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!
Table Of Contents
- 1 Understanding The Curl Bar
- 2 Pros And Mostly Cons Of Squatting With An EZ Curl Bar
- 3 Squat Variations You SHOULD NOT Use An EZ Curl Bar For
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
- 5 Conclusion
Understanding The Curl Bar
What Is A Curl Bar?
A curl bar is a type of barbell that is designed with a curved shape and is typically used for bicep curls, tricep extensions, and other exercises targeting the upper body.
Unlike a standard barbell, a curl bar has angled grips, which reduces strain on the wrists and forearms, making it a more comfortable option for some exercises.
Related: What Is An EZ Bar? - The Best Tool To Build Bigger Arms
Comparison between a Curl Bar and a Standard Barbell
The biggest difference between a curl bar and a standard barbell is the curved grip that I mentioned before.
Not only that, but they’re shorter unless you get a nice rackable one instead. A Standard curl bar will have a lower weight capacity than an Olympic barbell for this reason.
While the angled shaft of a curl bar is great for isolating certain muscle groups such as the biceps and triceps, it’s quite honestly a bad choice for squat variations, as you’ll soon find out.
Pros And Mostly Cons Of Squatting With An EZ Curl Bar
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.
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.
- 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 anyways, 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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,