March 25, 2022
Weightlifting bars come in all shapes and sizes. This is something you don’t think much about, but different workouts require different pieces of equipment. Even the straight barbell used for exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench press can have slight variations weight and dimensions. From Olympic lifters to Crossfitters, powerlifters to bodybuilders, there is a special barbell for everyone. While they may all look similar, there are subtle differences, like thickness, rigidity, knurling, and grip markings. These features are designed for specific purposes and can have a dramatic difference on the performance of a given exercise, especially for more experienced lifters.
The well-informed lifter will be able to spot these differences and know how and when to use each type of barbell. This knowledge will set you up for success in your workouts, particularly as you become more advanced, and in this you will see why.
This article will specifically define the straight barbell and its functions. Then we’ll discuss the various types of straight barbells and all their applications (there's a barbell weight & size comparison chart at the end).
Again, we’ll only be discussing straight barbells, as seen here:
A barbell is a straight metal bar designed to support compound movements with heavy weighted plates (deadlift, squat, OHP, bench press, snatches, cleans, etc.).
The barbell dates back to the mid-1800’s, making it a relatively recent invention compared to dumbbells and other equipment (note: forms of a "dumbbell" date back as far as 5th century BC!).
The barbell, frankly, is arguably the most versatile and valuable piece of exercise equipment, and should be suitable for most exercises and populations. As such, it's important for lifters to know as much as possible about it.
Here are the most commonly encountered straight barbells. We’ll discuss these in detail shortly:
The modern barbell is generally 7 feet in length and weighs 44 pounds. A barbell consists of a long, thin shaft, about 28mm (~1”) thick. The shaft has knurling, or engraved crosshatches, that increase grip, as well as grip markings which are defined to know where your hands should be for certain exercises. On either end of the shaft are two thick sleeves that hold weighted plates. The sleeves are commonly 2” in diameter and spin independently of the shaft. This spinning is intentional and allows excess torque to dissipate through the plate and not transfer to the limbs.
Barbells share similar properties, but differ in a few key areas:
These attributes are not easy to spot unless you know what to look for, but they are crucial and determine a barbell’s application. You should keep in mind that, despite these differences, the sleeves remain consistent across barbells. They are all 2” and support a variety of different weight plates (iron, rubber coated, etc.). Weights are similar to barbells in that they vary in construction and materials, which has to do with the application.
Note: For beginners, pretty much any straight barbell will be suitable, but the nuances in design become more important as you lift heavy and/or explosively.
Below we will take a closer look at the above barbell types and summarize their features and uses. You can read this for a very in-depth look at different types of barbells, materials, applications, and so on.
A standard barbell is the smallest and least practical barbell on the list. You will not find a standard barbell in any commercial gym. These are mainly used for beginner home gyms.
Standard barbells cannot accommodate traditional plates (they need 1" plates), and they can only support up to ~250 pounds. They are ideal for low intensity workouts and confined spaces, but should not be used to perform complex, heavy power movements (e.g. deadlift, squat, cleans, snatches).
The Olympic barbell is among the most common and versatile barbells. Many smaller gyms will simply be stocked with just Olympic bars, but big commercial gyms will have a variety of barbells, of course, including plenty of Olympic barbells.
That said, unless you are lifting quite heavy, an Olympic bar will be perfectly fine for the general population who do exercises like deadlifts, bench press, and squats. Most people won't be able to notice any whip as they simply aren't lifting heavy enough for it to come into play.
Olympic barbell specs:
Make note that a lot of people just call any straight barbell with 2" sleeves an Olympic barbell, as opposed to the 1” sleeve of standard bars. This isn't technically true as an Olympic bar will have the specific weight, dimensions, knurling and whip mention above. There are other types of barbells with 2" sleeves as you are about to read.
Powerlifting barbells are designed specifically for powerlifting, e.g. deadlift, squat, bench press (the “Big 3 Lifts”). Power bars resemble Olympic bars, but there are a few important differences for powerlifting. Powerlifting bars are manufactured to adhere to guidelines set by the International Powerlifting Federation. The following specs are based on those guidelines:
The key differences between Olympic and powerlifting bars are the whip and sleeve properties. These allow the lifter to generate and use momentum to lift effectively and safely.
In reality, beginners and even intermediates will use an Olympic bar or power bar to the same effect. So, it's not going to be a big deal if you pick up an Olympic bar for lifts like squats. That said, pay attention to how the whip feels when doing exercises like squats and if you notice the bar is bouncing too much as you rep, it's time to find that powerlifting bar.
Note: Power bars are best used for heavy squats, bench and OHP, where no flex in the bar is best, but deadlifting is actually a little different as some flex in the bar can be good for the lift (if you want to max out your PR).
A multi-purpose (MP) barbell is actually the most common and versatile barbell in gyms. It is based on the Olympic barbell dimensions and is the most common barbell stocked by local gyms. The stiffness, knurling, and sleeve rotation are in the middle performance range - meaning, it's sort of like a hybrid of the power bar and Olympic bar.
Multi-purpose Barbell Specs:
Multipurpose barbells have medium flex, so they are strong and sturdy when needed yet can also accommodate some more dynamic exercises like snatches. They also have bushings for the sleeves that allow them to work well for both fast and slow lifts. On top of that, they usually have double grip markings, meaning they will have the powerlifting grip markings and the Olympic bar grip markings. This is the easiest way to spot a multipurpose barbell - it will have double rings on both sides of the handles.
Squatting is a movement that requires a longer and more rigid than normal barbell. Olympic bars are suitable for squatting, but new bars have emerged that are more suitable for the squat.
On squat barbells, the biggest enhancements are the knurling and shaft diameter. In combination, these create a stiffer, more stable bar.
Squat barbell specs:
As with squat bars, deadlift bars come in a few different varieties, of which we’ll focus on two common types.
A deadlift-specific straight bar is based on a traditional powerlifting bar, with some key differences for deadlifts, primarily the knurling and shaft length and thickness.
Deadlift bar specs:
You can learn all about deadlift bars here.
Any women’s barbell is a shorter, lighter version of the men’s Olympic multi-purpose bar. The knurling pattern and shaft length generally remain the same. Women’s Olympic bars do not have center knurling.
Women’s bars measure 6.5 feet long and weigh 15kg (33 pounds) and have a 25mm diameter shaft. These are not as common as men’s bars even at your local gym, so inquire with staff if you require a smaller bar.
Women’s bars are not made exclusively for women; they can be used by individuals with smaller stature or mobility issue.
The safety squat bar is a modified barbell designed to support the shoulders and provide a more secure grip. This bar will have handles at shoulder length that protrude perpendicular from the shaft. They are usually thickly padded. This helps the lifter achieve a better grip and more stability across the shoulders. It also reduces sheer forces on the spine and increases range of motion.
Another modification is the cambered ends (sleeves). This feature pushes the weight slightly forward. This changes the center of gravity and effectively promotes a better range of motion.
Let’s summarize what we’ve discussed. There are several types of straight barbells - standard barbell, Olympic, powerlifting, deadlift, squat, and women’s sized barbells.
Since some of these are specialized, you’re not likely to find them all at your local big-box gym. Most gyms will have multipurpose, Olympic and power bars (or just multipurpose barbells exclusively). That said, most will have safety bars and hex bars. Very few, and typically only private or specialty gyms, will have women's, deadlifting and squat bars - the latter are specialized bars that are expensive and require a certain skill to use.
That said, here is a breakdown of the bars we discussed:
Note: Barbells within the same category will also come with different coatings (or no coating at all), but that doesn't change any of the above weight or dimensions.
|7.2-7.8 feet||2 inch||28-32mm||Low|
|7.5 feet||2 inch||27mm||Medium-High|
|Women's||33lbs (15kg)||6.5 feet||2 inch||25mm||High|
|5.5-6 feet||1 inch||25mm||n/a|
This summarizes the different types of barbells and their uses. The multi-purpose bar is sufficient for most lifters and is the one you’ll find in most gyms. Olympic and power lifting require specialized equipment designed to maximize form and economize range of motion. You will find these types of bars at specialty gyms.
For more information, refer to the related links below. Don’t forget to add on a few reps!
March 24, 2022
If there is such a thing as a single “best” workout tool for overall fitness and conditioning, a very good case can be made for the slam ball.
If you are not familiar with the slam ball, aka “dead ball” or “D-Ball,” it is similar but not identical to the more familiar medicine ball. Unlike medicine balls, slam balls typically run smaller than medicine balls of similar weight and heavier than medicine balls of the same size.
Slam balls utilize a rubber shell with a filler of moistened sand or metal filings. Since the filler usually does not fill the ball completely, slam balls of widely differing weights can be identical in size, unlike most other pieces of resistance gear. Slam balls are also squishier than medicine balls. Starting weights are in the vicinity of four to six pounds. The heaviest readily available weight is 150 pounds. It would take a man among men–and a rare and remarkable woman–to perform a protracted, high-intensity slam ball workout with a 150-pounder! Slam balls are available with either smooth surfaces or tread-like surfaces for a firmer grip. Having owned and trained with both, I don’t have a strong preference although I favor the smooth ones purely on aesthetic grounds.
Although the slam ball is a popular piece of workout gear these days, its history and development seem very murky. Repeated internet searches to find out when, where and by whom the slam ball was invented have come up fruitless. The topic is further muddied by the existence of a game called SlamBall. This is a sort of full-contact basketball played on trampolines and has no connection with the exercise ball.
A lot depends on your training goals: If your goal is to build a Mr. America physique or develop superhuman strength, then there are, frankly, better options if you are just getting started. Moreover, if you are really serious about achieving such goals, you will be best served by joining a gym that caters to such trainees and getting expert coaching.
For everybody else–everyone whose primary desire is a good level of general fitness and maintaining a well-toned, shapely body–then a slam ball is an excellent acquisition, even if you already have a well-stocked home gym. Only a very tiny number of men on this planet can compare with the great English strongman Eddie Hall, yet I recently read on this blog that he incorporates a fairly light (33-pound) slam ball as part of his warm-up routine.
You will find all manner of guidelines on-line about the best weights for a beginner’s slam ball. A lot of this strikes me as very questionable. For instance one exercise maven recommended eight pounds as a good starting weight for “elderly” men. Well, I started slam ball training with a 40-pound slam ball when I was in my late 70s, which put me past “elderly” in the proper meaning of the word. I was just plain old! Anyway, I found my first workout with the 40-pounder tough, grueling and brutal, and I just loved it – the way training should be! Admittedly, I had many years of experience with free weights and in more recent years kettlebells and macebells.
My advice would be to select a weight that you can clean and press overhead for about a half-dozen quick repetitions. This should be challenging, but not too strenuous. You shouldn’t have to worry about hurting yourself. Whatever that poundage may be, it should be a good starting weight for you. You may find as you progress with the slam ball that you will want more than one. In my case, I am presently using a 35-pound ball when I am in the mood for a lighter, faster, more cardio-oriented slam ball workout and a 45-pounder when I want a tougher, more challenging, strength-building session.
The best and most efficient use for the slam ball, as you may have surmised, is slamming it, as seen in this video:
Clean the ball to shoulder height, then press it overhead and slam it down hard! If you’re vigorous enough, you can rise on tiptoes or even spring into the air as you slam it down. You can slam it down at your feet or heave it some distance forward.
My friend Jeff Lewis, the proprietor of the 4th Street Gym in Long Beach, has remarked that slam and throws alone can give you a good total-body workout. The slam move can be followed by a burpee if you like too.
A variant that I particularly like is heaving the slam ball behind you over your head. I recently saw a documentary in which a Nepalese mountaineer, a veteran of Britain’s elite Special Boat Service, heaved a large chunk of stone over his head in this manner for a considerable distance. I was suitably impressed!
You can also slam the ball over your shoulder rather than down the center, alternating shoulders.
The ball can be raised overhead and hurled diagonally across the body in a motion sometimes called a “woodchopper.” To work your abdominals try heaving the ball laterally across your body, first one side then the other.
A movement I like (but haven’t seen in any exercise videos) is to balance the ball on the palm of your extended arm and then drive the ball forward as far as possible with your other arm. No doubt you will be able to discover other beneficial slams on the numerous slam ball exercise videos available online or devise others for yourself.
And what can you do with a slam ball other than slamming it? Well, all manner of beneficial exercises…let’s have a look at some of them:
Try to complete with minimal rest between exercises and do 4-5 rounds. You can rest as needed between rounds, but try to keep it short (i.e. 1 minute).
Slam Ball Finisher:
Do as many slams as possible in 5 minutes.
An EMOM means 'Every Minute On the Minute'. So you would do the first exercise at the start of the minute and your rest time is from when you finish the last rep until the start of the next minute. You would do this for three total sets (3 minutes), then move on to the next exercise.
At this point you may be asking, “How different is a slam ball from the more familiar medicine ball, and can I use a medicine ball to perform slam ball exercises like those described above?”
The medicine ball and the slam ball are obviously very similar exercise tools. Almost all the exercises suggested above that do not require slamming can be performed just as well with a medicine ball. Many medicine balls, however, are not as stoutly constructed as slam balls, and the manufacturers may counsel against using them for slams. I have an Amazon Basics 18-pound medicine ball, and I did a fair amount of slamming with it with no accompanying ill effects that I could descry. However, I did limit my slamming to soft surfaces, either our back lawn or in a grassy park nearby.
Aside from durability issues, the main drawback to medicine balls, as opposed to slam balls, is that medicine balls bounce. Slam balls don’t bounce or bounce very little. When I used the medicine ball in the park, I spent a good deal of workout time chasing down the medicine ball as it bounced or rolled away. This never happens with slam balls. There are also safety hazards to using a medicine ball for slams: My wife slammed an 8-pound medicine ball down directly in front of her, and it shot right back up and smacked her full in the face!
You can read a more in-depth take on slam balls vs medicine balls here.
The major drawback to the slam ball is that you must have a place to slam it. This rules it out for apartment dwellers unless they can slam it in the building’s garage or courtyard or in a nearby park. Inclement weather is also going to put a damper on any outdoor slamming.
Moreover, when you acquire a lot of workout gear–free weights, kettlebells, macebells, clubbells and such–you will have a possession that in most circumstances will last you all your life and can be passed down for generations. It is obviously unrealistic to expect such durability from a slam ball. Rogue Fitness, for example, warrants their slam balls for two years. My stepson and I ruined my first slam ball attempting to re-inflate it, and my stepson is a serious competitive mountain bike racer, so he obviously knows how to handle a pump.
You may also find you have to go through several slam balls before you find the right weights for you. The slam ball that got ruined was a 40 pounder. I then decided to advance to a 45 pounder. I liked it and still do, but I found it a bit much on occasion. I concluded I needed a second, lighter slam ball for more fast-paced, cardio-based training…or when I was just in the mood for a less-demanding workout. I settled on a 30-pounder, but I soon found it was just too light and insufficiently challenging. I bestowed the slightly used slam ball on a neighbor as a birthday present and opted for a 35-pounder. This seems just right as my lighter slam ball, and I also continue to slam the 45-pounder as well.
At this point, I’d like to give a shout-out to Rogue Fitness. When the 35-pound ball I had ordered somehow disappeared in transit, they immediately sent me a replacement. With customer service like that, it’s no wonder they are such leaders in the field of fitness equipment.
Obviously, you don’t have to have a slam ball to achieve a good physique and considerable strength. Many people achieve these goals with bodyweight exercises alone. However, I take the view that varied workouts with a variety of fitness gear do much to stave off boredom, “plateauing,” and burnout. I’ll be turning 80 in a few weeks. I began serious resistance training almost 58 years ago.
