If you’re looking to build strength and power, one of the best ways to achieve this task is by using barbell exercises. Barbell based exercises are excellent for anyone who’s hoping to take their progress to the next level and who is looking for a simple piece of equipment that allows for plenty of variations. Barbell exercises are typically compound exercises, meaning you’ll get great results for the effort you invest.
Here are the top 10 barbell exercises to consider.
10. Barbell Walking Lunges
If you want a good cardio workout and to strengthen your entire lower body, barbell walking lunges are a fantastic choice. This exercise is intense and will torch calories rapidly while also helping you boost your post-workout metabolic burn.
Barbell walking lunges are nice because they will automatically cause your upper body to straighten up (compared to dumbbell walking lunges, which tend to have you bending over slightly), so this helps put more direct emphasis on the glute and hamstring muscles. If you want to work your posterior chain, barbell walking lunges are the way to do it.
9. Barbell Bent Over Rows
Bent over rows are next up on the list of great exercises to include in your barbell workout program. This exercise is a fantastic back builder and will also bring your core into play as well as it has to stabilize and ensure the weight is moving smoothly up and down the movement pattern. Barbell bent over rows will help to increase your body thickness, giving you a very powerful look. They can also help to improve posture as they’ll strengthen the muscles that are involved in pulling the shoulder blades back and keeping your back in proper alignment.
When doing barbell bent over rows, the important thing to remember is to never swing the weight upwards but instead, use a very slow and controlled movement pattern. This will ensure that you are working the target muscles, not just letting momentum take over and carry you through the exercise.
If you’re finding that momentum is coming into play a little too much, it might be time to consider lightening the weight so you have better control over it.
8. Barbell Press
The barbell press is a top shoulder building exercise that will help work your front and side deltoids very well while also ensuring that you are building total body power. Typically done in a standing position, this one is a great precursor to doing exercises like the barbell push press and clean and jerk. The barbell press differs from the seated dumbbell press because with the dumbbells, you?ll have to call into play the smaller muscles within the shoulder joint to help with stabilization of the dumbbells. With the barbell press, you?ll have more total power behind you because the barbell on its own is more stabilized, thus it will help you direct the movement better.
When doing the barbell press, the most important thing to remember is to keep the back in good alignment. If you start to let the lower back sway, you?ll be in for back problems down the road as so much force and tension is coming down on your lower back joints.
7. Barbell Bench Press
Any workout program involving a barbell is not going to be complete if a barbell bench press isn?t added into the mix. The barbell bench press is a great strength developer for building your chest muscles and will also go a long way towards helping increase your shoulder strength as well.
The barbell bench press can be done to boost power by changing the tempo of the exercise and increase the speed in which you press the weight up. Or, do it very slowly and focus on maximum time under tension and help to increase your overall hypertrophy levels.
When doing a barbell bench press, make sure that you are keeping the lower back pressed back down into the barbell pad as this is what will ensure that you prevent lower back pain and keep the core tight and your body injury free.
6. Barbell Incline Press
A great variation on the barbell press to consider adding to your routine is the barbell incline press. This exercise is going to still target your chest muscles quite thoroughly but will also work the front deltoids as well as the incline puts more stress on this area of the body.
You?ll likely find that you aren’t as strong in the barbell incline press as you are the barbell bench press, so do be prepared to decrease the weight. For this reason, if you are going to do both in the same session, most people will typically do the barbell incline press second after the barbell bench press is completed.
Like the barbell press, keeping the low back pressed firmly into the back pad is also important for this exercise.
5. Barbell Step-Ups
One lower body exercise that’s all too often forgotten about by those who are designing their workout programs is the step-up. Step-ups are great for helping to improve your overall level of lower body agility, strength as well as power and can be done anywhere you have a bench and a barbell. Simply step up with the barbell across your back and then step down using the same leg or alternating legs as you go – your choice.
This is also a great exercise to get your heart rate up and provide cardiovascular benefits, so if you’re looking to ditch your cardio training, it might be one to consider.
4. Barbell Back Squats
We can’t forget about barbell back squats. This exercise is one of the top muscle building exercises out there and one that you really can only perform optimally with a barbell. Many of the above exercises could be done with a dumbbell if you really prefer, but the barbell squat is best with a barbell across your back. You?d never be able to get a dumbbell up high enough of the body using just your arms to fully challenge your legs, which is why a barbell and a squat rack are key.
The barbell back squat will work the quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, shoulders, calves, as well as the arms, so is a perfect move for adding total lower body strength.
Barbell squats should typically be performed towards the start of your workout program when you’re feeling most fresh and are able to lift as heavy as you possibly can.
3. Barbell Front Squats
If you tire of barbell back squats, consider a barbell front squat, which targets the body in an entirely different manner. If you want to get the most well-balanced training in, including both in your workout routine can be a smart move.
Barbell front squats are ideal for anyone who is interested in building up their quads in particular because this exercise will place the vast majority of force on the quad muscles.
This one does tend to be harder to learn however, so do expect to spend some time lifting a lighter weight and focusing on just getting it up before you move on to adding plate weight. Unless you get the form down pat, your risk of injury with this exercise is much higher. Take caution to avoid this.
2. Barbell Deadlifts
The deadlift is another powerful movement that you can do with a barbell whenever you need to add extra challenge to your workout program. It’s a foundational lift, meaning it’s one that just about every lifter should learn and perform at some point to help build the strongest base level of strength possible. When you add this to your routine, all other exercises will be improved thanks to the power and strength that you gain with it.
Barbell deadlifts will hit your hamstrings, glutes, and lower and upper back primarily, however you will also notice that your quads may get called into play. If you’re interested in building your traps up, it’s one of the best moves that you can do.
Barbell deadlifts, like squats, do take a lot of energy to complete so you?ll also want to do them early on in your workout program. Most people who are performing heavy squat training won’t also do heavy deadlifts as the two are just too demanding to have in the same session. Separate the up and you?ll fair far better.
1. Barbell Clean And Jerk
Finally, the last of the barbell-based exercises is the barbell clean and jerk. This exercise is an ideal solution for anyone who wants a total body workout in one and who is hoping to build cardiovascular fitness as well as strength and power.
The barbell clean and jerk is a movement that will require a lot of precision and demands proper form, so make sure that you aren’t overlooking these two elements.
When doing this one, start with a lighter weight and master proper form first. Then once that’s finished, you can move on and begin using heavier weights and pushing the boundaries of what your body can achieve.
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I’m Troy and I’m the creator of SuperHuman You and Co-Founder of Alpha Lion.
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