The bench press is one of the essential exercises in strength training. It targets multiple muscle groups, primarily the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Performing the bench press regularly can increase upper body strength and enhance overall functional fitness.
However, using a standard barbell for every bench press session can be monotonous, and it may not work for everyone due to individual differences in biomechanics. Fortunately, there are different types of bench press bars available in the market that can provide various benefits to lifters depending on their goals and preferences.
Each type of bar has unique features that target specific muscle groups or accommodate different body types. In this article, we will explore seven different types of bench press bars and their uses.
Brief Overview of the Importance of Bench Press in Strength Training
Strength training has numerous benefits for overall health and wellness. Resistance training can increase bone density, improve metabolic health, reduce anxiety and depression symptoms, improve brain function, among other benefits. The bench press is a staple exercise in strength training programs as it targets several major muscle groups simultaneously.
By performing the bench press regularly with proper form and progression over time to gradually increase weights lifted per repetition (reps) or sets performed per session or week – one can increase upper body strength significantly. Upper body strength is essential for daily activities like lifting heavy objects overhead or pushing an object horizontally away from your chest.
Mention of Different Types of Bench Press Bars Available in The Market
There are several types of specialty bars available that cater to specific needs and preferences when it comes to performing the bench press exercise.
- Standard Barbell
- Safety Squat Bar (SSB)
- Swiss Bar (Football Bar)
- Cambered Bar (Spider Bar)
- Axle Bar (Fat Bar)
- Bamboo Bar (Earthquake Bar)
- Football-Shaped Bench Press Bars
Each bar has different specifications and features that affect the overall feel, difficulty, and target muscle groups of the bench press exercise performed with them. Some bars are more suitable for people with mobility issues, while others cater to those who want to increase grip strength or reduce stress on their joints. In the following sections, we will dive deeper into each type of bench press bar and explore their unique benefits and drawbacks.
Description and Specifications of a Standard Barbell
The standard barbell is the most commonly used bar in the gym and has been around for decades. It is a straight bar that weighs approximately 44 pounds (20 kilograms) and measures 7 feet (2.13 meters) long. The diameter of the bar is approximately 1 inch (25 millimeters), which makes it easy to grip.
The sleeves, where you load weight plates, have a diameter of 2 inches (50 millimeters). The standard barbell can hold up to 800 pounds (363 kilograms) of weight plates.
It is usually made of steel with chrome or black oxide finish for durability and corrosion resistance. Some bars have knurling on the grip area to provide better friction and prevent slippage during exercise.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Standard Barbell for Bench Press
- The standard barbell is widely available in most gyms, making it convenient to use.
- The straight design allows for natural movement patterns that mimic everyday activities.
- The diameter of the bar provides enough surface area for a comfortable grip.
- The standardized nature of this equipment means that it can be used for other exercises like deadlifts, squats, rows, curls, lunges etc.
- The fixed width between your hands on a standard bar does not allow you to adjust your grip width according to your shoulder structure or preference.
- The straight design limits you from using different hand positions or angles that may target different muscle groups in your chest more effectively than others like incline or decline bench press variants.
- If you are someone with long arms or wide shoulders, the 7-foot length of the standard bar may not be suitable for you.
- The lack of shock absorption in the straight design may cause discomfort or injury to your wrists, elbows and shoulders if you have pre-existing conditions or poor form.
The standard barbell is a reliable and versatile piece of equipment that can be used for bench press and other exercises. Its fixed width between hand placements limits its effectiveness in targeting specific muscles and does not account for individual differences.
The straight design also has its limitations in accommodating individual variations in limb lengths and shoulder structures. Understanding your body’s mechanics and employing different variations of bench press bars can help you achieve better results while minimizing risk of injury.
Safety Squat Bar (SSB)The versatile bar for all your bench pressing needs!
The Safety Squat Bar (SSB) is a unique piece of equipment that has gained popularity in recent years. It has a distinctive design that includes shoulder pads and handles, which allows for a more comfortable grip during bench press exercises. The SSB is also known as the yoke bar, Hatfield bar, or the Manta Ray bar.
Description and Specifications of an SSB
The SSB has a unique design that sets it apart from other traditional bars. It has two shoulder pads that sit at an angle, which helps distribute the weight evenly across your shoulders and upper back. The handles on the front of the bar allow you to position your hands in different ways to target specific muscle groups.
