Female Training Fault #4: Ignoring the Barbell

Time to grab life by the horns, ladies. A good first step: Grab an Olympic bar!

Female Training Fault #4: Ignoring the barbell (and the big lifts that come with it)

So, I have you off the ellipticals (Fault #1), lifting heavy, (Fault #2) and training all muscle groups equally (Fault #3), but you’re still ignoring the barbell and the compound lifts that come with it —squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press, barbell row, etc. Most women I see in the gym do these lifts, but with dumbbells or kettlebells. I rarely see women deadlifting in the gym by themselves.

Now, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with doing these main lifts with dumbbells or kettlebells; what I’m saying is, you should ALWAYS keep barbell training in your routine if you want optimal results. Don’t limit yourselves to your comfort zone.

Compound lifts are directly tied to the barbell. These lifts will recruit more muscle fibers, which will lead to greater muscle growth and less body fat in the long run. Let’s take the squat, for example. The squat is not just a lower-body exercise. If you’re doing it correctly, every single muscle in your body should be activated (external hip rotation = glute and ham activation; external shoulder rotation = lat, rhomboid and rear delt activation; concentric portion = quad activation; etc. – just making a point here). Think about it: When doing the main lifts with barbells, you’re basically doing a full-body exercise. Full-body exercises burn more calories and promote better muscle growth after breakdown.

Barbells are also easier to hold, which means they’re an easier apparatus to which you can apply maximum force. This means you’re stronger with a barbell, so you can load up more weight than other modalities of training. The more weight you lift, the stronger you’ll get.

Being strong isn’t just for powerlifters and strongman competitors, contrary to what most people think. When you’re strong, you’re more confident and more capable. This strength carries over in day-to-day life. Let’s take a mom with little kids, for example. Learning to deadlift properly with a barbell can help you pick up your crying child or grab that heavy laundry basket off the floor. Just a side note: You must ensure you’re doing these compound lifts with proper form!

Barbell training can make you mentally stronger, too. Let’s face it, life is tough sometimes and none of us are perfect. We all face struggles from time to time. Barbell training can build confidence. You have to face a heavy resistance and adapt to it each and every time you load up that bar. There’s never a better feeling than finishing a taxing session with heavy squats or deadlifts!

There is a reason why barbell training has been around so long – it works, plain and simple. It’s not one of those BOSU ball fads to get you “toned” and lean. Using barbells for the bulk of your training can save time, build more muscle, build more power, and carry those gains over into real-life situations.

So ladies, add the barbell to your training – it will do your body good!

Meet JYM Girl Katie Kollath, MS