Fat-Burning With Barbells: Build Strength, Stamina, And Health


If the idea of traditional cardio bores you to tears but you still want to improve your stamina and lose some extra body fat, then stick around. In this article, I’ll be taking you through an awesome 5-exercise workout that only requires a barbell, some weight plates, and a basic stand. Enjoy!

A quick disclaimer

Before we go any further I want to be super-clear: Body fat is lost through sustained calorie deficit, which can only reliably be accomplished when you’re aware of your food intake.

This workout isn’t magic: You can’t go around eating 4000 calories worth of cakes and biscuits, do this workout for a week, and then expect to be shredded.

Pay attention to your nutrition!

Will this workout actually work?

When you think of barbells, you’re probably thinking of strength- and size-based training, not about cardio development. Well, that’s where you’re wrong; with enough attention to how we structure the workout it’s definitely possible to get a great barbell-based workout that builds strength and improves your stamina.

How will it work?

  • We’ll be placing five foundational barbell movements back to back to back to back to back in a giant set.
  • These will be big, multi-joint movements that utilize large amounts of muscle mass and place high demands on your heart.
  • We’ll be selecting weights that are challenging enough to promote strength development but not so heavy as to stop you completing the rounds.
  • This structure allows you to spend 4 to 5 minutes with a highly elevated heart rate while simultaneously building strength.

Your exercises

1. Back squat – primary muscle focus is legs

2. Strict overhead press – primary muscle focus is shoulders

3. Lunges – primary muscle focus is legs

4. Barbell row – primary muscle focus is back, specifically lats

5. Deadlift – primary muscle focus is legs, specifically hamstrings, and back, specifically erectors


You’ll perform these five barbell exercises in the order above. For repetitions, you just need to remember the 5, 8, 8, 8, 5:

5 squats, 8 presses, 8 lunges, 8 rows, 5 deadlifts

This means every giant set has a total of 34 repetitions.


Depending on your available time, ability level, training history, and energy levels, you can choose to complete anywhere from 1 to 6 of these giant sets.


Between exercises try to keep rest as short as possible. Your goal is to control your breathing, ensure that you’re balanced and not dizzy, and then move on to the next exercise as soon as it’s safe to do so. If you’re new to this kind of training, this might take you a little longer, whereas if you’re used to endurance-based training it might be a really quick transition.

Between sets you’ll rest for 3 to 5 minutes. During this time, you’re allowing your body to replenish its creatine phosphate system, which will allow you to attack the next set with the same force as you did the first. It’s better to wait a little longer if you’re unsure. Be patient and you’ll be rewarded with improved performance in your next set.

What’s great about this workout?

This workout is super-efficient. You get to train your body’s 5 major movement patterns, build strength, build muscle, and develop your stamina all at the same time.

What’s more, you can be in and out of the gym in less than an hour!

What’s not so great about this workout?

There’s no denying that this workout is hard, both mentally and physically. You’ve got to mentally prepare yourself to lift heavy weights, as well as to be reasonably out of breath while doing so. You’ve also got to be super-strict with yourself about your form. It can be awfully tempting to cheat when you’re tired, so you’ve got to be mentally strong enough to stick to lifting how you know you should lift.

Nutrition to support the workout

I’m a big fan of eating a good-sized meal 2 to 3 hours before training, as well as a much smaller snack about 30–60 minutes before. I usually like the snack to be made up of simple sugars so that I have plenty of energy to train.

After the workout, I recommend a quick protein shake, followed by a good-sized meal about an hour later.

Plus, don’t forget that if you’re looking to lose (or gain) weight then you need to be tracking your calories as best as possible. Be aware of what you’re eating and you’re much more likely to get the results you want!

Not magic, but pretty damn great!

Like I said right at the start of the article, this workout isn’t magic. Don’t expect to do this a couple of times each week and suddenly be ripped. However, this workout is pretty damn amazing; you’ll be developing strength, muscle size, and stamina all at the same time in less than an hour, which makes it one of the most efficient ways possible of achieving your goals, especially if you fall into the beginner or early intermediate category (which most of us will).

Now go get training!

Have you tried the workout yet?