The Ultimate List Of 55+ Barbell Exercises (By Muscle Group)

The ultimate list of barbell exercises (By muscle group)

Whether you are looking to create a workout and only have a barbell or are looking to implement barbell exercises into your routine, you can refer to this ultimate list of barbell exercises.

We’ve included over 55 barbell exercises in this article (and we’re continuously adding to it). To help navigate things easier, you can click on the muscle groups below to be brought to the barbell exercises for the specific muscles you want to target.

Barbell Chest Exercises

Barbell chest exercises target the following muscles:

  • Pectoralis Major
  • Pectoralis Minor

The pectoralis major (or pec major) provides the bulk of your chest muscles. Its functions are shoulder flexion (bringing your arm from your side to shoulder level), shoulder adduction (bringing your arm toward the middle of your body), and shoulder internal rotation (rotating your upper arm inward and forward).

The pectoralis minor, or pec minor, is a smaller pair of chest muscles that are underneath your pec majors. It acts to protract the shoulder blade (bring it forward around the ribcage) and helps with internal rotation (rounding the shoulders forward) and downward rotation (rounding the shoulders and shoulder blades downward).

1. Flat Barbell Bench Press

The flat barbell bench press is likely the most popular chest exercise and is often used as a marker for the strength performance of the chest muscles. The flat bench requires a bench press station or a free-weight bench that is wheeled into a squat rack.

How To Do It

  • Lie down flat on a bench with the barbell set up on the rack height that is low enough for you to unrack the barbell without allowing your shoulder blades to come out of a pinched back and down position.
  • Make sure that the barbell is above the top of your head and hold onto it with a wide grip.
  • Keep your feet underneath your thighs and push yourself so that you slide your upper traps (top of the upper back muscles) up the bench press. When you do this, make sure you stick your chest up and pinch your shoulder blades back and down.
  • When your eyes fall under the barbell, stop sliding up the bench press and unrack the barbell to bring it above shoulder level. Lower your hips to keep your buttucks down on the bench.
  • Take a deep breath into your chest and brace. Descend the barbell in a controlled manner down to your lower chest level. Ensure that your elbows are underneath the barbell.
  • Press the barbell back and up to finish the barbell at the same starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and rack the barbell back.

Benefits

  • Focuses on general chest muscle mass. As you are performing the bench press with a wide grip, you will stretch your pecs out more when you train through full range of motion. Training muscles in a longer muscle length is generally better for building muscle.
  • Allows you to move more weight. Using a wide grip minimizes how much range of motion you use. This means you can leverage more weight on the bar, which makes it better if you want to increase strength.

2. Incline Barbell Bench Press

The incline barbell bench press is another popular chest exercise that targets the upper fibers of the chest muscles. You need to have an incline bench to perform this exercise. An ideal angle for the incline barbell bench press is anywhere from 15 to 45 degrees.

How To Do It

  • Set up a free-weight bench press to incline one to two notches up. This should ideally be anywhere between 15 and 45 degrees from horizontal.
  • Lie down on the bench with the barbell set up on the rack height that is low enough for you to unrack the barbell without rounding your shoulders forward.
  • Make sure that the barbell is above the top of your head and hold onto the barbell with your desired wide grip.
  • Keep your shoulder blades pinched back and down by thinking about sticking your chest up to the sky.
  • Take a deep breath in and unrack the barbell to bring it over above shoulder level.
  • Descend the barbell in a controlled manner down to mid-chest level. Ensure that your triceps are underneath the barbell at all times.
  • Press the barbell back and up to finish at the same starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and rack the barbell back.

Benefits

  • Focuses on upper pec fibers. A comparative study from Coratella et al. 2022, showed that an incline bench press can activate more of the pec muscle fibers that are attached to the collarbone. These are your upper chest fibers. If you wanted to increase muscle mass in this region, the incline bench press is better.

Learn more about all the muscles used in the bench press.

3. Decline Barbell Bench Press

The decline barbell bench press is a popular chest exercise that targets the lower fibers of the chest muscles. You need to have a decline or sit-up bench to perform this exercise. An ideal angle for the decline barbell bench press is anywhere from 15 to 30 degrees.

How To Do It

  • Set up a decline bench press station or wheel a decline bench into a squat rack so your eyes are underneath the racked barbell when you lie down.
  • Set up the rack height so that you can easily unrack the barbell without having to straighten your arms too much and load the desired weight on the barbell.
  • Lie down on the bench press and secure your legs into the leg pad area.
  • Unrack the barbell and bring the barbell to hover over the shoulder area.
  • Take a deep breath in as you bring the barbell down to the lower chest area.
  • When the barbell touches your chest, press the barbell upward and backward to the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and then rack the barbell back on the rack.

Benefits

  • Focuses on lower pec fibers. The comparative study from Coratella et al. 2022 I talked about earlier also showed that the decline bench press can focus more on the major lower pec muscle fibers. You may want to focus on your lower pec muscle fibers if you want to build a more balanced physique.
  • Less front deltoid activation. The same study also showed that there is less muscle activation on the front deltoids (the front of your shoulders). This is useful if you want to rest more from training the shoulder muscles.

4. Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press

The close-grip barbell bench press targets the chest muscles but with more emphasis on the triceps as well.

A shoulder-width to a slightly wider-than-shoulder-width grip is considered close-grip. However, among the powerlifting communities, close-grip may refer to any grip that is narrower than the grip they use for competing.

How To Do It

  • Lie down flat on a bench press with the barbell set up on the rack height that is low enough for you to unrack the barbell without letting your shoulders come off the bench.
  • Make sure the barbell is above the top of your head and hold onto the barbell with a close grip. For most people, a close grip should be shoulder width or slightly wider than shoulder width.
  • Keep your feet underneath your thighs and push yourself so that you slide your upper traps (top of the upper back muscles) up the bench press. When you do this, make sure you stick your chest up and pinch your shoulder blades back and down.
  • When your eyes fall under the barbell, stop sliding up the bench and unrack the barbell to bring it above shoulder level. Make sure to keep your buttocks down on the bench.
  • Take a deep breath into your chest and brace your core to create rigidity through your entire midsection. Descend the barbell in a controlled manner down to your lower chest level. Ensure that your elbows are underneath the barbell.
  • Press the barbell back and up to finish at the same starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and rack the barbell back.

Benefits

  • Increases muscle strength due to increased range of motion. Research from Pinto et al. 2012 has shown that training through a longer range of motion can be more beneficial for increasing strength gains in the muscles trained. The close grip barbell bench press can be beneficial for increasing bench press strength gains.
  • More concentration on triceps. Using a close grip means there is more range of motion going through your elbows. As such, the close-grip bench press trains your tricep muscles more. This is useful if you are training for powerlifting. The triceps are more active at higher weight intensities for bench pressing, so the close-grip bench press can be used as a bench press accessory. The close-grip bench press is also useful for bodybuilders who want to focus more on growing the triceps.

5. Spoto Barbell Bench Press

The Spoto barbell bench press targets the chest muscles but at a reduced range of motion. The barbell is normally held at about half an inch to an inch above the chest after it is lowered to the chest and before it is pressed up.

The purpose of the barbell Spoto bench press is to help stop people from sinking the barbell into their chest. It can also strengthen the bottom range of the bench press for lifters whose bench press is weak off the chest.

How To Do It

  • Lie down flat on a bench press with the barbell set up on the rack height that is low enough for you to unrack the barbell without rounding your shoulders off the bench.
  • Make sure that the barbell is above the top of your head and hold onto it with a wide grip.
  • Keep your feet underneath your hamstrings and push yourself so that you slide your upper traps up the bench press. When you do this, make sure you stick your chest up and pinch your scapula (shoulder blades) down and back.
  • Stop sliding up the bench press when your eyes fall under your barbell and unrack the barbell to bring it above shoulder level. Make sure to keep your buttocks down in constant contact with the bench.
  • Take a deep breath into your chest and brace to create rigidity through your entire midsection. Descend the barbell in a controlled manner down to your lower chest level but stop and pause when it is half an inch to an inch above your chest.
  • Ensure that your elbows are underneath the barbell and that they are not overly tucked close to the ribcage or flared out to the side.
  • Press the barbell back and up to finish at the starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and rack the barbell back.

Benefits

  • Encourages controlled descent and improves technique. As the barbell comes down lower to the chest, the tension gets harder for the pec muscles. For many people, this is where they lose tension and drop the barbell fast onto their chest. The Spoto press discourages this bad habit by forcing you to stop the barbell right where you tend to lose tension.
  • Increases time under tension. The Spoto press requires you to pause momentarily near the bottom of the range of motion. This means that you can spend more time under tension. Time under tension may be more beneficial if you are looking to build strength at a certain point (i.e. getting past a sticking point off the chest if that’s where you’re weak in the bench press), build more muscle mass, or trying to build more muscular endurance.

6. Larsen Barbell Bench Press

The Larsen bench press (also known as feet up bench press) targets the chest muscles but with a higher demand on the upper back muscles.

During the Larsen press, the legs are held straight on the bench and off the floor. This eliminates using the leg drive to push the barbell back up. Therefore, there is a higher increase in upper back activation to help keep the shoulder blades pinched back and down.

