Easy at Home Workout: Barbell Circuit

Bug is pretty much summing up the ‘it’s been a long week’ sentiment that has been lingering in the air.  I’m not sure if last weekend just blended into the week, or if this week has been that non-stop, but I found myself being slightly jealous of her ability to throw down and nap, anywhere, anytime.  It’s an enviable skill.

tired bug

Since end-of-week workouts can be sort of blah when you’re drained, here’s one that I did with Dar last week for a quick and dirty garage gym workout that was felt for days.

circuit workout

This is a barbell workout, so anywhere you can find a 25lb, 35lb, or 45lb barbell, or just a really big stick (kidding!), you’ll be good to go.  While I love all the awesome toys that we have these days to make workouts more dynamic and varied (i.e. wall balls, medicine balls, bands, kettlebells, etc), sometimes it’s nice to keep things simple and just crank out a workout with one tool only.

barbells

This workout was TABATA style, 45 seconds on/15 seconds off, cycling through all the exercises and repeating the circuit for 4 full rounds. It did change a bit from how I wrote it out (note: ad-hoc arrows), so here’s how it works best:

1) composite rows: starting with the bar at/against your shins with feet hip width apart, and knees slightly bent. Drive through your heels to drive the bar straight up, standing tall, finishing with a high pull and returning all the way back down to the initial set-up and repeating the pull in a continuous cycle.  These are tough (essentially a narrowly set up sumo deadlift high pull, simulating the full body rowing motion). These were my nemesis circa 2002, thanks to Jim (GYM) Ferris.

2.  Back Squat: just what you think it is – standard back squat.  Feet about shoulder width apart, drive through your heels to keep your glutes and core engaged.  Since there’s no extra weight on the bar emphasize rhythm, sticking with a consistent speed and getting a full range of motion (hip crease drops below knee level). Think about pressing your knees out as you pull your hips towards your heels.

3. Push Press: Feet hip width apart, bar resting high on (in front of) shoulders.  Grip slightly wider than shoulder width, elbows in front (pointing at 45 degree angle), fingers wrapped around the bar.  Bend from hips and knees to initiate the dip, keeping your core engaged, drive through your heels to straighten your legs (and extend through hips). Finish by pressing the bar overhead right in line with your shoulders, hips and heels.  Just tilt your head back so the bar doesn’t hit you as you press it straight up to the ceiling (arms fully extended).

4. RDL : for this one you’ve got the bar in front, set up similar to the composite rows – feet hip width apart, slight bend in the knees, back straight (core engaged) and hinging from the waist.  The movement here is keeping your core engaged, weight in the heels, hinging forward until barbell comes to mid-shin, and standing straight up keeping the bar close to the body, and hinging back down to repeat.  This is one of my favorite moves of all time because it feel so good like a hamstring stretch while you’re doing it, but always leaves the glutes and hammies screaming the next day.

5. Front squat: Just like the back squat you’re keeping your weight in your heels and squatting until your hip crease is below knee level, but the bar is resting on the front rack position (on shoulders).  Arms are in front, elbows pointing forward and high, with the bar resting and balanced on your fingertips.  Unlike the back squat that emphasizes gluteal and hamstring work, this will light up your quads and tops of your thighs.

Like all interval workouts, the key here is really setting a consistent, and challenging pace.  If you push it during the work time, you are guaranteed to get your engines going.  If you just survive it, you’ll still be sore but you’re missing most of the benefit.

Give it a shot, and even modify whatever you’d like (time, weight, sequence) and let us know what works or doesn’t work for you.  We’re always playing with different combinations and love to change things up.

Happy Squatting!

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