Fitness & Equipment Guides > The 10 Best Barbell Exercises

The 10 Best Barbell Exercises

8th May 19

Wondering what the best barbell exercises are? Barbells are used for some of the biggest and best weight training exercises out there. No matter your exercise style or goals, there’s a place for a barbell exercise in your workout.

Here are the ten best barbell exercises, as chosen by the experts at Each exercise hits different muscles so that you can keep your training varied and really feel the benefits.

Want to move fast? Jump to the right section below.

  1. Bench Press
  2. Squat
  3. Shoulder Press
  4. Deadlift
  5. Good Mornings
  6. Bent Rows
  7. Snatch
  8. Clean & Jerk
  9. Ab Rollout
  10. Landmine Abs

Bench Press

woman performing a barbell squat

First, the most popular barbell exercise is the bench press. The bench press is a huge compound exercise that trains most of your upper body, and it really is essential to improving your strength and performance across the board. If you struggle with it, make sure you use a spotter or a friend to guide you along the way.


Squats are squats. As incredibly effective lower body-builders, they focus on your quads more than anything else. Using a barbell means that you have the choice of a front or a back squat, depending on your preferences and how much weight you want to use. Make sure your form is perfect, and you’re good to go.

Shoulder Press

Shoulder presses are another essential upper-body exercise. They do things for your deltoid muscles that a bench press just can’t quite manage. Your delts are made up of three sections, and this is one of the very few exercises that manages to hit all three of these in one exercise. It’s efficient, effective, and a great way to use your barbell. You can use a Smith machine if you’re not confident, but it’ll improve your balance in your shoulders and your arms, too. Keep your core tight and keep the bar in front of you.


Another one of the best barbell exercises and an incredible lower bodybuilder is the deadlift. It’s easily one of the most effective strength compound exercises. Instead of just your legs, the deadlift uses your whole posterior chain, which means that almost every muscle on the back of your body has a big part to play in it. This is why you can lift so much weight.

Good Mornings

To keep with the back exercises theme, good mornings are one to consider. They are pretty much barbell-specific, but you should use a lower weight until you know that you’ve got your technique nailed. Good mornings focus on your lower back uniquely, and this is something that’s often overlooked in training plans.

Bent Rows

And we can’t forget about the upper back. Your lats and mid back are huge muscles, and they need to be trained like it. The best barbell exercises for the upper back include bent rows, which force your lats to do an awesome contraction, using your biceps and core as stabilisers, too.


Now that you’ve hit most muscle groups in some ways, it’s a good idea to throw in some seriously strong compound exercises. The best barbell exercises are vast, and you can something like a snatch to work your whole body. It is essentially a huge squat, but using your upper body to keep stability as you hold the barbell above your head.

Clean & Jerk

A clean and jerk is a cross between a deadlift, a squat, and a shoulder press. It will really put your whole body to the test and push your limits. You’ll burn serious calories both in and out of the workout and build muscle, all with a barbell. What more could you ask for?

Ab Rollout

Instead of just lifting the barbell, you can use its unique shape for a range of core exercises, like the ab rollout. Keep the plates loose enough to turn like wheels, and let yourself stretch across the floor and back again, using your abs as the powerhouse of the movement.

Landmine Abs

man performing a barbell snatch

Finally, landmine exercises are another incredible way to change the game and keep you on your toes. Landmine abs are more of a cross between wood chops and Russian twists and are incredible for your upper, lower and your oblique abdominal muscles. It’s rare to see an exercise that crosses multiple ab muscles. One of the very best barbell exercises, in our opinion!

Shopping for barbells but not sure which is best for you? Check out this article

Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.