How To Do It

  • Lie flat on a bench with the barbell set up on the rack height that is low enough for you to unrack it without rounding your shoulders off the bench.
  • Ensure that the barbell is above the top of your head and hold onto it with a wide grip.
  • Straighten your legs and keep them close together on the bench press. Your feet should hover above the ground.
  • Think about sticking your chest up to keep your shoulder blades retracted and depressed (i.e. pinched back and down).
  • Take a deep breath into your chest and brace to create stiffness around your core. Lower the barbell in a controlled manner down to your lower chest.
  • Ensure that your elbows are underneath the barbell and are not overly tucked close to the ribcage or flared out to the side.
  • Press the barbell back and up to finish at the starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and rerack the barbell.

Benefits

  • Encourages active upper back activation and improves technique. Normally, having some leg drive will help keep more of an arch and keep your shoulder blades in a good position. Eliminating the leg drive encourages more upper back activation to help stabilize the bench press when performing it.
  • Increases range of motion. The Larsen press can increase the range of motion for the bench press as you no longer have your legs to increase the arch. This is beneficial if you are looking to build more muscle as a longer range of motion can increase the stimulus on the muscle. It can also help you train through a weak point in your chest, shoulders, and triceps.
  • Isolates chest and triceps muscles more. With the Larsen press, you activate your leg muscles less as they no longer make contact with the ground. This means you will activate your chest and triceps muscles more as you may also be less stable.
  • Helps you avoid back cramping. If you get lower back cramps during the bench press, the Larsen press is a good alternative. With this variation, you cannot use your legs to create a bench press arch, which sometimes causes back cramping.

7. Hook Lying Barbell Bench Press

The hook lying barbell bench press (also called the legs-up bench press) targets the chest muscles with a higher range of motion.

During the hook lying barbell bench press, you keep your feet on the bench press, knees bent, and lower back flat. Eliminating the arch can increase the range of motion the barbell will travel. Having the feet on the bench press can help tuck the pelvis under even more and will encourage a flatter back than the Larsen press.

How To Do It

  • Lie down flat on a bench press. Make sure the barbell is set on the rack height that is low enough for you to unrack it without rounding your shoulders off the bench.
  • Ensure the barbell is above the top of your head and hold it with a wide grip.
  • Bend your knees and place your feet on the end of the bench press. Minimize arching in your back as much as possible.
  • Make sure you keep your shoulder blades retracted and depressed (i.e. pinched back and down).
  • Take a deep breath into your chest and brace to create rigidity in your core. Lower the barbell in a controlled manner down to your lower chest. Ensure that your elbows are underneath the barbell.
  • Press the barbell back and up to finish the barbell at the same starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and rack the barbell back.

Benefits

  • Isolates chest muscles more. By placing your feet on the bench and eliminating leg drive, you can isolate your upper body more. This can mean that you will isolate your chest muscles more than usual during the execution, which is useful if you want to increase muscle mass or strength in the pec muscles.
  • Increased muscle mass due to increased range of motion. By keeping your back flat and hips tucked under more, you can lower the level of the surface of your chest. This increases the range of motion you have to go through and can help you grow more muscle mass in the chest.
  • Encourages active upper back activation. You are forced to actively use your mid to upper back muscles to keep your shoulder blades back and down during execution as you can no longer rely on leg drive to keep the shoulder blades down. This can help if your upper back is weak, which causes you to inadvertently round your shoulders forward when you push through a hard set and increases the risk of straining your stabilizer muscles.

Barbell Bicep Exercises

Barbell bicep exercises target the following muscles:

  • Bicep Brachii
  • Brachialis

The biceps brachii is commonly just referred to as the biceps. There are two heads to the biceps: the long head and the short head.

They act to flex the elbows and rotate the forearms outward. The biceps also have a weak ability to flex the shoulders i.e. perform a front raise.

The brachialis muscle is another elbow flexor muscle that bends the forearms toward the upper arm.

1. Standing Barbell Bicep Curl

The standing barbell bicep curl is one of the simplest barbell bicep exercises. It requires you to engage your lower body and core to stabilize your posture and center of gravity. 

How To Do It

  • Hold onto a barbell with an underhand shoulder-width grip and stand up straight with your head facing forward.
  • Take a deep breath in, brace your core to create stiffness in your midsection, and engage your legs.
  • Curl the barbell as high as you can and exhale while keeping your elbows tucked close into the side of your torso.
  • Slowly lower the barbell back down until your elbows are fully extended while breathing in again.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. 

Benefits

  • Challenges core and legs to maintain posture. When you perform the standing barbell bicep curl, your center of mass moves back and forth on your feet. This may encourage you to overextend your back to stay balanced. For this reason, your abdominal, hip, and leg muscles have to work together to make your posture as rigid as possible.
  • Increase bicep strength in bilateral pulling exercises. When you train the standing barbell bicep curl, you can strengthen your biceps if they are a weak point in pulling exercises that use both arms at the same time, such as bent-over rows and chin-ups.

2. Wall-Supported Barbell Bicep Curl

The wall-supported barbell bicep curl is a variation of the standing barbell bicep curl where you lean against a wall or beam of some sort. 

How To Do It

  • Hold onto a barbell with an underhand shoulder-width grip and stand up straight with your head facing forward.
  • Lean against the wall with your feet about 2 to 3 inches away from it. Keep your head and whole back flat against the wall.
  • Take a deep breath in and brace your core and legs.
  • Curl the barbell as high as you can and exhale while keeping your elbows tucked close into the side of your torso. Alternatively, keep the elbows in constant contact with the wall behind you.
  • Stop when you feel like your elbow is about to leave the wall or your torso.
  • Breathe in again and slowly lower the barbell back down until your elbows are fully extended.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. 

Benefits

  • Isolates the biceps and restricts momentum. Leaning against a wall means you can avoid using the rest of the body as much to try and maintain rigidity in your posture. It also stops you from wanting to swing the barbell up to try and complete a set.

3. Barbell Preacher Curl

The barbell preacher curl is an isolation bicep exercise that relies on using a preacher station. Preacher stations are a seated setup with an arm pad on a 45-degree incline.

You can do this exercise with a straight barbell or an EZ curl bar. The hardest point in the range of motion is the bottom of the curl.

How To Do It

  • Set up the height of the seat so that when you are seated and place your arm on the arm pad, your armpit is positioned exactly on the top corner of the arm pad.
  • Select and load the appropriate weight on the barbell and leave it in the preacher curl station rack.
  • Grab onto the barbell with an underhand grip with your palms facing the sky, and hold onto the barbell with a shoulder-width grip.
  • Try to turn your elbow pits to face the sky as much as possible. This will help stretch your bicep muscles more, which will maximize range of motion.
  • Take a deep breath in, and exhale as you curl the barbell as high as possible. Stop before the end of the elbow wants to come off the arm pad.
  • Inhale as you descend the barbell back down until your arms fully extend.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • High tension when biceps are stretched. The benefit of the barbell preacher curl is that the most amount of tension is felt on the bicep when it is most stretched out (i.e. when your arm is extended as much as possible). This is when the bicep is also the weakest, which makes the preacher curl one of the better bicep curl exercises for bicep strength.
  • Good for managing asymmetries. As you are set up with your upper arm isolated on the arm pad, you can pay attention to keeping a symmetrical setup as well as a more symmetrical movement during execution. This will help make sure that your biceps are more balanced.

If one of your biceps is bigger than the other and you want to make them more even, check out How To Even Out Biceps If One Is Bigger Than The Other.

4. Barbell Vertical Preacher Curl

The barbell vertical preacher curl is a preacher curl variation where the angle of the arm pad is vertical as opposed to 45 degrees. The hardest point in the range of motion is the top, when the elbow is roughly 90 degrees.

How To Do It

  • Select and load the appropriate weight on the barbell and leave it in the preacher curl station rack.
  • Grab the barbell with an underhand grip with your palms facing the sky, and hold onto the barbell with a shoulder-width grip.
  • Position yourself over the arm pad so your armpits are over the top of it and your triceps are in full contact with the vertical side of it.
  • Try to turn your elbow pits to face forward as much as possible and avoid flaring the elbows outward. This will help maximize how much of a stretch you get in your bicep muscles.
  • Take a deep breath in, and exhale as you curl the barbell as high as possible. Stop before the end of the elbow wants to come off the arm pad.
  • Inhale as you descend the barbell back down to the bottom until your arms fully extend.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • High tension when biceps are strongest. The strongest position of the bicep is when the elbows are roughly at 90 degrees. This is also when the tension on the bicep is highest during the barbell vertical preacher curl exercise. However, if this is a sticking point for you for regular barbell curls, the vertical preacher curl will help.

5. Barbell Spider Curl

The barbell spider curl is similar to the barbell vertical preacher curl in regard to the posture that you hold yourself in. But in the spider curl, you lie face down on an incline bench at 45 to 60 degrees, and your upper arms aren’t supported.

How To Do It

  • Set up an incline free-weight bench to about a 45- to 60-degree incline.
  • Position yourself over the free-weight bench with your chest on the top of the bench pad and your head over the top facing downward.
  • Grab onto your barbell loaded with your desired weight with an underhand and shoulder-width grip.
  • Keep your upper arm vertical at all times and avoid any tendency to flare your elbows.
  • Take a deep breath in and exhale as you curl the barbell as high as you can without moving your elbows forward.
  • Slowly lower the barbell back down to the bottom and inhale. Make sure you allow your elbows to fully extend at the bottom to maximize your range of motion.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Isolation from the rest of the body. As your whole body is rested on the free-weight bench, it naturally stops you from wanting to use momentum to cheat the repetitions by swinging the barbell.

