Exercises with barbell are timeless classics. There is nothing better than this type of training, especially if you want to build muscle volume and significantly increase your strength indicators. Even the most functional exercise machine will not replace any barbell exercises because only when working with free weight, almost all the muscles of our body participate in training. If you are an ardent fan of strength exercises and you are not afraid of heavyweight and complex techniques, then feel free to include the best exercises with barbell in your training arsenal.
Types of exercises with barbell
Exercises can be both basic and isolating. When performing basic movements, several joints and a large number of muscle groups are involved in the training at once. Suppose, in the deadlift, the legs, the back, and almost all the muscles of the body are included in the training. This exercise will be basic. Also, basic exercises to do with barbell will be, for example, squats or lunges, where several joints and muscle groups also work. A typical example of another basic type is the bench press.
These basic exercises should form the basis of your training program. Isolation exercises, on the other hand, involve only one joint and one muscle group. Bicep curls as an example. Such barbell exercises, although they work well for individual muscle groups, contribute to overall mass gain to a lesser extent than basic ones. In addition, if you take the same biceps, then such a basic exercise as bent-over rows will include the biceps in the work just as well.
But, besides this, it also uses the broadest muscles of the back, which will more positively affect the overall set of mass. Thus, the basic exercises are the basis for any barbell training program, and isolating ones are the supplements. In general, both types of exercises can be combined quite successfully.
The advantages of barbell combo exercises
When performing basic exercises with a barbell, several muscle groups are simultaneously involved. This contributes to effective muscle building and strength development. The beginners are strongly advised to start training exactly from basic exercises. In general, training using basic exercises using barbell will give excellent results regardless of the level of training. Their main benefits are as follows:
- Basic level exercises are the most physiological. Unlike isolating (local) ones, they maximally correspond to the anatomy of the human body and have a minimal risk of injury if performed correctly.
- Basic workouts with barbells have a direct effect on increasing the production of growth hormones and testosterone, which in turn guarantees optimal muscle growth.
- Basic exercises are all about building muscle evenly.
- Barbell training, consisting of basic exercises, quickly strengthens the ligamentous and articular systems.
- As you improve your execution technique and increase the barbell weight, progress will be evident even after a long period of training.
- High energy expenditure contributes to getting rid of excess subcutaneous fat.
Basic training features
As it was stated above, basic exercises are a type of functional load where more than one joint of the body is necessarily involved as well as the maximum number of different muscle groups. This type of workout is very good for gaining mass and general physical development because the more muscles are included in the work, the stronger and more we become.
In addition, such exercises help to understand well the biomechanics of standard types of muscle loading, which means that in the future, when switching to isolated training, you can easily feel the working area of the muscles. The most effective type of basic training is lifting barbell. After all, it has long been known that exercises with free weight are much better than static loads in a machine, especially if you are a beginner in weightlifting. Now let's take a look at seven of the essential barbell exercises successfully used by athletes from the United Kingdom.
#1 Back Squat
It is considered one of the best barbell strength exercises among bodybuilders and strength athletes. It is considered basic, as it trains strength and endurance. Legs are usually improved with its help.
Body parts involved
The load is evenly distributed between the biceps and quads of the legs, also the buttocks. As for stabilizers, the press and spinal columns are actively turned on.
How to do barbell squats
- Step 1. Legs should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes slightly apart. It is important that the posture is comfortable.
- Step 2. Place the barbell over your shoulders so that it sits on top of your trapezius muscles, but never at the base of your neck. Keep your back straight, chest raised, and your gaze looking forward so that your neck is in line with your spine.
- Step 3. Start squatting. The back remains straight, the chest is lifted up, the hips and buttocks as the body goes down, smoothly move back. You need to lower yourself until the body is in a sitting position so that the buttocks are slightly below the level of the knees. Don't sit too deep. During squats, the heels should be pressed to the floor, they account for part of the load.
Things to pay attention to
Control the depth of the squat so that the exercise is useful, it is necessary to lower the buttocks at least to parallel with the floor.
- Round back. The main mistake a beginner makes is slouching and dropping down the shoulders and chest. The lion's share of the effectiveness of the exercise lies precisely in the correct position of the spine. It should be fixed in a strictly level position at the very beginning of the exercise, and remain so during its execution.
