By societal standards, humans are inherently lazy. From an evolutionary standpoint we don’t do anything we don’t have to. Why would you?

The problem we are faced with is that life these days isn’t particularly challenging in terms of physical exertion. We have evolved to adapt to physical hardship and scarcity and rest when we can, but we have built machines to lift things and take us places, and seldom is there anything you can’t get within 24 hours of ordering it online. The result? Catastrophic ill health throughout the developed world, caused by entirely preventable non-communicable diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

We are stressed, under slept, get outside too little, eat garbage and exercise too infrequently to protect ourselves from the aforementioned dangers we face in the modern world. For those of us not already engaged in a recreational sport, the absolute last thing we want to do after a long day at work is engage in some form of physical exertion. We typically want to turn off our brains and do as little as possible before the cycle begins again.


Types of training typically identified as ‘cardio’ are a hangover from the idea that heart attacks were caused by having a weak heart. If cardiovascular training strengthens the heart, then it will prevent heart disease. That’s why there’s no heart disease anymore.



The year is 2016: IT IS THE FUTURE.

In an era of fitspiration memes, biohacking and wearable technology, where society suggests going hard or going home, sleeping when you’re dead(?), and the existence of doughnuts capable of enhancing physique while producing greater strength gains – Basic Barbell stands up against the tide of disinformation and misinformation in an attempt to explain that literally standing up under increasing loads over time is more important than how many points are earned / blocks consumed or steps are taken.

Begin Strength Training for Normal Humans. Find out how to strip away futile endeavour and replace it with a minimalistic approach to getting strong* to stay healthy**

What is Strength?


“Strength is the product of muscular action initiated and orchestrated by electrical processes in the nervous system of the body.”

-Yuri Verkoshansky

This statement pulls us away from the simplistic and aesthetic driven malaise we are oft fed by popular culture and the media. Strength has nothing to do with the appearance of abdominal muscles, vascularity or overall mass – they are as useful a measure of strength or health as are the BMI an indicator of ill-health: a face-value guess at best. If we look at Verkoshansky’s statement, we can see strength is the result of our brain successfully informing parts of our body to shift itself, or an object through space. This force production has influence on, and is influenced by:

  • the musculoskeletal system
  • the nervous system
  • the endocrine system

Essentially, that means everything humans are made of. Training these systems will makes change at the cellular level, which is the real-life version of Steve Rogers stepping into a machine and coming out Captain America.

What Is Strength Training?

In its simplest form, all you need is something heavy and time. Move the heavy thing through space, recruiting the most muscles you can. Do that and you will become strong.

It is an essential part of a life for we who otherwise spend it without significant physical exertion and in a hunched or seated or hunched and seated or hunched and seated and squinting at a screen or hunched and seated and squinting at a screen at 3 in the morning.

It is a jumping off point for reclaiming and enhancing health, or a gateway thereafter to pursue whatever other form of training or exercise sounds like it could be not only possible, but fun or even challenging.

What Isn’t Strength Training?

It’s not watching yourself in a mirror as you rep out isolation exercises. It’s not yo-yo dieting and calling it “bulking” and “cutting”. It’s not attempting a high volume of repetitions of anything. It’s not training till you puke. It’s not a “mass gain protocol”. It’s not bad for your knees. It’s not going to get you “too bulky” because “you put muscle on really fast”. It’s not going to hurt your back. It’s not going to shrink or increase the size of your reproductive organs. It’s not going to teach you anything about yourself unless you get under a barbell and do the work.


*barbells not included
**no wearable syncing or tracking devices required.



The dumbest way to make change is to fail to integrate a new system slowly or in parallel. Further, there is a checklist of importance for beginning a training template, and adherence to this is the lynchpin for long term success.

In short:

  1. Find a gym with a squat rack, barbell and plates.
  2. Develop as consistent as possible eating and sleeping routines.
  3. Eat 3 times a day.
  4. Learn to move well, addressing any mobility issues.
  5. Train 3 times a week.
  6. Repeat.

Strength Training for Normal Humans

Below is a primer on the reason behind,  importance and implementation of strength training from my talk at AHSNZ in late 2015.



Is Basic Barbell?

Z SquattingThe work of J. Craig Zielinski, known simply as “Z” by most. A long time computer technician, who gave it all up in the blink of an eye to pursue his goal of helping to troubleshoot the movement patterns, stress, sleep and overall health problems men and women present him with.

He has a long list of strength and conditioning certifications, coupled with a real understanding of what it’s like to try to work a 40+ hour week and training effectively at the same time. Basic Barbell is the distillation of his knowledge and experience in one location. He is also entirely incapable of bullshit. Tread softly.

Is This For?

Good question. Can you guess the answer? Normal Humans. In case it’s not obvious, it means not recreationally or professionally competitive sports people. Nor does this cover modifications in movement prescription for those who have to work around some form of physical impairment. This does not suggest that the aforementioned populations are either sub or super normal. These populations merely require greater specificity, which can be found in the custom programming section.

It’s for office dwellers, gamers, coders and tattooists. People who grew up with books and Lego instead of playing competitive sports with mouthy kids and their overbearing “there is no second place” / “failure is not an option” parents and coaches. It’s for people who work long hours under stark light for crappy pay. It’s for people who know something might be wrong, but would like to know exactly what and exactly how to address it.



Always ask questions. Feel free to reach out using the contact form.