I’ve never liked ‘exercise’. By exercise I mean your typical long cardio sessions and high rep resistance training with short rests. The dry burning in the lungs, the tight muscular ache and the profuse sweating are all things I used to think were unavoidable consequences of a trip to the gym, and they are all things I’d rather avoid. However, I started barbell training nearly 4 years ago and I’ve been enamoured with it ever since. So what’s different?
For starters, barbell training generally isn’t a sweaty affair. Your shirt won’t be a shade darker and 2lbs heavier after a training session, even if that session takes 2 hours. That’s reserved for pounding away on a treadmill for an hour or doing 20 rep supersets. The longer rests (sometimes up to 8 minutes) and lower reps of strength training are likely why the sweating isn’t as profound. I like being able to put on my coat after training without the horrible feeling of a soaking wet T-shirt being pressed up against my back. It’s a small thing, but I appreciate it all the same.
Some people enjoy the tight feeling that your muscles get when you do a set of around 8 reps or more (known by some as ‘the pump’). Hell, some people spend their entire workout chasing that feeling. I’m not one of those people. Sure, doing curls now and again and getting some blood flowing can be a nice distraction, but when your thighs feel like somebody has injected a syringe full of Tabasco into them, it’s not quite so fun. Down at Black Iron Training your program will likely be dominated by sets of 5 which, whilst certainly leaving your body feeling tired and worked, never make your muscles feel like they’re about to explode any second.
But perhaps the most important difference between ‘exercise’ and barbell strength training is the way I feel during the workout. I think everyone at some point in their life has done a long run or something similar, and as a result has ended up lying on the floor with a pounding heart, dry throat and a pair of lungs desperate for another gasp of air. I don’t know about you, but I hate that feeling, which is precisely why I like barbell training so much. Even a heavy 5x5 squat session (which is no joke) won’t bring you anywhere near that ‘kill me now’ feeling that some cardio protocols are capable of producing.
Now all this might seem like a lot of whining and complaining about how much ‘I don’t like that’, but adherence is a critical aspect of physical activity. Too many people jump into gruelling exercise programs with the best of intentions, only to find that ‘no pain, no gain’ only gets them so far and after a few weeks, they’ve thrown in the towel and quit. With exercise and training, consistency is everything, just like most other pursuits in life. Running a marathon, deadlifting heavy weights or learning to play the piano all require the same thing, which is consistency. If you have absolutely no desire to do any of those things, then guess how long your 5 day a week practice/training schedule is going to last. Even if your goal is just to look good (and barbell training can certainly help with that), doing something you hate day-in, day-out is a good way to ensure that you never reach that goal.
I never knew I had the desire to lift heavy weights until I tried it. I quickly found that it was something I could continue to do week after week, month after month, and year after year. It’s a different approach to exercise that a lot of people don’t even know exists. I’m not saying it isn’t tough, because it can be, but it’s a different kind of challenge. Barbell training is as much mental as it is physical, and it requires somebody with more than just an ‘I want it all and I want it now’ mentality. Maybe that’s you, and if so then who knows how strong you could be a few months from now? Give it a try.