Modern gyms are complete with all kinds of sophisticated gadgetry and machines. From high-tech cardio and endurance equipment like the treadmill, cross-trainer, indoor spin bike, and rowing machine to fancy body-building machines that target various body parts like the lat-pull down machine, shoulder press machine, leg-press machine and several more.

While the cardio equipment can indeed be helpful for losing weight and monitoring important metrics such as speed, distance, and calories burned, the body building machines may only be beneficial to the advanced builder looking to isolate various body parts and develop better body symmetry.

Don’t get us wrong. We’re not entirely ditching or “trashing” these new machines. We’re simply suggesting that they may not be entirely effective for the novice builder who is looking to build muscle while developing strength and power.

While they may come in handy at a later stage, as a novice and beginner the tool you should be focusing on is the barbell. The barbell is the most primitive and effective muscle building instrument that has been around since the very beginning of body building and strength training.

Before You Start Training With The Barbell

The journey to building a strong and powerful body has different stages. Much like the constructing a building, you need to build a strong foundation before you start working on the higher levels. Without a solid base, the entire construction could dismantle and cause you a serious injury that may be irreversible. So, do not ever neglect the ground work.

See Also: Getting Back To The Gym After An Injury

What is ground work? Ground works simply involves developing a decent grasp over several different body weight exercises. The absolute basic include, the push-up, pull-up, chin-up, squat, lounge, sit up and triceps dip. These exercises will help you develop a strong foundation on top of which to build.

You should be able to perform at least 3-4 sets of each exercise for a minimum of 15-20 repetitions before you even considering moving onto barbell lifts.

Getting Stronger

Once you can comfortably perform at least 15-20 reps for multiple sets of the above exercises without getting exhausted, it’s time to move onto lifting weight with the barbell.

barbell overhead press

An Olympic level barbell is going to weigh anywhere between 18-20 kilos, depending on the materials used. That in itself is a good amount of weight to start with, so don’t be too eager to jump the gun and add plates on either side, just to impress the girl or outdo a guy at the gym. It can cost you.

First, you need to focus on form and technique. Then, you need to focus more on form and technique, until squatting and benching are as comfortable as sitting in a chair. And, stay away from the Smithsonian (it’s a gimmick just like all the other fancy equipment in the gym).

The Five Basic Lifts And Progressive Overload

Ask any old time gym instructor and they’ll tell you all about the five most basic, yet powerful lifts in body building: The Bench Press, The Back Squat, The Dead lift, The Barbell Row, and the Over Head Press (aka Shoulder Press).

biceps curl with barbell

These five lifts are all you need to do to grow strong, gain size and develop power. And, there is power lifting, that comprises a few different techniques, but pretty much revolves around the squat and the deadlift.

(For your safety, don’t attempt to power lift without proper guidance and instruction).

If you’re not aware, the only way to build progressively more muscle and strength is by following the principle of progressive overload. Which is to slowly, but steadily, increase the amount of weight you lift every session or every other training session. The increased weight forces your body and muscles to adapt, tear and grow, thus increasing their size and capacity over time.

In Conclusion:

Power, Strength or Size? While you do develop a little bit of all three in training for any one goal, the number of sets and repetitions you perform each exercise will determine the overall results of your training.

For power, you should perform more sets and fewer reps, e.g., 6×4 or 5×5.

For strength, you should perform medium reps for 3-4 sets, e.g., 3×8 or 4×8.

For Size, you should perform higher reps for lower sets, e.g., 3×10 or 3×12.

Author Bio: Andrew is the founder and CEO at Aim Workout. As a passionate fitness professional and tri-athlete, there is literally no adventure he won’t embark on. From mountain biking, deep sea diving, rock climbing and cycling to boxing and mixed martial arts, Andrew has a penchant for the wild and extreme.