Barbells are used for some of the biggest and best weight training exercises out there. No matter what you are training towards, there's a place for them in at least one of your workouts. They are so versatile, and they can really change the game when it comes to strength training.

Selecting which barbell exercise would be best for you is another story. It's always tough to build up the perfect workout, especially when there's so much choice out there. To try and make things that little bit easier for you, we've compiled our top ten! All of these will hit different muscles so that you can keep your training varied, but they aren't easy! The benefits, however, are worth the effort.

Bench Press

We will start the list with the most popular barbell exercise, the bench press. It's one of the kings of exercise in general. The bench press is a huge compound exercise that trains most of your upper body, and it really is essential to improving your strength and performance across the board. If you struggle with it, make sure you use a spotter or a friend to guide you along the way!

Squat

woman performing a barbell squat

Squats are squats. As incredibly effective lower body-builders, they focus on your quads more than anything else. Using a barbell means that you have the choice of a front or a back squat, depending on your preferences and how much weight you want to use. Make sure your form is perfect, and you're good to go!

Shoulder press

Shoulder presses are another essential upper body exercise. They do things for your deltoid muscles that a bench press just can't quite manage. Your delts are made up of three sections, and this is one of the very few exercises that manages to hit all three of these in one exercise. It's efficient, effective, and a great way to use your barbell. You can use a smith machine if you're not confident, but it'll improve your balance in your shoulders and your arms too which is always useful. Keep your core tight and keep the bar in front of you!

Deadlift

Another incredible lower body-builder, possibly even better than the squat, is the deadlift. It's easily one of the most effective strength-building compound exercises that there are. Instead of just your legs, it uses your whole posterior chain, which means that almost every muscle on the back of your body has a big part to play in it. This is why you can lift so much weight doing them. There's a lot of variety too, even just using a barbell, so your possibilities are limitless. This one is crucial for you to get right though. Back injuries are not something you need!

Good mornings

To keep with the back exercises theme, good mornings certainly aren't one to forget about. They are pretty much barbell specific, but you should use a lower weight until you know that you've got them nailed and that you know what you can handle. They focus on your lower back uniquely, and this is something that's often overlooked in any training plan.

Bent rows

Moving further up the back still, we can't forget about the upper back. Your lats and mid back are huge muscles, and they need to be trained like it too. Barbell exercises are an easy way for you to get your fix for any large muscle group, and this isn't an exception. Bent rows force your lats to do an awesome contraction, using your biceps and core as stabilisers too. Just don't get them confused with upright rows!

Snatch

man performing a barbell snatch

So now you've hit most muscle groups in some ways, it's always a good idea to throw in some seriously strong compound exercises in there too. Barbell exercises are vast, and you can use ones like the snatch to work your whole body. It's mostly just a huge squat, but it uses your upper body to keep you stable as you hold the barbell above your head. It's tough, but it pays off.

Clean and jerk

Things get even worse here! This is essentially a cross between a deadlift, a squat, and a shoulder press. This will really put your whole body to the test and push your limits. You'll burn serious calories both in and out of the workout, and build muscle, all with a barbell. What more could you ask for!

Ab rollout

Instead of just lifting the barbell, you can use its unique shape and nature for a range of core exercises too, like the ab rollout. It takes a lot of core strength not to fall, but their efficiency can't be argued with. Keep the plates loose enough to turn like wheels and let yourself stretch across the floor and back again, using your abs as the powerhouse of the movement.

Landmine abs

Finally, we'll keep this unique usage going. Landmine exercises are another incredible way to change the game and keep you on your toes. This one is more of a cross over between wood chops and Russian twists, and it's incredible for your upper, lower and your oblique abdominal muscles. It's rare to see an exercise that crosses multiple ab muscles, but this is by far one of the best.

That's the list, and it's an intense one at that. Barbells have more uses than you first think of, and they are often one of the best ways to do big lifts like some of these exercises are. Use a spotter if you need to, and even keep the bar weight free until you find your feet or if you're not looking to build too much muscle. Whatever your needs are, the barbell can help you out!


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.