The Full-Body Barbell Workout

If you don’t have any machines on hand to help you with your workout – don’t despair. You can do the same exercises with free weights and most of them will turn out better for you like that anyway. As a matter of fact, all of these barbell exercises will let you build pounds upon pounds of muscles.

FLOOR PRESS

This exercise targets your chest. I would strongly suggest finding a power cage but if you can’t do that, getting a squat rack with modifiable safety arms or J-hooks set just a little bit under the barbell when your arms are locked out.

The correct way to do this exercise is to lie supine under the barbell, which should now be right over your eyes, like you were about to do a bench press. You will need to spread your legs and lay them flat on the ground to get them fully disassociated from the rest of the effort that your body is providing to complete this exercise. This will put the pressure on your upper body instead. I would suggest doing this exercise with the exact same grip you take when you do bench presses. Your forearms should be perpendicular to the ground when your elbows reach their lowest point.

To start, take the bar from the rack and lock it into position right above your sternum. Bring it closer to your chest slowly until your elbows meet the floor. After that, just push it into its locked position again and start another rep. Pair this exercise with one-arm barbell flyes as well as barbell pullovers from the floor. If you want to do it best, keep it slow. You definitely don’t want to overstress your elbows by jolting them so keep in mind that the range of motion available is very short.

ONE-ARM BARBELL ROWS

This exercise targets your back. To perform it, place the light end of the bar on something solid and put the weight on the other end of the bar. Then, move into position looking away from the corner while holding a staggered stance over the bar. Note that your forward leg shouldn’t be on your main side. If you’re a rightie, put your left leg forward and vice versa. Grab the heavy side of the bar so that your thumb is just below the plates. Also, to make sure you don’t experience too much stress on your lower back area, you can use your elbow as a support – lay your passive forearm down on your knee or a bench, and use it to keep yourself more stable.

You want to do this exercise with a flat back, with your active lateral muscle contracted so that the heavy end of the bar moves in the direction of your shoulder, while at the same time the elbow raises as high as possible. When the time comes to put it down, do it slowly and with full control of the weight. Make sure that you reach a full lockout of your muscles and stretch them entirely when you’re lowering the barbell.

I would suggest using pull-ups and bent-over barbell rows to combine with this exercise. For maximum effect, do some very heavy cheat reps at the end of the set.

ZERCHER SQUAT

This exercise targets your legs. If you’re doing it without a squat rack, make sure you start with a heavily loaded barbell on the ground and try to go for a narrow grip, like you would with a deadlift. Your feet should be just as wide as your shoulders and your toes should be pointing just a bit towards the outside. Your shins should be touching the bar. Take a narrow, pronated grip within your knee width and lift the bar up above your knees. After that, squat until your thigh muscles are parallel to the ground. I would suggest putting the bar on your thigh muscles as close to your hips as possible. After that, put both of your arms below the bar and lock it in your elbows.

To do this exercise correctly, keep your back straight and your torso vertical. Squeeze your posterior chain muscles such as your glutes, spinal erectors and hamstrings and then stand up with the barbell, making sure that your knees and hips are as extended as possible. The bar will tend to pull you forward when you go down into the squat, but you have to resist this. You can do that by letting your elbows go between your legs until the bar rests on your thigh muscles. Then, just switch the direction. When you finish every set, rest the bar on your thighs and change your grip to a narrow pronated deadlift grip. Put down the bar by hinging at the hips.

I would suggest you pair this exercise with barbell front squats and Romanian deadlifts. Also, pro tip: you want to wrap the bar with a pad or a towel, or anything else. You don’t want to have it slide off and you want to avoid that pesky elbow pain.

CLOSE-GRIP BARBELL CURL

This exercise targets your biceps. To begin, take a barbell with a supinated grip (which means your palms should be up) anywhere from six to twelve inches in width. Don’t put your hands any closer because your wrists will have too much stress on them and you might strain them. Put the barbell on your thighs and stretch out your pecs. You should have your chest out and your shoulders kept back.

