weighted bars exercises

17 Weighted Bars Exercises To Help You Build Up Your Strength

The modern era of the gym has left us with a huge range of implements we can use to grow our muscles, get stronger, and lose weight.  This leaves trainees with many kinds of exercise to perform.

One of the newer pieces of equipment you can add to your arsenal is the weighted bar.  In this article, we’re going to go over the following:

  • What a weighted bar is
  • Who should use a weighted bar
  • And the top exercises you can do with a weighted bar

Let’s get to it.

What Is A Weighted Bar?

While usual weightlifting bars are adjustable, a weighted bar is simply a bar without weights…at least external weights.  This is because they come pre-made to weigh a certain amount.  Most of these bars are on the lighter side; 40lbs or less with the most common ones being 25lbs or less.  They generally come with a thick rubberized outer material to provide comfort to the lifter. 

Who Should Use Weighted Bars?

Really anyone can use a weighted bar. That being said, the main population is most likely going to be those general fitness enthusiasts who want to work out at home.  As the bars don’t go too heavy, you won’t expect to say any “hard” lifters use these too often.  However, weighted bars can still play a role in warm-ups and mobility drills in which a slight load could be beneficial. 

The Top Weighted Bars Exercises

As mentioned a couple of times, a weighted bar can easily be used with any common barbell exercise.  This means there are plenty of exercises to choose from.  This means there are a ton of exercises to do using a weighted bar.  Here are the top exercises to do with a weighted bar.

Lower Body Exercises

1. Deadlift

The deadlift is one of the top compound lifts to train the posterior chain and is often said to be the “king of exercises”.  This includes hitting your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.  However, you’re also going to strengthen your upper back and grip as well.  These can be used with either an overhand grip or alternate grip (one overhand and one underhand grip) and grip the bar with hands shoulders width apart.  Perform this movement with feet hip-width apart.

2. Back Squat

The back squat is known as the “king of lower body exercises”.  You are going to train all of your leg muscles; your quads, hamstring, and glutes with this single movement while also getting heavy engagement of the core.  When coming up, be sure to keep your feet flat.  Many trainees will allow their heels to come up.

Be sure the knee tracks your toes at all times.  Knee movement should never move outside of the knee.

3. Front Squat

The front squat is the most underutilized leg exercise. While the bar sits on the back with the back squat, the bar will sit in front of the head on the front squat. Specifically, it will rest on the little dip created on your shoulders when you raise your arms.  Since the bar is on the front of the body, the mechanics are going to be drastically different.  The torso will be much more upright and there will be greater knee flexion.  This will put emphasis on the quads and even more stress (good stress!) on the core.  Again, keep the feet flat.

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One note, this move requires a bit of hip mobility and back mobility.

4. Lunge

The lunge is the first unilateral movement on this list.  This means that the exercise emphasizes one side at a time which would mean the front leg during the lunge.  For example, if you place your left foot forward, it will require the main mover.  However, you will still work both regardless.  The lunge is a great movement to use to train the quads, glutes, and calves.  Plus, it’s going to greatly improve your balance.

5. Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian deadlift is one of several deadlift variations but it differs as the starting position is at the top position and that it is one of several hip extension variations.  Holding the bar out in front, the trainee then hinges their hips back to come forward.  The trainee will then go down while keeping a slight bend in the knees and stop descending once form breaks.  The goal is to create tension in the posterior chain so you don’t need to worry about going down all the way.  A few inches past knees is ok.  The Romanian deadlift puts a lot of added stress on the posterior chain making it exercise to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings.  Romanian deadlifts are generally performed with a double overhand grip.

6. Hip Thrust or Glute Bridge

If you want a great tush then you need to do hip thrusts.  It is widely accepted as the best exercise there is to grow a nice, strong set of gluteal muscles.  The good thing is that it’s incredibly easy to perform with a weighted bar.  Still, like other hip-extension movements, you’ll also train the hamstrings and the core

Or, if you don’t have a bench you can perform a glute bridge

Upper Body Exercises

7. Bench Press

The bench press is the most popular exercise for the upper body.  It’s a great compound movement to train your pecs, triceps, and delts. 

8. Floor Press

The floor press is a bench press but done on the floor.  Being so, your elbows are going to hit the ground early which will limit the range of motion.  However, this will add stress on the triceps as it will get rid of the stretch-shortening cycle which is used to produce force.  Plus, this is an awesome exercise to include in a home workout routine.

