What are the Different Types of Barbell Workouts?

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  • Written By: Kerrie Main
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 26 January 2020
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Barbells are a type of weightlifting equipment found in sports clubs and home gyms. They typically consist of a steel bar, end weights that often are called plates and collars that secure the weights. Barbells come in fixed-weight and adjustable set variations. Most people utilize barbell workouts to get stronger, increase their metabolisms and build muscle mass. There are many different types of barbell workouts, with each type focusing on one of three major muscle group areas: the arms, the chest and the legs.

Barbell workouts that focus on the arm muscles usually include several types of exercises. For example, standing curls, inclined curls and preacher curls are designed to build and isolate the biceps muscles. Close-gripped bench presses, lying barbell extensions and pushdowns assist in building and toning the triceps muscles of the arms. Reverse curls and wrist curls with a barbell work out the forearm muscles in the arm.

Many weightlifters use barbell workouts to increase and build their chest muscles. Most people do the chest workout before the arm workout, because the arm exercises often tire the chest muscles. The flat bench press with a barbell is one of the most effective exercises to build muscle in the pectoral area. Some practitioners change the angle of the bench to focus on different areas of the chest. For example, incline presses work the upper chest muscles, and decline presses work the lower chest.


Squats with barbells aim to increase muscle strength in the legs and back. These types of movements commonly are incorporated into comprehensive barbell workouts because they are compound exercises. This means that they use several muscles, including the targeted quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, calves and lower back muscles.

Most barbell workouts focus on one group of muscles at a time, and they sometimes alternate days on which the muscle groups are worked. For example, arm workouts might be conducted on Mondays and Thursdays, leg workouts conducted on Tuesdays and Fridays, and chest workouts conducted on Wednesdays. Effective workouts tire the muscles, and then the muscles need a day or more to recover.

Barbell workouts may be too intense for beginning weightlifters. Some people might want to ease into them by first using dumbbells or barbells with light weights or no weight plates. All practitioners should stretch before and after these types of workouts to avoid injuries. When working with heavy barbell weights, most people need to have a trainer or spotter on hand in case of an emergency.


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