Looking back, I regret that during my prime years many useful pieces of fitness gear like the kettlebell, medicine ball and Indian clubs had come to be perceived as “old hat” and had lapsed into obsolescence. Others like the modern macebell, clubbell or slam ball had yet to be invented. I really believe that had these training modalities been available to me in years past, I should have been a much better man physically. When you reach 80, you know that, realistically, most of the sand is out of your hourglass. However, I remain optimistic that I have some years of hard training ahead of me. If I am so blessed, be assured that one or more slam balls will constitute an important part of my fitness arsenal. And that’s about the best endorsement I can give the slam ball.
Author: Jan Libourel
More articles from Jan:
January 19, 2022 3 Comments
Just like dumbbells, barbells, steel maces, and other weightlifting equipment, there’s no one-size-fits-all with kettlebells. The best kettlebell sizes will differ for men, women, beginners, certain exercises, and overall fitness goals. So, in this guide, we are going to cover all the most common questions about buying kettlebells and the best kettlebell weight to use based on gender, age, fitness level and all the various aspects of kettlebell training. After reading this, you will be able to choose the right size kettlebell to buy with ease.
We will be answering these questions and more:
It's all organized by sections, so if you want to scroll down to your specific question, it will be easy to find.
Before we go into choosing the best kettlebell weight for you, let’s have a closer look at the kettlebell itself.
Kettlebell is the English word for Russian girya - an 18th-century cannonball-like metal (made of cast iron or steel) used to weigh crops, with a Russian unit of measurement called "Pood".
A Pood is a Russian unit of measurement for weight and it’s the traditional unit of measurement for kettlebells. According to the Russian pood standard, 1pood is equal to 35LBS of weight (1pood = 16kg = 35LBS) and it is from this equivalence that other kilogram values are gotten for kettlebells.
Before the end of the 19th century, Russian girya had found its way into the sphere of competitive weightlifting sports in Russia and some parts of Europe while the term, "Kettlebell," was widely adopted at the dawn of the 20th century in the Western world. Nowadays, the name kettlebell is, of course, used ubiquitously around the world when referring to kettlebell sports and competition.
Unlike the simple structures of dumbbells and barbells, kettlebells have complex, equally-important parts, each of which contributes to its uniqueness. The anatomy of a kettlebell, as seen from the above picture, includes the Handle, Corner, Horn, Window, Bell, and Base.
The Bell is the center of mass of a kettlebell while the Window is the space that separates the Handle from the Bell, affording the user convenient and flexible movements that are lacking in Dumbbells and Barbells. As part of that flexibility, a kettlebell can be held at any of its parts, depending on the type of kettlebell exercise you’re doing.
Perhaps, the most special aspect of the kettlebell's design is that it is unbalanced. It makes the kettlebell a fantastic free-movement weightlifting tool for learning how to perfect your balance, grip, and more.
1. Your weightlifting experience: You have to consider if you have had any weightlifting training before. If you are new to weight training, it's best to start at a beginner level so you can learn proper mechanics. If you are experienced in traditional weightlifting, you will likely be able to start at a heavier weight than those who are new to both weightlifting and kettlebell training.
2. Your reason for taking-up Kettlebell training: The reason you’re training with kettlebells will also help you in making a good choice when it comes to buying a kettlebell. Is it for weight loss, more strength, flexibility or cardiovascular strength?
3. Your age and fitness: Age and fitness are not to be neglected at the point of choosing your kettlebell size. Younger folks should have kettlebell trainers and guardians with them as kettlebell training might be harmful if care is not taken.
4. Types of Workouts: Your age, fitness level, and goals determine the type of kettlebell training you can take-on. The following are the two broad types of kettlebell training that exist:
5. Quality of the Kettlebell: There are many things to consider when buying a kettlebell, it's not just about weight. There are different types of kettlebells. Our recommendation for beginners is to buy cast iron kettlebells, as they are the most versatile.
If you want to train seriously with kettlebells and have the proper feel, grip and design of a true kettlebell, the standard single piece kettlebell is the only way to go. (the ones we are discussing in this post). However, if you just want to do some kettlebell training here and there, an adjustable kettlebell might be a good choice for you. But in our opinion, the two are incomparable as the standard kettlebell is far superior. It's the real deal.
We will discuss more on each of these factors and recommend the best sizes for you in our thorough guide to buying the right kettlebell weight below.
Standard kettlebell sizes refer to traditional kettlebell sizes and they typically range in 4-5LB increments. The average kettlebells start from 5lbs and go up to 100lbs (although some kettlebell companies sell kettlebells as heavy as 200lbs! This is for real strongmen).
Kettlebells traditionally come in 4, 5 or 9lb increments, so you will see weights such as 26lbs, 35lb, 44lb OR 10, 15, 20, 25lbs...and so on.
Note: Although those increments may seem big, a jump from training with 15lbs to 20lbs is normal for kettlebell lifting. In fact, it is even recommended.
Now, these days manufacturers have begun to produce kettlebell sizes in between these standard sizes for many reasons. For one, it gives users greater flexibility to choose between the wide range of weights and ease scaling-up a bit if they please. For another, it affords kids and other not-so-strong individuals the opportunity of having the taste of kettlebell training.
Kettlebell sizes you will most easily find on the market include:
The best weight kettlebell for beginners to start with differs depending on your gender. Of course, for us to know the right answer to this question we may need to ask you some questions about your body weight, your age, your current fitness level, and your workout goals. While we’re not sure what your answers to such questions are and so we may not be able to directly give you the answer to your very personal question of “what size kettlebell is right for me as a beginner,” there are average kettlebell sizes for both male and female beginners and you’re sure to find the best answer for yourself if you continue reading.
When we talk about men here, we mean active males starting from the age of 18 years. In general, men can start from any weight between 24LBS to 35LBS kettlebell weight. While most men will be proud to start with something bigger and more challenging, what you start with is irrelevant in the long run. The most important thing is focusing on technique and progression.
It is our professional recommendation that you start with a weight that is appropriate to your skill level and fitness. This helps you to maintain a good form while you scale up with smiles and less stress. An average active man can start with 24LBS while a man known to be athletic can start with 35LBS or even 40LBS. All in all, you won’t go wrong by choosing from 24-35LBS.
Starting with anything in this range will help you to conveniently learn how to use proper techniques whether you’re training on your own or with a trainer. Then when progress beckons, as it will surely do, you scale-up!
Like we mentioned with men, the talk of women here refers to females starting from age 18 years. We recommend kettlebell weights between 13LBS and 18LBS for women who are beginners.
Many women might consider this too light but when one is considering the kettlebell weight to carry, one needs to just carry the right one – not too light, not too heavy.
While we advise everyone to carry just enough weight, some women have been found to underestimate their strengths, opting for kettlebell sizes that are too small.
A general rule of thumb is for you to carry a kettlebell weight with which you’re able to do 5 repetitions (reps) of any workout you’re starting with. Also, if you’ve reached a stage whereby you can conveniently do 20 reps of that workout, then it’s the right time for you to pick up something heavier.
For those who ask “can children use kettlebells?” The answer to that question is YES! The American Academy of Pediatrics had since the year 1990 asserted the potential benefits of monitored weightlifting for children and adolescents on health and athleticism.
Due to that milestone, many kettlebell manufacturers are offering kettlebells as small as 5LBS for children. A kid’s kettlebell size for a workout will depend on fitness and age.
Children aged 5-8 years can start with any size between 5-8LBS of weight, 9-11 years can take on 5-15LBS, and 12-16 years can take on 10-20LBS of kettlebell weight. In the end, it will be the level of fitness that will determine the number of kettlebell workout reps each child will perform.
kettlebell lifting for kids should be limited to simple exercises. Avoid doing ballistic training with kids (i.e. swings and cleans). Simple exercises like goblet squats and deadlifts are best.
Kettlebell exercises can be very helpful for seniors. They can help you build your strength and balance, as well as improve your cardiovascular fitness. However, to avoid injuries, if you're a senior just starting a workout with kettlebells, you should use lighter kettlebell weights and as you improve your form and strength, you can gradually increase the kettlebell weight you carry.
For seniors asking “What size kettlebell should I use?” the average male senior should start with 20-26LBS and the average female senior should start with 15-18LBS. And it will be wiser for you to focus on cardio-based kettlebell exercises such as swings, squats, cleans, and presses because you're no longer trying to build excessive muscles, but just enough to keep your bones together and covered. Most importantly, you're trying to tap into the life-preserving benefits of kettlebell exercises.
One thing to keep in mind is joint health. If your joints are fragile, we recommend a lighter weight than mentioned above. If you have any doubts, be sure to ask your doctor or a physiotherapist about kettlebell training and if it's right for you.
No doubt, kettlebells are one of the best home gym equipment for all age groups.
Now, as a beginner, don’t rush into using two kettlebells to start your training. You don’t have to join your friends in those two-handed swings when they started before you. Start with just a single weight and increase your reps as you get used to it. It is also an opportunity for you to learn how to conveniently grip the kettlebell.
Nonetheless, it will be best to have kettlebells of equal or different weights at your disposal (having two is different from training with two right?), even from the beginning. No matter what stage you are as a kettlebell trainee, having different kettlebell sizes will let you pick up the right weight at the appropriate time as you improve and become aware of your strength. Also, having more than one kettlebell of the same size will let you change your workout when appropriate and when you wish to do so.
So we recommend the following sets:
Note: If the poundage is more or less a couple pounds than the above recommended that's fine. i.e. men can get 25, 35, and 50 and it's pretty much all the same.
With these three sizes of weights, it will be perfectly adequate for you to do most types of kettlebell exercises in an effective manner - ballistics, grinds/traditional movements, and flows/complexes. The varying weights will be good for the different types of exercises (i.e. for men, a 25lb kettlebell for complexes [sequence of movements], the 35lb kettlebell for ballistics, and the 53lb kettlebell for exercises like goblet squats and deadlifts).
Related: Single vs Double Kettlebell Training
If you plan to do a lot ballistic workouts with the kettlebell and you have never done any of such activities before, starting with 18LB is good for women while 26LBS will be alright for men. If you had done some moderate ballistic workouts before, 35LBS is a good start for men and 26LBS is okay for women. Do ballistic workouts in the gym regularly? Then you can start with either 44LBS as a man while you can start with 35LBS as a woman.
When you aim to do lots of slow lifts (grinds) with the kettlebell and you have never done anything like that before, starting with 22LBS is good for you as a woman while 30LBS for you as a man. If you had done some moderate slow lifts before, 35LBS for a woman and 44LBS is good for a man. Do lots of slow lifts in the gym regularly? Start with 44LBS as a woman and 53LBS as a man.
You may have some more questions about the best kettlebell size for specific exercises (like kettlebell swings) or purposes/fitness goals, so you’ve compiled some for you below.
The kettlebell swing is a ballistic exercise that you can use to train your posterior chain muscles and it’s most useful in building your hip power and speed. To perform the kettlebell swing, you need to move the bell in a pendulum motion from between the knees to anywhere at your eye-level or above it. Seems simple? It isn't as simple as it sounds because improper kettlebell swings just worsen your postural imbalance and cause more damage than good. However, another thing that can cause more damage than good is using the wrong kettlebell size for your swings?
Although, the kettlebell weight for your kettlebell swings should vary and we believe that you won’t be carrying two kettlebells at once unless you’re an intermediate as we’ve advised, here are the kettlebell sizes for intermediate men and women doing kettlebell swings:
The kettlebell goblet squat is another effective kettlebell exercise that gives great rewards in less time than many other exercises. However, it requires a lot of effort from hundreds of muscles in your body. In turn, it helps you to burn lots of calories and helps to grow your lean muscle tissues.
The kettlebell goblet squat is usually used to establish squat techniques, improve muscle hypertrophy and to build strength, among other benefits. The goblet squat is a typical beginner’s exercise to help new kettlebell lifters get positional awareness, accumulate basic squat strength and technique, and get a better balance.
Other variations of kettlebell squats include the sumo squat, front racked squat, and split squat.
Squats are very popular in the fitness world but poor techniques and poor form can result in hip pains and injuries.
The kettlebell Turkish get up are very useful for developing your solid movement foundation as they tend to focus on your small stabilizing muscles. It is also a great kettlebell exercise for people with weak a core, poor mobility or weak stabilizing muscles. Not only does it reveal your problems, but it also helps you develop a functional core, serves as a safeguard against back pain and improves your posture. Turkish Get-up is very good for those at the beginner level as well as those at the intermediate level.
Kettlebell Turkish Get-up Sizes For Women:
Kettlebell Turkish Get-up Sizes For Men:
What size kettlebell do I need for size and strength? Some people start doing kettlebell workouts because they want to build their size and strength. To build your size and strength using kettlebells, you need to focus on exercises that can give you the most beneficial results. And those types of exercises are usually Double Kettlebell Exercises with the heaviest kettlebell your body can handle.
An average male kettlebell trainee can carry two weights that fall between 24LBS and 44lbs to do double kettlebell front squats, double kettlebell military press or double kettlebell cleans and snatches. However, depending on your fitness, you may need to increase the size of the Kettlebell you use. For the average female, it is around 20LBS to 30LBS for the same exercises.
Related: How to Build Muscle with Kettlebells
What weight kettlebell should I use to tone-up, burn fat, and keep fit? A kettlebell workout is a great way to tone your body, burn fat, earn some killer abs and keep fit:
If your goal is to burn fat, you want a weight that you can use with little rest and for HIIT workouts. This means you should go lighter than what you would use for traditional sets and reps workouts with longer rest.
Related: How to Lose Fat with Kettlebells
There are numerous one-handed kettlebell exercises like the kettlebell snatch and the single-arm deadlift.
Kettlebell flows are quickly becoming popular among kettlebell athletes. Kettlebell flows are not just one of the few kettlebell exercises that looks cool, but it also has benefits such as improved strength, stability, mobility, coordination, full-body workouts, and agility among other benefits. Beginners, intermediate and advanced flows exist for individuals fitting each level. It is best to use the kettlebell size that you are most comfortable with for two to three exercises you want to put into a flow. For example, women can use kettlebells between 18LBS and 26LBS for their kettlebell flows and men can use one between 26LBS and 44LBS for their flows.
A kettlebell flow is more like a freestyle. You can do what you want in the moment. A complex is a planned sequence of movements, typically 4 or 5 exercises. Complexes can be done in a sequence or one exercise after the other (i.e. 5 x squats then 5 x presses then 5 x sumo deadlifts, without resting or putting the kettlebell down).
For complexes, you can go a little heavier than kettlebell flows. For an average male, a 20-30lb kettlebell is good for complex training and for an average female 15-25lbs.
Competition kettlebells are usually made of steel and are, therefore, more durable than the common ones that are made of iron. Unlike other kettlebells, their handles and other parts are always of the same shape and dimension regardless of their weights because of the need to maintain consistency in competitions and fairness among competitors. Competition kettlebells are much easier to use for advanced kettlebell users than beginners because of their experience and fitness.
They are usually based in kilograms and range in 2 or 4kg increments according to international standards, each weight having varying color for convenient identification. For instance, in Girevoy Sport competition events, they use progressive lifts like:
Some Girevoy Sports competitions start male competitors with 26LBS, up to 88LBS; and females from 18LBS, up to 53LBS to a varying number of repetitions in lifts such as Snatch, Jerk, and Long Cycle.
If you plan to do competition kettlebell sport, go for kettlebell sizes based on the competition you plan to enter, and your level. Of course, work your way up to being competition ready, don't just jump into the weights and reps you read from competition results.
The best kettlebell size should be the size most accessible to members of both genders and which is most commonly used in kettlebell exercise. If we had to choose the three overall best kettlebell sizes, we'd go 26, 35, and 44LBS or 20, 30, and 40lbs, depending on the supplier you buy from.
If the size of the kettlebell is close to the weight we recommended for the specific purposes above, it will be fine. Don't worry if it is not exactly the same size. For example, if we recommended a 26LB kettlebell for something, a 24LB or 25LB kettlebell will be good too.
