The Humble Barbell – Brilliant For Building Muscle

It’s a familiar sight at gyms everywhere. Rows and rows of machines and fitness equipment in prime position. Then somewhere up the back are the classic barbells and dumbbells. Given the huge range of training options available these days it’s hard it to believe that you can still train just as effectively with these old school legends. Barbell exercises in particular are super-effective in building strength and muscle mass and you don’t have to go to fancy gym to get a shredded physique

The classic barbell V the SZ

The classic barbell has been in around since 1860. You’ll find it in every gym around the world and is a must have in your home gym. In addition to the straight barbell bar, there are other shapes and sizes designed to give you an effective workout. One of the most well-known is the SZ bar, which is mainly used in arm training. The SZ bar got its name because of its undulating shape which is designed to be gentle on the wrists so you can lift heavier weights with less stress on them. The different grips you can get with the SZ means you can target more muscle groups and add variety in training.

What makes a barbell workout so awesome?

Almost all barbell exercises are basic exercises – which makes them irreplaceable. Basic exercises are the pillars of strength training you can’t ignore because they involve multiple joints and muscle groups. They include the bench press, squat and deadlift which are all typically performed with barbells. Research has shown that training with free weights requires more strength, coordination and concentration because you have to use your strength to independently ensure a stable sequence of movements. Machines, on the other hand, generally guide you through the exercise so while you’re still work hard, it’s not as intense.

Which muscle groups do barbells target?

In theory, every muscle group can be trained with barbell exercises. This list gives you a general overview.

Barbell exercises for the legs & buttocks:

Classic squats

Front squats

Hip thrust

Straight leg deadlift

Romanian deadlift

Lunges

Calf raises

Try these: Leg training – building leg muscles effectively and safely

Barbell exercises for the back and neck:

Barbell rowing

Deadlift

Shrugs

Row upright

Try these: back training for a strong back

Barbell exercises for chest & shoulder:

Bench press

Incline bench press

Negative bench press

Shoulder press

Front raises

Try these: Optimal chest muscle training at home

Barbell training for the arms:

Barbell curls

Scott curls

French Press

Tight bench press

Forearm curls

Try these: biceps training

Other training plans 

Shredded – the plan for reducing body fat

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Exercise and Nutrition Plan

Your perfect training plan for building muscle at home

Full body workout with a punch bag training

Safety tips for barbell training?

Working with free weights comes with some risk.You have to be especially careful bench pressing because if you overestimate your strength, you may struggle to put the weights back in the cradle safely. That’s why we recommend having a spotter when you’re working with free weights. That’s someone, usually a training partner, who stands by and watches and can help if you get into trouble. 

What barbell exercises can you do at home?

The good news is, nearly every barbell workout can be done at home. However, some require a flat or inclined bench. We also recommend gym floor mats in your home gym or training area to protect the flooring and dampen training noises.

An example of What could a training plan with barbell exercises look like?

Below is an example of a you an effective, full-body barbell workout. Please note, this is a broad overview and you should take your level of fitness and experience into account and adjust accordingly.

Training plans usually start with the largest muscle because they require the greatest amount of energy and concentration. In addition, research suggests that training large muscle groups ahead of small muscle groups is more effective.

*Note I replaced sentences with sets from the German website

Barbell exerciseSetsRepsPause between sets
Squats48-151 – 2 minutes
Deadlift48-151 – 2 minutes
Barbell rowing38-151 – 2 minutes
Bench press38-151 – 2 minutes
Shoulder press38-151 – 2 minutes
Barbell curls28-151 – 2 minutes
French Press28-151 – 2 minutes

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