Beginners Guide: Best Barbell sets for Home, Workouts & Reviews

If you’re interested in strength training or new to weight-based workouts, barbells probably seem like one of the most appealing options you have at your disposal.

After all, every accomplished or award winning lifter practices with barbells.

Why can’t you do the same?

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Barbell sets for Home

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CAP Barbell Regular 110-Pound Weight Set

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CAP Barbell Regular 110-Pound Weight Set 4 Stars buy-from-amazon-button
CAP Barbell 300-Pound Olympic Set

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CAP Barbell 300-Pound Olympic Set 3.6 Stars buy-from-amazon-button
US Weight F0055- 55 lb Duracast Weight Set

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US Weight F0055 Duracast Weight Set 4 Stars buy-from-amazon-button

Barbells are simple pieces of equipment, but they’ve been used seemingly forever by people looking to build some muscle. They’re virtually irreplaceable. They’re effective, versatile, and affordable.

What more could you need from a piece of equipment?

Bodyweight exercises alone don’t allow you to thoroughly develop your personal strength. After all, you’re limited in how much weight you have to work with and your joints will only develop the capacity to support what you weigh efficiently if you never add more weight to the game.

bodybuilder

The Pros and Cons of Barbell Training

While barbells are simple tools that deliver real results, everything has its drawbacks. If you want to reach your full potential, be prepared to balance out your barbell exercises with a range of other activities, and always make sure you’re using your barbell as it was intended to be used.

Pros

The benefits of barbell lifting are seemingly endless. These are just a few of the stand out benefits that make this type of training one of the best available options for people looking to start building strength.

  • Anyone can do it.
    There is no minimum level of fitness you should reach before you begin barbell training. All you need to do is start with lighter loads until you become fit enough to handle larger amounts of weight. Barbell training is just as good as it is for beginners looking to create a foundation from which they can build as it is for expert lifters who want to maintain their muscle mass.
  • Barbell exercises boost the release of muscle building hormones.
    The body releases two hormones in response to barbell lifting exercises: growth hormone, and testosterone. Whether you’re a male or a female lifter, you need increased levels of these hormones in your body if you’re looking to add some muscular bulk to your physique.
  • It’s easy to track your goals.
    With some exercises, you just have to have faith that they’re working. With barbell exercises, you’ll be able to tell how close you are to achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself. Over time, your preset amount of weight will become easier and easier to lift, allowing you to add weight in small increments. Figure out how much you’d like to be able to lift, and you can track your progress based on the increase of your load.
  • You’ll see results quickly.
    Beginners will be surprised to learn how quickly they’ve noticed their results, provided they are sticking to their workout plan. If you aren’t already muscular, you’ll find that visible muscle definition quickly creeps in over the horizon. You’ll be able to look at your arms in a few short weeks and notice how quickly they’ve built up.
  • You’ll build better coordination.
    Many barbell lifting exercises require you to target specific zones. You’ll learn how your muscles interact with each other. Some exercises need to be performed while keeping certain areas engaged and other areas completely unused. You’ll learn to separate and target your muscular groups, which will make any workout using any equipment infinitely easier. Barbell lifting is a great way to learn your body while determining how to isolate groups for specific kinds of lifting.
  • Barbell lifting may improve your balance.
    Many barbell lifting exercises require lifters to maintain proper form, usually through the use of specific stances and methods of hoisting the barbell. You’ll learn to stay firmly on your feet during challenging movements. Great balance is necessary for a variety of athletic activities, spanning from running to mixed martial arts.

personal trainer with barbell flexing muscles in gym

Cons

There are a few downsides of barbell exercises, particularly if fitness enthusiasts rely too much on barbells to occupy most of their workouts.

Recognizing these cons and preventing them is key to a successful workout routine.

  • Improper stance may lead to back injury.
    Spinal injuries are common among lifters who don’t follow proper form. Lifting heavy loads can be dangerous for your back if you allow it to be taxed with most of the burden. Stances vary from exercise to exercise, but the majority of these stances place emphasis on the fact that you shouldn’t feel the lift in your lower lumbar spine. Always make sure you’re executing your moves the way they were intended to be executed.
  • Increasing loads too early can a have harmful effect on your muscles.
    When it comes to increasing your weight load, it’s best to repeat the mantra “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Rapidly increasing weights or adding too much weight to level up your lift can have serious consequences in the form of muscular injury. Before increasing your load, ride it out for a week or two after you notice your current load is easier to lift. Always increase in small increments, as little as ten pounds at a time.
  • Excessive lifting can create muscle tension.
    Muscles get larger by tearing and repairing themselves. Soreness after a workout is completely normal. You’re not lazy or weak if you take a break and wait for that soreness to subside before you attempt to push yourself past your limits. Attempting to lift too much too quickly makes for a tense muscle that’s less flexible and useful than it should be. Weightlifting increases tension. Make sure you’re pairing it with workouts designed to reduce tension.
  • Barbell training is not a total solution.
    Many people believe that lifting is all they need to do to get themselves into tip top shape. Relying on weightlifting for all of your exercise won’t get you very far. You need to be sure you’re devoting enough time to cardio, in order to improve the function of your heart and lungs. You also need to dedicate time working on other muscle groups in order to develop evenly. If you squat, don’t forget to plan special workouts for your glutes and hamstrings. You’ll also want to work on exercises designed to safely develop back muscles.

barbells and garage gym

Everything You Need to Know About Barbells

Though barbells are fairly simple to navigate, there are a few different kinds of barbells and different styles of weight plates.

