Even if you’re no stranger to the weight room, can navigate the dumbbell rack with ease, and handle any attachment on the cable machine, you may be put off by the idea of loading weight plates onto a barbell. But it’s worth taking the time to learn how. “Barbells are one of the most effective training tools on the gym floor,” says Diane Vives, M.S., C.S.C.S., a spokesperson for the National Strength Conditioning Association based in Austin, TX. Most barbell movements engage a greater amount of muscle throughout the body in order to maintain balance and stability, which means you’ll burn more calories during your workout. Plus, most of the exercises mimic movement patterns we do elsewhere in life. And unlike the guys, women tend to be more attentive to their form and technique when lifting these weights, adds Vives. “Since we don’t have as much lean muscle mass as men, we lift with more finesse.”
This total-body conditioning workout from Vives uses a variety of pushing and pulling movements that take your body through its full range of motion. Keep in mind that with any free weight, the movement is self-guided, so it’s important to get your technique down first before adding weight. And don’t push to the point of exhaustion. “You should still feel like you could do two more reps at the end of each set with proper form. If your technique breaks down before then, stop and reduce the weight for your next set; and if you feel like you could have done several more at the end, increase your weight on your next set,” notes Vives.
TRAINER: Diane Vives M.S., C.S.C.S., Vives Training Systems, Austin, TX
OUR MODEL: Andreina Nu Marrero, NPC bikini competitor, Brooklyn, NY
Favorite Quote: “Through consistency, dedication, passion, and love, you experience life.”
How it works
Complete each circuit, doing 12–15 reps of the exercises in the order given. Recover 30 seconds between each exercise and rest two minutes between circuits
2 of 5
1. Land Mine Front Squat to One-Arm Push Press
WORKS: SHOULDERS, BICEPS, CORE, GLUTES, QUADS
Stand holding one end of barbell in right hand with opposite end in land mine attachment or secured on floor.
Squat down, keeping barbell end in right hand with right elbow close to body. Keep weight over heels and thighs parallel to floor or just below. Keep torso as upright as possible.
Pushing through heels, stand up in one explosive movement. As you come up, extend right arm, pressing weight toward ceiling. Keep abs tight, and hips and shoulders squared. Lower back to squat and repeat for 12–15 reps.
Stand with one end of barbell in land mine attachment or secured on floor; hold opposite end in right hand in an overhand grip with body facing the bar. Hinge forward from hips, lowering weight toward the floor in front of shins. Keep back flat and head in line with spine.
From this position, pull bar toward torso with right arm, keeping right elbow close to body. Hold for one count, then slowly lower bar toward floor. Repeat for 12–15 reps; switch sides.