Moreover, everyone is different, so consider your capabilities first and foremost.
Kettlebell workouts have immense benefits for everyone that gives it the necessary attention it deserves.
Below are some of the benefits you’re bound to get from a kettlebell exercise:
Embedded in this ancient weight-measuring tool is everything you need for your total body-conditioning goals. You can know more about what you'll start to gain from kettlebell training by reading this in-depth article on the benefits of kettlebells.
Heard enough? It's time to buy a kettlebell (or kettlebells!)...
Scott Viala is a veteran kettlebell coach. Listen to what he has to say on best starting kettlebell weights for men and women based on different exercises.
January 16, 2022
Calisthenics may be the great equalizer of all workouts. Unlike traditional bodybuilding, calisthenics rely on one’s bodyweight with essentially no equipment, making them the ideal at-home workout. That said, there are some pieces of equipment that can truly improve the benefits of calisthenics, as well as increase the variety of exercises you can do at home, or on the go.
In this post we’ll briefly discuss calisthenics, then we’ll highlight 8 essential pieces of calisthenics equipment for your home gym, and the best exercises for each.
Calisthenics are exercises and movements that combine resistance training with aerobics, using (usually) only one’s own bodyweight. Some examples of calisthenics would be pull-ups, headstands, and levers.
Most exercise programs tend to focus on traditional resistance training with weights and machines. Calisthenics can be seen as superior to traditional body-building in spite of the lack of weights or equipment. In fact, some calisthenics exploit body movements to maximize eccentric and concentric contractions and ranges of motions that machines would typically prohibit.
No matter your fitness goals or level, you are sure to benefit from calisthenics, whether alone or as part of a more complex routine.
If you truly want to get the most out of your new-found love of calisthenics, we suggest you pick up a few pieces of equipment. The right equipment will help you perform MORE calisthenics with BETTER form and range of motion. This will yield more consistent results and keep you in top shape with seemingly little effort, and, best of all, from the comfort of your own home.
Here we’ll share the 8 best pieces of calisthenics equipment for use in your home gym. We’ll describe what the equipment is, and why you need it.
**This article may contain affiliate ads that we will receive a small commission on any purchase you make at no additional cost to you.**
The most essential and versatile piece of calisthenics equipment are gymnastic ring(s). Rings support nearly every exercise and integrate well with other tools.
Rings are made of wood or plastic (get wood) and have long straps attached. You tie or wrap the strap around bars, beams, even tree branches. You can adjust the straps to change the distance of the rings from the ground, which is a necessity for a few ring-based movements.
Why You Need Them: Rings will help you unlock calisthenics movements, and understand how to truly use the body. Rings can accelerate gains in strength and size, and improve balance and coordination. While rings may seem like a commitment, they truly are worth it; they’re the most versatile and effective piece of equipment you can own. If you’ve been exercising regularly, you’ll welcome the change and the challenge. If you’re new to calisthenics, or even working out, you’ll be happy about this decision.
Here are some of the most common, and challenging, ring movements:
Probably the most standard piece of exercise equipment, and one of the most effective, the pull-up bar needs little introduction. There are a few things worth considering when picking out a pull-up bar, so let’s dive in.
Pull-up bars are pretty simple – a reinforced bar with padded or gnarled grips. The most common kind have a variety of handles and can be mounted from a door frame without any tools. These are ideal as you can perform pull-ups with a variety of positions for maximum benefit. Simpler bars lack extra handles and fasten into doorframes with adjustable screws on either end. Finally, there are stall bars. These are a bit more heavy duty – they resemble a short, wide ladder with multiple pull-up bars. You can usually find these at the gym as part of a larger system or machine. We recommend the standard bar, like the Perfect Pull-Up. It will suit all your needs from the comfort of your own doorway.
Why you need one: As mentioned, the pull-up bar is a must have for any home gym. With a pull up bar, you can master the basics of both traditional exercises and calisthenics. Pull-up bars are literally the backbone of back exercises, and work the arms and shoulders in in parallel. Some pull up bars also function as dip bars, and you can attach resistance bands or suspension trainers to add get the most out of your it.
In either case, not many pieces of equipment share the utility of the pull-up bar: from pull-ups to rows, to chin-ups and leg lifts, even muscle-ups – this lightweight bar can transform your home into something that rivals Gold’s Gym.
Related: Chin-Ups vs Pull-Ups Muscles Worked
Yet another standard, parallettes are basically scaled down parallel bars. They support a host of fundamental calisthenics movements, particularly sits and pressing movements.
Parallettes may come in pairs or as a single piece of equipment. They are usually highly portable and can be easily packed away. But, not all parallettes are alike: their height and construction materials may differ and might even impact your workout. Wood tends to be the material of choice, as it provides the best grip and quality. Metal and plastic aren’t far behind in terms of durability and quality, with plastic being a bit more portable. With parallettes, height matters too. Taller paralletttes support a variety of movements, but aren’t as portable, or stable. Short parallettes – anything lower than 10” tall – are very stable, but their height may inhibit your range of motion for certain movements.
The last thing to consider is the parallette’s base - the base will determine stability, and impacts portability. A broader, solid base is idea, but means you may have to sacrifice portability.
Why you need them: Parallettes support a variety of pushing movements such as push-ups, dips, L-sits, handstands, and planches, and with a greater range of motion and more support than without. If you combine parallettes with a pull-up bar, you’ll have a near complete home gym that will really maximize your progress!
Tip: invest in good quality, sturdy parallettes that can support your body. Anything wooden, or metal with 1” bars and a solid base will be a good start.
Resistance bands are an essential, versatile piece of equipment for calisthenics, but are also useful for traditional lifting.
Resistance bands are thick, heavy duty bands with varying levels of resistance. The best bands are long, closed loops as they’re designed to support body weight and dynamic exercises. These bands are a good choice for almost all fitness levels.
Why you need them: As mentioned above, resistance bands are great for supporting body weight exercises, and act as an alternative to normal weights. Bands are great for supporting stretching, as well as moderate warm ups and cool downs. Obviously bands can be the perfect companion for calisthenics as they can attach to equipment to increase resistance, or add support. In addition to calisthenics, resistance bands are great for adding resistance to more common exercises like push-ups and pull-ups.
Read this page for more on the benefits of resistance bands and how you can use them.
An ab roller doesn’t really seem to fit the bill of calisthenics equipment, but trust us, once you add this to your routine, you’ll be glad you did.
The ab wheel is exactly what it sounds like – a little wheel with handles. The wheel usually supports linear movements. This is different from sit-ups or crunches as the abdominals stay contracted throughout the movement. The ab wheel really only varies in the size of the wheel: bigger wheels offer more stability, but are also harder to stow for travel.
Why you need one: This device is deceptively challenging, and will humble even the strongest man or woman. Ab wheels allow you to engage your core differently than traditional sit-ups and crunches; the wheel allows you to perform rotational movements that traverse multiple planes of the body, thereby engaging the abs and the many other muscles of the core through static and dynamic movements. No matter the size, the wheel allows you to maximize eccentric and concentric contractions with movements like planches, tucks and pikes, and kneeling rollouts. You can twist from side to side to add an extra challenge, or kick the leg out and try these bird-dog style.
Related: Best Bodyweight-Only Core Exercises
A weight vest is great way to add varying levels of resistance to any exercise quickly. Weighted vests can help you improve muscular and cardiovascular endurance without adding an additional exercise.
Weighted vests resemble body armor worn by soldiers (I remember my LBV on deployment!), and come in two flavors – internal and external weights. Internally weighted vests use thin, weighted plates that you insert into the front and back of the vest. These are nice to manage, but the weights are not adjustable, and these tend to be harder to find. Externally weighted vests come with a series of pockets or flaps that hold individual weights. These are ideal: you can adjust the weight with ease and they’re more comfortably to wear.
Why you need one: As mentioned, you can add a weight vest to nearly any exercise for added benefit. Weight vests can improve cardiovascular capacity, increase bone density and muscular development, and improve balance. You can look into alternatives such as ruck sacks and portable sand bags, but vests are really the best.
In terms of exercises, you can really do any body weight exercise with a vest, like jumping jacks, jumping rope, squats, push-ups, dups, pull-ups. We’d recommend avoiding complex movements with a vest as it can be limit range of motion. Weight vests are an alternative, and supplement, to resistance bands, as they allow you to add resistance without changing the angle or leverage needed in a given movement.
Related: 9 Weighted Vest Benefits
Speed ropes are jump ropes with a slightly shorter, heavier rope, and thick, comfortable handles. Technically any jump rope will do, but speed ropes add an extra challenge.
Why you need one: Speed ropes are an essential piece of equipment for calisthenics as they can improve speed and agility, and add variety to your workouts. They can also improve balance and agility, two factors that are essential to performing calisthenics. Plus, speed ropes let you add some good old cardio to your workout without running. For added complexity, include some double-unders or cross-overs.
A power tower is the all-in-one calisthenics home gym. These towers are designed to support and consolidate a variety of exercises and pieces of equipment.
Power towers come in a few shapes and sizes, but typically resemble a Roman Chair or Smith machine, but slighter. In either case, they feature vertical bars supporting a top mounted pull up bar. The racks are tall enough to hang gymnastic rings from, and advanced models include or can integrate dip bars and additional weights.
The main drawback of power towers is their size: you usually need a large space and solid floor to keep a power tower. There are smaller versions that work just as well. But if you have the space, then a power tower will be the last piece of equipment you need to keep you making excellent progress from the comfort of your own home.
If you're interested in seeing the different options on the market these days, check out our post Best Power Towers.
Why you need one: Exercises on a tower are nearly endless. Next to rings, the power tower is the last frontier for calisthenics. While the tower may seem redundant when you have pull-up bars, parallettes, and rings, a tower will pull all these together. The tower serves as an anchor for other equipment, but also allows you to perform key movements like pull-ups, dips, and core work.
Related: Best Power Tower Exercises
This marks the end of our list. These pieces were chosen because they are the most widely used, effective, and available pieces of equipment for calisthenics. They are meant to be used with or without weights, and can be taken with you for your exercises on the move.
Aside from those pieces above, here are a few honorable mentions that you might want to consider to complete your home gym and bring your calisthenics to the next level:
December 26, 2021
Safety squat bars could be the most valuable piece of equipment in the gym that you’ve never seen…or even heard of. That’s a shame as this bar offers so many different benefits that it places it above the regular barbell in various situations. To be clear, we’re not saying that the safety squat bar is better than a standard barbell; we’re just saying that it’s pretty freaking awesome, and we think everyone should be using it. That’s what this entire article is about; what is the safety squat bar, and its benefits. In other words, why do you need to start using it in the gym! In this article, we’ll go over;
The safety squat bar is a type of barbell that was initially designed by those in the strength community, specifically powerlifters. The bar looks significantly different from the standard barbell in several various aspects.
Note: The Safety Squat Bar is sometimes referred to as a Yoke Bar.
Due to the extra material used to fabricate a safety squat bar, they will weigh more than your standard barbell. While different brands will have different weights, the vast majority will weigh around 60-65lbs. Again, there is some variance here, so check with your manufacturer of choice just to double-check.
Above we went over the 3 defining design features of the safety squat bar. The cambered design has the weight sitting low, the handles allow easier holding, and the extra padding makes lifting more comfortable. Combined, these three differences make a huge difference in squatting.
The cambered design is the most significant feature of the safety squat bar. Essentially, this makes the weight sit lower and in line with the center of gravity. Further, the cambered design will allow the weights to be manipulated so that they can swing forward to line up with your enter of gravity (see below). Or you can also manipulate other positions for a different stimulus.
The safety squat bars are there for a few purposes. The first is that it simply allows you to stabilize the weight by bringing your arms out in front of your body. This is huge if you are someone who suffers from mobility issues in the shoulder. Ideally, you can correct the mobility issues, but sometimes we can’t. Or perhaps you have injured your shoulder and are in recovery. Still, maybe your shoulders just need a break from supporting heavy loads with a traditional barbell.
Secondly, the handles allow you to rotate the bar some to manipulate the position of the weight.
We wish there was some really cool physiological reason for the padding…but there’s not. As mentioned above, the barbell will sit much higher on your upper back and come across your upper traps. This can be very painful on your spine and muscles, and we don’t want that. Therefore, the pads are merely there for comfort.
However, safety squat bars are VERY comfortable. You will appreciate this, even more so when you start lifting heavy weights as a standard squat bar can be painful, even when positioned low. While pain is a part of lifting, we’d be lying if we told you that squatting with high loads and zero discomforts wasn’t an attractive benefit.
The above three features combine to offer many benefits that come in real handy when you’re a serious lifter. In fact, there are certain exercises that can ONLY be done with the safety squat bar, which we’ll discuss in greater detail below. This section will discuss the biomechanical advantages of the safety squat bar in greater detail and what makes it a “safety” bar.
1) Maintains Better Center Of Gravity
When we look at the body from the side, the center of gravity runs straight down the middle through the middle of the skull. Ideally, this is where we keep the bar path during squats. However, because of the straight design of the Olympic bar, the weight will either sit behind the center of gravity during the back squat or in front of the center of gravity during the front squat.
However, due to the cambered design of the safety squat bar, the bar can rest on the back but the weight can be pushed forward so that it falls right in line with the center of gravity. Therefore, when a trainee goes down in the squat, the center of gravity is pulling straight down, thus mitigating awkward pulling forces. This makes the squat easier for those with injured backs or those who just want to give their back a rest.
2) You Can Maintain A Upright Torso
Another great back-saver is that the bar sits so high on the neck. This works in unison with the center of gravity to allow you to “back squat” with a significantly more upright torso. Further, it will enable the front squat to be performed flawlessly as it doesn’t require as much mobility in the upper body while adjusting the center of gravity as well (again, we will discuss below further).
This is important because squatting with an upright torso significantly relieves pressure from the lower back. Because you are not bent over, a higher percentage of the load is delivered straight down into the spine, leaving only a fraction out in front, which is responsible for increasing torque (i.e., it’s what hurts your lower back).
3) Easy On Your Shoulders And Wrists
One of the most significant issues people have when training the barbell back squat is that they highly underestimate shoulder mobility. This is why you’ll often see trainees back squat with the barbell bending the wrists; they cannot position their arms in the correct position to wrap their wrists around the bar.
This isn’t an issue at all as the safety squat bar has handles that come down in front of the trainee. Therefore, the trainee can quickly just grab the bar in front of them, completely eliminating any discomfort in the shoulder. Further, the wrist won’t be forced to take the brunt of the load.
Taking these two benefits above together, the safety squat bar is the perfect piece of equipment to give your joints a rest while still allowing you to lift heavy loads.
Together, those three unique characteristics make squatting movements much more enjoyable for all lifters, whether you need the added mobility support or not.
So now, let’s look at some exercises that you can do with the safety squat bar.
1. SAFETY SQUAT BAR BACK SQUAT
The obvious safety squat bar exercise is the classic back squat. You will set up the bar in the same manner as a back squat for this movement. Next, walk up the bar and place your head in between the handles, so the padded parts are snug against the very top of your neck and traps. Grab the handles for support and unrack the weight.
You will notice that if you don’t pull or push on the handles, they will naturally point down towards the floor. Take some time to experiment with manipulating the handles to see how it affects the feel of the movement. The more you push up on the handles, the more forward the weights will come.
Get in a normal stance for squatting and begin the movement as you would with a squat. You want to come down to maintain a very upright torso as you come down. Luckily, this will almost happen automatically as your body will move to accommodate the weight, much like how doing a goblet squat will “force” a trainee to also squat with an upright torso.
Come down until you hit parallel and pop back up. One thing to be cautious of is excessive pulling on the handles. Often, trainees will pull down hard using heavier loads, similar to barbell back squats. However, similar to the barbell back squats, you want to keep this pulling motion to a minimum.
