7 Different Types of Bench Press Bars & Their Uses

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7 Different Types of Bench Press Bars & Their Uses

There are many bench press bars available on the market but what are their use cases and will they actually improve your bench press performance? 

The 7 different types of bench press bars are:

The goal of this article is to present all the bars available to us for the bench press and to break down why each one of them could be useful and discuss who could benefit from them the most.

After reading this article you’ll learn:

  • What types of bars can be used for the bench press
  • The benefits of each type of bar for your bench
  • Which bar is the best for you
  • Which bar is the top barbell for each type of bar

Bench Press Barbells: 7 Different Types

1. Traditional Barbell

Traditional Barbell

The traditional barbell is a barbell that is made for general use and can typically be found at any commercial gym that has barbells available. They are the most affordable kind of barbells on the market, and they’re widely used because of their versatility.

Why The Bar Is Good For Bench Press?

The traditional barbell is good for bench press because it will get the job done despite not having all the bells and whistles that specialty bars will. They stand out because they will work for all skill levels and all styles of training.

Traditional bars are reliable because they are available at nearly all gyms, and they are suitable for all variations of the bench press.

Barbell Negatives

The downside of traditional barbells for the bench press is that over time they can begin to warp/bend. This is because they are made with less expensive materials so that they are more affordable.

Another potential negative is that there are so many brands of traditional bars out there that the features of each one are not consistent. 

Some may have sleeves that rotate (like an Olympic bar), some will have a wider diameter, and some have knurling or rings in different areas on the shaft of the bar.

 Who Should Use This Bar

Traditional bars are best for those who train at commercial gyms and/or are more interested in training for general fitness because they will be what is available and they will be fine for the weights we will be using.

Traditional bars are also a good purchase for those who want to start collecting equipment for their home gym because they will be versatile enough for nearly any barbell movement.

How Much Does This Barbell Weigh?

Traditional bars typically weigh 45lbs, but as I mentioned earlier each brand will have its version of a traditional bar so sometimes bars will weigh 55lbs if their shaft diameter is thicker. Gyms are also starting to carry women’s bars that have a narrower diameter and weigh 35 lbs.

My advice is to judge the weight based on the shaft diameter if we’re able to identify when the shaft of the bar is narrower or wider than normal. Or we can always check what brand the bar is and do a quick google search to see how much the brands’ bars typically weigh.

Related Article: Barbell Storage Ideas: 4 Ways To Properly Store Barbells

Bar Recommendations

The best traditional bar for the money that I would use for the bench press is the Synergee Essential Bar because it will not have the rotation that an Olympic barbell will have, which is what most brands’ traditional barbells are modelled after.

The Synergee essential bar is so versatile that it can be used for any barbell movement that we would want to perform, which is why this barbell is perfect for those who have a home gym or are interested in starting one.

This bar has a weight limit of 400lbs but for most individuals who would be interested in this bar, it is beyond sufficient. The bar is incredibly durable for the price, and the company offers a great return policy.


2. Power Bar

A power bar is a bar that is designed mostly for powerlifting and can be identified by its more aggressive knurling (the grippy part on the bar) and the stiffness of the bar. 

Most commercial gyms won’t have power bars available for use (sadly), but even if they did, they probably wouldn’t be used to their full potential because most regular gym-goers won’t know their value.

Power bars are more often found at privately-owned strength gyms, and typically replace traditional bars as the go-to bars.

Why The Bar Is Good For Bench Press?

Power bars are a great bar for the bench press because they are so stiff that we can maintain better control over the bar throughout the movement.  In other words, the barbell won’t oscillate (vibrate) while lifting.  

This is important because the bench press is such a technical lift that relies on us maintaining tension and mastering the path of the bar down to the chest and back up off the chest. 

Check out Barbell Sleeve Replacement: How Do You Fix A Barbell Sleeve?

Barbell Negatives

If we’re someone who has wrist issues then the straight bar design of the power bar may not be the most comfortable to bench press with.  This goes for the power bar, or any other straight bar we mention in this article.  

Also, if we’re someone who only bench presses using the touch-and-go bench press, then we may actually prefer a bar that has a bit more flexibility (or whip) to it so that we can get a bit more momentum from the bar off the chest.

