Updated: Mar 25, 2020
If you have ever looked at my Instagram profile, it’s obvious that I like to train in my garage with a barbell. Why do we train with barbells?
My first training experience outside of high school gym class was p90x. It was my husband's idea. My husband’s commitment to a commitment is unlike anything I have ever seen or heard of. He got me on board. Believe me, I wanted to choke him after day 1. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. I did not want to go back for day 2, but Michael was there reminding me of the commitment. He encouraged me to push through the hard stuff because it would get easier if we stuck with the program. When I was ready to collapse on the floor and die, Tony would chime in! Perfect timing, Tony! Those words of encouragement worked! Turns out, both of them were right. It was hard and I grew to love it. I am still thankful to Tony Horton for that program. At that time, I was doing things I had never done physically. I was having mental breakthroughs about my capability. I thought if I can do this, I can do anything I set my mind to. That was a huge stepping stone for me. It gave me routine, I lost the weight I gained after college and it was the first time healthier eating was introduced to me.
That stepping stone gave me the courage to join a gym. Once I joined the gym, I wanted to start running. I had never ran more than a mile or even a mile without stopping. I started working on running one half mile at a time. That eventually led to 5k’s, 10k's and a half marathon. Those things gave way to more weightlifting, triathlons and all the HIIT workouts you could imagine. I felt great! I was small and lean but, I wasn’t getting any stronger. I didn’t know how to get stronger. This went on for about 4 years.
I had never thought about picking up a barbell. In fact, I didn’t even try and asked a guy to move one for me. I was certain I could never lift such a thing. All the girls in my gym, were high intensity, interval queens. None of us were squatting, definitely not bench pressing and absolutely not dead lifting. What the hell was a dead lift any way? I had witnessed bench pressing and squatting.
Sometime in 2012, I was introduced to Instagram and Crossfit. Suddenly, everyone had barbells in their hands. Everyone in real life, everyone on social media and tv were lifting massive amounts of weight and making it look easy. I saw so many women doing it, I thought well I am not getting any younger. I immediately started barbell training. My husband was my spotter for the first empty barbell bench press I had done. I did 10 easy reps. I was stronger than I thought and not so scared. Still one problem though…..I didn’t know how to get strong. I was trying to combine all the new stuff I was learning with all the old stuff I had been doing. I was lifting, running, interval training, dieting all at the same time. I couldn’t add weight to the bar because I had zero energy to lift more weight. Also, I kept getting injured.
Another new gym and a few months later, I met Eric. Eric is an actual strength specialist. Eric introduced me to a whole new world of lifting. He competed in Olympic weight lifting and taught the lifts. He introduced me to Starting Strength. He suggested that I buy the Starting Strength book and start following the program (that took another 6 months for me to actually do). I was terrified but it wasn’t the first time I had done something scary. I was also exhausted, hungry (fear of weighing more than 125 lbs) and wanting something different. I wanted to really test myself and I didn’t want to run long distances anymore. I decided to build a home gym and start following the program. I started with 3 x 5 squats at 135 lbs.
Eventually, I found the Starting Strength you tube channel, the barbell logic podcast and the seminars. The things these coaches were teaching was unlike anything else I had heard! Their perspective on barbell training made complete sense. Why do we train with barbells? So, we are harder to kill. How do you become harder to kill? You train to your strongest capacity. In doing so, you gain muscle mass, learn how to handle hard things and stay out of the nursing home. You are better equipped to fight off whatever life throws your way.
You can walk all over without falling and breaking a hip. You get over the stigma of trying to stay the same size as you were in high school. You become physically and mentally stronger than you could have possibly imagined. This is by far the hardest program I have ever done and I love it. There are so many super strong women in this community. I have seen 80 year old women dead lift 150 pounds. I have seen middle aged women squat 375 pounds. I have seen young women bench press 205 pounds. I am continually amazed at what all of these super strong women, myself included, are capable of.
Over the last decade I have enjoyed a wide variety of physical activities. I definitely love testing myself and going for the next big number. I am always chasing a number. It used to be the next mile, now it’s the next weight. I highly recommend that all of you give number chasing a try. If you want to run a marathon, go for it. If you want to become a yogini, go for it. If you want to be a power lifter, go for it. Go for something that scares you and makes you better at the end of each day. We are so much stronger and more capable than we know. Go for it.