2 Brutal Barbell Conditioning Workouts

Get in shape this off-season with two challenging barbell workouts from STACK Expert Jim Carpentier.

You can do a lot more with a barbell than Bench Press, Deadlift and Squat. Once you've mastered the fundamentals, try one of the following intense full-body workouts—one involving just a barbell without plates for combo exercises and the other requiring plates and collars.


  • Barbell
  • Plates (enough resistance for 70-80% RM)
  • Collars


  • Perform a dynamic upper/lower body warm-up (e.g., Arm Circles/Lunges)
  • Finish with upper/lower body cooldown static stretches to enhance range of motion and flexibility
  • Sets/Reps: 2x10
  • Workout #1 rest periods: 30 seconds between combo sets; 60 seconds between exercises
  • Workout #2 rest periods: 45-60 seconds between sets; 60-90 seconds between exercises
  • Do workouts on non-consecutive days in ensure adequate recovery
  • Vary exercise sequence in both workouts for diversity

Workout #1 - Barbell Combo Exercises Without Plates

Squat / Rotating Overhead Press / Single-Leg Squat

This combo builds upper- and lower-body strength while improving balance and core stability.

  • Stand up and hold the barbell at your chest with a prone grip
  • Lower into a squat position while rotating your upper body to your right and pressing the bar overhead
  • Straighten and return to the start position
  • Continue for four more reps, then repeat with left-side rotations for five reps
  • Without rest, perform 5 Single-Leg Squats with your right and left legs while holding the bar atop your chest.

Single-Arm Barbell Bent-Over Row / Single-Leg Upright Row

This is an excellent all-in-one lower-body balance and upper-body strength combo that targets the back, shoulders and biceps.

  • Begin with your left knee bent and right foot off the floor while holding the bar in your right hand with a neutral grip
  • Lean slightly forward while pulling the bar toward your waist and squeezing your shoulder blades together
  • Pause and slowly lower back to the start position
  • Repeat for four more reps and switch legs, then perform five rows with your left hand
  • Without rest, hold the bar in front of you with a pronated grip (hands shoulder-width apart) and extend your arms below your hips
  • Perform five upright rows with your left foot off the floor and five upright rows with your right foot off the floor
  • Rest and repeat entire combo

Alternating Side Lunges / Barbell-Held Press-Outs

  • Hold the bar horizontally with a chest-level pronated grip
  • Quickly lunge laterally right and simultaneously press the bar out
  • Return to start position by bringing your right foot back toward your left and the bar close to your chest
  • Lunge laterally left while pressing the bar out
  • Continue sequence for 10 reps
  • Rest 30 seconds, then do another set with the bar held vertically

Single-Leg Squat / Bar-Held Combo Exercise

This combo builds the forearms and strengthen the grip while improving balance and core strength.

  • Hold the bar off the ground in a vertical position with your arms extended and an uneven grip (one hand over the center of the bar, other hand below it)
  • Lift your left foot off the ground and slightly bend your right knee
  • Move one hand over the other up the bar, then back down to the start position
  • Switch legs and repeat the hand-over-hand sequence
  • Rest, then perform the second set while holding the bar horizontally slightly below chest level
  • Start with both hands in the middle of the bar, then gradually move them away from each other, trying to keep the bar steady while balancing on one leg. Once your arms are about shoulder-width apart, return them to the center of the bar
  • Rest and repeat entire sequence standing on your other leg

RELATED: This Exercise May Make You Puke, But It'll Build Muscle Fast

Workout #2 - Barbell Exercises with Plates and Collars

  • Choose 5 of 7 exercises each time you do Workout #2
  • For each exercise, attempt two sets of 10 reps at 70-80% RM
  • Add two 2.5-pound plates to bar on subsequent sessions


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock