Why are many of us scared of the barbell and what can we do about it

Barbells are a relatively new invention when it comes to weightlifting. While the dumbbells have been around for since the time of the Greeks, barbells came into existence only in the 19th century. The modern barbells with adjustable weights on both sides are an even more recent discovery with their origins lying in the early 20th century.  Recent as they may be, barbells are a great discovery, which has significantly enhanced the amount of weight that human can lift. This has mostly been because of the stability that barbells provide over dumbbells in lifting heavy weights.

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While barbells put you in a much stronger position to lift heavier weights, a lot of us while just starting out feel more comfortable using dumbbells as opposed to barbells. A few of us are even scared of dumbbells and end up using machines instead. Such a fear really puts a limit on the overall benefit that we can attain from our strength-training program. It is a well known fact that free weights are far more effective over machines and that the higher the amount of weight you will lift, faster you will attain your goals. If we are really serious about our fitness goals then we have get over the fear of barbells fast and start including barbell-based exercises in our workout.

Why are We Scared of Barbells?

In order to get over the fear of barbells we first need to address why are we scared of them. Here are some of the reasons why someone might not feel comfortable with the barbells.

  1. Barbells provide a stable position to lift heavier weight, however this stability comes at a price. It is a little tricky to bail out of the exercises involving barbells if you fail. It is quite scary to picture yourself stuck at the bottom of the squat, not being able to come out of it. Don’t worry though; with appropriate safety equipment you can make bailing out of most exercises quite simple.
  2. You see a lot of strong Olympic lifters or power lifters, struggling to lift the heaviest weight they can lift and many a time see them injuring themselves pretty badly. Looking at these many of us feel that barbells are just for these advanced athletes or someone who is very strong and fit. Barbells are for everyone and anyone can include them in their workout.
  3. All the gym fail videos that you see online show people crushing themselves under a heavy barbell. And you start thinking that barbells are dangerous. Most of the time these people failed because they tried to lift a weight that is too heavy for them. It is not the barbell’s fault that they got injured, it was their own mistake.

All these observations actually portray a very wrong picture for the barbells. It is not the barbells, which are dangerous; it is the ignorance and overconfidence that is dangerous. Barbells when used with right safety equipment and correct exercise technique is quite safe. Here are few of the actionable steps that you can incorporate to develop the confidence to perform barbell-based exercises

How to Overcome the Fear of Barbells

The fear can only be overcome by doing the thing we are scared of. So the solution is simple start performing the exercises with barbells. Below are few of the things you should keep in mind

  1. Start off Light: In order to get comfortable with the barbells the very first thing you need to do is master the technique of performing an exercise. With lighter weights you can master the technique first and as you get comfortable you can start increasing the weight
  1. Get your form checked by an expert eye: Before you start getting into heavy lifts always get your form checked by a professional trainer who is an expert in compound lifts. They will provide you with good cues on how to improve your technique.
  1. Always know your limit: Although to get strong we need to lift heavier and heavier, we should always be aware of what our limits are and respect them. Keep in mind that we are only competing with ourselves. Never feel the pressure to compete with someone else lifting heavier than us, or try to impress others in the gym. Most of the people who injure themselves with barbells are the ones who tried to lift the weight they could not manage
  1. Use Protective Gear: Always take necessary precaution while performing heavy compound lifts. Always perform your lifts in a rack with safety arms to catch the bar in case you fail.
  1. Full Concentration on the Movement: A lot of us have a perception that lifting weight is as simple as, you know, just lifting the weight; however it is a bit more tricky than that. Lifting weights, especially heavy weights needs a lot of concentration, you need to be aware of your full body as you are performing a movement. A little bit of distraction can cause you to lose your rhythm. It is absolutely important that you develop a discipline of focusing only on your lifts while performing your workout. This does not apply to when you are performing the lifts, but also when you are resting for your next lift. Visualizing how you will be performing your next set is very helpful in correctly performing your next set
  2. Practice Bailing Technique: Some of the exercises such as the Olympic lifts are not suited to be performed with safety arms. In such a case you should always practice the bail out technique so that you know how to get away from the bar in case you fail.
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Barbells are a great piece of equipment, which have revolutionized strength training and will accelerate your progress towards your fitness goals. Don’t let your fear limit you from including them in your program.