Whether the goal is building muscle or increasing strength, barbell exercises are a staple in many people’s routines. We connected with 14x IFBB Champion Erin Stern to see which barbell exercises are a must.
“When I was coming up with this list, I wanted to incorporate exercise that would hit total body, were safe, and effective. What first came to mind were squats and deadlifts but not everyone should be doing squats and deadlifts. So, we’re modifying things just a bit.” - Erin Stern
I love this variation because it allows for better weight distribution. If you have a short torso and long femurs, you’re not going to be leaning forward so much. If you have issues with form, this exercise is going to make sure that your form is perfect. If you don’t have a landmine attachment, it’s important that you find a sturdy corner, not drywall, something that can hold the bar, so it doesn’t go through the wall.
For this exercise, it’s important to think about your form from the ground up. For weight distribution, think about an even weight distribution through your feet. Your feel should be shoulder width apart or slightly wider if you want. Your knees should always be behind your toes and follow their direction. Keep your core solid, chest upright, and arms fully extended with your hands interlocked.
For this exercise, I’ll be doing an underhand grip, but you can also use an overhand grip. Think about grip positioning too, you can go wider if your arms are a bit longer or you can bring it in for a narrow grip. For this variation, I stand a bit more upright, my goal is to hit the upper back. If you want to hit midback, make sure your upper body is parallel to the floor.
Now for this exercise, it’s important that you do not use momentum. Get your positioning and stay there. Make sure you’re just using your back to do the pulling. I like to think of my hands to my elbow as part of the weight and I’m simply pulling from the elbows.
The last exercise is a squat variation. The back squat can be tricky to master, that’s why we’re splitting the exercise into a single leg movement. When you do a single leg movement make sure that from the left to the right it’s a mirror image. I like to start with my non-dominant side, this can set the tone and the number of reps you’re going to do per exercise.
For this exercise, it is important that you keep your knee out as you perform the exercise. There’s a tendency when doing this exercise to cave the knee in, you want to make sure you don’t do that, knee health is very important. If you want to hit your posterior chain, that’s your hamstrings and glutes, make sure you’re leaning forward a little more. Another way to target glutes and hammies is to take a longer step. If you struggle with getting your upper body, forward bring the bar a little down to the low bar position.
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