When setting up the first home gym for most of us, it's really important to invest in gym equipment that provides a lot of versatility without taking up too much space.
Specialty bars are a great way to accomplish that they have several benefits, including, among other things, injury prevention, rehab, mobility limitations, training specificity, and just some good old-fashioned fun. 😀
To be true, I love specialty barbells as a former Olympic barbell, and don’t get me wrong, I still love and use traditional straight barbells. I’ve been incorporating specialty bars more heavily in my personal training over the last couple of years. I think they’re great to use on accessory lifts and in some cases and for some people, they can fully replace a straight bar with great effect.
The 5 bars that I’m discussing here are what I consider to be the best specialty bars for most people, and it’s where I recommend that most people start when beginning their specialty bar collection. That doesn’t mean that they’re the best specialty barbells for everyone.
✔️ However, there are specialty bars out there that may be more suitable for you, depending on your training style. For example, if you train with a lot of specificity towards strongman or powerlifting, then things like logs, deadlift bars, squat bars, etc are all excellent options considering your goals.✌️
This is the first specialty bar that you should ever purchase for your home gym and it’s the one that I use the most in the commercial gyms when I train there. The safety squat bar is great for a few reasons that are:
It eliminates upper body discomfort, especially in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, unlike a traditional straight bar where you have to externally rotate to get into position, something that a lot of people have an issue with. The safety squat bar weight puts your hands out in front of you in a neutral and very comfortable position. 😀
A traditional safety squat bar has a cambered angle on the sleeve that works to pitch you forward. To prevent that your upper back has to fight and because the SSB bar produces a more upright spine angle you get great quad activation. This more vertical spine angle also may be helpful for those who have had low back discomfort, especially on low bar squats. 💗
They’re extremely versatile in addition to squat variations. You can perform things like lunges, good mornings, step-ups, calf raises, and more.
Best Safety Squat Bar Options:
My favorite traditional safety squat bar is the Bullrock Safety Squat Bar India, it’s the only and very popular option. It’s closely aligned with the elite fts bar, or bells of steel ss3 and a few more, which are sold in America.
You also have other bars which isn’t really a safety squat bar and which really don’t fit into any specific category but which are without a doubt my personal favorite specialty bar of all time.
The safety squat bar is great for a wide population of strength athletes and again it’s one that I really recommend.
The trap bar is also known as the hex bar. This bar has been around for decades. It’s not new but it’s become increasingly popular over the last couple of years, namely with the explosion of the open-ended trap bar like this one from kabuki.
A trap bar accomplishes a few things that many users will find beneficial, unlike deadlifting with a straight bar where the weight is out in front of your body.
A trap bar is tied more closely to your centre of gravity and, as such, it can greatly alleviate a lot of the low back discomfort that some lifters experience. It also tends to create a more vertical spine angle, which makes the trap bar a solid quad builder. Since you’re basically standing straight up.
That said, it can be biassed more towards the posterior with a harder hip hinge. Speaking of a hip hinge, the trap bar is a great tool for teaching, learning, and ingraining a proper hip hinge. That’s exactly how I learned, and it does so very naturally due to the handle placement. ✌️
These handles are another big benefit of the trap bar, specifically their neutral orientation, which creates a very comfortable position and helps alleviate some of that shoulder discomfort that some lifters can experience.
This also opens up some additional training variety because you can more easily do things like farmers’ carries and others.
Trap bars will most commonly come with single handles or with dual handles. I recommend dual handles for most because it allows you to more easily train different ranges of motion. Whether that’s for injury reasons or maybe for specific reasons, like training through a sticking point.
An open-ended trap bar is going to provide you with more training variety than a closed trap bar. Specifically on things like lunges, step-ups, etc.
But they’re also quite a bit more expensive. Some of the ones that you can look out for include the Bullrock trap bar in India, and a few others.
➡️ If you’re going the closed route, then I would recommend looking at something like the rogue tb-2 bar but you can also check out some fairly budget-friendly options that get the job done really well.
Including the synergee trap bar, the cap mega hex bar and a few others. If you’re a competitive powerlifter, I’d probably swap the deadlift bar in place of the trap bar, but otherwise, the trap bar is a great tool for a lot of lifters given its versatility and its other benefits.
