Why Basic Barbell Exercises Are the Best Moves for Athletes

There is a reason athletes and coaches have been using basic barbell exercises for years: They make athletes better.

Take a look at your training program. Are basic barbell exercises included?

All too often, athletes and coaches get caught up in the cool, new exercise they just saw on Instagram. Chances are you have fallen for it. I know I have. But there's a reason athletes and coaches have been using basic barbell exercises for years, and it's because they make athletes better.

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First, let's define a basic barbell exercise.

Basic barbell exercises are all compound movements, meaning they include movement at more than one joint. A Back Squat is a compound movement, but a Hamstring Curl is not. Compound movements provide the most "bang for your buck." When you are an athlete, you need to get into the gym, put in the work and get out. Between school, practice, games and lifting, your body gets pretty tired, so it's important to be efficient with your exercise choices.

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Athletes are not bodybuilders. You don't need all your "show" or "beach" muscles to be popping to be a star linebacker or point guard. You need to be strong and explosive. Barbell movements should be the staples of your strength training programming along with other power development exercises such as Jumps and Throws.

If you are new to the weight room or at an intermediate training age, your focus should be on general physical preparedness (or GPP). If you can't Squat your body weight, there is no reason to look on social media for a crazy new exercise. Sticking to the basics will make you stronger and faster, I promise.

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Now, let's get into the exercises. Click the links to see exercise demonstrations, courtesy of Ben Boudro.

Here are the basic barbell lifts:

Here are a few tips to remember with these exercises:

  • Always perform multi-joint compound exercises first. Once they are completed, you can move on to accessory exercises (for example: rotator cuff exercises, Tricep Extensions, Sled Pushes/Pulls, ab work, or countless others)
  • Pay attention to exercise selection, volume and weight. If you are in the middle of the season, be careful not to crush yourself with extremely high weight and/or extremely high volume. For example, near maximal effort Deadlifts are very taxing to your nervous system and take a long time to recover from, which can hinder performance in your sport.
  • Properly performing these lifts will make you stronger and faster if programmed correctly. Standing on a BOSU ball for your whole workout will not.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: SQUAT | BENCH PRESS | DEADLIFT | BARBELL EXERCISES