I’m sure many of you have been there, whether you’ve clocked off from work early in the hope of beating the after-work-gym-rush, only to be 4th in line for the bench press, tried to navigate your way around the hordes of January enthusiasts or uncomfortably tried to ask, when there seems to be “big Jay” and all of his 300lb friends hosting their own version of Mr Olympia in the weights section… 

“how many sets have you got left?”. 

This may even result in a number meaning the equipment you were hoping to use won’t be available till way past your bedtime…

So what can you do? 

You could simply find a corner and go for a few push ups and crunches, but that won’t build total body strength or give you a well rounded physique. What’s the alternative? 

The answer? 

Find yourself a versatile piece of equipment that can give you that full body workout that you were hoping for…. the barbells. 

Often overlooked or simply used as a supplement to a dumbbell training routine, the stack of barbells come in a range of weights and varieties, such as a curved or straight bar. 

With merely 2 to 3 barbells and sufficient space to wave to your Mum like an excited kid in the school play, you can get an effective workout using a range of compound and isolation movements. 

The workout below consists of 4 quadruples of super-sets (2 exercises performed back to back without stopping), resulting in 32 sets in total, ensuring you not only boost your total body strength in a fraction of the time, but also get a cardiovascular & hormone boosting workout for free! (gym price not included).

The Workout

Key Notes

  • 4 x 4 super-sets per session = 32 sets per session
  • Maintain good form to prevent injury
  • Either start with 6 repetitions and try to add 1 more rep each week or..
  • Try to complete as many reps as possible for each set
  • Each session, record the weights and reps used (here the weight is written with reps in brackets)
  • Give yourself no rest during super-sets and roughly 1-2 minutes between super-sets
  • After your workout, eat well & see results


Speed up your workout

Minimizing rest during super-sets ensures you get the most from your gym time and don’t get distracted checking out the newest gym member strolling around. [1]

Maximize Growth Hormone

The lactic acid produced with supersets helps boost your levels of growth hormone (GH) as the body responds to the increased acidity in the body by releasing GH, i.e. intensity boosts results. [2]

Burn more body fat

Working more muscle groups in a single session increased the energy demands from the body. A study from Syracuse University found that when people performed supersets, they burnt 35% more calories both during and after the workout. [3]

Bust your plateau 

Results started to slow down? Throw in this superset workout to kick your progress off again in the right direction. [4]


As barbells are easy to move around, are not fixed into the ground and can train your whole body, you can get a full body workout wherever you are. [5]

Strengthen Stabilizer muscles

Compared to machine work, barbells require you to keep your body stable whilst performing exercises, ensuring you’re as steady as a rock. [6]

Better Strength Gains

As dumbbells typically only go up to 50kg, with some moves this won’t be sufficient to challenge your muscles (“if it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you”). 

By using barbells, you can add more and more plates to your hearts content for big exercises. [7]

Progress Easier

With barbells you have complete flexbility over the specific increase in weight you want to use as you become stronger, with barbells you may have to jump from 32kg in each hand to 34kg in each hand (a total of 4kg increase per repetition) with barbells, you can add 1.25 on each side, sometimes less (a total of 2.5kg per repetition), if you were Goldilocks, Barbells would be your porridge that’s “just right”. [8]

Exercise Breakdown

Here’s a quick summary of the exercises themselves, if you really want to increase the intensity, you could use these as part of a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Workout too!

Military Press

A compound pushing move which will help build your upper body and raw strength.

Main Muscles Worked:
Shoulders, triceps and upper chest.

This can be done whilst seated, which will remove any effort from the legs to stabilize your body whilst pressing.

Begin with the bar towards your collar bones, brace your core and with control, press the bar directly up above your head. Lower slowly and repeat.

Barbell Row

A rowing movement performed whilst bending forward to develop a stronger upper back.

Main Muscles Worked:
Lats (middle back muscles below your armpits), biceps & rear shoulders.

Can be performed with a wide grip or narrow grip, where the narrow grip will place more emphasis on the biceps.

Hold the bar with a wide, palms down grip, bend forward about 40-60 degrees without arching your back. 

Now pull the weight upwards towards the chest, squeezing the back muscles as you do so. Lower back to the starting position and repeat.