- Neck. The bar should not touch the neck, but be located only on the back, in the area above the shoulder blades, where the transverse part of the trapezius muscle is located. It is highly recommended that the weight of the bar does not exert any pressure on the cervical vertebrae, otherwise injuries are possible.
- Knees. During squats, beginners' knees often tend to bend inward, which should be carefully avoided. Shaking and wobbling knees are a sign of abductor muscle weakness, which is quite normal when a person is just starting strength training. If your knees are bent inward, you can spread your legs a little wider, so it will be easier to spread your knees to the sides.
- Fingertips. While squatting, many beginners lift their heels upward while remaining balanced on the tips of their toes. In this way, the body instinctively tries to take the load off the muscles of the thighs and calves, but in this position, the joints of the legs are severely affected, and the load is not distributed correctly. The case may even end with a fracture of one of the fingers. You need to learn how to do squats, transferring weight to the heel, but at the same time leaving your back straight.
It is one of the main barbell compound exercises in powerlifting. Trains one-third of the muscles of the whole body. However, it is considered as heavy exercise with a barbell that can cause a traumatic experience. At home, it should be done with great care, especially if you do not have a bar stand or basic skirting boards.
Deadlift involves absolutely all the muscles in our body, especially if you perform it in the classic version. The back receives the most load, namely the lumbar region, buttocks, legs, and forearms also work.
How to do a barbell deadlift
- Step 1. The feet should be slightly wider than the hips, and the toes should be slightly apart or straight, whichever is more comfortable. The bar should be on the floor with your feet underneath the bar so that it passes over the middle of each foot.
- Step 2. Bend over to the bar and grasp it with your palms. It is advisable to use a straight grip. The arms should be wider than the legs. The shoulders should be directly over the bar.
- Step 3. Fix the spine in an upright position. The neck should be in line with him. Don't twist your back. The chest muscles should be tense. When lifting the bar, the hips and buttocks should move forward, and the chest up. The head looks straight. When the body is fully extended, the bar should touch the shins.
- Step 4. Biomechanically, lowering the barbell is more difficult for the body than raising it. It is allowed to sharply lower the barbell down without controlling this process. At the same time, it is important to keep the spine fixed in an even position, which is quite difficult for beginners to do, so it is better to control this process by moving your hips back and bending your knees slowly.
Things to pay attention to
This is a pretty dangerous barbell lift exercise, especially if you don't watch your back. Try not to bend too much in the lower back and work primarily with your legs and buttocks. For this, in the lifting phase, try to take your pelvis back.
Common mistakes when doing deadlift
- Twisting the back. The chest and shoulders are lowered, and the back is bent by the wheel: this is an incorrect and extremely dangerous position for barbell lifts while standing.
- Lowering the hips. The hips do a lot of work while lifting the bar. They should be tense and held above the knees. You cannot sit deeply, lowering your hips down.
- Deviation. When lifting the bar, the body should only be in an upright position. Leaning backward or forward is not allowed.
#3 Bench Press
The bench press is among workouts with a bench bar where the athlete raises free weight while in a prone position. It can be done on a special incline bench, as well as on a Smith machine. The main difference between the machine and an incline bench is that the bar moves along guides with stops. At home, it can only be done in the presence of a partner who will watch you.
First of all, this is the best workout with a barbell for the pectoral muscles, namely the middle segment of these muscles. Triceps and the front bundle of deltoids also actively help.
How to do
- Step 1. Lie on a bench so that the buttocks and shoulder blades are firmly pressed against it. The feet should be on the floor with a full foot. You can't stand on your toes.
- Step 2. Grasp the bar with a classic grip, spreading your arms to the sides so that the elbow is bent 90 degrees. Draw air into your chest, and as you exhale, lift the bar up, then, inhaling again, return it to its previous position. When lowering the bar, do not support it with your chest, the muscles of the arms and shoulders do the main work.
Things to pay attention to
The main thing is balance. As a rule, the right and left parts of our body are developed in different ways, which means that it will be easier to lift the bar with one hand than the other. It is necessary to smooth out this difference and find balance.
