Is barbell training really necessary?

Discussion in 'Other' started by Sh4ggyy, Aug 22, 2019.

  1. Hasbro

    Hasbro Triple-Digit Post Count

    I think it’s completely dependent on your goals. If muscle mass and hypertrophy is the goal then nothing will get you there quicker than barbells. But I’ve also seen guys that were jacked and did nothing but body weight programs. A few years ago I did Wendler 5/3/1 for a couple of years and in my late 50’s I was stronger than I’ve ever been in my life.

    But it came at a cost. My CNS stayed taxed all the time and I felt like I was in a constant state of recovery and soreness. Once the weight got high and the easy newbie gains were over I got to the point of dreading to go to the gym because I knew how much it was going to take out of me. I finally decided GPP, feeling good, and not being sore all the time was more important to me than how I looked in the mirror. Doing S&S A+A style filled the bill in spades.

    Yes I lost a little of the mass and strength but not much. Before I could DL over 400lbs but I guarantee I could walk into the gym today and DL at least 350 with no problem and I haven’t trained the deadlift in over 2 years. I’m not looking to be as strong as I can possibly be anymore...just strong enough.
    Tirofijo likes this.
  2. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    I pretty much agree with this, the next question, does one need barbell to build the sort of moldable strength prereq for athleticism - I don't think so.
    Billy59 likes this.
  3. WhatWouldHulkDo

    WhatWouldHulkDo Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Certainly not a prereq, and I think everybody on the thread is in agreement on that point. Barbells aren't the only way to get there - they're just a very good way to get there.
  4. Ryan T

    Ryan T More than 500 posts

    Great discussion. I've gotten much stronger with general kettlebell training than when I started down this path, specifically heavier snatches and working my way to Simple. Once I started hitting the 32kg for GUs, swings, and goblet squats it took me to a different level. A day between waving volume A+A snatches seem sufficient for recovery. I walk and do light jogging or rowing on my off days. I've also started shotokan karate with my son. The emphasis on being light on your feet and speed are starting to round things out. Not a lot of dedicated chest work though; that feels like a deficiency that a little GTG push ups could fix. So far this has not been overly taxing on my CNS and enjoyable.

    I have a barbell but no weights or a rack yet. At some point I will and I plan on doing some barbell cycles in the next year or so. All these things are tools and its good and fun to have many options at your disposal.

    As some others have said, it probably depends on your goals and what you can stick with to be consistent and move towards a general life time approach to wellness. We shouldn't chase gains. Strong first is great, but I would say focus on "well first" and you get the strength thrown with a longer more enjoyable life that offsets the aging process to whatever degree it can.
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  5. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts

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  6. Bill Buck

    Bill Buck Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    No, you can be plenty strong and healthy with dumbbells, kettlebells and body weight exercises.
  7. Alaska80

    Alaska80 Double-Digit Post Count

    I can conclusively state from experience that the answer to this is absolutely yes. BB work does have specific carryover into real life physical activity. I live in a fairly remote part of Alaska and hunt for all our meat for a given year, these hunts are hard. They often find me packing a 150lb-200lb pack of meat miles over very broken and difficult terrain. KBs do a great job of giving me core tension and SE, not to mention the amazing WTH effect, but it wasn't until I was DL 350+ and Squatting 300+ that his task of carrying heavy loads became much easier. Obviously, a conditioning base has to be maintained, but KBs could never take me to the level of reserve strength that I need to do what I do and enjoy it. Now at a BW of 185 my DL is 405 and squat is 320, and having that much reserve strength makes moving heavy loads over long distances an actual pleasure, assuming I maintain my conditioning base.

    But to the OPs original question, are BB necessary? That depends. For most people living a normal life, no they are not, but for those of us who are type A and want to squeeze every ounce of genetic potential out of our bodies, yes they are.
  8. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    Ahhh, do you really think the result would be substantially different if you'd been offset squatting a 230lb log and round back lifting a 150lb atlas ball? I personally wouldn't bet against it.

    I'm not going to argue that more weight doesn't do good things for increased load bearing, but I do believe at some point fairly early in the process, a lot of the strength becomes increasingly specific. While this is true with every exercise, that's kind of my point.
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  9. Colby

    Colby Double-Digit Post Count

    Keep in mind that just because something has more weight to load doesn’t always carry over the same way. For example, you can get an amazing workout out of a zercher squat with a quarter of the weight you would use to back squat, with very good results. So load placement also is a huge factor. Double kettlebell front squats will feel much heavier pound for pound then putting a bar on your back because of the amount of tension and motor control involved.
    North Coast Miller and Hasbro like this.
  10. Kaisersemmel

    Kaisersemmel Double-Digit Post Count

    You can get pretty big and strong without using them. And to be honest just doing some chin ups and not being a complete couch potatoe is probably more then enough to elevate you into "fit" territory in most peoples eyes. How many people at your workplace can even do 10 chin ups and run 2mi at a decent pace?

    But in my limited experience the 2 things that really stand out with barbells are the possibility to 1.) load most muscle groups with a hand full of exercises, and 2.) to use micro loading up to very high loads.

    A simplistic but serious whole body workout could look like this and make you very strong with about 2 hours of training per week using basic equipment:
    Day 1: Squat, Bench, Sumo
    Day 2: Front Squat, Bench, Deadlift

    It's not perfect but how much more complicated would you need to make a program not using barbells if you want to replicate the strength gains of someone who works up to 200lbs bench presses, 300lbs squats and 400lbs deadlifts. And I think most healthy males of average size could work up to those numbers with minimal instruction and commitment. And barbells are accessible to most people in most places. Weak or strong. Big or small. My GF started training with me a while ago and we can do the same workout using the same equipment no problem. And even with my modest strength numbers I am already far strong than most people I interact with on a daily basis.
  11. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    "Amazing workout" and "feel much heavier" may translate to increased demand for tension and motor control, but they don't necessarily translate to increased force production; i.e., strength.
  12. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    You can befuddle the upper body and core by shifting the load relative to center of mass, but from the hips down they only understand heavy loading.

    You can do a lot with unilateral exercises and offset loads but they still need to involve hefty weight.
    WhatWouldHulkDo likes this.
  13. JW513

    JW513 Double-Digit Post Count

    Barbells are great but I have no interest. I'm working my way up to 200lbs sandbags... If I can shoulder one a bunch of times or carry it for 5 minutes, I'm strong.

    I do like kettlebells, too. Love the simplicity.

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