When most people think about barbells and weights, they think about adding muscle and building strength. And if you were to ask most gym-goers how to lose weight and build endurance, they’d probably point you towards the stationary bikes or treadmills. But there’s a simple implement that allows you to get the best of both worlds: The barbell. By using a barbell in a continuous circuit, where you perform three or more exercises without stopping or letting go of the weight, you can build strength and endurance simultaneously. You’ll see more results in less time. So are you ready to try?
The full-body barbell complex workout
The following six exercises form one complex designed to work your entire body. Perform each movement for 5 or 10 repetitions, depending on your level of fitness. Your goal is to complete the entire six-move circuit in 30 seconds (for 5 reps each) or 60 seconds (for 10 reps). Perform 3-5 complexes, resting for between two and three minutes between each. Use a moderate weight throughout, and perform the exercises at a controlled speed, keeping good form on each movement.
Start by standing with the bar held with a shoulder-width grip at the height of the hips. While keeping the low back flat and the knees slightly bent, bend forward at the waist so that the bar passes more than halfway down the shin. Extend at the lower back and return to the original position.
Wide grip bent over row
Begin by leaning forward and holding the bar at knee height with a wider than shoulder-width grip. Pull the elbows back so that the bar touches the chest at nipple level. Lower to the original position and repeat.
Stand up and switch the hands to a slightly-more-narrow than shoulder-width grip. Bring the bar from the height of the waist up to the chest by pulling the elbows up to ear height. Lower to the original position and repeat.
Bring the bar to the clean position at the height of the shoulders. Lower the hips to the parallel squat position by bending at the knee. Press up by extending at the knees, hips and low back.
Hold the bar at chest height with a shoulder-width grip. Press the bar overhead by extending at the elbows. Lower the bar to the chest and repeat.
Bring the bar overhead and place it behind the neck. Lower the hips to the parallel squat position by bending at the knee. Press up by extending at the knees, hips and low back.
The rules of the complex
Barbells are versatile tools, so there are a wide range of exercises that you can use to create a complex. There are many more workouts like this, using barbells and kettlebells, in my book “Warrior Cardio,” which is now available on Amazon. No matter which complex you do, remember that using a lower weight does not give you the license to use poor form – make sure each rep is a winner, in your control. The consistency of execution will allow you to see the progress you make from week to week by keeping your form at the highest standard.
About the author: Martin Rooney, MHS, PT, CSCS
Rooney is the founder of Training for Warriors, trained athletes from the NFL, MLB, NBA, and has lectured for and many professional strength and conditioning organisations around the world. He created the Pushup Warrior app, which features 120 pushup variations and 80 workouts. He has also written seven books, including “Warrior Cardio.”
Related: Martin Rooney's official site