Main Bench Press mistakes to avoid
- Violation of the motion range. The essence of the bench press is to maintain the full range of motion of the barbell. It is much better to lift a reasonable weight while doing the exercise smoothly, fully bending and straightening your arms, than trying to impress others by lifting heavy weights and barely bending your arms at the same time.
- Improper shoulder position. A common beginner's mistake is incorrect shoulder position when bench pressing. During the bench press, they need to be moved back, slightly down and fixed in such a position that the main load falls on the chest and arms.
- Bending of the body on the bench. If you are not going to do powerlifting, then there is absolutely no need to bend when lifting the barbell, lifting your hips and back from the bench. In this case, all the tension that the chest must receive in order to train effectively will be received by the lower and middle parts of the back. Bottom line: the chest does not develop in any way, and the back and shoulders receive unnecessary stress, which can provoke injuries.
#4 Bent-over rows
This efficient basic barbell back exercise is a must-have in your barbell exercise chart. A great alternative to block trainers and crossovers. It helps to develop back muscle strength, also works well for mass gain. Ideal for creating a V-shaped back. The key advantages are:
- Trains the hip flexor-extensor muscles. The ability to flex the hips back, to activate the back muscles while maintaining good alignment from head to the pelvis, is a must for anyone wanting to be functionally strong or successful in sports.
- Makes a lot of muscles function. This workout trains virtually the entire back of the body, with some additional stimulation of the biceps, forearms, grip, and core. If your workouts need to be short or you are overcome with the thought of having to use a dozen different exercises to train all of these muscles, the bent-over rows can make the task much easier.
- Strengthens soft spots. Some people find it difficult to keep the barbell close to the body when doing deadlifts or weightlifting exercises. Bent-over barbell rows help strengthen your back so you can control the barbell and keep your torso and hips stable in the retracted position.
- Promotes correct bearing. This is not a secret that many people slump their shoulders. They are turned forward, and as a result, the back is weak. In addition, if you press hard on your chest, you will exacerbate the problem and increase the risk of shoulder pain. This exercise strengthens the upper back especially the diamond and mid-ramps that draw in the shoulder blades.
In addition to the latissimus dorsi muscle, biceps and core muscles are involved in this type of training.
How to do
- Step 1. Choose any weight training barbells you prefer. You need to take the barbell only from the floor so that the spine is correctly fixed beforehand. You cannot take it from the rack, and already with the barbell in your hands, go to the slope. The grip should be at shoulder level or slightly wider. The back should be bent but not necessarily parallel to the floor. It is only important that the spine is completely straight, the neck is in line with it, and the head looks at the floor. The legs are slightly bent at the knees.
- Step 2. As you exhale, lift the bar so that it reaches the middle of the abdomen. The elbows should move up and go slightly behind the back. Hold the bar in the top position for 2 seconds and slowly lower it down while inhaling.
Things to pay attention to
Watch the movement of your elbows, they should literally dig into your body and be as close to the body as possible. Also, try not to relax your hands at the bottom point, here you can safely work within the amplitude.
#5 Overhead press
Being one of the compound barbells exercises the overhead press is equally popular with bodybuilding professionals and strength sports enthusiasts. Plus, this type of training well develops a sense of balance.
Mainly the front and middle deltoid muscles, as well as the triceps, work. A big plus of this exercise is that many stabilizing muscles are involved, thereby training the whole body. Trying to maintain balance during the overhead press, the muscles of the back, legs, buttocks, and hips are also included in the work.
Overhead press technique
- Feet should be shoulder-width apart, parallel to each other.
- The buttocks are tucked in, the back is completely straight.
- The elbows should protrude forward.
- The grip of the bar should be medium: palms are shoulder-width apart, and the thumb should wrap around the bar.
- It is necessary to lift the bar up only by relying on the muscles of the shoulders, without helping yourself with any other muscles.
- You need to raise the bar until the arms are fully extended at the elbows, and then slowly and smoothly lower it.
- The barbell should barely touch the upper chest at the time of lowering.
- The barbell rises on exhalation, when lowering it, you must inhale.
