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HOW TO GET BY WITH ONLY A BARBELL (no other equipment)


Hints and tips taken from old school methods to get by without a rack and only a barbell

Many of you know working out from home have limited equipment and this is written for those of you with only a barbell to use…….Taking inspiration from the old school methods from the early 1900s. Back then, there was limited equipment and many people only had available a barbell, no bench, no racks etc.

So below is a list of exercises you can do just a barbell and the lift that we now do using equipment that is now widely available in the gym.

The descriptions for these exercises is taken from the “Allround weightlifting Association” exercise descriptions many of witch are used in their competitions

So the main exercises

Deadlift - Deadlift, Zercher lift, straddle lift

Squat - Steinbourne lift, Zercher lift, Hack squat, front squat

Bench press - floor pullover and press (and variations)

Shoulder press - Steinbourne lift to behind neck press, clean to military press

Seated Row – Barbell bent row, Pendlay row

The above exercises will give you a full body workout.



The bar will be placed at the feet and directly in front of the lifter. The lifter will grasp the bar with both hands and raise the weight, the only command will be given at the completion of the lift. The lifter may use a grip in which palms are opposed if do desired. The bar may be uneven during ascent, but it must finish evenly. The bar may touch the legs during ascent, but should not be rested, bounced or hitched on the legs, or lowered at any point. No substance of any kind may be applied to the legs. Heels and toes may be raised during the lift, but the placing should not be changed. The lift is completed when the legs and arms are straight, with the bar motionless across the lifters thighs, and the shoulders braced


A barbell will be deadlifted to the knees and the lifter will then squat down in order to balance the bar on the top of the knees, foot spacing is optional on both preliminary and primary movements. The lifter will then secure the barbell in the crook of the elbows, either by reaching under the bar inside the legs, or outside, and will then stand erect, in his /her own time, with the weight fixed at the articulation of the upper and lower arm (the elbow). The feet must not move from the elected position, and on completion the legs must be straight and the body erect with shoulders braced


The rules of performance for the deadlift apply, except that the lifter will straddle the bar. The lifter can face any direction, and the foot spacing is optional, but the feet must be placed one either side of the bar. The bar may ride against either leg during the lift, but must not be supported, or make any descent.


The rules of performance for the deadlift apply, except that the bar will be placed behind the lifter, and will remain behind throughout the lift. The bar may touch the calves and upper legs as it rises. The bar should be raised in one movement, but should the bar bind against the upper legs it is permissible for the bar to stop while a hip adjustment is made, so long as the bar does not lower during that adjustment


The rules of performance for the squat apply, except that the weigh will be affixed to the chest. The bar will rest on the configuration of the clavicles, upper chest and shoulders (as for the clean position) with an optional grip. The bar cannot be lowered on the chest once the ascent has begun, and the arms and elbows must not touch the legs at any point during the lift.


The rules of performance for the squat apply, except that the lifter has to take the bar from the floor to the shoulders, using a series of movements to get the bar in position, and be ready to receive the signal to squat. Following the completion of the squat and receiving the referees signal to replace the bar, the lifter must again use a series of movements to take the bar back to the lifting surface, under control. To get the bar to the shoulders the lifter will stand the bar on end and move into a position against the bar so that the bar can fall or be rocked onto the shoulders. The bar can be brought onto one shoulder if desired, but must then be pivoted around and into position across the shoulders at the back of the neck. An aide can assist the lifter by placing a foot against the bottom of the up –ended bar to stop it sliding, both before and after the squat lift.


The rules for the pullover are the same as for the pullover and push (B43), except that the legs must stay flat, and must not be moved during the pullover so as to gain assistance. The lifter can choose the width of the legs position, but once elected they must remain in that position. With the bar at fore arms length and the elbows on the floor, the lifter must await the referees signal to press. The bar is pressed to arms length as per the bench press, and on completion the official will signal for the bar to be returned to the lifting surface. Note: when the lifter has pulled the bar over, movement of the upper arms is allowed whilst the lifter finds a better / stronger position, prior to the press.


The lifter assumes a laying down position on the lifting surface, face up, and with the bar at arms length behind the head. The bar is grasped with arms extended and the palms facing upwards. The width of the grip is optional and at this point the position of the feet and legs is also optional. The lifter pulls the bar over the head and to a position above the chest, in one movement. The weight is supported at fore arms length by the elbows, being placed firmly on the floor. The lifter will bring the feet close in to the buttocks, if not already done, and may incline the fore arms to allow the bar to rest on the abdomen. By using a belly toss or bridging movement the lifter will push the weight out to arms length, in one continuous movement, to the finished position over the shoulders/ chest configuration. The lifter is allowed to move the feet around during the lift, but to finish, the back, buttocks and legs must be lowered to lay flat and motionless, the bar fixed as if at the finish of a bench press. The referees signal to replace the bar comes at the completion of the lift. The lifter may use a towel or mat under the elbows for protection. The bar must be pulled and lifted into the push position, not rolled, and once the bar leaves the floor it must not touch again at any point until the down signal. Only one effort at the push is allowed.


From the same start position as for the snatch, the bar should be cleaned to the chest in a single movement, taking the bar from the platform to the shoulders using either: a squat clean or a power clean. During the pull the bar may slide along the legs and lap but should not touch the chest before the final position. During the clean, the elbows and upper arms should not come into contact with the knees or thighs. The bar should come to rest on the clavicles or chest, above the nipples with the arms full bent. The bar may be adjusted between the clean and the jerk, allowing the thumbs to be withdrawn, the bar to be lowered if impeding the breathing and to change the width of the grip. The feet should return to the straight line, with the legs straight and the lifter recovering in their own time, before performing the jerk. To jerk, the lifter bends the legs and extends them as well as the arms, to bring the bar to full extension overhead, in one movement. The lift must not finish with a press out, and the lifters feet should once again come to finish in line with legs and arms fully extended.


Start with the bar on the floor in front of you. It’s wise to use a lighter weight than you do in the bent-over barbell row, because you’ll be lifting it from the ground with each rep.Bend forwards, hinging at the hips, until your back is parallel to the ground. Your knees should be slightly bent. Grasp the bar using an overhand grip with your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart. Brace your core and lift the weight up to your abdomen by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Then lower the bar all the way back to the floor. Make sure your back stays parallel to the floor throughout the exercise – your arms and shoulders should be the only parts of the body that move during a rep

If you are inrterested in more of these odd lifts click here and get the IAWA rule book

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