I can't speak highly enough about learning how to train with a barbell.
It is the single most effective and versatile piece of equipment for increasing fitness. Everyone should learn how to use it at a young age so they have the tools they need for a staying fit throughout their lives.
Light and Fast
Traditionally a barbell is thought of for lifting progressively heavy weight and it sure is good at that but there is a lot of benefit to moving slightly lighter loads quickly. The effect of lifting lighter weight fast with traditional barbell lifts (Deadlift, Squat, Push Press) as well as lesser-known movements like the thruster is almost identical to that of traditional "cardio" on the heart and lungs. But with barbell training, you get the added benefit of a full range of motion and increased muscle recruitment. Basically, I'm saying that you get all the benefits of "cardio" plus building muscle at the same time.
Strength expressed with speed is power and it's hard to get really powerful without moving heavy loads quickly. This can be achieved with ballistic gymnastic movements like tumbling but most people don't have access to adequate space in their gym to do that sort of thing, nor do they have the patience to learn and practice those difficult things. Though I must be sure to say that I see great value in learning new things and developing the ability to control your body like a gymnast if you have the time and resources to do so.
For most people, the barbell provides a sufficient avenue for increasing power. Training using the olympic lifts (snatch and, clean and jerk) or even a modified version of these lifts from the hang position can do great things for your power and speed development.
The barbell is the method of training for the worlds strongest people. It is unrivaled in developing pure strength. While at the upper level of competitive strength sports there are many other tools used to push their bodies to the absolute max the majority of their training is performed with a barbell. Even if your goal is not to be that strong it's ok to admit that it would be nice to be a little bit stronger. That couldn't hurt, right?
Developing a basic and functional knowledge of the most effective lifts and how to put them together in a training plan is beneficial for anyone wanting to improve their fitness. For those people that like to go to the gym and glide on the elliptical for 30 minutes every day if they were to mix in barbell training 2 days a week instead, the effect they would see in their fitness, the way they will feel, and the way their body looks will be dramatic. For those people that do some resistance training but use machines the impact of barbell training on their athleticism and overall strength will be very noticeable.
There isn't a person that couldn't benefit from knowing how to train with a barbell. With that knowledge, you'll be equipped to stay fit and healthy your entire life. This is why we developed our 8-week barbell basics course. Our mission here at CrossFit 43 North is to provide a safe place for people to improve the quality of their lives through fitness and nutrition and we know that not everyone wants to do CrossFit. We want to meet you where you're at on your fitness journey and help you move to the next level.