My Experience with the StrongFirst Barbell Course

Saturday, September 17th I had the opportunity to attend the StrongFirst Barbell Course at Iron Tribe Fitness in New Orleans LA. For those of you who are unfamiliar with StrongFirst the company was founded by a Russian strength instructor named Pavel Tsatsouline. The founder prides himself on his ability to take complicated strength training techniques and explain them in easily digestible ways so that even someone new to training can understand. While his company and overall philosophy is most well-known for kettlebell training, many of the principles transfer well to the barbell and bodyweight training as well. This is where the Barbell Course comes into play. I first heard of Pavel while listening to the Tim Ferriss Show. He did two shows. The first was a long form interview and the second were questions and answers. These interviews made enough of an impression that I purchased his book “Simple but Sinister”. In this book, Pavel outlines a program that consists of two movements; the Russian swing and the Turkish get up. This program is a good program for building both strength and athleticism. The quality of this content was one of the reasons I sought further study. Overview The StronFirst Barbell Course is a one day course that takes about 8 hours. During this time you go over a total of five different lifts
  • The high bar squat
  • The low bar squat
  • The overhead press
  • The sumo deadlift
  • The conventional deadlift
At the end of the day after you’ve learned all of the lifts you go over programming. The instructors (my course was led by Mike Sousa) went into detail on each lift and gave each student attending the course personal attention. They break each movement down from the setup all the way until you let go of the bar. What surprised me was exactly how long they spent on the set up. With all of the lifts we went over I was able to make extremely positive changes to my set up which increased the stored kinetic energy prior to my lifts. What impressed me the most about the course was how well the principles worked for a novice lifter. Most of the time, when instructing a novice in barbell training you essentially have to pick the three most important corrections in a movement pattern and focus on that for the duration of the training session. Anything more than that and usually the student starts to regress because they’re trying to focus on too many things at once. This is why the Starting Strength Program has such simple cues. Even though SrongFirst takes a different, more detailed approach it still works for all levels. There were a total of six of us in the class and all but one of us have had several years of experience working with barbells with the exception of my training partner for the day. Even though it was his first time learning the barbell movements he was able to get just as much out of the course as the rest of us. He perhaps was able to get even more because he didn’t have to unlearn any bad habits. The Future of StrongFirst and the New Orleans Area From what I understand the plan for StrongFirst is to have several more courses over the next few years and eventually they plan to do a course to certify StrongFirst instructors in the area. In the event that they do offer the instructor course I do plan on attending to further my education . Overall I highly recommend you take this course given the opportunity although I do advise coming in with at least a little knowledge about the movements beforehand so the learning curve isn’t quite so steep. Just make sure you find someone who is knowledgeable so that they don’t set you up for failure. If you have any more questions about anything I wrote about feel free to email me at You can also follow our Facebook here and our Instagram here. Or, if you want to find out more about StrongFirst you can check out their website at Until next time, Cameron