Back to the Barbell | Strength and Conditioning

Hey everyone,

I decided it was time for another Barbell and Kettlebell Combo “Workout” and I loosely designed what looked like a great Strength and Conditioning Training session on me wee note pad. All I had to do was just go and do it!  Now it’s time for a little story + a lesson.

It was Monday morning and I was just out of work after doing a single night shift on Sunday.  This meant I had been awake for over 24 hours by the time I had replied to my emails/comments for that morning, got my camera, my bench, my change of clothes and driven 30 minutes to get to Performance Physio Studio! My back had been giving me a little niggle during the night and I had felt a little under the weather during my shift. I would like to say I braved it but I moaned constantly to my colleagues during my shift and got ZERO sympathy – caring profession my arse 😉

Anyway, after the drive down, I was exhausted and found it really difficult to even motivate myself to set up for the training ahead. But I pushed through and got warmed up anyway because I had already had 2 days off.

Due to the tiredness and because I felt like, well, turd, I decided to take it easier and not go too heavy in any of the barbell exercises. Believe me, this is hard to do, when you are used to adding more weight after each set, but I set higher reps and off I went.

Should I have done the workout at all, or should I have rested? Because of how I felt at the start (being tired and a little sore) I could have easily have made a good case to laze about that day. Instead, I adapted the workout to account for the way I was feeling so that I didn’t end up worse and ensuring I still got benefits from the session. I felt so much better afterward – even my back!

I had to ask myself “is this pain any different to the pain I have had before?”, NO, “is it a dangerous pain” NO, “is it maybe an excuse Marianne?” Wellll…

No, it wasn’t an excuse really, but it wasn’t a new injury (in fact I don’t think it’s an injury at all, but I’m still in denial about that) and I know from experience that I can train through it as long as I don’t go heavy. I also know that I can train when I am tired but a moderate workout feels better – so that’s what I did!

If I had gone all that way and not trained, or had just sat about the house being tired, I would have got more pain from doing nothing and I would not have achieved anything! So I think I did the right thing. Today, I feel great – pain is much improved and I can go about  my daily business and get other things done – boring chores like booking my car in for a service and posting letters etc … yawn!

The lessons:

  • Sometimes we can make obstacles bigger than they have to be.
  • Just because something is sore does not always mean training with pain will be dangerous (although if you are in doubt about any pain or an injury, seek advice from a professional first).
  • Plan the workout, but allow for some flexibility in the intensity/weights/reps/exercises – be adaptable
  • Ask yourself questions and make assessments of your own form, ability etc

The Workout

When I go to the gym, I usually set up a squat rack and a deadlifting platform beside each other and I do super-sets of some sort of squat verses sumo deadlifts back and forth … I’m crazy like that LOL! But yesterday, having only one barbell, I decided to super-set or “couple” the barbell exercise with a KB or bodyweight conditioning exercise.  I also decided to focus the Session on lower body!

I gradually increased the weight with the squats, but I then decided to keep the weight more or less the same for the deadlifts (to work on form) and the glute bridges (as time became an issue).

For the second exercise in each section, set your Gymboss Interval Timer for one interval of 1 minute, or whatever time suits your fitness level. Perform as many reps as you can in that time.

Complete 3 rounds of each couplet:

Section 1

  1. Barbell Box Squats (started with a low box, but raised it as needed) (40kg, 47.5kg, 50kg)  x 10 – 15 reps (15, 15, 10)
  2. Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing (20kg) x 1 minute (35, 35, 35) – should’ve gone heavier!

Section 2

  1. Sumo Deadlift (60kg, 80kg, 80kg) x 10 – 15 reps (15, 12, 10)
  2. Side to Side Step Ups x 1 min (64, 61, 61)

Section 3

  1. Barbell Glute Bridges (80kg) x 10 – 15 reps (15, 15, 13)
  2. Stand-Kneel-Stand (left) (16kg) x 1 min (18, 14, 14)
  3. Stand-Kneel-Stand (right) (16kg) x 1 min (18, 15, 13)

Each section was tough, but from one section to the next I took longer recovery. After the first section was the longest (5 – 7 mins) because I had to drag the heavy duty mats out and set up the bar for Deadlifts.

I was annoyed by my squats and in hindsight I should have done something else. In the gym the box I use is a little lower than the high setting on the Reebok Deck, so I was out of sync with this box because it was too high! Next time I want the box to be below parallel. Plus out of all the exercises the squat annoyed my back a little, but maybe that was more down to that being my first exercise, after a while it was better. Normally my squat feels a lot better than it did this day as I have been working on it every week since I came home from the USA.

I could nit-pic all day, but I won’t – some days you train great and others not so great. This session went fairly well. The KB swing felt great and the stand-kneel-stands are actually getting easier, also the sumo deadlift felt a lot better than before so those are good points to take away.

After the session was over, I went and got some food and chilled out the rest of the day.

Hopefully this workout will give you more of an idea of how you can change things up in the gym. You don’t always have to divide strength and conditioning exercises up and you don’t always have to go all out on MAX strength either. As Ben Bruno said in a recent blog post about measuring progress “Better form is still a form of progression”, which is a great point!

Hope you enjoy!


  • September 13, 2011

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