Is barbell training really necessary?

pet'

> 6k Posts
Hello,

@DaveS
Yes you are right. Even a 'simple' OA push ups, with only a few kg added (for instance 3 or 4) without leaning sideways or twisting can get super tough.

In an article, HSPU done with RoP frame are also wonderful for instance

IMO the main caveat of bdw training is that there is no real substitute for DL

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

DaveS

Double-Digit Post Count
My heaviest bag has 105, a bunch of that is steel shot. I'll be making up a new bag soon with about 150lbs, at least half of it will be steel shot to keep the size of the bag down.

It sounds so cliche, but training w/ sandbag has done more for my real world "walk up and move stuff" strength than any other mode I've used. I feel more durable too.

For bench substitute I shoulder the bag and then push it up and over onto center of my back, do pushups on a board.
On a scale my 105 bag creates 250lbs of pressing resistance. Feels like a much better exercise than flat bench, cannot believe how much work my lats do.
Intersting you and JW513 like using sandbags to add resistance. Im looking at options for adding weight to OAPUs in the distant future and was thinking of just using the free arm to help balance a kettlebell between my shoulder blades but remember reading Pavel suggest and sandbag to achieve the same aim in NW and seems a btter fit give. The sandbag will shape itself around my back better and perhaps be more comfortable and better balanced. Do you think it would be easy to make an adjustable resistance sandbag? Perhaps by making lots of little 1-2kg sandbags to then fill a bigger bag?

Dave.
 

JW513

Double-Digit Post Count
My heaviest bag has 105, a bunch of that is steel shot. I'll be making up a new bag soon with about 150lbs, at least half of it will be steel shot to keep the size of the bag down.

It sounds so cliche, but training w/ sandbag has done more for my real world "walk up and move stuff" strength than any other mode I've used. I feel more durable too.

For bench substitute I shoulder the bag and then push it up and over onto center of my back, do pushups on a board.
On a scale my 105 bag creates 250lbs of pressing resistance. Feels like a much better exercise than flat bench, cannot believe how much work my lats do.
Yeah, I'm sorta oddly shaped, my lats are huge compared to rest of my body.. They always have been, if i didn't drink beer i'd have that v shape people love..

The reason I love sandbag training is because I do construction. It really helps, shoulder one and walk with it for a minute each side at the end of your work out, but carry a 55lbs kettlebell in the free hand (or any weight)... Combined with my 140lbs sandbag, I'm almost carrying 200lbs on my body for 2 or 3 minutes. I'd do longer but I need energy for work. I never get winded at work, I'm strong enough to carry just about anything I need to.. Plus I love telling people I workout with sandbags at work, they think i'm crazy but they are also intrigued.
 
Intersting you and JW513 like using sandbags to add resistance. Im looking at options for adding weight to OAPUs in the distant future and was thinking of just using the free arm to help balance a kettlebell between my shoulder blades but remember reading Pavel suggest and sandbag to achieve the same aim in NW and seems a btter fit give. The sandbag will shape itself around my back better and perhaps be more comfortable and better balanced. Do you think it would be easy to make an adjustable resistance sandbag? Perhaps by making lots of little 1-2kg sandbags to then fill a bigger bag?

Dave.
I did just that w/ steel shot in bags of 5 and 10lb increments. It works, but the most you'd want to do for a workout is preload all your bags for the day's work.
Swapping them out per set is drudgery, a lot of zipper fumbling.
 

DaveS

Double-Digit Post Count
I did just that w/ steel shot in bags of 5 and 10lb increments. It works, but the most you'd want to do for a workout is preload all your bags for the day's work.
Swapping them out per set is drudgery, a lot of zipper fumbling.
Ok cool thanks, id just use it for the OAPUs as have kettlebells already to weight other exercises. Perhaps i could think if a way of securing it with something quick to release, ill look into how id do it, thanks, Dave.
 

