29 Things to do with a Barbell in the Corner

Time to get creative.

Modified Lumberjack Squat
Modified Lumberjack Squat.
Have you been looking for a way to attract some attention in the gym, or some new tricks to slip up your sleeve?
Here are a few twists on some old moves using 1 or 2 barbells against a wall. The set up is painfully simple; find some space to place a barbell or two, make sure you have at least 5 or 6 feet on either side of you (for safety reasons) and some plates. In our experience we find that it is a good idea to have several 10 pound weights due to their ease in loading the barbell with steady increments, and they help to increase the range of motion, but to also have a some 45's as well because sometimes, you just need more weight.

Here's the set up.


  1. The Modified Hammer Jammer

    This is an extremely low tech high effect solution to a hammer jammer system. As you press on the barbell it moves upwards in an arc like fashion. You can isolate the pressing motion by keeping your legs in an athletic lean position without bending them and initiating the force through your core, or you can tack some weights and lower the stack with your legs, and while driving through your heels, explode the weight forwards.
    The Modified Hammer Jammer The Modified Hammer Jammer
  2. Lumberjack Squat

    This is an exercise that can help beginners learn how to squat using their hips. It removes the large majority of compressional forces on the spine, that can be associated with back squats. The idea is to interlock your fingers as high up on the barbell as you can, and then allow the bar to rest at the bottom of your chest, or right on your sternum. You want to actually be leaning into the barbell, so as you squat your hips come into play and act as a set of brakes. Then drive your weight through your heels so you're leaning forwards again. This is one of the exercises that I highly recommend using the 45 pound plates; if weight is not an issue. Otherwise you can always progress upwards in increments of 2.5 all the way to the 45's.
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  3. Bent-over Rows

    These ones actually change then angle of pull from parallel to the floor, to about 45 degrees, depending on limb length and how far you start and end. Essentially you want to have your back facing the wall, and the execution is the same as a T-Bar row except that you are only using one barbell. Here is another situation where you will most likely want to use many smaller weights instead of few larger ones, due to the R.O.M. decrease that happens with bigger plates.
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  4. Modified High Pulls

    This one takes advantage of the high pull motion with a change of feel. You'll want to actually face the barbell perpendicular so that you become a larger extension of it. Reach down and grasp the bar near the end (the closer to the end, the heavier) while keeping a straight back, and pull your elbows as high as you can.
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  5. Overhead Squat

    This is not what is considered the overhead squat, however it can add a whole new challenge, especially in the shoulders and core. You basically outstretch your arm(s) (one arm version showed here) and squat down as you would in the lumberjack squat.
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  6. The Floor Press

    - this is a modified version in which you lay down on the floor with the end of the barbell sitting over your the crease in your elbow. Essentially press straight up, and the weight will move up and behind you as it does with that arc like movement. This one is a bit tougher because the nature of the barbell when compared to a dumbbell tends to swivel 360 degrees, plus upwards, downwards, and side to side as well.
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  7. Modified Jefferson Lift

    This is where you straddle the barbell with both legs, and grasp above the weights while you lower yourself straight down as if sitting down into a chair. The R.O.M. is limited so you can use heavier weights if you feel comfortable.
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  8. Modified Stiff-legged Deadlifts

    The same concept as a regular stiff-legged deadlift except that you choose a side to start with and grasp the barbell only with one hand. The motion is the same, but this time the stretch is a bit more intense.
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  9. Suitcase Deadlift

    This one is an older movement beginning to resurface itself into the main scene. Essentially it's the exact same thing as the stiff-legged version mentioned above, except that you bend your legs and sit back as you pull up, so a deadlift where only one arm is holding the weight, and the opposite side as to contract very tightly to keep you from tipping over.
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  10. Modified Seated Overhead Press

    This one's a bit harder than it looks, the weight will rise behind you as you lean into it, and the weight feels significantly heavier than it really is.
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  11. Push-ups

    Just like it sounds, except that you place one hand on the barbell to raise yourself a bit higher. It really helps to use the big plates as this will make things a bit more challenging. If you want to add some more core stability and coordination you can push up, and then power yourself over it and land with the opposite hand on the end.
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  12. Barbell Wrist Flexion

    Just like it sounds, grasp the edges of the bar, and roll your fingers up to your wrist, activating the wrist flexors and improving your overall grip strength as sometimes sweaty hands can make this part of the bar harder to hold. You also get the bonus of dealing with a larger surface area, rather than the body of the barbell.
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  13. Bent-over Raises

    Basically you bend at the waist preventing your back from rounding as you stand on the side of the barbell, and then raise it as high up to your sides as you can. This one is harder than it looks, and can be a new facet to rear delt training. cimg0273.JPG cimg0275.JPG
  14. Modified Barbell Windmills

    This one is a bit difficult to explain since the bar somewhat throws off the motion of the windmill, and it's much less stable, but if you're looking for a challenge or a new take, this might be the trick for you. Get under the bar, and outstretch your hand, as you go down you'll want to stare up at the bar to keep your focus high, and bend at the waist so that your trunk becomes parallel to the floor.
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  15. Single Arm Barbell Fly

    This one is an excellent challenge for overall core stability, and this one stresses the chest, shoulders, and elbows very heavily. You want to lock your feet into the ground and maintain a tight waist as you allow the outstretched barbell to drift as far to your side as you can, any lower than parallel can become very dangerous to your shoulder so exercise with caution.