6. Reverse Grip Barbell Curls

A reverse grip barbell curl is a variation of the traditional barbell curl in which the palms face backward. This places greater emphasis on the brachialis muscle, which is located under the biceps.

How To Do It

  • Hold onto a barbell with an overhand shoulder-width grip and stand up straight with your head facing forward.
  • Take a deep breath in and brace your core and legs.
  • Curl the barbell as high as you can and exhale while keeping your elbows tucked close into the side of your torso.
  • There is a strong tendency for your wrist to bend down when you perform this movement, so make sure it remains straight throughout execution to avoid any wrist strains.
  • Breathe in and slowly lower the barbell back down until your elbows are fully extended.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. 

Benefits

  • Activates more brachioradialis. Research has shown performing a bicep curl with an overhand (pronated) grip significantly increases activation of the brachioradialis (a forearm muscle) when compared to underhand (supinated) grips. This can have more carryover to pulling exercises such as overhand barbell rows and overhand pull-ups.

Barbell Tricep Exercises

Barbell tricep exercises target the following muscles:

  • Tricep Brachii Lateral Head
  • Tricep Brachii Medius Head
  • Tricep Brachii Longus Head

The triceps come in three heads.

The lateral head of the triceps is the outermost tricep muscle. This muscle acts to extend or straighten the forearms at the elbows.

The medius or medial head of the triceps is located at the middle of the back of the arm. It also acts to extend the elbows.

The longus, or long head of the triceps, is slightly different. As well as functioning to extend or straighten the elbows, it contributes to shoulder adduction, which is bringing the arms closer to the body.

1. Barbell Flat Bench Skull Crushers

The flat bench barbell skull crusher is a popular tricep exercise you can do with a regular straight barbell or an EZ curl barbell. The difference between the barbells is that the EZ curl barbell is angled, so it does not challenge your wrist flexibility as much.

Normally, this exercise is performed on a flat bench, but you can do it on the floor too.

How To Do It

  • Lie down on a flat free-weight bench and hold onto a barbell with straight arms above your shoulders and an overhand grip.
  • To enhance the range of motion of the triceps, you can tilt your arms backward toward your head and hold your arms at a 10-degree tilt.
  • While keeping your elbows as close as possible, lower the barbell toward the forehead or the point just above the top of your skull.
  • Make sure you keep your wrist straight throughout the execution.
  • Straighten your elbows by extending your arms back to the original start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Standardizing range of motion. The barbell flat bench skull crusher is good for keeping a consistent range of motion throughout your set as there is an obvious start point where your arms are straight and an end point where the barbell is either by your forehead or just on the bench. This makes it reliable for tracking improvements in tricep performance.

2. Barbell Incline Skull Crushers

The incline bench barbell skull crusher is a variation of the skull crusher exercise performed on a free-weight bench at a 15- to 45-degree angle. The incline allows you to lengthen your tricep muscles more (i.e. move them through a greater range of motion), which can help you grow and strengthen them.

How To Do It

  • Set the incline bench up between a 15- and 45-degree incline.
  • Lie down on the incline free-weight bench and hold onto a barbell with straight arms above your shoulders and an overhand grip.
  • While keeping your elbows as close as possible, lower the barbell towards the top of the bench pad just above your head.
  • Keep your wrist straight throughout the execution.
  • Straighten your elbows by extending your arms back to the original start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Increased stretch in tricep muscles for better strength gains. By putting the shoulder in a more flexed position, you lengthen the tricep muscles, which makes the exercise better for increasing muscle mass and strength.

3. Barbell Overhead Tricep Extension

The barbell overhead tricep extension, also known as the French press, can be performed seated or standing. By starting in an overhead position, the tricep muscles are maximally stretched out, which can produce greater hypertrophy and strength gains. 

How To Do It

  • Set a free-weight bench pad to be upright or to a slight 10-degree angle from vertical.
  • Sit on the seat and press a barbell overhead with a shoulder-width overhand grip.
  • While keeping the elbows tucked close to your head, bend your elbows and allow the barbell to go back behind your head or bench.
  • Once you reach the maximum range of motion, extend your elbows until your arms reach full extension again.
  • Make sure that your elbows remain stationary throughout the range of motion.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and when you are done, control the barbell back down in front of you.

Benefits

  • Good transfer for overhead strength. By training the triceps with your arms in an overhead position, you get a good transfer of tricep strength to overhead pressing exercises such as the military press.

4. JM Press

The JM press is a barbell movement that was popularized by JM Blakley, a former professional powerlifter. The exercise targets the triceps and is performed by lying on a flat bench and pressing a weight overhead. It resembles a mix between a close-grip bench press and a skull crusher.

How To Do It

  • Lie down flat on a bench press with the barbell set up on the rack height that is low enough for you to unrack it without rounding your shoulders off the bench.
  • Make sure your eyes are under the barbell before you unrack it with a shoulder-width grip.
  • Stick your chest up and pinch your shoulder blades back and down.
  • Take a deep breath into your chest and brace. Lower the barbell in a controlled manner down to your upper chest by bending and tucking your elbows down toward your lower rib cage position.
  • Press the barbell back and up to finish the barbell at the same starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and rack the barbell back.

Benefits

  • Good transfer to bench pressing strength. The exercise can place heavy loads on the triceps in a bench press-like movement by emphasizing more of the elbow range of motion. This means the JM press will activate the triceps more than the pecs and shoulder muscles. If your tricep or lockout strength is weakest in the bench press, the JM press can help with that weak link.

Barbell Shoulder Exercises

Barbell shoulder exercises target the following muscles:

  • Deltoids
  • Rotator Cuffs

The deltoids provide the bulk of the shoulder muscles but are attached to multiple places around the shoulder area. They are made up of the front delts, side delts, and rear delts. 

The front deltoids act to flex at the shoulders or bring the arm up in front and internally rotate the shoulders (rotate the shoulders forward).

The side deltoids are located at the edge of the shoulder. They act to abduct or bring the arm outward to the side.

The rear deltoids are located at the back of the shoulders. They act to bring the upper arm down and back and rotate the shoulders out.

The rotator cuffs are stabilizer muscles for the shoulder. There are 4 major rotator cuff muscles: the supraspinatus, subscapularis, infraspinatus, and teres minor. The rotator cuffs act to support internal or external rotation at the shoulders.

1. Standing Barbell Overhead Press

The standing barbell overhead press, also known as a strict press or military press, is a great exercise for targeting the deltoids and triceps. It is often used as a measure of overhead str as a measure of overhead strengthngth. 

How To Do It

  • Set up a barbell on a squat rack at about a shoulder-level height with the desired weight.
  • Grip the barbell with your hands just outside your shoulders and unrack it.
  • Take 2-3 steps back from the rack and stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
  • Take a deep breath in, brace, and engage your hips and legs before pressing the barbell above your head until your arms are next to your ears
  • Inhale as you slowly lower the barbell back down until it reaches your shoulder level.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and then rack the barbell.

Benefits

  • Improved coordination of your upper body, core, and lower body. When you are pressing weights overhead your head, you need to be able to coordinate your whole body to stay balanced. Your core needs to engage to keep your posture as rigid as possible, and you need to keep your legs tense so you don’t bend at the knees and lose balance.
  • Increased pressing strength. Any pressing movement will rely on having strong shoulders and triceps (which is what the standing overhead press activates), whether it is an overhead pressing or a bench pressing type movement. Training the standing barbell overhead press transfers well to most pressing movements. 

Learn more about how the overhead press can help improve your bench press in Does Overhead Press Help Bench Press?

2. Standing Barbell Behind The Neck Press

The standing barbell behind the neck press is a challenging shoulder exercise that requires pressing a barbell from behind the head. It requires good shoulder mobility.

It is a popular exercise amongst Olympic weightlifters, who often bring the barbell all the way down to the upper back after an overhead lift.

How To Do It

  • Set up a barbell on a squat rack at about a shoulder-level height with the desired weight.
  • Walk underneath the barbell and place your traps (the muscles along the base of your neck and upper back) under it, then unrack the barbell with a wide grip.
  • Take a deep breath in, brace, and engage your hips and legs before you press the barbell above your head until your arms are next to your ears.
  • Make sure your head is slightly forward and your elbow pits face the barbell.
  • Inhale as you slowly lower the barbell back down until it reaches your upper traps (above the shoulder level but not at the neck).
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  • Rest the barbell back on your traps, then walk the barbell back into the rack.

Benefits

  • Activation on traps and side delts. As you press the barbell from behind the head, there is a greater emphasis on the traps and side delts. This is helpful if you are looking to widen your frame when bodybuilding for a better physique.
  • Good transfer for Olympic weightlifting. This exercise variation has good carryover to Olympic weightlifting movements such as the snatch since you are dealing with a barbell overhead with a wide grip.

3. Barbell Push Press

The barbell push press is a great way to overload the shoulder muscles by incorporating the lower body to get the bar up. It allows you to use weights that you would not otherwise be able to press overhead in a strict manner. Olympic weightlifters and CrossFitters do this movement frequently.

