The barbell. One of the most sacred pieces of equipment in the gym.
This is my barbell. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My barbell is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My barbell, without me, is useless. Without my barbell, I am useless. I must lift my barbell true. I must lift more than the weight that is trying to crush me. And I will.
If you have a home gym, well, a barbell and a rack, you can make some great gains.
You don't need a bunch of machines, you don't need a rack of dumbbells, and you certainly don't need the leg press machine that you half rep. What you do need is a bar, weights, and determination to lift some heavy weight.
For the last few years, I've done almost exclusively barbell and dumbbell exercises, opting to not use machines. I managed to break a few personal records and I think a fresh point of view will help you build some slabs of muscle.
What equipment is needed for this workout?
- Adjustable bench
- Squat rack
All of these are basic pieces of equipment that you can easily find on Craigslist or buy new from a reputable dealer.
Barbell-Only Home Workout
Like the title says, this workout is going to include barbell only exercises. Don't worry, when you see the exercise selection, you'll see that we aren't playing around.Workout Schedule
This workout is designed to be run three days per week with an optional fourth day for speed work. While you can adjust the schedule to work with your duties in life, an ideal schedule would be:
- Monday - Squats and Legs
- Tuesday - OFF
- Wednesday - Bench, Triceps, Abs
- Thursday - OFF
- Friday - Deadlift, Back, Biceps
- Saturday - *Accessory Day
- Sunday - OFF
* - Accessory day is optional, if you feel beat up from lifting, don't feel obligated to do the accessory day.
So let's dive into the workout. I go over how to get the most out of your workout towards the end of the article.
Monday - Squats and Legs
Squats elicit a huge hormonal response to build muscle and get stronger. We will put our focus on our squat and work in some exercises to build leg and core strength.
- Squats - 4 sets of 8
- Walking Lunges (weighted or bodyweight) - 3 sets of 20
- Stiff Leg Deadlifts - 2 sets of 15
- Standing Calf Raises - 3 sets of 12
- Front Squats - 3 sets of 10
- Farmers Walks - 3 sets of 30 seconds
Starting off with squats, we get the gains train rolling. Next is walking lunges. Be sure to maintain core tightness and go as deep as possible. This is going to improve your balance, agility, and mobility all while building strength.
Stiff leg deadlifts will pound your posterior chain some more, with focus on your hamstrings and glutes. For standing calf raises, find a random 2x4 in your garage (I know you have one) and place the balls of your feet on it. This will help with getting a longer range of motion.
Front squats will smash your core and your quads. If you cannot do front squats, grab a plate or two and do goblet squats.
For farmers walks, grab a plate or two in each hand and pinch grip them. This will help build grip strength, core strength, and conditioning.
Wednesday - Bench, Triceps, Abs
Let's take a load off of our feet and do some upper body work.
- Flat Bench - 3 sets of 15
- Incline Bench - 3 sets of 8
- Close Grip Bench - 2 sets of 20
- Seated Military Press - 4 sets of 12
- Lying Tricep Extensions - 3 sets of 10
- Barbell Rollouts - 2 sets of 20
Start off with the best chest mass builder exercise and then jump into incline bench shortly after that. Next, lay the bench flat again and grind out a couple heavy sets of close grip bench.
Seated military press is next. Be sure to work those shoulders and push those pre-exhausted triceps to the edge.
Whatever triceps you have left in the tank, finish them off with lying triceps extensions. I prefer to call them skull crushers.
Last but not least, complete some barbell rollouts. If you can't do these like most of the population, work on them and add in some planks.
Friday - Deadlift, Back, Biceps
- Deadlift - 4 sets of 8
- Bent Over Barbell Row - 3 sets of 12
- Pendlay Rows - 3 sets of 8
- Heavy Shrugs - 4 sets of 15
- Barbell Curls - 3 sets of 15
- Reverse Grip Curls - 3 sets of 15
Deadlifts are my favorite exercise, make me proud.
Jump into bent over barbell rows next. They really will help improve your bench. My goal is to row as much (or more) than I can bench.
Pendlay rows will help beat down your back some more and help with explosiveness. I should have to say "heavy" when I say shrugs, but some of you guys don't want to put some weight on the bar.
Be like CT Fletcher and get your curl game on with both regular barbell curls and reverse grip barbell curls.
Again, this day is designed for any extra small things you could do to build a better physique. You don't have to complete this day. In fact, if you are feeling good from the week's worth of savagery, I may even recommend skipping it.
- Barbell Twists - 2 sets of 20
- Barbell Crunches - 2 sets of 20
- Barbell Concentration Curls - 2 sets of 20
- Upright Rows - 3 sets of 12
- Barbell Front Raises - 3 sets of 15
- Snatch Grip Deadlift - 2 sets of 15
Make sure you have plenty of room for barbell twists. They are great for core strength, oblique work, and overall mobility in your spine.
Next up is barbell crunches. Find something to hold your feet and use the barbell for resistance while doing crunches.
Next up, sit at the edge of your bench, rest your elbows on your knees and get to doing some slow and steady concentration curls.
Smash your shoulders next with some upright rows and barbell front raises.
Last but not least, place your pointer finger on the ring in the bar, if not a little further out, and complete deadlifts. This is going to give your body a completely different leverage against the deadlift. Start light and work on producing power.
Making the Most of Your Workout
Take Your Time - This is your gym, your barbell, and your equipment. Spend time to properly do these exercises.
Progressively Overload - This means you should strive to do more reps or add weight each week. A marathon always starts with one step at a time.
Eat Right - Quit filling your body full of junk food and get some healthy foods in you. Are you broke? Check out how to eat healthy on a budget.
Record Your Sessions - Use these as guides to see where your form is breaking down, what you need to work on, and as a log so that you can see how much you've progressed.
Wrapping it Up
You don't need much to build muscle. I'm sure you've seen the pictures of outdoor gyms using engine blocks and heavy pieces of metal for weights and they are jacked.
Put in quality work, eat quality foods, and get quality results.