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Beginner Barbell Workouts: How to get the Most out of Lifting at Home

By Richard McKay March 08, 2023 0 comments

Barbell workouts have become an increasingly popular way to train at home, for both male and females as well as people of all ages and levels of fitness.  It can be quite daunting, however, to begin barbell training if you have never experienced it before and don’t know what to expect.  Perhaps you are concerned about safety or not being able to use the equipment properly.  It could be that you are not sure what exercises to do or where to start.


In this article, we will explore the basic principles of barbell lifting and how you can best apply this to your home barbell workouts.  We will also share some beginner barbell exercise suggestions, as well as tips for keeping safe while you perform home barbell sessions which should give you peace of mind before you start.

What Exactly is a Barbell?

A barbell is a weightlifting bar onto which weight plates or bumper plates are loaded onto for weight and strength training

They are typically found in gyms and other workout facilities, are usually made from steel or some other type of metal and come in different sizes and weights.


Most barbells are equipped with spinlock collars, which allow the weight plates to be secured onto the bar without slipping. This is important for safety reasons, as it prevents the weight plates from falling off the bar and injuring someone nearby. 

Barbells are used for a variety of weightlifting exercises, including bench presses, squats, and deadlifts. They are also commonly used for exercises such as curls and overhead presses.

Barbells are an essential piece of equipment for any weightlifter or bodybuilder, as they allow weight to be evenly distributed across the body when they perform a variety of exercises with them. If you're looking to get started in weightlifting or bodybuilding, then a barbell is a staple piece of kit to invest in.

How to Use a Barbell for an Effective Workout

Barbells are a great tool for achieving a full-body workout. They can be used for a variety of exercises, including presses, squats, and rows. Here are a few tips on how to use a barbell for an effective barbell workout:

1. Choose the Right Weight 

When selecting a weight plate for your barbell, it is important to consider your fitness level and goals. If you are new to barbell workouts, start with a lighter weight. You can always increase the weight as you get stronger. It is better to start light and work your way up than to try too much too soon and risk injury. 

2. Use Proper Form 

Using proper form is essential when working out with weights, especially when using a barbell. Remember to keep your back straight, abs engaged, and shoulders down when performing exercises such as squats or presses.  Investing in a Squat Rack or a Squat Stand can be especially helpful when starting out with barbell workouts as they will help you to master your form while supporting the weights and offering extra stability and safety.

If you are unsure of how to execute an exercise properly, there are many instructional videos and articles available online. 


3. Incorporate Cardio 

Incorporating cardio into your barbell workout routine will help you see results faster. HIIT workouts often combine weights and cardio to achieve a good balance that burns calories and builds muscles and strength.

4. Focus on Quality, Not Quantity 

When performing exercises with a barbell, focus on doing each rep with proper form and control. It is better to do fewer reps with good form than to try to rush through and end up using bad form. Not only will this minimise your risk of injury, but it will also help you see better results.

5. Cool Down and Stretch 

After your barbell workout, allow yourself to cool down properly with some light cardio and static stretches. Stretching will help your muscles recover from the strenuous workout and prevent soreness.


Basic Exercises You Can Do with a Barbell

There are a number of basic exercises that you can do with a barbell, regardless of your level of experience or fitness. Let's take a closer look at some of the most common exercises that can be done with a barbell:

1. Barbell Bench Press

The bench press is one of the most popular weightlifting exercises, and it can be done with a barbell. To do this exercise, lie down on a flat bench and position the barbell above your chest. Grab the barbell with an overhand grip, and then lower it down to your chest. Press the barbell back up to the starting position, and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Don't hyperextend your elbows at the top of the movement, as this can put unnecessary stress on them. If you find yourself doing this, then try using a lighter weight until you get the hang of the exercise.

2. Barbell Back Squats

The barbell back squat is one of the most effective exercises you can do with a barbell. This exercise targets your quads, glutes, and hamstrings, making it a great exercise for building lower body strength and power.

To perform the barbell back squat, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and the barbell placed across your upper back. Bend your knees and lower your hips until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then drive through your heels to return to the starting position.

Remember that you must keep your back straight throughout the movement, as rounding your back can put unnecessary stress on your spine.

3. Barbell Stiff-Legged Deadlift

The barbell stiff-legged deadlift is a great exercise for targeting your hamstrings and glutes. This exercise is often done with lighter weights, as it can be difficult to maintain proper form with heavier weights.

To perform the barbell stiff-legged deadlift, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and the barbell in front of your thighs. Bend at your hips and lower the barbell down your legs until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Return to the starting position by driving through your heels and extending your hips.

Make sure to tighten your buttocks and keep your back straight throughout the entire movement.

4. Military Press

The military press is a great exercise for building shoulder strength and stability. This exercise can be done with a barbell or dumbbells, but using a barbell will allow you to use more weight.

To perform the military press, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and the barbell held at shoulder level. Press the barbell overhead, and then lower it back down to the starting position.

Keep your core engaged throughout the movement to help stabilise your torso. Also, be sure not to arch your back as you press the barbell overhead.

5. Barbell Forward Lunge

The barbell forward lunge is a great exercise for targeting your quads and glutes. This exercise can also be done with dumbbells, but using a barbell will allow you to use more weight.

To perform the barbell forward lunge, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and the barbell held at your sides. Take a large step forward with one leg, and then lower your body down until both legs are bent at 90-degree angles. Return to the starting position by pressing through your front heel and bringing your back leg up to meet your front leg.

Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions, and then switch legs and repeat.

These are just a few of the many exercises that can be done with a barbell. Use these exercises to create a barbell workout routine that will help you build strength and muscle. Remember to focus on proper form and technique and to challenge yourself with heavier weights as you get stronger.

Quick Tips for Safe Barbell Workouts

When you're working out at home with a barbell, you can do a few things to help stay safe.

  1. Choose the right barbell for your needs - If you're just starting out, it's important to choose a barbell that's the right weight for you. 

  2. Warm up your muscles before starting your barbell workout - It's important to warm up your muscles before working out with a barbell. There are loads of short warm up routines you can learn from online resources.

  3. Perform the exercises correctly to avoid injury - When you're working out with a barbell, it's important to perform the exercises correctly. If you're not sure how to do an exercise there are a number of online instructional videos to watch for useful tips.

  4. Take a break if you need it, and drink plenty of water - If you start to feel tired or sore, take a break. It's also important to drink plenty of water during and after your workout to stay hydrated.

  5. Stretch after your barbell workout to cool down and prevent soreness - After you finish your workout, it's important to stretch your muscles. This will help cool down your body and prevent soreness.

  6. Add weight gradually as you get stronger - As you get stronger, you can gradually add more weight to the barbell. Start with a lighter weight plate and increase the amount gradually over time.

  7. Use a Weightlifting Belt - If you're looking to add more weight to your lifts or increase your lifting performance, then using a weightlifting belt can help. A weightlifting belt is a supportive piece of equipment used in barbell workouts that helps to stabilise your spine and lower back while lifting heavy weights.

  8. Consider a Squat Rack or Squat Stand - These a useful tools for supporting you and your weights without the need for a 'spotter' for safer and more refined exercises.


Final Thoughts

Barbell workouts are a great way to train at home.  By investing in the correct equipment and taking the time to master the correct form for different barbell exercises, a barbell workout can be rewarding and a quick way of achieving results.  

You may also be interested in reading:

Best Basic Dumbbell Exercises for Beginners

The Seated Row Machine: Learn the Basics for Explosive Workouts

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