Barbell lifts has found another fan. I was a complete novice with barbells when I started out so enlisted the help of Starting Strength book. If you are not sure what Starting Strength is, you can read all about it on their site. It is a way of exercising using full body exercises that mostly involve barbells. Even though I was not following a strict Starting Strength program, I still managed to achieve results that I am very happy with:
- Deadlift increased from 135 to 315 lbs
- Squat increased from 135 to 265 lbs
- Bench press increased from 125 to 185 lbs
Keep in mind that this was achieved during the 6 months by an unsupervised novice that guesses as he goes. Who knows how much stronger one could get with a more experienced supervision, and following Starting Strength to a letter.
For a 170 pound male I was very weak when I started out. Less than my body weight lifts across all three main barbell exercises. How can someone who stays active and exercises pretty regularly be this weak? Well one reason is that I never got myself a personal trainer and guessed a lot. Its a foolish approach but I am just being honest. I made my own routines and tried to copy what I saw others do. Two years ago was the first time I realized that I must be doing something wrong. I was working the machines yet I wasn’t getting that much stronger. I stayed somewhat fit but yet my exercising habits fluctuated. Something had to change.
The first change I did was switch from machines to dumbbell exercises. I saw some advances in the overall fitness and body tone. But again it did not feel right. I wasn’t fully enjoying the exercises and I felt like I was stuck on the same weight levels for too long. Why wasn’t I getting any stronger? In general there could be several reasons why one does not get any stronger while exercising. Sleep and eating habits are two big factors. But if you are getting enough sleep and eating right, then that leaves the exercise routines and the approach as the culprits.
One day while browsing the net for advice I stumbled on this article and it changed everything. Every fad and misconception that the author mentions on his journey to mastering strength and fitness I felt like I had encountered. Reading the article was one of those clarity moments where you realize how little you know and how much you have to learn. Basically, just like the author, I associated the idea of spending a lot of time in a gym and doing “cool” exercises as a way for getting stronger. But it turns out that is just a bunch of BS. The simpler the better and instead of doing fancy stuff, go back to basics.
The article inspired me to drop what I was doing and change things up. After a bit of online research Starting Strength stood out with the number of people liking the program and recommending it to their peers. I got the book and settled on the three barbell exercises. It has been a blast since. The body feels great and I finally feel strong. The feeling of tearing 300 pounds off the ground multiple times is amazing. All of that achieved while exercising only 3 times per week and no longer than 40 minutes each time. Just incredible.
In the 6 months I have achieved more progress in my overall fitness level than I have during my whole exercising history prior to the change. The next steps from here are to continue with the barbell exercises but start adhering to Starting Strength programming more strictly. I didn’t do that from the beginning because I wanted to start and not delay taking action while trying to get it perfect. Also, not sure if I want increase the dead lifts anymore since I am quite happy with where I am now.
Big thanks to Daniel Duane for writing that article and especially Mark Rippetoe for sharing his knowledge with the rest of the world. Your work has helped many to experience the strength they thought they could never have. Keep on rocking!