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The barbell is a weight lifting staple. You can start out learning with just the bar, and then add resistance in the form of weight plates that fit on the ends of the bar, and come in many different weights. For some exercises you need a rack to hold the bar. Many weight benches come with bench press racks. Squats require a rack, but you can do many other exercises, such as curls and deadlifts, with just the bar. There's nothing like barbells if you want to build a high degree of strength.