2. SAFETY SQUAT BAR FRONT SQUAT
Everyone knows about the obvious safety bar back squat, but now we’re getting into other incredible movements you can do with a safety squat bar. First, we’ll look at the front squat.
Again, set the safety squat bar up in the same manner as using an ordinary barbell. As you approach the bar to unrack, you will notice that the handles are pointing down. These handles are going to actually rest on top of your shoulders. Therefore, this will require you to lift the handles upwards so that your head can slide in between the handles and your neck is tight against the padded spot.
Next, the grip is much more different as instead of using a racked position, you will instead just bring both arms up to grab the barbell, almost like you’re hugging the bar. Well, actually, it does look like a racked position; however, your hands are holding the padded area with your hands palm down instead. This single aspect will instantly make the safety squat bar front squat your movement of choice when performing front squats. As we know, front squats are fantastic but require significant wrist and shoulder mobility. Even then, it can still be uncomfortable. Sure, you could just get used to it, OR you could just use a safety squat bar.
Next, unrack the bar, get into a normal position, and perform the movement in the same manner as a front squat. The main cue to remember is just like the barbell front squat. As you drive upwards, don’t let your elbows fall. Doing so will start a chain reaction where your whole body will start to lean forward. You don’t want that. Therefore, continually drive your elbows upwards up as you come up. This will ensure you maintain a proper upright position.
3. HATFIELD SQUAT
This is one of those movements you’ve likely never tried before but definitely should! The Hatfield squat is the squat that really made the safety squat bar famous. It was named after Fred Hatfield, and it is a movement that is specific to the safety squat bar. The Hatfield squat is unlike any other squat, and it’s something you need to include.
To execute the Hatfield squat, you’ll need a safety squat bar AND a regular barbell. First, set up the safety squat bar at the typical height for a back squat. After, you’ll want to set up the next barbell. This should be set at a height that is just a tiny bit higher than chest level. The reason being is that you will actually be using this bar as a brace to hold onto. Therefore, you want to always be able to pull down on the barbell.
Note: A lot of people prefer to use a hip (or just above hip height) for the barbell rather than chest height. You'll have to try and see which you prefer.
Go up to the barbell and use your hands to manipulate the handles to allow you to get under the bar. First, use the handles to unrack the bar, and once settled in, you’ll then let go of the safety handles and place your hands on the regular straight barbell. Before you start, make sure you have pulled the safety squat bar all the way to the edge of the lip on the hooks so that the bar doesn’t jump during the movement.
The handles will naturally turn into your body, so don’t be concerned about it falling off; it won’t. Well, it could, but it would mean you somehow managed to get flipped upside down, and we’d then have more significant issues to address.
Unrack the safety squat bar and step out from the rack while maintaining a hold on the barbell. You will now perform squats, as usual, using the straight barbell to help stabilize and even assist you with reps.
The Hatfield squat is a fantastic exercise for those who want to add serious volume to their squats without wrecking their backs. Hatfield squats are almost always done with high reps; sometimes really high reps in the 20+ range. Therefore, while an awesome movement, it’s rarely done as a primary exercise but almost always as an accessory to the squat or a brutal finisher.
Note: Hatfield lunges are also great. You do the same set up, but do a reverse lunge rather than a squat.
4. SAFETY SQUAT BAR OVERHEAD PRESSING
You guessed it, overhead pressing with a safety squat bar should be set up in the same manner as you would if you were going to use a normal straight bar. Approach the bar so that the handles lay against your chest and grab outside the handles. This will be a bit awkward at first, but you will get used to it. We promise.
Next, you’re going to unrack the safety squat bar. Immediately, you will start to feel why this is so different from pressing with a regular bar…in fact, why it will be more challenging. Above, we talked about how the weight can move to adjust for center of gravity, which was beneficial as it made the lift easier. Well here, the weight still moves but makes the movement considerably harder as your muscles will need to fire extra hard to stabilize the weight.
Everything is exactly the same minus the required extra stabilization from here on out. Word to the wise; DO NOT use heavy loads when you start this movement. Work up very slowly to allow your muscles to get used to the wobble of the bar. However, once you can press the same weight using a safety squat bar, you can feel confident you’ll press the same with a straight bar.
When we first start using the safety squat bar for pressing, we like to use it as an accessory for overhead pressing. For example, you could run maybe a 4X4 strict press followed by 2XAMAP with the safety squat bar. From there, slowly use progressive overload until you’re more confident pressing heavier loads with the safety squat bar. After, you could alternate the safety squat bar overhead press and barbell pressing for our main movement.
Do you have to use the safety squat bar? You don’t have to, but rotating it into your workouts will benefit you in the long run. Here is a list of populations who should be using the safety squat bar.
As you can see, basically anyone will benefit from using the safety squat bar in their rotation. This means you. It’s perfect for building strength and muscle hypertrophy when trained with a proper resistance training program.
So we talked about all of the mechanical differences that are seen with the safety squat bar, but how does it actually affect strength and muscle growth? Well, there’s actually a couple of studies that looked at differences in the biomechanics when using a standard barbell and a safety squat bar while also examining the effect on physical adaptations.
The first study from 2019 set out to examine the differences in biomechanics. They made a few significant discoveries.
Some surprises as the lower body activation were less. Still, the fact you squat a bit lower isn’t entirely surprising as your front squat is also significantly lower, which uses a more similar body position.
Regardless of this study, another study examined the change in performance after 9 weeks of training with either the barbell back squat or the safety squat bar. Surprisingly, they found performance improvements in vertical jump and lower body strength were similar for both bars despite higher loads being used with the barbell back squat.
From this, we can assume that unless you are a powerlifter or an athlete who needs to use barbell back squats, there seems to be a toss-up between using the safety squat bar squat or barbell back squat. Again, you’d be best off just rotating both.
Related: Standard Barbell Weight & Size Chart
As you can see from this article, you NEED to be doing the safety squat bar squat. Well, maybe not “need” to, but you’d love it if you tried. It offers SO MANY benefits due to its design; it mitigates the load on the lower back, is joint-friendly, and you can even do exercises that aren’t possible with a straight barbell!
If you are getting bored of squatting or have found you’ve stalled, you should 100% check out using a safety squat bar. In reality, everyone should be using a yoke bar!
December 18, 2021
Everyone knows that free weights are what build real strength and size. However, what type of free weight should you use to maximize your gains in strength and size, the barbell or dumbbell? Everyone has their opinion on what you should use, which is generally guided by heavy bias. Your friend told you to use the barbell, but the Instagram model said dumbbells build the most muscle; so who is right? Both, depending on the circumstances. Both of these are great pieces of gym equipment that can both be used to build huge mass and some seriously strong muscles. However, there are plenty of differences between the barbells and dumbbells, some obvious and some not so obvious. These differences can help dictate which one is the right tool for the right job, which is why we've put together this barbell vs dumbbell comparison.
But first, let’s go over the similarities of barbells and dumbbells (They’re basically only one important one).
They’re Both Free Weights
This is the main similarity between these two implements. But it’s a very important commonality that sets them apart from other gym equipment. This means that you are able to manipulate them through space in virtually any manner you want. This ability allows you to perform an extensive range of exercises compared to machines that almost always limit you to just one. This is why the barbell and dumbbell are the definite preferred choice for building a home gym or workout at home.
In this regards, they both offer similar benefits over machines:
So now, let’s look at how they differ. We’ll first look at some of the more practical issues with them and then look at differences they have when being applied to resistance training.
These differences illustrate practical differences in these two implements which may influence you as a gym owner, trainer, or trainee. It also includes some general differences for your own education to better understand these differences.
1. There Are Various Types of Barbells
When we say “barbell”, the first image that comes to a person’s mind is a long bar with plate-loaded collars. This would be a good general description of a barbell, but there is actually quite a bit of variety.
And there are many others. All of these have their own unique characteristics and uses. Therefore, if you had a good amount of money (and willing to spend it), you can buy a lot more specialty barbells to enhance your training.
When it comes to dumbbells, your choices are basically limited to the shape of the end and material used. Perhaps a few more minor things, but there’s not too much to think about. If you want dumbbells, we recommended standard hex dumbbells.
2. Barbells Are Used In Competition
Perhaps a bit anecdotal, but when comparing barbells and dumbbells, it’s important to point out that barbells are solely used in Olympic lifting and powerlifting. The only place you may see dumbbells used in any type of competition are in Crossfit or maybe Strongman (they will use what’s called a “circus dumbbell”). Still, barbells have been, currently are, and will almost certainly always be the primary implement used in strength competitions.
This means that you’ll definitely want the barbell to be the main component of your training if you are competing. Even if you’re not, it’s still something to consider when comparing the two.
3. Barbells Are Cheaper And Take Up Less Space
Both are much cheaper by far when compared to buying machines and considering the variety of exercises you can do. However, when comparing the two against each other, barbells are the cheaper option. This due to the design of the two pieces of equipment.
Barbells are plate loaded meaning that you buy one barbell and then a variety of plates that you can use to adjust the weight. The thing to keep in mind is that you can use these plates in any combination you want to make different weights. For example, let’s say you buy:
Even though you bought 3 pairs of plates, this actually gives you 6 different combinations to add to the bar.
If you were to buy this in dumbbells, you would need to buy 6 different pairs. The price also goes up due to having to buy more metal when plates are (can be) made of just rubber. These problems only grow with the more extensive range of weight that you need to buy.
It also means you need to buy substantially more weight. The plates together weigh 60lbs with a 45lb dumbbell equaling 105lbs. The dumbbell’s total weight is 210lbs. This extra weight means more money, which means more room is needed to store your equipment.
If you want to work out at home, the best option is to have your barbell and plates for most of your movements and then just a few dumbbells that you know you can get a lot of use from.
If you're interested in purchasing a barbell for your home gym, make sure to read our post that covers the Best Barbells on the market today. Below are some other choices that you can find on Amazon to deck out your gym space.
4. Dumbbells May Be Better For New Trainees Or Certain Populations
Something about a barbell can be intimidating to those new to the gym or older populations. This is probably more of a mental block as the trainees have probably seen countless magazines and commercials that have absolute beasts moving serious weight with the barbell. However, some real factors need to be taken into account when training someone for the first time.
The first is caused by the initial starting weight. While some boutique or specialty gyms may have some training bars, your average gym will only have a basic barbell that weighs 45 lbs. If you’re lucky, they may have a women’s bar that weighs 35lbs. Regardless, this can actually be too much weight for some movements for some trainees, especially the older population and upper body movements for women. The hardest exercise to perform will be the overhead press which is notoriously tricky. It can take some trainees a few months before they can press a bar fully over their head with good form.
This makes having dumbbells extremely useful when first training certain populations as most gyms have dumbbells that go down to at least 5lbs, if not 2.5lbs. Many gyms will even have a smaller set which has dumbbells that weigh 0.5lbs. These can be used to train the biomechanics of a movement while not overloading the muscle too much.
Two, because the barbell fixes the arms once they are holding onto it, learning movement patterns can be a bit more difficult compared to using dumbbells because of the limited mobility. Having a dumbbell being controlled by one arm gives it a lot more room to maneuver. A perfect example of this is the overhead press again. When using a barbell, the trainee has to move their head to push the bar up, which is a bit awkward when first learning the movement. This problem is eliminated with dumbbells as there is no bar that causes issues with the bar’s direction.
Don’t take this the wrong way. The standing barbell press is a fantastic movement that everyone should eventually utilize, it just may take some time to get there, and using dumbbells makes that process much more manageable.
5. There Is More Variety Of Movements With The Dumbbells…Much More
The other clear advantage of dumbbells is that there is a much wider range of movements that you can perform. These movements can be broken down into three main sub-categories of movements.
a) Main Exercises: These are alternatives to barbell movements (dumbbell chest press, dumbbell rows, etc). This includes exercises that either can’t be duplicated with barbells or safer (or more comfortable) to be performed with dumbbells. Some examples are:
b) Isolation movements: It is very difficult to perform isolation movements with the barbell. While there are a good amount, there are many more that can be done using dumbbells. Other than that, you’re limited simply because the bar is unable to move to allow this to happen. Below is just an example of movements that you can perform with dumbbells that are impossible using a barbell:
c) Alternative Or Untraditional Movements: The third group of movements can simply be thought of as untraditional movements. Below are a list of movements that are impossible (or highly unpractical) to do with a barbell.
There are others but this gives you a good idea. While there is some nuance in these, using dumbbells as a general source of weight is much easier than using a barbell due to its awkwardness for many movements.
Now, let's look at how dumbbells and barbells compare for things like progression, building strength, building muscle, improving athleticism, and rehab/prehab purposes.
In order to progress in strength or muscle hypertrophy, you are going to need to implement progressive overload. This is simply the process of adding incremental increase in weight over time to elicit adaptations.
When you first start training, the very general rule to do this is to add 5lbs to upper body movements every week and 10lbs to lower body workouts every week. The vast majority of gyms don’t have dumbbells that jump 2.5 lbs (that would instantly double the amount of money they spend AND space they need) and will usually jump 5lbs. This is a problem as the lowest amount of weight you can jump is 10lbs (As you use two dumbbells). This makes it very difficult to progress on as there are a limited amount of options.
This problem is only exacerbated when you become an experienced intermediate lifter or advanced lifter when you may be using increments of 0.5lbs, or even less, to jump. That’s just not going to happen with dumbbells.
This is yet another reason why barbells are superior when it comes to pure strength training.
We have already established that both can build strength. This question is what is best, so this will be answered in terms of having to choose one. When looking at this as a direct question and ignoring all caveats, the best choice would be…
This is for quite a few reasons. The major one is purely out of practicality. In order to build strength, you need to use heavyweights that are ideally more than 85% of your 1RM.
The problem is that even in most gyms, dumbbells only go up to 100lbs. Even in some of the more “hardcore” gyms, dumbbells will stop at around 150lbs. This is highly problematic for lower body exercises such as deadlifts and squats. Most people who are training to build strength, especially men, will quickly surpass these numbers, leaving them with no other choice than not to use the barbell if they want to build strength.
In terms of training the upper body, the problem comes into setting up with dumbbells. It is very challenging to set up with very heavy dumbbells, especially shoulder movements.
However, things become a little less clear when you examine this question from a physiological perspective. When you are a beginner lifter, it simply won’t matter which you use as both will supply a sufficient stimulus to create growth. A trainee can use either one and progress just fine in strength.
Further, it’s a bit harder to actually define “strength” in a real-world situation. If we take a lifter who uses a barbell and a lifter who uses dumbbells, how can we test them to see who is the strongest? What modality do we use? The lifter who trains with a barbell will lift more with a barbell. The lifter who trains with dumbbells will be able to lift more with dumbbells. This is due to specificity, which simply states your body will adapt to the specific training stimulus you put on it.
Still, the vast majority of strength tests that are performed in the athletic population are done using the barbell. Think about the NFL combine and what the use to test upper body strength.
The only clear thing is that the vast majority of trainees can lift more using a barbell rather than a dumbbell.
The next major question is which one is better for hypertrophy. This question can offer a bit more clarity but still consist of a lot of nuances. When trying to achieve muscle hypertrophy, the total volume is the main component determining your progress. The most efficient way to create total volume is with moderate reps of 8-12 with 70-80% loads. This means that the issue of needing heavyweights is taken out of the equation.
The general consensus is that dumbbells are better for muscle hypertrophy for a few reasons:
A good example of this is with the dumbbell chest press and dumbbell overhead press. Both of these movements allow a higher ROM due to the lack of barbells and more planar movement.
The bench press almost occurs 100% in the sagittal plane (think horizontally). You press the bar straight away from your body (correct form actually has some arc, but that’s for a different article). The dumbbell chest press also appears in the sagittal plane and involves horizontal adduction when you bring the dumbbells towards the middle of the body at the top, similar to chest flies. Many bodybuilders like the feeling of squeezing the chest at the top of this movement. This is similar for many movements using dumbbells.
