7 Feb

The Olympic Bar (OB) is one piece of gym equipment that delivers the goods when it comes to developing muscular strength, muscle definition, fat loss and general fitness. The problem is that not enough women use it or use it well, and in the process I believe, they are denying themselves a superb workout.

Now I’m not referring to women who are fitness enthusiasts or elite sportswomen. They already know how to lift the bar and use it well to reach their fitness goals.

I’m writing this article for all those women out there – the average Mum/sister/aunty/daughter – who wants to burn some calories, but who is maybe unsure about how to use the bar for best results.

So here are some tips to get you started in the right direction. Of course, if you really have no experience lifting the bar at all, I recommend you first get yourself a personal trainer to guide you through until you are confident in lifting the bar.

BENCH PRESS #2The OB has been a gym staple for bodybuilders, athletes and strength training enthusiasts for decades and for very good reason. You can use the bar for practically all muscle groups, it’s a great adjunct to diversifying your core workout. The bar works the gluteals with amazing results, and of course a chest workout wouldn’t be the same without the bench press!

The BEST Way To Overcome Bar Shyness!

The olympic bar generally weighs 20 kilos or more without weight plates. So it makes good sense to find yourself a certified personal trainer and ask them to train you in mastering bar technique. However, there are a few things you need to be aware of before throwing yourself into lifting the bar……..

1. You Need a Good Base Level of Strength

Due to its natural weight, the Olympic bar requires the lifter to have some experience in lifting be it dumbbells, pump bars or smaller steel plate bars that weigh anywhere between 5kg up to 15kg without added plates.

So for an exercise newbie it would be foolhardy to jump right into lifting weights with an Olympic bar. To spare yourself injury, first build up a good base level of strength and overall fitness before commencing a bar program.

2. When Not To Use The Bar

If you can’t lunge, squat or do a chest press with dumbbells with good form, then before you start lifting the OB you need to perfect your technique. This is important for obvious reasons………

……….so you don’t injure yourself!

This may seem an all too obvious statement to make but it’s surprising how many people (mainly the young guys) will immerse themselves in bar work without first taking the time to learn proper squatting technique without weights.

3. Correct Hand /Wrist Positioning

Correct Wrist Position for Bench Pressing

It’s important to maintain wrist/elbow alignment when flexing the elbow to bring the bar down close to your chest. Flexing the wrist places excessive loading on the joint that overtime can lead to injury. A personal trainer will be able to spot your technique and ensure you maintain good form.

4. Proper Bar Positioning for Back Squats

Correct positioning for a back squat

Correct Bar Position for a Back Squat

Everyone wants to do squats with the bar and for good reason. It’s a great way to build strength, burn calories and get a better shape through the thighs and butt. If you want to try this, first make sure you can perform the squat correctly without weights. If you’re not sure how to go about it, get a PT to show you the correct and safe way. Once you have mastered the technique you can then think about back squatting.

5. How To Use the Olympic Bar for Hip Thrusts to Work the Glutes


Correct Bar Positioning for Hip Thrusts.

Hip Thrusts with an OB is an excellent way to build muscle and strength through the glutes (butt cheeks). A stronger butt means a healthier back so there is good reason to do this exercise..but….make sure you do it well! Once again, if unsure seek out a personal trainer.

6. Click on Your Core

Due to the length and weight of an OB, for many novice women, it can be difficult to master when doing an exercise such as the bench press. I always tell clients when doing bench presses, to squeeze their butt and suck in their lower abs. When activated like this, these two muscle groups then act as a natural girdle for the hips from which to launch yourself into the exercise.

Another way to strengthen your core using the bar is squatting with a one-handed position as shown below…


1 Hand B/B Squat

Or…try rotating the upper body while holding the bar in two hands.An excellent workout for the obliques, thoracic girdle, spinal erectors and abdominals…..


Torso Rotations Using the Bar

As you can see, there are many  ways to use the OB for an all-over well-rounded workout. The last two photos provide examples of how the bar can activate your core musculature to give you stability and strength for other exercises and essentially for daily activities.


  • Effective fitness and weight loss gains
  • A useful tool in producing a perkier butt (stop sitting on those leg machines!)
  • Boosts muscle strength.
  • Effective body fat melt down
  • A better workout for the core than crunches!

Bar Variations

Once you have mastered the use of the Olympic Bar you may want to try other bar variations.

One of my favourites is the standard tricep bar, but you can also choose the hex deadlift bar, or the curl bar to help with spot strengthening or simply for variety.

So whatever your program may be right now, if you’re avoiding any sort of bar work, well girls, it’s time to change! The Olympic bar and it’s cousins is a very useful tool to melt body fat, strengthen muscles and get the shape you really want. If you are unsure how to use it correctly, don’t hesitate to hire a personal trainer to show you the way.

Happy lifting girls!


  1. FITGirl Training February 7, 2013 at 9: 35 pm #

    Excellent job, Fiona! Thanks for writing a comprehensive piece on the Olympic Bar and sharing your knowledge.


    • fisfitness February 7, 2013 at 10: 59 pm #

      Hey thanks Carla…I also like your blog..some great recipe ideas..Love it Cheers Fi

  2. FITGirl Training February 7, 2013 at 9: 33 pm #

    Reblogged this on Women's Health and Fitness and commented:
    Very impressive information for the beginner on using the Olympic Bar from Fiona at FisFitness. I highly recommend following the advice of seeking proper technique training prior to lifting the “bar.” Injuries commonly result from poor technique. Be safe and give it a go!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 134 other followers

%d bloggers like this: