8 Different Types of Squat Bars & Their Uses

Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means I earn from qualifying purchases.

8 Different Types of Squat Bars & Their Uses

These days barbell manufacturers are making specialty bars for individual lifts, like squats.  

With different types of specialty squat bars available on the market, it’s hard to know whether they’re just a gimmick or if they can actually improve our squat performance.  

My opinion: These barbells do have value when it comes to your squat training, especially if you’re a competitive powerlifter or weightlifter.  

But first…

What are the 8 different types of barbells for squats?

Don’t worry, I’m here to answer all your questions about the different types of squat bars so that you can make an informed decision on which bar you should use in training based on your goals.

After reading this article you will be able to identify:

  • The different bars that can be used for squats
  • The benefits that each bar provides
  • The downside of each bar
  • Which bar is the best for you

Squat Bars: 8 Types & Their Uses

1. Traditional Squat Bar

Traditional Squat Bar

A traditional squat barbell is a barbell that is more generic and can be found at most commercial gyms. They are designed to be more versatile so that gym users can use them for a variety of movements whether it be powerlifting, bodybuilding, or general fitness.

Why Is The Bar Good For Squatting?

The bar is good for squatting because it is versatile and can be used for all types of squats front squats, back squats, zercher squats, etc. 

It’s also a good option for squatting because it tends to be cheaper than other barbells and can be found at almost any gym that carries a barbell, and it works for the majority of people who are at a beginner-to-moderate skill level.

Barbell Negatives

The downside of using this barbell for squatting is that it is less specific to squatting in terms of it’s design, and therefore may not be suitable for those who are more advanced or have higher standards when it comes to the bar they use.

The traditional barbell is also not a great option for those with limited range of motion in their shoulders, or those who have a previous/current shoulder injury because of the bar’s straight design, which requires the user to externally rotate the shoulder (rotate the arms backwards) to grab the bar. 

Being able to achieve this range of motion without pain is important because it helps us to get our back tight during the squat to become more stable – so the traditional barbell won’t be a good option for those who cannot achieve this position.

Who Should Use This Bar

This bar is designed for those who are interested in general fitness because of how versatile it is. In addition, it will be useful for those who train at a commercial gym, because it may be the only bar they’ll have access to

Also, if we’re someone with no shoulder issues – then it will be a great bar for what we’re using it for.

How Much Does This Barbell Weigh?

Traditional barbells are typically either 45lbs or 20kg (~44lbs) depending on if the bar is designed in pounds or in kilograms. Some bars will have caps on the end of the sleeve (where the weights go) giving more information about the bar, but most of them do not.

That being said, sometimes gyms do carry traditional barbells that are designed for women and weigh 35lbs or 15kg (~33lbs). A women’s bar can usually be identified because it has a narrower diameter than the 45lbs/20kg bar. 

Bar Recommendations

I would recommend the Synergy Games Bar because it is a great bar for those just getting started with lifting, and/or those who are interested in general fitness. 

The synergee games bar will be more similar to bars that we could find in a commercial gym but better quality.

What I love about this bar is that it’s very versatile, but it’s also super affordable. This is the perfect bar for those looking to start a home gym or purchase their own barbell without breaking the bank.

2. Power Bar

power bar

A power bar is different from a traditional barbell that we would usually find at a commercial gym because it is more stiff (it will not bounce) and therefore has less whip (whip can be thought of as the level of flexibility of a barbell). 

Most privately owned gyms that are strength-oriented will carry different brands of power bars.

This style of bar is used by those who train and/or compete in powerlifting because it is more specialized. It’s also the style of bar that will be used in powerlifting competitions, so it makes sense for athletes to train with one as well.

Check out the differences between a Stiff Bar vs Deadlift Bar.  A “Stiff Bar” is another name for a “Power Bar”.  

Why Is The Bar Good For Squatting?

Power bars are designed to be more stiff, meaning they have very little whip. 

Having the bar whip is not beneficial when we’re under heavy loads (like we would in a powerlifting style squat) because it can throw us off balance when we want to be as stable as possible.

