The Villainous 45-Pound Bar Upper Body Workout

This workout is simple to understand but difficult to do. Take the challenge and throw it into your routine sometime. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

This workout is simple. Not a lot of thought goes into it, but it's difficult if performed properly. Properly means all-out with no quitting because you think you're done. More repetitions can be squeezed out if you just hang in there. If you have never attempted this workout, you'll experience an unusual level of fatigue. However, that's not an excuse to cash your chips in until you reach the point of actual fatigue.

As you probably have surmised, this is an upper body workout that uses a standard 45-pound Olympic barbell for all exercises. One upside is there will be no tedious weight plate changing and no need of a spotter. Minimum resistance is used, but maximum reps are the goal.

Before I cover the simple details, understand this workout can be implemented in a number of different contexts:

  • Bored out of your gourd? It's absolutely something different.
  • Competition. Compete against an opponent of equal ability. How many total reps can you crank out?
  • A new training stimulus. Trust me, this will be different.
  • That once-in-a-while venture into the insane.
  • For endurance enhancement. It's an awesome endurance workout if done all out.
  • An acute muscle pump prior to taking posing pictures? It definitely will work.
  • A desire to feel sore the day after. I guarantee if you do it properly, you'll experience muscle soreness approximately 24 hours post-workout. Enjoy.

Additionally, I completely know this is high-volume workout that should only be performed occasionally. I am not a high-volume guy for the most part, but this a one of those workouts that is unique and worthy of undertaking.

Here are the exercises in the order they should be performed. I will also offer some insight and tips on how to assure each set ends with a happy moment. Make sure to record the reps achieved so you can attempt to better it in the future. The rest between exercises should not exceed a minute and a half.

upper body workout, 45 pound bar, olympic bar workout, workout with only bar1. Bench Press – Ladies, depending on your strength, if you get over 100 reps, you're a badass. Guys, 200+ reps are not uncommon. No racking of the bar is allowed, but when you need a brief respite (which will be hard to avoid needing), rest the bar briefly on the chest or in the complete lockout position. As you fatigue, do mini sets of five or ten reps with those brief breaks between. Eventually, either position will become uncomfortable, but hang in there.

2. Bent-Over Row – Rep goal for gals is 35+ and guys 60+. Again, if you're one strong person, you may get 60+ and 100+, respectively. I don't like placing a rep number arbitrarily because I don't want you to sell yourself short. It doesn't matter provided you take it to the limit. Take a slight bend in the knees, with back flat, and brace your forehead on a padded bench or wall. Pull some reps to your lower abs and some to your upper abs. Mix it up – alternate 10 to 15 to lower the 10 to 15 to upper. Your forearms will be jacked after this event.

3. Standing Overhead Press – By now your pushing muscles will be suffering from the bench press. Suck it up and go for max reps pressing the bar overhead. No more rep goal numbers. Just give it your all. No push presses – use the upper body only.

upper body workout, 45 pound bar, olympic bar workout, workout with only bar4. Upright Row – Crap. It's starting to get ugly. Your upper body is getting fried by now. Use a narrow, overhand grip (extended thumbs touching – you'll be able to do it closer together than pictured, since you'll be using the barbell), stand tall, and pull to the chin leading with the elbows. On top, the elbows should be above the shoulders. Thought your forearms were incapacitated prior to this? They will be knocked down a few notches provided you go all out. (Is there any other option?)

5. Triceps Extension – These can be done standing or lying. If standing, the elbows are pointing skyward, the bar is lowered down and back, and the elbow extension upward emphasizes an up and back trajectory. If performed lying (on a flat bench) again, the upper arms are pointed skyward, the bar is lowered down and back to the top of the head, and the bar is again pushed up and back.

6. Bicep Curl – Standing, arms fully extend on each rep, no bouncing. Find a way to keep that form and get it done.

Finished? Not yet. Repeat the sequence. Yes, two rounds. The upside on the second round will be fewer reps performed. If done with true effort, there should be a 33% to 50% decrease in the number of reps achieved the second time around. Again, record the reps and rest no more than a minute and a half between rounds.

The 45-pound bar upper body workout is simple to understand but difficult to do. Take the challenge and throw it into your routine sometime. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Photo 1 courtesy of Eleiko.

Photos 2&3 courtesy of Shutterstock.

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