The Best Barbell Workout

Deadlift Barbell
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101 Best Workouts Of All Time is the ultimate answer to the question “What workout should I do?” No matter what equipment you have available, from a fully stocked supergym to a pair of mismatched dumbbells in your garage, or nothing but your bodyweight alone, you can build muscle, lose fat, and sculpt the physique you’ve always wanted.

If you train at home or anywhere else that provides only a barbell and a small amount of weight, you can make the most of it by speeding or slowing your reps and performing your exercises circuit-style.

How it works

The barbell was invented to carry balanced loads, but works just as well out of balance. The following exercises can be performed with one end wedged between two walls while you lift the other end like a lever. You may find that pressing the bar like a lever feels less stressful to your shoulders, plus it activates your core to a greater degree.


Perform the exercises as a circuit, completing one set of each in turn without rest. If an exercise feels easy using the load you have available, perform your reps slower and with more control. (Or, if you have extra weight, load it.) Another option is to choke down on the bar. Gripping it lower will decrease your mechanical advantage and make the exercise harder. After the last exercise, rest two minutes and then repeat the entire circuit. Continue for 20 minutes. You can repeat the workout up to four times per week, resting a day between sessions.

Option 1

1. Split squat to press
Reps: 10–12 (each side) Rest: 0 sec.
Wedge the end of the barbell into a corner of the room (to avoid damage to the walls, you may have to wrap a towel around it). Load the opposite end with a weight plate and grasp it toward the end. Get into a lunge position with your left leg in front, bent to where your thigh is parallel to the floor and your right knee nearly touches the floor. Stand up explosively and press the bar straight up.

2. Single-arm row with partial lunge
Reps: 10–12 (each side) Rest: 0 sec.
Hold the barbell behind the sleeve (where you load the weights) with your left hand. Get into a lunge position but not deep—keep both legs slightly extended so that the bar and plate don’t brush the floor. Draw your shoulder blade back and row the bar to your ribs.

3. Barbell Russian twist
Reps: 10–12 (each side) Rest: 0 sec.
Grasp the bar near the very end again—this time with both hands. Stand with feet shoulder-width. Swing the bar to your left, pivoting your feet as needed, and then swing to your right.

4. Lever floor press
Lie on your back on the floor and grasp the end of the bar again behind the sleeve with your left hand. Hold it just above your shoulder, and extend your right arm out to your side for support. Press the bar over your chest.

Full body workout with barbell exercises for muscle growth


Option B

Call this one the “No Excuses Workout,” because we have yet to hear a compelling reason why someone can’t succeed with it. First of all, it takes only six minutes to complete. Second, it requires just a barbell and a pair of plates. Load the bar once and you’re ready to go. Think you can handle that?

How it works

The workout is a barbell complex—a series of exercises that flow. The finish position of the hang clean sets you up perfectly for the front squat, which then allows you to move right into the overhead press, and so on. Choose one weight, which will be determined by the exercise you can lift the least amount on (in this case, the overhead lunge), and go for it. The pace will be so intense that you’ll be grateful the workout is over in six minutes. Fortunately, your metabolism will remain accelerated for 48 hours afterward.


Perform the exercises as a circuit, completing one set of each in turn without rest. Complete three reps for each move. Time your circuit. After the last exercise, check your timer and rest as long as it took you to perform the circuit. Repeat for three total circuits. Choose a load you could use for 10 reps on a normal overhead press, and keep that same weight for all the exercises.


Full body workout with barbell exercises for muscle growth

1. Romanian deadlift
Reps: 3 Rest: 0 sec.
Hold the bar at shoulder-width and stand with feet hip-width. Bend your hips back as far as you can. Allow your knees to bend as needed while you lower the bar along your shins until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Keep your lower back arched throughout. Squeeze your glutes as you come back up.

2. Hang clean
Reps: 3 Rest: 0 sec.
With the bar in front of your thighs, bend your hips and knees so that the bar lowers to just above your knees. Now explosively extend your hips as if jumping while at the same time shrugging your shoulders and pulling the bar straight up in front of your torso. As the bar reaches chest level, bend your elbows so that your palms face the ceiling and catch the bar at shoulder-level. Bend your hips and knees as you catch the bar to absorb the impact.

3. Front squat
Reps: 3 Rest: 0 sec.
From the catch position of the hang clean, squat as low as you can without losing the arch in your lower back.

4. Overhead press
Reps: 3 Rest: 0 sec.
From standing, press the bar overhead, pushing your head forward and shrugging your traps as the bar passes your face.

5. Overhead lunge
Reps: 3 (each side) Rest: See directions
Hold the bar overhead and step forward with your left leg. Lower yourself until your left thigh is parallel to the floor and your rear knee nearly touches the floor.

Men’s Fitness training director Sean Hyson, C.S.C.S., assembled a team of the best trainers in the world to create boredom-beating, plateau-busting routines that cover any amount of time you have to exercise and whatever tools you have available to do it. Programs cover every body part, every implement (barbells, dumbbells, bands, etc.), and cardio. There’s a nutrition plan, too.

Pick up what Arnold Schwarzenegger called “a fantastic collection of workouts” at

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