Things to pay attention to
Having spinal problems the overhead press should not be done. It is better to replace it with a bench press, or even change the barbell to a dumbbell. The reason is that during the overhead press the stabilizing muscles work hard, as well as the large compression effect, the load on the spine is quite large.
Typical overhead press mistakes
- Put one leg forward. Legs should be straight and parallel to each other, shoulder-width apart. In this position, it will be easier for the body to maintain balance, and the load on the joints and muscles will lie evenly.
- Holding your breath. Some athletes cannot properly regulate their breathing, and hold it before lifting the bar up. This cannot be done, otherwise, you can get injuries of the pectoral muscles. In order to learn how to breath correctly during the exercise, you need, firstly, to start with low weight, not trying to overcome yourself, and secondly, before performing the overhead press, you need to take several slow breaths in and out in order to enter the desired pace.
- Place the barbell on your chest. In some cases, athletes help themselves with their chest, and at the moment of lowering the barbell, they put it on the upper point of the chest, in order to slightly relieve the load from the hands. This cannot be done, as you can get pain in the muscles of the chest or even microfractures of the ribs.
- Slopes. When lifting the bar, the body should form a completely straight line without leaning forward or backward. Otherwise, the load may not be properly distributed, and there is a considerable risk of injury.
The difference between the overhead and bench press
The first and foremost difference of the overhead press is that it is more difficult to perform. The main rule of this type of exercise is maintaining the correct balance of the whole body. However, there are several key differences between the overhead press and the bench:
- In a standing position, the body is less balanced compared to the seated one, so the legs, hips, and buttocks are partially included in the work doing an overhead press.
- The compression load on the spine is higher.
- More stabilizing muscles work.
A difficult, but quite effective exercise with a barbell. Better to use a bar lift gym, however, this type of training is also possible at home. The main thing is to observe safety precautions and choose the right working weight.
Targeted body parts
The same as squats, the hips and glutes work here. The lower back, deltas, and trapezium act as stabilizing muscles.
How to do
- Step 1. Place the barbell on your shoulders, at the upper base of the trapezius muscle, so that the bar does not touch the cervical vertebrae.
- Step 2. Keep your torso in a straight position: the spine is straight, the head is straight, the chest is raised. Take a step forward, lifting your leg high, so that it bends at the knee at an angle of 90 degrees. The other leg also bends, but make sure that its knee does not touch the floor. Inhale should be done while going down, exhalation is done while going up. The exercise can be performed both by standing still and moving forward.
Barbell lunges can be performed statically or dynamically. The second option is more difficult and tedious, but, in turn, works great for endurance. You can also perform forward lunges (to increase the load on the quadra), backward (to work out the buttocks and hamstrings), and sideways (this will include the adductors). The technique is very simple: while holding the barbell on your back, you need to step with one foot in the right direction leaving the other in place, and lower it to your knee.
Things to pay attention to
Try to keep your whole body tense, especially if you are doing lunges in motion.
#7 Power Clean
A compound barbell workout used in weightlifting, but firmly established in the training of bodybuilders and strength athletes. This exercise is truly a full-body workout.
How to do
- Step 1. The exercise can be started from the lower deadlift position (when the bar is on the floor and the athlete bends down, grabbing it), or you can simplify the task and start from the upper deadlift position (standing straight with the barbell on extended arms down). The grip should be straight, slightly wider than the shoulders. If the exercise starts from the bottom deadlift position, then you must first do it according to all the rules, and then move on to another part of the exercise.
- Step 2. The jerk. The most difficult part of the exercise is when the barbell needs to be raised to the chest. First, you need to bend your legs at the knee, as if doing a half-squat.
- Step 3. From a half-squat position, snatch the bar up. At this time, the arms are bent at the elbows and move towards the chin, the hands are turned virtually 180 degrees, and the bar is held by the palms. However, snatching should be done not only with the hands, but with the whole body including the muscles of the legs, back, chest, and press, which push the weight up.
- Step 4. Press. When the bar is on the palms are turned up, it must be lifted up with a powerful effort, as is done with a regular army bench press. Before lifting up, you need to bend a little at the knees again so that not only the hands, but the whole body participates in the press.