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Barbell Exercises for Women's Weight Training

Barbell weight training isn't just for tough guys at the gym. Women can reap the same benefits from strength and power gains while sculpting their bodies and enhancing fat metabolism. With an adjustable barbell that allows you to change its weight plates, you can get a full-body workout for all of your muscles in less than 30 minutes. Barbell training negates the need to hop from one machine to another to work your muscles.

Getting Creative With Barbells

Being busy can limit how much time you can invest in working out. Instead of training one muscle group at a time, use a barbell to perform full-body exercises that work more than one muscle. Full-body exercises can also help you improve balance, stability and coordination between your lower body and upper body. If you're looking to burn the most amount of calories in the least amount of time with barbell weight-training, stick with full-body exercises, such as the squat presses, cleans, arm curl and shoulder presses and multi-planar lunges.

Burn More Calories, Save More Time

Cut your workout time in half and increase your calorie expenditure by using the superset method with your barbell workout. This involves performing two exercises that train different muscles groups without rest in between, allowing one group to work while the other group rests. In a study published in the April 2010 issue of "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research," researchers at Syracuse University in New York showed that subjects who performed superset training had a higher metabolic rate after their workout than those who trained in the traditional method, which is doing one exercise one set at a time. You can combine any exercise in the superset. For example, you can pair up a bench presses and standing barbell rows or a bench presses with squats or deadlifts.

Squat Strength Specifics

Barbell squats work your thighs and buttocks at the same time, so you don't have to isolate these muscle groups on machines. The amount of strength and muscle activity you gain in your buttocks and thighs depends on how deep you squat and how much load you have. A study at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, showed that women had a gradual increase in thigh muscle activity as the squat depth increased. Researchers concluded that you don't need a heavy load to increase thigh strength. However, a heavier load and deeper squat depth are needed to train your buttocks.

Body Position Matters

You don't need to do countless sit-ups and planks to improve your core strength. Barbell training can automatically activate your core since the core's job is to stabilize your body as you lift. The amount of core activation you get depends on your body position. A study performed at the Sogn og Fjordane University College in Norway showed that core activation is greater when the shoulder press is performed in a standing position than in a seated position. In another study performed at the same university, researchers found that body position can affect how much activity other muscles get. Arm and shoulder muscle activity in the shoulder press is significantly lower in the seated barbell shoulder press than the standing version. Do your barbell workouts in a standing position -- not seated -- to gain more strength.

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About the Author

Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.

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