The 8 Best Barbell Exercises Without Rack

Barbell exercises are a type of strength training exercise that involves lifting a barbell, which is a long bar with weights attached to each end. These exercises are a popular choice among weightlifters and bodybuilders because they can help to build muscle mass, improve strength, and increase power. Barbell exercises can be performed with or without a rack, which is a piece of equipment used to support the barbell during exercise.

6 min read
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Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
06/01/23
Last updated
12/01/23
In This Resource
  • Use The Landmine
  • The 8 Best Barbell Exercises Without A Rack

Barbell exercises are a type of strength training exercise that involves lifting a barbell, which is a long bar with weights attached to each end. These exercises are a popular choice among weightlifters and bodybuilders because they can help to build muscle mass, improve strength, and increase power. Barbell exercises can be performed with or without a rack, which is a piece of equipment used to support the barbell during exercise.

In this article, we will focus on barbell exercises that can be performed without a rack, which means that the barbell must be held in the hands or supported on the ground during and before the exercise. Some of these will involve lifting the barbell to the shoulder, but where this is applicable the exercise will be less load intensive.

Use The Landmine

If you don’t have a rack but have a full set of weights and a barbell, adding landmine variations to your arsenal will be an excellent addition for both variety and performance. Have a look at our landmine training library for exercises you can use in your training programme.

The 8 Best Barbell Exercises Without A Rack

The deadlift is one of the best exercises for gaining best strength and muscle. It is a very technical lift so make sure you take the time to learn how to perform it correctly. If you don’t have a rack this should be one of your go to exercises to use in your training regime for full body strength.

The sumo deadlift is very similar to the deadlift in the fact that it is a hinge movement that puts emphasis on full body strength. It however uses a much wider foot position which can be much more comfortable and natural for people than the conventional deadlift. This is also a very technical movement so take your time dialling in the technique when starting to use this exercise.

Strict press is one of the best upper-body strength training movements that can be done without a rack. Although it will require you to lift the barbell to the shoulders using a clean or a barbell high pull, the large majority of people will be able lift the weights they would use for the strict press to the shoulder without a rack. However if you don’t feel comfortable lifting the bar to the shoulders, leave this exercise out of your training plan.

Barbell curl is the most known isolation movement for the biceps. It can easily be done without a rack, allowing you to successfully target the biceps with your current equipment set up. Be sure not to use any momentum when performing this exercise as it will only take away from bicep activation.

The barbell floor seated press is a challenging vertical press variation that will involve both the shoulders and the core musculature. It’s not the most effective exercise for strength and hypertrophy due to the large role the core must play in performing the exercise, but for athletes and general population individuals it can be a great addition as it both beneficial to sports performance and adds variety.

The barbell single leg step up is an excellent unilateral knee flexion exercise that allows you to isolate the muscles and joints of a single leg. It needs to be done without jumping up to the both in order to be most effective, otherwise you are just using momentum to jump to the box. This will be a very challenging exercise with a barbell so only try this if you’re an intermediate individual. If you a beginner try this exercise without any weight and it will still be a very challenging and effective exercise.

The bent over row is the most effective exercise at building strength and muscle in the upper back. It can be challenging to not use momentum to lift the weight, remember why your performing the exercise, if you’re training to get your muscles to adapt either for more strength or size then use the muscles in the upper back and not momentum from the legs. If performed correctly this will be a very effective exercise.

Barbell rollout is the best core exercise you can a barbell (apart from maybe some excellent landmine variations). This exercise should only be done by those who already have developed abdominals as beginners will likely be unable to hold the position throughout and will lose the benefits that are trying to be obtained.

If you enjoyed this resource you can find more below, or try Programme, a fitness app that plans every workout for you based on your progress, equipment and lifestyle. This resource was written by Sean Richard Klein. Sean 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.

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