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9. Narrow Grip Chest Press (or Floor Press)

This is performed the same as either of the above, however, you will use a closer grip.  Doing so will place greater emphasis on the triceps.

10. Overhead Press

The overhead press is probably the most underutilized movement.  This is mainly because people think it’s hard (it is challenging) and people don’t like doing what’s hard.  Don’t do that.  Overhead pressing is a great deltoid exercise t to do to increase the strength of the shoulders and the triceps.   However, it can help improve shoulder stability and core strength.

11. Bent over Row

Bent over rows are an ideal exercise to train the entire back in a horizontal fashion.  And you’ll literally train the entire back; traps, lats, erectors, rhomboids, posterior delts. It’s an amazing upper body exercise that can easily be done using a weighted bar.

Full-Body Exercises

12. Thrusters

Thrusters are a very efficient full-body exercise to use with a weighted bar to train the entire body and get in a killer cardio session.  Thrusters are essentially 2 movements put together; a front squat and a shoulder press.  To perform this movement, go down into a front squat then at the top, “thrust” the bar overhead.  These can be used as strength exercise or even as a cardio exercise.

13. Clean and Press or Power Clean

The clean and press and power clean are the most popular power movements there is.  It involves bringing the bar up similar to a deadlift but then using powerful hip extension to pop that bar up so that the athlete can catch the bar at the shoulders.  It is a skilled movement so you may need to take some time learning but once you do, you’ll definitely start seeing improvements with your entire body.  Below is a tutorial for the power clean.

14. Bar Complex

A bar complex isn’t necessarily a single movement but a series of movements.  The key component is that the bar can’t leave your hands.  These are usually done with 4-5 movements.  An example could be:

Front Squat –> Shoulder Press–> Back Squat–> Bent over Row—> Romanian Deadlift

Go light with the bar.  This is generally decided by going off the “weakest” movement; in the above scenario this would be the shoulder press.  You can choose the number of reps you do but usually, every movement is done with the same reps using 5-10 reps.  These are a great conditioning exercise.

Arm Exercises

15. Bicep Curls

Bicep curls are the most common exercises to strengthen and increase mass in the bicep.  These can also easily be done using a weighted bar.  Simply stand and hold the bar keeping your elbows tucked to the body.  Now, just curl the bar up and squeeze the biceps.

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16. Reverse Bicep Curls

Now do the other side! Reverse grips are going to primarily train the forearms and lower portion of the biceps.  When performing these, be sure to keep the wrist straight.

17. Skull Crushers

Skull crushers have a scary name but they are one of the best movements to hit the triceps.  Plus, they can be done with a bench or on the floor making them a great movement to do at home.

Weighted Bars Are Awesome

Weighted bars are an amazing exercise aid to have.  Being that they are one weight it makes them simple to use and easy to store.  Other than that, use it the same way you would with any exercise routine.  The main caveat is going to be rep ranges.  This won’t be as consistent as again, you have a smaller selection with weights making it more difficult to select the ideal weight.  You would be better off using RPE instead of specific rep ranges.

RPE simply means “Rate of Perceived Exertion” and has been found to be an effective means in monitoring intensity. Basically, it means how hard an exercise feels.  The best way to use is with a scale of 1-10 with 1 being very very easy and 10 meaning you can’t do another rep.   For every exercise, you should do an exercise with 3 sets using RPE 7-8.  This way, you can still use the same weight but as you get stronger, you can do more reps before you hit a similar RPE.

The most important thing to remember is that lifting weights with a weighted bar is an amazing way to train all the muscles in the body quickly and efficiently!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of doing workouts with weighted bars?

There are many benefits to using a weighted bar:
Cheaper than most other options when considering the versatility
The versatility of movements with one bar
Makes for a perfect home workout
Easy to store
You don’t need weight plates

How do you add weight to a weighted bar?

This is a good question as you generally can’t add weight plates to a weighted bar.  That being said, you can still add resistance to almost any weighted bar exercise. 
The best way to do this would be by using bands (for some movements).  For example, for squats, you can add bands to the bar and stand on the other end. If you have a sturdy enough structure, you can also wrap the band around and attach the bar to do even more exercises; such as rows and pressing. 

Garett Reid

Garett Reid is a sports and performance consultant. He has over 10 years of experience working in the fitness industry and has worked in virtually every field; strength & conditioning coach, gym owner, educator, and consultant. Garett also has extensive experience working in the international sector in China and Thailand. Garett currently has his Masters in Exercise Science and holds his NSCA CSCS and CISSN certification. He will begin work on his Ph.D. this year.

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