How To Do It

  • Set up a barbell on a squat rack at about a shoulder-level height with the desired weight.
  • Unrack the barbell with an overhead shoulder width grip and stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
  • Take a deep breath in, brace, and engage your hips and legs before you quickly dip your knees slightly and drive upward with your legs.
  • Explosively press the barbell above your head. As it comes off your shoulder, keep your head back.
  • As the barbell passes your head, push your head through.
  • Inhale as you lower the barbell back down in a controlled manner until it reaches your shoulder level.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and then rack the barbell.

Benefits

  • Explosive upper body pressing strength. The push press is intentionally performed explosively with speed with heavy loads. This can carry over to athletic performance in sports such as Olympic weightlifting, martial arts, racquet sports, and CrossFit.
  • Overload the shoulder muscles with supramaximal weight. The push press can help you lift weights you would not otherwise be able to lift in a strict overhead press. If you want to overload your shoulder and tricep muscles more, the push press can help you achieve that. You can also add a slow eccentric on the way down (for example, lowering it to a 3-second count) to increase your time under tension and help you build more muscle.

4. Barbell Bradford Press

The barbell Bradford press is a shoulder exercise traditionally used by bodybuilders, though it is not as popular as it once was. It requires pressing the barbell over the head, bringing it back behind your head, and then pressing it forward over your head again. This keeps constant tension in the shoulder muscles.

How To Do It

  • Sit on a flat free-weight bench without the back pad up and set up a barbell in a rack that is roughly at shoulder height.
  • Unrack the barbell with a wide grip and hold it in front of you with your torso upright. A wide grip should be where your wrist is 1 to 2 inches outside your shoulder.
  • Take a deep breath in and exhale as you press the barbell to just above head level. Bring it behind your head to about your lower head level.
  • Breathe in as you press the barbell just over your head and bring it back towards the front of the head to about shoulder level.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, then rack the barbell back into the rack.

Benefits

  • More emphasis on deltoids (shoulders) than triceps. The Bradford press keeps tension more on the deltoids than on the triceps. This makes it useful for pre-exhausting the deltoids during shoulder training or providing extra stimulus on them at the end of training.
  • Can help with overhead press plateaus. Since the Bradford press emphasizes the movement during the bottom half of the range of motion, it can help you break through plateaus in overhead pressing strength if your sticking point is near the bottom of the range of motion. The bottom range of motion in an overhead press is from shoulder level to about nose level.

For more ideas on how to get a stronger overhead press, check out these 13 cues for increasing overhead press strength.

5. Z Press

The Z press is a strength exercise that primarily targets the shoulders and triceps. It was popularized by Lithuanian strongman competitor Zydrunas Savickas. It is often used by strongman athletes as a way to build upper body strength.

The exercise is performed by pressing a barbell in front of the chest from a seated position on the floor.

How To Do It

  • Sit in a power rack with the barbell set up to shoulder height when seated on the floor.
  • Sit with your legs straight forward and unrack the barbell with a shoulder-width or wider-than-shoulder-width grip.
  • Take a deep breath in, engage your abs, then exhale as you press the barbell up above your head. Finish with your arms by the side of your ears and lean forward slightly at the lockout.
  • Breathe in as you lower the barbell to the starting position and lean back 5 to 10 degrees.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, then rerack the barbell.

Benefits

  • Postural control for pressing movements. The Z press is good at forcing you to engage your abdominals to keep your posture more neutral with a flat back. Many people have the error of overextending their back when they do standing overhead press variations, which can cause back pain. The Z press will punish you by making you fall back if you do not engage your abdominals.

Because of the core strength and hip mobility required for the Z press, I do not recommend it for beginners. Learn more in Z Press: How-To, Benefits, & Should You Do It?

6. Half-Kneeling Landmine Press

The half-kneeling landmine press is a unilateral or single-arm shoulder exercise that requires the use of a barbell inserted into the corner of a room or a landmine station. You can also perform it in an upright standing position or with both hands at the same time.

How To Do It

  • Set the barbell in the corner of the room or into a landmine station.
  • Load the desired weight onto the free end of the barbell.
  • Face the end of the barbell in a half-kneeling position with the foot forward that is contralateral to the arm you want to train (i.e. if you’re lifting with your right arm, your left foot should be forward).
  • Hold the end of the barbell by the front of your shoulder with your other arm by your hips.
  • Take a deep breath in and exhale as you drive the barbell upward and forward as high and explosively as possible.
  • Inhale as you bring the barbell back down toward the starting position.
  • Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Improve shoulder mobility. The half-kneeling landmine press is useful for improving shoulder mobility for people who generally need more mobility in their shoulders. It is good at engaging the serratus anterior muscle, which is important for rotating the shoulder blades during any overhead movement. The serratus anterior muscle is attached from your shoulder blades to your ribcage. It is located underneath the armpits, under the chest muscles but above the oblique muscles.
  • Improve shoulder strength imbalances. Because you work one side at a time, it is also beneficial for improving any shoulder strength imbalances if one arm is considerably stronger or bigger than the other.

Don’t have access to a landmine station or can’t wedge a barbell into a corner? Check out these 15 landmine press alternatives.

7. Seated Barbell Shoulder Press

The seated barbell shoulder press is a similar shoulder exercise to the standing barbell shoulder press and the Z press. The major difference is that this exercise is performed while seated on a bench with your knees bent. It also doesn’t require as much hip or hamstring mobility as the Z press.

It’s an excellent option if you want to overhead press in a room with a low ceiling.

How To Do It

  • Set up a free-weight bench inside a squat rack, and set the barbell to be shoulder level when you sit upright on the bench.
  • Sit with your feet underneath your hips and unrack the barbell with a shoulder-width or wider-than-shoulder-width grip
  • Take a deep breath in, engage your abs, then exhale as you press the barbell up above your head.
  • Finish with your arms by the sides of your ears and lean forward slightly when your arms fully lock out.
  • Breathe in as you lower the barbell to the starting position and lean back by 5 to 10 degrees.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, then rerack the barbell.

Benefits

  • Postural control for pressing movements. The seated barbell shoulder press is good at teaching you to engage your abdominals to keep a flat back during standing overhead press movements.

Barbell Trapezius Exercises

Barbell trapezius exercises target the following muscles:

  • Trapezius
  • Rhomboids
  • Levator Scapulae

The trapezius muscles (or traps) are located in the middle of your upper back along the base of your neck. They act to:

  • Pinch the shoulder blades back or retract the scapula
  • Elevate the shoulders
  • Bring down the shoulders
  • Upwardly rotate the shoulder blades
  • Extend the neck
  • Bend the beck sideways

The rhomboids are a pair of mid-back muscles that act to retract, elevate, and rotate the shoulder blades.

The levator scapulae is a muscle located at the neck portion of the spine and attaches to the shoulder blades. It functions to elevate the scapula and rotate it downward.

1. Yates Row

The Yates row is a variation of the barbell row made famous by former Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates from Great Britain. It has a higher torso angle, which makes it target the upper back and trapezius more due to the direction of the pull.

How To Do It

  • Stand up straight with your feet at a hip-width stance, and hold onto a barbell with an underhand shoulder-width grip.
  • Bend at your hips and let the barbell slide down until it is just above the knee cap. Make sure your shins are vertical and your armpits are above the barbell.
  • Exhale as you row your barbell up along your thighs into your hip crease with your elbows as far back behind you as possible.
  • Keep pressure on your mid-foot throughout the whole execution and maintain a flat back with your head stacked in line with your torso.
  • Inhale as you slowly lower the barbell back toward the starting position and with your arms extended.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

2. Barbell Pendlay Row

The barbell Pendlay row is a variation of the barbell row made famous by American Olympic weightlifting coach Glenn Pendlay. He designed this exercise to be performed with a more horizontal back angle to help build upper back strength in his athletes.

The Pendlay row requires good hip and hamstring mobility, and without it, you are likely to round your lower back.

How To Do It

  • Set up a barbell loaded to your desired weight.
  • Position the midfoot underneath the middle of the barbell with a hip-width stance and your feet parallel to the floor.
  • Bend your hips back while keeping your shins vertical and maintain a bend at the knees until your back is parallel to the floor.
  • Grab onto the barbell with a grip width that allows you to keep your arms straight. Use an overhand grip.
  • Take a deep breath in and forcefully exhale when you row the barbell vertically upward. The barbell should ideally make contact with your mid-torso.
  • Lower the barbell back down and return it to the starting position.

Benefits

  • Improve back strength for deadlifts. The Pendlay row puts you in a similar position to the bottom starting position of the deadlift. If you find that your upper back rounds and slouches during the initial execution, the Pendlay row can help.

3. Barbell Face Pull

The barbell face pull is a less popular version of the face pull, which is more commonly performed with a rope cable attachment.

The barbell face pull is an ideal alternative if you do not have access to a cable machine. It targets the upper trapezius and rear delt muscles very well.

How To Do It

  • Stand up straight with your feet at a hip-width stance, and hold onto a barbell with an overhand narrow-width grip that is about shoulder width.
  • Bend at your hips and let the barbell slide down until it is just above the knee cap. Make sure your shins are vertical and your armpits are above the barbell.
  • Exhale as you row your barbell vertically up towards the middle of your face with your elbows flared. Be careful not to do this explosively so you do not hit your face with the barbell.
  • Slowly lower the barbell to the start position and relax your shoulder blades.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Good bench press accessory. The barbell face pull makes a good bench press accessory as it trains your upper back muscles and external rotators, which are your rotator cuffs. These are antagonists (or opposite muscles) to your main bench press muscles (the chest, tricep, and shoulder muscles). The antagonist muscles help stabilize the shoulder joint and shoulder blades during the bench press, and strengthening them can help keep your shoulders safe when you do a lot of pressing.