Blake Nelson

Triple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
Intersting Blake, so by implication, unless you are a bodybuilder or an athlete short on time needing to add a lot of muscle quick then the barbell not neccesary even for reaching strength potential so long as a similar level of resistance can be achieved by other means (weighted calisthenics, kettlebells, sandbags etc)?
That is not what I meant. Rather, I was saying that if you want to build muscle, for any reason, the hormonal effects of heavy barbell training cannot be replicated. You can build muscle other ways of course, but those ways tend not to be as efficient.
If you are just an average civilian with the goal of improving your "strength and health" then the other means you listed can get you there, it just will take longer. Simple and Sinister, for example.

If your goal is to reach your "strength potential" I would recommend barbells, too. I don't know how you could reach similar levels of resistance using other tools.

Blake
 

Chrisdavisjr

> 1k Posts
Intersting Blake, so by implication, unless you are a bodybuilder or an athlete short on time needing to add a lot of muscle quick then the barbell not neccesary even for reaching strength potential so long as a similar level of resistance can be achieved by other means (weighted calisthenics, kettlebells, sandbags etc)?
You'll not find a similar level of resistance to a heavy barbell deadlift/back squat with another implement (I'm counting 'speciality' barbells - trap bars, safety squat bars etc. - as barbells, rather than 'other implements').

Heavy KB squats/sandbag squats are great exercises and will certainly build the legs (and core to boot) but you'll not be able to match the same amount of resistance achievable with a barbell.

EDIT: My bad, @Blake Nelson just said pretty much the exact same thing.
 

Kettlebelephant

> 1k Posts
Heavy KB squats/sandbag squats are great exercises and will certainly build the legs (and core to boot) but you'll not be able to match the same amount of resistance achievable with a barbell.
This is simply not true.
physics_torque1.gif
114877295-stock-vector-illustration-of-the-simple-lever-balance.jpg
These are simple illustrations of how levers/lever arms play into this.
Depending on the position, you have to overcome more resistance during a 48Kg goblet squat than in a 200Kg back squat that's perfectly balanced over your center of mass.

There's not a single quality that can exclusively be build with barbells, but because of their design they are the most convenient and easiest to program tool.
For example, like @North Coast Miller mentioned, I too believe that you can reach the same strength and hypertrophy with atlas stones that you can reach with barbell squats + deadlifts. It's just really cumbersome and potentially more risky (in terms of injury) to do it with atlas stones.

So do you need to train with a barbell? No, except you want to compete in powerlifting or olympic weightlifting.
Can you build any quality you want (max strength, hypertrophy, power etc.) without a barbell? Yes, but for many of them it's still the best tool.
 

DaveS

Double-Digit Post Count
That is not what I meant. Rather, I was saying that if you want to build muscle, for any reason, the hormonal effects of heavy barbell training cannot be replicated. You can build muscle other ways of course, but those ways tend not to be as efficient.
If you are just an average civilian with the goal of improving your "strength and health" then the other means you listed can get you there, it just will take longer. Simple and Sinister, for example.

If your goal is to reach your "strength potential" I would recommend barbells, too. I don't know how you could reach similar levels of resistance using other tools.

Blake
Hey Blake,

Hope im not causing offence in any of this?! Your right in that im not an elite athlete and so much of this discussion is only academic in that my goals are only health and strength related and so i dont need a barbell anyway but on the other hand i find it interesting to learn and discuss the related theories behind the training and so only raise these questions to try and learn more and spark interesting further discussions to further clarify ideas others put forward. Your comments on hormonal response were interesting to me and so i took what i thought was your point to a logical conclusion to further understand it but perhaps misunderstood your point.

I find your comment of 'not reaching similar resistance levels' interesting though if i may question you on that further? I notice similar statements from others and including Pavel in his article 3 Reasons You May Need to Pick Up Barbell Training | StrongFirst with comments from Pavel that i dont quite understand the logic of such as

'You need the bar because kettlebells and your body are just not heavy enough' and 'Because he does not have to maximize his absolute strength development, he can make do with kettlebells and bodyweight.'

