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Barbell Beating

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Hurting people and getting a workout — two birds with one swing!

Barbells and dumbells are heavy, solid objects used for strength training. They can hurt people if misused, which is why you must be mindful where you put them, not lift more weight than you can safely control, and get someone to spot for you if you're doing heavy bench presses or back squats with a barbell.

In fiction, these same properties may cause them to be grabbed as Improvised Weapons, particularly if a fight erupts inside of a gymnasium or other place of training. While it'd be more practical to use an empty bar—since this would be easier to handle while still remaining heavier than any "normal" melee weapon—a handy way to demonstrate someone's incredible strength is for them to swing a barbell with plates loaded on one or both ends, essentially turning it into a giant two-handed mace or double-ended mace.

Speaking of the users, expect anyone to actually attempt using these in a fight to be huge bodybuilders or people with Super-Strength.

A Sub-Trope of Improvised Weapon. See also Batter Up!, Golf Clubbing, and Combat Cue Stick for when other sports equipment are used as a weapon.


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  • Mechamato: Mechamato combines with gym equipment to turn into Mechamacho in order to become strong enough to fight Janitoor. His final attack has him spin a dumbbell to deflect his pressure washer attack before throwing it at him, which pins Janitoor against the wall.
  • Episode 4 of Nu, Pogodi! has the Wolf attempting to set a weight lifting record, but failing because a butterfly sits on the barbell. After it falls on his foot, he grabs the barbell, with weights only remaining on one side, and angrily attempts to smash the butterfly. The chase brings him to the Hare, where he attempts to take out both him and the butterfly with one strike, but instead trips and gets hit on the head with one of the weights. Starts here around 3:00.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ranma ½: In the story introducing Ryōga Hibiki, the Tendō sisters hear a fight in the garden, at night and under the rain, between Ranma and someone else. Thinking it's a burglar, Akane is ready to attack the intruder with a shinai, but Kasumi dissuades her and hands her instead a small training barbell. Akane throws it and hits Ryōga behind the head; despite being Made of Iron, the Hibiki lad is still briefly stunned and let go of his umbrella, with the rain triggering his Jusenkyō curse.

    Comic Books 
  • Black Moon Chronicles: While trying to escape an evil aristocrat, the strongman of Ghorgor's circus punches out a guard with his dumbbells. Unfortunately it's not enough and they're captured or killed.
  • Tintin: Towards the end of "Tintin in America", the title character is captured by gangsters who throw him into the river tied to a dumbbell. However, it turns out that it was actually a fake dumbbell made of wood, which allows him to float. Tintin then manages to get on a boat belonging to members of the gang and breaks the wooden dumbbell in half to use it as a weapon to beat up the gangsters.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien: Resurrection: Christie attempts this on Ripley 8, striking her square in the face with a barbell. Due to her half-Xenomorph biology, Ripley 8 only suffers a slight nosebleed from the attack.
  • Ballistic Kiss have Cat fighting mooks in a gym, and Cat getting his hands on a barbell collar which he then uses as a weapon, including using it to graphically smash a thug's head open.
  • At the end of Ex Machina, Nathan takes one of his dumbbells and removes the weights to use it to stop Ava from escaping. He first uses it to shatter her arm and then to break Kyoko's jaw after she stabs him.
  • Four Riders has a lengthy final battle between the four titular protagonists and several mooks in a gym, and the heroes get to pick up barbells to smash several faces in.
  • Home Alone 3: One of Alex's traps is a large weighted barbell that falls from the house's roof onto the heads of two of the robbers.
  • Iron Man 2: During the fight between Iron Man and War Machine at Tony's mansion, the two end up in the gym. War Machine grabs some weights and throws them at Iron Man, who retaliates by picking up a barbell, pulling one of the weights out, and hitting his friend with enough force to send him flying. Since both fighters are wearing Powered Armor, they are not seriously injured.
  • Lock Up: When Frank Leone faces off against the prisoner who murdered his best friend (acting on the orders of prison Warden Drumgoole), the fight culminates with Leone slamming his enemy on a weight bench and getting ready to use the weight as an improvised guillotine (the same thing the prisoner did to Leone's friend). He stops himself when he finally figures out that this is what Drumgoole wants — for Leone to commit a murder and get an instant upgrade of his sentence to life.
  • Mr. Nanny: A variant. One of the pranks the kids play on Sean is to use a supermagnet when he's working out to have him hit himself repeatedly with his barbell, then let it fall down from the ceiling, almost crushing him.
  • Naked Killer opens with the Dark Action Girl villainess, the Princess killing a playboy by bashing his brains out with a pair of dumbbells and shooting him with a silenced gun.
  • Starry Eyes: After her body and sanity begin deteriorating, Sarah murders her housemates, including one she graphically bludgeons with a small dumbbell.
  • Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning has a fight between John and Magnus in a gym equipment store, both men beating the snot out of each other with everything they get their hands on, including John grabbing a set of barbell weights and repeatedly using it to pummel Magnus' face, skull and at one point testicles.

