Slowly but surely, women are taking over the weight room. They’re realizing that, no, lifting weights doesn’t make you bulky—and there are some serious mind-body benefits to picking up the heavy weights.

But even if women are conquering their fear of the weight room, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re taking full advantage of everything in there. Dumbbells and kettlebells are a bit more approachable. But barbells? TBH, they can be a little intimidating to tackle on your own, even for the most confident gym-goer.

Barbell exercises usually consist of compound exercises, therefore helping to develop strength and power. This means that your workout is challenging and intense. And, we want to challenge ourselves as much as possible. Here are six essential barbell exercises to help you build total-body strength, with all the guidance you’ll need.

Squats x 20 reps:

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps and glutes.


How to:

  • Position the barbell behind your neck.
  • Rest it across your upper back, and hold it with an overhand grip.
  • Position your feet hip-width apart with your toes pointing slightly outwards.
  • Keep your heels planted firmly on the floor and make sure that your weight is distributed evenly on both feet.
  • Bend your knees and lower your bum backwards and downwards.
  • The upper part of your body should bend forward slightly (45° max).
  • Keep your bum ‘pointing’ backwards and your back straight.
  • Do not allow the knees to extend beyond the tips of the toes as you lower yourself down.
  • Change direction by pushing back up through the heels of your feet, making sure to keep your knees slightly bent at the top of the movement.

Related article: Do Squats Really Give You a Bigger Bum? Yes & These 8 Variations Will Make It Fun To Grow

Good mornings x 15:

Muscles Targeted: Lower back

Good mornings

How to:

  • Stand upright with the barbell placed across your shoulders, with your feet hip-width apart, with a slight bend in your knees.
  • Keep your abs tight and your head in a neutral position.
  • Bend forward at the hips, keeping your legs in the same position.
  • Stop when your upper body is parallel to the floor, ensuring that you are looking forwards.
  • Keep your abs contracted throughout the entire movement.
  • Return to the start position and repeat.

Related article: This 8 Exercise Workout You Can Do Right At Home Has It All To Create Strong Shapely Legs And Butt

Bicep Curls x 15 reps:

Muscles Targeted: Biceps

Bicep Curls

How to:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with a slight bend in the knees and your abs contracted.
  • Hold the barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Curl the barbell upwards towards your shoulders.
  • At the top of the movement squeeze the biceps and hold for a count of two seconds before lowering the weight back to the starting position.

Related article: 8 Exercises To Cinch Your Waist, Sculpt Your Shoulders, Lift Your Butt For A Sexy Hourglass Figure

Upright Rows x 15 reps:

Muscles Targeted: Trapezius and biceps

Upright Rows

How to:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder- width apart, with the barbell in front of you with an overhand grip and your hands placed close together.
  • Pull the weight upwards towards your chin.
  • Your elbows should only rise to shoulder level.
  • Hold for a count then return the weight to the starting position and repeat.

Related article: 4 Deadlift Variations To Achieve A Banging Body!

Stiff Legged Deadlift x 20:

Muscles targeted: Hamstrings and lower back

Stiff Legged Deadlift

How to:

  • Stand upright, holding the barbell with hands placed shoulder-width apart and your legs positioned hip-width apart.
  • Lower the weight down to the floor by bending at your waist.
  • Keep your head up, back straight and knees slightly bent.
  • Lower the weight as low as you can without bending your knees so that you feel the stretch in your hamstrings.
  • Return to the start position and repeat.

Related article: Can I Burn Fat In 20 Minutes? Yes With This Great HIIT Workout

Lunges x 15 reps on each side:

Muscles Targeted: Quads and glutes.


How to:

  • Place a barbell behind your shoulders, holding it with an overhand grip.
  • Take a large step forward and lower your body down.
  • Keep your pelvis and shoulders parallel. Keep your upper body upright and core contracted at all times.
  • Your back foot should lift up at the end of the movement so that only the tips of your toes are in contact with the ground.
  • At the bottom of the movement your front leg should be bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Push back up to the start position, keeping your knees slightly bent at the top of the movement.
  • Never allow the knees to lock out.