The dimensions of the SSB can vary slightly depending on the manufacturer, but most bars are around 7 feet long and weigh between 60-70 pounds. The diameter of the bar is usually 1-1/2 inches, which is slightly larger than standard bars.
Benefits of using an SSB for Bench Press
- Better Posture: The angled shoulder pads on the SSB help promote better posture while bench pressing by keeping your spine in a neutral position.
- Reduced Shoulder Strain: The handles on an SSB are positioned in front of your body, which allows you to keep your shoulders in a more natural position during bench press exercises. This can reduce strain on your shoulders compared to traditional barbells.
- Increased Core Engagement: Holding onto the handles requires intense core engagement throughout each rep, leading to increased strength gains over time. This bar is also great for those with lower back pain as it puts less stress on the area.
Drawbacks of using an SSB for Bench Press
- Expensive: The price point for an SSB can be a barrier to entry as they are typically more expensive than traditional barbells.
- Unfamiliarity: Since the SSB is a unique piece of equipment, it can take some time to get used to its design and how it feels while bench pressing. It might not be ideal for beginners or those who have never used one before.
The Safety Squat Bar (SSB) is a versatile piece of equipment that can offer many benefits for bench press exercises. Its unique design promotes better posture, reduces shoulder strain, and increases core engagement during each rep. However, its price point and unfamiliarity may make it less accessible to some users.
The Swiss Bar: The Football Bar That Changes the Game
The Swiss bar, also known as a football bar, is a specialty bar made for bench pressing. Unlike the standard straight barbell, which has a straight grip, the Swiss bar has two parallel handles that are angled towards each other. It’s called a football bar because it looks like the goalposts on a football field.
Specifications of the Swiss Bar
Swiss bars come in different lengths and weights. The most common length for a Swiss bar is 7 feet, while some are as short as 6 feet or as long as 8 feet. The weight can vary between 25 and 45 pounds.
The handles on a Swiss bar are usually spaced apart at shoulder-width distance and angled at around 45 degrees towards each other. This design allows for multiple hand positions during bench press exercises.
Advantages of Using a Swiss Bar for Bench Press
The angled handles on the Swiss bar allow for various hand positions while bench pressing. This feature makes it an excellent tool for targeting different areas of the chest muscles, shoulders, and triceps. Using a Swiss bar also reduces stress on the shoulders and wrists during bench press exercises because the neutral grip puts less pressure on these joints than using a straight barbell.
Another advantage of using the Swiss Bar is that it can help lifters who struggle with shoulder mobility or injuries to perform bench presses safely by reducing shoulder rotation during exercise. If you have smaller hands or wrist pain when gripping traditional dumbbells or bars, switching to this speciality tool might help alleviate discomfort since its design offers many hand position options at once!
Disadvantages of Using A Swiss Bar For Bench Press
While there are benefits to using this specialized equipment compared to traditional powerlifting tools like dumbbells or flat benches, some lifters may find that the angled handles on the Swiss bar require adjustment to their grip and movement patterns. This should be taken into account when switching over to using this tool in a workout routine.
Additionally, it can be challenging to balance the Swiss Bar due to its unique design. Novice lifters may not enjoy this tool as much because they are still working on their form and muscle activation techniques.
If you’re looking for a versatile piece of equipment for your chest workouts, it’s worth trying out the Swiss Bar. Its angled handles allow for multiple hand positions and reduced stress on your shoulders and wrists, making it a great option for those with mobility issues or injuries.
However, all speciality bars have their pros and cons so make sure you weigh them against your specific goals before investing in one. Regardless of which bar you choose, always prioritize proper form and technique during training sessions!
The Cambered Bar (Spider Bar)
The cambered bar, also known as the spider bar, is a specialty bar that has a slight bend in the middle. This bend allows for a different hand position and range of motion than the standard barbell, which can target different muscle groups in the chest and shoulders during bench press exercises.
Specifications of a Cambered Bar
A cambered bar typically weighs around 45 pounds and is around 7 feet long. The bend in the middle of the bar is usually around 2-3 inches, which allows for a more ergonomic grip during bench press exercises. The sleeves on each end of the bar are designed to hold Olympic-sized weight plates, so users can load up heavy weights onto the cambered bar just like they would with a standard barbell.
