Can You Use A Curl Bar For Squats? – Please, Just Don’t…

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Squats are one of the best exercises you can do to build strength and muscle in your lower body.

These are traditionally done with an Olympic barbell, but is it possible or even a good option to use an EZ curl bar instead?

No, no it’s not.

I’ll go over the potential advantages (there aren’t many), and a couple of the obvious disadvantages to EZ curl bar squats.

There will never be a scenario where squatting with a curl bar is a good idea, even if you have no other options.

I’ll also go over the different squat variations such as front, hack, and zercher squats – plus, why you shouldn’t use a curl bar for those either.

Let’s get this over with!

Key Takeaways

AspectKey Takeaways
SafetySquatting with an EZ curl bar is not safe due to design limitations and risk of injury.
Weight LimitationCurl bars can’t handle the heavy loads required for effective squatting.
Ergonomic IssuesThe shape of a curl bar leads to awkward and potentially harmful wrist, shoulder, and elbow positioning.
Stability ConcernsThe shorter length and uneven weight distribution of a curl bar cause instability during squats.
Racking ChallengesMost curl bars can’t be safely racked in a standard squat rack, complicating setup and execution.
Load DistributionCurl bars don’t distribute weight evenly across your shoulders, leading to imbalanced muscle engagement.
Squat VariationsEZ curl bars are not recommended for any squat variations, including overhead, zercher, split, front, and hack squats.
General RecommendationStick to the right equipment, like an Olympic barbell, for squats to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Is It Safe To Squat With A Curl Bar?

When it comes to squatting with an EZ curl bar, the short answer is a resounding no. It’s not safe.

This isn’t just being overly cautious; it’s about recognizing the limitations and intended use of the equipment.

mace windu saying its dangerous putting anakin and palpatine together

Curl bars are not designed for the kind of heavy, multi-joint movements that squats require.

Using one for squats can increase the risk of injury and compromise the effectiveness of your workout.

Stick to the equipment that’s meant for the job – your body will thank you for it. 

Why EZ Curl Bars and Squats Don’t Mix

Let’s cut to the chase: using an EZ curl bar for squats is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole – it’s just not the right fit.

While innovation and adaptation are key in any workout routine, it’s crucial to understand the limitations of your equipment.

Here are the core reasons why EZ curl bars fall short when it comes to squatting:

  1. Weight Limitation – Curl bars are not built to withstand the heavy loads typical of squats. They’re designed for lighter, isolation exercises. When you load them up for a squat, you’re asking for trouble.
  2. Ergonomic Issues – The shape of a curl bar is tailored for exercises like bicep curls, where wrist positioning is crucial. This design becomes a liability in squats, leading to awkward and potentially harmful wrist, shoulder, and elbow positioning.
  3. Stability Concerns – The shorter length and uneven weight distribution of a curl bar can lead to instability during squats. This instability is not just ineffective for the exercise; it’s a safety hazard.
  4. Racking and Setup Challenges – Most curl bars can’t be safely racked in a standard squat rack, complicating the setup and execution of the exercise. This not only makes starting and ending your squat session difficult but also increases the risk of injury.
  5. Inadequate Load Distribution – Due to their design, curl bars don’t distribute weight across your shoulders as evenly as a straight barbell. This uneven distribution can lead to imbalanced muscle engagement and strain.

While creativity in the gym is usually a good thing, using a curl bar for squats is a misstep. It’s essential to match the equipment to the exercise for both safety and effectiveness.

Pros and (Mostly) Cons of Squatting with an EZ Curl Bar

Exploring the idea of squatting with an EZ curl bar requires a clear-eyed look at what works and what doesn’t.

While there might be a couple of minor advantages to using an EZ curl bar for squats, the drawbacks are more significant and worth serious consideration.

This section will objectively assess the pros and cons, helping you understand why this approach is generally not recommended.

Advantages of Using a Curl Bar for Squats

It’s honestly hard to find any real advantage to EZ curl bar squats unless you’re doing a split squat or other variation that you can’t load as heavily.

Unless you’re just talking about the pros of an EZ curl bar in general. Such as a comfortable grip and saving space as they’re shorter than regular barbells.

Beyond that, though, I can’t recommend it. There are just too many downsides, as we’ll cover now.

Disadvantages Of Using A Curl Bar For Squats

Alright, here’s where we really dig in and try to clear this issue up because squatting with an EZ curl bar is not recommended and can actually be dangerous if you’re not careful.

chris hemsworth telling you not to squat with a curl bar
  • First up, most curl bars can’t be racked in a squat rack.
    • If you can’t even put the damn thing in your squat rack to get setup, then loading up your barbell with enough weights to get stronger and build muscle isn’t only hard, it’s unsafe.
    • You’ll be forced to clean the weight to your shoulders, get the weight over your head, and lower it down onto your upper back/traps.
    • Once there, you’ll be forced to do super high reps to even get close to enough stimulus to trigger muscle growth.
    • Unless you’re a beginner lifter just starting out, in which case you have absolutely no business cleaning a barbell anyway, this is a bad idea.