Often times, experienced lifters create a custom configuration that works best for them. Understanding these differences will help you best identify exactly what it is that you’re looking for.

The Different Kinds of Barbells

Where there are several variations and styles available, there are three common kinds of barbells: standard, Olympic, and curl bars.

Standard barbells are what most people generally work with, and are most commonly found at gyms and the best option for home. These bars are designed to be used with 1 inch weight plates, and are knurled for improved grip where the user would place his or her hands.

Olympic barbells are a little different. These bars are designed to hold weight plates sometimes exceeding 1,000 total pounds.

Often, the entirety of the bar is knurled. Since these bars need to be able to withstand more intense use, they’re often thicker and designed for use with two inch weight plates.

Curling bars are a whole other story. They have a bend in the middle, in a shape reminiscent of the letter “w”.

The knurling is at the top of these bends, where the bar is intended to be held. Curling is a very specific type of lifting that many beginners to find most enticing. It targets predominantly the biceps. These bars aren’t designed to hold very much weight, so they’re better for specific toning and development than a general workout.

weights gym fitness bench

The Different Lengths of Barbells

The typical barbell will almost always be 7 feet. This includes the space in which you can actually hold the barbell, and the ends of the bars where you would secure the weights.

While the vast majority of people will be able to use a 7 foot bar without incident, smaller bars and longer bars are also available. If you are exceptionally short or exceptionally tall, you may find that a different sized bar is more comfortable for your arm span.

Just take note that shorter bars may not work with racks or cages that sit at fixed widths.

The Different Kinds of Weight Plates

Like with styles of the actual barbells themselves, there are tons of varieties of weight plates. The three standard kinds you’ll find are cast iron, coated, and grip plates.

Grip plates are the ones with large holes in them, making them easier to grab, hold, and load onto the bar. Plain iron plates are affordable and commonly used, but may be susceptible to wear or corrosion, especially if they’re used in a moist environment.

Coated plates are better protected against the elements, and they also reduce the clanging and clattering noise you often hear when working out with a barbell.

Beginner Barbell Workouts and Exercises

In reality, you can do just about anything with a barbell.

When you’re new to the game and you’re looking to build strength, there’s three main exercises that most people use to help build muscle mass and get a little stronger.

Bicep Curls

Start by standing upright, with your feet shoulder width apart. Your arms should be resting comfortably at your sides, with the palms of your hands facing upward.

Grasp the barbell in your hands, keeping it level with your pelvis.

Keep your upper arms still, and move only your forearms as you contract your biceps. Lift the barbell to shoulder height, and return to the starting position. If you’re performing the move correctly, your upper arms will stay still.

Deadlifts

With a deadlift, you’ll want a wider stance to help promote balance. Your feet should be firmly planted on the ground at about hip width.

Deadlifts work best when you alternate your grip. This means that between reps, you should alternately grasp the barbell with one hand over it, and one hand under it.

Lower your hips, and flex your knees until the bar is touching your lower calf. It is important to flex the knee, rather than completely bend it. Lift the bar to knee level, and swiftly pull back. Your shoulder blades should come together, and your hips should move forward.

The bar should be near your lower torso. Bend your hips and lower the bar back down to the floor. That’s one rep.

Barbell Squats

Always use a squat rack to maximize your safety. Keep your feet at shoulder width. Start with the bar positioned slightly above your shoulders.

Come up underneath it, and place the bar level with your shoulders.

Using both arms, lift them up from your sides and push up to grab the weights, lifting with your legs and straightening your upper body. Lower down slowly, keeping your back straight and your head up. Repeat.

TOP 3 Best Barbell Sets for Home & Reviews

Now that you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to find the best barbell set for you.

CAP Barbell 300-Pound Olympic Set

CAP Barbell 300-Pound Olympic Set

This is a solid starter set, built to the exact specifications any enthusiast would need. 300 pounds is more than enough weight for a beginner to learn and improve with.

The plates are made of solid cast iron, and the set features an Olympic bar.

CAP Barbell Regular 110-Pound Weight Set

CAP Barbell Regular 110-Pound Weight Set

This simple set is perfect for a beginner. It’s affordably priced and comes with enough weight plates to help you learn and grow.

The 5 foot bar is perfect for learners worried about the proper stance.

US Weight F0055- 55 lb Duracast Weight Set

US Weight F0055- 55 lb Duracast Weight Set

This is the ideal set for someone on a budget who is experimenting with lifting. It’s made to last forever, and although it doesn’t come with much weight, a learner won’t need more than 55 pounds.