When I started lifting weights, I was intimidated by barbells. They looked more like a man thing. I was happy working on the machines, which seemed more feminine. One day, the leg press was broken, and I was tired of waiting for the leg extension machine, so I looked at the Olympic bar and said to myself: “Why not?”

From there, I’ve had a strong relationship with barbells for almost 20 years.

Free-weight exercises can take your body to the next level and be incorporated no matter how fit you are. Barbells will make you work the whole body and engage other muscles for stabilization. The free motion accommodates differences in our anatomies and helps simulate real-life activities and sports.

If you want to burn more calories, get stronger and leaner, grab a barbell and do this killer leg workout routine. You can easily burn 10 calories/minute doing this routine.


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- Perform this routine twice a week. One day, you’ll do super-sets and the other day you’ll do circuits. Leave at least 24 hours between workouts.

- If you’re a beginner, do just one set or circuit with no weight until you progress.

- Intermediate/advanced do the full workout. You can either use a weighted bar or an Olympic bar at the gym.

- Regardless of your fitness level, make sure that every rep counts. Don’t be afraid to feel the burn while keeping good form. Keep the chest up and abdominals tight.

- For both routines, if you want to increase the intensity add at the end of each super-set/circuit these no-weight exercises: 10 jump squats,10 burpees and 10 split jumps.

The Exercises: (for illustrative purposes, the photos were shot with just a simple weighted bar)

Supersets (3 sets of 10-12 reps)

Front squat to walking lunge

Overhead squat and unilateral deadlift to bicep curl to lunge

Jump squats, Good Morning to lunge kick

Note: At the end of each superset, take 60 seconds rest.

Circuit (3 to 4 sets)

Front squat (15 reps): As you descend into a squat, keep your head up and back straight with the barbell resting at shoulder level.

Walking lunges using the same leg (then switch for one complete set) (15 reps): With barbell resting on your shoulder blades, go into a lunge and return to standing. Go into the next lunge using the same leading leg.

Overhead squat (12 reps): A good test for shoulder flexibility, raise the barbell in an overhead press position. Descend into a squat while keeping the barbell high above your head.

Unilateral deadlift to bicep curl to lunge: Balancing on one leg, lower the barbell while keeping your back straight. Feel it work your hamstring and return to standing position and do a bicep curl. Go into a lunge with the barbell in the same position as the front squat.

Jump squats: Explode up from the bottom of your squat and jump into the air. Land softy and smoothly go into the next squat. Choose a weight that allows you to get off the ground.

Good Morning: Maintaining a straight back, bend forward with the barbell resting on your upper shoulder blades. Rise back up into a standing position.

Lunge to kick: As you come up from your lunge, kick your opposite leg into the air as shown.

Note: Adjust the weight on the barbell according to how many reps you do. Less reps means more weight. Perform each exercise one after another without pausing. At the end of each circuit, take 90 seconds to rest.

Marta Montenegro inspires people to live healthy lives by giving them the tools and strength to find one’s inner athlete through her personal website MartaMontenegro.com. She created SOBeFiT, a national fitness magazine for men and women, and the Montenegro Method DVD workout series – a program she designed for getting results in just 21 days by exercising 21 minutes a day . Marta is a strength and conditioning coach and serves as an adjunct professor of exercise physiology at Florida International University.

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