    Now we add two barbells to the mix, and essentially double the fun.

    Here's the setup, essentially same as the first, and altering the distance between the barbells can shift the arcs and angles a bit differently.


  16. Modified Hammer Jammer (Double Barbell version)

    This time you use two barbells, and most likely cut the weight down, as this one can become very difficult very quickly. Same as above although you'll have to use your legs a bit more to drive the weight upwards.


  17. Double Overhead Squat

    Same as it is with the single except you're going to have to exert more core stability to keep from caving in or falling backwards.


  18. Double Bent-over Barbell Row

    This one I think is a bit easier than with a single barbell, due to the balance from side to side. Essentially you want to lean back, squat down to a quarter squat or so, and pull elbows back as if giving someone an elbow to the ribs.


  19. Double Floor Press

    This one you will most likely want a partner to pass you the weights because it is extremely awkward to roll onto each side to grasp the barbell, however once you give these a try, you may find that work very well for hitting the upper chest, because the barbell moves up and back.


  20. Double Incline Fly

    This one is absolutely amazing, and difficult to describe where you will feel the tension because it shifts all over the upper body depending on how you are able to transfer forces.


  21. Double Seated Military Press

    This one is a bit challenging to get into position, but when done unilaterally it helps you generate a tremendous amount of core force to maintain an upright position. The weights moves forward, and upwards so it really challenges you to maintain a tight position.


  22. Double Lateral Raises

    These can be extremely difficult to get used to, but not only are they stressing the lateral head of the deltoid, but the posterior comes into play very heavily the higher up you go. It also challenges the rotators because the arc like movement goes against the conventional lateral raise, and can help with stubborn external rotators.


  23. Double Standing Russian Twist

    This one is probably one of the toughest core exercises with a rotational component, with or without weights. The idea is to get the barbells swinging in succession so that one is a few inches or feet away from the other, and they move as a windshield wiper. With weight this is extremely difficult and not for the faint of midsection.


  24. Double Barbell Shrugs

    This one can be a test of grip strength if held on the edge of the barbell, and the shrug pulls the weight behind you, really loading Trapezius 3 and 4. If you're going for a pure strength perspective grab the business portion of the barbell and shrug, the only real difference is grip strength.


  25. Double Barbell Deadlift

    This may soon become my new favorite exercise due to the new angle on an old favorite. Essentially you get in between the bars, and deadlift away, the movement is the same, except that it might be less stressful on the back if you lean into the pull of the movement.


  26. Push ups

    Don't have a set of push up bars? Feel free to give this one a shot, it also doubles as a fly if you allow the barbells to roll to your sides. If you do not keep your arms close to your sides, you may find the barbells rolling to your sides. I'd recommend using the 45 lbs. on this so that you can really get a deep stretch. If this is not difficult enough try it with your feet on a bench or box, a weighted vest, or a partner giving you manual resistance.


  27. Bench Dips

    Or in this case double barbell bench dips. Essentially the same set up as the push ups except that you face the other directions with the barbells to your back, you can add a box to the mix, some weight, or aim for high reps. This one also has a tendency for the barbells to roll away to your sides, so it keeps a deep contraction of the chest, and shoulders, to prevent this. Also makes a good beginning progression to the iron cross if you have your feet up on something.


  28. Double Barbell Standing Calf Raises

    Now this one hits the calf from a whole new approach. The key differences between this and the machine standing calf raises, is that instead of moving upwards, you're moving upwards and forwards with the arc of the movement. Add some plates below your feet to deepen the stretch. You may want a partner to help pass you the weight, because too much weight can be risky when picking up the barbells.


  29. Double Barbell Front Squat

    Like the standing calf raise this one forces you to drive forwards as well as upwards, hitting the muscle in a new way. Like the previous exercise you may want a partner to help you load the weights up to your shoulders.


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Hopefully this article can give you some more ideas, to keep up your gym repertoire, and for those who work out at home with minimal equipment, can help you reach your goals with the low tech, high effect mentality. Last but not least some extra exercises that came as some runner ups were L-Sits, L-Sit Iron Crosses, Handstands Push ups, Squatting on the ends of the barbells for instability, and abductor adductor exercise in which you stand on the ends of the barbells and while using a spotter, spread your legs using abduction, and then squeeze your feet back together to a stand. This one would be best if done with the little weights to increase the R.O.M.

Jason Kirby

Jason Kirby is a Personal Trainer and author for Straight to the Bar.

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