5 Chest Workouts With Barbell
In addition to aesthetics, building strong chest muscles will ultimately help you lift more weight. When your chest muscles are strong enough, your entire body is strong.
One of the surprising benefits of doing chest workouts with a barbell is that it can improve your mental health, especially if you do it regularly.
Another advantage of this move is that it saves you plenty of time in the gym. You can have an amazing chest workout in just a few minutes.
But which chest exercises should you do? This article highlights five effective workouts using a barbell.
5 Chest Workouts with Barbell
#1 Barbell Bench Press
This is one classic exercise that targets strength and size gains mainly in three muscle groups, including the shoulder, arms, and chest.
The traditional barbell bench press is done by lying down on a flat workout bench and pressing the bar up and down.
The bench press improves your upper body strength and tones the muscles as well. It is also an excellent move to include in your weight-training regimen if you are looking to increase your ability to do more pushups and improve muscular endurance.
Athletes who play football or do sprints will also find this workout very beneficial, as it can strengthen them to improve their overall performance.
How to do the Barbell Bench Press
- While lying with your back completely flat on a bench, align the barbell with your shoulders.
- Grab the barbell with a shoulder-width grip.
- Inhale and as you exhale, push the barbell upward and remove it from the rack far above your chest.
- Inhale again and gently bring the barbell down to your chest.
- Exhale and push it back up.
- Repeat until you complete the required set.
If you are new to this classic workout, we suggest you follow these tips to get the most out of the exercise.
- Always keep your feet on the ground behind your knees and press them into the floor. This will help create some tension in your glutes and hamstrings.
- Maintain a good body positioning with a steady head, and keep your shoulders and hips on the bench throughout the lift.
- The barbell should be directly above your eyes and they should be at least a bit below your wrists when you lock your arms out overhead. Make sure to grab the bar just slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Always use a spotter. Can’t get hold of one? Then don’t lift to failure before you stop. This will help you safely re-rack the bar.
- Unrack the bar by starting with a strong lock-out so that the barbell will be directly above your shoulders. Lower the bar under control for a few seconds just about the level of the heart rate monitor. Now you can press until you have the bar under control and your elbows are straight.
- Carefully re-rack the bar and be sure to secure it before releasing the tension in your arms.
#2 Landmine Chest Press
The landmine chest press does not only strengthen your upper chest muscles; it also targets your shoulders and triceps.
This chest workout involves raising one of the ends of a barbell overhead while the other end is secured on the floor or in a landmine attachment.
While you can do this move with both arms, you can try it out with one arm at a time if you want to make it more challenging. This will increase the intensity and allow you to get the most out of the workout.
This exercise works nearly all your upper body, but it targets mostly the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
It is a safer chest workout since you can lift overhead without putting the barbell directly over your body.
Plus, it is a bit easier on the shoulders compared to other vertical presses because of the neutral grip and the curving path of the press.
How to do the Landmine Chess Press
- Slide one end of your barbell into the landmine attachment sleeve and secure any weight to the free end.
- Stand facing the free end of the barbell and hold it at shoulder height with one or both hands.
- Wrap your thumbs under the bar, brace your core, and press the bar up and away from you, making sure your arms are fully extended at the top of the move.
- At a steady pace, lower the bar back down to its starting position.
#3 Barbell Floor Press
The barbell floor press is an exercise that trains your body to handle heavy weights and also strengthens your chest, triceps, and anterior muscles.
This move is very similar to the bench press but just as the name suggests, it is done lying on the floor instead of the bench.
This is an excellent chest workout for beginners. The use of a barbell allows you to load more weight, meaning you can increase your upper body strength and gain muscles more efficiently with this move.
Besides, it requires only a free weight (a barbell, in this case). You don’t need any other training tools. Simply lie on the floor and begin to train your chest and triceps!
How to do the Barbell Floor Press
- Start by lying with your back flat on the floor. If you can, scoot your body under the barbell (you can do this with bumper plates).
- Set and grasp your barbell at the same width as you will on a bench press. You can go for a wider grip if you have longer arms. Just pay attention to your wrists and make sure they are comfortable and straight.
- Take a deep breath and brace your core as though you were doing a bench press.
- If you are comfortable with your lower back, intentionally curl your tailbone slightly in. This will help your lower back to stay pressed on the floor.
