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Top 10 Essential Barbell Exercises for Building Muscle and Strength

Get the best results by spending lesser time at gyms with the help of a barbell. There is a vast range of exercises that you can do with this functional gym equipment.

Steven Hill
Top 10 Essential Barbell Exercises for Building Muscle and Strength
Table Of Contents

People working out at gyms or homes have different preferences. Some want to lose that weight with cardio and aerobics, while others want strength training. Many even give a chance to dumbbells and kettlebells for effective results.

But, when it comes to building muscle and strength without spending hours in the gym, a barbell should be the point of focus. Nearly all gyms possess this game-changing equipment. Barbell training is a one-stop solution for increased muscle mass, fat loss, boosting metabolism, and getting a sculpted body.

If you prefer to work out at home, it is best to get a perfect barbell. It will boost your exercise session and will assist in achieving your goals with long-lasting and effective results. Barbell training offers a vast range of workouts that will build your muscle.

You are ready to dive into the world of barbell training. But before that, there are some important pointers for you to think and work on:

Remember to warm-up: If you want to achieve quality results, do not forget to warm up. Not only does it keep you safer, but it also allows you to work out in a proper form.

Do what suits you: Do not overload your body with excessive weights. It is better to start slow. Increase weight progressively to improve your RM.

Work with a professional: Barbell training is not a piece of cake. You need to work on your balance and coordination to increase your effectiveness. Working with a professional will help you work on all such important aspects.

Do not rush: Barbell training is effective and provides good results. It is better to work patiently and with consistency to see the results. Overtraining can be harmful to you.

When you know all the essential aspects to consider, it is time to get your hands on a quality barbell to train your muscles. If you feel uncomfortable and have a problem lifting heavyweight, you can wear a weightlifting belt for added support.

Here are the ten best and essential barbell exercises for power strength and muscle mass.

Related Article: Weight Lifting Belt - The Absolute Protection You Need When Lifting Heavy Weights

1. Barbell Bench Press

Working on upper body strength is everyone’s dream. So, it is best to select exercises that will specifically target your upper body muscles. The bench press is the most effective exercise to tone your upper body, and barbells will allow you to add more weight to tone muscles. The exercises will also help you build muscle size and improve strength.

Target muscles: Triceps, chest, shoulders

  • Lie flat on your back on a bench.
  • Your arms should be locked and straight.
  • Grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Now bring the bar slowly down to your chest while you inhale.
  • Push it up while exhaling.

Make sure to hold the bar tightly and with complete focus on one point. Do not look at the barbell. It will help you get the most out of the exercise as you control your movement.

2. Barbell Back Squat

A barbell back squat is a variation of a traditional squat. It activates all lower body muscles. You can master the movement by practicing it under expert supervision. Loading weight on your lower body helps increase muscle mass as more muscles participate in performing the exercise.

Target muscles: Hamstrings, glutes, lower back.

  • Prepare your shoulders and engage your core with glutes tight.
  • Unrack the barbell and place it right above your shoulders.
  • Bend your knees, ankles, and hips with perfect alignment in the body.
  • Lower until your legs are parallel to the floor.
  • Pause for some seconds and hold the movement.

You should set the barbell in a rack to an appropriate height. Also, step back a little after taking the barbell off the rack.

3. Front Squat

A front squat is somewhat similar to a barbell back squat. It also works on your lower body muscles and is a great exercise to build strength and power. The only difference is that you hold a barbell across the front of your shoulders in this exercise. The exercise engages your core muscles completely.

Target muscles: Quadriceps, core, upper back

  • Adjust the squat rack to the level of your chest.
  • Step in closer to the bar and perform a light squat.
  • Hold the bar with both hands. Your hands should be wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Bring your elbows forwards and slightly higher.
  • Step back and engage your core muscles by breathing.
  • Form a squat position until your feet are parallel to the ground.

For practicing a perfect front squat, you need to warm up your wrist muscles. Your elbows should also be in a perfect position so that the bar does not slip.

4. Barbell Deadlift

The deadlift is a perfect exercise to increase strength in the entire body. It works to improve your core stability, core strength, and posture. It will also strengthen your bones. All muscle groups are engaged effectively by deadlifts. Your grip strength also gets better by practicing deadlifts. It is a total body movement and is considered a king of lifting.

Target muscles: Back muscles, glutes, hamstrings

  • Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Lift the bar by moving your hips forwards and neutral spine.
  • Grasp the bar with both your hands to the outer side of your legs.
  • After lifting it, your hands should be on the side of your thighs.

It is essential to have a neutral spine to avoid any injury. With that, you should also engage your core muscles throughout the movement.

5. Sumo Deadlift

The sumo deadlift is a variation of a traditional deadlift. In this exercise, there is less load on your lower back muscles. With a slight adjustment of feet, you can reduce the pressure on your back. Your upper body is close to the ground, so the distance is less to lift the weight.

Target muscles: Glutes, hamstrings, back, core.

  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Your toes should be pointing out at an angle of 45 degrees.
  • Bend and lower your body from your hips to hold the bar.
  • Your spine should be straight in the entire movement.
  • Lift the bar to the midpoint of the thighs.
  • Lower it down again.

You should be mindful while performing a sumo deadlift. The back should be in the correct position. Remember to engage your cores and breathe throughout the exercise.

