You only need one piece of equipment to strengthen your entire lower body and core with this five-move workout

The barbell is one of the most versatile pieces of gym equipment around

A woman unracking a barbell at the gym ahead of performing a barbell back squat
(Image credit: Future)

The barbell is often used for the same tried-and-tested exercises: squats, deadlifts and bench presses, for example. But it’s actually one of the most versatile pieces of equipment for building strength and there are many barbell-based exercises you can do to switch up your gym routine.

Notably, the barbell is a great piece of equipment for increasing your lower-body strength. This is largely because you can load the bar with more weight than the best adjustable dumbbells (opens in new tab) or kettlebells, then progressively overload (opens in new tab) your workouts over time for heavier lifts.

But, aside from building leg strength, the barbell is often overlooked when it comes to toning other areas of the body. You can also use it to improve your core strength, which is important for almost every aspect of life and lifting, including good balance and posture.

This 25-minute workout from fitness influencer QiQi Hill (opens in new tab) combines five barbell movements that work together to strengthen the core and the lower body.

Watch QiQi Hill's five-barbell movement workout

A post shared by QiQi Hill (@theqii_tofitness) (opens in new tab)

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This is an EMOM (opens in new tab) style workout, which stands for "every minute on the minute". You have one minute to do the programmed reps of each exercise and, if you finish the prescribed reps before the 60 seconds is over, you can rest for the remaining time. 

Ideally, every set should take the same amount of time if you pace yourself from the beginning. But it’s normal for some of the later sets to take longer, as your body will be fatigued and you might not be able to move as quickly.

Hill recommends doing five rounds so that the workout takes 25 minutes but, depending on the available time, you could increase or decrease the rounds. If you want to make the workout harder but you are short on time, you could also slightly increase the weight of the barbell each round, starting with a fairly light weight and building up to a heavy set.

If you haven’t trained with a barbell before or you’re fairly new to weight-training in general, however, try these exercises with an empty barbell first or simply practice them with no equipment, to get comfortable and confident with the movement patterns. 

This will help you avoid injury and perfect your form, which will ensure you get the most out of the exercises for toning and strengthening. If you’re not sure whether your form is right, ask a trainer at your gym to take a look, or film yourself working out so you can watch it back later and spot any issues.

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.