The barbell has a long history in strength sports, but if you've never used one before, they can seem a little overwhelming. Here are five barbell lift techniques you should master to help get the most out of your workouts.
1. The Barbell Back Squat
Also known as the 'king of all exercises' and for good reason, the barbell back squat engages your legs and core, toning and strengthening the muscles and helping to promote a stable and safe spinal alignment. This squat is done with the bar across the shoulders at the back of the neck.
2. The Barbell Front Squat
The front squat is done with the bar across your shoulders from the front of the body. This position takes the weight off of your lower back and forces you to use your upper back muscles to prevent the bar from falling forward. This squat engages the body's anterior muscles much more heavily.
3. The Rack Pull
The rack pull is a lifting technique that uses the same muscles as a standard deadlift but that uses a reduced range of motion. Start with the bar either above or below your knees. Hinge down and assume your standard deadlift grip and stance. Pull up until lockout, keeping your shoulders back and your chest up.
4. The Romanian Deadlift
The Romanian Deadlift functions similarly to the standard deadlift but has you lower the bar to your shins instead of back to the floor. This slight variation helps engage your hamstrings and glutes.
5. The Bench Press
The bench press and all its variations target the chest, shoulders, and triceps. The bench press allows you to use a greater weight load than you could with a kettlebell or dumbbells. Start flat on your back with your eyes directly under the bar. Your hands should be wider than shoulder-width apart. Bring your feet closer to your glutes and un-rack the bar in the lockout position. Breathe in and lower the bar to your chest, pushing your feet back. Arch your spine slightly to push the bar until lockout.
A Word of Caution
Over 80% of adults in the U.S. don't meet the guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. This is one of the reasons it's best to consult a doctor before beginning any hard workout plan. Barbell lift techniques should always be fully understood before you attempt them. This reduces the risk of injury due to incorrect use of the barbell. With safety in mind, you'll be able to master these barbell techniques and be well on your way to toned muscles.