4. Barbell Shrug

The barbell shrug is a common exercise that bodybuilders use to increase their upper trapezius size. It is typically performed with the barbell in front of the body but can be performed with the barbell at the back of the body.

You can perform the barbell shrug with a normal overhand grip or a mixed grip (though I don’t recommend this as it may cause uneven shoulder muscles). You can also do it with lifting straps if you have calluses that may rip or if you want to overload your traps and your grip gives out before your traps do.

How To Do It

  • Set a barbell in a squat rack at a height that is slightly lower than your hand level when you are standing upright.
  • Load the barbell to the desired weight. If you are going to use straps, put them on now. Otherwise, just grab onto the barbell with a shoulder-width grip.
  • Unrack the barbell and take 1 to 2 steps back.
  • Take a deep breath in and exhale as you shrug your shoulders upward toward the back of your ears.
  • Breathe in as you slowly lower the shoulders.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Isolate the upper traps. The barbell shrug is one of the best ways to isolate the upper traps without engaging your biceps or triceps like other rowing-type movements. You may want to isolate the upper traps if you want to increase muscle mass for bodybuilding goals or if your traps are a weak point during rowing-type movements.

5. Barbell Upright Row

The barbell upright row targets the trapezius muscles and the side and rear shoulder muscles. It also engages the biceps.

When performing the barbell upright row, you need to pay attention to the range of motion you use, as some people have more mobility than others to go higher on this exercise.

How To Do It

  • Grab onto a barbell loaded with the desired weight with a shoulder-width grip.
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Breathe in and exhale as you row the barbell upward toward your collar bone or mid-chest level with your elbows flared up and back.
  • Inhale as you lower the barbell back down until your arms are fully extended.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Activates side and rear delts. The barbell upright row will activate the side and rear delts and the upper traps. This is useful if you are a powerlifter and want to increase muscle mass in that area to create a more rigid shelf for the barbell during back squats.

6. Barbell Meadows Row

The barbell Meadows row was made famous by the late professional bodybuilder John Meadows. It requires you to place the end of a barbell into a corner of a room or on a landmine station.

The Meadows row targets the whole trapezius muscle group along with the biceps and rear delts (back of the shoulders).

How To Do It

  • Set the barbell in the corner of the room or into a landmine placeholder station.
  • Load the desired weight onto the free end of the barbell.
  • Stand just behind the free end of the barbell and turn to the side so the outside of your leg is facing the barbell.
  • Bend at your hips and knees and grab onto the end of the barbell with the arm that is closest to it. Keep the other hand or elbow on your knees.
  • Make sure your torso angle is roughly between 30 and 45 degrees from parallel.
  • Exhale and row the barbell upward by flaring your elbows and pinching your shoulder blades back. Make sure you do not rotate your torso too much and keep your spine as flat as possible.
  • Lower the barbell back down in a controlled manner and inhale.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Good at fixing strength imbalances. As you train one side at a time, you can focus on improving any muscular strength or muscle mass imbalances between your left and right arms.
  • Activates your abdominals and obliques. To stabilize your torso and prevent it from rotating, you need to engage your abdominals and obliques hard throughout the execution. This helps strengthen your core.

Barbell Lat Exercises

Barbell lat exercises target the following muscles:

  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Rhomboids

The latissimus dorsi (or lats) is one of the largest back muscles that you can see. It acts to extend the arm, bring the arm downward, bring the arm to the center of your body, bring the arm down toward the ribcage, and pull the arm backward.

The rhomboids are a pair of mid-back muscles that act to retract, elevate, and rotate the scapula. In lat exercises, they assist the movement of the shoulder blades.

1. T-Bar Row

The T-bar row or landmine row is a popular back exercise that targets the lats, traps, and biceps.

It requires good hip mobility and leg conditioning to maintain posture throughout the execution. If you do not have good leg strength or hip mobility, you are likely to round your lower back. If this happens, you should avoid this movement and do a T-bar row alternative instead.

How To Do It

  • Set the barbell in the corner of the room or into a landmine placeholder station. Load the barbell with the desired weight.
  • If possible, use plates with smaller dimensions to maximize the range of motion.
  • Place a V-grip handle on the end of the barbell shaft before the sleeve lip.
  • Straddle the barbell and stand a couple of inches behind the V-grip handle.
  • Grab the V-grip handle with both hands and stand up straight.
  • Bend your hips back and keep a soft bend in your knees. Lower yourself until the plates just about touch the floor but there is still tension through your body from the barbell.
  • Take a deep breath in and exhale as you row the barbell towards your torso with your elbows tucked close to your obliques.
  • Pinch your shoulder blades back at the top. Maintain a flat back and fixed posture throughout the execution.
  • Lower the barbell as you slowly extend your arms down to the floor.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Muscular endurance of your back and legs. You need to be able to hold yourself in a fixed bent-over position throughout the T-bar row. Therefore, it can improve the muscular endurance of your spinal erectors (the back muscles that help you stand up straight), glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

2. Single-Arm Landmine Row

The single-arm landmine row is similar to the T-bar row and Meadows row, except you train one arm at a time. You are parallel to the barbell, just like in a T-bar row, but you stand next to the end of the barbell.

Due to the angle of your arm when you row, you target your lats more.

How To Do It

  • Set the barbell in the corner of the room or into a landmine placeholder station. Load the barbell with the desired weight.
  • Stand to the side of the end of the barbell, and face in the same direction that the barbell is pointing.
  • Bend your hips back and keep a soft bend in your knees until your arm reaches the barbell.
  • Take a deep breath in and exhale as you row the barbell up and back with your elbows tucked close to your torso.
  • Inhale as you slowly lower the barbell. Make sure you do not rotate and that you maintain a flat back throughout the execution. Keep your head in line with your spine.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and then change sides.

Benefits

3. Underhand Barbell Row

The underhand barbell row is a great lat exercise that also puts your biceps in a stronger pulling position. You can perform it in different torso angles. For example, you can make your torso parallel to the floor or stand with your torso at a 45-degree angle. 

How To Do It

  • Stand up straight with your feet at a hip-width stance, and hold onto a barbell with an underhand shoulder-width grip.
  • Bend at your hips and let the barbell slide down until your torso is just above parallel to the floor. If you prefer, you can stay more upright and keep your torso at a 45-degree angle.
  • Make sure your shins are vertical and your armpits are above the barbell.
  • Exhale as you row your barbell towards your mid-torso and pinch your shoulder blades back.
  • Make sure the pressure is on your mid-foot throughout the whole execution and maintain a flat back with your head stacked in line with your torso.
  • Inhale as you slowly lower the barbell to the starting position with your arms extended.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Improve shoulder position and mobility for back squats. If you have a hard time keeping your elbows down during back squats or struggle to get your hands under the barbell, the underhand barbell row can help. This is because it encourages you to keep your shoulders back and down and activate your external rotators (some of your rotator cuff muscles).

4. Barbell Pullover

The barbell pullover is a great barbell isolation exercise for the lats. You should ideally lie on a bench to perform this exercise, but you can do it on the floor. 

How To Do It

  • Lie on a flat free-weight bench and hold onto a barbell with your arms extended above your shoulders and hands in a shoulder-width grip.
  • Inhale as you lower your arms above your head while keeping them straight and stop when they are parallel with your torso. Keep your elbows locked and close together as much as possible.
  • Exhale as you raise your arm back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Isolates lats at the weakest point. Your lats are generally weakest when your arms are directly above your head. This is also where there is the greatest amount of tension going through your lats during the barbell pullover. If you cannot do pull-ups from a dead hang and with a full range of motion, barbell pullovers may be a useful addition to your routine since they help strengthen the lats.

Having weak lats is one of the reasons why you may not feel them workiIf you don’t feel your glng during pull-ups. Learn more in How To Activate Your Lats More During Pull-Ups (5 Tips).

Barbell Glute Exercises

Barbell glute exercises target the following muscles:

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Gluteus Medius
  • Gluteus Minimus
  • Piriformis

The gluteus maximus is the biggest glute muscle. It acts to extend (straighten) and abduct (bring out sideways) the thigh at the hip joint.

The gluteus medius is the second biggest glute muscle. It also acts to abduct (bring out sideways) and bring the thigh inward.

The glute minimus is a deeper set of glute muscles. It can be thought of as the glute medius’s smaller sibling. Like the other glute muscles, it acts to abduct and internally rotate the thigh at the hip joint.

The piriformis is technically not part of the glute muscles but supports the movement of the gluteus maximus. It also acts to externally rotate and abduct the thigh at the hip joint.

1. Barbell Glute Bridge

The barbell glute bridge is an easy beginner barbell exercise for the glutes.

You can also adjust your foot position to engage other secondary muscles, including the hamstrings and the quads. If you place your feet closer to your glutes, you’ll activate more of your quads. If you place them further in front of you, you’ll activate more of your hamstrings.