The multi-grip bar is also known as the “football bar” or the “swiss bar”. Depending on the handle angles, this is another very versatile bar that also has benefits for those who have upper extremity issues, pain, discomfort, especially in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists.
Because of the handle, you’re able to maintain a more neutral position which a lot of people find to be more comfortable. This multi-grip swiss bar can also help with building strength in the triceps due to arm position and grip width, which can have a carry-over to your straight bar bench press.
These bars often come in different shapes and sizes and while the names are somewhat interchangeable.
A football bar is often associated with angled grips, whereas a swiss bar is normally associated with perfectly neutral grips, and a multi-grip bar may or will include a combination of the two.
They can also have a camber for an additional range of motion. Oftentimes you’ll see this in the centre of the bar, but you can now find it on a full arc, like on the kabuki cadillac bar which is more or less a hybrid multi-grip and buffalo bar.
This can be especially useful on things like rows, but either way, multi-grip bars can be used for various pressing movements, pulling movements, curl variations, and more.
Also known by the name “bow bar”. Personally, the buffalo bar played a major role for me during a time where I was struggling with some wrist pain on the bench.
I have pretty small wrists and between squatting and benching competition style, for an extended period of time my wrists were feeling really banged up and likewise, my shoulders weren’t feeling great either.
The buffalo bar creates a slightly different wrist angle that I found to be really beneficial in preventing some of that wrist pain, especially on the bench press. I also saw a reduction in my shoulder discomfort, which is a bit counter-intuitive considering you get more range of motion with this bar.
Now there is a bit of controversy around that aspect of the bar, that is the relationship between more range of motion and a reduction in shoulder pain. However, from my own personal experience, I saw a reduction in both my wrist and my shoulder discomfort using the buffalo bar.
The buffalo bar is also great for squats, which is how most people are likely to use it. The arc in the bar sort of wraps around your scaps and it puts the shoulders and the elbows lower than they otherwise would be on a straight bar.
Coupled with more scapular retraction, this can help alleviate some upper extremity pain and discomfort.
The overall weight distribution on the buffalo bar is also very similar to a straight bar, so carry over to your competition lifts is going to be very high.
If you’re somebody who has pain or discomfort in your shoulders and your elbows or in your wrist and you want to train as close to a competition straight bar as possible, then I would definitely recommend looking into a buffalo bar.
The kabuki strength buffalo bar is without a question the gold standard, but it is quite expensive. What you see here is the Vulcan buffalo bar. I’ve had it for several years and it’s been a great addition to my gym. 👌
Last but certainly not least, we gotta have something for that flex and that’s.
If you want to attack those biceps at multiple angles and with the variable load, then an EZ curl bar is an awesome addition.😀 A curl bar will either be rackable or won’t be.
Rackable Curl bar is more expensive, but it’s also easier to load and it opens up a little bit more training variety while also making some movements easier to perform, like skull crushers.
One of the most important things to consider with a curl bar is the bins. These bars come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and angles. You can go really steep or you can go relatively flat depending on your goals and preferences.
But in any case, curl bars will often allow for two hand positions: a narrow position and a wide position. I own the rackable rep curl bar, which I find to be very comfortable and effective. Mine is in stainless steel, but they also offer a hard chrome version, which is actually what I would recommend for most people.
From a fuel perspective, shaft finish plays less of a roll on a bar like this than it would on a straight bar, which I would absolutely recommend stainless over chrome.
Rep also offers a non-trackable version of this bar. As well, the rogue curl bar is another great option. It’s one that you can sometimes find in the boneyard. For a great price, a curl bar is in general one that I don’t think you need to go really crazy on in terms of cost.
You can find effective curl bars for really pretty cheap on amazon etc. But if you are looking for something a little bit higher quality, then this one from a REP or the Rogue curl bar are both very solid options.
If you’re searching in India Bullrock Curl bar is the best what you can get.
I love specialty barbells and I think they fill a huge role in training, whether it’s as accessory pieces or as full-blown straight bar replacements. I’m curious what your favorite specialty bars are and do you agree with my top five list.
✔️ Let me know in the comments section down below.
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