April 12, 2021 10 min read

One of the best ways to shape up and add muscle definition to your body is to start strength training. This doesn’t mean you need to head to the closest gym and start training for a bodybuilding competition - all this means is that you should use some form of weight, whether it’s your own body weight, during exercise at least two times per week.

An easy way to add weight to your exercise routine is to purchase a body bar. These weighted bars are long and easy to grip, much like the barbells you find at gyms. The difference is that instead of adding weight to the ends of the barbell, the bar itself is weighted, ranging in size from 3 pounds to about 40 pounds each.

Keeping a couple of these bars on-hand at home (typically mid-range weights, between 10 and 20 pounds) enables you to add weight to standard exercises such as squats and lunges, while also providing you with a tool to perform upper body strengthening moves such as bicep curls, shoulder presses, and chest presses.

Expect to spend between $30 and $60 for most mid-range body bars. Here are the 10 best weighted body bar exercises that can be done at home.

 

1. Squat

Strengthen your entire lower body and core as you perform the squat exercise. Front squats are a little trickier than back squats because they involve holding the weighted bar across the front of your shoulders. This allows you to keep your torso a little more upright, making them more quad-dominant than back squats.

However, they also require more upper body flexibility. If you’ve mastered back squats, squats could be your next challenge. Perform three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions, continuing to perform reps until the last one or two are almost too hard to perform.

  1. Place the body bar across your shoulders, behind your neck.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your toes angled out slightly.
  3. Tip your hips backward and squat down, as if you were sitting back into a chair.
  4. Continue lowering your butt toward the floor until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Be sure to keep your knees aligned with your toes as you perform the exercise.
  5. Reverse the movement and return to standing.

 

2. Lunge

Like the squat, the lunge targets your entire lower body while also challenging your balance and coordination. Like squats, lunges work all of your lower body muscles. However, lunges are a unilateral exercise, which means you’ll be using one leg at a time.

This is good for hip mobility and balance, as well as working your leg muscles. Lunges are especially useful for runners, as the movement is very similar. Perform three sets of 10 to 15 reps so that the last one or two reps of a single set are almost too difficult to perform.

  1. Place the body bar across your shoulders, behind your neck.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step forward with your right foot, about two or three feet, planting your foot on the ground, allowing your left heel to come up off the ground.
  3. Bend both knees and lower your left knee toward the ground, stopping at (or just prior to touching) the floor. If you choose to touch your knee to the floor, that’s completely fine, but make sure you don’t use your knee as a “crutch” for the exercise, placing your body’s weight on your knee as you finish the movement. Also, as you lower yourself, be sure to keep your torso upright and forward-facing.
  4. From the lowest position, reverse the movement, pressing through your front heel as you stand up and step your right foot back to its starting position.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side. When you have performed a lunge to each side, you’ve done a single repetition.

 

3. Curtsy Lunge

The curtsy lunge is like the standard lunge, but it targets the abductors more - the muscles that run along the outside of your hips and thighs. You do need to be especially cautious about form, as the position is slightly awkward, so perform the move while looking into a mirror the first few times you do it. Do two sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.

  1. Place the body bar across your shoulders, behind your neck.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent, your toes angled slightly outward.
  3. Step your left foot backward, crossing it behind your right leg, planting the ball of your left foot about two feet behind and slightly to the right of your right foot.
  4. Make sure your knees are in line with your toes, and bend both knees, lowering your left knee toward the floor. Your knees should track with your toes (remain in line with) throughout the movement, and your right foot should remain firmly planted.
  5. Keep your torso upright and forward-facing throughout the lunge.
  6. When your left knee almost touches the ground, reverse the movement and return to standing, pressing through the ball of your left foot to step forward into the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. When you’ve performed one lunge on each side, you’ve performed a single repetition.

 

4. Deadlift

The deadlift targets the glutes and hamstrings. Unlike deadlifts done with a barbell, weighted bar deadlifts start from the standing position. Why? Because with no weight plates on the floor it would be impractical to lift your body bar off the floor.