How To Do It

  • Lie on the floor face up in a hook lying position where your knees are bent at 90 degrees and your feet are hip-width apart.
  • Place a barbell with the desired weight onto the hip crease and hold it with straight arms. It may be useful to use a hip thrust pad to make it more comfortable on your hip crease.
  • Take a deep breath in, tuck your chin, and engage your abs. Exhale as you squeeze your glutes and thrust your hips to the sky. Make an active effort to keep the barbell by your hip crease by pushing your arms downward.
  • Inhale and slowly lower your hips to the floor.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Easy glute activation exercise. The barbell glute bridge is a very easy and useful exercise for beginners. A common problem when people perform hip thrusts (which is similar to the glute bridge, except you sit with your upper back against a bench) is overusing the lower back. With a glute bridge, you can cue your lower back to touch the floor and tuck your pelvis to target the glutes more.

2. Barbell Hip Thrust

The barbell hip thrust is a superior barbell exercise for the glutes that also requires the use of a bench or exercise step of some sort. It is similar to the glute bridge but has more range of motion. 

How To Do It

  • Set up a free-weight bench in a corner of the room or against something sturdy so it cannot slide as you perform this exercise.
  • Lean your upper back against the free-weight bench. Set a barbell loaded with the desired load across your hip crease, preferably with a barbell pad in the middle of it.
  • Bend your knees at 90 degrees with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Take a deep breath in and hold the barbell with your arms straight.
  • Exhale as you thrust your glutes into the barbell until your thighs and torso are in one horizontal line.
  • Inhale as you lower the hips back down to the floor and keep your back flat throughout.
  • Repeat the exercise with the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Improve squat and deadlift lockout strength. The barbell hip thrust mirrors the angle that your hips are in during the final few inches of locking out squats and deadlifts. If the lockout is your sticking point in either lift, this is a useful accessory exercise to add to your program.

If you don’t feel your glutes working when doing hip thrusts, try these 9 tips for feeling your glutes more during hip thrusts.

3. Barbell Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

The barbell rear foot elevated split squat is also known as the Bulgarian split squat. It is a great split squat variation that can target the glutes more. You can elevate your rear foot between 1 to 2 feet with a bench or exercise step.

The barbell rear foot elevated split squat also targets the quads, hamstrings, and adductors (inner thighs). 

How To Do It

  • Place a barbell on your back and elevate your rear foot by placing your toes onto a bench or step or the top of your ankle over a cylindrical object such as a barbell on a low rack.
  • Stand two to three feet away from your back foot and maintain tight abs and a flat back. Make sure the hip of the back leg is fully extended by squeezing the glutes.
  • With a vertical shin, breathe into your core and squat back and down until you reach your maximum range of motion or until your knee touches the floor.
  • Exhale as you drive through your front heel and squat up.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Fix uneven quad strength in squats. If you have uneven quad strength in squats, the barbell rear foot elevated split squat can help you load into your quads. The rear foot elevation tips your body forward, which can help load your quads more. And because it’s a single-sided exercise, you can use it to bring up the strength of your weaker leg.

If you cannot perform rear foot elevated split squats, check out my favorite Can’t do Romanian dea.

4. Barbell Curtsy Reverse Lunge

A barbell curtsy reverse lunge is a popular exercise you can perform with the barbell on your back or in the front on top of your shoulders like in a front squat. The barbell curtsy reverse lunge also activates the quads and hamstrings, so it is more of a compound exercise.

How To Do It

  • Stand up with your feet together and a barbell on your back.
  • Take one step back and across to the other side of your body. For example, if you want to work your right leg first, step your left foot back and to the right.
  • Breathe in and squat down until your knees are bent to roughly 90 degrees.
  • Breathe out as you push off from your back foot and return it to the original starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, and then repeat the same process for the other leg.

Benefits

  • Fix glute muscle asymmetry. The barbell curtsy reverse lunge is a great exercise to fix glute muscle strength or muscle mass imbalances, particularly in your gluteus medius (your side glutes). It is especially useful if you tend to hip shift during deadlifts as it allows you to strengthen the glute muscles on your weaker side.

Barbell Hamstring Exercises

Barbell hamstring exercises target the following muscles:

  • Bicep femoris
  • Semimembranosus
  • Semitendinosus

The bicep femoris is a large set of hamstring muscles that cross two joints: the hip joint and the knee joint. These fibers act to extend the hip, flex the knee, and externally rotate the legs.

The semimembranosus is the hamstring muscle that acts to extend the hip, flex the knee, and internally rotate the legs.

The semitendinosus is similar to the semimembranosus in that it also acts to extend the hip, flex the knee, and internally rotate the legs.

1. Barbell Romanian Deadlift

The barbell Romanian deadlift is a hamstring exercise that was first popularized by Olympic weightlifters when athletes saw that the Romanian weightlifting team was performing this variation.

In addition to the hamstrings, it targets the lower back and glutes.

How To Do It

  • Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart. If you are slightly larger or taller, you may want to use a shoulder-width stance instead.
  • Grab onto a barbell with a grip width wider than the distance between your feet and deadlift it up to your hips.
  • While keeping a soft bend in your knees, push your hips backward and slide the barbell down your legs until your torso is roughly parallel to the floor. You do not need to touch the barbell to the floor.
  • Make sure your back is always flat and your abs are always engaged. A good cue is to think about bringing your sternum backward towards your thighs.
  • Exhale as you stand back up and thrust through and squeeze your glutes at the top.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Improve hip strength for deadlifts. The barbell Romanian deadlift is good at replicating the hip movement during deadlifts with more range of motion in the hips. If your sticking point in the deadlifts is anywhere above your mid-shin, the Romanian deadlift can help you overcome that weakness.
  • Train hamstrings without a machine. The great thing about the hamstrings is that because they cross two joints, you can activate them with hip-dominant exercises like Romanian deadlifts without needing to rely on knee-dominant exercises like seated leg curls.

Can’t do Romanian deadlifts or want to add more variety to your routine? Check out these 9 behe good morning is also an est Romanian deadlift alternatives.

2. Barbell Wall Reference Romanian Deadlift

The barbell wall reference Romanian deadlift is similar to a single-leg Romanian deadlift. However, this is an easier variation as the back leg is placed on a wall to help stabilize your whole body throughout the movement.

How To Do It

  • Stand about one to two feet away from a wall. Hold a barbell loaded with the desired weight at your hips with straight arms and a shoulder-width grip.
  • Press one foot against the bottom of the wall, with the toes by the edge where the wall and floor meet.
  • Bring the middle of the barbell over your front leg and keep your back flat.
  • Inhale as you push your hips back towards the wall and slide the barbell down your front leg until your torso is parallel to the floor.
  • Keep a soft bend in your front knee throughout and maintain a vertical or slightly forward shin angle.
  • Exhale as you thrust up and squeeze the glute on the side of your front leg.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, switch legs, and do the same number of reps on the other side.

Benefits

  • Improve hip hinging mobility. The barbell wall reference Romanian deadlift can help improve your hip hinging mobility by getting you to hinge through one side of your hip at a time. The wall behind you provides an external cue for you to push your hips back. This exercise is great for people who round their lower backs during deadlift-type movements or exercises that require bending over.

3. Barbell Snatch Grip Romanian Deadlift

The barbell snatch grip Romanian deadlift is similar to the regular Romanian deadlift. But because you use a wider grip or snatch grip, you can hinge through your hips more and move through more range of motion. For these reasons, it is a superior hamstring exercise compared to the regular Romanian deadlift.

How To Do It

  • Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart. If you are slightly larger or taller, you may want to choose a shoulder-width stance.
  • Grab onto a barbell with a wide grip and deadlift it up your hips. The grip needs to be wide enough that when your arms hang, the barbell sits at your hip crease.
  • While keeping a soft bend in your knees, push your hips back and slide the barbell down your legs until your torso is roughly parallel to the floor.
  • Keep your back flat and abs engaged. Think about bringing your sternum backward towards your thighs.
  • Exhale as you stand back up and thrust through and squeeze your glutes at the top.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Superior for glute and hamstring training. The barbell snatch grip Romanian deadlift is superior at maximizing the range of motion through your hips and stretches out your glutes and hamstrings more than most other exercises. This makes it an excellent exercise for strengthening and growing the glutes and hamstrings.

4. Barbell Good Morning

The barbell good morning is similar to the Romanian deadlift. However, the barbell is on the back of your shoulders or upper back. You can generally not use as much weight on this exercise as you can with a Romanian deadlift.

How To Do It

  • Set a barbell on a squat rack at about shoulder height.
  • Hold onto the barbell with a wider-than-shoulder-width grip and step underneath the barbell to unrack it.
  • Walk the barbell out of the squat rack. Make sure you are far enough away from the squat rack so you will not contact it during execution.
  • Take a deep breath in and brace.
  • Take a soft bend in your knee and push your hips backward. Ensure that you maintain tight abs and a flat back throughout the execution.
  • When you reach your maximum range of motion and feel a stretch in your hamstrings, exhale and thrust your hips through until you are upright.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Good for fixing a forward shift in squats. If you are very knee dominant during squats and tip forward onto your forefoot, the barbell good morning can help strengthen your hips and improve your ability to stay on your heels.

The good morning is also an excellent deadlift accessory exercise. Learn more in my article Do Good Mornings Help Deadlifts? (Yes, Here’s How).

