All I Need Is One Bar

TAGS: matt mills, barbell

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With so many of us only able to train at our home gyms, we're limited based on the minimal equipment we have access to. I don’t necessarily feel that is a bad thing in the short term. It has forced many of us to get creative with what we have, which can open you up to doing some different exercises you may not have tried before.

Many of my online clients and members of my gym don’t have a squat rack or bench at home, unfortunately. However, many of them have access to a barbell. Are you in this same predicament? If so, the barbell is all you need to keep your strength up through this. Here are five unconventional exercises you can do with just a bar.

The Barbell Hack Squat

The barbell hack squat is a forgotten old school barbell exercise. It’s essentially a behind the back deadlift. The form is going to be very similar, with this exercise targeting the quads to a greater degree. If you have big hamstrings, just be careful not to bump into them on the way up when keeping the bar close. This isn’t an exercise I would go particularly heavy on, so keep the rep range in the 12 range.

The Zercher Squat From the Ground

This a great way to still get some squats in if you don’t have a squat rack. And I’m aware some of you can properly clean the bar and do a front squat that way. However, many of us don’t have the flexibility to rack a bar on our shoulders, so this is the next best thing. Also, this is just a fun, challenging exercise to do. It’s difficult just getting the bar in the right position to start the squat. Start in a modified sumo stance, not too wide, but wider than your conventional deadlift. I like to hook grip the bar here, which I would recommend when it gets heavier, as you do not want to use a staggered grip on these. Once you get it to your lap, squat down low, so the bar stays in place, reach your arms through, and get the bar in the crook of your elbow. Once you are in position, take a big breath in and brace hard to come up. This is an exercise you can do for lower reps in the 3-5 rep range. Not that you couldn’t do more, but it can be rough on your arms keeping the bar in place.

The Reeves Deadlift

Created by one of the most famous bodybuilders of all time, the original Hercules Steve Reeves. This is an extremely wide grip deadlift, and also a big grip challenge as well. Now don’t be a cheater and use plates that have handles on them. Take a normal plate that you have to pinch grip to hold onto, pull the plates in which will hit your upper back hard! If you want an extra challenge, do these with a pair of bumper plates for a much tougher grip like I do in the video.

One-Arm Landmine Floor Press

One thing that is nearly impossible to do is bench press without a bench. Even doing a floor press with a barbell is very awkward and borderline dangerous to try to roll up your body to get into position. With this variation using the Core Blaster, you can easily get yourself in position to still work a bench variation. Just do these with the elbow tucked in at your side for shoulder health. Also, if you don’t have a Core Blaster, you can simply put the bar in the corner of a room, just wrap a blanket or a sweatshirt around it, so you don’t scuff anything up.

Barbell Complexes

Barbell complexes are a great way to get a lot of work in, in a short amount of time. You simply string a series of exercise together as you see fit. Now in the video below, I went a little crazy doing a lot, and I would only recommend this if you have some training with the Olympic lifts. If you have no experience, then take the cleans and snatches out for risk of injury. Here are a couple of complexes you can follow:

Dan John Complex

  • Standing Row x 5
  • Clean x 5
  • Front squat x 5
  • Military press x 5
  • Back squat x 5
  • Good mornings x 5

Complex 2

  • Barbell upright row x 6
  • Barbell high pull snatch x 6
  • Barbell behind the head squat and push press x 6
  • Barbell behind the head good morning x 6
  • Barbell bent-over row x 6

The Bear Complex

  • Power Clean x 1
  • Front Squat x 1
  • Push Press x 1
  • Back Squat x 1
  • Push Press x 1

These are just examples of what you can do. Be creative and come up with your own.

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