Best Barbell Exercises for Putting on Mass

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Best Barbell Excercises for
Putting on Mass

Why Some People Don’t Use the Barbell

Beginners Think the Barbell is Too Advanced for Them

Beginners come into the gym every day to gain muscle and leave their skinny frame behind. Without guidance, newcomers often wander through the gym aimlessly, picking up dumbells, kettlebells, and using pulley machines with no plan of action. Many beginners avoid the barbell because it seems like something that would be used by strong people. After all, most barbells weigh 45 lbs, and a beginner may not even be able to add any additional weight. This can be embarrassing and serve as a deterrent for many people who are just getting started working out. The truth is, the barbell is exactly the piece of equipment they should be using to gain the strength they need to reach their goals.

Barbells Don’t Produce a Pump Like Dumbells or Cables Do

Everyone wants to feel like they did work when they leave the gym. One of the main things that will make you feel that way is a good pump. A pump however is not always an indicator of a productive workout because you can achieve a pump on the first set of your training if you do enough reps. It is possible that if you lift heavy with a barbell and have longer rest periods between sets, you may not have a pump at all when you leave the gym. This can be discouraging for people who have never committed to this type of training long enough to realize how effective it is. If someone new to lifting heavy with a barbell sticks with it long enough, you may hear them say “I didn’t feel like I did anything when I left but I definitely felt it the next day.” 

Best Barbell Exercises

Why Barbell Exercises are Best for Mass

The most effective way to gain mass is to incorporate compound style exercises into your workout. Compound lifts are done using a barbell and include exercises such as the squat, deadlift, bench press, incline press, barbell rows, and shoulder press. These exercises work multiple joints and make it easier to lift heavier weight. Lifting heavy allows your body to produce more growth hormones and testosterone, which leads to an increase in size and muscle mass. The barbell is the best tool for increasing overall strength, which forces your muscles to grow to handle the load. 

Top 5 Best Barbell Exercises

1. Bench Press

The bench press is the most popular exercise that utilizes a barbell. It also one of the most effective lifts, especially for the upper body. You hear many jokes about people skipping leg day, but one thing you never hear is people skipping chest day. Even beginners want to see how much they can bench press for one rep. Jokes aside, the bench press is one of the most vital exercises to include in your training program. When building muscle, it is good to hit multiple parts of the same muscle. There are three different types of the bench press that allow you to do this. 

Best Barbell Exercise for Your Upper Body

Most people start their chest workout with the flat bench. It is common to see people also do incline bench press, although some people will use dumbells since they already used a barbell for flat bench press. You can also do a decline bench press, which is for the bottom of your chest. This is the least common of the three types of bench press exercises. All three of these lifts should be included in any plan that involves building mass.

2. Squat

The squat is considered by many to be the best exercise you can do regardless of your goals. This is the ultimate compound lift and should be the exercise that allows you to lift the most weight. It isn’t uncommon to see people who have been squatting for a while with 3 or 4 weight plates on each side of the bar. Heavy lifting has been proven to be associated with an increase in natural testosterone production. Since the squat allows you to lift more weight than any other exercise, it makes sense that it is considered the best lift for increasing your natural testosterone levels. This means that if you train your legs, it actually has an effect on the growth of every muscle in your body. Squats are not just for stronger and bigger legs, but they serve as a catalyst for the body as a while.

Best Barbell Exercise for Natural Testosterone and Hormone Production

There are far too many variations to name when it comes to the squat. There are however three main movements that are the most popular and don’t incorporate other major muscle groups. The back squat is what people are most often referring to when they talk about squatting. The front squat utilizes the quads more instead of the back. This movement is tougher, but it is also much harder to do wrong in a way that leads to injury. People who have a hard time with their form on the back squat use the front squat for improvement in that area. You might also see some people doing a box squat. This is essentially a back squat where instead of going down and coming back up freely, you sit on a bench before coming back up.

Barbell Squat

3. Deadlift

The only other lift than can compete with the squat for “king of exercises” is the deadlift. The deadlift is another great leg workout that boosts testosterone production and you can move some heavy weight with this exercise. The squat utilizes a ton of muscles and if you are new to this movement you will have sore muscles that you didn’t even know existed. Regardless of how long you’ve been doing deadlift, your lower back always seem to be sore the next few days. 

Best Barbell Exercise for Overall Strength

As with most exercises there are multiple variations you can do to hit different parts of the same muscle or different muscles altogether. The regular deadlift is an exercise that people do on either leg day or back day because it works the hamstrings and glutes as well as the lower back. The Romanian Deadlift, also known as the straight-leg deadlift, focuses primarily on the hamstrings and glutes and isn’t doesn’t incorporate as much back. You also have the sumo deadlift which involves grabbing the bar with your arms between your legs and an open stance instead of gripping the bar outside of your knees. You can also use a hex bar to pick the weight up from the side instead of in front of you. 

Barbell Deadlift

4. Bent-Over Rows

Barbell rows are a great compound lift for increasing size and strength in your middle to upper back. Which part of the back you work the most will depend mostly on how you grip the bar. Using an underhand grip will focus more on the middle of your back and incorporate more of your biceps. An overhand grip will hit your upper back more and will utilize your forearms more. 

Best Barbell Exercise for Hitting Multiple Angles

When doing barbell rows, you have a lot of flexibility on which part of your back you want to work. How much you bend your back when doing this exercise will determine the angle of the lift. The more upright you are when performing this exercise, the higher up on your back you will be working. If you stand up to tall you could actually be doing more of a should shrug. If you bend closer to 90 degrees, you will be hitting more of the middle of your back. You have to be careful that you don’t injure your back when doing this exercise. You also want to make sure that you are engaging your back instead of allowing your biceps to do too much of the work.

5. Overhead Press

The shoulders are one of the most neglected out of all the muscle groups. One of the reasons is because people want to work out chest so bad they don’t want to exhaust some of the same muscles making them have to wait as long before the next chest day. When you do see people doing shoulders in thy gym, they are often doing dumbbell raises or some sort of dumbbell press. You don’t tend to see people doing compound exercises on shoulder day. Overhead barbell press however, is one of the best exercises you can perform to gain size and muscle. Your overhead press strength transfers to your bench press and also strengthens your back. This particular movement utilizes a lot of different muscles, even in your legs. 

Best Barbell Exercises for Overcoming Plateaus

Because the overhead press is such a neglected exercise, there will be deficiencies that effect the other movements in your routine. The overhead press is one of the best exercises you can do to combat defencies and incorporating it into your training will allow you to get stronger in other areas. You use a lot of your core when you do overhead press and people often overlook just how much your core has to do with almost every lift you perform.

Overhead Press


If your goal is the gain mass, the barbell is the number one piece of equipment you should be using in the gym. Compound lifts are exhausting, they take a long time to perform, and the form is not always easy to learn. Fighting through all those problems however is required if you ever hope to achieve your goals. There will be days where you do don’t want to squat, deadlift or do overhead press. Out of all the exercises on this list, those will most likely be the ones you want t avoid. Those three exercises however most be the most important ones to perform. It’s not going to be easy, but finding a way to incorporate this movements without substituting dumbells will be key to your success.

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