This Beginner Barbell Workout Builds Full-Body Strength in Only 20 Minutes

Barbells distribute weight more evenly than dumbbells, which means you can lift heavier. They also allow more muscles to experience time under tension, which sparks muscle growth.

For example, when you squat, you are using your glutes, hamstrings and calves. When you push or pull a barbell, you are using your back, shoulders or chest. This is how you begin to progress your strength when barbells are included in your program.


There are three common grips used when handling barbells: overhand grip, hook grip and alternated grip.

Overhand Grip:​ Place your hand over the bar with your thumb wrapped around the bar, which prevents the likelihood of the bar slipping from your hands, according to the National Institute for Fitness and Sport (NIFS). This grip is common for exercises like the bench press, shoulder press and barbell squat.

Hook Grip:​ Similar to the overhand grip, but you place your thumb underneath your middle and index fingers. This grip also prevents the bar from slipping from your hands and is common for heavy, explosive exercises like the clean, snatch and deadlift, per the NIFS.

Alternated Grip:​ A combination of underhand grip (where your hands are placed under the bar so your knuckles face toward the floor) and overhand grip, commonly used for heavier deadlifts or spotting someone, according to the NIFS.

The downside to barbells is they aren’t as convenient as dumbbells because they are more expensive, require more space to use and store and have a bit of a steeper learning curve.

Keep in mind when beginning a barbell workout program it’s best to consult a fitness professional or go with a friend to help spot you.

The beginner barbell workout is designed to nail the basics and build confidence with this piece of equipment. You can do this workout two or three times a week. Rest 30 to 90 seconds between sets and between each exercise.


The J-hooks on the rack should be shoulder height for a back squat. If your knees are bent more than 45 degrees when underneath the bar with the bar resting on your traps, adjust the J-hooks higher.


When adjusting the barbell on the floor, pull the bar toward your shins. This keeps the bar in a position where it won’t hit your knees as you pull.


Set the J-hooks at shoulder height, just like for your back squat.


Set the J-hooks at shoulder height, just like for your back squat.

While the push press and the military press are similar movements, they involve different muscle groups. The push press recruits your leg muscles (in addition to your shoulder muscles) while the military press isolates your shoulder muscles.

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