BandBell Bamboo Barbell (Ultimate Guide)

The BandBell Bamboo Barbell has been used by some of the biggest names in powerlifting and sport.

World champion powerlifter Dave Holf recently squatted 1234lbs who credits the Bamboo Barbell in making him feel more stable under max weights. Bench presser Eric Spoto has also used the Bamboo Barbell to overcome injury and press a world record of 722lbs. You can even see Superbowl Champion James Harris using the Bamboo Barbell to build strength and stability.

The BandBell Bamboo Barbells should be a staple in any lifter’s routine to build stability in exercises such as the squat, bench press, overhead press, and deadlift.

Check out the price for the BandBell Bamboo Barbell on Amazon HERE.

In this article, I’ll explain the differences between the types of bamboo barbells, how to use them, and provide training considerations when incorporating the Bamboo Barbells in your workouts.

What Are Bamboo Barbells?

The BandBell Barbells are specialty lifting bars, which have been nicknamed “Bamboo Barbells”.

While most bars are made from steel, the Bamboo Barbells are made from hardened ash wood with a composite resin centre. This gives the barbell a lot of flex when lifting. Even though they have a lot of flex, they are scientifically engineered to be extremely durable and can handle loads in excess of 300lbs.

Lifters use the Bamboo Barbells to challenge their stabilizing muscle groups, which get recruited when the bar flexes back and forth when lifting.

History Of Bamboo Barbells

The Bandbell Bamboo Barbells were created by Jim Seitzer; a national-level bodybuilder and powerlifter. He was also one of the founding members of Westside Barbell, and was trained under world-renowned powerlifting coach Louie Simmons.

As a 35-year veteran of bodybuilding and powerlifting, Jim was no stranger to injury. It was actually through a shoulder injury where the idea for Bamboo Barbells was born.

Because of chronic rotator cuff inflammation, Jim was unable to bench a 45lb steel barbell without pain. Like any motivated athlete, Jim started to experiment with exercises in the gym that allowed him to keep training, As the story goes, Jim started benching with a broomstick. He used resistance bands to hang kettlebells from either end and found out he was able to perform the bench press in this way without pain.

He credits the oscillating nature of the broomstick that allowed him to regain strength and stability in his rotator cuff.

Oscillating Kinetic Energy

The Bamboo Barbells use oscillating kinetic energy, which produces several micromovements to the barbell as the lifter executes the movement.

When you see lifters use the Bamboo Barbells they tend to shake because their stabilizer muscle groups are being challenged to keep the barbell in the right bar path and direction. Not only is the lifter required to produce a sufficient amount of work to move the barbell from point A to B, but they also need to exert a high level of control to overcome the oscillating nature of the barbell.

The benefits of using oscillating kinetic energy in your training are:

  • Improved neuromuscular efficiencies: Lifters must have greater motor control in both intramuscular coordination (within a muscle) and intermuscular coordination (between different muscle groups).
  • Improved technique: Lifters get immediate feedback on when their technique and positioning is correct. Any loss in positioning will make it harder to execute the movement.
  • Increased mechanical tension. Lifters must fully engage all available fibers within a given muscle, even under light/moderate loading. If the lifter relaxes whatsoever the movement will be increasingly unmanageable.

Types of BandBell Bamboo Barbells

There are three types of bamboo barbells:

  • The “Original Bamboo” Bar
  • The EarthQuake Bar
  • The E-Maxx Bar (AKA the SuperQuake)

There are only small differences between each of these barbells, which I’ll discuss in more detail below.

Summary

For most people, I would recommend either using the “Original Bamboo” Bar or the EarthQuake Bar. Both of these bars have identical specifications; however, the EarthQuake Bar includes a slightly easier way to load the barbell (explained below), which allows for more room to add weight on the barbell. Therefore, the reason why you would pick the EarthQuake Bar over the “Original Bamboo” Bar is if you plan on lifting heavier loads. The “Original Bamboo” is more for light training and rehab, while the EarthQuake Bar has more loading potential and makes a better overall strength training tool.

Check out the price on Amazon for both the “Original Bamboo” Barbell and the EarthQuake Barbell HERE.

The “Original Bamboo Bar” VS EarthQuake Bar

1. The “Original Bamboo” Bar

The “Original Bamboo” Bar is the most popular version of the BandBell barbells. The horizontal safety-slots on each end of the barbell keep the bands in place when lifting. This “Original Bamboo” Bar has been used by lifters to return from injury, prevent injury, increase joint stabilization, improve body awareness, and enhance technique.

bamboo barbell
The “Original Bamboo” Barbell

The horizontal slots are limited in the number of bands that you can add to the barbell, which is one of the reasons why the “Original Bamboo” bar is mostly used for rehab purposes or exercises that don’t need a lot of weight, such as bench press, overhead press, and bicep curls. With that said, most lifters will not need much weight to gain the advantages of oscillating kinetic energy.

