10 Advantages Of Barbells For Skinny Guys Trying To Gain Muscle

advantages of barbells

Are you a skinny guy who is not yet aware of the power of the barbell? If you are, then you should read this post! Because today I will be explaining 10 advantages of barbells for skinny guys looking to build muscle!

The main advantages of barbells include their stability during heavy weight lifting, practicality for compound movements, and flexible capability to overload. They are also a cheap and space-efficient way to lift weights at home. Combined, these factors make barbells a great choice for workouts that aim to increase muscle mass.

Barbells are my all-time favorite equipment for lifting weights (followed closely by the dumbbell!).

In fact, I credit 80% of my own weight gain journey to using the humble barbell!

It really is the perfect tool for a skinny guy looking to pack on more muscle mass.

And today, I will explain why.

So let’s dive right in!

1. Barbells Are More Stable.

Of all the free weights, the barbell is the most stable.

That’s because the most popular barbell exercises are known as bilateral exercises.

In other words, most barbell movements require both sides of the body to push or pull on the barbell.

Think about exercises like the bench press, squat, and deadlift.

What do they all have in common?

Yup, they all require BOTH hands/feet to push/pull on the barbell.

Bilateral Exercises are inherently more stable, and this allows you to lift more weight.

The bilateral nature of barbell exercises will in turn provide greater stability in your movements.

And ultimately, this allows you to lift heavier weights.

To give you a better idea, take a look at the results of this 2011 study and 2013 study.

Barbell Exercise1 Rep Max (Compared To Dumbbell Variation)
Barbell Bench Press.17% More Weight Lifted.
Barbell Overhead Press7% More Weight Lifted
Data from Saeterbakken 2011 and Saterbakken 2013 study.

As you can see, performing exercises with a barbell allowed the test subjects to lift heavier weights when compared to the dumbbell variations.!

And the author associated this with the inherently more stable nature of the barbell (when compared to the dumbbell).

Take Home Message:

Barbell training allows you to lift heavier weights due to the bilateral nature of most barbell exercises. Both hands and feet work together to simultaneously push or pull on the barbell. This creates a stable movement which in turn allows heavier weights to be lifted.

Read my other article to determine your ideal lifting weight for muscle growth!

2. More Muscle Can Be Built With Barbells.

Lifting a heavier weight naturally requires greater strength and power output from your muscles.

And this will lead to increased muscular hypertrophy (muscle growth).

But why is this?

barbells allow more weight to be lifted

It all comes down to training volume (the total amount of weight lifted per week).

This 2016 study showed that training volume and increased muscle mass show a dose-response relationship.

In other words- the higher your training volume, the more muscle you will build.

And increasing the weight you lift is one of the most effective ways to increase training volume.

Take a look at the table below.

Which exercise do you think has the higher training volume?

DayBarbell Bench Press (Kg Lifted)Dumbbell Bench Press (Kg Lifted)
Barbells allow for a higher training volume.

You probably guessed right!

Bench pressing with a barbell allows you to push more weight per week, than by pressing with dumbbells (150kg vs 105kg).

Therefore barbell bench pressing leads to a higher training volume.

And as I mentioned above, a higher training volume means more muscle gains!

Take Home Message:

Heavy lifting with a barbell will increase your total weekly training volume. A higher training volume will benefit individuals whose goal is to gain muscle. This is because training volume and muscle hypertrophy show a dose-response relationship, where increasing training volume also increases muscle hypertrophy.

Check out my other article to learn how to build muscle with weights!

3. The Best Way To Compound Lift Is With Barbells.

Compound lifting is without a doubt the best way to gain muscle as a skinny guy.

If you don’t already know- compound lifts are those which engage multiple muscle groups around multiple joints.

Therefore the more effectively you can perform compound lifting, the quicker you will be able to build muscle.

The ONLY 5 Barbell Exercises You Need for Muscle Mass 👌

And do you know the easiest way to perform compound lifting?

Yup, with barbells!

That’s because barbells offer superior stability during complex movements such as compound lifts.

barbell exercises are more stable

With barbell movements, the range of motion is significantly reduced since you have a solid bar connecting both your hands.

This will improve stability since lateral (side-to-side) movement is reduced.

In contrast, free weights such as dumbbells are free to move as you lift them up and down. Therefore they require more stabilization to complete the movement.

Ultimately, the improved stability of barbells will assist your ability to perform your compound movements in a controlled manner.

In turn, this will allow you to lift heavier and gain more muscle!

Take Home Message:

The most effective way to perform compound lifting is by using a barbell. This is because compound exercises are complex movements, and barbells offer superior stability when you travel through the range of motion. In contrast, dumbbells require stabilisation of the lateral movement when travelling through the range of motion.

