first wood project design.

That's how I don't roll!

New Year's Day haul from Goodwill