5 Essential Moves for a Barbell Workout

Benefits of a barbell workout

If you have an interest in bodybuilding and are looking for a great place to start your strength training regimen, these essential barbell workout moves are a great starting point. Learning the proper form and technique for back squats, bench press, overhead press, lunges, and bent over row will have you off and running quickly. Be sure to consult your physician before starting on any exercise program!

Back Squat

The back squat has been referred to as “The King of All Exercises” and it’s easy to see why. This move works the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. It helps build size, strength, and explosiveness. Proper back squats can be the platform from which you base the rest of your bodybuilding routine. 

Practice your form without weights in the beginning, simply working on the motions. Start with your feet about shoulder width apart, keep your back straight, and then sit back toward an imaginary chair. 

Once your quads are parallel with the floor, push yourself upright again, keeping your weight evenly distributed on your feet. Once you’re comfortable with the form, you can slowly add weights to your workout. Use a kettlebell or dumbbells or practice with the squat bar. Over time, add plates to the weight bar. You’ll begin to see and feel results quickly as you progress with your barbell gym workout!

Bench Press

The Bench Press is probably the most performed exercise in the gym. It is probably the simplest move to do, but it definitely takes some practice to get the right form. Again, start with something comfortable such as dumbbells or just the bar until you perfect your form and build the strength necessary to push heavier weights.

To perform a proper bench press, lie flat on your back on the bench. You should find a comfortable position for your hands on the bar with the hands a little wider than shoulder width. Once you lift the bar from the rest, slowly bring the bar down to your chest. Once the bar has touched your chest, push up again until your elbows are just slightly bent. 

Be sure to keep your feet on the floor and your rear end on the bench throughout the entire motion. Your breathing is also an important part of a proper bench press. You should slowly breathe in until the bar touches your chest, then breathe out as you push the barbell back up. Maintain a good rhythm between your breathing and pressing the bar. Don’t go too fast and don’t go too slowly!


Barbell lunges are a great way to work your quads, hamstrings, lower back, and calves. If you’re a beginner, start without a barbell or a light weight that’s easy to handle until you have a good feel for the proper form of this exercise.

Once you place the bar across your back – much as you would if you were doing squats – step forward with one foot, bending your back leg and lowering your body. Then push back up into a standing position. Repeat this motion using the other leg. One rep is the completion of the lunge motion with both legs. Be careful not to overextend yourself during the exercise. 

Keep your back straight and head up and forward during the exercise. Also, don’t let your knees get beyond your toes. This can cause additional stress on the joint and lead to injury over time.

Bent-Over Row

The bent-over row is often overlooked, but is a key barbell workout exercise. This exercise is a fantastic way to work your core, biceps, and lats. If you’re looking to gain upper body strength and work your entire back, the bent-over row is for you. 

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and bend at the hips until your back is at a 45-degree angle. Start with your arms extended holding the bar and then pull the bar up to your stomach. Lower the bar slowly back to the starting position to complete the rep. You should be able to pull the bar up without having to move your back. If you do, you’ve got too much weight on the bar. 

The bent-over row can also be modified to give additional workout benefits. It can be performed with an underhand grip to work the biceps even harder. It can also be done single-armed with a dumbbell to have additional range of motion. 

No matter which exercise you choose, the bent-over row should be in your barbell workout toolbox.


Last but not least, any solid barbell workout routine should contain deadlifts. The deadlift is the one move on this list that just helps add brute strength to your program. Proper form is key with this move, though, so you’ll certainly want to start with lighter weights to start until you get the move down pat. 

Poor technique can not only keep you from reaching your strength goals, it can also cause significant injury. If you’re not sure about the form, ask a personal trainer to help you until you feel comfortable with your barbell gym program.

This move is fairly simple and straightforward. Simply stand over the bar with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands slightly wider than your knees. Bend your legs until you’re in almost a squat position, then thrust your hips up and keep your weight over your heels for power. 

From there, simply stand up, pulling the barbell up along with your body. Lower the bar back to the ground as slowly as you can to complete the rep.

Be sure to keep your back flat throughout the move to prevent injury. Good form will have you gaining raw power and strength in no time!

Benefits of a barbell workout

Strength training is a great way to exercise no matter your age or experience level. Aside from gaining strength, weight training helps with flexibility, range of motion and balance. Resistance training has also been shown to provide cardiovascular benefits, better sleep, and can be an effective method to combat Type-2 diabetes.

Increased strength can help older adults to better perform daily tasks, too, allowing them to remain independent for a longer period of time. Take a look at the 78 benefits of weightlifting for seniors from RunRepeat.com and see what science has to say! 

If you’d like to learn more about strength training, contact Kellie Smith or one of our other fantastic personal trainers for a consultation. Many options are available and our experienced staff would be happy to help you reach your goals!

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