However, these are general thoughts but aren’t necessarily always true. Many studies have found contradictory findings in terms of muscle activation when examining upper-body barbell and dumbbell exercises. However, this may be more “true” with unilateral lower-body exercises (study) as the entire body must be balanced on one foot.
Still, none of this invalidates the fact that increasing volume will ultimately increase muscle growth and can be achieved with either the barbell and dumbbell.
With all that being said, the vast majority of strength and performance coaches will use barbells for strength training (<6 reps) and dumbbells for muscle hypertrophy (>8 reps)
There is reason to believe that adaptations from unilateral exercises have a better transferability to actual athletic performance. This is because the majority of actions that occur in athletics (and in real life in general) occur on one side of the body. Even when a movement does occur bilaterally, it rarely happens evenly as performed with a barbell.
This is why many strength and conditions coaches for athletes will put a lot more emphasis on unilateral exercises. That doesn’t mean they don’t use bilateral movements, just that they will use unilateral exercises more than other populations.
Due to the higher activation of the stabilizer muscles, unilateral movements with dumbbells are the generally preferred form of exercise prescribed by physical therapists and athletic coaches. This is because many of these muscles which help protect and stabilize a joint are activated much less when using a barbell. Lack of strength in these muscles are often the cause of overuse injuries and muscular imbalances.
For example, single-leg lower body movements are some of the best exercises to train the gluteus medius. This is a very important muscle to strengthen to prevent lower leg injuries from sagging hips. Exercises include:
Now while many lower-body exercises “could” be done with barbells, remember, they are generally much safer and easier to perform with dumbbells. This is due to dumbbells:
This same concept goes for upper-body movements, too, especially when it involves the shoulder complex. In fact, there are many trainees who don’t have the shoulder mobility to perform bench press but can press dumbbells with ease.
So we now know the advantages and disadvantages of using barbells. We have also concluded that they are both great tools to be used in any program when used correctly. So what’s the best way to use these in your training?
The easiest way to think about this is that barbells are best used for your heavy strength training. At the same time, dumbbells are more hypertrophic-focused and are best used for moderate and lighter work for accessory and isolation movements. This is not gospel but rather a general guiding line of thought. Here’s how this may look for a pushing day:
One common way to use these two pieces of equipment is to swap out movements for basic periodization. For example, let’s say you have been performing barbell bench press with sets of 5 reps. Things get a bit stagnant, and you want to change things up. You can simply replace the barbell bench press with it’s dumbbells alternative, the dumbbell chest press, and train in the 6-8 rep range. Not only will this provide a different stimulus from using a new implement, you will also work in a diverse rep range.
Another example of this is the barbell movement’s use on one training day and the dumbbell movement on the next training day. This is going to depend on your training split, but ideally, you are training each muscle group twice a week. This would look something like
This way, you don’t have to worry about which is better because you’re using both!
Barbell or dumbbell curls? Barbell or dumbbell bench press? Barbell or dumbbell shrugs?
You could go and dissect each movement but it’s really fruitless in that it depends on what you’re trying to do AND who you ask. For example, frontal shrugs with a barbell have been shown to cause more activation in the trap muscles (study). However, a ton of trainees and coaches prefer dumbbell shrugs due to more ROM and stability control. Plus, you can hold more weight with a neutral grip using dumbbells compared to the prone grip with the barbell. There’s also the fact that you can also do frontal shrugs with dumbbells. It gets confusing.
One of the most important lessons to learn in exercise science is that there is almost never a black and white answer. This applies to this question as well. Both are better options under certain circumstances, and both can be worse choices under certain circumstances. Sometimes we can get too caught up in these trivial matters when working hard is really what matters, Neither are going to work if you half-ass it in the gym!
While it’s an interesting question and is definitely fun to look at, don’t put too much concern into it, thinking that you may be missing out on something.
They are both excellent pieces of equipment that have been used by professional athletes, bodybuilders, powerlifters, Crossfiitters, and your every-day trainee.
The only way you may lose out on some benefits is if you ONLY use one of them! Use both in your program with progressive overload, and you’ll gain some serious strength AND mass.
December 05, 2021 2 Comments
Set For Set Steel Maces are now available in 7, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30lbs. With so many mace weight options, we thought we'd give you a simple post that would be useful to determine:
With over 100 movements and countless possibilities to make a creative full body workout, here are some serious tips on choosing the right mace weight (or mace weights - meaning multiple maces) for you.
Macebell weights come in a variety of sizes. Here are the sizes/weights you will easily be able to buy online:
There are heavier options, but you will need to do some digging around to find out where to buy them.
Generally speaking, for both men and women, trainers will suggest you start with a 10LB mace. It's really the smartest place to start. With a 10LB steel mace, you will be able to learn the movements safely and more efficiently, and a 10LB mace will always be useful even when you move on to heavier weights.
Altering the difficulty of the steel mace:
The beauty of the steel mace is that you can increase the difficulty by moving your hands closer together towards the end of the handle or make it easier by using a spread-out grip with one hand closer to the head while the other remains towards the bottom of the handle.
Point being, if you find you can't handle the size you purchased, you can always choke up on the handle and grip the mace closer to the head to make exercises easier. Over time, you can slowly increase the difficulty by altering your grip. You will progress quickly.
All in all, the ability to change the difficulty of a movement by simply altering your hand placement makes the steel mace an extremely dynamic and versatile training tool.
If you are looking for the most versatile size go with a 10LB or 15LB mace.
For men who are strong, well-conditioned, and comfortable with mace training, you will likely find a 15LB mace more of a "go-to" size.
With one of these sizes, you will always find use for it, even as you advance, whether it's a warm up, flow, complex or metabolic workout.
The 10LB mace is the most common steel mace to begin a mace journey with, but is also the most common size for metabolic conditioning workouts. The steel mace was designed to be a conditioning tool; primarily used for the purpose of enhancing muscular endurance (ability to do repeated movements over time), cardiorespiratory endurance (ability to continue to perform at a high level for extended periods of time), and maintaining mobility. In this case, we recommend most individuals start with a 10LB mace (or 15LB steel mace, depending on your body size and strength). With the 10LB you should be able to go through the whole workout or circuit without putting the mace down. Once you master that, you can move up in mace weight.
The answer to this one is simple - if you want to flow, get a 10LB mace.
A heavier mace is recommended for traditional mace movements. However, you should still work your way up to a heavier mace; starting with a lighter mace until you master the movement. We say if you can do 100 360s in a row it's time to move up in weight.
If you are looking for single arm swings, or dual movements (a mace in each hand), a 7LB or 10LB mace is good.
If you are looking to incorporate some mace exercises into a standard gym routine or a circuit workout with other equipment, it’s ideal to have different size maces, but it's not absolutely necessary. If it's not in the bank right now, revert back to the "Most Versatile Size" above. But, if you don't mind dropping some money, get two or three sizes so you are properly equipped to do targeted mace exercises - i.e. a heavier mace for leg movements, a lighter mace for arms/shoulders, a mid-size mace for back...you get the point.
If you think getting two steel maces, we'd recommended getting a lighter and heavier size. The following sizes are nicely paired:
That said, it really depends on your goal and skill level. If you are a beginner, a 10 and 15 pound mace would make more sense, that way you can be more incremental in your progression.
But, if you are skilled with the mace, having a lighter and heavier mace would be great.
Here are specs and best uses for each individual mace weight...
Who should buy a 7-pound mace:
Who should buy a 10-pound mace:
Who should buy a 15-pound mace:
Who should buy a 20-pound mace:
Who should buy a 25/30-pound mace:
If you are a stronger woman, the world is yours just as it is for a man. Use the 15-25LB ladies - just make sure you are prepared! We know plenty of women who can swing the 25LB mace!
The golden rule is 100 mace 360s and you can move up in weight. And if you can do 100, try practicing with one arm mace swings - it makes it much more difficult, much more awkward and will put your stability to the test.
Remember though, due to the creativity of athletes, maces have taken on a new persona. It’s not all about 360s and 10-to-2s, which is why having different sizes is important so you can master all the movements...and even create new ones.
Some mace movements are simply impossible with the heavier weighted maces. Which is why having lighter to heavier sizes is crucial. You can do mace flow to heavy mace swings, covering endurance, stamina, strength and explosive power.
Work your way up smartly:
People from India who have been using maces (Gadas to them) for a long time are swinging maces even 50LBs in weight. Sometimes with one hand. This is extremely difficult, but working your way up is essential. If not you can complicate pre-existing injuries or cause new ones, especially in the lower back or elbows with the heavier weights. If you have 15, 20 or 25 and it's becoming easy, again, try single arm swings and offset movements.
If you can have every mace, it’s really the best, because if you have a full set of steel mace weights, you open yourself up to every move and even single arm or double mace movements (if you get two of the same size).
If you were to put together a full body circuit, and you had all the sizes, (or at least a set with a range of say 10, 15 and 20 pounds, you would be able to switch the mace depending on the body part you are working or exercises you are performing. For example, most people would want a heavier weight when doing maces curtsy lunges, and for obliques and core, you may want a 10 or a 15LB. Having a range of maces will truly provide you with full body conditioning.
Another example, if you only got a 20 or 25LB mace, you could work on your traditional movements very nicely, but you wouldn’t be able to do proper flows or sequences/complexes that require a lighter mace weight. Even if you think you are a monster, holding a 20LB mace in certain positions and movements is extremely taxing and will require you to put the mace down and rest. And that’s not the most ideal use of a mace. The mace was designed to be a conditioning tool. You can still use the heavier maces as a conditioning tool, but you will be limited to the traditional movements or larger body part exercises to be able to keep the repeated movement over time.
If you want to get creative and have seemingly endless possibilities with exercises/movements and workouts, having a wider range of sizes will allow you to perform many creative exercises and experience tremendously difficult workouts - sometimes for fun, sometimes for hell!
Our extensive Steel Mace Training e-Guide will take you from mace beginner to pro in no time:
Women or those of you with joint pain may want to start with a 7LB steel mace. Men, even well-conditioned athletes, may want a 7LB or 10LB for warm-ups or prehab and rehab exercises. You can do a lot of unique exercises with a light steel mace, hitting smaller muscles in your arms and core that you've never felt before. The 20 & 25LB are badass, they will be a challenge and really work your muscle strength and endurance. It's up to you for what you want to accomplish, use your best judgment. We hope this article has helped.
We sell steel maces from 7-30 pounds at SET FOR SET. We are confident you will love the quality of our maces. We've been in the mace game for many years and we actually train with maces, unlike the vast majority of Amazon seller. Plus, our reviews speak for themselves.
December 02, 2021
Recently, we were asked, "what is a deadlift bar, and should I buy one?". To answer that question, a deadlift bar is slightly longer and thinner than a traditional barbell so that the bar bends in the middle, which creates a whip effect, enabling the lifter to lift the bar higher before the weight plates leave the ground. As a result, the deadlift bar can help to boost the amount of weight lifted but this advantage is mainly for top-tier lifters. This post will dig deeper into the deadlift bar, the benefits/disadvantages, and how it compares with other popular types of bars.
The deadlift is one of the most recognizable lifts in the fitness world. There are multiple variations of the deadlift, but we'll only describe the standard deadlift. Put simply; the deadlift is an exercise where you pull a loaded barbell off of the floor until you're standing up straight and the bar is at your thighs. You then slowly lower the bar to the starting position back to the floor.
The deadlift is one of the three main powerlifting exercises, with the other two being the squat and bench press. Compared to these other two exercises, the deadlift is a total body strengthening exercise that can help you build both upper and lower body muscles.
The deadlift is a technical lift that requires good form and technique. We always recommend adding a form of deadlifts into your workout programming, barring any conditions where the exercise wouldn't be possible.
Deadlifts offer some fantastic benefits, including building more muscle mass throughout the body, boosting metabolism, burning calories, enhancing balance and stability, improving posture, and helping you function better in daily life activities.
Deadlifts can be done with various equipment, including; barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells resistance bands, cable and Smith machines, and of course, the deadlift bar!
There are plenty of deadlift variations that can keep your workouts fresh and productive. Don't be intimidated by this exercise; if done correctly, people from all walks of life can enjoy the benefits of this legendary movement.
Related: Deadlift Exercise Guide
A deadlift bar is exactly as it sounds; a bar used for deadlifting. Most people outside of the powerlifting world might not know about the deadlift bar but have probably seen one in action at one time or another.
A deadlift bar is a specialized barbell that is made to withstand heavy loads and bend towards the center so that the lifter can pull more weight. For example, if you've ever seen Eddie Hall or Thor from Game of Thrones deadlift 500kg (over 1,000lbs), the bar looks like it's bent in the middle, with each end closer to the floor than the center of the bar. This bend or whip in the bar allows the lifter to build up more speed and momentum before lifting the weight from the floor. This extra speed can enable powerlifters to lift more total weight when deadlifting.
Deadlift bars usually are found with the following characteristics:
Better Grip: Deadlift bars are thinner than standard barbells, which help increase the bar's bend and support a better grip on the bar. The thicker the bar, the more your grip strength is challenged, so this slight difference can help add some lbs to your deadlift.
Bigger Lifts: Using a deadlift bar makes it possible to lift more weight because of how it's built. There's more whip and bend in the bar resulting in a higher starting point of the center of the bar, and more momentum before the weight plates leave the ground. Regular stiff bars don't have this feature, so you'll have to pull the weight in a greater range of motion.
Great for Sumo Deadlifts: The deadlift bar will have a wider distance between the sleeves, making it easier to get into a wider stance. Also, when doing Sumo deadlifts, the most challenging part of the lift is getting the weight off the floor, so the whip in the bar makes it easier to start the movement and decreases the total range of motion.
Limited Versatility: Deadlift bars pretty much have a singular purpose, to help increase your total deadlift weight. You shouldn't use deadlift bars other exercises if you’re lifting extremely heavy weights. where the bar's bend isn't ideal, like squats or bench press. You wouldn't want the bar to be bending when doing multiple reps, as it could lead to instability.
Weakens Floor Lift: One advantage of the deadlift bar is that it makes it easier to lift the bar off the ground due to the whip. However, this advantage is a disadvantage if you want to become stronger at this portion of the lift.
Not Allowed at All Competitions: The deadlift bar can help set new lifting records but isn't always allowed in competitions (this is why you see higher numbers in federations like the USPA, because they allow it, whereas the IPF doesn't). Therefore, if you've been doing all your training with a deadlift bar and then the competition you're participating in won't allow the bar, then you might've diminished your chances of doing well.
Power bars are the most frequently used bars in gyms worldwide due to their versatility and durability. These bars are around 7 feet long and stiff, making them an excellent choice to perform controlled exercises without getting any whip or bend in the bar.
You can use power bars for all the big compound lifts and isolation lifts. Power bars will have high tensile strength to keep from bending and will have more knurling on the shaft to help provide traction in exercises like back squats. The bar will be thicker than a deadlift bar, and the sleeves will have some ability to spin. Power bars will also usually be cheaper compared with deadlift bars.
The main difference between the Olympic bar and deadlift bar is the intended use. Olympic bars should be used with Olympic weightlifting exercises, like the snatch and the clean and jerk. These explosive movements also require some whip in the bar that allows some flexibility similar to the deadlift bar.
However, the bar differs because the sleeves are built differently so that repeated dropping won't damage the bar. There are ball bearings in the sleeves that provide superior rotation so that the lifter can get under the bar in a fluid movement without releasing the grip.
Olympic bars tend to be shorter than deadlift bars but have longer sleeves. The last significant difference is that deadlift bars should have much more aggressive knurling to help with grip. In contrast, Olympic bars will be less aggressive so that the lifter can slide their hands out on the bar during explosive movements.
These bars share a common use, to perform deadlifts; that's where the similarities end. The deadlift bar is a straight bar usually 7.5 feet in length, while the trap bar is hexagonal shaped where the lifter will stand in the center.
