Can You Bench Press with a Curl Bar? – The Answer May Surprise You!

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The bench press is one of the best movements you can do if you want to build strength in your upper body.

An Olympic bar is traditionally used for this movement, but some out there are interested in using an EZ curl bar instead.

Whether this is because they don’t have any other options in their home gym, or they just want a change of pace, the question remains – can you bench press with a curl bar?

The short answer is yes, you definitely can.

However, there are some important factors to consider before just jumping into using a curl bar for bench press variations.

In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits and drawbacks of using a curl bar for bench pressing, proper form and technique, and whether EZ curl bars are recommended for the bench press.

Let’s get started!

What Is An EZ Curl Bar?

the rock doing a bunch of curls with a bunch of momentum

A curl bar, also known as an EZ bar, is a type of barbell that is designed with curved grips in the shaft.

This design allows for a more natural and comfortable grip during exercises like bicep curls, tricep extensions, and other arm movements.

It can also be used for different muscle groups, such as the shoulders and chest muscles.

Related: The Top 12 Best Curl Bars To Build Bigger Arms

Benefits Of Using A Curl Bar For The Bench Press

While an Olympic bar is still the preferred choice for many lifters, using a curl bar for bench pressing has several benefits that are worth considering.

Reduced Stress on the Wrists and Forearms

One of the main benefits of using a curl bar for bench pressing is that it reduces the stress on the wrists and forearms compared to traditional bars.

This is because the angled grips allow for a more natural hand position, which will allow you to tuck your elbows and line them up with your wrists a lot easier.

This can be especially beneficial for those with wrist or forearm injuries or pain.

Improved Muscle Activation

Using a curl bar for bench pressing can also lead to improved muscle activation in the triceps, shoulders, and chest muscles.

The cambered grip of an EZ curl bar can offer a different stimulus for your upper body muscle groups while performing the bench press.

Drawbacks Of Using A Curl Bar For Bench Pressing

While there are several benefits to using a curl bar for bench pressing, there are also some drawbacks that are important to consider.

Limited Weight Capacity

One of the main drawbacks of using a curl bar for bench pressing is that it typically has a lower weight capacity compared to a traditional bar.

On top of that, the loadable sleeve lengths for a regular EZ curl bar are way too short to even load it with enough weight plates.

Because you can’t load as much weight, you will ultimately hinder your strength gains.

Related: How Much Does A Curl Bar Weigh? (Standard, Olympic & More!)

Standard EZ Curl Bars Are Too Short To Rack

This is probably the biggest drawback of using an EZ curl bar while bench pressing, they’re typically very short, which prevents them from being racked.

Unless you have a solid rackable curl bar available, you’ll have to set up like you would for skull crushers and other tricep movements.

This is going to further decrease your ability to overload your bench press to get stronger.

Knurling Isn’t As Aggressive Usually

Another issue with EZ curl bars is the knurling, which is usually more medium-depth as you don’t require as much grip as powerlifting barbells.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of bench pressing with anything less than an aggressive power bar.

If you can find a rackable curl bar with more aggressive knurling, then it will be more suitable for the bench press.

EZ Curl Bars Are Thinner In Diameter

For the bench press, you’re definitely better off using a thicker bar around 29mm like a power bar.

This will give you a better grip and control over the bar while pressing weights over your face.

Most EZ curl bars are around 25-28mm like women’s and men’s Olympic/multipurpose barbells, which is a little too thin for the bench press.

Again, if you can find a rackable curl bar with a thicker shaft, it could be a good option for the bench press.

Related: EZ Bar vs Barbell: Which is the Best Choice for Your Home Gym?

How To Use EZ Curl Bars For Bench Pressing

To get the most out of your chest workout with a curl bar, it’s important to have proper form and technique. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • If you don’t have a rackable curl bar, you’re going to have to start by sitting on the bench with the curl bar resting on your lap.
  • Grip the curl bar on the outermost bend, so your palms are facing down.
  • After you have the proper grip, clean your curl bar up into position and lay back slowly on the bench.
  • Press the bar up to get into your starting position.
  • Slowly lower the bar towards your chest with your elbows tucked at around a 30-45 degree angle.
  • Once the bar reaches your chest, pause briefly and then press the bar back up to the starting position.
  • Once you’re done with your set, bring the bar back down to your chest, and sit up on the bench while lowering the bar down to your lap.

It’s important to remember that while the angled grips on a curl bar can provide a more comfortable grip, they can also make it more difficult to maintain proper form during the bench press.

You can also use an EZ curl bar for incline and close grip bench press variations. Of course, you’ll have to change your technique depending on the movement.

This is why it’s important to start with lighter weights and gradually increase as you become more familiar and comfortable with exercises you’re using.

Is Close Grip Bench Possible With An EZ Curl Bar?

Ifyou want to try different bench press variations, like the close grip bench with an EZ curl bar, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Sure, you can definitely use a closer grip on the inside bends of your EZ bar, but instead of your hands being slightly curved in for a more comfortable position, your hands will be curved out.

This is not a normal position for your wrists to be pressing in. On top of that, you’re at the mercy of the bends on the curl bar.

There are different types of curl bars and some have a more aggressive bend like a super curl bar.

You’ll have to use a much narrower grip potentially and then your forearms won’t be in a vertical position either, they’ll be turned in, which is not a strong pressing position at all.

Regardless of whether you think you can, I wouldn’t advise it. You’re much better off just using a straight bar and ditching the EZ bar unless you’re doing arm work.

Best Barbell For The Bench Press

Can you bench press with a curl bar?


However, you’re much better off using an Olympic barbell.

They have a thicker diameter shaft for a strong grip, you can get more aggressive knurling in the form of a power bar which is safer while bench pressing, and you can load way more weight safely.

man doing the bench press with a traditional barbell

If you want to change up your grip for different variations, I recommend a Swiss/multi-grip bar with angled and neutral grip options.

This type of barbell will give you all the benefits of training with an Olympic barbell, with multiple different hand positions available.

It will also solve the issue of EZ curl bars, such as not being able to use as much weight, being forced to use a narrow grip, and numerous others.

RELATED – Different Bench Press Bars + The Best Of Each Type


Now I turn it over to you!

Did this guide help you decide if doing the bench press with a curl bar is right for you?

Let me know in the comment section below, right now!

Until next time,


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