Barbell exercises are ideal for male bodybuilders. Barbell training helps increase strength and power and also helps bodybuilders gain muscle mass and aids in fat loss. That's because a barbell can be loaded with more weight than dumbbells and kettlebells, and can be used in different ways: you can load it on your back or front, squat or press it, or jump with it.
There are numerous barbell exercises you can do to improve your overall strength. The trick, though, is to start using a weight that you are comfortable with and increase the load gradually as you gain confidence.
On that note, here's a look at the six best barbell exercises that every male bodybuilder should include in their workout schedule:
Barbell exercises for male bodybuilders
Deadlifting is one of the best muscle building exercises. This exercise engages all the parts of your posterior chain and also involves every single muscle, from your latissimus dorsi to your rhomboid minor.
How to do a deadlift?
- Position your feet at a shoulder-width distance, with your toes under the barbell.
- Your feet should be straight out and your heels flat on the floor.
- Lift your barbell, and place it close to your shins. Your spine should be in a neutral position.
- Stabilise your abs, and squat down by bending your knees.
- Hold the barbell just outside the line of your knees, and use an overhand grip.
- Slowly lift the barbell by pushing it upward through your heels.
- Do not raise your hips and make the back rounded.
- As you reach full height, the barbell should rest around your thigh level, and your shoulders should be pulled back as much as possible.
- Use a reverse motion to lower the bar to the floor.
2) Bench press
The bench press is an effective barbell exercise that largely targets your upper body muscles, including your triceps, shoulders and chest.
How to do a bench press?
- Lie on a bench under a barbell rack.
- Your shoulder, butt and head should be flat on the bench. Your feet should be flat on the ground and at a slightly wider distance.
- Keep your shoulders back to keep pressing with stable shoulders.
- Hold the barbell with an overhand grip by placing your thumbs outside your fist. Your arms should be wider than your shoulders, and your upper arms should be at a 45-degree angle to your body.
- Unrack the barbell by locking your elbows and lowering it to your chest level.
- Exhale; extend your arms, and press the barbell above your chest.
- Lower the barbell so that it is just above your chest.
- Perform the next rep.
3) Bent over row
Bent over row is one of the most popular barbell exercises that target your back muscles, and helps add mass and give you the required power to pull more. It primarily targets the latissimus dorsi, the lower and middle trapezius, the posterior deltoids and the rhomboids.
How to do a bent over row?
- Stand straight behind a barbell. Keep your feet at your shoulder distance.
- Bend your hips while keeping your back straight and knees bent.
- Your body should be bent forward at a 45-degree angle and not more than that.
- Hold a barbell slightly wider than your shoulder width, with your palms facing your shins.
- Engage your glute muscles and core; pull your elbows behind you, and bring the barbell close to your abs. Continue to pull your elbows behind you, and contract your shoulder blades together.
- Hold the position for two seconds. Slowly lower the barbell back to the initial position.
4) Barbell skull crusher
The barbell skull crusher, also called the barbell triceps extension, is one of the most productive workouts for triceps. It improves strength so that you may perform other exercises efficiently.
How to do a barbell skull crusher?
- Lie on your back on a bench. Keep your feet on the floor.
- Hold the barbell about shoulder-width apart, with your palms facing away from you.
- Lock your elbows with the barbell above your chest. Now, lower the barbell to your forehead, and keep your elbows properly tucked in.
- Keep a tight grip on the barbell as you bring it down.
- As the barbell reaches your forehead, slowly lower it behind your head. As you complete this step, roll back your shoulders and arms.
- Hold for a few seconds at the bottom of the movement.
- Lift the barbell to the initial position, and perform the next rep.
5) T Bar
T bar rows are a very productive barbell exercise that helps to develop and strengthen your back, shoulders, forearms, midsections and biceps. This exercise largely targets your rhomboids, rear deltoids, latissumus dorsi, teres minor and major.
How to do a T bar?
- If you are comfortable, add some weight to the T bar machine.
- Step on the platform; slightly bend forward, and hold the handles of the machine with an overhand grip.
- Keep your shoulder blades back, and ensure your back is neutral.
- Push your body through your heels as you extend your hips, and lift the barbell off the floor.
- Keep your torso parallel to the floor and your arms absolutely straight down.
- Row the barbell up through your elbows till its handles reach your torso.
- Hold the position for a moment; exhale, and then slowly release the barbell back to its initial position.
- Make sure to keep the angle of your torso perfect throughout the exercise.
- Breathe easily, and repeat.
6) Barbell overhead press
The barbell overhead press is one of the most important bodybuilding exercises that can be included in your strength training programme.
How to do a barbell overhead press?
- Unrack the barbell with your hands. Keep your hands a bit wider than shoulder-width distance, and put your palms facing forward.
- Keep the barbell on your front shoulders and upper chest.
- Stand straight with your feet at a shoulder-width distance; equally distribute your body weight, and grip the ground with your feet to maintain a stable position.
- Engage your core, and squeeze your glutes and quads.
- Lift your chest, and push your head back to create a room for the barbell.
- Make sure the barbell rests on the heels of your palms, and your palms are in line with your elbows.
- Begin the upward movement by making your elbows straight and pushing the bar towards the ceiling. Continue pushing the barbell overhead till your arms are absolutely straight.
- Slowly lower the barbell by bending your elbows and contracting your lats.
Now that you are familiar with some of the best barbell exercises, incorporate them into your fitness routine, and add strength and mass to your body. However, consult a certified fitness trainer before starting your barbell training to make sure you are performing all the exercises correctly.