Another big difference besides the design and shape of these two bars is that when the lifter is doing deadlifts, they will use a neutral grip when using a trap bar but will use a standard pronated or overhand grip when using a deadlift bar.
Here is a more in-depth look at the differences between barbell and trap bar deadlifts, as well as how much a hex bar weighs, just in case you don't know.
A deadlift bar is worth it if you're a serious powerlifter and want to squeak out some extra weight while shooting for a new PR or one-rep max. However, for the majority of most people, a deadlift bar isn't a necessity.
Overall, the deadlift bar is excellent for one thing only; helping you to deadlift more weight, but this only matters once you're already lifting hundreds of pounds. If you're deadlifting under 350lbs, this type of bar probably isn't required.
Deadlift bars aren't cheap, and there's a limited selection of manufacturers for this specialized piece of equipment.
You should consider the following factors when shopping for a deadlift bar:
Budget: Let's face it, the budget might not be your biggest concern if you're shopping for a deadlift bar, as they are generally much more expensive than a regular barbell. You're looking at anywhere from $200- $600 for one of these bad boys.
Load Capacity: The max loads will reach up to 1200lbs (545kgs), and the empty bar will weigh 45lbs (20kgs). Not all deadlift bars are created equal so have a look at the PSI rating.
Whip: Most deadlift bars will claim to have great whip because that's one of the main reasons for purchasing one. Take your time to look at the reviews, images, and videos of the deadlift bar you're considering buying.
Knurling: The knurling on a deadlift bar can vary in aggressiveness. The best way to tell which bar is best for you would be to touch/feel it but if you're shopping online, check the verified reviews to see what previous buyers are saying.
Finish: Deadlift bars, similar to other bars, come in various finishes to protect the steel from corrosion and/or damage. This is more of a personal preference and shouldn't change the performance of the equipment much, but if you're spending hundreds of dollars, then you might want to buy one that you think looks cool.
If you're buying specialized equipment like this, you'll want it to last a lifetime, so make sure to check the warranty, reviews, and specifications. Do your research when shopping for a deadlift bar. Rogue is probably the best bet, but other brands like Valor and Texas Power Bars are worth checking out.
DO POWERLIFTING COMPETITIONS ALLOW THE USE OF DEADLIFT BARS?
There are multiple powerlifting competitions worldwide, and each competition has various rules and regulations. The USAPL and the IPF use the stiff/power bar for all competitions and all three exercises.
The USPA allows for usage of the deadlift bar, which is why you might see some heavier lifts in this competition. You should always check the rules and regulations of the competition you're attending so you know if you should be training deadlift while using a deadlift bar.
WHY ARE DEADLIFT BARS LONGER?
Deadlift bars are longer than stiff bars so that the lifter can lift more weight off the ground. With the weight plates further from the center of the bar, it means that the bar can bend to a greater degree, leading to heavier weight lifted. This whip or bend in the bar indicates that the bar is higher in its path before the load leaves the floor.
HOW MUCH MORE CAN YOU PULL WITH A DEADLIFT BAR?
Using a deadlift bar gives a slight advantage over a stiff bar and is thought to increase deadlift ability by up to 5%. There are several factors at play, but generally speaking, the deadlift bar should be able to help you deadlift slightly heavier weights once you're lifting hundreds of pounds. The heavier you can deadlift, the more a deadlift bar will help you.
CAN I SQUAT WITH A DEADLIFT BAR?
Yes, for most of the population, you can use a deadlift bar for other exercises such as squats, bench press, or overhead press. The exception to this rule would be the genetic freaks pushing weights over at least 400 lbs. You wouldn't want to necessarily be squatting with a deadlift bar if you're using loads fit for Strongmen competitions.
Ok so, now you know a little more about what is a deadlift bar. We believe that the deadlift bar is a highly specialized piece of equipment that is only necessary for the beasts who are deadlifting over 400 pounds.
If you're not in this group, then purchasing a deadlift bar might not be the best bang for your buck; stick with a standard stiff bar for now. Instead, focus on your deadlift form and train hard; one day, you might be one of the few who could get some actual use out of a deadlift bar.
December 01, 2021
The majority of people who lift know that a standardized Olympic barbell weighs 45lbs or 20kg. However, if you ask many people, “how much does a hex bar weigh?” they would probably have to take a guess. In this post, we cover all things hex bar or trap bar as it’s often called, including the weight, benefits and ways they can differ. Plus, we made a comparison chart to see 8 of the most popular hex bars to show you the weights, dimensions and average prices. For those who just came here for an answer how much a hex bar weighs, you can expect most well-known brands to be somewhere between 40-70lbs or 18-32kg.
Both! The names hex bar and trap bar are used interchangeably. You might also hear people refer to this piece of equipment as the hexagonal barbell and sometimes the Gerard bar (we’ll get into that in a moment).
In this post, we will use hex and trap bar to describe the same tool. Here are the simple reasons why this tool has these names:
Hex Bar or Hexagonal Barbell: This comes from the word hexagon, meaning six-sided shape, mimicking the design of most conventional hex bars.
Trap Bar: Due to its ability to perform exercises like shrugs or deadlifts that hit the trapezius muscle.
Before we get into the weight of a hex bar, we should give you the history behind this unique piece of gym equipment. The hex bar, often referred to as the trap bar, was invented by Al Gerard, a competitive powerlifter. According to Gerard, he began his lifting foray due to the physical requirements of his job of throwing around 100-200 pound bags of fertilizer. He then began powerlifting and eventually deadlifted 625 pounds while he was in his early 40’s (all this while being drug-free).
Over the years, Gerard had developed lower back issues and then sought to create a tool that he could use to do heavy deadlifts without compromising his back. The idea of the hex bar came to Gerard as he was deadlifting with 100lb dumbbells in each hand. He thought, “what if I could make a device where I’m standing in the middle of the weights?”. He began prototyping the trap bar and based the design around the concept that as the resistance is closer to the body, the lift is more efficient, thus leading to bigger loads being lifted.
The trap bar made its first big public appearance in September 1986 in Powerlifting USA. Gerard found early advocates for his hex bar and produced them in relatively small batches throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s.
For reasons unknown, Gerard ceased to produce the Gerard bar in the early 2000s. However, once the trademarks and licenses no longer became an issue, other manufacturers began making the hex bar. Since then, the hex bar has become more popular as athletes, and other lifters recognized the benefits of training with one. Nowadays, you’ll be able to find the hex bar in many gyms throughout the world.
The hex bar also goes by the name trap bar; it is a bar that resembles the shape of a hexagon. The main shape of the bar is a hexagon (6 sided shape) that the lifter will stand in the middle of to perform some exercises like deadlifts, shrugs, bent over rows, overhead press, floor press, Romanian deadlifts, and more. There are welded sleeves at opposite ends of the hexagon shape where you will load the weight plates. Two handles are located inside the sleeves that you will hold using a neutral grip when lifting the hex bar.
Most hex bars are made from heavy-duty steel tubing welded together to give it a recognizable shape. The most common finish on hex bars is chrome/zinc-plated, or matte black powder coat finished. Each brand may offer different style handles and overall design, but they are all generally designed and made of steel so that the frame can safely hold hundreds of pounds. Most hex bars on the market today can hold anywhere from 500 up to 1500 pounds.
The hex bar was developed with one goal: lift heavier loads while reducing the risk of injury. A few of the benefits of using a hex bar are as follows:
To get stronger and build muscle, you must follow the principle of progressive overload. This means you need to increase the volume lifted over time. A vital element in lifting is tracking your progress. Therefore, knowing the exact weights you’re lifting will help you determine how much you need to increase it to get stronger as you improve. Making incremental improvements to the amount of weight you’re lifting will add up in time equaling strength and muscle gains.
Also, if you are using different hex bars, then it'll be good to have an idea of how much the one you are using weighs.
Most hex bars on the market these days will weigh anywhere from 40-70lbs or 18-32kgs. However, as we briefly touched on before, hex bars don’t come in a standardized weight like Olympic barbells. The reason is, there aren’t any recognized competitions that would require everyone to use hex bars with the same weight and dimensions.
Here is a comparison (cost, weight, dimension, max capacity) of 8 top selling hex bars in no particular order:
Bells of Steel
Open Trap Bar/Hex Bar 3.0 – Rotating Sleeves
Length ~59” (~150cm)
Width ~26” (~57cm)
Height ~5” (~12cm)
Rogue TB-2 Trap Bar
Width 28.5” (~72cm)
Height 9” (~23cm)
REP Trap Bar
Length 71” (~180cm)
Width 25.5” (~65cm)
Height 6” (~15cm)
The Trap Bar HD
Length 77” (~196cm)
Width 25” (~64cm)
Height 9” (~23cm)
Olympic Hex Weight Bar
Width 22.75” (~58cm)
Height 6” (~15cm)
CAP Barbell Olympic Trap Bar (Combo Grip)
Width 24” (~61cm)
Height 5” (~13cm)
OB-ADJ, Adjustable Trap Bar
Width 28” (~71cm)
Height 7” (~18cm)
Hex "Trap" Bar
Width 24” (~61cm)
Height ~5” (~13cm)
There are a few different types of hex bars on the market these days that have different offerings.
The conventional trap bar or hex bar is a no-frills, tried, and true gym equipment. You’re most likely to see this style of hex bar in your gym as they are a cost-effective option that will satisfy most people’s basic lifting needs.
Open hex bars can come in two different styles; open front or open back. Open means that one segment of the hexagon shape isn’t there, which means the bar doesn’t wrap fully around the body when doing deadlifts. The reason for creating open hex bars is two-fold. Not having the bar in the front can reduce the chances of an accident if you need to bail from a lift. The front bar could trip you up, leaving you to faceplant into the floor. On the other hand, not having the bar directly behind you leads to the potential of performing more exercises than a traditional hex bar. You’ll be able to do exercises like split squats or lunges without the bar getting in your way.
Adjustable hex bars mean more overall functional movements for a wider range of users. With traditional hex bars, the dimensions are in a fixed place. This means that bigger and smaller people will have to use the same grip width and diameter. Some hex bars will have 3-4 different grips with varying diameters. Generally speaking, the bigger diameter will help you to improve grip strength. Other trap bars will have adjustable grip widths. By adjusting the width of the grip, you can match the equipment to the size of the person that’s using it.
When you’re looking to buy a hex bar, you should consider the following points:
Handles/Grips: Most people will want to have a nice knurled grip on the handles so that the hex bar is more secure when lifting. Make sure to read reviews regarding the handles and the aggressiveness of the knurling before purchasing. If the handles aren’t comfortable for you, you’ll probably end up not using them much.
You’ll notice that the cheapest hex bars will have a single flat plane without raised handles. We prefer using hex bars that have raised handles as they are more user-friendly during the setup and execution of the lift as we can start in a higher position.
Another aspect of the handles to look at when purchasing a hex bar is the diameter of the handle. You will find that some manufacturers make their hex bars with the ability to change handles, resulting in various grip diameters. The different grip diameters will affect your grip strength, usually with the thicker grips helping you to build up your grip strength because it is harder to hold the weight.
A few brands also have adjustable handles that can increase or decrease the distance between them. Adjusting this width will enable you to set the hex bar up, depending on how big or small the person using the equipment is.
Sleeves: You should only look for hex bars with machined sleeves that fit Olympic weight plates. An important point to look for here is how long the sleeve is and how many plates it can hold. Sleeves can range from under 10 inches to over 16 inches!
Finish: Hex bars can come with a variety of finishes. From black powder coat to chrome to zinc plated. This will come down to personal preference; all the coatings help protect the bar from rust or scratches.
Material: Most hex bars are comprised of steel. The heavy-duty hex bars are usually solid steel, whereas others might use steel tubing with lower tensile strength, which can reduce the hex bar's weight and the load capacity.
Loading/Unloading: Some hex bars will have a “jack” that makes getting the weight plates onto the sleeves easier. Ideally, you’ll want a hex bar that has some clearance from the sleeve and the floor when it is on the ground. The cheaper hex bars will usually lie flat to the floor, so you’ll need to lift each side to get the weight plates loaded onto the sleeve.
Open/Closed: We think you’ll start seeing more and more companies coming out with “open” hex bars where you don’t have to step into them. This is because enhanced functionality with farmer's walks, lunges, and other dynamic movements is easier to do with the open hex bar. However, if you just want to use the bar for exercises like shrugs or deadlifts, then the traditional close hex bar should be ok.
Usage: If multiple people in a commercial gym use the hex bar, then you’ll probably want to look for one that can be used in tandem with a power rack. You’ll also want to find a trap bar that’s extra durable and can take a beating from many people sharing the same piece of equipment. For advanced lifters, strongmen, or powerlifters, then you’ll probably opt for the hex bar that’s easy to load and unload while being able to hold upwards of 1000lbs. Finally, if you’re buying a hex bar for a home or garage gym, then you might have fewer requirements and might be ok with a lower-priced bar that gets the job done.
Rackable: Check if the hex bar can be used in concert with a rack. Not all hex bars have the proper dimensions to properly fit in the center of a rack. This might not be a deal-breaker, but it’s good to know if you plan on using it inside of a rack for exercises like rack pulls. If you want a hex bar that can be racked, look for longer ones, upwards of 70 inches.
Budget: The amount of money you’re willing to spend or can spend can help narrow down your choices when buying a hex bar. On the low end, you could spend $100 for a simple hex bar and up to $700 for a heavy-duty trap bar that is meant for more serious lifters. You should consider what you’ll be using this piece of equipment for. The price usually includes the shipping fee, so keep that in mind when shopping for a trap bar.
No, there isn’t a standardized weight for hex bars; you might be able to find a brand that produces a hex bar that weighs 45 pounds on the dot. However, most hex bars will fall into the range of 40-70 pounds.
The hex bar is sometimes colloquially called the hex deadlift bar for that very reason. Trap bars are perfect for deadlifts as you’re based in the center of the load, making the movement more efficient as you don’t need to worry about scraping your shins as you lift the bar upward. Another added benefit of performing deadlifts with a hexagonal bar is that you’ll be holding the bar with a neutral grip. The neutral grip hand positioning is better for people facing shoulder issues.
Related: Hex Bar Deadlift vs Barbell Deadlift
Yes, you can do squats with a hex bar. The major difference between regular back squats and hex squats is that you’ll be holding the weight in your hands rather than placing it on your back. Performing squats while using a hex bar is beneficial for people who might have shoulder mobility issues and take the lower back. Trap bar squats will require you to produce more grip strength and target your glutes and mid to upper back more than a back squat because you’re standing in the center of the load, which is closer to your center of gravity.
Another big difference is that hex squats mean you’ll have a limited range of motion as the weight plates will hit the ground. To ensure you are squatting through a full range of motion, you can simply stand on an elevated platform. This added height will allow for more knee and hip flexion at the bottom of the movement.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Squats
A hex bar isn’t an absolute necessity, but it can be for people who have lower back problems but still want to do squats and deadlifts. Some people we speak to tell us that the hex bar was one of the best purchases they’ve ever made. It’s really up to the individual circumstances and specific training goals that determine if a hex bar is necessary.
The amount of weight you can deadlift with a trap bar should be at least the same or slightly more than you can do when deadlifting using a barbell. Due to the design of the trap bar, the load is centered better, which should allow you to lift more. To give you an idea of strength standards for deadlifts see below:
~Body Weight (BW)
~Half Body Weight (BW)
Note: These are just rough guidelines applied to the general public. You might be able to deadlift more or less relative to your fitness level and body weight.
Regardless of what you want to call them; trap bar, hex bar, hexagonal barbell, the weight will differ from brand to brand. So, you should check the manufacturer's specifications to see how much a hex bar weighs, whether you’re purchasing one or looking to dial in how much total weight you’re lifting.
