Specialty Squat Bars: WTF is this?
How many times have you walked into a gym and seen a piece of equipment so odd that you are left scratching your head thinking, “What the hell, why is that even in here?” We get that a lot at NBS, because we have equipment you won’t find at any other gym in the region. This is particularly true for “specialty bars,” which have become more popular as lifters see them used by high-level athletes in their training videos.
Here is a brief summary of how to incorporate them into your training.
The number one reason to use specialty bars is to look cool, what needs to be done is get a haircut to draw attention to yourself then use a bar that draws equally as much attention to yourself.
See, it works great, trust me I have been doing social experiments with this for over 2 years now.
What do we mean by “Specialty Bar?”
A “specialty bar” is a bar with design elements that alter the mechanics of the movement when compared to a standard barbell. We are not talking about a Texas Squat Bar that has extended knurling and long collars to make squatting easier in a competitive setting. In fact, specialty bars do the opposite. By adjusting the position of the weight in relation to the lifter, specialty bars actually make it more difficult to execute the movement, and these bars are only used in training (not competition).
In short, some evil mastermind looked at a compound movement like the Squat and thought, “How can I make these harder?”
Specialty Bars are primarily used in the Squat and Bench Press, but also for some associated accessory movements. For this article, we’ll focus on Specialty Squat bars.
Each of these bars are unique and have their own personalities. Since they will affect lifters in a variety of ways depending on their weaknesses, we will discuss the main characteristics of these bars and how to “prep” for them.
This bar is the least complex of all the specialty bars, it looks as though the bar has been bent over someones back and there is good reason for that appearance. This bar is mainly used for people with poor shoulder mobility and allows for a more comfortable position under the bar. The powerlifting team here at NBS like to use this bar as a transition bar coming off of several training cycles using the other specialty bars which do not resemble a regular squat bar, in other words, it helps acclimate us getting back under a normal squat bar. This bar although subtly different still has a significant personality outside of a regular straight bar, the buffalo bar we house here is known to have a slight rotation while initiating your squat (going down) and getting out of the whole (coming up). Make sure your lats are firing and you are bracing to fight the personality of this bar.
EliteFTS Safety Squat Yoke Bar aka “SS Yoke”
The Yoke bar is padded and sits around your neck and on your shoulders with handles (long or short), chains, or pads for you to hold on to which rest out in-front of you. One great use for this bar is for shoulder rehab, allowing someone with injured shoulders to continue to squat without further irritating the shoulder joint.
However, I do not think that is the main personality of this bar. The SS Yoke is well known for pitching the lifter forward during the concentric movement of your squat.
The altered center of gravity, plus the bar’s position on the neck/shoulders will challenge the lifter’s ability to stay upright. This style of bar is fantastic for helping people who struggle with keeping a neutral spine and fall forward under a regular squat bar.
EliteFTS Cambered Bar
This guy is a shifty bastard (pun intended). The weight sits almost 2 feet lover than where it normally sits on a straight bar. However the bar sits on the lifter’s back in the usual place. What does this mean? Coming up out of the hole, this bar will shift or wobble back-to-front repeatedly if you are the least bit unstable.
There are several ways to make this wobble more evil just by where you hold your hands on the bar. Off the top of my head I can think of four different positions: The lower horizontal bar where the weight sits, which may cause you to push and pull exaggerating the wobble more. The hybrid grip, grabbing where the lower horizontal and vertical bar portions meet which is where I grab and feel the most stable. Grabbing completely on the vertical bar portion which causes you to have chicken wings and lastly the upper horizontal bar which would mimic a squat bar. Now, grab the upper horizontal bar at your own risk as this leaves you with utterly no control over what the cambered bar wants to do on the way up from the hole, you have no way to stop the “wobble” you are just there for the ride.
EliteFTS Spider Bar
This black widow is the unfortunate offspring of the EliteFTS SS Yoke Bar and the Cambered Bar molded into one. It’s the worst of both worlds. When shooting out of the hole, this bar will throw you forward (the SS Yoke genes), then rip you backwards (the Cambered Bar genes), all while you are trying to get your shit together and figure out what the hell is going on.
Why do we need them?
Each of these bars causes the lifter to get thrown out of position. By training at a mechanical disadvantage, the lifter’s body will adapt to the de-stabilizing forces the bar exerts. Over time repeatedly using a bar that throws your body all over the place will teach you to become more stable. When you return to a standard barbell, you’ll be a stout, efficient, land-mass that transfers force through your body like a laser-guided missile into the barbell which pushes bitch ass weight around!
There are plenty of styles and ways to use these bars to aid you in your strength progression. Let the staff at NBS help you understand and utilize everything our facility has to offer in your strength journey. Although these bars can be assholes, they are here to help you become better, so don’t be afraid of them. Respect them, learn them, and master them to increase your squat and your overall strength!