The 4 Best Barbell Exercises for Beginners

Barbells and beginners don’t traditionally go very well together. In this article a beginner will be someone who hasn’t yet acquired the basic skills in the key movement patterns to perform exercises with good technique, as seen in gyms all around the world. Barbells complicate things as they require a certain level of skill to perform with precision, that doesn’t mean that beginners wont be able to become very strong in the barbell lifts eventually, but as a starting point it’s not always the best choice.

5 min read
Sean Klein
Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
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In This Resource
  • Benefits of Landmines For Beginners
  • Skill Acquisition
  • Easy Loading and Handling
  • How to Use Landmines for Beginners
  • Building a Base of Strength and Skill
  • Multiple Movement Patterns
  • The 4 Best Barbell Exercises for Beginners

So I’m going to discuss the landmine exercises you can perform with a barbell that beginners can use to help them learn some of the key movement patterns for resistance training. Some people can stay with landmines for their entire time doing resistance training, others might only spend 3 weeks until they are competent enough to start learning the barbell lifts like the back squat and the deadlift.

Benefits of Landmines For Beginners

Skill Acquisition

Landmine exercises offer low skill alternatives to the traditional barbell movements. If we take both the back squat and the deadlift and compare them to their landmine alternatives, the landmine equivalence are vastly more simple and easy to execute. This allows beginners to learn how to perform the basic movement patterns of hinging and squatting with relative ease. The first part of anyones training journey should be about instilling good movement patterns in the weight room, with this any goal can be layered on top of it, without it, a step backwards to re-learn them will always be required.

Easy Loading and Handling

Another advantage that the landmine has over something like the kettlebell and the dumbbell is how easy it is to hold in certain positions. Take the goblet squat with a kettlebell, it is a great exercise, the for a beginner just holding the weight in place may be the most challenging aspect of the movement not the loading on the legs. This is where the low landmine squat can come in very handy. The landmine is also much easier to manipulate the weight in general, kettlebells tend to come is sets and lack variety of weights which can make progressing from one weight to the next difficult.

How to Use Landmines for Beginners

Building a Base of Strength and Skill

Building a base of strength and skill with the landmine exercises before progressing to the more complex barbell exercises can be an excellent way to ensure a beginner can master the movement patterns required to use resistance training toward any goal of health or performance. This may take one month or six, either way it puts you or the person your coaching in the best position going forward.

Multiple Movement Patterns

Use the landmine to learn all the movement patterns, apart from the horizontal press which doesn’t have (other than very niche) any variations. The squat, hinge, horizontal pull and vertical press can all be instilled with the landmine. The horizontal pull you may want to use kettlebell, dumbbell or bodyweight variations but for the other three movement pattens the landmine is an invaluable tool for learning.

The 4 Best Barbell Exercises for Beginners

The landmine squat (low) is one of the easiest squatting variations available and the easiest with a barbell. It allows a true beginner to learn to load the squatting position extremely well. The only difficulty with this exercise is ensuring a squat movement pattern in used and not the hinge movement pattern as seen in the landmine deadlift below.

The landmine deadlift is the best entry point to both hex bar deadlifts and conventional deadlifts. Learning how to lift from the floor with the landmine deadlift will give a beginner time and space to navigate the same movement pattern before they face the challenges of deadlifting with a conventional position. The phases where the barbell passes the knee can be very difficult for beginners, especially if they have problems maintaining a good hinge position, this is taken away with the landmine deadlift, giving a beginner less to think about and allowing them to focus on one or two cues.

The landmine bar row is a good pulling variation with a barbell for beginners. To be honest horizontal pulling in general is better done with dumbbell, kettlebells and body weight exercises because they don’t require the lumbar spine to maintain a tight hinge position which some beginners may find too difficult, while for others it will be easy. That being said the landmine bar row is still a very simple exercise that most beginners will likely be able to master, just ensure you don’t pull the weight into your face!

The half kneeling landmine press is one of the best vertical press variations available to beginners. It is very forgiving to those who have poor mobility, it develops both strength and stability in the shoulder joint and also a light load to start all of which the barbell bench press doesn’t allow. This is the best exercise to use to learn the vertical press (overhead press) movement pattern for beginners.

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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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