6 Best Barbell Exercises for Beginners

Barbell exercises are one of the best compound exercises for fitness. (Image via Pexels @Binyamin Mellish)
Barbell exercises are one of the best compound exercises for fitness. (Image via Pexels @Binyamin Mellish)
bBarbell exercises are one of the best compound exercises for fitness. (Image via Pexels @Binyamin Mellish)
bBarbell exercises are one of the best compound exercises for fitness. (Image via Pexels @Binyamin Mellish)

Barbell exercises are one of the best workouts, as they're highly effective in improving your fitness without requiring you to spend hours at the gym.

When it comes to building strength and size quickly, the barbell is your best friend. For strength, you need to do compound lifts, which involve more than one joint and create tension through different muscles and movement patterns. They also stimulate thousands of nerves, which help you get stronger.

Best Barbell Exercises for Beginners

Check out these six barbell exercises for beginners:

1) Back Squat

This barbell exercise is useful and efficient, as it works the lower body. However, it can be difficult to learn it initially, as you've to move around and be stable at the same time.

Here's how you do this exercise:

  • Personal trainer Dell Polanco says to make sure the "J-cups," which hold the barbell, are at shoulder height (pictured).
  • Set the barbell on your traps with your feet shoulder-width apart or a little bit further apart. Those are the wide, flat muscles that cover the top of your back and the bottom of your neck.
  • Grab the bar with both hands facing forward and elbows pointing down. Your arms should roughly make the shape of a 'W'.
  • Push your hips back, and bend your knees.
  • Keep your back straight and core tight. Stop when your butt is just below parallel to the floor; push through your heels, and rise to the starting position.

2) Deadlift

This barbell exercise works out your back, glutes, and hamstrings. Here's how you do this exercise:

  • Roll the bar so that it's almost against your shins when it's on the floor.
  • Stand with your feet a little farther apart than your shoulders.
  • Your toes should point forward or between 11 and 1 o'clock.
  • As you grab the bar just outside your legs, bend your knees a little and your hips a lot.
  • Bracing your core, push your hips forward, and pull your torso back and up to lift the bar.
  • Make sure you don't bend your knees too much; let your hips drop as much, or keep your torso straight.

3) Barbell Front Squat

When the bar is in front of you, as in a front squat, you have to take a much more upright position, with your hips dropping straight down and knees bending forward a lot. This barbell exercise works your quads and your core.

Here's how you do this exercise:

  • To get ready for the front squat, stand directly under the bar with your feet parallel and the bar resting on your collarbone and gently pressing against your throat.
  • Grab the bar with your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart, elbows bent and facing forward, palms facing up and fingers close to your body.
  • Stand up straight, and walk away from the squat rack by going backwards. Set your feet a little farther apart than shoulder-width, and turn them out 20 to 30 degrees.
  • Push your hips back, and bend your knees to lower yourself into a squat, pushing your knees slightly out to the sides.
  • To get back up, push through both feet. Perform one repetition.

4) Angled Barbell Press

One of the hardest barbell exercises to learn is the barbell overhead press. Moving a heavy object overhead requires a lot of shoulder mobility and a strong core. This is why beginners should start off with the angled barbell press.

Here's how you do this exercise:

  • Place the end of a barbell on a towel in a room's corner. Make sure the towel is between your barbell and a wall. You can use a 'land mine' attachment instead if your gym has one.
  • Use your right hand to grab the barbell, and hold it near your right armpit. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, core engaged, and back straight.
  • Push into and up on the bar till you can't move your elbow any further.
  • Slowly move the bar back to where it was initially.

5) Barbell Bench Press

The bench press is a great barbell exercise that works your chest, shoulders, and triceps to improve your overall pressing strength. When you do it right, your lower body and midback should see a pretty big difference.

Here's how you do this exercise:

  • Lie down on a bench with a barbell rack set up so that the bar is about the height of your wrists when your arms are stretched up to the ceiling.
  • Place your body so that your eyes are right below the barbell.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and down; arch your chest up toward the ceiling, and plant your feet firmly on the floor.
  • Unrack the bar. and lower it to your chest while keeping your shoulder blades down and back, and your lower body active.
  • In this position, your elbows should be bent so that your arm is about 45 degrees away from your body. and forearms are straight up.
  • Press the barbell upwards till your arms are completely straight. Your wrists, elbows and shoulders should all be in a straight line.

6) Bent-Over Barbell Row

The bent-over row is a great way to work out your upper and middle back. Being in a bent-over position can be hard, but if you can hold it, you'll work your glutes, hamstrings and lower back at the same time.


Here's how you do this exercise:

  • Grab a barbell with your hands a little farther apart than your shoulders.
  • Slightly bending your knees, push your hips back, and lean your torso forward till it's about parallel to the floor.
  • Keep the barbell close to your body, and pull it straight up toward your chest, bending your elbows so they go just past your torso. At the top of the movement, squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Straighten your arms slowly to lower the bar without letting it touch the floor. Perform one repetition.


The aforementioned barbell exercises for beginners are essential moves for a full-body workout. Include them in your routine to improve your overall fitness.

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