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November 07, 2021 8 min read

It's finally leg day! Although you may love some upper body work, there's just something about this day that can get you pumped. Leg day can not only make you feel like a superhero, but it can really fire up the nervous system and boost feelings of accomplishment.   

We all know that our legs provide us with the opportunity to do basically any movement, but not enough people spend the time to focus on how much our legs really support us throughout our busy lives.

A barbell is a great piece of equipment that provides a safe way to place your body’s muscles under tension with the extra weight it needs to build and strengthen those muscles.

It is safe and adaptable, allowing it to be used in a variety of ways, shifting the weight depending on the individual's skill level, experience and overall goals.

What Is a Barbell?

barbell is a unique piece of exercise equipment that can be used regardless of your goals, skill level or experience. You’ve most probably seen this piece of equipment in the gym.

They can be used for the same variety of goals whether you are a weightlifter, powerlifter, body builder or simply a gym goer.

It can also be used to target a variety of muscle groups through exercises like the bench press, bicep curl, deadlifts, squats and almost any exercise that you would like to add extra weight to.

Selecting Barbell Weights for Your Strength and Goals

There is no one size fits all, and everyone’s strength differs. We can spend hours researching and reading the plethora of articles on the internet, but at the end of the day, the only person that truly knows your strength and your abilities is yourself. The internet can be a great resource to guide you in the right direction, but it’s crucial that you take a step back and evaluate the weight you are using to prevent the possibility of pain or injury. 

We live in a society that instills in us from a young age that more is better. This mindset is also reflected in the gym which can hinder many people’s goals.

More can be better, but if you are performing an exercise with excessive weight that you are not fit to handle, you are risking a potentially serious injury.

Muscle imbalances can lead to a variety of issues including synergistic dominance, reciprocal inhibition, and decreased neuromuscular control which can harm you in both the short-run and long-run. 

1. Use your own body weight as a guide

You might be thinking “How can I reach my goals if I’m not placing any extra weight on my muscles?” Valid question. But how can you expect to perform an exercise with added weight if you are struggling to perform it with correct form with just your body weight? At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you are performing the exercise with the proper form. So think of bodyweight movements as practice and focus on perfecting your form prior to adding any additional tension during the movement.

2. Start with an empty barbell

Once you feel comfortable with the movement and getting your form right, it is time to incorporate just the bar into the movement.

A standard barbell, without any added weights, weighs 45 lbs. It may look light, but it can be a challenge especially when you are performing multiple sets and reps.

Begin performing the exercise with just the bar and see how it feels. By placing the extra weight on your body, you quickly may start to notice some muscle imbalances. You might find yourself struggling on one side more than the other. Simply be aware of the muscles that need strengthening as these can be new target muscles for your next workout. 

Until you feel completely comfortable with performing the movement with just the bar, do not start adding weight until you are able to perform the exercise in proper form to prevent injury or strain on the muscles.

3. Start adding weight to the barbell

You will likely have to experiment to figure out how much weight to use.

A good rule of thumb is to add 2-5 pounds for upper body exercises and 5-10 pounds for lower body exercises.

Some individuals will be able to pile on a lot of weight and some individuals will have to take it slower, but that is completely fine since fitness is a journey that takes time and patience.

The lower body muscles are able to tolerate more weight so we will be focusing on adding 5-10 pounds for the exercises we will discuss later. Once you find yourself performing the exercises properly, you can try adding more weight to the bar. Be in tune with your body and strength and if you feel that your workouts are feeling too easy, maybe try adding 10 pounds.

If you are feeling worn out after the first couple of reps, it might be a good idea to start off with a lighter weight by adding only 5 pounds. You can use this as your guide until you find yourself compromising proper form during the movement. Remind yourself that it is about the journey, not the destination and that increasing weight takes patience. 

Strengthening Your Leg Muscles and Overall Health

Healthy leg muscles allow you to perform the activities you enjoy and keep you strong. They allow you to play sports, dance, walk with your loved ones, swim, travel, cook and the list goes on. Strong legs are not only limited to the gym and your aesthetic.

Not only do your leg muscles help you perform daily activities, but they also play a large role in protecting your joints and muscles.

If you have weak leg muscles, you are more likely to injure joints like your knees or your ankle. If you find yourself experiencing knee pain often, that doesn't necessarily mean you can't train lower body. Check out these best exercises for knee pain to help strengthen your legs

Strong leg muscles also allow you to stay balanced and coordinated which can prevent falling that can lead to further injury.