Check out my other article to learn more about compound exercises!

4. Barbells Are Better For Ground-Based Compound Lifts.

Ground-based compound lifts are those which begin with the weight laying on the floor.

They are excellent ways to work the entire body and should be included in any muscle-building program.

10 Benefits Of Deadlifting

Examples of ground-based compound lifts include:

  • Deadlift (and variations).
  • Pendlay row.
  • Clean and press.
  • Power clean.
  • Barbell snatch.

Barbells offer a major advantage when it comes to performing ground-based lifts. This is due to the increased ground clearance offered by barbells.

barbells have a higher ground clearance and more suitable for ground-based exercises

The weight plates used on barbells have a greater diameter than dumbbell plates.

And this increases the bar of the barbell further from the floor.

Ultimately, this will give you greater leverage to lift a barbell off the floor and allow you to lift heavier weights for the ground-based lifts.

Take Home Message:

Ground-based compound compound lifts are those where the starting position of a weight is on the floor. Barbells are the most suitable equipment to use for ground-based compound lifts due to the higher ground clearance they offer. This allows for greater leverage to lift the weight from the floor.

5. It Is Easier To Overload With Barbells.

Progressive overload refers to the process of increasing lifting intensity to present a constantly challenging stimulus for the muscles.

As a result of progressive overload, you will get stronger and bigger.

The most popular way to overload is by increasing the weight load.

Here is an example of what overloading by weight could look like for a bench press:

WeekBench Press Weight
Example progressive overload plan.

By the sixth week, you would have increased your bench press by 5kg. And by repeating this process, you will challenge your muscles to get stronger and bigger.

When it comes to overloading, barbells offer the greatest flexibility to progress.

barbells can be overloaded with smaller weight increments

That’s because barbell bumper plates can go as low as 1kg per plate. And the small weight increments of barbell plates will allow you to overload slightly each week.

In contrast, dumbbells usually see weight increments of 2.5kg per dumbbell. That’s a total of 5kg for 2 dumbbells!

And overloading by 5kg in one week will likely see you struggle to complete your desired reps.

Additionally, barbells have the advantage of being used with a rack. Un-racking a barbell is easy. Just give it a slight push.

In contrast, setting up pair of dumbbells often involves a tremendous effort to set up because you start in a compromised position.

An example of this is the dumbbell bench press. Here, you have to use your knees to kick the dumbbells up and then stabilize the dumbbells midair!

Ultimately, you will spend less wasted energy setting up your barbell lifts compared to dumbbells. And this will allow you to concentrate your energy on getting stronger and bigger instead!

Take Home Message:

Barbells are the most effective of all the free weights to overload. This is due to the small weight increments seen in barbell plates, which go as low as 1kg per plate. Overloading by a small weight increment on a weekly basis will facilitate slow but steady strength progression.

Read my other article to find out more about optimal training frequency and overloading correctly!

6. Barbells Are Cost-Effective For Home Gyms.

If you are setting up a home gym, barbells offer the most cost-effective way to lift weights.

Take a look at the table below:

EquipmentTotal CostCost Per Kg
20kg Barbell + 80Kg Weight Plates$408.00$4.08
Dumbbell Set 2.5kg to 25kg (2 dumbbells each weight)$674.00$6.74
Prices are from repfitness.com.

In terms of cost per kg of weight provided, a home setup consisting of a barbell and plates is over 1.5x cheaper than a similar dumbbell setup!

And weight machines will cost even more than dumbbells.

So if you are looking for an affordable way to lift weights at home, then barbells are the way forward!

All you have to do is combine the right plate combinations to make your desired weight!

Take Home Message:

Barbells are the most cost-effective types of weight lifting equipment for a home gym. A 20kg barbell and 80kg plate set will cost approximately $4.08 per kg of weight. In comparison, a 100kg dumbbell set is more expensive, at $6.74 per kg of weight.

Check out my other article for other cost-effective weight-lifting options to do at home!

7. Barbells Are Space-Effective For Home Gyms.

Not only are barbells cost-effective, but they are also space-efficient.

home barbell setups are-space efficient

An Olympic barbell measures 7ft, and an Olympic weight plate measures 450mm (with the capability for stacking).

This basic setup will allow you to perform all the exercises you will need to build muscle at home.

That being said, you will also need to invest in a rack and bench in order to maximize the benefits of using a barbell.

Admittedly, dumbbells are also space-efficient.

However, weight machines are extremely bulky, take up a lot of space, and you will require numerous machines to benefit from all the exercises required to gain muscle at home.

Take Home Message:

Barbells are the most space-efficient types of weight lifting equipment for a home gym. An olympic barbell is 7 foot long with a slim profile, whilst olympic weight plates are 450mm in diameter and stackable. This makes them the most suitable equipment choice for home gyms with limited space.

