Exercise 101 : The Barbell

Exercise 101 : The Barbell

What is a barbell?

Used for weightlifting, the barbell is essentially a long metal bar where different weights can be added to the ends.

Different exercises can be done using a barbell for strength work, to target different muscles.

Can anyone use a barbell?

You need to use the correct form to lift a barbell properly without injuring yourself, so beginners should start with low weights and ensure they lift correctly so as not to damage the back. Assuming they are fit and healthy, anyone can lift a barbell and children should be supervised.

Which areas will the barbell target?

It’s not just your upper body that’s being worked when you lift the barbell. Although the main muscles used are the shoulders and triceps, the leg movement when you push the bar up means your quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings also get a workout. The abs and lower back muscles will be working to keep good posture and a stable torso.

What exercises can I do with a barbell?

Try these 3 exercises:

1. The Snatch

With the snatch, the weightlifter takes the barbell from the floor using a wide overhand grip to about their head in one seamless action.


2. Barbell Military Press

With palms facing forward, the bar is held with a wide grip and start with the barbell pressed against your chest. Lift the bar up over your head by locking your arms. Lower the bar down to your collarbone and then lift the bar back above your head.


3. The Curl

While holding your barbell at a shoulder-width grip, palms facing upwards, start with the bar down against your legs. With your forearms locked, raise the bar up to your shoulders and then lower back down to waist height.


If you follow these exercises, you’ll build your upper body strength in no time.

When you get used to one weight, be sure to up the weights as you improve.


The Author

Laura Briggs

Laura is a fitness writer who loves running, strength training, Pilates and Yoga. When she's got time to herself you might find her knitting, or in the kitchen trying out an elaborate recipe - healthy of course!.


Frank H.
11 July 2016

Frank H.

No workout is complete without at least some barbell moves - realistically it's the only piece of kit you need I think!

Peter W.
11 July 2016

Peter W.

The simplest piece of gym equipment but still the best for strength

Matthew C.
7 July 2016

Matthew C.

Great, no-nonsense article on barbells - sometimes it's good for even more experienced weight lifters to be reminded of the basics.

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