Im struggling to get past the logic of my example of the weighted pistol vs a barbell squat. If ive got 200lbs of resistance on one leg in the pistol it would equal 400lbs of resistance in a barbell back squat or even more a barbell front squat given the position, if ive got 250lbs in a pistol ive got an equivalent resistance of 500lb barbell back/front squat so if i can load up a pistol to such levels by adding weights in my hands (kettlebells, sandbags whatever) why would that not be as effective for strength development in the legs squating motion? Your homornal response idea seems to have merit for why the body's response to building strength faster might occurr with barbells but i dont understamd the not being able to achieve the same level of resistance.

Again, im only seeking to understand more here not 'argue' so any further insight is appreciated.

Thanks,

Dave.
 

Blake Nelson

Triple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
Hope im not causing offence in any of this?! .
Not a bit @DaveS ! No offense taken, I just want to be clear that your interpretation wasn't what I intended. I am more than happy to explain what I mean and I don't take it as arguing at all. You have been very polite.

I think the missing concept here is efficiency or usability, something @Kettlebelephant was getting at above. The thing that makes a barbell a special tool is not that it is HEAVY, but rather that it is heavy and easy to use.

A 500# squatter is impressive but is still at less than 50% of a world record, I have never even heard of someone doing a pistol with 250#. I hope that illustrates the point.

Blake
 

DaveS

Double-Digit Post Count
Not a bit @DaveS ! No offense taken, I just want to be clear that your interpretation wasn't what I intended. I am more than happy to explain what I mean and I don't take it as arguing at all. You have been very polite.

I think the missing concept here is efficiency or usability, something @Kettlebelephant was getting at above. The thing that makes a barbell a special tool is not that it is HEAVY, but rather that it is heavy and easy to use.

A 500# squatter is impressive but is still at less than 50% of a world record, I have never even heard of someone doing a pistol with 250#. I hope that illustrates the point.

Blake
Hey Blake, ok cool, i like the fact this forum is full of knowledgeable folk who are mature enough to have productive discussions and debates without it getting personal so hopefully all benefit.

I see your point that barbell training easier with less balance issues unlike unilateral weighted cals.

One point on the ‘half world record’ comment, if we compare raw world records that number comes down abit to around 900lbs for most (bar ray williams outliner 1080). Guys in this SHW class often weigh 350lb+ so such a guy doing just a body weight pistol is lifting 175lb on the lifting leg and so roughly equivalent to 350lb back squat. Im not sure how reliable it is exactly but in convict conditioning it talks about Bert Assarati strongman and wrestler from 1900s doing pistols with 200lb added weight and a female shot putter having done 250lb pistols. So if our SHW powerlifter were to add 250lb to his pistol he would be then be lifting 425lbs on one leg and so 850lb equivalent back squat! Add the pistol being more upright than low bar back squat and it might be closer to a 900lb barbell back squat equivalent and so pretty comparable to the huge raw world records.

I cant pick a fault in my own logic with this (please do if you can see something) and so leaves me wondering if the issue is really more about traditions and that guys naturally gravitating to SHW powerlifting categories find anything requiring mobility and balance more difficult and so barbell lifting is easier and the better approach for them so then the tradition takes hold and we all then say barbells are the only means of absolute strength development when in fact weighted callisthenics taken to their limit in a similar manner by the worlds naturally biggest strongest people would actually produce a similar effect?

Sorry, another long rambling post.

Dave.
 

Blake Nelson

Triple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
Hey Blake, ok cool, i like the fact this forum is full of knowledgeable folk who are mature enough to have productive discussions and debates without it getting personal so hopefully all benefit.

I see your point that barbell training easier with less balance issues unlike unilateral weighted cals.

One point on the ‘half world record’ comment, if we compare raw world records that number comes down abit to around 900lbs for most (bar ray williams outliner 1080). Guys in this SHW class often weigh 350lb+ so such a guy doing just a body weight pistol is lifting 175lb on the lifting leg and so roughly equivalent to 350lb back squat. Im not sure how reliable it is exactly but in convict conditioning it talks about Bert Assarati strongman and wrestler from 1900s doing pistols with 200lb added weight and a female shot putter having done 250lb pistols. So if our SHW powerlifter were to add 250lb to his pistol he would be then be lifting 425lbs on one leg and so 850lb equivalent back squat! Add the pistol being more upright than low bar back squat and it might be closer to a 900lb barbell back squat equivalent and so pretty comparable to the huge raw world records.