- While you press the bar out to full extension, try and keep the bar path steady. Your position at the top of the lift should be steady and you should find some balance on the back of your torso.
- Hold for a moment and then carefully lower until your elbows reach the floor.
It’s sometimes challenging to find your sweet spot, especially when you are new and not too familiar with this workout. Here are some tips that can make the move a bit easier:
- Focus on comfort but avoid the temptation to lie on a soft surface. You should brace your back against a solid floor. You can use a yoga mat though, especially when you are at a gym where the floor might grate into your skin.
Discomfort may happen if you are putting on any kind of tank top during the workout, and this can disrupt your session. To ensure you enjoy the exercise, make yourself as comfortable as you can before you begin.
- Remember to go with what works for you. Don’t force it if it is difficult to comfortably scoot or adjust yourself under a barbell, especially when you are working out solo.
You can use dumbbells and kettlebells in place of a barbell since they work perfectly well too.
- Always keep your feet down. Whether you extend your legs flat during the floor press, or you prefer to simulate a bench press position where your knees are bent and your feet stay flat on the floor, just be sure to drive your feet down to the floor while lifting.
This will help you keep your core contracted.
#4 Incline Barbell Bench Press
The incline barbell bench press is a variation of the classic bench press. It strengthens the muscles of the shoulder, chest, and triceps.
To do this workout correctly, angle the workout bench at about 30 to 45 degrees.
The incline barbell bench press is a great exercise for hitting the upper pecs. Because it is done at an angle, it works your muscles harder than the conventional bench press.
Aside from that, it also helps to place your shoulders in a safe position for pressing.
How to do this chest workout
- Lie facing up on an incline bench at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees.
- Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip that’s about shoulder-width apart or slightly wider than that.
- With your palms facing up, lift the barbell and keep your arms extended upward, locking out the elbows.
- Slowly, lower the weight to your chest using controlled movements.
- Pause for a moment and press the bar back up again to the starting position.
#5 Reverse-Grip Barbell Bench Press
This is another barbell bench press variation that interchanges your grip and has your knuckles point towards your feet.
This works your front delts, upper chest, and biceps more when compared to the conventional bench press grip.
The move is highly effective for great upper chest hypertrophy. Meaning, you will build more chest muscle mass.
In addition to muscle mass, it is also good for strength building in the upper body.
Consider this variation if you are unable to perform the conventional bench press grip due to a training injury.
The workout is also a good way to shake things up a bit with your exercise routine as it introduces variety to your workout.
How to do the Reverse-Grip Barbell Bench Press
- Set your hooks to the right heights. Decide whether to go with a bench press station, squat/power rack, or competition combo rack. There is no right or wrong here; just do whatever works for you.
- Adjust the hooks to a comfortable extent where you can grab the bar while your elbows are partially bent. When the bar is properly set, it will preserve your energy for performing more reps.
- Lie on the bench and make sure the barbell is directly above your eyes.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and down. Keep your glutes on the bench and your feet planted solidly on the floor.
- Roll the barbell to the edge of the hook without lifting it to bring the bar closer to you.
- Angle your wrists slightly outward and establish a firm grip on the bar by sitting the barbell on your palm.
- Push the barbell upward, gently and gradually bring it forward so that it settles back in the start position.
- Take a deep breath and brace your core. Tuck your elbows inward toward your sides and gently lower the barbell close to the base of your chest.
- As the bar comes in contact with your chest, completely push it up and bring it back towards your face.
- When you are done with your set goals (number of reps), stop at the lockout position, and wait for the bar to stop moving before racking it into the hooks.
Have an experienced spotter by your side to prevent accidents. Remember that the proper setting of the reverse grip demands you to draw back your wrists and angle them outwards.
The two components that make the reverse grip a bit riskier than the standard grip are:
- It is less secure around the barbell
- It can fall towards your throat if your grip accidentally slips.
For these reasons, you should be cautious when performing this exercise.
There you have it – five highly effective chest workouts with a barbell to help build a stronger and more muscular chest.
To make the most of your workouts, ensure that equal weights are loaded on both sides of the bar. Plus, you want to lift weights according to your fitness level and progressively increase them.
Avoid the urge to make drastic changes and load heavier weights too soon. Doing so can hurt your progress.
Remember to do some chest warm-up to activate your upper-body muscles and help you prevent injury, and in turn, lift more weight.