November 30, 2021 1 Comment
Are you planning to run a steel mace workshop in your area?
Do you need macebells for your gym?
SET FOR SET has you covered with wholesale pricing on steel maces ranging from 7 to 25 pounds. We offer our high quality steel maces at an unbeatable price for those looking to train themselves and others using this ultimate functional training tool.
Below we will provide you with all the information you need when purchasing steel maces for your gym and for the students at your next workshop. We will also break down what size maces you should train your clients with, why the mace is popular and its benefits, and how you can set up a plan for your workshop so that it is complete, efficient and efficacious.
Steel Mace Weight Range:
We will have bigger sizes for all the beasts out there sooner than later.
Steel Mace Dimensions:
Head Diameter: 3.4”
Total Length: 31"
Handle Diameter: 1.26”
Tube Thickness: 2mm
Head Diameter: 3.7”
Total Length: 40"
Handle Diameter: 1.57”
Tube Thickness: 2mm
Head Diameter: 4.3"
Total Length: 41"
Handle Diameter: 1.57”
Tube Thickness: 2mm
Head Diameter: 4.9”
Total Length: 43.31"
Handle Diameter: 1.57”
Tube Thickness: 2mm
Head Diameter: 5.3”
Total Length: 43.7"
Handle Diameter: 1.57”
Tube Thickness: 2mm
We designed our steel maces so that they have the proper handle length to enable them to swing effectively for moves like the 360 and 10 to 2. We want our steel mace to mimic the function of the Gada as best as possible, as we understand the importance of a longer handle for swinging movements.
We also created the handle width to be a size that challenges the grip as we believe that is one of the important aspects of steel mace training.
All sizes of steel maces come with two knurled gripping areas on the handle (top and center). Our knurling offers the perfect grip security and is comfortable to the hands as to not destroy the skin.
The end of our handles are smooth and have a perfectly welded steel end cap, making our steel maces completely indestructible top to bottom.
The handles are welded on tactfully to the ball, to not only make the mace extremely safe but to also complete the beauty of the tool - You won’t find any sloppy welding work on SET FOR SET steel maces.
The ball of the mace is perfectly round and is where most of the weight is contained, so that our maces can swing impeccably well and you can challenge yourself and your clients with offset movements, therefore challenging your stability and balance like no other tool can.
Our maces are made entirely from steel with a black matte powder coated paint.
The ideal range of steel maces to have at a workshop would be 7-15LB maces. Most attendees should be instructed to use a 10LB mace.
The 10LB mace is the perfect size to be able to learn all of the movements without an issue, and it is still very challenging. Some of the bigger, more well-conditioned people may want to use the 15LB mace. However, they will likely find that it is too challenging to use for an entire workshop. Conversely, some might be less confident and want a 7LB mace. Therefore, having these 3 sizes will be best. Plus, if someone wants to try a heavier or lighter mace for certain exercises, they will have the ability to swap sizes. Additionally, a couple 20 and 25-pound maces would be cool to have for certain “challenges” that you can run during the workshop. Overall, though, the 10LB macebell will be the best selection.
Gift a Mace
A lot of people we work with want to provide their students with a steel mace after the workshop. They may include it in the pricing. We think this is a great idea and we can make this part of the wholesale package for you. A 10LB mace is the best option for this.
Steel Maces for Your Gym
For gyms who want to run steel mace classes, the above applies. If you are running a 30-60 minute class, a 10LB mace is perfect and will be super challenging. Keeping a 15+ pound mace in your hand for a long period of time is killer, and for most, it'll be too killer. Don’t let people’s egos get in the way.
Having a few lighter and heavier maces at your gym is great, but not entirely necessary unless you have people who train by themselves and they want to work on just a few different exercises when they come to the gym. In this case, some heavier maces would be nice to have in the arsenal.
For example, gym members who come to do a typical workout may want to do a few sets of 360 or 10 to 2s, or whatever other mace exercises, in this case, a heavier mace would be good to use (if they know how to use the mace), as they will only doing a few sets. With that being said, make sure you teach safety at your gym, as the heavier the mace the higher the chance of injury.
Buy a steel mace now...or if you want wholesale pricing, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read below for more info on Steel Mace Workshops...
Why should you run a steel mace workshop?
The steel mace is at forefront of the Western world, quickly becoming one of the most popular functional fitness and unconventional training tools. It challenges core stability, rotational strength and power, anti-rotation and counter rotation, and endurance, all while improving postural integrity.
There are so many benefits to steel mace training that sooner or later every gym will have steel maces (just like kettlebells), and it would be advantageous for you to be one of the first.
Benefits of steel mace training:
Steel mace training is truly the definition of functional thanks to the offset, unilateral movements it creates by nature of its design.
The ultimate goal for most steel mace workshops is to teach the people who sign up how to program the mace into their one-on-one training with clients and group classes at their gym.
The setting should promote the overall potential of this tool and how to program and train with the mace in a smart and safe way.
Steel mace workshops should include:
Our extensive steel mace training e-guide contains everything you need to know, so you can put on a thorough workshop that attendees will love and consider highly valuable.
If you need help creating a thorough workshop that will impress the attendees and teach them in a thorough manner, please contact us.
We also have trainers across the country who may be able to run the workshop for you or with you, depending on the location and date.
November 14, 2021
These days, every gym has kettlebells, that includes big-box, commercial bodybuilding gyms.
It’s clear that kettlebells have become a staple training tool for the entire fitness industry. From CrossFitters to pro athletes to traditional weightlifters, everyone is using them...
However, there are still some people, potentially yourself included, who are skeptical about whether they should incorporate kettlebells into their training plan.
Well, if you have any doubt, we are here to tell you that you absolutely shouldn't.
Why, you ask?
Are kettlebells actually effective? What kettlebell benefits and performance and physical enhancements can I expect to achieve?
We have answers.
Based on research, personal experience and opinions from the fitness community, here are 18 benefits of kettlebells and kettlebell training:
Kettlebells can be used for strength, endurance, flexibility and balance training…the four main aspects of fitness.
This is definitely one of the biggest benefits of kettlebells.
They are versatile and they simplify things!
In a fast-paced complex world, the ability to do total body conditioning with one tool is a nice change of pace.
In fact, we’d go out on a limb and say kettlebells are one of the best tools in existence for truly effective, result-achieving, safe, full-body conditioning.
There are a few reasons why kettlebells are fantastic for improving core strength and stability.
First, many kettlebell exercises are a form of ballistic training. Ballistic training works on explosive power through maximizing acceleration and minimizing deceleration. These explosive movements stimulate the abdominal muscles tremendously well. They require core contraction and coordinated breathing as the movements are intense. This leads to serious improvement in core strength, even when not necessarily targeting your core like you would with crunches or leg raises.
Second, kettlebell movements are multiplanar, so you will be working your core from all directions. This is essential to building well-rounded core strength.
Third, some of the best kettlebell movements are offset and unilateral as you will only be using one kettlebell. When moving the kettlebell around on one side, you will be working your core stability and strength big time.
These are all vital reasons why athletes train with kettlebells. Athletes need core power to explode through opponents, quickly change/move in multiple directions without risking injury (twisting, turning, accelerating/decelerating), and handle loads and pressure from one side while remaining upright (think a running back taking a hit on one side during a play). Kettlebell training offers a dynamic way to accomplish these important physical capabilities.
Remember, your core generates and controls force, so having a powerful trunk is essential to kicking ass at life.
Kettlebell movements are very dynamic. You will be swinging them around - above you, to your side, in between your legs, side to side - and this will necessitate that you are completely aware of your body. This focus and mind to muscle connection will develop, leading you to improved proprioception (coordination; the sense of movement of the body and its parts).
This is very different than conventional training with barbells or machines because the movements are linear and less dynamic.
It’s very important to develop your sense of movement (aka proprioception or kinesthetics). This ability will carry over into improvements in your fitness and life, and it’s certainly a very important aspect of athleticism.
When training with machines, you are producing force and moving in a predetermined path. Conversely, when training with kettlebells, you must control the movement path. This requires you to double down on strengthening the stabilizer muscles for each particular movement. Having strong stabilizer muscles in all ranges of movement, coupled with increased core power as we discussed in one of the benefits of kettlebells above, means your balance will be exceptional.
Kettlebells offer crazy calorie-burning potential, which means FAT LOSS.
ACE did a study that showed swinging a kettlebell burns as many as 20 calories per minute. That’s around 400 calories for a 20-minute workout! To do that running, you’d need to be running at a 6-minute per mile pace.
What’s more, kettlebell training for losing fat is often high intensity, so you have the after-burn effect as well. This is called EPOC, Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. For those who don't know, this means you will be burning calories at a higher rate long after your workout has finished.
Remember, a kettlebell is a full-body conditioning tool…and that extends to cardio training too.
Thanks to the versatility of kettlebells, you can do a power-packed cardio session with just one kettlebell.
If you are looking to burn calories in a short space of time, a lightweight kettlebell HIIT or metabolic workout (low weight, high rep, high intensity based workouts) will do the job incredibly well. In fact, many think it is more effective than steady-state cardio for burning fat, boosting metabolism, muscular endurance, and improving cardiovascular health. The key is to maintain a high heart rate for the entire workout.
As mentioned in the benefit above, kettlebell cardio training induces EPOC, which means you will be burning fat long after your workout is completed. Potentially up to 24 hours of “after-burn” effect.
Now, it should be noted that this type of training is “repetition” based muscular endurance while running is long-distance muscular endurance. So, if your goal is to have long-distance endurance, for say a marathon, don’t stop doing your typical cardio.
However, if you are looking for cardio benefits such as burning fat, increasing metabolism, and improving cardiovascular health, kettlebell cardio workouts can be equally if not more effective. Plus, it's efficient, as you can get the same results as running or cycling in about half the time.
Moreover, kettlebell cardio workouts are not as boring (sorry runners) as running on a treadmill is, so that’s another plus.
Related: How to lose weight with kettlebells?
Kettlebells are phenomenal for learning to produce speed and force from your hips.
One of the main and most effective kettlebell exercises is the kettlebell swing. The benefits of kettlebell swings are that they train the hips to produce force in both strength and speed.
The reason hip strength is so important is because it ensures stability and helps prevent injuries. Also, the hips play a very important role in many athletic movements, such as jumping, sprinting and coming out of a sports stance explosively. Knowing how to maximize hip force is essential in power and speed sports.
Kettlebells keep the body loose as the exercises movement patterns rather than isolation exercises. Kettlebell movement patterns require you to move through multiple planes of motion while controlling the force, torque and range of motion. Naturally, you will be improving your mobility by slowly increasing your limits. Over time, you will have much greater flexibility and your joints will become more stable and strong.
When it comes to sports and the real world, this is crucial as it will decrease the chance of injury in your joints, ligaments, and muscles.
Kettlebell exercises won’t build crazy mass like heavy barbell exercises can. Instead, it increases the amount of lean muscle tissue. You’ll notice that people who take kettlebell training seriously, they train with high intensity and are ripped. They have lean muscle mass, not big bulky bodybuilding type bodies.
Not many people these days want to be huge, not only is it a pain to eat enough to get that big, but once you are huge, you lack the ability to move at your best potential.
Kettlebells will make you look great and move even better.
Kettlebells can build dense muscle, which is achieved by higher repetitions and shorter yet intense workouts. This method of training is best for boosting testosterone (i.e. metabolic workouts).
Note: if you are new to fitness, you will surely be able to put on some serious muscle mass with kettlebells if you know what you are doing. And if you have been bodybuilding for years, your muscles will become leaner and tighter, which in our opinion looks much better.
Kettlebells are excellent for the posterior chain. Many of the best kettlebell exercises target your entire backside.
Exercises like the Kettlebell Swings are ballistic movements done from a hinge position, which will make your glutes, hamstrings, lower back, middle back, and traps exceptionally powerful. This translate to jumping higher, running faster, and kicking harder. And, probably most importantly, it will lead to better posture.
But, it’s not just your posterior chain that will be put to the test. By regularly doing kettlebell workouts, you will rapidly develop the major muscles of your hips, core, shoulders, and neck too...and these are all vital aspects of having good posture and a strong backside.
Ever see someone using wrist wraps to do pull-ups? What does this tell you?
Exactly...their grip strength is lacking behind their lat and back strength. But why is this not an issue to them?
Well, many people in the mainstream fitness world don’t think grip strength is that important. It’s not like they are wrestlers or labor workers, right?
Well, we disagree. Grip strength is one of the most important things in fitness and life. You use your grip for just about every exercise that involves weights. The stronger your grip is, the stronger you are. Grip strength has been proven to correlate to increased strength. Plus, having a strong grip is a primal feature that naturally makes us appear powerful to others. And who doesn't want that?
Anyway, this isn’t about why grip strength is important, we’ve done a whole article on the benefits of grip strength, which you can read.
Now, to the point of this specific benefit of kettlebell training. If you do kettlebell workouts consistently, you will develop supremely powerful grip strength. This is because the weight of the kettlebell is not going to be placed in the center of your palm like it is with a barbell. Kettlebells have an offset center of gravity, usually about 6 to 8 inches away from your grip on the handle, so it is harder to control. This means the weight is not balanced in your hand. This is going to make your forearms, wrists and fingers work overtime as you try to control the kettlebell during exercises. The result, your grip will be strengthened from every angle.
Kettlebells are definitely one of the best tools for building vice-like grip strength, as are steel maces too…
Kettlebells can help you pinpoint weaknesses in your strength, movement and coordination.
You may notice that you lack mobility in the overhead position or that your right side is stronger than your left. When you notice this, you can easily target specific areas and perform movements that will help you even things out.
It is said that kettlebells get you comfortable in uncomfortable positions, and this is very true for those who have been training with barbells and machines for a long time.
Working on your weaknesses and imbalances is very important for becoming resilient to injuries.
Everyone has muscle imbalances, but not everyone takes action to correct them. Most just compensate by adjusting their form, engaging muscles that shouldn’t be engaged, or using momentum instead of force. Compensation is not something you want to do when it comes to fitness. Instead, focus on your sticking points and get past them!
The beauty of kettlebell training is that it will train you through all three planes of motion.
You won’t be training just in the sagittal plane like you would with squats and deadlifts. Kettlebell exercises and workouts involve seamless transitions from movement to movement, in different directions and planes of motion. This means you will be building strength from multiple angles, which is essential for real-world, functional strength and sports. What's more, this is how you become resilient to injury and develop all-around strength. This is how you become “combat ready”.
Kettlebell training is generally safer than traditional lifts like heavy barbell squats, deadlifts and bench press.
To get an effective muscular strength workout and to induce hypertrophy, you don’t need to do heavy weights, you can do high intensity, short workouts. High-intensity workouts under 40 minutes will boost testosterone levels while keeping your cortisol levels low.
In the end, both heavyweight lifts and intense kettlebell workouts are effective. However, the risk to reward ratio is far better with kettlebells than heavy barbell lifts. Kettlebells put much less pressure on your spine.
Here is a great kettlebell workout for beginners.
Kettlebell workouts will improve or maintain joint health.
Kettlebell exercises are dynamic so they require deliberate control. This will build joint strength and stability by strengthening the muscles that support your joints (stabilizer complexes).
Moreover, dynamic kettlebell routines will improve joint flexibility and mobility, as we have already mentioned above. This is best achieved with light to medium weight kettlebells.
As you develop more elasticity in the tendons and ligaments of your joints, you will become more resilient to injury.
What’s more, lightweight kettlebell exercises can help to reduce inflammation and swelling.
So, if long term joint health is important to you, which is should be for all of us, you should definitely take on kettlebell training.
You don’t need tons of equipment or to overcomplicate your workouts for them to be effective.
Simple is proven. Simple works. All you need is consistency.
If we were stranded on an island and we could choose one training tool, it would definitely be a kettlebell. This is because, with kettlebells, you can train strength, endurance, balance and flexibility. That's all you need...