Now let’s assume you’re super strong, can clean the weight into position easily, and have no problems getting it into position.

  • Well now you have the second problem, you can’t use anywhere near enough weight as short curl bars have short sleeves.
    • They’re built for upper body isolation movements such as extensions and curls. It’s in the freaking name after all!
    • You shouldn’t be using them for big compound movements that require heavy weights to overload properly.
    • Doing 20 rep squats safely is hard enough as it is, but doing them for both hypertrophy and strength purposes is a waste of recovery time as well as wear and tear on your body.

If you still aren’t convinced, a short EZ curl bar is going to force you to keep your hands way closer than an Olympic bar.

For lifters with mobility issues and just people with a reasonable amount of muscle, this is going to create way more torque on your shoulders, elbows, and wrists.

There isn’t any benefit to forcing your hands that close to do high rep squats whatsoever.

If you have no choice but to squat with an EZ curl bar, just don’t. There are plenty of other exercises that are much better for hypertrophy and strength purposes.

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

Squat Variations You SHOULD NOT Use An EZ Curl Bar For

steve carrell in the office telling you to stop squatting with a curl bar

While squats are a great way to target multiple muscle groups in your lower body, performing them with an EZ curl bar is not something I recommend at all.

I’ll cover the most popular variations and why you shouldn’t use a curl bar to do them.

Overhead Squat

An overhead squat position with a curl bar isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just not going to be as comfortable as a longer barbell.

Usually, an overhead squat is used as an accessory movement for Olympic Weightlifting. So ideally, you use the correct tool for the job, an Oly barbell.

woman doing overhead squat

Doing overhead squats without using an overhead squat grip, or snatch grip, isn’t a great idea and you can’t actually do it with most curl bars anyways. Hard pass.

Plus, unless you’re a Weightlifter, overhead squats are a bad movement for getting stronger and building muscle. But that’s a different discussion.

Zercher Squat

A zercher squat is held in the crook of your elbows and might actually be fine if zercher squats weren’t an awful movement in general.

Holding a loaded barbell with your elbows to change where the load is distributed like in a zercher squat is super painful and ridiculous.

man unracking bar for zercher squats

Just use a solid Safety Squat bar or cambered barbell if you want a different squat variation.

Leave zercher squats where they belong, in the trash.

Split Squat

Split squats are a great movement for building the glutes and quads, while also improving mobility throughout the hips.

Usually, using dumbbells or a smith machine is going to be the most stable which is preferred.

woman doing split squats with kettlebell

Doing a split squat with an EZ curl bar is actually going to be alright for the most part.

The biggest issue is you can’t stabilize well which isn’t great for building muscle.

So while you technically can use a curl bar for a split squat variation, it’s not a good option.

RELATED – The Ultimate Showdown – Curl Bar vs Dumbbells for Bicep Gains

Front Squat

A front squat is another great accessory movement for Weightlifting as well as Powerlifting. It’s great for building strength in your core, upper back, and legs especially.

However, the front squat isn’t the best option for building muscle and shouldn’t be done with a curl bar.

The main reason is the racking issue I mentioned before, plus, you won’t be able to use enough weight for your front squat to allow progressive overload to occur.

shirtless man doing front squats with arms crossed

High rep front squats aren’t a great option either so using a curl bar for them is not a good choice.

A front squat can also be performed by cleaning the bar into place, just like a clean and jerk in Olympic Weightlifting.

Again though, a curl bar isn’t meant to be cleaned, so doing a front squat with them just isn’t a great idea.

Hack Squat

This is another problem with the fitness community, just because you can do a movement doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Some fitness experts have recommended doing a hack squat with the bar setup behind you, kind of like a “back” deadlift.

Not only is this not a hack squat, but it’s also potentially dangerous if done incorrectly.

woman doing a hack squat

Which, if you’ve seen most people in commercial gyms, just getting a regular Deadlift down is an issue.

Trying to do a “hack squat” with an EZ curl bar is just like Deadlifting with one, the curved grip is going to drag up your legs and make the movement unsafe.

Just don’t try and do this variation and stick with an actual hack squat machine. It’s much safer and just so much better in every way. They’re not even comparable.


Now I turn it over to you!

Do you feel like my recommendation for never using a curl bar for squats is spot on, or am I being too critical?

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

Until next time,


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