The 12 Key Lower Body Barbell Exercises for Strength and Hypertrophy

These barbell lower body variations include some of the most well known and most-used exercises in the gym, because they are tried and tested. These are some of the most effective exercises you can add into your training regime if your goal is strength or hypertrophy adaptations. Make sure you have a look through out training recommendations so you can match your training style to your desired adaptations.

6 min read
Sean Klein
Written by
Sean Klein
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In This Resource
  • Benefits of Training The Lower Body
  • Athletic Development
  • Health
  • Training Recommendations
  • Strength Stimulus
  • Hypertrophy Stimulus
  • Power Stimulus
  • The 12 Key Lower Body Barbell Exercises for Strength and Hypertrophy

Benefits of Training The Lower Body

Athletic Development

Training the lower body is ubiquitous for athletic development, it’s crucial for both speed and power. Using barbells to increase these physical attributes is the most effective way to do so. Athletes need strong and powerful legs and glutes from American Football to wrestling, it’s involved in the success of so many athletes and should be a key part of their athletic development throughout high school and after. The barbell lower body exercises can help in both increase muscular size which might be important for athletes like rugby players of certain positions, to improving the vertical jump of a basketball player, different modalities will be used to achieve these goals, yes, but some of the exercises will be the same or very similar.


Having strong and muscular legs is one of the most important factors in being self-sufficient. The ability to contract the muscles in the legs is an excellent way to ensure you’re able to look after yourself for a long period of time as you age. People often don’t like to think about this stage of life but using resistance training from a young age can be a huge benefit when striving to living a healthy life. Lower body training should be part of any all-around health training protocol.

Training Recommendations

Barbell lower body movements can be used in many different ways to create different signals being sent to the body and therefore creating different adaptions. I will walk you through different ways you can use these lower-body barbell exercises to create the adaptations you desire.

Strength Stimulus

Creating a strength stimulus is all about lifting heavy weights (70% or above your 1RM) with few repetitions, usually around 3-5, but sometimes even singles to sets of six can be effective. This allows the body to create more effective contractile systems meaning you will increase your force production (strength) over time. Exercises like the back squat and the deadlift are some of the most effective strength training exercises available in the entire realm of strength and conditioning, so if you're looking to improve your strength through lower-body barbell exercises then don’t hesitate to use these exercises.

Hypertrophy Stimulus

Increasing muscle mass of the lower body is all about creating a large amount of volume in the movement patterns of the lower body (squat and hinge). This should be done with lighter weights but higher rep ranges than strength training. There is an overlap between strength and hypertrophy training, but the style of lifting is very different, this can be seen in the difference between bodybuilders and powerlifters. Performing high-volume workouts in these movements will allow you to increase your muscle mass over time. Weekly working sets of between 10-15 in both the squat and the hinge movement pattern will allow you to consistently induce hypertrophy gains.

Power Stimulus

Improving your power will involve using these exercises while moving with speed and intent at light weights. This style of training is traditionally very fatiguing and can leave you leaving a session or the power portion of the session feeling you haven't produced anything when actually you have been successful at creating the desired adaptations. The repetitions for these adaptations will be low(3-5), in order to allow you to maintain close to your peak power output.

The 12 Key Lower Body Barbell Exercises for Strength and Hypertrophy

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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.

Sean Klein


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