The Top Three Barbell Exercises For Building Strength

The Top 3 Strength Building Exercises

Build Strength With 3 Exercises
Build Strength With 3 Exercises. Getty

There is a misconception that building strength is a complicated formula that combines bizarre exercises in a mysterious pattern along with crazy nutritional practices. While good nutrition and balanced lifestyle habits all are important aspects of overall health, when it it comes to building more strength, three basic barbell exercises may be all you need in order to see real results.

Strength is arguably the foundation upon which to build all other athletic skills. Without whole-body, functional strength (a combination of strength, power and endurance), an athlete will ultimately succumb to his or her weakest link, whether it's a shoulder issue, low back instability, hamstring imbalances or another trouble-spot. 

Additionally, strength is the cornerstone of health later in life, particularly for women. The first thing we lose as we age is strength.  And with a lose of strength and muscle mass comes a long list of other potential problems including weight gain, osteoporosis, falls, fractures, muscle aches and pains, mobility issues and even cardiovascular disease. 

The simplest way to see real strength results that include both the major muscle groups as well as the often overlooked, smaller stabilizer muscles, is to get back to basics using free weight training. By focusing  exclusively on three basic barbell exercises: the squat, the deadlift and the bench press, you can build whole-body strength and see results quickly.

By removing all other exercise distractions and performing these three exercises in a systematic, consistent training routine, you will see your strength increase steadily week after week.  

The Strength Training Formula Is Simple:

  1. Start with a fairly light weight and perform 5 repetitions of each exercise
  2. Add weight and do 5 more reps.
  3. Keep adding a bit of weight until you reach the maximum amount of weight you can lift (with perfect form) five times.
  4. Move on to the second exercise and repeat the process.
  5. When you complete all three exercises, your workout is finished.
  6. Wait two days (three if you still have any muscle soreness), and repeat the process.

In a matter of weeks you will see substantial strength gains. 

Barbell Back Squat Exercise

Barbell squat exercise
Barbell squat exercise. Getty Images

The barbell squat is the king of all strength exercises. If you don't already know how to do it safely, it's highly recommended to get training with a qualified strength coach. Your local Crossfit Gym, a private trainer, or a local college may be the best place to learn safe weight lifting technique, so seek them out before you try to lift anything heavy.

Read More:  How To Do the Barbell Squat.

Barbell Deadlift Exercise

Barbell Deadlift Exercise
Barbell Deadlift Exercise. Getty Images

The deadlift is an excellent exercise for working the entire posterior chain, and builds lower body and core strength. A straight-leg deadlift targets the glutes, hamstrings, lower back and shoulders.

Deadlifts are easy to do incorrectly, so proper training with a qualified coach is highly recommended. In order to perfect your deadlift technique, watch the founder of Crossfit provide tips for a perfecting the deadlift. As always, if you are unsure you are doing it right, or if you are new to weight lifting, work with a trainer or coach to make sure you are doing it right.

When beginning the deadlift, and until you have perfect form, use a light weight or no weight and perform multiples reps. As your form improves, you can begin to build strength by adding a heavier weight and performing 5 reps to failure.

Barbell Bench Press Exercise

Barbell Bench Press
Barbell Bench Press. Getty Images

The barbell bench press builds strength in the chest, shoulders, and arms.  The beauty of the bench press is that is is scaleable and that makes it perfect for beginners and advanced exercisers. The bench press provides a similar 'pushing' movement as you find in a pushup, but unlike the pushup, you can lighten the load or increase the load according to your fitness level. 

Novice lifters can begin with minimal weight, which is good for anyone who can't do a full pushup. As you get stronger, you can add additional weight to the bar and reach a maximal effort, and muscle fatigue, more quickly than basic bodyweight exercises.

Again, proper form is critical, so anyone just getting started is advised to learn how to do it right. This article from Crossfit explains the benefits and proper technique for perfecting you barbell bench press.

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