The barbell is one of the best tools out there used by people all over the world to build muscle and strength. The beauty of the barbell lies in its versatility, allowing you to target almost any body part. Athletes such as weightlifters and powerlifters are some of the strongest athletes out there, each of whom uses the barbell to perform key lifts. However, you don’t need to be an expert to use a barbell. Whether you are an aspiring powerlifter, or simply looking to just tone up, keep these muscle-building compound lifts in mind to maximize your results in the gym-
Some refer to the deadlift as the king of all exercises. The standard conventional deadlift is a great way to strengthen the muscles in your legs, back and posterior chain as a whole. The sumo deadlift is another unique variation of deadlift, where the hips are spread slightly wider, putting greater tension on your hamstrings and glutes as a result. And let’s not forget about the power of the trap bar deadlift. The trap bar deadlift is one of the most commonly performed exercises amongst GAA players when looking to build explosive power and speed.
Deadlifts often get a bad reputation because of the load they often put on one’s lower back. Don’t let this hold you back. The next time you head to the gym, ask your trainer to show you the correct technique, or simply click here for a fantastic deadlift demo! If you’re new to the deadlift, like with any exercise, don’t overdo things. Leave your ego at the gym door and really focus on technique, allowing you to get the most from this exercise and to ensure longevity on your fitness journey!
The squat is a dynamic training exercise that requires several muscles in your upper and lower body to work together simultaneously. The squat can provide the most bang for your buck in improving overall strength and leg development. Like the deadlift, it is important to leave your ego at the door with this exercise, focusing on form and ensuring that the movement is performed in a controlled fashion.
Not only will the barbell squat engage your quads, glutes and hamstrings, but is also an excellent exercise for building a strong core. Along with giving you the legs and core you’ve always dreamed of, the squat will help to strengthen those joints and ligaments in your knees and hips which are often neglected in the everyday training regime. Keep on top of your ligament and joint health by adding the barbell squat to your leg day!
Ah, the bench press, our favourite. Why do we love it so much? It really is the perfect ‘push’ exercise, heavily stimulating your chest, shoulders and triceps (otherwise known as your beach muscles!). The barbell bench press is often included by anyone looking to build the upper body they’ve always wanted. This exercise is also a mainstay in any strength-based sport such as rugby, basketball and GAA.
The bench press when performed correctly will primarily target the chest as a whole, but will also recruit the shoulders and triceps as secondary muscle groups. As a result, this is the perfect exercise when looking to build upper body strength.
If you’re lucky to have access to a great gym, you might also find an incline or decline bench press. The beauty of these? They allow for specific targeting of the upper and lower pectoral muscle. So, if you are in the pursuit of a full and developed chest, look no further than the barbell bench press!
4/Overhead Press /Strict press
Looking for an exercise to help build the defined shoulders you’ve always wanted? Look no further than the overhead press. Unlike other compound lifts, the overhead/military press allows for the front, medial and rear deltoid to be solely isolated. While performing this exercise, the body will recruit the upper chest and triceps to move that bar to the finished position. So, like the bench press, the overhead press is a unique exercise that is guaranteed to increase your upper body strength when paired with proper technique and an appetite for progressive overload!
If you’re new to this exercise, you’ll notice pretty quickly that this exercise is a little harder to progress at. So, we recommend staying patient! Take 5 minutes to do your research on technique in order to give yourself the best chance of progression. Realise that it’s the little wins that will make all the difference here. Stay patient and consistent with proper form and we are sure you will build the boulder shoulders of your dreams!
5/Bent over row
The barbell bent over row should without doubt be a stable in any back or ‘pull’ session. This exercise is one of the only compound lifts that stimulates the lats, traps and even the rear deltoid of the shoulder. When performed correctly, the bent over row will also engage the glutes and hamstrings, meaning it is the ideal exercise when looking to work the posterior chain.
Many avid trainers know that the rear deltoid is the hardest part of the shoulder to isolate. You see, most pressing movements such as the bench press only recruit the front and medial (middle) delt of the shoulder. So, if you are looking to build bulletproof shoulders, make sure to add the barbell bent over row to your weight training regime.
New to the exercise? Don’t put your back under too much strain from the get-go. Build the weight up overtime while focusing on keeping your back straight, pinching your shoulders back and driving your elbows towards the ceiling!
The Power Clean, a Crossfitters dream! This dynamic exercise requires strength and co-ordination, making it the perfect exercise for field-sport athletes. This exercise recruits fast-twitch muscle fibres like no other. By performing this exercise regularly, not only are you building strength, speed and power, but you are also reducing your chances of injury by training all three of these systems simultaneously.
There really isn’t a muscle group that the power clean doesn’t target. The legs are used initially to drive the bar upward, where the back, arms and core are then recruited to guide the bar onto the shoulders. The second part of the movement then stimulates the often-neglected stabiliser muscles, making this an excellent injury preventing exercise. We have men’s olympic weightlifting barbells and women’s olympic weightlifting barbells on our website.
I hope you try out all exercises above and happy lifting!