Overall, your leg muscles play a large role in your overall health outside of the gym and they should not be forgotten about. Here are some benefits of strengthening your leg muscles.

Hormone Stimulation

The incorporation of leg workouts can jump start the release of hormones such as cortisol and testosterone. Cortisol can get a bad rep sometimes, but it allows our bodies to respond to stressors and increase your fat metabolism. Testosterone can play a  large role in stimulating the development of bone and connective tissues.

It also induces mechanisms that are involved in muscle tissue growth and recovery which will all take you one step closer to reaching your goals.

Increases Overall Strength

An obvious one, but building lower-body strength is extremely important to correct muscular imbalances to increase strength, mobility and flexibility.

Increases Overall Confidence and Self-Image

There’s nothing like having your glutes and quadriceps popping. By training your leg muscles, you are stimulating growth that will lead to more definition and an overall boost in confidence when you look in the mirror or take pictures.

Promotes Core Engagement

Your core is engaged in almost every movement you ever perform but through lower body workouts, and strengthening your core leads to more stability, balance and as a result better form.

7 Best Barbell Leg Exercises For Strength

Strengthening the legs takes time, focus, and energy. A pre-workout like Charged-AF can help push you through even the most grueling of leg days. Below are a few of the best barbell leg exercises to help you build maximum lower body strength.  

1. Good Mornings


  1. Stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Place the barbell on the back of your shoulders, not your neck and keep a tight grip. 
  3. Engage your core and pull your shoulders back as you begin to hinge forward with your hips, never your lower back, to create a slight bend in your knees. 
  4. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings
  5. Exhale and begin to stand up straight while keeping a straight back.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 for your desired number of reps and sets.

2. Bulgarian Single-Leg Split Squat


  1. Stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Place your back foot on a knee-high elevated surface such as a bench or box. Make sure your front foot is forward enough so that you are capable of squatting without your front knee going past your toes.. 
  3. Begin to lean forward until your front thigh is parallel to the ground.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for your desired number of repetitions then switch to your opposite leg.

3. Barbell Back Squat 

This barbell squat is a squat variation of a traditional squat that gets deeper in the muscles. 


  1. Place the barbell on your rear shoulder muscles. 
  2. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart with your toes pointing slightly out. 
  3. Keep a neutral spine with your back straight and begin to sit back as if you have a chair behind you. 
  4. Lower until your hip crease is below your knee but make sure your knee does not go over your toes. 
  5. Place the weight in your heels to provide you with power to drive back up.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 for your desired number of sets and reps.

4. Barbell Lunge


  1. Stand up straight with your feet placed hip width apart.
  2. Place the barbell on your rear deltoids. 
  3. Start with your right leg in front of you and step back with your left foot until you are in a lunge position. 
  4. Allow your left knee to hover above the ground and make sure your right knee does not go past your right ankle. 
  5. Begin to place your weight in your right heel and drive upwards to return to starting position.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 for your desired number of reps and sets then switch to the other leg to keep a balanced workout.

5. Romanian Deadlift


  1. Get into your traditional deadlift position with your feet shoulder-width apart and grip the barbell just outside your knees. 
  2. Lift your chest and drop your hips to pull up the bar until your hips are fully locked out. 
  3. Begin to push your hips back and lower the barbell until it is placed on the middle of your shins. 
  4. To return to the starting position, drive your hips forward and bring the weight back up.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 for your desired number of reps and sets.

6. Glute Bridge


  1. Lay down on your back and place a barbell over your hips.
  2. Place your feet flat on the floor and send the weight to your heels to gain enough power to lift your hips as high as you can without arching your back. 
  3. Hold at the top for a couple of seconds then slowly begin to lower.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for your desired number of reps and sets.

7. Standing Calf Raise


  1. Stand up straight but do not lock your knees. 
  2. Place the balls of your feet on a step and place the barbell on your shoulders.
  3. Slowly lower your heels as far as possible to the floor. 
  4. Begin to lift your heels as far as possible and squeeze your calves at the top.
  5. Slowly lower back down and repeat for your desired number of reps and sets. 

Wrap Up

Whether you are bodybuilding, powerlifting or simply would like to incorporate more muscle-building movements into your workout routine, barbell exercises are a great starting point.

The barbell is an extremely versatile piece of equipment that is great for beginners as well as experienced gym-goers. If you'd like to continue reaping the benefits of lower body strength, check out the best exercises for building lower body strength!