6. Barbell Bent Over Row

Emphasizing your back training is important as it rules out the chances of developing back pain. The barbell bent-over row manages to utilize your back muscles. It also improves your posture, so you can perform several exercises with the right technique. Load weight on barbells wisely here to get results.

Target muscles: Upper back muscles, latissimus dorsi, triceps

  • Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
  • Lean forward from your waist and bend your knees.
  • Your back should be straight.
  • Grab the bar with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Squeeze your shoulders and lift the weight up to the level of your chest.

You should stop for seconds and squeeze your shoulder blades together once the bar has touched your sternum.

7. Barbell Lunge

Barbell lunges are a weighted alternative to traditional lunges. It is necessary to improve the technique to target the lower body muscles. The barbell lunges are considered an important bodyweight training exercise. Remember to load the weight on the barbell according to your convenience and preference.

Target muscles: Hip flexors, quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings.

  • Set the barbell to the level of your height.
  • Hold the barbell and rest it on the upper back muscles.
  • Stand straight, with a slight bend in your knees.
  • You should engage your core and hips.
  • Lunge forward by keeping your spine neutral.

It is best to practice and master lunges first before starting a barbell. Increase the weight gradually to not hurt yourself during the exercise.

8. Overhead Press

The overhead press requires immense focus, balance, and strength. If you are a beginner, it is better to exercise under expert supervision to stay safe. The exercise will help you to develop a stronger back. It also helps you to increase the size of your shoulder and back.

Target muscles: Trapezius, deltoids, triceps.

  • Stand with your body, making a straight line.
  • Remember to shift your focus to one point.
  • Hold the bar on your chest with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Lift the bar and press it over your head.
  • Do not move your body and focus completely on exercise.

Squeeze your shoulder blades once the bar is over your head. Also, it is best to work on your grip strength to make this exercise successful and effective.

9. Barbell Snatch

Barbell snatch is a powerful movement that works on your various body muscles. It requires control movement with complete focus. Mastering the snatches requires years of hard work, so one should be ready to give enough time to them. They improve mobility, stabilize core muscles, and work on motor movements.

Target muscles: Hamstrings, quadriceps, core, shoulders, back.

  • Stand straight with your spine neutral.
  • Shift your focus to one point.
  • Bend down to hold the bar. Keep your chest high.
  • First, lift the barbell to your thighs level with your hips engaged and tight.
  • Next, continue to lift the barbell upwards with your hips fully extended.
  • Send the barbell up to your head by extending your elbows.
  • Lock your shoulders and elbows to control the bar.
  • Hold the barbell in a power stance with your knees bent.

You should never do barbell snatch without a professional. It is okay to give time to your body to master the art. Once you start practicing, you will get better with time.

10. Hip Thrust

Barbell hip thrust is an effective and highly recommended option to build glutes. The exercise will help you to develop strength in your entire lower body. You should stay mindful during exercises to avoid any risk of injury. Load the weight on the barbell gradually to maximize your gains.

Target muscles: Glutes, lower body.

  • Sit on the floor with your back against the bench.
  • Roll the barbell over your hips and rest it here.
  • Lift your hips slightly up from the ground.
  • Your upper body should be in contact with the bench.
  • Squeeze your glutes and push your feet to the ground.
  • Achieve full hip extension by pushing your hips upwards towards the ceiling.
  • Pause for 2 to 3 seconds.

You should use a bench to perform barbell hip thrusts. The bench makes sure to provide comfort and support to your back muscles.

Benefits of Barbell Exercises

The barbell is the first gym equipment invented for strength training. Many fitness experts consider barbells superior gym equipment leaving all other equipment behind. People who train with a barbell have an increased potential to gain muscle mass compared to those who do not.

Barbell exercises involve all muscle groups with a controlled movement. These exercises also demand a mind and muscle connection which ensures quality results. You can increase your power and strength with power loading. Some essential benefits that barbell exercises will reap for you are written below:

1. Enhances Overall Body Strength

There are multiple workouts that you can do with a barbell. Whether your goal is to reduce weight or gain muscle mass, you can easily use a barbell. All-rounder equipment that will provide complete body strength. You will feel energized and attentive towards your workouts.

Barbell training also improves your focus during workouts. You can easily add weight to the barbells to load to your maximum to have complete body strength.

2. Improves Athletic Performance

Athletes need to train extensively to perform well during their events. Training with barbell fetches so many additional benefits for them, such as increasing power, muscle mass, and strength. All of this collectively helps the athlete to improve their athletic performance.

Since they are in better shape, they can do well in competitions. The barbell training helps in improving mobility and allows to practice a complete range of motion.

3. Ensures a Better Posture

Unlike other gym equipment, barbells are stable and do not move from their position. They require a correct form, and so training with them improves your posture. They do not deviate, so the chances of encountering any injury due to the wrong technique are nearly zero.

The barbell training fixes your posture. A neutral spine allows you to practice other workouts with ease and minimum health risk.


Barbell training does not merely work on your muscle groups. Rather, it makes you strong and confident. You will see a great difference in yourself once you start using a barbell. The exercises target different muscle groups, which then helps in increasing muscle mass.

Make sure that your technique and exercise form are correct when training with a barbell. Change your form often and mix these exercises to get the best results. You do not need to spend hours in your gyms anymore, as barbell exercises will make up the need easily.

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Steven Hill

Steven is a passionate health & fitness writer. Steven has considerable research experience, but also enjoys writing nutrition and workout articles for general readership. Today, it's easy to find health and wellness information. People use many different sites to get the information they ne

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