When I train my clients, I get one hour with them. That’s it. Just one hour and that's a few times per week. So I want to do exercises that are going to cause the most stress to create a stimulus in the simplest manner. I believe barbell movements tick these boxes way more than other methods of training.
With the correct, safe, coaching and exercise selection for that individual then learning barbell movements should be straightforward. If there are any barriers on the way while learning the lifts the coach should always know regressions, and, progressions so that the client can get the best out of their training.
I train a mixture of clients who range from, people who want to improve their sports performance or change their body composition, and strength athletes whose ultimate goal, is to get stronger!
They all at some point in their training use barbells. How strong a person is can be the ceiling for everything else they do in training. A simple way of putting it is if two rugby players with a similar playing background and weighing the same go head to head in tackle the stronger player will come out on top. In martial arts, a lot of people say, skill beats strength, but what happens when that skilled person comes up against somebody equally as skilled, but the opponent is stronger? They lose! A cyclist will have a greater power output per repetition if his/her legs are stronger, basically meaning he/she can move the bike quicker.
Obviously it takes a good strength coach to plan out how much strength work a client should be doing and at which point does it become detrimental.
For most people I train who are trying to improve their body composition, they want to be in and out the gym within an hour, maybe a little longer, if their hectic lifestyles allow it. They lead busy lives with work, and family. So what’s going to burn more calories, and put more demand on the muscles? Isolating your biceps and triceps? Or doing some heavy bent-over rows with a supinated grip, chin-ups, close grip bench press, and military press? I know which one I choose.
My 5 favourite barbell compound moves are (remember these can be variations of the lifts):
- Bent-Over Row
- Military Press
I think you can ask most trainers, and they’d pick the same ones, and that’s because they are effective!
Now please don’t think I am saying isolating muscles or other pieces of equipment don’t have a place, because they do. It’ll just take a good coach to find out when and where in your training these pieces should be fitted in.
So do yourself a favour and incorporate barbell movements into your training. Do them with correct form. Keep your ego in check. Otherwise, they will humble you…
If you don't feel confident enough to execute the lifts safely and properly enough on your own, then contact a coach/personal trainer that can help you learn these movements.