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Barbell Breakthroughs

2 minutes read  

by Harry
on 02 Jun, 20232 minutes read

Ever since the first time I stepped foot in a gym, I've been intimidated by squat racks and barbells. For some reason the complexity of compound lifts and the dangers of a bench press kept me sticking to the basics - cable machines and dumbbells - but now everything has changed...

I've been consistently going to the gym for about a year now and for the first 10 months I steered clear of every barbell exercise you could imagine. My workouts were limited to basic free weight lifts and various machines around. It was fine for building muscle, but as you can imagine, it became very, very boring and perhaps more importantly, I wasn't doing a single exercise that worked out my abs.

About 2 months ago, I was convinced by a friend to just try a bench press. So one day, when the gym was relatively empty, I went for it. At first my form was terrible - the bar wasn't straight through the lift, it would hit my chest at different points every rep, my posture and feet placement were off and I had no idea what weight I could do. This nervous, inexperienced feeling was not enjoyable, especially given I feel fairly confident in most of the lifts I do (but lets face it - hammer curls and tricep extensions aren't too complex.)

Anyway, after some googling and youtube video watching, I came back and felt a lot better about it. 8 weeks later, I'm benching every push session, I've upped my working weight by 20kg and it's maybe my favourite lift in the session.

After finding my feet on the bench, I decided to start deadlifting. This time I asked someone I know in the gym who's been lifting for 7 years, to come help me with form. I hate being a beginner in anything, but embracing it fully was the quickest way to progress.

Since that very first deadlifting session, where I was repping as low as 40kg, I've now upped the working weight to 150kg and attempted a safe 1RM at 175kg.

The benefit to all this, is not only that I'm enjoying the gym more now, but also that I'm working muscles I simply wasn't targeting for the past year. Compound lifts like deadlifts are great for your lower back (something I've found hard to target beforehand) and for your abs too (something I definitely need to spend more time focusing on).

I may be alone in this, but if you're intimidated by the squat racks and barbells just like I was, then I can't recommend anything more than doing a bit of research and just going for it. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll see the results.

Next up: squats.