I cant pick a fault in my own logic with this (please do if you can see something) and so leaves me wondering if the issue is really more about traditions and that guys naturally gravitating to SHW powerlifting categories find anything requiring mobility and balance more difficult and so barbell lifting is easier and the better approach for them so then the tradition takes hold and we all then say barbells are the only means of absolute strength development when in fact weighted callisthenics taken to their limit in a similar manner by the worlds naturally biggest strongest people would actually produce a similar effect?

Sorry, another long rambling post.

Dave.
You raise some good points, but I think we are getting away from practical training and more into the realms of speculation. I really can't speak to the reliability of anything in Convict Conditioning, but those are some truly amazing numbers.

I also think it is worth noting that comparing the body weights of these lifters is where things get confusing. Do we add the weight of a lifter to the record of a barbell squat? If not, why do we add it to the weight of a pistol? My point is that the two are so different that these numbers start to not mean much.

I am more interested in what is practical for most people and I think the bar is a super useful tool. If anybody wants to focus on heavy calisthenics, etc. more power to them!

Blake
 

Kettlebelephant

> 1k Posts
I am more interested in what is practical for most people and I think the bar is a super useful tool. If anybody wants to focus on heavy calisthenics, etc. more power to them!
To add to this. There's a subculture within the calisthenics world called "Weighted Calisthenics". Those people have competitions with 1RM pullups and stuff like that.
For their lower body work they mostly go for heavy barbell squats and deadlifts, not super heavy pistols. Why? It's just not practical and on the wrong side of the risk-reward scale.

Risk-reward ratio in general is, in my opinion, a big thing when assessing modalities, tools and movements for training.
 

DaveS

Double-Digit Post Count
You raise some good points, but I think we are getting away from practical training and more into the realms of speculation. I really can't speak to the reliability of anything in Convict Conditioning, but those are some truly amazing numbers.

I also think it is worth noting that comparing the body weights of these lifters is where things get confusing. Do we add the weight of a lifter to the record of a barbell squat? If not, why do we add it to the weight of a pistol? My point is that the two are so different that these numbers start to not mean much.

I am more interested in what is practical for most people and I think the bar is a super useful tool. If anybody wants to focus on heavy calisthenics, etc. more power to them!

Blake
Yes, definately in the realm of speculation with it all but then most original scientific studies ideas will have started with speculation but this discussion is perhaps going outside of your interest now. Thanks for the discussion though.

Just to follow up on that point of not adding the weight of the lifter (for the sake of anyone else following this thread that is wondering) that was the reason i only added half the bodyweight of the lifter to the pistol loading rather than the full bodyweight so it would be consistent, if you see what i mean.

Dave.
 

DaveS

Double-Digit Post Count
To add to this. There's a subculture within the calisthenics world called "Weighted Calisthenics". Those people have competitions with 1RM pullups and stuff like that.
For their lower body work they mostly go for heavy barbell squats and deadlifts, not super heavy pistols. Why? It's just not practical and on the wrong side of the risk-reward scale.

Risk-reward ratio in general is, in my opinion, a big thing when assessing modalities, tools and movements for training.
Good point on risk-reward ratio kettlebelephant but then the example is extreme and any modality will be high risk when at the extreme end of human possibility though the pistol being on one leg would definately make it more risky than the massive weighted barbell, agree too that a very important point for assesing modality choices.
 
Good conversation, esp the part about trying to equate different loads/exercises relative to barbell.
When doing loaded pushups I'm pretty sure the load is, if anything going to = a heavier benchpress, but that's only because I can measure the amount of resistance my limbs are directly moving, and am supporting the load with my entire body.