  • Star Warped (a Star Wars parody if the title isn't enough of a hint) have Luke Seespotrun and Princess Leper (parodies of Luke and Leia) battling enemy Sterntroopers in the Death Spa (yes, seriously, just go with it) and reaching the structure's gym, complete with barbell discs with adjustable weights. Luke and Leper then grabs the discs, set their weights to the heaviest setting ("Gas Giant") before flinging them like frisbees and taking down a whole platoon of Sterntroopers with them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: At the end of the episode "Inside Voices", Carl Creel and Ruby Hall have a brutal fight in the training room of the HYDRA facility. After disarming Ruby, Creel pushes her near some stowed dumbbells, so she grabs one and repeatedly hits him in the head with it. Being enhanced, it barely slows him down.
  • Angel:
    • In the Season 4 episode "Salvage", Faith is attacked while working out in her prison gymnasium by an assassin with a knife. When the woman refuses to stop trying to kill Faith, despite receiving a thorough beating, Faith decides the end the fight by picking up a loaded barbell, one-handed, and smacks her full in the face, which knocks her out.
    • During the Season 4 finale, Angel fights his son Connor in a sporting goods store. At one point, Connor grabs a dumbbell and uses it to hit Angel in the head.
  • The Brittas Empire: In "High Noon", Brittas annoys an oil truck driver so much that he chases Brittas down to the centre's equipment room and promptly shoves a barbell up his back. This actually proves to be handy when the centre explodes and it holds up the corridor that Brittas is in enough to allow the safe evacuation of everyone.
  • In Columbo episode "An Exercise in Fatality", the murderer kills a guy by crushing his windpipe with a dumbbell, then stages a scene to make it look like an accident that happened when the victim was trying to bench press a barbell. Columbo isn't fooled.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: When Nora Darhk fights against Amaya in the episode "I, Ava", she uses her magical powers to telekinetically throw several barbell weights at her opponent at one point. However, Amaya manages to dodge them all.
  • Monk: A variation happens in "The Playboy". The Victim of the Week died by getting his neck crushed by the weight of his barbell because the killer activated a high-powered magnet on the floor right below him while he was exercising.
  • Nikita: In "All The Way", Nikita finds herself having to fend off several Division agents in a gym. She grabs a barbell and tosses it at one opponent, knocking him down. She also uses a weight plate as a weapon.
  • Oz had two murders in the prison gym:
    • Patrick Keenan is beaten to death with a dumbbell by Ryan O'Reilly, in revenge for his rape of a woman with whom O'Reilly was unrequitedly in love
    • Jim Burns is killed in self-defence by Jaz Hoyt, after a brawl in which both used weights as weapons.
  • The Punisher: In "One Eyed Jacks", Frank confronts a Russian gang in a gym and makes good use of various barbells, dumbbells, weights and metal bars to beat up his opponents. After taking down the Mooks, he uses a bar to choke their boss for interrogation.
  • Stranger Things: During her fight against the possessed Billy in the episode "The Sauna Test", Eleven telekinetically lifts a barbell and hurls it at him, but he manages to push it back at her.
  • Supergirl:
    • When the titular Legion decides to go and confront Reign at a prison yard in "Legion of Super-Heroes", Imra notices a workout bench with some barbells and uses her telekinesis to hurl the weights at Reign. Unfortunately, Reign uses her Eye Beams to blast them all out of the air before they can reach her.
    • While investigating Lex Luthor's cell in "Crime and Punishment", Supergirl is attacked by a newly upgraded Otis Graves. After being propelled into the prison gym, she picks up a barbell and tries to wrap it around Otis, but he easily manages to break free. He then grabs two dumbbells and uses them to box Supergirl in a ring.

