Chris Duffin and Rudy Kadlub give conventional weightlifting a technical twist

When injury causes a silver lining, it's breakthrough innovation that is often inspired and implemented after our worst physical moments. One of the most notable examples is the ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction - also known as the Tommy John surgery - named after the former all-star pitcher who first underwent surgery on his limb in 1974 and has since saved the careers of countless pitchers hat and athlete.

In the weight room, hiring a new PR can sometimes result in an iron trip to the emergency room. Because of this, in these fitness-mad times, the best minds in the business continue to search for ways to build a better mousetrap, or in the case of Kabuki Strength, a better trap bar or squat or any other type of ergonomically superior equipment that will enable you Both top athletes and average athletes continue to press heavy iron while avoiding unnecessary, injury-related and weary joint loads.

The minds behind Kabuki Strength are two powerlifting titans, Chris Duffin and Rudy Kadlub. The deadlift duo found a way to capitalize on their decades of setting world strength records and piecing together debilitating injuries to rethink and revolutionize weight training. In their own strength lab, they have developed products that they believe they have proven that both traditional strength training and safe technological advances can create a beneficial training partnership.

"It was literally inspired by any injury or pain we would suffer during the training process," admits Duffin. "The whole concept was to look at strength training from the perspective of understanding how the body should deal with these problems and how we can design equipment to deal with them."

And the need for safety to be a priority in both commercial gyms and home products couldn't come at a better time. Due to the pandemic, home device sales rose nearly 170 percent between 2019 and 2020. At the same time, injuries rose by almost 50 percent, as 37,522 people were injured at home from physical activity.

Duffin, who once held the Guinness World Record for most deadlifting weight in one minute at 17,010 pounds. He has also admittedly suffered multiple herniated discs, three muscles completely torn from the bone, along with several injuries that he describes as "retired". Relieving some of the shoulder pain that kept him awake at night led to his first breakthrough in the company - the club-like ShouldeRök.

Soon after, strength coaches from most professional leagues noticed kabukis safer strength and quickly noticed weight gains after installing kabuki equipment, including the popular item, the duffalo bar, which they saw as a safer approach to both the squat and bench press, as well the Kadillac Bar, the painless bench press, and now the latest Transformer all-in-one squat bar.

Kadlub, meanwhile, began powerlifting at the age of 55 and has broken more than three dozen records. And at the age of 72, he set an unofficial deadlift record with a pull of 518 pounds after undergoing shoulder replacement surgery several years earlier. Kadlub owes his continuous progress in old age to the change of equipment.

And now with the New Year approaching and fitness fans and beginners alike trying to get bigger, stronger, and better, Kabuki wants you to stay healthier. Because of this, its mission for commercial gyms and exercise bikes is to push for movement beyond the old school straight bar for greater safety while increasing strength.

“If you're not a barbell athlete, there is no reason to train with you,” says Kadlub, “especially if you want to maintain your health and maintain it well into old age. w is the time to educate the rest. "

Kabuki Strength founder Chris Duffy doing a Romanian split squat with a trap barCourtesy Kabuki Strength

Kabuki Strength Origins

Duffin and Kadlub's first order from their Oregon headquarters in 2014 was to repair it themselves. The two created a “strength lab” to exchange ideas while doing what they enjoyed most: lifting heavy weights. Duffin, an aerospace engineer also known as "Mad Scientist", built some unconventional power prototypes in his machine shop with different grip angles to reduce stress on the joints.

"We literally just wanted to refine the tools and training to be the best, to be the best in the world," says Duffin. "And that's how I started building the equipment because that's literally my background."

It wasn't until 2015, when the ShouldeRök was becoming increasingly popular, that Duffin decided to become “Employee . 1” and do everything possible to expand Kabuki.

Kabuki's next breakthrough: a bar that reduces bench press wear and tear on most people's shoulders. The duffalo bar with a curved center enables correct alignment of the joints and reduces the rotational load on the shoulder. This optimization, they say, has resulted in improved scapular retraction and lat connection when pressing and squatting.

Her pain-free results resulted in heavy pressure on strength and conditioning coaches throughout Major League Baseball. With mostly positive positive results.

"We had strength trainers who told us they couldn't even put a bar to their chest because of shoulder surgery," says Duffin. “I'm like, try. And they said it felt good. Then they just started putting on more weight, and next they work their way up to 225 for a few reps while everyone in the workforce stands around in disbelief. "

Today, Kabuki consists of a dozen or so employees, all of whom share ideas during their training at the facility in Clackama, OR, about 12 miles southeast of Portland. As "chief visionary", Duffin leads the group of like-minded muscle heads.

“We are so passionate about this self improvement and this aspect. So we have this culture and then this external culture, we are so integrated into our community that we also receive the feedback. "

Convert the old school pros

In addition to creative ideas in the laboratory, Duffin and Kadlub also listen to feedback from their loyal customer base. One example is Kabuki's redesigned trap bar, created after suggestions for easier loading and unloading of weights that kept filling Kabuki's inboxes. His Trap Bar HD now has its own integrated bar lifter to enable easy and back-friendly loading and unloading.

And now with its Transformer Bar, an adjustable, multifunctional barbell that enables 24 different squat variations - from front squats and goblet squats to back squats and safety bar squats. It's now nationwide in both professional and college weight rooms.

"Chris and I will always ask the head coach to bring us one of their weaker squatters and we will put them under the transformer," says Kadlub. "And suddenly they're squatting more upright and lower and it's like, wow!"

Despite their message to switch to safer squats, Duffin and Kadlub admit that eliminating the straight bar completely is impossible, especially when it comes to competitions and even Olympic moves like cleans and snatches. How and when to change, however, is the message they are sending to the heavyweight hardliners who insist old school is the only method.

"We get the segments that have been doing this for a while and are a little bit resistant," says Duffin. “You will still say the old way of squats, deadlifts, and bench presses works. But if you say, hey, just give it a try and see how it feels and how the pain decreases as you add more volume and exercise more often, then you will get some conversions.

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