Taking lifters to a place where they are more confident & independent under the bar

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Intro Barbell Coaching

The Intro to Barbell Training is structured in a way that takes lifters to a place where they are more confident and independent under the barbell. This is a two-hour, private training session with a certified Starting Strength Coach. You will learn everything necessary to begin strength training safely and effectively. This includes detailed instruction on the squat, the deadlift, the bench press, and the press. Power clean instruction is not included since the power clean is introduced after several weeks of consistent deadlift training. The session will also include a general discussion of programming strategies, general nutrition guidelines, gym etiquette, proper equipment and more. Our goal is to ensure our new trainees fully understand our approach to strength training and are ready to begin the long and exciting road ahead!

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The squat is one of the oldest movements in human history. It involves requires the involvement of more muscles than any of the other lifts taught. The squat is performed with a barbell placed on the back and involves the bending of the knees and hips to arrive at a position where the thigh is just below parallel to the floor. The squat taught at Weights & Plates is the low bar squat as described in Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training 3rd Edition. This is also referred to as the “low bar squat,” which places the bar just below the spine of the scapula, which requires the lifter primarily engage the musculature of the hips.  No other exercise challenges a lifter like a properly performed low bar squat.


The deadlift is by far the most functional movement in human history. Nothing is more natural than bending over and picking something up. This is also the movement most associated with injury when performed incorrectly. It is a common misconception that bending over is “bad.” The truth is that bending over without sufficiently contracting the muscles of the back and legs is likely to injure you. Bending over with a sufficiently tight back, glutes, and thighs is safe, proper, and encouraged. At Weights & Plates we will teach you how to deadlift properly so that when you are out in the world you will intuitively know how to pick things up and set them down.


Once the king of all upper body lifts, this excellent exercise has fallen out of favor for several decades. However, with the growth of Strengthlifting, its popularity is slowly coming back and more and more people are standing up and pressing a barbell overhead. The press involves standing erect and pressing a barbell overhead to a shrugged position. This results in a stronger shoulder girdle, which will support you in placing things overhead and setting things down from an overhead position. It is the single best exercise for shoulder health and shoulder strength.


The bench press is the most popular exercise in most weight rooms in the world. When the Press was removed from the Olympics in 1972 and upright support benches became widely produced, many lifters quickly figured out that you could bench press more weight than you can press and the pectorals grew in response to it. This led to the ever so asked question: “How much can ya bench?” This is also one of three competition lifts in the sport of powerlifting, with the squat and the deadlift alongside it. Here at Weights & Plates we teach the bench press to develop upper body strength. This may be different than bench pressing for powerlifting competitions where the goal is to bench press as much weight as possible. If powerlifting becomes a goal later in your career, we can revisit that but for the time being, let’s grow stronger shoulders, arms, and pectorals.


(not included in Intro to Barbell Class)


The Power Clean is a variant of the on half of the Clean & Jerk, which is one of two competition lifts in the sport of Olympic Weightlifting. The Clean refers to pulling the bar off the floor, up into a “jumping-like motion” and catching it on the shoulders in a position that places the thighs below parallel to the floor. The Power Clean is the exact same motion except the bar is caught in a position that places the thighs above parallel to the floor. The rationale is to develop more explosive power and pull the bar higher. Since explosiveness is inherent in most sports, the power clean is a fine way to train it to the extent that it can be trained. Now, not everyone needs to power clean but for those of you who can power clean, you should clean, and we are happy to teach you how!


The Chin-Up is the “6th barbell lift” although it is not performed with a barbell. It is performed with a suspended bar though. The lift begins with the lifter gripping a suspended bar with the hands and allowing the body to hang with the arms, shoulders, and torso completely extended. The lift begins with lifter pulling the shoulder blades down, then extending the shoulders and flexing the elbows until the chin has cleared the barbell. It is another fine display of upper body strength and we have found that most people across various sizes can work up to a chin-up. For novice lifters that cannot perform a single chin-up, we have a Rogue Fitness Lat-Pulldown machine that can be used to progress the lifter to an unassisted chin-up. The machine has pegs to allow the lifter to hang weight plates on the weight stack in an effort to make small, incremental jumps. Once the lifter is able to perform bodyweight lat pulldowns for 3-5 repetitions, the lifter should then be capable of performing a single bodyweight chin-up. The value of chin-ups cannot be overstated. They develop the back, arms, forearms, abdominal, and oblique muscles. They also help facilitate strength in the other 5 lifts and thus should be performed regularly in conjunction with them. Can’t do a chin-up yet? Come join us today!


What is Starting Strength?

Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training 3rd Edition is a book that was originally written in 2005 by a gentleman by the name of Mark Rippetoe. The book is currently in its third edition and had led to the development of the Starting Strength website, Starting Strength Seminars, Starting Strength Coach Credential, Starting Strength Gyms, and Starting Strength Equipment.  Starting Strength is a book that describes a model of basic barbell training based on both biomechanics and decades of practical experience both coaching and performing the lifts. The lifts outlined in the book are The Squat, The Deadlift, The Press, The Power Clean, and The Bench Press. Weights & Plates Strength & Nutrition Center is a Starting Strength Affiliate Gym and Robert Santana is a Starting Strength Coach.

What is the Starting Strength Novice Linear Progression?

Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training 3rd Edition is also the original home of the Starting Strength Novice Linear Progression, which is a popular strength training program for novice lifters. All lifters at Weights & Plates will begin their first week of training with some variation of the Starting Strength Novice Linear Progression, with rank novice lifters staying on it for several months and previously trained lifters staying on it for several weeks. It is not only a novice program but a useful method of determining baseline strength and recovery capabilities.

The program requires the lifter to perform 3 sets of 5 repetitions for squats, bench presses, and presses 5 sets of 3 repetitions on the power clean, and 1 set of 5 repetitions on deadlift. The lifter performs the lifts three times per week, adding weight each time provided all repetitions are completed with proper technique. The program starts with squats and deadlifts performed at all workouts and presses alternating with bench presses. As the program progresses, the deadlift alternates with the power clean, chin-ups are added at 3 sets of 10 repetitions, and heavy squats are restricted to twice per week. If you are ready to get strong, come start your linear progression today!

Who is this for?

Barbell training can benefit virtually anyone who can physically perform it. We have trained individuals that range from youth athletes to elderly individuals. The barbell exercises are functional and ergonomic since a barbell can be handled directly over the lifter’s center of mass. In contrast, most items that are handled in daily life often extend out several inches away from your body. By practicing the lifts with a barbell, you are lifting efficiently and safely so that when you are forced to handle unsafe and inefficient movements, the strength surplus reduces your risk of injury. The classic example is picking up an 80 lb desk, box, or lawnmower. A lifter strong enough to pick up a 300 lb barbell is less likely to injure picking up the more awkward 80 lb desk because of the strength surplus he possesses. So, if you think you must be a powerlifter, bodybuilder, or Olympic weightlifter to perform barbell exercises, you have been misinformed and we intend to set the record straight for you!

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Robert Santana has extensive experiences as a lecturer, nutrition coach, strength coach, and competitive lifter. Email him now.