A barbell and a variety of plates are all you need to give your muscles a complete workout. Barbells fall under the umbrella of free weights, which are typically recommended for anyone looking to gain mass, improve muscle definition, or build up their strength.
Barbells can be used to perform various compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Such exercises often lead to more significant gains since you can lift heavier weights.
Barbell Exercises You Should Incorporate Into Your Next Workout
The key to getting the most out of your barbell workouts is starting with weights you’re comfortable with and gradually increasing them. This gives you an opportunity to learn the proper form for each exercise before moving on to heavyweights.
Your fitness goals should also be factored into your barbell workouts. If your goal is to gain mass, you want to stick to heavy weights you can only rep four to eight times. If you’re looking to enhance your strength and conditioning, use weights you can only rep 10 to 12 times. If improving your muscle definition is your top priority, aim for about 20 reps during each exercise.
Some essential barbell exercises you should incorporate into your fitness routine include:
1) Bench Press
Your fitness program isn’t complete without the bench press. It’s a simple exercise to learn, and it targets muscles in your chest, triceps, and the front part of your shoulders. Bench pressing does wonders when it comes to building an impressive upper torso. Mix this exercise with squats and deadlifts, and you get a full-body workout.
Here’s what the exercise looks like:
- Set up a barbell on a bench press rack.
- Lay on the bench, grab the barbell, and push it off the rack.
- Keep the bar above your chest with your arms locked. Your shoulders should be pressed into the bench while your feet are planted on the floor.
- Bend at your elbows to lower the barbell towards your chest. Push the weight back up towards the starting position to complete a rep. There is no need to lock your arms when completing reps; simply push the barbell until your arms are almost locked to complete a set.
2) Bent-Over Row
This exercise targets muscles in your back, and it also helps to increase your bench press since a strong back helps with the exercise. Bent-over rows target muscles in your core, lats, and triceps. It is one of the few movements that target all the different muscles that make up your back.
Many fitness experts recommend spending as much time working your back muscles as you do your chest since both muscle groups balance each other out. Your chest muscles are activated during pushing motions, while your back muscles are engaged when you pull on something.
Here’s how to perform a bent-over row:
- Grab a barbell with an overhand grip with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Use an underhand grip if you want your lats to do most of the work.
- Pull your shoulder blades back and push your chest forward.
- Bend your knees a little and bend at your hips so that your upper body is 45 degrees to the ground.
- Pull the bar towards your stomach, then lower it back to the starting position to complete a set.
Deadlifts are a must for your workout routine if you’re looking to increase your raw strength and add muscle mass to your frame. It employs all of the muscles in your body, especially the posterior chain. This exercise allows you to lift heavier weights, making it excellent for developing power, size, and strength.
Proper form is key to getting the most out of your deadlifts. You want to pull your shoulders back while sticking your chest out during your reps to prevent your back from rounding.
Here’s what the exercise looks like:
- Stand behind a barbell with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart. Half of your feet should be on either side of the bar.
- Grab the bar with an overhand grip just outside your legs. Think of your arms as hooks. They should just be grabbing onto the barbell, pulling it up.
- Carry the bar off the ground by driving your hips forward while maintaining a flat back. The bar should roll across your torso as you lift it.
- Slowly return the barbell to the starting position.
4) Back Squats
Improve your squats, and the rest of your body will be stronger. Here’s how to perform a squat:
- Get under a squat rack, pick the barbell off the rack with your rear shoulder muscles, and take two steps backward to clear the rack.
- Keep your fit a little more than hip-width apart, with your toes pointing slightly outward. Keep your back straight as you get into position. A simple trick you can use to ensure your back stays straight during the exercise is by looking at a spot on the ground a few meters ahead of you.
- Drop your hips backward as if you were trying to seat down on a chair behind you. Drop down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Aim to go as low as you comfortably can.
- Keep your weight on your hips as you push yourself back up to the starting position to complete a set.
5) Overhead Press
Overhead presses help to build your triceps and shoulder muscles. It helps to create a strong back and bigger delts. Strengthening these muscles will help you perform better on other exercises such as the bench press. Here’s how to perform an overhead press:
- While standing with your feet about hip-width apart, grab a barbell and bring it towards your upper chest. Your hands should be about shoulder-width apart.
- Tighten your quads, glutes, and abs as your press the weight upward.
- Pause at the top and slowly reverse the movement to the starting position.
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