Benefits of Using a Cambered Bar for Bench Press
One of the main benefits of using a cambered bar for bench press is that it places less stress on your shoulders than using a standard straight barbell. This can be especially helpful for lifters who have experienced shoulder injuries or pain in the past. The cambered shape also allows for greater range of motion during bench press exercises, which can improve overall strength and muscle development.
In addition to these benefits, using a cambered bar can also lead to greater activation in certain muscle groups compared to using a standard straight barbell. For example, research has shown that using a cambered or curved grip during bench press exercises can lead to increased activation in both the upper and lower pectoralis major muscles compared to using a straight grip.
Drawbacks of Using a Cambered Bar for Bench Press
While there are many benefits to using a cambered bar for bench press, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. For one, the unique shape and grip of the cambered bar can take some getting used to, so it may not be the best choice for beginners or those who are new to strength training.
Additionally, since the cambered bar is a specialty piece of equipment, it may not be readily available at all gyms or fitness centers. Lifters who want to incorporate cambered bar bench press exercises into their training routine may need to purchase their own cambered bar or find a gym that has one available for use.
The cambered bar, also known as the spider bar, is a unique piece of equipment that can provide many benefits when it comes to bench press exercises. Its ergonomic grip and shape allows for greater range of motion and less stress on the shoulders compared to using a standard straight barbell. While there are some potential drawbacks associated with using a cambered bar such as its specialized design and availability many lifters find that incorporating this tool into their training routine can lead to improved strength and muscle development in the chest and shoulders.
Axle Bar (Fat Bar)
Another interesting type of bench press bar is the axle bar, also known as the fat bar. Unlike standard barbells, the axle bar has a thicker and heavier grip diameter that ranges from 1.9 inches to 2.5 inches in thickness.
The increased grip size forces your forearms, wrists, and hands to work harder during bench press exercises, which ultimately improves your overall grip strength. The axle bar is a versatile piece of equipment that enables you to perform different exercises such as push-ups, deadlifts, and rows with the added benefits of increasing your hand and wrist strength.
The dimensions of an axle bar vary depending on its manufacturer and model. A standard axle bar typically weighs between 20 to 50 pounds with a length ranging from 7 feet to 8 feet long. The grip diameter varies as well depending on the size of the bar; however, most bars have a diameter range between 1.9 inches to 2.5 inches thick.
The use of an axle or fat bar encourages greater muscle activation throughout various muscles within your body compared to standard bars due to their thicker grips and non-symmetrical shape. Besides promoting greater muscle activation for chest development during bench press exercises, using an axle/fat bar can increase forearm engagement which can be especially useful for athletes who require stronger wrist/finger flexors such as wrestlers or football linemen.
In addition to its performance-enhancing benefits that come along with increasing grip strength such as improving athletic performance in other sports such as rock climbing or martial arts training where having a strong grip is essential for success; those who suffer from weak grip strength may benefit from incorporating fat grips into their training program.
The use of an axle bar for bench pressing does come with a few disadvantages. The thicker grip can be uncomfortable to some athletes and lead to increased hand fatigue during longer training sessions. Another disadvantage is the initial difficulty for some athletes in holding on to the weight because the bar doesn’t have knurling and the heavier diameter often makes it difficult to grip.
As a result, lifting heavier weights with an axle bar may take time and consistent practice before you can lift weight that you’re used to lifting on a standard barbell. Since axle bars are less common than standard barbells, they may not be readily available at all gyms so it’s important to ensure that your gym has one available or consider purchasing one for personal use at home if you plan on using this type of equipment frequently in your training program.
Bamboo Bar (Earthquake Bar)
Description and specifications of a bamboo bar
The bamboo bar, also known as an earthquake bar, is a unique type of bench press bar that is made from flexible bamboo stalks instead of rigid steel. This design allows the bar to bend and flex during use, which helps to activate more stabilizer muscles in the chest, shoulders, and arms.
The bamboo bar typically weighs around 15-20 pounds and has a length of 6-7 feet. In terms of its construction, the bamboo bar features a thick center section that is wrapped in several layers of natural bamboo fibers.
The ends of the bar are capped with steel sleeves that can hold standard-sized weight plates. Some variations may include additional grips or padding to enhance comfort during use.
