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3 Badass Barbell Moves That Will Make You Stronger Than Ever

Never be afraid of the free weight area again.

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The free-weight area of the gym can be intimidating. But doing total-body exercises, while lifting heavier weights, is extremely good for your overall health no matter what your goals are.

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Weightlifting is key to helping you reach your fitness goal, whether it's to lose weight, prevent injury, build up endurance, or just become stronger, Albert Matheny, advisor for ProMix Nutrition and certified strength and conditioning expert at Soho Strength Lab, tells BuzzFeed.

"It helps you build muscle, which increases your metabolism, helping you burn more fat," he says. "And the most effective way to lift is to do compound moves that engage multiple muscle groups with a good amount of weight."

And by the way, if you're a woman who's concerned about getting too bulky from lifting, you probably don't have to worry. More on that here.

So here are three basic barbell exercises that will improve your overall strength and fitness.

Before you start, here's more info on how to do these moves safely and how to incorporate them into your workout.

To fit them into your workout: Make each one the first lift of your workout when you're starting out; that way you'll have the energy to do it with proper form and lower risk of injury. Try doing 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps. And remember that these are taxing, total-body moves, so you don't want to be doing them all on the same day.

Okay, let's get into it!

Taylor Miller / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

This move is great for seriously increasing your upper body strength (pectorals, triceps, deltoids) and helping with your overall stability.

The set-up:

• Plant your feet firmly on the floor. If your feet don't reach the floor, stack plates beside the bench so your feet can rest on them.

• Grip the bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart.

• Rack the bar so that when your hands are gripping it, your arms are bent and your elbows are at your sides (your arms should not be fully extended).

The movement:

• Lift the bar off the rack and hold it just over your sternum or lower chest (over the lower pectoral muscle).

• Press the bar up until your arms are straight and your elbows are locked out.

• Bring the bar down slowly until it lightly touches your sternum. This is one rep.

And this is what it should look like:

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Do:

• Keep your hips and shoulders stationary, pinned to the bench.

• Keep your lats engaged while lowering the bar.

• Keep the barbell over your elbows at all times.

• Move the bar in a straight path (it's okay if it travels slightly).

Don't:

• Let your shoulders move while pressing.

• Lift your feet off the ground while pressing.

• Let the bar travel all the way up towards your head or down towards your belly button during the movement.

Taylor Miller / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Squats are amazing if you're trying to strengthen the muscles in your lower body (hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, calf muscles) and work your abs.

The set-up:

• Position your feet about shoulder-width apart (a little narrower or wider is OK) and turn your toes out slightly.

• Position the bar on the squat rack so that it's just below shoulder level. (Learn all about how to use a squat rack here.)

• Step under the bar so it's resting on your shoulders just below your neck (on top of your traps).

The movement:

• Grip the bar with both hands outside your shoulders.

• Take a step back away from the squat rack.

• Pushing your hips back, slowly lower down into a squat as if you're sitting onto a chair.

• Squat only as deeply as your mobility allows.

• Slowly, and with your abs engaged, return to standing. That's one rep.

And this is what it should look like:

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Do:

• Look ahead and slightly up.

• Push through your mid-foot when standing the weight up.

• Keep your abs tight, shoulders squeezed together, and chest tall.

Don’t:

• Spread your hands too far apart on the bar.

• Round your lower your back or tuck your tail bone under as you squat.

• Extend your knees past your toes as you squat.

• Let your knees cave inward during the movement. If they do, consider lowering the weight.

• Come up on your toes or push from your heels when you stand the weight up.

Taylor Miller / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Deadlifts are a total-body move, working the same muscles as a squat, improving your core's stability, and strengthening all the muscles in your lower back and neck (traps).

The set-up:

• Position your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your chest tall.

• Keep your toes pointed straight or slightly turned out.

• Squat down to grab the bar.

• Place your hands about shoulder-width apart on the bar or slightly wider (your hands should be wide-enough apart that you have room for your knees).

The movement:

• Gripping the bar and keeping your abs engaged, slowly stand up with the weight.

• Make sure your hips are stacked underneath your shoulders and your back is flat.

• Squeeze your butt at the top of the movement. That's one rep.

And this is what it should look like:

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Do:

• Push through your mid foot.

• Make sure the bar is in light contact with your shins and thighs throughout the lift.

Don't:

• Point your toes inward.

• Lean back or hyperextend your back when standing up with the weight.

• Let your shoulders drop or your back round.

• Come up on your toes or push through your heels when standing the weight up.

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