In addition, a power bar has a more aggressive knurling which is beneficial when squatting because it can help the bar stay glued to our back and reduces the risk of it sliding off.  

This is especially useful for a low bar style squat (when the bar is placed lower on the back and not on top of the traps).

Barbell Negatives

The downside to this bar is that it will present the same issue for those with limited range of motion at the shoulder and/or have any shoulder injuries.  Because a power bar is also a straight bar, it requires us to externally rotate at the shoulder to get our arms in position while squatting.

A power bar will not be the best option for those who want to front squat, because the aggressive knurling that a power bar offers will severely scrape our necks while front squatting.

Who Should Use This Bar

Those who plan to compete in powerlifting or train the powerlifting movements more seriously should use a power bar because it is more stiff than a traditional barbell, it has more aggressive knurling to help keep the bar on our back at heavier weights, and it will be more specific to the sport.

How Much Does This Barbell Weigh?

Power bars are sold in pounds and in kilograms, and therefore we can get a power bar that is 45 lbs or 20kg (~44 lbs). 

If we’re competing in powerlifting, then we will always be using kilograms – so it makes more sense to get a bar in kilograms. 

If we’re not competing and we don’t care about training in pounds then we could get a 45lb bar and save a bit of money (bars sold in pounds tend to be a bit cheaper).

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

Bar Recommendations

I recommend the Rogue Ohio Power bar, as it is probably the most popular power bar used by powerlifting athletes because of its durability, it’s quality design, and it’s level of stiffness. 

It’s also sold in multiple finishes which gives us more choice in how much money we want to invest in our power bar – with the bare steel being the cheapest and the stainless steel option being the most expensive. 

The finishes are priced differently because of their durability.  So if we’re looking for maximum durability, then stainless steel is our best bet; but if we’re looking for the most budget friendly option, then I’d go with the bare steel.

3. Safety Squat Bar

Safety Squat

A safety squat bar can be identified by its padded handles and neck piece that cushion the neck, traps, and shoulders. The handles that stick out on either side of our neck allow us to grip them comfortably without having to externally rotate the shoulders.

Safety squat bars can be found in most privately owned strength gyms, and maybe a commercial gym here and there, if we’re lucky. 

Why Is The Bar Good For Squatting?

The safety squat bar is good for squatting because it will keep us in a more upright squatting position, which can help us develop our quads by encouraging our knees to travel further over our toes

It’s also a great solution for those with shoulder issues that want to continue squatting with heavier weights because it eliminates the need to externally rotate the shoulder to grab the bar.  

Instead, the handles are perfectly positioned for us to grab no matter what our shoulder range of motion is.

Barbell Negatives

The safety squat bar can pose an issue for those who have not learned to brace their core properly. It can be a more difficult movement because we will be naturally more upright, which can result in lower back arching for those without adequate core stability. 

Arching of the lower back can increase our risk of injury, especially when done repetitively under load. 

It also will be a struggle for those with limited ankle and/or hip mobility because these individuals will have a hard time maintaining an upright position. 

If we’re unable to achieve this upright position, the bar would most likely be pulling our neck forwards causing some big technical/safety issues.

Who Should Use This Bar

A safety squat bar is a good option for those with adequate ankle and hip mobility, who want to strengthen their quads and/or learn to use their quads out of the bottom position of the squat.

It is also designed in a way that makes it ideal for those with shoulder issues because they will be able to hold the handle comfortably.

How Much Does This Barbell Weigh?

Safety squat bars are typically sold in pounds and weigh between 55-75lbs depending on the brand. If we’re planning on purchasing a safety squat bar, then I recommend looking at the product specifications to see how much the bar weighs.

If we’re using a safety squat bar at the gym, we may have to use a quick google search of the brand of bar we’re using to tell us what the bar weighs.

Bar Recommendations

When it comes to a safety squat bar we want to make sure that we’re getting a bar that has good quality padding around the traps and shoulders because this can make or break our experience. 

For this reason, I suggest the SB-1 Rogue Safety Squat Bar which has the most comfortable padding of any safety squat bar I’ve used. 

