The Beginner’s Barbell Workout: 13 Essential Exercises

13 essential exercises with the barbell for weightlifting beginners.

Are you new to weightlifting? Then check out this barbell workout for beginners that will help you with a solid foundation to build muscle, lose weight and transform your body in the gym.

Embarking on your fitness journey can feel like delving into a new language—with so much to grasp, it’s easy to be inundated with information. Amidst the sea of advice, there’s a gem specifically tailored for beginners: the phenomenon known as “newbie gains.”

For those starting their fitness endeavours, this concept translates into rapid progress during the initial months. It signifies that as a novice in the gym, you’re poised to experience significant muscle gain and remarkable advancements in your fitness journey.

In simpler terms, if you’re a beginner, anticipate lifting heavier weights or engaging in more exercises each week for the first few months. This transformative period promises strength enhancement, increased athleticism, and an overall boost in fitness levels as you consistently navigate the gym environment. Welcome to the exciting world of newbie gains!

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Nycolas JoyalSource: Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

To maximize your fitness journey, selecting the right exercises early on is crucial, and the unanimous choice among experts is to incorporate compound lifts. These exercises engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, offering a holistic strength-building approach. But with an array of options available, the question arises: which exercises should you prioritize?

Addressing this query, coach Chris Wilson, a distinguished strength coach affiliated with Critical Bench—a platform dedicated to health and strength—has curated a comprehensive list of 13 exercises. This barbell workout for beginners serves as a strategic guide, ensuring that each exercise contributes to overall strength, fitness, and health. Chris Wilson, known for his expertise, shares invaluable insights through Critical Bench, a reputable source with over 1 million subscribers on their YouTube channel.

See all the info you need below to kick off your fitness transformation in the right path.

Related: The Best Gym Exercises You’re Not Doing

Barbell Workout for Beginners

Embarking on a weightlifting journey can be both exciting and overwhelming for beginners. The world of barbell exercises offers a plethora of options to sculpt your body and build strength. In this article, we’ll explore 13 essential barbell exercises that are perfect for those just stepping into the realm of weight training. From total body workouts to targeted muscle engagement, these movements serve as a solid foundation for any beginner.

  1. Bent Over Rows:

Begin with one of the classics – the Bent Over Rows. This exercise targets the back muscles, emphasizing the lats and providing a strong foundation for future workouts. Focus on maintaining a flat back and pulling the barbell into your lower belly.

  1. Overhead Press:

Moving on to the Overhead Press, this exercise engages multiple muscle groups, offering total body impact. Pay attention to your foundation, pressing the weight overhead while moving your body under it for maximum efficiency.

  1. Barbell Squats:

No beginner’s guide is complete without the Barbell Squat. Perfect your form by ensuring the bar rests comfortably on your upper traps, maintaining a wide foot stance, and pushing your knees out as you drop down.

  1. Deadlift:

Considered one of the greatest exercises for overall muscle stimulation, the Deadlift is a must-include. Focus on a tight stance, hip hinge, and keeping the bar close to your body as you stand up.

  1. Barbell Shrugs:

Isolate your upper traps with Barbell Shrugs, an exercise often underestimated. Grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip, elevate your shoulders, and lower them, keeping the bar close to your body.

  1. Barbell Curls:

Every beginner enjoys the classic Barbell Curl. Pay attention to form, ensuring a controlled descent for effective muscle engagement. Experiment with different weights and maintain good posture throughout.

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Read More: 10 Best Tips for Novice Weightlifters

  1. Barbell Bench Press:

Lay down for the essential Barbell Bench Press. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, create a strong foundation with feet flat on the ground, and focus on controlled movements for optimal results.

  1. Close Grip Bench Press:

For tricep strength and lockout power, the Close Grip Bench Press is a valuable addition. Tuck your elbows in close to your body, targeting the triceps while still engaging the chest and shoulders.

  1. Upright Rows:

Target your shoulders and upper back with Upright Rows. Opt for a slightly closer grip, leading with your elbows as you pull the barbell to the top of your chest.

  1. Good Mornings:

Strengthen your posterior chain with Good Mornings. Focus on a comfortable bar position, emphasizing the hip hinge, and avoid going too heavy or too low to maintain safety.

  1. Barbell Lunges:

Integrate balance and strength with Barbell Lunges. Start light and progress gradually, stepping out with one foot at a time and ensuring stability throughout the movement.

  1. Barbell Step Ups:

Similar to lunges, Barbell Step Ups target individual legs. Choose a moderate step height, focus on good posture, and use the top leg to push your body up.

  1. Barbell Arm Extensions (Skull Crushers):

Finish your routine with Barbell Arm Extensions, also known as Skull Crushers. Isolate the triceps by extending the arms upward, paying attention to controlled movements.

Related: How Many Sets Maximise Muscle Growth?

By seamlessly integrating these 13 meticulously curated barbell exercises into your fitness regimen, you’re not just embarking on a workout routine; you’re laying the cornerstone for a comprehensive and transformative journey into weightlifting. The essence lies not only in the variety these exercises offer but in the fundamental principles that accompany them.

Foremost, prioritize impeccable form. Each repetition is not just a movement; it’s an opportunity to refine your technique, ensuring that every muscle group is engaged optimally. Good form not only minimizes the risk of injury but also maximizes the effectiveness of each exercise.

As a beginner, commence with manageable loads. It’s not about showcasing strength from the get-go; rather, it’s about building a solid foundation. Starting with weights that challenge you without compromising your form is the key to fostering gradual and sustainable progress. Think of it as laying the groundwork for a skyscraper—you want a sturdy base before reaching for the heights.

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Progression is the name of the game. As you steadily gain strength, don’t hesitate to push your limits incrementally. Gradual advancements in weight and intensity will keep your muscles adapting and growing. This isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon, and each step forward is a testament to your evolving capabilities.

Whether your focus is on specific muscle groups or you’re embracing full-body workouts, these essential barbell exercises cater to both. They’re not just a means to an end; they’re the tools that empower you to sculpt your physique, boost your strength, and enhance your overall well-being.

In essence, this compilation of barbell exercises serves as your compass, guiding you through the uncharted territories of weightlifting. As you embark on this journey, remember that consistency is your greatest ally. Stay committed to the process, celebrate small victories, and embrace the challenges as stepping stones toward your fitness goals. With each repetition, each set, and each workout, you’re not just lifting weights; you’re shaping a stronger, healthier version of yourself—one lift at a time.

Watch the video below for more information.

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