Doing a single leg squat off of a crate with 105lb sandbag = nearly 300lbs the one leg is moving, but that isn't going to mean I could double the bodyweight component and make declarations about how I could do a 400lb squat for 15 reps. I'll say this though, it will definitely be more than double the sand - 210lbs on the bar, where 200lbs of sand would be virtually impossible for me to even shoulder let alone squat with two legs. 200lbs of steel shot I could probably manage just by virtue of its smaller size, tho it would still be far tougher than BB squatting the same weight with same approx body mechanics.

Having all the weight concentrated on a single, evenly balanced bar makes a huge diff in how the body can handle the load. Again, does this mean using those heavier loads will make for better strength in unrelated tasks? I have my doubts. MTI did a mini test using their Leg Blasters bodyweight complex vs BB Front squat, and both groups improved about the same % (keeping in mind the LB group wasn't training Front Squat). Again, small sample size, short duration etc but interesting nonetheless.

Still cannot argue the many good points already made and ones I've brought up as well - BB is the safest way to move big loads.
 

DaveS

Double-Digit Post Count
Good conversation, esp the part about trying to equate different loads/exercises relative to barbell.
When doing loaded pushups I'm pretty sure the load is, if anything going to = a heavier benchpress, but that's only because I can measure the amount of resistance my limbs are directly moving, and am supporting the load with my entire body.

Doing a single leg squat off of a crate with 105lb sandbag = nearly 300lbs the one leg is moving, but that isn't going to mean I could double the bodyweight component and make declarations about how I could do a 400lb squat for 15 reps. I'll say this though, it will definitely be more than double the sand - 210lbs on the bar, where 200lbs of sand would be virtually impossible for me to even shoulder let alone squat with two legs. 200lbs of steel shot I could probably manage just by virtue of its smaller size, tho it would still be far tougher than BB squatting the same weight with same approx body mechanics.

Having all the weight concentrated on a single, evenly balanced bar makes a huge diff in how the body can handle the load. Again, does this mean using those heavier loads will make for better strength in unrelated tasks? I have my doubts. MTI did a mini test using their Leg Blasters bodyweight complex vs BB Front squat, and both groups improved about the same % (keeping in mind the LB group wasn't training Front Squat). Again, small sample size, short duration etc but interesting nonetheless.

Still cannot argue the many good points already made and ones I've brought up as well - BB is the safest way to move big loads.
Good points NC Miller, the placement and ‘density’ of the load in relation to COM is definitely gonna influence how the strength transfers between the modalities. When im suggesting if you can pistol say 250lb total load be equivalent to 500lb 2 leg barbell back squat load im not suggesting that the person could actually back squat 500lbs due to specificity and needing to accommodate to the specific positions and as you say how the load varies and so the power/olympic lifter has to train with a barbell to be skilled with it. What i am suggesting though is the leg strength would be the same from both modalities and so both just as valid methods for building strength (absolute strength included) for athletes or anyone else not a power/olympic lifter and so challenging what seems to be a ‘status quo’ that barbells are the only way to build absolute strength. I think from from what you are saying with sandbags is similar in that the loads might be different due to the different ‘spread’ of the load the sandbags creates and so make comparing difficult but the transfer of the strength built up to other things would be just as good? Barbells being a good modality and safe are good points too of course but then not everyone has or wants access to barbells and the other needed requirements for suitable venue, flooring, squat racks, spotters etc and so if other modalities can be used just as effectively i think its important that be known as pistols with KBs or sandbags is a hell of a lot easier to do regardless of venues etc for a lot of people. My preferences could well be swaying my judgement in the debate but same time I can’t find a problem in my ‘logic’ with comparable loads and so why im interested if others more experienced can.

Thanks for the input,

Dave.
 
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Michael20

Double-Digit Post Count
I think a good way to frame this topic is to look at the TSC. I've never competed in it nor do I know much about it. I think X amount weight for one exercise compared to Y amount weight for another exercise and load distribution can be debated but they are two different movements/skills, with different subtleties to perform each skill to a high level. I use mostly KB and bodyweight but have recently started to use barbell to become more rounded and lift heavier (heavier for me :) ) weights safely.
 
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