When I first started working out, I would only do cardio. For years, I never touched weights, and was happy with the treadmill, bike and my dance classes. But as my life changed and progressed, I wasn’t as active (I used to dance 5+ days a week) and I knew I had to step up my game at the gym! I started implementing a barbell workout program and it has been essential to helping me tighten and tone!
Let’s face it, your body changes as you get older. I haven’t had kids yet and already I know my body isn’t what it used to be! Trying to juggle work, family, hobbies and a social life can leave hardly any time for a full fleshed exercise regime, but I’ve realized that even doing a 15 to 30-minute barbell routine can make a huge difference!
An effective barbell workout program not only helps you look tightened and toned, it’s also amazing to help you strengthen your body. And no, you won’t come out looking big and bulky. With the right exercises, you’ll become lean and fit, so don’t be afraid to pack on the weight and get to work!
The thing I love most about barbell exercises is you can strengthen and tone your upper and lower body, as well as your core. You can tighten your entire body with just one piece of equipment – how awesome is that! Choose a weight that works for you and where you are in your fitness journey right now. You can do these barbell workouts at home if you have the weights, or do them at the gym! And pair of weightlifting gloves will ensure you don’t get blisters!
Read on to check out 6 barbell exercises to tighten and tone!
1. Barbell Squat
I was once told by a personal trainer that if you have a limited time to go to the gym do these two main things: push-ups and squats. They’re both key for upper and lower body strength, especially for women. For a proper barbell squat, start by supporting the barbell on top of your traps, with your chest up and head facing forward.
Stand with your legs hip-width apart and squat, flexing your knees. You want to make sure your knees stay in line with your feet and keep your torso upright as much as possible! Sit back into your hips, keeping the weight in the front of your heels. Use your core and hips to drive yourself up and repeat!
2. Barbell Deadlift
The barbell deadlift not only helps strengthen and tone your body, it also boosts endurance and burns fat. For a barbell deadlift, start with your legs hip-width apart and the barbell centered over your feet. Bend at the hips and knees and grab the bar with an overhand grip, shoulder-length apart.
Keep your spine neutral with a natural low back arch, and keep the barbell close to your legs. Use your glutes and legs to pull yourself up, careful to make sure you don’t use your back! Lift the barbell so you’re standing up right and lower back down slowly.
3. Barbell Bench Press
If you want to strengthen your upper body and especially your chest muscles, make sure to work the barbell bench press into your workout program! Lie on the bench so your eyes are directly underneath the bar. Your feet should be flat against the floor, shoulder-width apart. Grip the bar with straight wrists and make sure your hands are a little bit wider than shoulder width apart.
When you unrack the bar, make sure your core and upper back are tight, your shoulder blades are together and you’re squeezing your glutes. The bar should be directly over your shoulders and your elbows, forearms and wrists in a vertical position. Lower the bar in a controlled manner so it touches between your sternum and mid chest. Then push it up and return to starting position over your shoulders.
4. Standing Barbell Curl
If strengthening your biceps is your main goal, incorporate the standing barbell curl into your routine! Start with your legs hip-width apart, holding the barbell with your hands in an underhand grip. Your elbows should be pressed to your sides, while you curl your hands, and bend your elbows until your biceps are fully contracted. Lower the barbell and repeat!
5. Overhead Barbell Press
This exercise can be done sitting or standing up. Whichever you’re more comfortable with, make sure your whole body is tight while doing this exercise. Hold the barbell with your hands a little wider than shoulder width and just above your chest. Extend your elbows and press the bar up to the ceiling and bring it back down to starting position or gently behind your neck, and lift back up from there.
6. Upright Barbell Row
This barbell exercise is amazing for building your trap muscles! Stand with your feet hip-width apart and stand up straight, gripping the barbell with an overhand grip. Bring the bar up to chin level, using the sides of your shoulders to lift the bar, your elbows raising up and to the side. Lower to the starting position, making sure to really engage your traps.
Having an effective barbell workout program can help strengthen and tone your body in so many ways. Whether you want to tone your upper body, lower body, or core, barbell workouts are just what you need!