While we may think that we can handle a little discomfort while squatting, I’m telling you that once we’re under some heavier loads – the quality of the padding makes a huge difference in our performance.

The Rogue safety squat bar weighs 70lbs and has been tested to withstand loads of up to 1000lbs, so we can be sure that it’ll be able to handle anything we throw at it.

4. Cambered Squat Bar

Cambered Squat Bar

The cambered squat bar is a specialty barbell that can be identified by its unique shape that has the weight plates hanging much lower than a traditional barbell. 

In addition, the weight plates are not directly in-line with the upper part of the barbell that sits on our shoulders.

Why Is The Bar Good For Squatting?

The cambered bar challenges our stability while squatting because it’s design makes it harder to stabilize in the bottom position.  Therefore, it forces us to refine our movements to avoid shifting off balance

It’s design also provides the option to grip the bar like we would a traditional barbell, or to grip the portion of the bar that holds the weights (which can be used for those who struggle with shoulder issues and cannot grip a traditional barbell).

Barbell Negatives

The cambered bar can be too challenging to balance for those who are already somewhat unstable in their squats, and therefore is not a great option for those who are beginners or those who struggle to maintain control during their squats. 

Who Should Use This Bar

The cambered bar should be reserved for those who are intermediate-to-advanced and want to work on their movement mechanics out of the bottom position of the squat. It is also an option for those at higher skill levels to squat despite having shoulder impairments. 

How Much Does This Barbell Weigh?

Cambered bars usually weigh around 85lbs because of its design that features extra material than a traditional barbell would have. That being said, every brand will have their own version of the cambered bar and there could be some discrepancies between brands.

Bar Recommendations

Cambered Bar

When it comes to cambered bars I always recommend the Rogue CB-1 Cambered Bar because it easily fits into any rack that we’re using. Many other cambered bars on the market are not designed to fit into a generic rack – which is super annoying.

The Rogue Cambered bar weighs 85 lbs and is designed for maximum durability with it’s solid steel shaft and has been tested to support loads up to 1000lbs. The bar provides options for different hand grips to accommodate athletes of smaller or larger frames.

5. Buffalo Bar

A buffalo bar has a unique curved design that allows the bar to sit on our back but curve downwards, so that we can grip the bar more easily without having to elevate and externally rotate our shoulders as much as we would with a traditional bar.

Why Is The Bar Good For Squatting?

The buffalo bar is a great solution for those with shoulder issues to squat more similarly to a straight barbell but aren’t quite there yet because it will allow them to get tight without shoulder discomfort. 

Even for those without shoulder issues, the design of the buffalo bar can significantly increase lat engagement – which can help us keep our torso more stable.  

In addition to this, most lifters agree that the buffalo bar is more comfortable on their backs because it’s curvature hugs the back so well.

I find that the buffalo bar is much harder to stabilize in the bottom of the squat, so if that’s a weakness for you, or if you’ve hit a squat plateau, then this barbell will help you address those deficiencies.  You won’t need as much weight with a buffalo bar compared with a traditional squat bar to make the reps feel hard.   

Barbell Negatives

Buffalo bars will not sit correctly in a standard barbell rack, and generally only stays in place with specialty barbell hooks, which is a slight inconvenience when we’re trying to set-up under the bar in the rack.

The curvature and length of the buffalo bar creates too much instability for beginners or those who struggle with stability while squatting.  Only used it if you’ve mastered the low bar back squat.

Who Should Use This Bar

The buffalo bar is great for those with shoulder impairments and for those who have larger frames because of its curvature and the fact that it is longer than traditional barbells. 

It can be a great option to include when we’re feeling beat up from training to reduce some strain on the body.  This is because you won’t require as much loading to achieve a relatively high training effect.  

Those who plan to compete in powerlifting competitions probably shouldn’t rely too heavily on the buffalo bar, because it won’t be available for use in competition.  Therefore, we should get accustomed to the design of a power bar.

How Much Does This Barbell Weigh?

