A picture of a barbell and 20kg about to be lifted.

Barbell Lifting for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know

Barbell lifting is a popular form of resistance training that involves using a barbell and weight plates to perform various exercises. Resistance training is important for building strength, increasing muscle mass, and improving overall fitness. However, for beginners, it can be a little intimidating. With the right guidance and approach, however, anyone can safely and effectively incorporate barbell lifting into their fitness routine. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know to get started with barbell lifting as a beginner.

Understand the Basics

A picture of a woman using a barbell to front squat.

Before you start lifting, it's important to understand the basics of barbell lifting. This includes knowing the different types of lifts, understanding proper form and technique, and knowing how to properly warm up and cool down.

The squat, deadlift, and bench press are three of the most commonly performed barbell exercises. The squat targets the lower body, primarily the quads, glutes, and hamstrings, and also works the core and upper back muscles. The deadlift targets the posterior chain, primarily the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, as well as the core and upper back muscles. The bench press targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps, as well as the upper back muscles.

Proper form and technique are crucial for preventing injury and maximising results. The squat, deadlift, and bench press all require proper alignment of the spine, proper foot placement, and proper grip on the barbell. It's important to learn how to perform each lift correctly before adding weight to the barbell.

Warm-up exercises, such as stretching and light cardio, should also be done before lifting, and cool-down exercises should be done afterwards. This can include stretching and foam rolling to help reduce muscle soreness and improve flexibility.

Start with Light Weights

A picture of a woman back squating with a barbell

As a beginner, it's important to start with light weights and gradually increase the weight as you build strength and confidence. This will help prevent injury and ensure that you're using proper form and technique. Focus on performing each lift with good form rather than trying to lift the heaviest weight possible.

According to research, using lighter weights with higher repetitions is an effective way to build muscle endurance and improve overall fitness (1). For beginners, using weights that are 50-60% of their one-repetition maximum (1RM) is a good starting point (2).

Use Proper Equipment

A picture of gym equipment including weight plates and skipping ropes

Using the right equipment is important for barbell lifting. This includes a sturdy barbell, weight plates, and a power rack or squat stand. It's also important to wear the right clothing and footwear. Comfortable, breathable clothing and supportive athletic shoes with good traction are ideal.

Practice Consistently

A picture of a woman practicing a Romanian deadlift with an empty barbell.

Consistency is key when it comes to barbell lifting. Aim to lift two to three times per week, allowing at least one day of rest in between sessions. This will give your muscles time to recover and prevent injury.

Research has shown that resistance training two to three times per week is effective for improving strength and muscle mass (3).

Monitor Progress

A picture of a woman using an Ipad to track her exercise progress

Keeping track of your progress is important for staying motivated and ensuring that you're making progress. This can include tracking the amount of weight you lift, the number of reps and sets you perform, and how you feel before and after each session.

Seek Professional Guidance

A picture of a personal trainer giving exercise advice to a man.

Finally, it's always a good idea to seek professional guidance when starting out with barbell lifting. A personal trainer or fitness coach can provide guidance on proper form and technique, help you set realistic goals, and provide motivation and support as you progress.

In conclusion, barbell lifting is an effective and rewarding form of exercise that can help you build strength, increase muscle mass, and improve overall fitness. It's important to start with the basics and understand proper form and technique to prevent injury and maximize results. As a beginner, it's recommended to start with light weights and gradually increase the weight as you build strength and confidence. Using proper equipment and practising consistently will also help you achieve your fitness goals. Remember to monitor your progress and seek professional guidance if needed. With the right approach and dedication, barbell lifting can be a valuable addition to your fitness routine. So, take the first step, and start lifting today! 


I’m new to barbell lifting, what barbell should I start with? 

Training 1" barbells are a good option for beginners or for people who are just starting to build their home gym. They are also a good choice for people who are focused on general strength training or who are not planning to compete in Olympic weightlifting. Since they are smaller and lighter than Olympic barbells, they can be easier to handle and more comfortable for some people to use.

Training 1" barbells, also known as standard barbells, are barbells that have a diameter of 1 inch (25.4 mm) and are designed for use with standard weight plates that have 1-inch holes. These barbells are typically lighter and less expensive than Olympic barbells, which have a diameter of 2 inches and are designed for use with weight plates that have 2-inch holes.

What are the differences between Olympic Barbells?

Olympic barbells are designed to handle very heavy weights and are built to be very strong and durable and are designed to hold 2” weight and bumper plates. 

There are two main types of Olympic barbells, a 15kg barbell and a 20kg barbell. These vary in suitability, size, weight and diameter. 

Length: 15kg Barbells, usually referred to as Female barbells are typically shorter than 20kg barbells which are usually referred to as male barbells. A standard 20kg barbell is 7 feet long, while a standard 15kg barbell is 6.5 feet long. However, there are also shorter 20kg barbells (such as 6 feet) and longer 15kg barbells (such as 7 feet) available.

Diameter: Female barbells typically have a smaller diameter than male barbells. A standard male barbell has a diameter of 28mm, while a standard female barbell has a diameter of 25mm. This smaller diameter can be more comfortable for women to grip.

Knurling: Female barbells may have less aggressive knurling than male barbells, although this can vary depending on the brand and model.

It's important to note that not all women will need or want to use a female barbell. Women who are experienced lifters and can handle heavier weights may prefer to use a standard male barbell. Additionally, men with smaller hands may find a female barbell more comfortable to grip. Ultimately, the best barbell for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences.

If you're an experienced lifter or if you're planning to compete in Olympic weightlifting, an Olympic barbell is an essential piece of equipment. However, if you're a beginner or if you're focused on general strength training, a standard barbell may be a more appropriate option.

Check Out Our Range Of Barbells From Exersci!

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of this article. What do you think? Are barbells right for you?

If you're eager to find out, we offer our very own high-quality barbells in a wide variety of options. Our barbells are designed to help you build muscle effectively and efficiently. You can choose from different weights and styles to suit your fitness goals.

Additionally, we provide a range of additional weight plates that you can use to customise the load and increase resistance on your barbell. This allows you to progressively challenge your muscles and continue making progress in your strength training journey.

If you have any questions about our barbells or can't find what you're looking for, please don't hesitate to contact us at contact@exersci.co.uk or call us on 0330 175 6260. Our dedicated team is more than happy to assist you and provide the information you need to make the right choice for your fitness needs.