Barbell Quad Exercise

Barbell quad exercises target the following muscles:

  • Rectus Femoris
  • Vastus Intermedius
  • Vastus Medialis
  • Vastus Lateralis 

The rectus femoris is the middle quad muscle. It acts to flex at the hip and extends the knee.

The vastus intermedius is the deepest quad muscle. It too acts to extend or straighten the knee.

The vastus medialis is the innermost quad muscle. It acts to extend or straighten the knee along with the vastus intermedius and vastus lateralis.

The vastus lateralis is the largest quad muscle and is found on the outside of the thigh. It acts to extend or straighten the knee along with the vastus intermedius and vastus lateralis.

1. Barbell Back Squat

The barbell back squat is the most popular barbell quad exercise. It is performed to high levels of strength among powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters, strongman competitors, and athletes from other sports.

There are two variations of the back squat: the high bar squat and the low bar squat. They are sometimes called the Olympic squat and the powerlifting squat. The main difference between the two is the position on the upper back where the barbell is placed. 

In the Olympic squat or high bar squat, the barbell is placed on the top of the upper traps. Whereas in the powerlifting squat or low bar squat, the barbell is placed on top of the rear delts. The high bar squat is more knee dominant because it allows the knees to travel more, while the low bar squat is more hip dominant because it allows the hips to travel more. 

You may want to choose a high bar squat if you are a general exerciser who wants to build strong legs, but you may want to choose a low bar squat if you want to compete in powerlifting

How To Do It

  • Set a barbell on a squat rack at roughly armpit height and load it with the desired weight.
  • Grip onto the barbell with a wider-than-shoulder-width grip, and position yourself underneath the barbell with it placed firmly on top of your traps (the muscles that run along the base of your neck and top of your shoulders).
  • Take 2 to 3 steps backward. Position your feet with a shoulder-width stance and feet pointed out by 10 to 15 degrees.
  • Take a deep breath in, brace your core, and keep your elbows pointed down.
  • Break at your hips and knees and squat down until your hip crease falls below the top of your knee. Maintain a flat back and even pressure across your feet.
  • Push through your midfoot and stand back up until you fully extend your legs. Exhale at the top.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, then re-rack the barbell.

Benefits

  • Increase leg and hip strength. The barbell back squat is a quad exercise where you can load a significant amount of weight, which makes it a beneficial exercise to increase overall leg and hip strength.
  • Increase muscle mass in quads, adductors and glutes. The barbell back squat is a great exercise for maximizing the range of motion through the hips and the knees, which makes it an effective exercise for developing muscle mass around the quads, adductors (inner thighs), and glutes.
  • Increase athletic performance. The back squat can improve strength and conditioning around the lower body for athletes who want to be more resistant to knee injuries, jump higher, and have more explosive power in the legs.

2. Barbell Front Squat

The barbell front squat is also another popular barbell quad exercise. It is more commonly done by Olympic weightlifters, but bodybuilders also do it often to build muscle in the quads. 

How To Do It

  • Set a barbell on a squat rack at roughly armpit height and load it with the desired weight.
  • Grip onto the barbell with a wider-than-shoulder-width grip.
  • Position yourself underneath the barbell with it placed firmly on top of the front of your shoulders by bringing your elbows under and pointing them forward.
  • Push your knees forward and unrack the barbell. Step backward with your feet pointed forward and at a shoulder-width stance.
  • Take a deep breath in and brace your core. Maintain a flat back with your eyes forward and squat down until your hip crease falls below your knees.
  • Stand back up until your legs are fully extended but your knees aren’t completely locked out. Keep your elbows pointed forward throughout the execution.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and then rerack the barbell.

Benefits

  • Good for reducing lower back stress in leg training. As the front squat causes you to be more upright than usual, this can help alleviate stress in your lower back muscles if they are particularly fatigued.
  • Good for reinforcing a neutral spine in squats. The front squat prioritizes a more upright posture and makes it good at reinforcing a more stacked relationship between the ribcage and pelvis in a way that stops the back from over-extending or rounding.
  • Good for emphasizing quads. As the front squat is more knee dominant, you can emphasize the quads more than the hamstrings when compared to a back squat.

The front squat can also help you improve your deadlift if your hips rise too fast or you have trouble staying balanced. Learn more in Do Front Squats Help Deadlifts? Yes, Here’s How.

3. Barbell Pin Squat

The barbell pin squat is a variation of the back squat that requires using a squat rack with safety pins. During the pin squat, you pause with the barbell on the pins, which adds more time under tension and can help you break through a squat plateau.

How To Do It

  • Set up safety pins on the squat rack so that your barbell makes contact with the pins when you are at the bottom of a squat.
  • Set a barbell on a squat rack at roughly armpit height and load it with the desired weight.
  • Grip onto the barbell with a wider-than-shoulder-width grip, and position yourself underneath the barbell with it placed firmly on top of your traps (the muscles that run along the top of your shoulders).
  • Unrack the bar and take 2 to 3 steps backward. Position your feet with a shoulder-width stance and point them 10 to 15 degrees outward.
  • Take a deep breath in, brace your core, and keep your elbows pointed downward.
  • Break at your hips and knees and squat until the barbell makes light contact with the safety pins. Maintain a flat back and even pressure across your foot.
  • Pause momentarily with the barbell at the pins without relaxing any muscles.
  • Push through your midfoot and stand back up until you fully extend your legs. Exhale at the top.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, then rerack the barbell.

Benefits

  • Self-corrects imbalanced squatting. If your barbell is uneven when you squat because you shift to one side, the pins can provide an external cue to get you to correct the shift. This is because you can naturally readjust which side you load into more if you feel that one side touches the pin before the other.

4. Barbell Pause Squat

The barbell pause squat is a squat variation where you pause at the bottom of the squat. This is similar to the barbell pin squat in that there is added time under tension on the muscles at the bottom of the range of motion.

How To Do It

  • Set a barbell on a squat rack at roughly armpit height and load it with the desired weight.
  • Grip onto the barbell with a wider-than-shoulder-width grip, and position yourself underneath the barbell with it placed firmly on top of your traps (the muscles at the base of your neck and top of your shoulders).
  • Take 2 to 3 steps backward. Position your feet with a shoulder-width stance and point them 10 to 15 degrees outward.
  • Take a deep breath in, brace your core, and keep your elbows downward.
  • Break at your hips and knees and squat down until your hip crease falls below the top of your knee. Maintain a flat back and even pressure across your foot.
  • Pause for 1 second without relaxing into the bottom of the squat. Maintain your brace.
  • Push through your midfoot and stand back up until you fully extend your legs. Exhale at the top.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, then re-rack the barbell.

Benefits

  • Focus on hip adductors and quads. The pause increases time under tension of the muscles that are most activated at the bottom of the squat: the inner thighs and quads. This is beneficial because if squat depth is inconsistent, then these muscles do not get the same training stimulus consistently. Hip adductor injuries are also common during squats.
  • Improve back squat technique. A common technique problem with back squats is that people often lose balance or perform what is called a “dive bomb,” where they control the top half of the squat but drop down and rely on a stretch reflex to get out of the hole. This can make the technique inconsistent and unstable at the bottom half of the range of motion. The pause squat can help force you to stay in tension and in control.

5. Barbell Zercher Squat

The barbell Zercher squat is a barbell squat variation that was invented for people who wanted to do squats but did not have a squat rack available. It is a front-loaded squatting variation, which makes it more knee dominant and places more demand on the quads.

How To Do It

  • If you have a squat rack, rack a barbell at hip height and load it with the desired weight.
  • If you do not have a squat rack, stand with your feet underneath a loaded barbell. With a flat back, lift the barbell to your mid-thigh level and squat down.
  • Position a barbell loaded with the desired weight into the crooks of your elbows. Maintain a flat back and braced core.
  • Hold your hands together, point them upward, and keep the barbell close to your torso. Stand up with your barbell.
  • Reset your breath, take another deep breath in, and brace your core. Squat down until your hip crease falls below the top of your knee. Keep your knees in line with your feet and even pressure across your feet.
  • Stand back up, pushing through your mid-foot until your legs are fully extended.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. Once you are done, rerack the barbell or return it to the ground.

Benefits

  • Improves shoulder mobility for back squatting. The barbell Zercher squat is useful for improving shoulder mobility for back squatting if you struggle to hold onto the bar when squatting. During the barbell Zercher squat, your upper back muscles stretch out, and you train your rotator cuff and back muscles in a way that allows for a better range of motion in the shoulders.

Although the Zercher squat may look similar to the front squat, there are some key differences between the two. Learn more in Zercher Squat vs Front Squat: Differences, Pros, Cons.

6. Barbell Box Squat

The barbell box squat is a variation of the barbell back squat where there is a pause at the bottom of the squat motion when you squat to a box or exercise step.

This is similar to the barbell pin squat in the sense that there is added time under tension on the muscles at the bottom of the range of motion. It is also more of a hip-dominant variation of the squat where there is more emphasis on the inner thighs and hamstrings.