Typically a buffalo bar weighs around 45-55lbs because it is longer than a traditional barbell, but this will likely vary from company-to-company, so be prepared for some variability across bars from different brands.

Bar Recommendations

Longhorn Buffalo Bar

My favorite buffalo bar is the Longhorn Buffalo Bar from Fringe Sport because it’s curvature is perfectly designed to hug the upper back and it’s knurling is aggressive enough to keep the bar in place without destroying our back even when training in a tank top.

Another reason I love this bar is that it comes with a lifetime warranty against bending or breaking, which isn’t likely to happen anyway because it’s approved for loads of up to 800+lbs, but I like the security of knowing that this bar will last me a lifetime.

6. Transformer Bar

The transformer bar is a bar like no other, because it’s design allows for us to modify its settings to adjust it to be a cambered bar, a safety squat bar, or a buffalo bar. 

We’ve already discussed the benefits of each of these specialty bars, but now the transformer bar allows us to get all 3 bars in 1 product.

Why Is The Bar Good For Squatting?

With this bar we are getting similar settings to 3 different specialty squat bars in one product because of its adjustability. 

The adjustability of the transformer bar is what makes it great for squatting, because we can tailor it’s setting to fit our needs no matter our proportions or the style of squat we want to do.

Barbell Negatives

Although the bar has many adjustments which would appeal to those who train more frequently with multiple specialty bars, this product is going to be more than the average lifter needs.

The function of the bar itself will be too advanced for those who are at a beginner-to-intermediate skill level. 

This is because all of the adjustments the bar is capable of do require more control while squatting because they can easily throw a lifter off balance if their speed/technique is out of whack.  

Who Should Use This Bar

This bar is designed for those who prefer training with specialty bars over traditional barbells, whether it be because of the more comfortable shoulder positions, the increased challenge, or the variation in squat movement patterns.

It will not be ideal for those who are not invested in specialty bars and/or don’t require specialty bars to perform their squats.

How Much Does This Barbell Weigh?

The transformer bar weighs 25kg and is only made by one company, so we can expect consistency in how much it weighs if we’re purchasing one or using one at a gym.

Bar Recommendations

The Transformer Bar  is made by Kabuki strength and it is the first of its kind! As we discussed above the bar’s adjustability makes it possible to accommodate lifter’s of varying proportions and our preferred style of squatting.

The bar is designed to withstand loads up to 1500 lbs and it is versatile enough to be used for a variety of squatting movements. This is the perfect piece of equipment for those looking to have a collection of specialty squat bars in a home gym setting, as it will take up much less space.

7. Bamboo/Earthquake Bar

A bamboo bar is a unique specialty barbell that is made of wood and resin instead of steel.  This gives the bar it’s unstable properties, as the bar literally ‘shakes’ while squatting. 

While the bar itself is quite resilient and can withstand loads of 300 or more pounds, the amount of flex the bar has makes it very unstable. The bar is loaded by hanging bands with weights attached to both sides of the bar, which further adds to its instability.

Why Is The Bar Good For Squatting?

The bamboo/earthquake bar can help us dramatically increase our ability to stabilize our joints while squatting because we need to be as stable as possible in or to maintain control over the barbell. 

The flex of the bar can result in the bar having a pretty dramatic bouncing motion while we’re squatting.  This forces us to compensate for its movement by being extra stable in our movement patterns. 

Barbell Negatives

The downside to these bars is that it may not have as much carryover to our traditional squats as we may think.  

This is because you can’t load this barbell up with a lot of weight, it’s simply meant to improve stability.  At some point in your training, you’ll need to ditch the bamboo barbell, and squat with a traditional bar in order to lift heavier. 

That being said, it can certainly be useful in rehabbing injuries if we’re using lighter loads and maintaining control. In fact, this was one of the main reasons why this bar was created, to help lifters return to squatting from injury.

Who Should Use This Bar

The bamboo bar is a more advanced movement that most lifters will not experiment with unless they’re wanting to really hone in on their stability while squatting.

The bamboo is not appropriate for those of beginner-to-moderate skill levels because it is so unstable and these individuals need to focus more on maintaining technique under ideal conditions first.