Who is this barbell for?

This design works perfectly for CrossFit, high-performance and functional athletes, powerlifters, bodybuilders, and general workout programs.

Barbell specifications

  • Materials: Hardened Ash Wood & Durable Composite Resin
  • Length: 80”
  • Diameter: 1.5”
  • Weight: 6 LBS
  • Distance between collars: 54”
  • Loading Capacity: 300LB+
  • Manufactured in the USA

Check out the price and other reviews of the “Original Bamboo Bar” on Amazon HERE.

2. The EarthQuake Bar

The EarthQuake Bar is considered an all-purpose barbell that is good for both rehab/prehab (just like the “Original Bamboo” Bar); however, it can also be used for overall strength training because you can add more weight. The reason why more weight can be added is that the EarthQuake Bar does away with the horizontal slits seen in the “Original Bamboo” Bar. Rather than horizontal slits, the EarthQuake Bar has raised notches on the sleeve, which allows more bands to be added on either side.

earthquake barbell
EarthQuake Barbell

Because you can use more weight on the EarthQuake Bar, you can do more compounded exercises such as squats and deadlifts, in addition to everything that you can do on the “Original Bamboo” bar.

Who is this barbell for?

This barbell is used more frequently in personal training and strength and conditioning settings where there might be multiple lifters using the same barbell that require different loads. This is preferred because you can slide the loaded bands on and off very easily, and have a range of lifters using the barbell all at the same time.

Barbell specifications

  • Materials: Hardened Ash Wood & Durable Composite Resin
  • Length: 80”
  • Diameter: 1.5”
  • Weight: 6 LBS
  • Distance between collars: 54”
  • Loading Capacity: 300LB+
  • Manufactured in the USA

Check out the price and other reviews of the EarthQuake Bar on Amazon HERE.

3. The E-Maxx Bar (AKA The “Super-Quake”)

The E-Maxx Bar was developed after lifters loved using the “Original Bamboo” Bar and EarthQuake Bar, but wanted to add even more weight than what was already possible in the other two versions. It uses the same lightweight, wood/composite resin as the other bars, but has a greater overall length (86.5″ vs 80″). The extra length is not added to the shaft of the barbell, but the sleeve which allows for more band loading capacity.

E-Maxx Barbell
E-Maxx Barbell

One other differentiating feature of the E-Maxx bar is the protective layer that exists on the inside of the sleeve. Take a look at where the barbell sits on the rack. You’ll notice high-tech polymer bumpers have been added to each end of the bar. When you slam a barbell back into the rack, over time the barbell can become worn. These polymer bumpers protect it when racking the barbell, which is a great feature if the barbell will be used frequently.

Who is this barbell for?

This barbell is only recommended for elite powerlifters and high-performance athletes who already lift 500lbs+ on regular steel bars. Most powerlifters and athletes won’t need a lot of weight on bamboo bars though to get the benefit of oscillating kinetic energy.

Note: This barbell is slightly more expensive than the “Original Bamboo” bar and EarthQuake bar, so if you don’t need the extra length of the sleeves for added weight, then opt for one of the other two bars.

Barbell specifications

  • Materials: Hardened Ash Wood & Durable Composite Resin
  • Weight: 8.75 lbs
  • Length: 86.5″
  • Shaft diameter: 1.5″
  • Sleeve length: 16″ (four 2″ notches per sleeve for bands)
  • Capacity: 400lbs+
  • Polymer sleeves around outer shaft for durability
  • Manufactured in the USA

Check out the price and other reviews of the “E-Maxx Bar” Bar on Rogue HERE.

How to Set-Up & Use Bamboo Barbells

The set up for any of the Bamboo Barbells is the same. You’ll need a pair of 0.5 or 1-inch rubber bands and either kettlebells or steel plates.

To load the barbell, you’ll use the hanging band technique, which is done by letting the weights hang from bands on either side of the barbell.

The steps are as follows:

  1. Grab a band
  2. Fold it over once. If you don’t fold it the load will hang too low when lifting and there is a risk that it hangs so low that it will touch the floor (especially if bench pressing).
  3. Lace it through a kettlebell or plate
  4. Place it on top of the barbell. Be careful placing the loaded band on one side of the barbell as the opposite side might come off the rack if weighted too heavily.
how to use a bandbell bamboo bar

As I said, you don’t have to use kettlebells like pictured above. If you have standard gym plates, you can thread the bands through the centre of the barbell. There is no difference in performance between using kettlebells or gym plates.

