Barbells are a staple in any gym, and there are many varieties of barbell exercises. Because barbells are able to hold a large amount of weight, they are crucial for exercises that target multiple muscles at the same time, especially those that engage some of the large, more powerful muscle groups, such as the chest and legs. Barbells also are effective for isolation exercises, although dumbbells and other specialized weightlifting bars are more common for these types of exercises. Some types of barbells exercises are the bench press, squats, military press and various compound lifts.
One of the most common types of barbell exercises are varieties of chest exercises. An athlete can use a barbell to perform a bench press, an incline press or a decline press. All three of these barbell exercises require the athlete to lie on a bench while holding the barbell above his or her body with straight arms. The athlete then bends the arms to lower the barbell toward the body, then pushes it back to the starting position.
Various types of squats are another important type of barbell exercises. These exercises provide an excellent workout for the legs and back. An athlete performs these exercises by resting the barbell on the shoulders, using one of the various types of grips while standing upright. Then the athlete bends the knees and drops the hips in order to lower the barbell toward the floor while keeping the back straight. The athlete then presses with the legs to return to the standing position.
Shoulder exercises are another important use of the barbell. These most often take the form of the military press. To perform this exercise, the athlete sits or stands and holds the barbell in his or her hands, with the bar against the upper chest. The athlete then pushes the barbell upward, above the head until the arms are straight. The athlete then lowers the barbell back to the original position.
There are also a number of more complicated barbell exercises that require multiple motions and careful form. Olympic lifts such as the clean and jerk and the snatch require barbells. Similarly, large compound lifts such as the hang clean and press or power clean are all forms of barbell exercises.
In addition to these compound barbell exercises, it also is possible to perform a variety of isolation exercises using a barbell. An athlete can perform arm curls and triceps curls using a barbell. Standing and seated rows are also possible, as are forearm curls.