How To Do It

  • Set up an exercise step, box, or bench that is low enough for your hip crease to be below the top of the knees when you squat.
  • Set a barbell on a squat rack at roughly armpit height and load it with the desired weight.
  • Grip onto the barbell with a wider-than-shoulder-width grip, and position yourself underneath the barbell with it placed firmly on top of your traps (the muscles that run across the top of your shoulders).
  • Unrack the bar and take 2 to 3 steps backward. Stand with a shoulder-width stance and your feet pointed out by 10 to 15 degrees.
  • Take a deep breath in, brace your core, and keep your elbows pointed downward.
  • Break at your hips and knees and squat down until the hips make light contact with the box. Maintain a flat back and even pressure across your feet.
  • Pause momentarily without relaxing any muscles.
  • Push through your midfoot and stand back up until you fully extend your legs. Exhale at the top.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, then rack the barbell back to the squat rack.

Benefits

  • Improve hip strength for squats. If you struggle out of the hole in the squat or have a sticking point halfway up, the barbell box squat can strengthen the muscles that help you push your hips through that sticking point.

7. Barbell Split Squat

The barbell split squat is a single-leg quad exercise that activates the quads differently between the front leg and the back leg. You can adjust the split squat in different ways to emphasize different muscle groups within the lower body.

If you want to emphasize the hamstrings more in the front leg, you can stand with the front foot further out in front of you. If you want to emphasize the quads more, you can stand with a shorter distance between the front and back legs.

How To Do It

  • Place a barbell on top of your traps and hold onto it with as narrow of a grip as possible to make sure it is tight on your back. Keep your elbows pointed down, eyes facing forward, and back flat throughout.
  • Stand in a split stance position with both of your feet pointed forward. Make sure your back foot is not directly behind your front foot. Otherwise, you may find it difficult to balance.
  • If you find it hard to balance, make sure there is always a soft bend in your back knee, and turn your front foot in slightly.
  • Take a deep breath in and squat down. Allow your front knee to travel over your foot and keep it in line with your toes. Make sure your back knee is underneath your hips.
  • Exhale as you drive from both legs and stand up. Maintain a soft bend in both knees at the top.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, and then change sides to do the same thing for the other leg.

Benefits

  • Increased quad hypertrophy. The barbell split squat is good at loading the quads in different muscle lengths, particularly in their stretched-out position. When one leg is behind you, the hip is extended and the knee is flexed, stretching the quads to nearly their longest muscle length. Training muscles through their longer muscle length is superior for muscle strength and hypertrophy.

Barbell Calf Exercises

Barbell calf exercises target the following muscles:

  • Gastrocnemius 
  • Soleus

The gastrocnemius is the bulk of the calf muscle. Its function is to plantar flex at the ankles, which means pointing your foot down and away from the body. It also has a weak ability to flex or bend the knees.

The soleus lies underneath the gastrocnemius. Its only function is to point the foot down and away from the body.

1. Seated Barbell Calf Raises

The seated barbell calf raise is a barbell isolation exercise for the calves. It requires the use of a seat as well as something to elevate the front of the foot. 

How To Do It

  • Sit on a bench with your toes elevated on something between 2 to 4 inches high.
  • Place a loaded barbell on top of your thighs a couple of inches before the knees.
  • Take a deep breath in and exhale as you raise your heels and squeeze your calves upward.
  • Slowly lower the heels back down until they touch the floor and you feel a stretch in your calves.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Focus on the soleus muscle. The seated barbell calf raise is better at targeting the soleus calf muscle, which is the outer calf muscle. This is because the knee is in a bent position, which makes it better at activating the soleus muscle.

Even though they are an often-neglected muscle group, powerlifters can benefit from training the calves, as it can help improve ankle mobility, foot stability, and knee health.

2. Standing Barbell Calf Raises

The standing barbell calf raise is a barbell calf raise that can be performed two ways. You can either place the barbell on your shoulders or hold onto the barbell in front of you. 

How To Do It

  • Stand with a hip-width stance with your toes elevated by 1 to 3 inches. Ideally, use a wedge of some sort as opposed to a block. Make sure that the elevation is sturdy and will not flip.
  • Place a barbell on your traps (the muscles that extend over the back of the neck and shoulders) or hold onto a barbell in front of you with a shoulder-width grip.
  • Squeeze your calves and raise your heels off the ground, making sure that your whole forefoot is on the wedge.
  • Slowly lower your heels to the ground and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Focus on the gastrocnemius muscle. The standing calf raise is better at activating the gastrocnemius calf muscle, which is the inner calf muscle. This muscle is more engaged when your knees are straight, so you need to pay closer attention to keeping them straight when performing this exercise.

3. Barbell Jump Shrugs

The barbell jump shrug is a barbell calf exercise that can help develop explosive strength. It also works the traps, quads, and glutes.

How To Do It

  • Stand with a hip-width stance with your toes pointed forward.
  • Hold a barbell in front of you with a shoulder-width grip.
  • Dip your knees slightly while keeping an upright torso angle.
  • Explosively jump upward and shrug the barbell simultaneously.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Increases explosive strength. Due to the nature of the execution, the barbell jump shrug is ideal for building explosive strength in the calves, which can help your performance in sports that require running, sprinting, or changing directions.

Barbell Abdominal And Oblique Exercises

Barbell abdominal and oblique exercises target the following muscles:

  • Transverse Abdominis 
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • External Obliques
  • Internal Obliques

The transverse or transversus abdominis is the deepest abdominal muscle. It acts to maintain ab tension to keep the guts inside and increases intra-abdominal pressure. It also contributes to rotation.

The rectus abdominis is the top layer of the abdominals and is what you see when someone has a six-pack. Its main function is to flex the spine and roll the front of your rib cage closer to the pelvis.

The external oblique is the outermost ab muscle. Its role is to assist with rotating at the core, flex the spine in the same way as the rectus abdominis, and assist with side bending at the spine.

The internal oblique lies underneath the external obliques. It flexes the spine forward when both sides are contracted and flexes the spine sideways. It is also responsible for intra-abdominal pressure along with the other abdominal muscles.

1. Barbell Abdominal Roll Out

The barbell abdominal rollout is an intermediate to advanced abdominal barbell exercise. It is an alternative to the regular abdominal rollouts that normally use an ab roller. To do the barbell abdominal rollout properly, you need to use circular-shaped weight discs.

How To Do It

  • Set up round weight plates on a barbell and position yourself in a kneeling position.
  • Hold onto the barbell in front of you with a shoulder-width overhand grip.
  • With a flat back, hips extended, and glutes squeezed, roll the barbell forward and lower yourself as much as possible. Aim to get your torso to touch the ground.
  • With straight arms, roll the barbell back toward yourself until you are as upright as possible. Make sure that your hips maintain an extended position throughout the execution.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Adjusts to your strength level. The benefit of the barbell ab rollout is that you can adjust it to your strength level. The stronger you are, the lower you can go. The more novice you are, the less you need to descend.
  • Improved posture. The barbell abdominal rollout is great for improving posture by strengthening your abdominals while stretching out your lats. Tight lats can cause you to have rounded shoulders and a more extended lower back.

2. Barbell Oblique Side Bend (Barbell On Back)

The barbell oblique side bend is a core exercise that activates the external and internal obliques. This variation of the oblique side bend requires placing the barbell on your shoulders or upper back.

How To Do It

  • Place a barbell on your back with a wider-than-shoulder-width-grip on the barbell. Keep your feet hip-width apart.
  • Bend sideways until you feel a stretch in the obliques on the opposite side.
  • Return to an upright position and repeat the same process on the other side of your obliques.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Improves bracing strength. The obliques are essential for bracing hard during exercises such as squats and deadlifts. The oblique side bend can stretch the obliques to their maximum range of motion, which makes it superior for increasing muscle mass and strength in these muscles.

3. Barbell Overhead Sit-Up

The barbell overhead sit-up is a core exercise that activates the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis muscles. You can perform it on the floor, on a decline bench, or on a sit-up bench.

How To Do It

  • Lie down on the ground with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Make sure your feet are hip-width apart and stay on the ground throughout. You can anchor your feet down with a load on your feet.
  • Hold onto a barbell with your arms straight above your shoulders and hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Take a deep breath in and exhale as you sit up as high as you can. Throughout the upward movement, keep your arms vertical and the barbell above your shoulders.
  • Slowly inhale and return to the ground in a controlled manner.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Less stress on the lower back. Performing the barbell overhead sit-up encourages you to keep your posture more extended or flatter as you hold the barbell over your head. Traditional weighted sit-ups can cause you to overly flex through your spine, which may be stressful for your lower back.

4. Barbell Russian Twists

The barbell Russian twist activates all of the core muscles, including the abdominals and the obliques. 

How To Do It

  • Sit down on the ground with your knees bent at 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor.
  • Lean your torso back at about 45 degrees with a barbell on your back. Make sure your back is flat and your head is aligned with your torso.
  • While maintaining that same torso angle, rotate yourself to the left, then rotate yourself to the right.
  • •  Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Benefits

  • Improve rotational core strength. The barbell Russian twist is useful for increasing rotational core strength, which is important for fixing rotations or hip shifting during squats.

About The Author: Norman Cheung ASCC, British Powerlifting Team Coach

Norman Cheung

Norman Cheung is a powerlifting, and accredited strength and conditioning coach under the UKSCA. He has been coaching powerlifting since 2012 and has been an IPF Team GB coach since 2016. He has experience coaching various lifters, from novices to international medallists and international university teams. Alongside coaching, he takes interest in helping powerlifters take their first step into coaching. He currently runs his coaching services at strongambitionscoaching.com