Benefits and drawbacks to using a bamboo bar for bench press
One key benefit of using a bamboo bar for bench press is its ability to improve stabilizer muscle activation. Because the flexible nature of the bar challenges your grip strength and stability throughout each rep, you will work more muscles than you would with a standard rigid barbell. Additionally, using a bamboo bar can help reduce joint pain or discomfort for those who experience discomfort when performing traditional bench press exercises with fixed bars.
The flexibility provided by the natural materials used in this type can help alleviate stress on joints such as wrists or elbows. Furthermore, another benefit is that this unique tool adds variety into your workout routine which can increase interest in training while stimulating new growth through adaptation.
One major drawback to using a bamboo bench press is its cost – these types typically are expensive compared to other types. Another downside may be limited availability depending on where you live since they are not common gym equipment pieces. In addition, it should be noted that beginners may find it challenging to use a bamboo bar for bench press because of its flexibility.
This type of bar requires additional stabilization, and it is recommended that you have prior bench press experience or use lighter weights when using a bamboo bar for the first time. While the flexibility of the bar can be beneficial for activating more muscles, it may also contribute to slightly less weight on the bar being lifted than with standard bars.
The bamboo bar provides an interesting new challenge to traditional weightlifting routines. Its unique design offers numerous benefits like improved muscle activation and reduced joint pain while also expanding training options.
However, the cost and availability may be limiting factors for some individuals. Despite this potential barrier, those who are looking to switch up their workouts and challenge themselves in new ways should consider giving the bamboo bar a try.
Football-Shaped Bench Press Bars
If you’re looking for a bench press bar that offers unique grip options, the football-shaped bar may be worth considering. These bars are also known as multi-grip bars or football bars.
Description and Specifications
The football-shaped bench press bar has a curved design that allows for multiple hand positions. The center of the bar is generally thicker than standard bars, and the ends of the bar are angled outward to facilitate a more natural grip angle.
The length of these bars can vary, but most are between five and six feet long. They typically weigh between 45 and 65 pounds, which is heavier than the standard barbell.
The primary benefit of using a football-shaped bench press bar is that it allows for multiple grip positions during the bench press exercise. This can help to target different areas of the chest, shoulders, and triceps muscles.
In addition to offering different grip options, these bars can also be easier on your wrists and shoulders because they allow for a more neutral wrist position during the exercise. This can be particularly beneficial if you have experienced wrist or shoulder pain during traditional bench press exercises.
The main drawback to using a football-shaped bench press bar is that they may not be available at all gyms or training facilities. If you’re used to using a standard barbell for your bench press exercises, it may take some getting used to with this type of equipment. Another potential drawback is that these types of bars can be more expensive than traditional weights due to their specialized design.
If you’re looking for versatility in your bench press equipment and want to target different areas of your chest, shoulders, and triceps muscles, a football-shaped bench press bar may be worth considering. While they can be more expensive and take some getting used to, the benefits of using this type of equipment may outweigh the drawbacks for some fitness enthusiasts.
After reviewing the various types of bench press bars, it’s clear that each has its advantages and disadvantages. The standard barbell is a great starting point for beginners who are looking to increase their strength and establish proper form.
The Safety Squat Bar (SSB) is an excellent option for those with shoulder or wrist injuries as it reduces stress on those areas. The Swiss Bar offers multiple hand positions, helping to prevent shoulder pain while targeting specific muscles in the chest and arms.
The Cambered Bar (Spider Bar) offers an unstable surface, which can help improve stability in the core muscles and challenge strength in different planes of motion. The Axle bar (Fat bar) increases grip strength while requiring more activation from the forearms, shoulders, and upper back muscles.
The Bamboo bar (Earthquake bar) provides a unique training experience with oscillations that require more control over movement patterns. Of course, each type of bench press bar has its drawbacks as well.
Some may be too expensive for home gyms or not widely available at commercial gyms. Others may place unnecessary stress on certain joints or limit their range of motion.
Ultimately, choosing the right bench press bar comes down to individual goals and circumstances. Whether trying to increase strength or work around an injury, it’s essential to experiment with different types of equipment to find what works best.
So go ahead and try out these various types of bench press bars during your next workout! You never know which one might become your new favorite training tool!