In Praise of the Barbell
How does one defend something that has proven its worth for over a century? By pointing out what has been forgotten in today's fitness society.
The barbell has been vilified and unfairly characterized as an "unsafe" and "unnecessary" outdated member of the "fitness center." Nothing could be further from the truth. The barbell is the single greatest tool for building strength, muscular size, and conditioning that has ever been, or ever will be, invented. The barbell is unbiased. It is unyielding, and if you approach it unprepared, it is unforgiving as well. There is nothing like grasping a barbell; the feel of the knurling cutting into your hands commands instant focus on the task at hand. The sound of iron clanging as the barbell is hoisted from its starting position and as it's placed at the completion of the movement cannot be equaled by any machine. There is a sense of accomplishment, a sense of purpose—something that endless reps on a machine driven by cables, belts, or cams can never hope to match.
Innovation is great. It has made many strides for mankind and has influenced how we go about our daily lives. Innovation in the weight room, however, has caused a vast majority of people to stray from the heart and sole of what made the weight room what it was. A place where men and women, rich and poor, of any race or creed could come together to test themselves. A place to better yourself. A place to sweat, to strain, to grunt and groan, and find out what was really inside you.
Could you work through the pain and reach a goal that seemed so impossible? Could you swallow your fear and grab the bar, letting it dig into your hands and your back, and conquer the weights? Could you try, fail, and come back and do it all again?
That's what the barbell represents. That's what the weight room was. It's time to leave the cables to the timid and let your hands feel the steel once again. It's time to lay it on the line, win or lose, and come back more determined the next training session.
It's time for the barbell.