Think of this exercise as a top-down deadlift rather than a conventional ground-up deadlift. Pay close attention to form, remembering that this is not a back exercise. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding the body bar horizontally across your thighs, gripping the bar with both hands.
  2. Bend your knees slightly and tip your hips backward, hinging your torso forward at the hips.
  3. Tighten your core, glutes, and hamstrings, and continue hinging forward, lowering the body bar directly in front of your legs as it approaches the floor.
  4. When you feel a good stretch along with your hamstrings, stop the forward motion and tighten your legs, using your hamstrings and glutes to “pull” your body back to the starting position without using your low back to straighten yourself up.

     

    5. Calf Raises

    Get strong legs by adding weight to your standard calf raise. Perform three sets of 20 to 30 repetitions.

    1. Place the body bar across your shoulder, behind your neck.
    2. With your feet hip-distance apart, bend your knees slightly, just to keep them soft.
    3. Press through the balls of your feet and lift your heels off the floor, rising up as high as you can.
    4. From the highest position, carefully lower your heels back to the floor, stopping just before they touch the ground. Continue the exercise until you’ve completed the set.

     

    6. Bent-Over Row

    It’s tough to target your back when exercising at home, but the bent-over row is a great exercise for this purpose. Bent-over rows work your lats, mid-traps, rhomboids, posterior deltoids, and biceps.

    Your legs and lower back also get a workout. Take care not to round your back when you do this exercise, which could lead to injury. Perform two to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

    1. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart while holding the body bar horizontally across your thighs, gripping it with both hands. You can grip it with your palms facing toward your body, or away from your body, depending on preference.
    2. Tip your hips backward and lean your torso forward, hinging at the hips, until your body forms a 45-degree angle. From this position, allow your arms to hang directly down from your shoulders so that the body bar is hanging directly below them.
    3. Tighten the muscles of your back and pull your elbows in toward your body, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you bring the body bar to your waist.
    4. Reverse the movement and lower the weight to the starting position.

     

    7. Single-Arm Row

    The single arm row is very similar to the bent-over row, but it allows you to target each side of your body unilaterally, evening out muscle imbalances. Challenge your chest, shoulders, and triceps again by doing this exercise with just one arm.

    This will increase not only the weight but also the demand for stability and balance. You’ll also feel this exercise more in your core. Perform two sets of 8 to 12 repetitions on each side.

    1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your knees slightly bent. Hold the body bar in your right hand, directly next to your right hip so that the bar is roughly parallel to the ground, forming a lowercase “t” shape with your leg.
    2. Step your left foot forward a couple of feet, planting your foot on the ground while keeping your right foot planted as well.
    3. Tip forward at the hips, keeping your back straight, and place your left hand on your left thigh for balance.
    4. Allow your right arm to hang directly below your right shoulder so that the body bar is below your shoulder and forms a parallel line with your upper body.
    5. Squeeze your right shoulder blade and tighten your back muscles as you draw your elbow behind your body. When the body bar reaches your body, reverse the movement and carefully lower it back to start.

        8. Biceps Curl

        For rocking arms, you can’t beat the biceps curl. Biceps curls are one of the most popular exercises on the planet. Get the most from this move by keeping your core tight, your upper arms pinned to your sides, and not using your legs or back to help you lift the weight.

        That would be cheating. Take it up a notch by adding weight with a body bar. Perform two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

        1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
        2. Hold the bar horizontally across your thighs, your palms facing away from your body.
        3. Tighten your core and bend your elbows, pulling the body bar all the way to your shoulders.
        4. Reverse the movement and return to start.

            9. Shoulder Press

            Get ready by adding weight to your shoulder routine. The shoulder press is just one movement you can do with the body bar. Start by performing two sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

            1. Stand with feet hip-distance apart, knees slightly bent.
            2. Hold the body bar across your shoulders in front of your neck, so that your palms are facing forward, your elbows bent.
            3. Press the bar directly up over your head, stopping just shy of straightening your elbows.
            4. Reverse the movement and lower the bar back to the starting position.

