3 barbell workouts to reach your fitness goals

Work on increasing your strength with barbell workouts. (Istockphoto)
Work on increasing your strength with barbell workouts. (Istockphoto)


If you are serious about reaching your fitness goals, you need to include barbell exercises in your routine. Here are three barbell workouts to get you started

June brings with it a mix of summer sweat and early monsoon rain. You could be playing or running outdoors, and get a bit drenched, adding a little more zest to the stamina. Or you could be grinding it in a humid setting before stepping into a cooler-than-usual shower. Point is, the good times for training are coming back. It’s time to end the summer shed and step into more challenging workouts to gain strength.

In an earlier column for Lounge, I wrote about how fitness enthusiasts should become friends with the barbell if they are serious about their goals. Just using a barbell can make your workout unique and test how creative you can get within the confines of good technique. There are some days when you don’t want to go through all the racks and machines, especially in a busy gym hour. As long as you manage to get hold of a barbell, that should not be a problem.

Also Read Why you need to befriend the barbell

These workouts are called barbell complex workouts. “Complexes allow you to have fun, burn fat, and build muscle all whilst throwing about some heavy weights," states an originfitness.com article titled The Barbell Complex.

Done one after the other and with the same weight but without setting the barbell down fully, a barbell complex usually comprises three to six exercises. Doing five reps of a hang clean followed by five front squats and five push presses for a certain number of sets is usually the starting point. The complex part comes in when you do one rep of each in a one-after-the-other format.Or a flow.

“Each exercise should have an easy transition into the next. For example, a clean and press, one immediately after the other and the end point of the clean is the starting point for the press," adds the article.

Get your form checked for all these exercises and then start adding them to the routine. Here are a few workouts you can try to get the hang of it.

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Caroline Girvan’s 10-minute barbell complex:As with most starting points for something different, we head to Caroline Girvan’s channel again, with a very doable set of exercises in a short space of time. The weights she uses are not very heavy and scalable. The key is to understand the basics of a barbell complex and there is no easier guide than this one.

She uses four exercises done for four reps each: The front squat to press, alternate rear lunges, bent over rows, and Romanian deadlifts. She also shares a dumbbell alternative if you want to try that before using a barbell.A complex workout can sometimes be complicated in terms of time management as well, but since this is a follow-along, you can just do as Girvan does. The first four minutes of the 10 are a continual loop of the exercises, before moving to a 30-second on/15-second off format. The final two minutes are a loop of one rep of each exercise.

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Juice & Toya’s light-weight barbell complex: You might need to do this while watching the video because the exercises are many and in a very particular order. However, this workout is a straight up complex which starts with a push-up, to a bent-over row, a deadlift, a hang clean, a front squat, push-press, to back squat, and then reverse order.You need to be smart with your timing when you do this workout. This video does it in a one minute on/one minute off format, and that’s perfect.

Eric Leija 20-minute barbell complex: This is the workout I tried on my first barbell complex but with reduced rounds and lighter weights. Eric Leija’s video has the added advantage of a really good warm-up and cool down. There is the added advantage of being able to take as much rest as you want between sets because one set is five reps each of deadlifts, bent-over rows, front squats, push presses and reverse lunges.

He sets a limit of 14 minutes for as many sets as you can do. This format allows you to understand how much fuel your body is burning every set just by checking how much longer you are taking to perform a full sequence. The remaining six minutes will be used to do as many rounds of the entire flow (one rep is equal to one round). Again, take as much rest as you want. In all honesty, I took the timings out of the equation and did three full rounds and three full flows. There is no point rushing barbell complexes.

Once you get used to barbell complex workouts, you can start fine-tuning the choice of exercises, the number of exercises and reps. You will also be able to find the right weights, a personalised time format, and other variations which will help you increase endurance, strength, muscle, and also burn fat.

Pulasta Dhar is a football commentator, podcaster and writer.

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