Can't lift barbell
The barbell you usually find in your local gym weighs 20kg. Especially if you are very light and small it can already be half your body weight. In these instances, it is better to start with dumbbells, kettlebells or purpose-built barbells.
What is your why
Before we go into the details of why you might not be able to lift a barbell let me ask you a couple of questions:
- Why do you want to lift a barbell?
- Why do you want to get stronger?
- Why do you want to build muscle?
- What happens if you do?
- What happens when you don’t?
While these questions might seem trivial, they make all the difference to your success. If you have strong, solid and detailed answers to each of these you will succeed. The flimsier and vaguer the answer the weaker your results. Especially in fitness, your results reflect your dedication. Very few other areas are as fair. That is maybe why sports are so popular. Nature and willpower are very big equalizers.
Most people go through their lives like this:
- What do I want?
- How do I get it?
- Why do I want it?
With this setup, you are headed for failure. What you want in life changes hundreds of times a day. If you follow your impulses you will be dragged in a thousand directions at once and move forward to none. Flip these questions on their head for more focus:
- Why do you want something?
- How do you get it?
- What do you need to do to get it?
With this approach, your thoughts and actions will become more connected. This will make you more likely to achieve your desired goals. If you want to know how this works on a psychological level read Daniel Kahneman's thinking fast and slow. Simon Sinek makes a very compelling case telling the story of the Wright brothers in his TED talk on the golden circle.
The barbell is a very good tool to build raw strength. There are many variations on the market. Barbells come in the following weights:
- 10 kg
A proper barbell has a diameter of 28 to 29mm. What you find in most gyms is somewhere between these diameters and weighs 20kg. If the barbell has Olympic dimensions the lighter ones are usually made of Aluminium and not plastic. Children’s barbells will be made of steel, but have smaller dimensions to for their bodies.
The smaller and lighter you are the more challenging it will to handle the weight of a standard 20kg Olympic barbell which most gyms equip. If you are adamant about training with a lighter barbell with proper dimensions, look for a local weightlifting facility.
Ultimately try to work your up to lifting a barbell if you want to get stronger. It is a clear goal to chase and will make you proud.
Alternatives to the barbell
If you can not lift a barbell yet you can use the following equipment as alternatives:
- Leg press
- Cable towers
Most exercises with a barbell can be modified using this equipment for lighter resistance. Play around with them until you get stronger.
Can’t lift barbell
If you can not lift a barbell it is not the end of the world. There are many exercises you can do with less resistance than 20kg plus body weight. There are also many options only using your body weight which can be even harder than lifting a barbell. Think of gymnasts at the Olympics. They seldom touch a barbell.