Built with 40 pounds of pure metal, barbells look like weapons made for weight-lifting jedis, but they are one of the most functional strength-training tools and are perfect for low-impact workouts.
In case you need a refresher, low-impact exercises are those that put less stress on the joints — and most barbell moves keep both feet on the ground so there's less force that your joints need to absorb.
But low impact doesn't mean low intensity. In fact, barbell exercises can get your heart rate soaring and sweat dripping just as much as doing a set of burpees or jump squats. Because barbells are quite large (read: heavy), doing exercises with them for multiple reps and longer periods of time can be taxing. Plus, limiting recovery time between sets demands more effort from your body, making the workout more intense.
Try this 20-minute low-impact barbell workout to build up your muscles head to toe. Do each exercise for 60 seconds for 3 sets. Rest 30 to 45 seconds between sets for a higher-intensity workout or 60 to 90 seconds for a low-intensity workout.
Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here — we've got something for everyone.
20-Minute Low-Impact Barbell Workout
Move 1: Barbell Squat to Press
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place the barbell in the front-rack position, so it rests across the front of your shoulders and your elbows are pointing straight forward, palms away from you.
- Bracing your core and keeping your back flat and upright, push your hips back and down to lower into a squat.
- Drive your knees out over your toes and lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground, or as low as you can comfortably go.
- Push your heels into the ground, and as you stand up, press the barbell overhead. Finish with your biceps by your ears.
- While standing, lower the barbell back to the front-rack position. This is 1 rep.
- Repeat for a full minute.
Move 2: Barbell Lateral Lunge
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and place the barbell behind your head, sitting on your trap muscles (the muscles at the top of your shoulders).
- Take a big step to your right with your right leg and push your butt back toward the wall behind you, bending your right knee and straightening your left leg out. Your toes should be facing forward.
- Push off of your right foot on the ground to stand back up and bring your feet back to the starting position.
- Repeat on your left leg and continue to alternate for a full minute.
Move 3: Barbell Deadlift to Row
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and grip the barbell with both hands in front of your thighs, palms facing you.
- Pack your shoulders back and down and brace your core. Push your butt back as you lower the bar toward the floor with soft knees.
- Continue lowering the barbell until your torso is parallel to the ground and the bar is mid-shin.
- Next, keeping your elbows close to the sides of your body, pull the barbell toward your hips.
- Lower the barbell and then push your feet into the ground to stand up. This is 1 rep.
- Repeat for a full minute.
Move 4: Landmine Core Twist
- Secure one end of the barbell to a landmine attachment on the ground, or place one end of the barbell on the floor in a snug corner of a wall.
- Stand facing the free end of the barbell and push your butt back to reach down and hold the end of the barbell with both hands.
- Keeping your core braced and back flat, push through your heels to stand up and press the barbell overhead.
- With your core braced, twist your torso to the left side with the barbell, then bring it back to the center and repeat on the right side. You should feel the tension in your abs. This is 1 rep.
- Continue alternating sides for a full minute.