Warning: You are at injury-risk if you use Squat Shoulder Pad.

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Demystifying Squat Shoulder Pads

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Squat shoulder pad.

Need extra padding for when you squat? Why not check out our squat pads? Available in multiple colors and sizes and easy to use, it is definitely a must-have item in your gym bag.

(A salesy advertisement pops up on your screen….) 

And you would think using it will improve your squat shoulder mobility. So you ordered one online.

But truly, in a real sense. It would improve nothing, also you could not feel nearly strong with it.

Why do I say that?

Because anything wrapped around the barbell to cushion it would cause serious balance issues and could slip off which therefore could lead to an injury.

But before, let’s understand.

What is a squat shoulder pad/ barbell cushion pad? They’re basically just a foam pad that goes over the bar that makes it more comfortable for your shoulders to load and execute an exercise. 

Undoubtedly squats are the one wonderful exercise you need to do for building muscle mass and sheer strength. And if you try to cover it with some adjustments, that would compromise the true essence of performing an exercise or mechanics which plays. Then it would be pointless. 

It wouldn’t help lessen the weight but make the weight feel normal, kept even at the wrong places, and also shift the balance at the most crucial points of the movement. That can prove counter-productive.

But why can’t you use a barbell cushion pad when it is more comfortable, make exercise easy for a newbie, and also prevents barbell marks on my shoulders?

You would know by the end. Keep reading.  

3 Reasons why using squat shoulder pads are actually detrimental to your squat?

3 Reasons why using squat shoulder pads are actually detrimental to your squat?
  1. The foundation of a good squat is stability. The most basic cue for squatting is to keep everything tight. Because shoulder pads are squishy, introducing one will only result in a lack of stability (similar to the effect wearing cushioned/running shoes have on your squat). Such imbalances can make you more susceptible to injury.
  1. The injury could be on the way. When using the shoulder pad, since the bar circumference increases significantly, holding it in the low bar position (posterior delts) is more difficult, keeping your upper back flexed to hold the bar in place is harder and the bar can easily roll up or down and mess up your positioning and again potentially cause injury. When doing high bar (traps), the bar can roll up more easily and possibly hurt your neck.
  1. It adds inches of height. It encourages bad bar placement that is way too high to be holding a bar. Even if you’re an Olympic-style squatter, it’s too high on top. Since it increases the height of the bar, your center of gravity becomes higher and that just makes it even harder to properly balance. Making it a less effective squat. 

Are barbell pads necessary?

No, absolutely not. Ignore that foam bar pad’s plea.

front squat shoulder pad

“But, but, but I need them for squats because they hurt my neck.”

The fact that you want to use the pad for your neck when squatting is a sign that you’re not carrying the bar correctly with a tight upper back.

It certainly shouldn’t be resting on your neck, so drop the weight and correct your form and placement.

It’ll never be comfortable – even with the greatest squat pad in the world is placed between you and steel, when the bar is placed too high on your back.

Try to slide the bar down a little if you have considerable pain. Your upper traps and deltoids should make the ideal shelf for the barbell to sit on while you squat.

Let the knurling-edged part create friction with your back so it wouldn’t slip. It is there for a purpose. If all the bar is made shinny, then it could be dangerous. Initially, a barbell would dig into your skin, but you would get used to it.

The brutal truth is, the bar hurts on your back because you don’t use it enough. Or you’re not accustomed to the amount of weight. Or the positioning of your bar is incorrect.

Change these areas first before you jump at the chance to use a pad.

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How do I make my squat bar not hurt? 

The main reason why some people’s shoulder hurts when squatting is improper setup. 

When the bar is sitting too high on the neck (placed on the bony, protruding C7 vertebrae of the spine) with bend wrists pushing the bar forward shoddily. When you squat, it ruins the exercise mechanics by pushing you forward and promoting hunchback. 

What you can do instead?

  • Lower the bar on the insertion of the upper traps and deltoids. 
  • Grab the bar wide enough in a high bar squat so you could maintain an unbroken wrist.  
  • Squeeze the bar and pull it down.
  • Visualize, you are breaking the bar across your back. This will make sure upper back stability throughout the duration of the lift. 

If still you found it impossible to do a movement with absolutely no pain, then most likely there are other mechanisms at play. 

Either you are highly inflexible or dealing with some shoulder impingement problems or both. Whatever the case, maybe you must stop guessing and see a qualified therapist to give you a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Covering the face (pain or improper setup) with the mask of front squat shoulder pad isn’t the solution. 

The Bottom Line

The way the bar sits may be uncomfortable at first, but you’ll get used to it. You don’t need that pad. 

Speaking of my experience with this squat shoulder pad. First, when I saw them, I believe I need it – or thought I did. 

The truth is, I was just doubtful on my first day of squatting, it probably helped me get comfortable under the bar. But I instantly saw downsides, when I moved towards lifting heavyweights. 

And if anyone is planning to lift heavy in the near future (which you will) you have to ditch them, it would only take you down a path of suboptimal squatting and deep injuries. The pain for athletes. 

Frequently Asked Questions:
  1. Is it bad to squat with a pad?

    If you recently begin squatting, then a squat pad would help you adjust for bigger lifts. But it won’t create a significant difference. Putting padding between the bar and shoulders would reduce the stability of the bar, which is not a great thing. So don’t use it and put emphasis on developing the musculature and correct form.  

  2. Is a safety squat bar worth it?

    A safety bar is a bar that allows you to carry weights over your back while keeping neutral shoulders. It also helps to keep the majority of trainees upright, while using the same muscles as a traditional back squat. It is great for people who have lower back pain.

  3. Should you use a barbell pad?

    Absolutely not. A barbell with edgy finishing might be uncomfortable for many at starting, and a barbell pad would make it comfier. But it is safer and more productive to go without a barbell cushion pad. Using a barbell pad will accomplish absolutely nothing.

  4. What to use instead of barbell pad?

    Nothing at all. If you roll a simple towel over the barbell, then you must always be aware it won’t slip off easily. And when 100-800 pounds of weight is on your back, then slipping off the towel shouldn’t worry you. Just for easy grip put lifting chalk and some wrist supporters and get under the bar.

That’s all for now. We will be updating the post with time.

(Save this post for later)

Also read from our top list:

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  3. Everything about RXN weightlifting shoes India
  4. Why wear gym supporter for men’s use?

Thanks for reading.

Have you ever used a squat pad or there is been an instance when your trainer insists you perform squat with a cushion pad? Tell me in the comment below.

Stay Strong!!

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Rishabh Shrivastava

Hi, I'm Rishabh I take pride in making 'The Most Trusted Home Gym Equipment' blog for India. We are known for delivering unbiased and practical advice on fitness equipment for people with different age groups, sports, and budgets. If we recommend a product it's our trust in it, that it would serve you the best, or nothing.Please join our cause.🙌

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