10 Best Weighted Body Bar Exercises (Coming From a Trainer)

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 31, 2024
FACT CHECKED by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
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As an MMA fighter and trainer, I've found that incorporating a weighted bar can really elevate traditional bodyweight and dumbbell routines. The extra weight adds a balance challenge, making exercises more demanding yet exciting.

These weighted bar exercises are a staple in my training, enhancing both my strength and balance, which is essential for my fights.

They're also perfect for beginners looking to step up their game.

Quick Summary

  • To enhance traditional bodyweight and dumbbell routines, incorporating weighted bar exercises, such as squats and lunges, is effective for improving strength and balance.
  • Weighted body bars are simple to use, suitable for beginners, and add a balancing component to exercises, thereby enhancing core engagement.
  • A study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine underscores the importance of chest muscle development, achievable through weighted bar exercises, for enhanced shoulder and upper limb function.
  • From my personal experience as an MMA fighter, these weighted bar exercises have been fundamental to enhancing my performance in the ring.

10 Best Weighted Bar Exercises

Weighted body bars are among the simplest pieces of strength training equipment to use, are suitable for beginners and can add a balance component to traditional exercises like squats and rows, enhancing core engagement​. We've gathered the best ones below:

You May Also Like: Weighted Bar Exercises PDF

1. Squat

Woman doing a squat

Areas targeted: Entire lower body muscles, core

Frequency: 3 sets; 10 reps

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, bar on upper back
  2. Grip bar ends, elbows in
  3. Push hips back, bend knees, and put weight on heels
  4. Stand up and squeeze glutes at parallel

2. Lunge

Woman doing lunges

Areas targeted: Entire lower body

Frequency: 3 sets; 10 reps on each side

  1. Feet hip-width, bar on back
  2. Step forward, bend your knees, and lower gently
  3. Press up from the front heel
  4. Repeat other side

3. Warrior Lift

Areas targeted: Legs, core

Frequency: 1 set; 5 reps on each side

  1. Hold bar overhead, step forward, and bend right knee
  2. Lower bar, straighten right leg, and lift left leg back
  3. Return to lunge

4. Standing Overhead Press

Overhead Press

Areas targeted: Shoulders

Frequency: 2 sets; 12 reps

  1. Stand hip-width, bar at collar bones
  2. Press the bar up, arms 90% extended
  3. Lower the bar and resume the starting position

5. Calf Raises

Standing Calf Raises

Areas targeted: Legs

Frequency: 3 sets; 20 reps

  1. Bar on shoulders
  2. Stand with soft knees
  3. Press feet, lift heels, and don’t touch the ground on descent

“All muscles do is pull one end closer to another end. When you train, picture what the muscle insertion looks like, and how you’ll bring that closer to the origin.”

- Ben Pakulski, Former Pro Bodybuilder

6. Bent-Over Row

resistance band bent over row

Areas targeted: Lower back

Frequency: 2 sets; 10 reps

  1. Stand hip-width and hold a bar across your thighs
  2. Hinge forward and dangle your arms
  3. Engage back, pull elbows in, and squeeze shoulder blades

Other types of exercises:

7. Single-Arm Row

Bent-Over Single-Arm Rows

Areas targeted: Entire back, shoulders, and arms

Frequency: 2 sets, 8 repetitions on each side

  1. Stand hip-width with slightly bent knees
  2. Grip bar with right hand, left foot forward
  3. Keep back flat, pull elbow back
  4. Lower bar, switch sides

8. Bicep Curls


Areas targeted: Arms

Frequency: 2 sets; 10 repetitions

  1. Stand with hip-width, soft knees
  2. Hold the bar at shoulder height, palms forward
  3. Press up and stop before elbows straighten
  4. Lower bar

9. Chest Press

Woman exercising on a seated chest press machine

Areas targeted: Pecs

Frequency: 3 sets; 15 repetitions

I often mix in eight pushups between sets when using lighter bars to really work my pecs.

In the ring, strong chest muscles aren't just about power; they're key to moving my arms effectively and avoiding injuries.

This aligns with research from The American Journal of Sports Medicine, highlighting the role of robust pecs in shoulder stability and upper limb coordination [1].

  1. Lie down, knees bent, feet flat
  2. Hold bar across chest, palms facing hips
  3. Press bar up, stop before elbows straighten
  4. Lower bar

10. Hip Thrusters

hip thrusters

Areas targeted: Hamstrings, glutes

Frequency: 1 set; 10 repetitions

  1. Lie back, knees bent
  2. Hold bar over hips
  3. Thrust hips up, squeeze glutes
  4. Return, keeping lower back off floor

Other types of exercises:


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20489215/
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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2 thoughts on “10 Creative Weighted Body Bar Exercises To Spice Up Your Workout

  1. Great workout. I got in the best shape of my life doing very similar moves of these exercise bar workouts along with some martial arts moves. Y I gained a few pounds as a result of ailments, but I’m going to start afresh with your workout. Thanks!

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