Do This 20-Minute Barbell Workout for Stronger Arms

Training with a barbell allows you to lift more weight than you would with dumbbells.
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When it comes to well-developed arms, body-weight exercises will only get you so far, according to Joel Freeman, CPT, Beachbody trainer and creator of LIIFT4.

"If you want tight and strong-looking arms, you have to lift weight," he says. "Weight training is the only way to build that long, lean, muscular look."

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While there are plenty of dumbbell exercises that are geared toward arm day — and of course, those have a place in your workout routine — Freeman appreciates the ease of using a barbell, in addition to being able to progress the amount of weight over time.

"Using a barbells is a great way to smash a quick arm workout and also allows you to lift heavier weight in general," he says.

Check out more of our ​​20-minute workouts here​​ — we’ve got something for everyone.

Try This 20-Minute Barbell Arm Workout

Do:​ these four exercises for one minute each, then repeat for a total of 5 sets, putting you at 20 minutes for the session.

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Tip

If you're new to using a barbell, start with an empty barbell or even a PVC pipe to help you practice good form before adding weight into the equation.

Move 1: Barbell Biceps Curl

  1. Grip the barbell either based on existing grip guides (see tip below) or with hands shoulder-width apart, palms facing up.
  2. Bend elbows and curl bar as close to your shoulders as possible, while keeping elbows pinned to your sides.
  3. Stop at the top before your elbows have to leave your sides, meaning if the bar touches your shoulders, you've gone too far.
  4. Return to starting position (arms fully extended) and repeat for 60 seconds.

Tip

“Depending on the barbell you’re using, some are specifically designed to show where you grip the bar,” Freeman says. “If not, you will want to hold the bar underhanded with your knuckles facing the floor and hands no wider than shoulder width.”

Move 2: Barbell Wrist Curl

  1. Sit on the end of a bench and hold the barbell with palms facing up, wrists against your knees.
  2. Raise the barbell by curling just your wrists, and lower back down with control.
  3. Keep your forearms pressed against your thighs throughout the move.

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Tip

This may seem like a small range of motion, but it’s very helpful for strengthening wrists, which you’ll need a variety of exercises. Also, this is a great way to counteract sitting at a desk and typing on a computer all day.

Move 3: Triceps Press

  1. Lie on the floor or a bench, holding a barbell with an overhand grip (knuckle facing up) and extend your arms fully in the air with the bar in line with your shoulders.
  2. Keeping your elbows the same width apart (about body width), bend your arms so the bar begins to drop toward your body.
  3. Stop when your elbows bend to a 90-degree angle, going no lower than the bench or stopping right before your triceps touch the floor.
  4. Without flaring your elbows, push back up to starting position.

Tip

“The more you keep your elbows in toward the body, the more you’ll isolate your triceps,” Freeman says.

Move 4: Backward Barbell Wrist Curl

  1. Stand and hold the barbell behind you with arms extended and palms facing back. The barbell will lightly rest against your glutes or upper thighs.
  2. Raise the barbell by curling your wrists. Press down into your feet and keep shoulders relaxed.
  3. Slowly lower back down after a pause, maintaining straight arms throughout the movement.

Tip

Not only will this continue to strengthen your wrists, but you’ll also get some triceps strengthening as well.

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