  • In the music video for Foster the People's "Best Friend", the main character grabs a dumbbell after she eyes her next victim in the gym. Subverted, as rather than kill her victim with the dumbbell she turns her head into a pair of monstrous jaws, uses her tongue to grab the woman, and eats her alive instead.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Cookie Run: Muscle Cookie's skill has him toss out a barbell, which will destroy any obstacle it collides with. His Magic Candy gives him the ability to throw a giant screen-clearing dumbbell after tossing the barbell seven times.
  • Dead Rising:
    • Dumbbells are a recurring weapon in the series, being strong enough to kill zombies (or even survivors) in one hit.
    • The first game also has barbells, which are found alongside dumbbells in Flexin' in Al Fresca Plaza. While a powerful weapon, it has a slow swing and recovery time, leaving you open to counterattacks.
    • Barbells make a return in Dead Rising 3, being found in Aduna's Boxing Gym and Yoh-Gah!. The psychopath Jherii Gallo also utilizes one as her main weapon in her boss fight, which you can use for yourself after defeating her.
  • Demolish Fist have fights in gyms where you can pick up barbells of various sizes, either to smash skulls from up close or throw at mooks.
  • Via a mod, this can be achieved in Fallout 4, allowing the Sole Survivor to wield a 40lb barbell like a club. Best part is, with the mod, the weaponized barbell does 50 base damage which is actually more than some of the strongest melee weapons in the vanilla game!
  • In Ittle Dew, Optional Boss Ultra Fishbunjin 3000 attacks by throwing dumbbells, which bounce off walls and eventually explode. So does Ultra Mechabun in the sequel.
  • In Gyee, the gym trainer Lee fights using a large pair of dumbbells. His basic attack is striking the target with them. His ultimate attack is him spinning one of them around and finally launching it at the enemy.
  • The Prison scenario of Paint the Town Red features barbells and dumbbells that can be used as weapons.
  • In Ring Fit Adventure, Scuttlebells are crab-like monsters that attack by clasping their big claws to form a dumbbell and slamming you with them. In some boss fights, Dragaux uses them for his lifting exercise and to hit you with them.
  • Roblox The iLift gear is a large barbell that can be thrown to deal damage to other players.
  • Sharpshooter 3D: One of the melee weapons you can use is a kettle bell, which you swing like a club.
  • Scrapland: In the cutscene of the Chief of Police's murder, we see him working out with his barbell, when the killer forces the barbell down so far that half the Chief's arms snap off. Then the killer lifts up the barbell and brings one side down on his head, crushing it off of his body.
  • Skylanders playable character Barbella uses a barbell with stone blocks on each end as her preferred weapon.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures games:
  • Yandere Simulator: Dumbbells are one of the many weapons in the game. They can be used to kill directly and are classified as blunt weapons because they leave no blood pools if the player attacks from behind. Another function of the dumbbells is the crushing elimination method. The player can carry a bucket full of dumbbells if the physical stat is high enough and drop it from the rooftop on the victim.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer killed his first victim in 1978 by bludgeoning him to death with a dumbbell. In a case of Death by Irony, Dahmer met a similar fate in prison in 1994.