To perform this move, keep your elbows locked in place by your sides with your upper arms static as well. Flex your biceps and raise the bar towards your shoulders. If you want to keep your active muscles under constant stress, stop with the movement when you reach a 45 degree angle with your upper arms. I would suggest pairing this exercise up with some wide-grip barbell curls and close-grip chin-ups. If this grip is too much for your wrists, get an EZ-bar. It will be better for your joints.

FLOOR SKULLCRUSHER

This exercise targets your triceps. To perform it, load a barbell with the appropriate weight and get on the floor, on your back, with the barbell just inches away from your dome. Raise up your arms, with your elbows pointing upwards and grab the barbell with an overhand grip, which means your palms should face upwards as well. Take the grip at shoulder width or a little less wide. If your wrists hurt or if you feel any discomfort in them while practicing this grip, get a cambered bar.

When performing this move, you will need to start from a dead stop with both of your forearms vertical. Flex your triceps and extend your elbows, which will in turn help you with lifting the weight into a locked-out position right above your shoulders. When you get to the peak contraction, squeeze your triceps as hard as you can and return to the first position. However, don’t let the bar descend towards your skull (hence the name), instead, track back just a little bit with your upper arms so that the bar will stop just above the top of your head before you do another rep. Your elbows need to be in tight so that your triceps will be fully stressed throughout the exercise.

I would suggest doing this exercise with some weighted bench dips and close-grip push-ups. If your elbows hurt when you do it, get a thicker bar or some Fat Gripz and you’ll be fine.

BARBELL ROLLOUT

This exercise targets the abs. If you haven’t done rollouts before, get on your knees and put a loaded barbell on the floor in front of you. However, don’t get ready to lift – you only need two small plates on the barbell so it will roll. Extra padding on your knees will definitely help, so put a pad on the floor. Your grip should be at shoulder-width and pronated, but your arms should be locked out as well. Your knees should be right below your hips and the bar should be right below your elbows.

To execute this movement, keep a slightly rounded back and your head down so that you’re looking at the floor the entire time. Roll the bar very slowly away from you and you will feel your muscles as they are starting to activate. You will need to keep the tension in your abdominal muscles and make sure that the eccentric motion that your arms and thighs perform is done simultaneously. When you’re completely outstretched, you will almost be lying on your stomach on the floor, but all of your weight will still be on your hands and knees. If you can, keep this position for a second or two and then flex your core which will roll back the barbell into your previous position.

I would suggest pairing this exercise with floor crunches and suitcase deadlifts. If you’re having trouble doing this while kneeling, focus doing low-rep sets of negatives, which will let you walk your hands back for each rep.

POWER SNATCH

This exercise targets your shoulders. To begin it, take a barbell with a very wide pronated grip, which will make the bar rest slightly below or exactly at the crease of your hips, when you’ve straightened up your arms. If this doesn’t work, take hook grip like in the Olympics and wrap your fingers over your thumbs. However, don’t rush into this exercise – start with very light weights until you’ve thoroughly prepared yourself for the next level.

To perform a power snatch, keep your back straight, dip your knees and bend your waist forward so that the bar will drop a few inches on the front part of your thighs. Then, do the opposite, which will bring the bar back where it started. When it gets there, pound it upwards from your hips, driving the entire thrust with the elbows. When it gets to the height of your shoulders, rotate your elbows downwards but still keep shoving upwards until you have it locked over your head. I would suggest pairing this exercise with some standing barbell military presses, barbell front raises and the like.

For best effect, keep the bar really close to your body all the way throughout the movement. When you look at the movement from the side, it should be as close to one straight line as possible, so if you’re not moving some muscle like you should, learn to do it before performing full-blown power snatches. This movement takes practice and you can’t just become a professional from day one – give it your best, and most importantly give it some time and you will be able to perform just like everyone else at the professional bodybuilding championships.

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