Benefits of Using Bamboo Barbells

There are several benefits of using the Bandbell Bamboo Barbells:

  • Faster rebab. Many lifters have said that the Bamboo Barbells have lead to quicker rehabilitation times for injury, especially shoulder injuries in the bench press.
  • Greater feedback. The oscillating nature of the barbell will give you immediate feedback on whether the barbell is in the right bar path or not. As such, you’ll have greater proprioception and motor control.
  • Build stability. You’ll work the stabilizing muscle groups a lot more, which would otherwise be compensated by larger muscles.
  • Versatile. It’s a multi-purpose barbell that can be used for any exercise.

Drawbacks of Using Bamboo Barbells

With any piece of equipment there are some drawbacks to the Bamboo Barbell:

  • Cost. Barbells in general are an expensive investment. With that said, Bamboo Barbells are lower in cost than the majority of other barbells used for powerlifting, weightlifting, or strength training.
  • Set up time takes longer than normal. It takes slightly longer to load the barbell versus a steel bar because you’ll be using band-loaded resistance not plates.
  • Loading one side too heavy. If you load one side of the barbell too heavy without having any load on the other side, the barbell might tip off the rack more easily than a steel bar.
  • Can’t use for Olympic weightlifting. The sleeves of the barbell don’t rotate, like a weightlifting barbell. However, you’re not going to perform snatches or clean and jerks with a bamboo barbell anyways.

Who Uses The Bamboo Barbell?

The Bamboo Barbell has been a staple among many top powerlifters, professional athletes, strongmen competitors, and crossfitters to increase their stabilizer strength and avoid injury.

Here is Mark Bell describing how he feels when using the Bamboo Barbell for squatting:

In addition to powerlifters, 2X Superbowl Champion James Harrison uses the Bamboo Bar as a regular training tool in his workouts.

You can also see strongmen competitors using the Bamboo Bars to add variations to movements that they already perform, such as the farmer walk.

Crossfitters also use the Bamboo Bar to improve stability in several overhead movements where they require strong shoulder strength.

Training Considerations When Using The Bamboo Barbells

When implementing the Bamboo Barbell into your training program, you should do so using lightweight and higher rep ranges. The purpose of this would be

  1. To get accustomed to the oscillating kinetic energy without having to worry about a weight that you can’t lift
  2. To get sufficient practice with how the barbell feels throughout the movement as the oscillating kinetic energy is something you wouldn’t have previously experienced.

I would recommend using the Bamboo Barbell on the squat, bench press, and overhead press to start.

You should be doing these movements twice per week with the following periodization:

  • Day 1: Perform the regular movement with a steel bar using low-to-moderate reps (1-6) with a heavyweight.
  • Day 2: Perform the movements with a Bamboo Bar using high reps (8-15) with a lightweight.

As I said, you’ll never truly need a ton of weight to get the benefits of oscillating kinetic energy. However, you can still progress the load from your starting point over several months of training.

Quick note: If you ever take a considerable amount of time off from using the Bamboo Bar, you’ll lose some of the benefits of strong stabilizing muscles. When you restart, you’ll want to return to using lighter weights, not the weights where you left off with initially.

Tips For Using The Bamboo Barbells

After using the Bamboo Barbell myself, here are some tips that I can suggest for those who are just starting:

  • Squeeze your hands as tight as possible. No matter what exercise you use the Bamboo Barbell for, you’ll want to make sure you squeeze the bar extra tight with your hands. You want to feel like you’re squeezing so hard that you’re leaving fingerprints on the bar. A lot of your stability comes from the connection between you and the bar, which starts from your hands.
  • Bring the bar down slower. When bringing the bar down eccentrically, you’ll want to do so with slower tempos. If you’re someone with a faster eccentric tempo normally, you’ll struggle quite a bit trying to replicate that same tempo using the Bamboo Bars.
  • Brace your core. While bracing your core is good lifting practice regardless, when using the Bamboo Barbell, you’ll feel the oscillating kinetic energy transfer through your core. If you relax your core at all while lifting, it will make the lift exceptionally harder.
  • Use a spotter. For the first few times, you’ll want to have a spotter with their hands close to the barbell. If you have weak stabilizing muscle groups, the barbell will be oscillating back and forth quite vigorously. So you want to make sure you have a safe training environment when trying out the Bamboo Bar.

Final Thoughts

The BandBell Bamboo Bars come in three different types (the “Original Bamboo”, the Earthquake, and E-Maxx). Each of these barbells is relatively similar, the only difference being how heavy you can load the barbell. I recommend either the “Original Bamboo” Barbell or the Earthquake Barbell. You can check out the pricing and reviews for these barbells on Amazon HERE (both are the same price).


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