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10 Weighted Body Bar Exercises You Can Do at Home

By Laura Williams

body bar exercisesOne 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 body building competition – all this means is that you should use some form of weight, whether it’s your own body weight or an external source of added 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 biceps curls, shoulder presses, and chest presses. Expect to spend between $30 and $60 for most mid-range body bars.

Body Bar Exercises & Workouts

1. Squat

bar squatStrengthen your entire lower body and core as you perform the squat exercise. 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

bar lungeLike the squat, the lunge targets your entire lower body while also challenging your balance and coordination. 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 to 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

curtsy lungeThe 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, as though you were about to curtsy.
  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

deadliftThe deadlift targets the glutes and hamstrings. Pay close attention to form, remembering that this is not a back exercise. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

  1. Stand with your 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 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

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

  1. Place the body bar across your shoulders, behind your neck.
  2. With your feet hip-distance apart, bend your knees very 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 on your toes.
  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

bent over rowIt’s tough to target your back when exercising at home, but the bent-over row is a great exercise for this purpose. 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

single arm rowThe 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. 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 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

biceps curlFor rockin’ arms, you can’t beat the biceps curl. Take it up a notch by adding weight with a body bar. Perform two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  2. Hold the body 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

shoulder pressGet tank top-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

chest pressWhile the chest press is traditionally performed on a bench, there’s no reason you can’t perform one on the floor. Alternate 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 toward 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.

Final Word

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 of the 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.

Have you ever used a body bar? What’s your favorite exercise?

Laura Williams
Laura Williams holds a master's degree in exercise and sport science and enjoys breaking up her day by running her dogs, hitting the gym, and watching TV. Having been in charge of her own finances since the early age of 12, she knows how to save and when to spend, and she loves sharing these tips with others. Laura ditched her career as a fitness center manager for the relative freedom of home-based writing and editing work. She stays busy by working on her own website, GirlsGoneSporty, a website designed to help the sporty woman live the sporty life.

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  • http://www.makemoneyyourway.com/ Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way

    Thanks for these exercise tips! You really have a great body, I do jogging every 5:00 A.M. for about one hour.

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