Who Should Use This Bar

A power bar is great for powerlifters in particular who are trying to bench press as much weight as possible because the bar is stiff enough that it will be more stable under maximal loads.

However, anyone who is looking to maximize their bench press, whether they’re a powerlifter or not, will benefit from a power bar.

How Much Does This Barbell Weigh?

Power bars will weigh either 20kg or 45lbs, depending on if the bar was purchased in kilograms or pounds. Most brands have both options available, which is nice for those who have a preference.

Bar Recommendations

My favorite power bar to train with is the Ohio Power Bar from Rogue Fitness because of the more aggressive knurling that cues me to grip the bar tightly to maintain tension while I’m bench pressing. 

I also appreciate how stiff the bar is so that I can be as stable as possible during the bench press, and all the other powerlifting movements. 

This is the bar that I’ve chosen for my home gym because it’s affordable, specific enough for my powerlifting training style, and has 205,000 PSI of tensile strength.


3. Swiss Bar

swiss bar

A swiss bar is a bar that is designed to have multiple grip options available, and is often referred to as a “multi-grip bar” or a “football bar”. Some bars are designed so that the grips vary only in width, while others are designed so that the grips vary in width and angles. 

I’ve never seen a swiss bar at a commercial gym, but maybe some commercial gyms carry them. It’s more common to see a swiss bar in a privately owned strength gym.

Why The Bar Is Good For Bench Press?

The swiss bar is great for the bench press because it gives us an option to bench with a neutral grip with many different angles and grip widths. 

The neutral grip is a great way to bench press for those with previous or existing shoulder injuries because it puts the shoulder in a safer, more compact position while benching.

The options for a narrower or wider grip also allow us to emphasize our triceps or our chest respectively, to bring up any weaknesses we may have in these muscle groups.

Check out our articles on the narrow grip bench press and wide grip bench press to understand the benefits and muscles activated in each variation.  

Barbell Negatives

The downside to the swiss bar for the bench press is that they don’t fit well into most J-Hooks, which is pretty inconvenient when we’re bench pressing.  The J-hook is where the barbell sits on the bench press rack.  

Often when I’m using a swiss bar, I need to be really careful with how I ‘rack the barbell’ after I’m done a set, as the bar has a tendency to ‘pop out’.  

Another downside is that if we get too accustomed to bench pressing with the swiss bar, then we may lose our ability to bench press with a straight bar because the movements are different enough that the movement patterns and the targeted musculature will differ between movements.

 Who Should Use This Bar

This bar is great for those who need to be extra cautious with their shoulder positions while benching. It’s also a good option for those who want to bring up weaknesses in their triceps or chest, or for those who are just looking to add a bench press variation to their routine.

How Much Does This Barbell Weigh?

A swiss bar can range from 35lbs to 65lbs depending on the brand of the bar that we’re using. Typically the more grip options available and the longer the loadable sleeves, the heavier the bar is.

Bar Recommendations

The best swiss bar on the market is the Rogue MG-3 Multi-Grip Bar because not only does it have multiple grip widths, but it also has different angles for our grip. The variety in the widths and the angle variation this bar offers is what makes this one of my favorite swiss bars.

In addition, this bar has been designed to fit in the J-Hooks of any standard rack, which solves one of the main issues that we can face when using a swiss bar.


4. Cambered Bar

Cambered Bar

A cambered bar is a bar that is designed quite uniquely, as it has the normal shaft of a barbell, but rather than the traditional sleeves that carry the weight plates, the sleeves are welded onto either side by connecting shafts that allow the weight plates to hang around 14 inches below the part of the bar that will touch our chest. 

As a result, when we touch the bar to our chest, the weight plates will be below the bench that we’re laying on.

Cambered bars are specialty bars and may not be found at privately owned strength gyms unless the owner has an interest in specialty bars or it’s been recommended to them. They are certainly not available at commercial gyms.

Why The Bar Is Good For Bench Press?

The cambered bar is beneficial for the bench press because it can create an extra challenge for lifters because of the way the plates are offset, which causes more instability while bench pressing. 

This can be beneficial because it allows us to target the prime movers of the bench press (chest, shoulders, triceps), while also placing more emphasis on the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder girdle.

Barbell Negatives

The benefit to this barbell is also the downside to this barbell. The cambered bar bench press is so unstable, which means that there will be a large learning curve to perform this movement. 

