Barbell training and strength just go together. It is a one-stop-shop for strength, muscle, fat loss and power. There are so many variations to barbell training and the amount of weight that you can use. We get it, though. Even as a seasoned pro, barbells can still be intimidating.
A gym (whether it’s The BXNG Club, at home, hotel, etc.) is not fully complete without an Olympic barbell and a set of weight plates. Barbell training tops the list of training for the upper body and lower body due to its versatility and effectiveness.
Barbell workouts are great for increasing muscle mass, power, strength, and overall body composition. Utilizing barbell training is great for developing explosiveness, muscle endurance or almost any goal you have set for yourself.
The best barbell workouts come from being intentionally designed by a personal trainer and performed. The barbell coins the phrase, “If it were easy, then everyone would do it”. Think about it: a bar is being moved with loaded weight through the air.
It’s important to note that there are many different types of barbells, on top of various exercises that go along with it. These types of barbells are:
- Olympic barbell: the straight bar usually weighs 45 pounds, and weighted plates can be loaded onto the sides. The “Big 4” exercises can be used with this type of barbell – squatting, deadlifting, bench press, and overhead pressing.
- EZ Curl Bar: There are non-weighted and pre-weighted EZ curl bars. It is shorter than an Olympic barbell and has a special design specific for bicep curls, tricep extensions & other upper-body movements. This is a great tool for building muscle size.
- Smith machine: Let’s consider a Smith Machine a barbell-lite. A Smith Machine holds a light bar within a fixed axis that can slide up and down. It is a great way to get used to different variations of exercises, focusing on form and building confidence.
- Cardio bar: A light bar with a fixed weight that can be adjusted on the side. These are typically used for interval training in a group setting.
Meet Yourself Where You Are
Learn where your strength is in the barbell world:
- Begin with a lightweight for an easy ten reps to get started
- Add 5-10 pounds or (2.5-5% of body weight for bench press) or (15-20 pounds or 5-10% body weight for squat or deadlift). Do 6-8 reps and rest
- Add the same amount for 4-6 reps
Your 1 rep maximum = 100% of your strength, 2RM = 95% of your strongest and 3RPM is 93% of your strongest. This will help you learn more about your strengths and where your goals should be. It is very important to leave ego at the door and lift safely.
The Best Barbell Leg Workouts
The best barbell workouts come with knowledge, practice and patience. Make sure you begin to learn the mechanics of your body, movement, mind and the barbell itself. A barbell workout typically works best with 3 major movements at 3-5 sets with various rep ranges and 3-5 accessory movements. When using barbells for strength and improving athletic performance, the main response is usually mental. The human body functions as a complete system, with our nervous system controlling the muscles. Improving our neuromuscular connection for the first round of strength gains.
By getting stronger, an individual can improve their ability to throw, kick, punch, swing, rotate & jump – avoiding injury is another huge benefit of strength.
- Begin by loading a barbell with the appropriate weight for yourself
- Step under the bar and grab with hands about shoulder-width apart
- Find a comfortable groove for the barbell to sit (not too high on the neck or too low on the back)
- Keep elbows raised and take 3-4 steps back from the bar
- Turn toes slightly outward and keep feet shoulder-width apart
- Take a deep breath, push your hips back, and bend your knees to your lower body until parallel with the ground
- Push knees outward and bring hips vertically up
Barbell Romanian Deadlift
The deadlift looks easy, but it certainly isn’t. There is a lot that can take a bad turn quickly. Deadlifts work all the muscles and the tiny ones you didn’t even know you had!
- Load the barbell with weight plates on each side (remember, check ego at the door)
- Walk up to the barbell with confidence
- Position your feet so that the bar just hovers over the middle of your foot & sits close to your shins
- Hinge the hips backward and grip the barbell
- Drive power through heels (pretend someone is pulling your heels into the ground)
- Keep the spine neutral and lower the barbell back to the ground. Hinge hips and then knees into one fluid motion
The Best Back Workouts with Barbell
A muscular back is fundamental to overall strength, and barbell exercises can be some of the best ways to get there.
The top 3 contenders are:
- Reverse-Grip Bent-Over Row
- T-Bar Row
- Pendlay Row
Reverse-Grip Bent-Over Row
Phil Heath, Mr. Olympia legend, stated that reverse grip bent-over rows are the single best exercise for a wide back. This movement is unique as it targets several back muscles and supports the mid-back.
- Stand upright and grab the bar with a reverse, supinated grip – think just beyond shoulder distance
- Bend knees slightly and bring torso forward
- Pull your elbows upward and contract the lat muscles
The T-Bar row is simple but insanely effective.
- Grab a barbell and place it into the landmine station
- Add desired weight
- Stand over the middle of the bar with a slight bend in the knees
- Place a seated row attachment under the bar or grab the bar itself
- Maintain a tight core, neutral spin, and row the bar up toward your stomach
- Think of squeezing your lats and begin the movement back down to the original position
Think deadlift meets bent-over row.
- The bar begins on the floor with your body over the top of the bar in a horizontal position
- Maintain a tight upright chest and neutral spine & drive elbows back behind the torso
- Bring weight towards the ground and let the weight hit the ground
The Best Chest Workout with Barbell
Using a barbell allows specific isolation into the chest with heavier weights. It all comes down to form. Get ready to learn about the
- Incline Chest Press
- Decline Chest Press
- Bent-Arm Barbell Pullover
Incline Chest Press
- Lie on a bench that is angled 45 degrees and hands in line with shoulders (maybe slightly outside shoulders)
- Think of pinching your shoulder blades together and pressing into a bench position
- The barbell should be at mid-chest level before unracking
- Press the barbell up and gain control with your arms
- Slowly let the bar come down to the upper chest
- Exhale and push up
Decline Chest Press
- Lie on the decline bench and grip the barbell with hands in line with the shoulders
- Pinch shoulder blades together and press them into the bench to help create more stability
- Stabilize knees and feet flexed into the floor
- Press upward to control with arms
- Inhale and unlock your elbows, allowing the bar to come down slowly and bring up in a straight line
- Allow for the bar to lightly touch the chest but not rest
Bent-Arm Barbell Pullover
- Lie with your back on a flat bench and hold the barbell behind you (behind the head) with elbows at 90 degrees
- Bring the barbell over your chest while keeping a 90-degree bend
Practice the Best Barbell Workouts at The BXNG Club!
Continuously level up and learn more about how barbell exercises can be a game-changer for you. At The BXNG Club, we have expert coaches with high-level experience in the body and mechanics and can tailor a customized training program just for you.
Time to give it your all and become your best self with a complimentary personal training session.