The at-home barbell workout program that's as tough as going to the gym

The at-home barbell workout program that's as tough as going to the gym

Tell me if this sounds like you occasionally: You turn up to the gym and you don't feel like being there. You leave the dumbbells on the rack and the barbells right where they are, and proceed to train using machines, cables, and other mechanisms that don't push you too much. In no time you're finished and you leave the gym. We've all done it. Truth is, the gym can be an easy experience because of this. But limit your equipment to just a barbell and there's nowhere to hide! The idea that training at home will bring subpar results isn't always true, and this article will detail an at-home barbell workout that's as tough as training at the gym.

Best equipment for a home workout

home barbell workout

For this program, for the sake of simplicity, all you need is one barbell. That's it.

And depending on how long you've been training, is how much weight you'll need. Here's a picture of a barbell many utilised during the Covid-19 induced quarantine.

This barbell is not the length of an Olympic bar (2.2 metres) but rather 130 cm.

It makes it easy to move in and out of your house, or to your backyard, and store easily. There are no excuses! And it comes with the above weight (2 x 5 kg plates, 2 x 2.5 kg plates, and 2 x 1.25 plates) which with the bar, weighs roughly 18-20 kilograms. And of course, if you're a really advanced lifter and want a challenge, feel free to go and buy an Olympic bar with more weight.

But beware: they are heavy and if you have weak floorboards, be sure to go somewhere better. And be sure to stay right off any tiles!

The at-home barbell workout for strength and muscles gains

The following workout is full of compound movements; there's nowhere to hide. No pin loaded machines to hide away on, just old fashioned tough lifting!

You'll aim for 12-15 reps to muscle failure, and always do more if you can. For some of you, the weight will be lighter than if you were to go to the gym. But don't be concerned, higher reps to muscle failure still illicit muscle gains (1).

In this program, you'll get two days off, Wednesday and Sunday. Here's what muscles you're working across what days:

Monday: Quads, chest, back, hamstrings.

Tuesday: Shoulders, Triceps, glutes, biceps.

Wednesday: Quads, chest, back, hamstrings.

Thursday: OFF

Friday: Repeat Monday (Quads, chest, back, hamstrings)

Saturday: Shoulders, triceps, rear delts, biceps

Sunday: OFF

We're not adopting a traditional: Monday = legs, Tuesday = chest approach, because that's not an ideal approach for muscle growth and strength gains.

This is because after 48 hours, your muscles have healed and they can be trained again (2). In this program, chest, quads, and hamstrings will be trained three times each, with 12 sets performed across the week in total. This is because 10-20 sets is a good range for muscle growth (3).

Here's what the first day will look like for you:


4 x walking barbell lunges (Walk as far as you can and turn around and keep going until muscle failure).

barbell walking lunges

4 x weighted push-ups

weighted push ups

4 x barbell bent-over rows

barbell bent over row


4 x stiff-legged deadlifts

barbell stiff-legged deadlifts


4 x standing military barbell press

standing military barbell press

4 x skull crushers -- You can perform this lying on the ground with a yoga towel as you likely don't have a bench at home.

barbell skull crushers

4 x elevated single-leg hip thrust. (Here, place the barbell on the thigh of the glute you are working on and balance it with both hands. Target one glute at a time, and try the exercise against a step, chair, or lounge. If you can't find something reasonable, simply lie flat on the floor as seen in the second picture and add resistance with the weight plates on your lap).

elevated single leg hip thrust

4 x standing barbell curls

standing barbell curls


4 x Barbell Bulgarian split squat (Again, use a chair or something elevated outside as you likely don't have a bench).

Bulgarian split squats

4 x Decline push-ups

decline push ups

4 x barbell bent-over rows

barbell bent over row

4 x stiff-legged deadlifts

barbell stiff leg deadlift




Repeat Monday


4 x Standing side raises

standing barbell side raises

4 x bench dips -- Add weights to your lap to increase difficulty. Use a chair against a wall for a bench for maximum stability.

Bench Dips

4 x standing rear delt raise (Use the handles on the weight plates that you put on your barbell).

standing rear delt raise

4 x standing barbell curls

standing barbell curls



That's a challenging program that will really test you, regardless of whether you find the weight light or not. Be sure to eat adequately and recover with 8-10 hours of sleep.

You don't need a gym to really push yourself, and once you try this, you'll know exactly what I mean!


(1) Mitchell CJ, Churchward-Venne TA, West DW, et al. Resistance exercise load does not determine training-mediated hypertrophic gains in young men. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2012;113(1):71-77. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00307.2012

(2) Phillips SM, Tipton KD, Aarsland A, et al. Mixed muscle protein synthesis and breakdown after resistance exercise in humans. Am J Physiol. 1997;273:E99–E107.

(3) Schoenfeld BJ, Ogborn D, Krieger JW. Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance training volume and increases in muscle mass: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Sports Sci. 2017 Jun;35(11):1073-1082. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2016.1210197. Epub 2016 Jul 19. PMID: 27433992.

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