Why Believing in Magic Bullet Fitness Equipment is Shooting You in the Foot

Once you start getting into exercise and looking at all the options out there, you’ll notice some strange behavior among the “fitness people” you meet. Some people choose to be devotees of, not just particular ways of training, but also specific apparatus.

Kettlebell, Gymnastic Ring, Tongs

Which one is the best? They all work grip,right?

I use kettlebells. They’re the best.

No rings are the best.

You idiots! Tongs are the best!

What is it about tools that sparks such a devoted fetishism?

Yes, some pieces of equipment are better than others for certain uses.

Tongs are perfect for turning meat on a grill, nothing grates cheese like a cheese grater, and everybody needs more cowbell.

But to only use one option out of the variety available seems silly.

This may seem odd coming from a group that teaches methods of training with novel equipment such as the rings and parallettes, but the programs we offer are a reflection of what we know how to teach.

It doesn’t mean that we think that nothing else out there can work.


Busting Common Myths About Fitness Tools


Let’s stop the madness, shall we?

While it sounds like a straightforward and logical argument that almost any tool can be useful when applied skillfully, we live in a “magic bullet” culture. We have a pill or product to fill just about any need.

Advertising has trained us to see literally everything as a problem to be solved with fancy devices and tricks.

Ready to cut the crap?



Decapitating people who like other equipment won’t make you any stronger. It actually just makes you an asshole.

Myth #1: There can be only one

Perhaps because we live in a world with so much information available with a simple swipe on our phones, there seems to be a frenzied competition to convince you of the superiority of one brand of equipment.

“If you don’t have access to this particular implement, you may as well sit on the couch and finish up that bag of potato chips, because there is no other way to be fit and healthy.” – Said no credible source, ever

Yes, that is pretty extreme, but it’s also very close to what people are implying when they tout their favorite instrument du jour.

Focusing on one thing at a time is great, but don’t let it cloud your vision.

Ryan is practicing his one-armed handstand lately, and this requires almost 100% focus so he can put in an hour or more of practice and conditioning on it every day. But you don’t hear him saying the OAHS is “better” than deadlifts (which he also loves).

FACT: There is no one best anything.


Myth #2: You need to use every tool in the toolbox

Just because there’s no one magic-bullet piece of equipment for strength and wellness doesn’t mean you can fuse together that magicness from a combination of other things lying around the gym floor.

Commercial gyms – and even some people’s homes! – have a tremendous variety of equipment for every body part and every conceivable variation of exercise you can imagine.

And quite frankly, a lot of it is redundant and unnecessary.

I happen to own a lot of guitars. I have some vintage stuff, some homemade stuff, a custom six string, and some basses. But one thing you’ll never catch me doing is trying to play all of them at the same time!

(Very rarely, I’ll play two at once, but it doesn’t sound good, and my wife says I need to stop.)

Fitness equipment is created to make various movements either easier or more difficult. Focus on the movements you want to train and choose your tools based on that.

FACT: No carpenter judges a house by how many tools he used to build it.


Myth #3: The (insert brand name here) will transform you into a world champion

Tug Toner

The Tug Toner will help you get good at something, but it’s not anything you want to show off to your friends.

Also part of the hard sell is that, if you choose the right tool, you’ll suddenly find yourself breaking Olympic records within a few months of use.


Sorry to break the news, but there is no one thing separating your current status from being a world champion athlete.

The particular combination of genetics, work ethic, and choice environment is what produces the athletes whom we love to watch and marvel at. And a lot of luck. Sometimes, drugs.

These women and men didn’t watch a late night infomercial, order a magic wand, and get transported to the winner’s podium.

FACT: Buying the right gear is important, but you still have to work hard and work smart to get results.


Choosing The Right Tool For The Job


Your choice of what to to train with and how to train should suit your temperament.

Success in a fitness program is directly related to being consistent over a long period of time. Make your training a habit – one you’ll continue to cultivate for the rest of your life.

And if you are going to be doing this for years to come, it should be interesting and fun, and your choice of training tools should reflect that.

That’s one benefit to the wide variety of options available to us. We can find something that is a best fit for our current needs.

We can also change that up as well, if and when our needs take a turn.


Tools are always a means to an end.

Van Halen Drill

Drills are not exciting in their own right. They exist for making holes. And guitar solos.

Nobody buys a drill because they like pulling a trigger and watching something spin.

Drills make holes.

That’s what they’re for (unless you’re Eddie Van Halen).

Likewise that piece of fitness equipment is there to help you achieve your goals. Simply owning an apparatus isn’t going to make the goal happen.

Your time, effort, and awareness is what’s going to get you where you want to go.


Why Programming Is More Important Than The Tools You Use


At the most basic level, some implements are going to be more useful than others for selected objectives.

  • Rings are useful for building pulling strength, developing “stabilization”, good shoulder position habits, etc.
  • Parallettes have a focus on pressing strength, particularly in straight arm strength and give you improved leverage to develop hand balancing skills.
  • Barbells are great for building brute strength.

However, while they may have particular emphases, the training effects can be changed more than you think by manipulating the programming, without ever changing the tool at hand.

The tool by itself doesn’t create results. It’s the application and how you structure your exercise plan.

That’s one reason we don’t feel it necessary to create a GMB program that combines rings, parallettes, and floor. You can build strength and mobility through your entire body with any one tool; it’s only the particular skills that really vary from one to the other.

It’s not a total overlap of course. But that’s why you cycle from one tool to the next.

If there really is a shortcut in training, it’s in using your tools well, as part of a solid program.

This is where the magic happens.

This is the secret sauce that can help you take your training to a higher level.


Focus on What Matters


Don’t get caught up in the hype surrounding any one piece of equipment, be it kettlebells, rings, parallettes, whips, chains, cables, tornado balls, shake-weights, or even your own body!


  • Choose a tool you know you would enjoy using, and that will enable you to be consistent in your training for a long period of time.
  • Use a good program structured for your goals along with that equipment.
  • Move on to something else at the end of the program.


What's Your Training Goal?

GMB’s fundamental goal for all of our programs is to improve body control and skill. Each of our programs involve whole body training, using progressions to take you from basic movements to advanced flow work.

Our balanced approach includes everything you need, and nothing you don’t, so you can be sure that you’re making progress as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Really, you’ve only got one thing left to decide: what goals are you headed towards?


Photos via IMDB, HuffingtonPost.com, MTV.com.

Andy Fossett

GMB Executive Director - Andy enjoys reading books, drinking beer, and practicing martial arts and parkour. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii and thinks you look lovely today.

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Why Believing in Magic Bullet Fitness Equipment is Shooting You in the Foot by
  • Kosotie

    Great advise! I had to live myself since the doctor told me I could not jump or run anymore, so I’m “forced” change my training habits, for the better anyway! :-)

    • http://www.goldmedalbodies.com/ Andy Fossett

      Sometimes the body enforces limits – and it sucks, but you’ve got to roll with what you have. Great too see that you’re not letting it stop you from working out.

  • Matt

    Paul Gilbert did the drill things before EVH… Great post!

    • http://www.goldmedalbodies.com/ Andy Fossett

      Thanks! And yeah, Paul and Billy did an awesome routine with the drills live too when Mr. Big was still big. I remember they actually had an endorsement deal with Makita drills. But alas, more people know EVH…

      • Matt

        Yeah, and that’s what it comes down to… (much to Paul and Bily’s chagrin).

        Keep up the great work!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Mead/1094171589 Jonathan Mead

    My martial arts teacher said to me once “It’s not really the specific art being practiced that makes someone great. It’s the martial artist.”

    • http://www.goldmedalbodies.com/ Andy Fossett

      So true. Every “weapon” of any martial art is just another tool we have to figure out the best way to use.

  • javier

    Hello Andy,
    Nice post that make you stop and think about it. I totally agree. We must focus on our goals and don’t let all this tools to divert us form our destination improve our body control and awereness. They are good tools but we have to know how to use them and how to incorporate them in our porgram and don’t shallow the bait and acumulate junks at home.



    • http://www.goldmedalbodies.com/ Andy Fossett

      You got it, Javier.

      Obviously, we’re fans of certain tools, but we’re not going to make any claims that parallettes will cure cancer or anything. It’s just one tool that can work if you use it well (and we like to think we are using it well…)


  • Vlad

    Good article Andy and i think there should be 1 more myth – “You can do it all on your own”. In my experience, every progression i achieved over the years is a result of finding the right trainer/coach or just having a training partner. Besides, it is more fun !

    • http://www.goldmedalbodies.com/ Andy Fossett

      Thanks, Vlad. I agree! The reason we didn’t include that here is that it’s true regardless of equipment.

  • Martin

    Clubbells rule! :p
    Right now I’m following a 8 week program for building mass and strength. I have the right tools and something that you have pointed out in the past I am doing – I’m sticking with the program. The only liberties I take is being creative with the program. For example, one day I have to do light weight high reps, I used clubbells. Another time, dips are recommended – I might use the rings. Abs workout, legs raises on the floor but in the hollow body position with arms fully extended. I’m still sticking to the program. I do like having so many tools in my home gym that I have the fun of switching up programs throughout the year.

    • http://www.goldmedalbodies.com/ Andy Fossett


      glad you’re basically following the program. Using different tools to suit your goals is great. It’s nice to have variety as long as you’re making those decisions based on goals and not ADD.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1038968254 Abby Bologa

    Ha ha ha…great article! Loved it. This falls under the category of “flexible mental ability” or something like that. Learning to get great results and being flexible about it. Thanks again.

    • http://www.goldmedalbodies.com/ Andy Fossett

      Glad you enjoyed it Abby. Flexibility is definitely an underrated mental quality.