How Much Does This Barbell Weigh?

The bamboo/earthquake bars typically weigh 6 lbs, and are loaded with bands attached to external loads (kettlebells or weight plates).

Bar Recommendations

The BandBell Bars from Rogue Fitness are the best bamboo/earthquake bars on the market because of their design that includes unique features to keep the bands in place for loading purposes. 

The bamboo bar, which is designed for lighter weight stability work, has slots that our bands can slide into to keep them from moving around. 

The earthquake bar, which is designed for slightly heavier loads, has multiple grooves that support the use of multiple banded-loads on each sleeve.

Despite weighing only 6lbs each, both bars are designed to support loads of up to 300lbs – which is quite a feat for barbells made of wood and resin!

8. Weightlifting Bar

A weightlifting bar may appear similar to a traditional bar but it is different because it has more whip and it’s sleeves rotate more than a traditional barbell.

Weightlifting bars are specialty barbells that are designed for those who compete in olympic weightlifting because the whip can assist lifters out of the bottom position of the clean and the snatch, and the rotation of the sleeves helps with bar turnover in both of these movements as well.

Why Is The Bar Good For Squatting?

A weightlifting bar is good for squatting if we’re training for snatches and cleans because a weightlifting bar’s flexibility, and the rotation of its sleeves will help us to turn the bar over and receive it more efficiently in the bottom position. 

A weightlifting bar can also be great for squatting to a certain extent, but if we’re looking to maximize the amount of weight we’re able to squat, then we may prefer a stiffer bar.

However, a weightlifting bar is the best option for front squats because it has less center knurling – so it won’t tear our neck apart like a power bar would.

Related Articles:

Barbell Negatives

A weightlifting barbell is likely not sport specific enough for those wanting to compete in powerlifting, because it may not be stable enough for powerlifting-style squats – especially as the weight we’re squatting gets heavier.

Who Should Use This Bar

A weightlifting bar is a great option for those who want to compete in weightlifting or crossfit, or else just prefer to train front squats more frequently.

A weightlifting bar may not be the best choice for those planning to compete in powerlifting or strongman competitions.

How Much Does This Barbell Weigh?

Weightlifting barbells are generally only sold in kilograms, and they have men and women’s bars. The men’s weightlifting bars weigh 20kg, and the women’s weightlifting bars weigh 15kg.

To learn more about the differences between squatting for powerlifting versus Olympic lifting, check out our article “Olympic Squat vs Powerlifting Squat: Differences, Pros & Cons”.

Bar Recommendations

Men’s Bars (20kg)

Rogue Pyrros bar

The best men’s olympic weightlifting bar is definitely the Rogue Pyrros bar that was designed by the legendary Pyrros Dimas who is the most decorated Olympic Weightlifter of all time. 

The bar is made of stainless steel with a slightly more aggressive knurling than its competitors, with a level of whip and spin tailored to Pyrros’ specifications. 

This bar was received so well by the weightlifting community that the International Weightlifting Community certified its use for international weightlifting competitions.

All that being said, the Pyrros bar is a higher price point than alot of lifter’s just starting out in weightlifting want to pay, so for these individuals I would recommend the Synergee Games Olympic Bar which is extremely affordable, but still has a good quality knurling, and the perfect amount of whip.

Ready my complete review of the Rogue Pyrros Barbell.

Women’s Bars (15kg)

For female weightlifters, I suggest the Rogue Bella Bar which is my favorite bar to train with – specifically the Pink Bella Bar which donates its proceeds to breast cancer research at Ohio’s State’s cancer research centre.

This in itself is enough for me to want to purchase the bar, but on top of that – it’s also a genuinely solid design that has the right amount of whip, and a moderate amount of knurling that we can maintain our grip, but not rip the skin off our hands. 

The bella bar has no center knurl which allows us to front squat, or catch the bar in a clean – without shredding our neck apart.

Related Article: Rogue Bella Barbell 2.0 Review (Tested With 100+ Workouts)

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.