                10. Chest Press

                While the chest press is traditionally performed on a bench, there’s no reason you can’t perform one on the floor. Alternates between a set of chest presses and a set of pushups to really burn out your pecs.

                Most body bars alone aren’t heavy enough to really target this muscle group. Perform three sets of 15 repetitions with a set of 8 pushups performed between each set of presses.

                1. Lie on the ground on your back, your knees bent and your feet planted on the floor.
                2. Hold the body bar in both hands so that it’s crossing your chest, your palms facing towards your hips, your elbows bent and in toward your sides.
                3. Press the bar directly up over your chest, stopping just before your elbows straighten out.
                4. Reverse the movement and carefully lower the bar back toward your chest.

                    The Body Bar

                    While there are lots of ways to add strength training to your fitness routine, a body bar is a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment that’s easy to add to your home gym. These 10 exercises are just several ways to incorporate a body bar into your workout, and with a little creativity, you’re bound to come up with an endless array of fresh moves.

                    Just round out any routine with a few core exercises and don’t forget to exercise your heart with cardio or high-intensity training moves. Of all the strength training equipment out there, a body bar is one of the simplest to use.

                    While other tools, like kettlebells or resistance bands, may take a workout or two to get used to, most people feel comfortable picking up a body bar right from the start. Whether you’ve used one in a fitness class or want to incorporate one into your at-home workout, there’s a variety of body bar exercises to help keep things interesting.

                    The body bar is a slender, four-foot-long metal pole that’s wrapped in foam and typically ranges in weight from 3 to 36 pounds. If you’re used to lifting dumbbells, the body bar will probably feel natural to you. This workout tool is ideal for taking traditional exercises you’re already familiar with - like squats, curls, and rows - and making them more challenging by adding a balance component that also recruits your abdominals and core stabilizers.

                    If you’re at the gym, you may have a variety of weighted bars to choose from on the bench press. Pick one that’s light enough for you to keep the bar steady throughout the exercise but fatigues your muscles during the last few reps, making it difficult for you to maintain proper form.

                    Generally, beginners should start with a three or six-pound bar. Once you’ve reached a more intermediate level, try a nine or twelve-pound bar, working toward training with 24, 30, and 36-pound options. Weighted bars, also called body bars, are very useful exercise tools.

                    Where barbells are usually adjustable and loaded with weight plates, weighted bars are fixed weights and cannot be adjusted. Covered with a layer of foam for enhanced grip and comfort, you can use a body bar to work just about every part of your body.

                    Because they are very simple, body bars tend to be cheaper than barbells, making them perfect for home use. You can use a weighted bar to replicate most barbell exercises and even use them for fat-burning and cardio fitness boosting complexes.

                    They make an excellent addition to circuit training workouts and can be used in conjunction with bodyweight and dumbbell exercises or even used on their own. In short, weighted bars are very versatile.

                    Conclusion

                    When buying a weighted body bar, it is crucial to determine your level and experience to decide the weight that would suit you. If you’re a beginner, it is best to start with low to mid-range body bars (5 pounds to 8 pounds).

                    However, if you have some strength training experience, you can try 10 pounds to 12 pounds. If you’re a fitness and workout veteran, you can choose one over 15 pounds.

                    If you plan to add some weight to your regular exercise routine, you can purchase weighted body bars of 6 pounds to 15 pounds. However, if your aim is an intense workout or to build muscles, you can choose up to 15 pounds to 30 pounds.

                    Experience plays an important role too, so consider that before you pick up the heaviest weighted bar. Make it a point to start with body bars that weigh lower so that you don’t hurt your muscles using a heavy-weighted body bar.

                    The way you use your weighted body bar depends on the type of exercise you perform. For most exercises like squats, deadlifts, bicep curls, etc. you can use them like you would with other equipment like a barbell or dumbbells. Working out can be fun when you find workout instruments that are easy to integrate with your workout routine and are easy to use.


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