While we know that this does strengthen our stabilizing muscles, it is unclear how much carryover this will have to our traditional bench press. 

Could it be more worth our time to perform the bench press with a traditional bar and include accessories aimed at stability that don’t require a specialty barbell? 

Perhaps. 

But some lifters will prefer the variety that having a specialty bar offers.

 Who Should Use This Bar

Those who have mastered traditional bench press and are looking for an extra challenge can use the cambered bar. Powerlifters, in particular, could benefit from the cambered bar during hypertrophy or deload phases of training. 

Those who are still mastering the basics should avoid the cambered bar, and instead focus on the bench press with a traditional bar until more proficiency in the movement has been developed.

How Much Does This Barbell Weigh?

The cambered bar typically weighs 85lbs because it has a more elaborate design than a traditional barbell.

Bar Recommendations

Cambered Bar

The cambered bar that I recommend is the Rogue Camber Bar because it is rackable, which is ideal. After all, like the swiss bar, many cambered bars do not fit in standard rack J-Hooks.

The Rogue camber bar is ideal because it has been tested to withstand loads of up to 1000lbs, which demonstrates how durable the bar is under loads. 

This is a selling factor for me because it shows that the tensile strength of this product is high enough that the bar won’t bend after repetitive use.


5.  Duffalo Bar

duffalo bar

A duffalo bar is a bar that is slightly longer than a traditional barbell or power bar and is identifiable by a bend in the middle of the shaft that gives the bar a natural curve.

Duffalo bars are specialty bars so they will be harder to find, and will likely never be available for use at commercial gyms. They may be available at select private gyms if the owner has an interest in specialty barbells or the bar has been highly requested by members.

Why The Bar Is Good For Bench Press?

The duffalo bar is beneficial for the bench press because it increases the range of motion of the movement. The bend in the bar forces us to bring our arms down further past our body to touch the bar to our chest, which results in more effort from the chest musculature to press the barbell back up. 

The bar also may relieve wrist pain while bench pressing to the curvature of the bar which may allow for a more comfortable grip compared to a straight bar. 

Barbell Negatives

The duffalo bar may be easier on the shoulders when squatting, but using it for benching can put more stress on the shoulders for those with previous or current injuries because of the increased range of motion.

Those with shoulder issues should be more cautious about using the duffalo bar for the bench press because it could challenge the range of motion at the shoulders too much, especially while under load.

 Who Should Use This Bar

This bar could be a good option for those who are weak off the chest in the bench press and want to focus on increasing the range of motion to strengthen their power off the chest. I would recommend this to those who have already mastered the traditional bench press and are looking to spice up their training. 

I wouldn’t recommend this bar for the bench press for those who are still learning the bench press. I also recommend that those with shoulder issues be extra cautious with the increased range of motion that this bar encourages.

How Much Does This Barbell Weigh?

The duffalo bar is only manufactured by one company and therefore will consistently weigh 55lbs. 

Bar Recommendations

The one and only Duffalo Bar available on the market is from Kabuki Strength, which is designed with a load capacity of 1500lbs and is versatile enough to be used for the squat and the bench press. 

The long sleeves of the bar make it possible to load with weights and also attach bands for accommodating resistance. This is a great feature for those who prefer a more westside approach to training.

The bar is available in 3 different finishes that we can choose from based on our preferences and budget. The options available are Clear Zinc, Black Oxide, and Electroless Nickel.


6. EZ Curl Bar

EZ Curl Bar

An EZ Curl Bar is a bar that is typically used for bicep curls and can be identified by its zig-zagged shaft that allows for multiple different grip positions on the bar. 

An EZ Curl bar can be found at almost any commercial gym, but the length of these bars will vary, and some may not be long enough to fit into the J-Hooks of a rack.

Why The Bar Is Good For Bench Press?

The EZ curl bar can be good for the bench press because of the different grip options it presents. This can be a great solution for those with wrist pain who need their wrist at a certain angle to bench press pain-free. 

The EZ bar only allows for a narrow grip, so it can be beneficial for those who want to increase their tricep strength with a close grip bench press variation.

Barbell Negatives

Most EZ curl bars do not fit in the rack so we’re limited by how much we can bench press with this bar.

