What is the value of a barbell as a tool for fitness?
I think value lies in the training methodology. For us and those like us, we choose the barbell as our main focus for strength development, structural movement learning & training, and learning new skills to a certain degree – every methodology has a main focus, or else it’s just shooting from the hip and BS’ing. From there, we expand to new movements outside of the barbell; unilateral loading, various implementations (think odd objects other than the barbell), and even new concepts & methods such as gymnastics, running, swimming, biking, rowing, etc.
To me, the barbell is a general skill that has the infinite capacity to increase specific skills via increased strength and loading parameters. There’s a direct correlation between strength and quality of life via freedom of movement – the stronger you are (always caveats and what if’s, so take that with a grain of salt) throughout life, the easier your movement expression will be. Barbells have the capacity to be scaled, as do other implementations, but none nearly as much as the barbell.
Anchor is strength (think barbell movements – squat, deadlift, bench press, snatch, clean & jerk, pressing, pulling, pushing, etc.) biased for a very specific reason – to increase quality of life and improve the expression and freedom of movement throughout every athletes’ life. All the other stuff is a correlative side-effect of fitness (nutritional fitness & physical fitness) and that’s where the staving off of sickness, illness, and disease come into play.
On a physiological level, being stronger and more fit literally increases mitochondrial density via biogenesis. Which means both from a competitive standpoint and overall health/wellness standpoint, increased strength on the physical plane will increase strength on the physiological plane, leading to increases in rates of energy conversion into ATP and increasing available energy to working muscles. From a competitive specific standpoint, any implement that is nearly infinitely scalable up or down the spectrum will literally allow you to change your physiology to compete at a higher capacity: Longer, faster, harder than those with less relative strength, in comparison.
To us, the barbell is a starting point - one for both women and men to build upon.