Check out my other article to see if you should buy your own weight-lifting equipment!

8. Barbells Are Excellent For Lower Body Exercises.

One of the biggest advantages of using a barbell over dumbbells is the suitability of barbells for lower body exercises.

The obvious example is the squat.

The squat is a lower body exercise that should be part of any muscle-building program. Although it can be performed with any free weight, barbells are ideal.

Have a look at the table below:

Barbell SquatDumbbell Squat
High Grip Strength.Unnecessary.Necessary
Initial Setup.Easy.Hard.

With a barbell, you can load the weight onto the small of your back (where the traps lie).

This allows the weight to be solely focused on the leg muscles.

In contrast, dumbbell squats are extremely limited by your grip strength.

A weak grip strength will invariably lead to a weaker dumbbell squat.

barbells are more suitable for lower body exercises

Think about it.

How can you squat as heavy, if you cannot hold the dumbbell in place?

Additionally, barbell squats can be set up from a rack. All you have to do is use your upper back to nudge the barbell off the rack, and you are good to go.

In comparison, dumbbells require tremendous effort to hoist them into position.

Take Home Message:

A barbell is the most efficient of the free weights to perform lower body exercises such as the squat. The capability to rest the barbell on the upper back mitigates the requirement for a high grip strength and difficult setup seen with other free weight variations such as the dumbbell squat.

9. Improve Lifting Coordination With Barbells.

Compared to other free weights, barbell training is most effective at developing your coordination.

This is due to the bilateral nature of barbell exercises.

When you are lifting with both sides of the body, you are forced to do so in a coordinated manner.

This ensures both sides of the barbell travel up and down in an even path.

Barbell compound exercises are complex and require coordinated limb and joint movements to complete.

Additionally, since most barbell exercises are compound movements, you will also have to coordinate the movement of the different limbs and joints.

A good example is a deadlift.

compound barbell lifts develop coordination

Here, you need to thrust your hips outwards and forwards, whilst extending your knees at the same time.

This will straighten your back vertically in an arcing motion and allow you to lift the barbell off the ground.

Ultimately, performing complex movements will improve your balance and coordination. And the benefits of this improved coordination will also translate into everyday activities.

Take Home Message:

Barbell exercises are excellent ways to develop weight lifting balance and coordination. This is because most barbell exercises are complex, and require a coordinated movement of body parts around different joints. A good example is the deadlift, which requires movement in the legs, back, and hips.

10. K.I.S.S

Kiss simply means- Keep It Stupidly Simple!

Lifting weights to gain muscle can be unnecessarily overcomplicated when you introduce a variety of different equipment types.

But if you want to gain muscle, all you really need is a humble barbell and plates!

barbells keep your training simple.

The barbell itself is a simple piece of equipment- it’s just a large bar for you to load weights onto!

Furthermore, the 5 essential compound lifting exercises themselves are relatively simple to perform.

The 5 essential compound exercises are:

Weight Lifting ExerciseMuscles Engaged
Bench press.Pectorals, triceps, anterior deltoids.
Overhead press.Anterior deltoids, posterior deltoids, lateral deltoids, triceps, core.
Bent-over row.Trapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, biceps, posterior deltoids.
Squat.Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, gastrocnemius, core.
Deadlift.Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, gastrocnemius, core, trapezius, deltoids, rhomboids.

As you can see, just doing these 5 exercises will train all the major muscle groups in your body.

So as a beginner, keep it simple, learn to master these 5 barbell exercises, and the muscle gains will follow!

Take Home Message:

Barbell exercises are an effective way to simplify your training programme. A simple barbel can be used to perform the 5 core lifts (bench press, overhead press, row, squat, and dead lift). And these exercises are sufficient to engage all the muscles in your body.


That’s it!

Today I have given you 10 advantages of barbells if you are a skinny guy trying to gain muscle.

The main advantages of performing barbell training boil down to the fact that they are more stable when lifting heavy weights, are great for compound exercises and are ideal for working the lower body. Additionally, they are also more accommodating when it comes to achieving progressive overload.

Combined, these benefits make barbells great for guys who are looking to build muscle.

If you are interested in setting up your own home gym, then you will also want to know that barbells are the most cost-effective and space-efficient way to lift weights at home!

Can you think of any other advantages to barbell training?

Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions! You can find my details on the “contact us” page.

You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition (with printable worksheets) I used to go from skinny to ripped!

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,


(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)


I'm Kal (B.S, M.S)- a health & fitness writer and owner of Kalibre Fitness. I love to nerd out on weight training and nutrition. My primary interests are in muscle hypertrophy mechanisms and strength development. You can connect with me in the "Contact Us" section below!

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