In addition, the bar is not wide enough for us to have a grip wider than shoulder-width, so for those who prefer a slightly wider grip or have a larger frame, this bar is not suitable.

There is also a weight capacity for these types of barbells, which varies from brand to brand.  But I’d say if you’re benching over 200lbs, then this barbell isn’t going to be all-too-practical.  

All in all, this bar may be more annoying than it is beneficial for most people when it comes to the bench press and may be best reserved for skull crushers and bicep curls.

 Who Should Use This Bar

This bar could offer some benefits for those with wrist issues who cannot comfortably bench press with a straight bar but will likely not be a top pick for anyone else interested in bench pressing.

Honestly, if you’re looking for more tricep activation, either use a narrow grip on a traditional barbell or use a swiss bar.  

How Much Does This Barbell Weigh?

EZ curls bars typically weigh between 15 to 35 lbs depending on the brand that we’re using, so we may need to verify the brand to see what their particular product weighs.

Related Article: 7 Best Dumbbells That You Can Drop Without Damaging Them

Bar Recommendations

For those interested in purchasing an EZ Curl bar I would recommend the Synergee EZ Curl Bar because it is the best product for the price on the market. 

The Synergee bar has a load capacity of 405lbs which is incredible for an EZ curl bar, and although we will likely never have anything close to 405lbs on this bar, it speaks to the design quality of this product.

This EZ curl bar also stands out because it has knurling on large portions of the shaft to help us maintain our grip no matter where we decide to grip the bar to keep our wrists in the position that feels the best.


7. Bamboo/Earthquake Bar

Bamboo/Earthquake Bar

The bamboo and earthquake bars appear and function similarly with the main difference being intended use. The bamboo bar is designed for lighter weight technique work, while the earthquake bar is designed for moderate loads. 

These bars are extremely unique in that they are very unstable, and vibrate while in use due to their flexibility. These bars are not loaded with weight plates like a traditional bar, but instead, use bands attached to kettlebells that hang from each side of the bar to increase the load.

Why The Bar Is Good For Bench Press?

The bamboo/earthquake bars can be beneficial for those looking to increase the difficulty of the bench press, and improve the strength of stabilizing muscles of the upper body.

The flexibility of the bar makes it incredibly difficult to control the bar when bringing the bar down to the chest, and back up off the chest. This forces lifters to maintain as much tension as possible to control the path of the bar and refine their technique.

Barbell Negatives

The bamboo and earthquake bars may not be practical enough for those who are trying to be as strong as possible to perform regularly. However, they could be a fun change of pace for those looking to have some variety in their training. 

The issue with these bars comes down to specificity for those wanting to be as strong as possible because we will never be bench pressing at maximal weights with a bar this flexible.

 Who Should Use This Bar

This bar is ideal for those who want a new challenge that does not involve bench pressing as much weight as possible.  It’s also a practical variation for people who need to train through upper body injuries or want some injury prevention due to the increased requirement for our stabilizing muscles.

However, it may not be the best investment for those who want to maximize their bench press, because it’s just not practical in terms of maximal strength development.

Personally, I would save up and buy a power bar, then a swiss bar, before buying the bamboo barbell, unless I had a serious upper body injury where the only form of bench press I could do was by using the Bamboo barbell.  

How Much Does This Barbell Weigh?

Both the earthquake and bamboo bar weigh 6lbs total, so they are extremely lightweight. But don’t be fooled by how light they are, they are still able to withstand loads of up to 300+lbs.

Bar Recommendations

Bandbell bars

The top recommendation for bamboo/earthquake bars is the BandBell Bars that are designed to hold the band in a very secure fashion by incorporating grooves and inserts on the sleeve portions of the bars to keep bands in place.

The BandBell bars are built with wood and resin and weigh only 6lbs, but have load capacities of 300lbs or more, which is much more than we would ever need in the bench press with this style of bar.


What To Read Next

Check out our other barbell articles for squatting and deadlifting: 


About The Author

Amanda Parker

Amanda Parker has a passion for competing and coaching in both powerlifting and weightlifting. She uses her knowledge from her Kinesiology Degree, CSCS, and Precision Nutrition certification to coach athletes and lifestyle clients for performance in training and nutrition. Connect with her on Instagram.