EZ bar

It’s Not All About the Gun Show – Your Guide to the EZ Bar

In Equip Your Gym by Tim Steward

Last updated on February 28th, 2021 at 06:24 pm

In this article I’ll be covering the the EZ bar. It’s a funny looking thing that you’ll find in most commercial gyms. A lot of people think it’s just for curls. But it’s so much more than that. I integrated one into my training years ago and wouldn’t go back.

For a full detail on several bars I think are important, check out my article “The 3 Barbells You Will Find in the Best Home Gyms” in which I outlined the three bars I use regularly, what they are, and why you would want to add them to your arsenal. For those of you that don’t want to read about all three, I have broken out that article into three separate articles. Each of these details just one of those bars. Here we look at the EZ bar.

The EZ curl bar is designed to isolate your triceps and biceps and allow more focused work on those muscles. The various angled grips on the bar protect your elbows and wrists from the joint damage that can come from heavy arm workouts. An EZ bar is a must for anyone looking to concentrate on arm development.

You can’t train when you are injured…

A common theme you’ll find here on Gym Crafter is a consistent consideration of injury prevention. At 46 I’ve done my share of damage to my body. Much of it due to carelessness and impatience. Other injuries have been due to a simple lack of knowledge.

One thing I didn’t know about for a long time was how small angle changes when lifting can either prevent or cause injury. Something like using a slight incline when bench pressing made a huge improvement in my shoulder health.

In addition to altering the angle at which I perform certain lifts, changing the angle in which I can grip the bar has made a significant difference as well. That’s where the addition of an EZ bar to my weight training arsenal has come into play.

I used to do everything with a straight, traditional barbell. That worked fine for a long time. Then my elbows started to hurt a bit. Followed by my wrists and shoulders. I figured maybe I was just lifting too often. So I backed off.

That helped for a while, but as soon as I started in again, the pain flared. The resulting pain, along with my desire to continue lifting, drove me to the internet for help. It didn’t take long to find a solution.

It’s Not Just for the Gun Show, Meet the EZ bar…

Those of you familiar with the EZ bar (also commonly called the EZ curl bar) will probably chuckle that I didn’t know about it. It’s a widely used barbell variation and it’s found in virtually every commercial gym on the planet. Unlike the trap bar, which isn’t all that common, the EZ bar is a ubiquitous piece of weight training equipment that has been around for years.

EZ bar
Meet the EZ bar

I had seen a lot of people using it, but I never thought to pick it up myself. I figured that the crazy wiggly shaped bar was just a gimmick. Besides, I really liked using the traditional straight barbell for everything.

When it comes to some exercises, though, a straight bar can actually cause damage to your elbows, shoulders, and wrists. Two in particular are curls and presses. In those two exercises, your wrists and elbows are not in a natural, and therefor safe, position when using a straight bar.  The same can be said for a third exercise, the close grip bench press.

In all three of those examples, and quite a few more I won’t list here, the EZ bar is safer to use than its straight counterpart. Because of that, it only makes sense to add an EZ bar to your cache of training equipment.

Another important reason to consider this type of bar is its versatility. It’s not just a one trick pony. An EZ bar has a multitude of applications that allow you to add variety and effectiveness to your training through a ton of different movement patterns.

Curl variations like overhand curls are much better done with an EZ bar. French presses and other overhead tricep exercises are well suited to the EZ bar. The EZ bar can also be used for a wide variety of bench press variants. In fact, once you start integrating one into your training, you’ll find yourself using it on more days than you don’t.

Effectiveness…

Before I recommend an EZ bar for your home gym, I want to quickly address something I hear a lot. Many people will tell you that for curls, a straight bar is more effective at building muscle. That’s technically true.

EX bar
The angles along the EZ bar make it safer to use.

If you are looking for maximum bicep activation through the entire range of motion, the fully supinated position that a straight bar places your hands in is more effective. The slightly turned position at which an EZ bar positions your hands doesn’t work the muscle as intensely or effectively. It’s a very slight difference, but it is a difference none the less.

That said, it’s hard to train when you are injured. That’s where the EZ bar wins. It doesn’t matter how effective something is if it leaves you injured and unable to train. Any incremental gains you might have made with the straight bar over the EZ bar will be more than lost while you are recovering from an elbow injury and you can’t lift at all.

Remember, the most effective methods and equipment are always those that allow you to train injury and pain free for years.

With that in mind, it’s easy to recommend that everyone have an EZ bar. For me, it’s a no brainer.

Recommendations…

As with other types of barbells, I’ve used a few different types and brands over the years. In that time, I’ve developed a few preferences.

Some less expensive EZ bars don’t have collars that spin. I think that’s a mistake. For the same reason you want spinning collars on a full length Olympic straight bar (see my article here for an explanation), you want them on your EZ bar.

Another thing that I really like is a bar with longer, rather than shorter, angles segments of the shaft. Some bars I’ve tried are designed so that each angled part of the shaft you can grip is only about as wide as your hand. That gives no flexibility in hand placement. I have big hands and, at 6’ 6”, a large wing span. For that reason, I like my EZ bar to have a little wiggle room as to where I grip it. That’s why my personal choice in EZ bar is this one by Body Solid. You can check current pricing and availability on Amazon here. It gives me plenty of room to reposition my hands across the different segments and bends. And it’s available in black! (can you tell I like the black bars?)

***Article update. I’ve recently switched to the black oxide curl bar from Fringe Sport and am loving it. It’s a little more than the Body Solid, but well worth the upgrade!

Adding weight…

As a final tip when buying an EZ bar, you’re going to need something other than bumper plates. In my article here, I recommended using bumper plates for most of your weight training. One of the benefits is that bumper plates are all the same diameter. That works great for trap bars or straight barbells. I’ve found it’s not ideal for an EZ bar.

For your EZ bar, you may want to invest in some smaller, traditional weight plates. I’ve written an article here about how many and what weight plates to start with if you are shopping for a full set. For my uses, I would buy the following:

  • 2 x 25lb.
  • 4 x 10lb.
  • 2 x 5lb.
  • 2 x 2.5lb.

That should cover most of your EZ bar needs if combined with a set of larger, bumper style plates. At the very least, it will get you started.

If you don’t have a preferred standard weight plate, I own these urethane plates by Troy that you can buy over on Amazon. They’ll serve you well for years to come.

Conclusion

Do you use an EZ bar? Have you experienced the injury prevention that it can offer? How about the exercise variations it provides? I always love to hear from my readers as to what you are doing. Please let me know in the comments below!

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