Bicep Curl

The standard bicep curl with a barbell to build a shirt-ripping pair of biceps.

Main Muscles Worked:

Can be performed with an overhand grip (referred to as a reverse curl) for more emphasis on the forearms.

Grab the bar with your palms facing up and a shoulder width grip, whilst keeping your elbows in the same position, curl your wrists up towards your shoulders (swinging is cheating!).


The king of lower body movements and is fantastic for developing leg strength & power.

Main Muscles Worked:
Quadriceps (front thighs), hamstrings (back thighs) and glutes (your ass).

Legs can be placed under the shoulders or wider if preferred for greater glute development.

For a safe squat, begin with the bar on your trap muscles (the meaty section inbetween your shoulders), slowly lower your hips down till they are at least at a 90 degree angle to your knees before standing up again in a controlled fashion.

Tricep Extension

The opposite movement to the bicep curl to develop your triceps and ensure you have strong yet balanced arms.

Main Muscles Worked:

With a crowded gym, this exercise is performed easiest whilst standing. Alternatively, you can sit down to take some emphasis off stabilizing yourself standing up.

Pick the bar up with an overhand grip (palms facing down) hold the bar above your head. Now lower the bar behind your head, moving your forearms towards your biceps, keeping your elbows pointing forward at all times.

Romanian Deadlift

A form of deadlift that puts great emphasis on the hamstrings (back of legs) and glutes (your ass).

Main Muscles Worked:
Hamstrings, glutes & lower back.

This move can be performed with lowering the barbell all the way to the floor, though you must have great hip flexibility to do this to prevent a rounding of the back.

Starting with the bar up, lower the bar down towards your knees whilst maintaining a flat back, using the backs of your legs, pull the weight back up to the starting position. 

Barbell Press

One of the “big three” exercises, which builds great upper body strength and mass.

Main Muscles Worked:
Pectoral muscles (chest), triceps and shoulders.

If the gym is really busy and you can’t get access to a bench, first try to find a step which you can use as a bench, alternatively this move can be completed on a swiss ball. 

Finally, if all else fails, as the last resort, this can either be completed from the floor, though this will reduce the range of motion, or you have the option of standard push-ups.

Starting with the bar above your chest, lower the bar down till it’s just above your chest before exhaling and pressing the bar up to the starting position.


A great complement to the squat, helping you develop 

Main Muscles Worked:
Quadriceps (thighs), glutes (your ass) & hamstrings (back of legs)

This move can either be performed by stepping forward or stepping backward to put you into the initial lunge position.

Step forward with your left leg ad slowly lower your body till your front knee is at least 90 degrees, keeping your torso upright. Push your body up to the starting position and repeat for your right leg.

Conclusion & Free Download

There you have it, the best workout to develop full body strength, even if it is Tuesday evening at “peak-hours-o-clock”. 

Keep this workout in your back pocket, so if you turn up to the gym and it resembles more rush hour on the tube than haven of tranquility, you’ve got a workout to give you the results you want. Of course if you’re looking to build serious muscle, you’ll need to know the 3 absolute essentials for muscle growth.

Feel free to download the workout below, print it off and give it a try. If you have any questions or comments, get in touch, we’d love to hear your feedback!

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[1] 3 Huge Benefits of Superset Workouts – http://www.buildyourdreambody.com/3-huge-benefits-of-superset-workouts.html
[2] The Benefits of Superset Workouts – http://www.criticalbench.com/superset_workout.htm
[3] The Superman Program: Benefits – http://www.muscleandfitness.com/workouts/workout-tips/superman-program-benefits
[4] Shock Your Muscles with Supersets – http://uk.askmen.com/sports/bodybuilding_100/132_fitness_tip.html
[5] Benefits of Barbell Exercises – http://www.barbell-exercises.com/
[6] What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Using An All Barbell Workout? – http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/wotw48.htm
[7] Question of the week: Barbells Vs. Dumbbells – http://www.mensfitness.com/training/pro-tips/question-week-barbells-vs-dumbbells
[8] Dumbbells vs Barbells – Are Dumbbell or Barbell Exercises Best? – http://www.aworkoutroutine.com/dumbbells-vs-barbells/