These Are the Best Barbell Exercises for Total-Body Strength

Whether you’re working out at home or at the gym, barbells are a great way to go. They’re versatile enough to target every muscle in your body because you can move them in any direction, and you can easily add or subtract weight. This is great for transitioning from one lift to the next as well as increasing the load as you get stronger.

Now that you have your equipment, it’s time to work out. Get started with these five exercises.

1. Deadlifts

deadlift

Deadlifts are incredibly effective. | iStock.com

To do this move, begin with a barbell placed on the floor just in front of your feet. You should stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Keeping your core tight and your back flat, bend at the knees and grip the bar with both hands. Use your legs to push off the ground and stand all the way up, again keeping your back flat and your gaze forward. You’ll end with the bar just below your hips. Carefully lower the bar back to the ground in the same way, keeping your back flat the entire time. If you need a little more guidance, head to Muscle & Strength for a video demonstration.

2. Barbell reverse lunges from deficit

Man performing lunges

Barbell reverse lunges are great for your legs. | iStock.com

Begin standing on a large weight plate or aerobic step with the barbell held across your shoulders. Step your right foot back and out as far as you can without losing balance. Lower yourself into a deep lunge, just until your knee touches the floor. In a powerful, but controlled movement, push back up to the starting position. Perform the same move with the other leg and repeat. If you’re new to reverse lunges, try this move without the step until you get a better sense of balance.

3. Barbell rollout

barbell exercise

Your abs will thank you. | iStock.com

For this exercise, start on your knees with the barbell just in front of you. Use 10-pound weight plates because anything larger will lift the bar too far off the ground. Hinge at the waist and grip the bar using an overhand grip, spacing your hands shoulder-width apart. Keeping your core tight and your back flat, roll the bar forward until your hips are in line with your shoulders, but don’t let your hips drop to the ground. Roll back to the starting position and repeat.

4. Single-arm landmine press

close shot of a fit man holding end of a barbell

Try turning your barbell on its side. | iStock.com

One of our favorites is the single-arm landmine press, a move that will strengthen your chest and shoulders. All you need is a basic tool called a landmine, which will anchor the end of the bar so it doesn’t move as you perform a given exercise. If your facility doesn’t have one or you’re exercising at home, Men’s Health recommends wrapping the end of the barbell with a towel and positioning it in the corner of a room.

Once you have your barbell set up, begin by holding the weighted end with your left hand just in front of your chest. Keeping your core tight and avoiding twisting, extend your left arm out and up until it’s completely straight. Complete your desired number of repetitions, then switch sides.

5. Standing barbell calf raise

Man with strong calves

Calf raises can be done with a barbell, too. | iStock.com

For these calf raises, stand on top of the platform or step with your weight on the balls of your feet and the barbell resting across your shoulders. Scoot backwards until your heels hang off the edge of the platform. Drop your heels toward the ground as far as possible, then push straight up as high as you can. Repeat the move to complete your desired number of repetitions. Check out Bodybuilding.com for a great tutorial.

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