So, if you are overwhelmed with all the equipment out there, simplify your life by attacking kettlebell training.
All you need is a 30 minute workout each day. Moreover, you don’t need fancy exercises. The standard, best kettlebell exercises can train your entire body. Think swings, goblet squats, clean & presses, push ups, pull ups, and you are going to get into great shape. The best part is, these exercises are easy to learn.
Minimum effective dose. That’s all it takes.
If you want to have a little more versatility in terms of your training tools, we’d add steel maces, resistance bands, and potentially a suspension trainer into the mix. This along with bodyweight exercises, of course...
You really only need one or two kettlebells to get a killer full body workout in.
If you are looking for home gym equipment that will truly train you for strength, endurance, balance and flexibility (the 4 key components of fitness) then kettlebells are the most cost-effective, space-saving option.
Instead of getting a squat rack, barbell, weighted plates, dumbbells, a bench, etc., all you really need is a set of kettlebells. Not only will it be more cost-friendly, but it will also only take up a fraction of the space. You could leave them in your living room or garage without cluttering it, which is definitely not possible with a conventional gym set up.
What’s more, if you want to do a workout at the park or outside, kettlebells can easily transport to wherever you want to train. You could throw them in your car and be on your way in seconds. Kettlebells are certainly one of the most effective portable training tools to ever exist.
Effective because they are so damn versatile.
The more fun a workout is, the more likely you are to stick with it and do it consistently.
Kettlebell training is fun for a few reasons.
First, the exercises are based on movement patterns which means you will be more involved in what you are actually doing. Comparing to simply moving through the motions with machines and typical conventional training, kettlebell exercises require you to be more mindful.
Second, you can take kettlebells anywhere. You can get a workout in outside, at a place with your favorite scenery. This is definitely a nice way to spice up your training.
Third, the training will be new for you, and when tackling something new, we are more likely to find enjoyment in it.
Lastly, but most importantly, kettlebell training methods are extremely versatile. Kettlebells are perfect for metabolic workouts, HIIT, EMOM, AMRAP, TABATA, complex training, mobility training, circuit training, flows, and more. The best way to keep your body guessing is by throwing new methods of training at it, and when it comes to kettlebells, the options are extensive.
You won’t get bored with kettlebell training. There will always be new, effective ways to challenge yourself. There’s nothing better than doing a workout that is equally as fun as it is effective.
Kettlebells are beneficial for everyone who exercises. They can be implemented into your current training program as a supplemental tool for achieving specific goals and changes in physique and performance, AND, kettlebells can be used as the main training tool, basing an entire fitness program around them.
People who would benefit from kettlebells:
There are literally hundreds of kettlebell exercises and variations, however, sometimes the basic, foundational, and traditional kettlebell movements are the best.
The following exercises are of course not the only highly effective kettlebell exercises, they are simply 5 of our favorite...and based on research and talking with the community, they are favorites of kettlebell coaches and kettlebell enthusiasts too.
We've also included these specific kettlebell exercise benefits for each.
The kettlebell swing is a tremendously effective exercise for building serious hip power. Additionally, this movement combines strength training and cardiovascular conditioning into one efficacious movement. With this exercise, you will become stronger, leaner and more explosive through your hips and core.
The Goblet Squat is a fundamental exercise. This movement will burn fat, build lower body strength and powerful glutes, and improve your mobility. It’s a total body juggernaut of a movement and it is very simple to learn and do with proper form.
The Turkish Get Up is a slow, deliberate exercise that’s extremely effective for building impressive trunk and hip strength, mobility, and strong resilient shoulders. It’s a movement that has a slight learning curve. Nevertheless, it is an extremely challenging exercise and it trains you in positions and at angles that most people don’t normal train. It’s one of those exercises that people are missing to becoming a well-rounded athlete or fitness professional.
The Kettlebell Clean & Press is one of the best full body, compound movements without a doubt. It will increase your grip, core, lower body, and upper body strength. If using a light weight, it will also get your heart rate up through the roof. It is an extremely potent exercise for strength and power endurance/stamina.
Also known as the Tsar of kettlebell exercises, the kettlebell snatch is a ballistic movement that displays ultimate full body power and explosion. This movement is very physically demanding and technical but it’s worth learning as it is outstanding for total body strength and conditioning. If you want to build explosive strength, especially in the hips, and strong, powerful shoulders, this is the movement.
Many of these exercises can be done with single or double kettlebells. If you are looking for additional core stability and balance benefits, try using one kettlebell sometimes. In any case, it’s best to keep your body guessing, so switch it up from single to doubles. For example, if you often doing one arm kettlebell clean & press, try doing it with two kettlebells. This will certainly change the dynamics of the exercise.
One other kettlebell exercise that’s our favorite is the kettlebell farmer’s walk! Grab a very heavy kettlebell and…walk. it. out.
Related: 50 Best Kettlebell Exercises
More Kettlebell Training Resources:
Here is one of our favorite kettlebell workouts to give you an idea of what a good kettlebell workout looks like.
If you have any questions about kettlebell training, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Want to buy kettlebells? Find out what size kettlebell you should buy.
Now, we want to know why kettlebell training is so effective for you...and, if you think of more kettlebell benefits that we missed, comment below :)
November 13, 2021
It’s likely you’ve used an EZ curl bar while doing curls, but you probably didn't know how much it weighs. Long story short, the average EZ curl bar weighs 14-30lbs or 6-14kgs. Read on to learn about the history of the EZ curl bar, benefits, and a comparison chart on weight, size, capacity, and price of the 7 most popular EZ curl bars.
An EZ curl is a piece of weightlifting equipment primarily used to do all types of biceps curls. The difference between a barbell and an EZ curl bar is the way the bar is shaped between the sleeves/collar of the bar. The vast majority of EZ curl bars will have three big bends in the middle, which forms a "W" shape followed by two smaller bends before reaching the collars of the bar. The sleeves on both ends of the bar hold the weight plates. Manufacturers will slightly change the weight, finish, and overall shape so there isn't a standardized EZ curl bar.
EZ curl bars are made of bent solid steel. The center of EZ curl bars usually has a knurled grip to support better friction and grip while holding it. The sleeves on EZ curl bars can vary, but a common construction would be friction welded onto the bar with ball bearings and brushings to allow them to spin. The diameter where you grip the EZ curl bar usually ranges between 25-30mm, and the finishing is meant to protect the bar from corrosion and/or damage. A few common finishings are chrome, zinc, powder coat, and even manganese phosphate.
Originally known as the Dymeck curling bar, the EZ curl bar was the brainchild of Lewis G. Dymeck. Dymeck was a lifter from Arizona who created the EZ curl bar to help him lift while keeping proper form. This website, PhysicalCultureStudy, dug up Dymeck's obituary, which sheds some light on this interesting character. He was a consultant for the FBI and had top-secret clearance to work with the Atomic energy commission. His son Dennis recalled his father toiling on the Dymeck curl bar by working metal at their home in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He said that his father ended up settling on a bent bar that was 48 inches long with a 1 1/16 inch diameter. After nickel plating this bent bar, Dymeck would go around selling them.
The Dymeck curl bar was imagined in the late 1940s with the patent filed in 1948, then finally granted in 1950. The patent begins with:
"As 'herefore proposed, the straight barbell device is one that is used for the standard exercises to affect the development of the arms and biceps. In these exercises, the instructions are always the same, and recite that the exercise must be done with the strength of arms alone while keeping the elbows close to the user's sides without swinging the body. However, very few persons can do such exercises correctly, since it is not natural or comfortable to do such exercise with a straight barbell."
There you have it; the EZ curl bar was born with the goal in mind of being able to keep the elbows stationary to the sides of the torso as bicep curls are performed.
Dymeck ended moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico, then partnered with Andy Jackson of Jackson Barbell Company. Jackson helped with the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of the product and thus the new name Dymeck/Jackson Curl Bar.
Eventually, the Dymeck/Jackson curl bar ended up being called the Jackson Curl Bar for reasons unknown. Then in 1964, Muscle Mogul Bob Hoffman bought the rights from Jackson then started producing and selling the bar under the name EZ curl bar.
The EZ curl bar has been around for 70 plus years now, and it's not going anywhere, anytime soon. So, let's look at a few benefits of using an EZ curl bar and why it's likely here to stay.
Better Ergonomics: The angled grip on the EZ curl bar is easier on the wrists when doing certain exercises for some people. Everybody has subtle differences in the joints and bones, but for the most part, people feel more comfortable holding the EZ curl bar because there's less external rotation of the shoulders compared with gripping a straight bar.
More Muscle Activation: It was postulated for many years that using the EZ curl bar led to more gains when doing biceps curls. Now with modern science, we know this to be true. This study looked at muscle activation of the biceps brachii and brachioradialis when doing curls with barbells, dumbbells, and EZ curl bar. The full range of motion was measured via EMG and found that the EZ curl bar was the most effective tool to activate these muscles.
Centered Weight: Most EZ curl bars will be around four feet long, which means the load you are lifting is closer to your body. Having the load closer to the center of gravity makes it a little easier to control when doing exercises like biceps curls. Also, compared with barbells that average seven feet in length, the EZ curl bar is easier to use for some exercises and takes up less space.
Great For Beginners: The EZ curl bar is beneficial for all people when exercising like the biceps curl. However, this is especially true for beginners as the grip position is skewed towards a neutral grip, making it easier for most people to keep the elbows stationary to the sides. Overall, the EZ curl bar feels more natural when doing curls or skull-crushers. This leads to better form with more potential for muscle growth.
Reduced Risk of Injury: Due to the angle of the grips on the EZ curl bar, the wrist, elbow, and shoulder are put in a less compromised position when doing biceps curls. Using a straight bar and heavy weight over a long period could lead to elbow pain.
Supinated: Supinated grip is the same as an underhand grip with your palms facing away from you. When using the EZ curl bar, you can place your hands on the narrow grips to do biceps curls which will work your long head (outer) of the biceps. Move your hands outwards towards the last two bends in the bar if you want to hit the biceps' short (inner) head. You should be able to lift heavier weight while doing curls with a wide grip. You can also do other exercises such as bent-over rows and front raises using an underhand grip.
Pronated: Pronated grip, also known as the overhand grip, is when your palms are facing towards you. Using a pronated grip, you can do several exercises with the EZ curl bar, such as reverse curls, skull-crushers, bent-over rows, or even front raises. While using a pronated grip on the EZ curl bar, you also have the option of a narrow or wide grip that changes how the exercise hits the muscles.
It's important to know how much the EZ bar you're using weighs so that you know the total weight you're lifting. This is especially important because the exercises geared towards the EZ curl bar are isolation exercises where small incremental jumps in weight can make all the difference in your progress. By following the progressive overload principle, you'll be able to make gains over time while doing biceps curls or skull-crushers. If you don't know how much the bar weighs, you can weigh it on a scale to figure it out or check the brand's website.
The average weight for an EZ curl bar is between 14-30lbs or 6-14kgs. There's no standardized weight for EZ curl bars, as we mentioned, but here are seven different bars with their cost, weight, dimensions, and load capacity.
Bells of Steel
22.5lbs / 10.2kgs
47.2in / 120cm
300lbs / 136kgs
14lbs / 6.4kgs
47.1in / 120cm
200lbs / 91kgs
55in / 140cm
19lbs / 8.6kgs
47.25in / 120cm
450lbs / 205kgs
30lbs / 13.6kgs
1000lbs / 455kgs
24lbs / 12kgs
51.8in / 132cm
1102lbs / 500kgs
There are several factors to consider when buying an EZ curl bar. Below you'll find points to look at when purchasing a bar.
Grip: The main reason for purchasing an EZ curl bar is that the grip puts your hands in a position that's usually easier on the wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints. Just keep in mind that a knurled grip is important but make sure to read some reviews first because some companies use very rigid knurling, which might be uncomfortable to hold. You should also be aware of the grip angle; some people like a more aggressive angle similar to a super curl bar, while others might want a softer angled grip.
Build: Most EZ curl bars are produced from steel, so there's usually not a huge difference here unless you're an absolute beast and are trying to lift hundreds of pounds. However, an important feature to consider is the sleeves where the weights will be loaded. Look for products with high-quality welding, brushings, and ball bearings so that they will continue to spin properly year after year. You'll most likely have to treat them with some oil every so often to keep them functioning in tip-top shape.
Finish: The finishing on EZ curl bars is to protect from scratches and/or corrosion. The type of finish usually comes down to personal preference and what style you're looking for. For example, some people love the chrome-plated look, while others might like the black powder coat.
Size: Most EZ curl bars will be around 45-55in long, so there's no huge difference in size. The only exception here is the rackable EZ curl bar long enough to sit evenly on a squat rack.
Weight: The weight of EZ curl bars can change from brand to brand. If you’re not that strong to begin with you might want to start with an EZ curl bar that weighs towards the lower end of the spectrum. This could be an EZ curl bar around 14lbs. More experienced lifters might want to start with a heavier EZ curl bar weighing 30lbs or more. Advanced trainees might also think the rackable EZ curl bar will suit their needs better.
Home Gym EZ Curl Bar (Standard): We won't go into much detail here because of the lack of versatility of the standard EZ curl bar. As a general rule of thumb, if a fitness tool like a barbell, EZ curl bar, or trap bar is called "standard," they are only suitable for weight plates with a 1-inch diameter. You might find this type of equipment at a neighborhood yard sale, but you won't find it in any decent gym. You should always be on the lookout for equipment labeled "Olympic," as these types of bars have a 50mm sleeve that will hold the weight plates you'll find in gyms.
Fixed Weight EZ Curl Bar: This type of EZ curl bar has a total set weight labeled on the ends similar to dumbbells. You might find these on a rack in your local gym and will come in a set where you won't be able to adjust each bar's weight.
Olympic EZ Curl Bar: This is the type of EZ curl bar you're using at the gym. It has the same size sleeves as an Olympic barbell (2 inch). You'll be able to load up these bad boys with 1-45lb (20kg) 2 inch weight plates then do curls until your heart desires. Most of these EZ curl bars will have a knurled finish to assist in enhancing your grip.
Rackable EZ Curl: A rackable EZ curl bar is the same as an Olympic EZ curl bar except for the overall length. The added feature of using this piece of equipment with a power rack isn't necessary but can be nice for those lifting heavy weights so that loading/unloading is more user-friendly within a rack.
Super Curl Bar: The main difference between an EZ curl bar and a super curl bar is the angle of the grips. The super curl bar has steeper angles that move your grip closer to a neutral grip. Due to this design feature, some exercises might be more comfortable while enabling you to do more neutral grip movements like the hammer curl.
Yes, you can do deadlifts using an EZ curl bar. Performing deadlifts with an EZ curl bar might even be easier and better for some people. The weight is closer to your body compared with an Olympic barbell, and the angled grips might be more comfortable for some. You can give it a try next time at the gym!
You can do bench press with an EZ curl bar, but we wouldn't recommend it because of the angled grips. Bench press is an exercise where you want your elbows to be stacked under your wrists so that when pressing up, your body's anatomical mechanisms are all aligned for the most efficient force production. It could be a great choice if you want to some burn-out sets of close grip bench press after doing skull-crushers.
Yes, you can do both overhand and underhand bent-over rows while using an EZ curl bar. We wouldn't substitute barbell bent-over rows, but some swear by the EZ curl bar because the grip position may be more comfortable for people to hold.
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While the EZ curl bar might not be an essential piece of gym equipment, you should know how much it weighs if you use it. You can practically do almost any barbell exercise with an EZ curl bar, but this tool's primary exercise is the biceps curl. Your arms will get a massive pump with this superset using the EZ curl bar and the preacher bench:
Three supersets in total with 90-second rest between sets
Let us know your favorite exercise or routine using an EZ curl bar!
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