When you visit the gym, you’re confronted with a wide array of equipment in various shapes and sizes, designed to tone different parts of the body. Knowing how to use an item of equipment is important to ensure your body gains the most benefits from it, but also to prevent any injuries from occurring.
Lifting bars are a staple feature of any gym, forming an essential part of any bodybuilder’s repertoire, but there are various types to choose from.
This is probably the most frequently-used weightlifting barbell you’ll find in a gym. It typically measures 7.2ft long (for men) and 6.5ft (for women), with an inch diameter. These bars are normally used for exercises such as deadlifts, squats, bench presses or any movement that demands power or strength. It’s important to note where the grooved part of the bar is, which assists with gripping, as this can influence the type of exercise it’s better suited to. Additionally, assess the whip or bend in the bar, as this can bear some of the weight for you when you lift. These bars offer great versatility for every level of bodybuilder.
These bars look fairly similar to the standard bars but have a few defining features. They have a standard 2-inch diameter and can only be used with Olympic weights. They’re made from steel and have more whip than standard bars, enabling weightlifters to improve their starting position or get a better lift upward during squats or clean and jerk exercises. Olympic bars also have a collar that spins to aid with lifting and reducing pressure from the wrists and arms. A bodybuilder would use an Olympic bar for the same exercises as a standard bar, but with more weight added.
EZ curl bar
This bent-shaped, short and lightweight bar is designed to isolate muscles during bicep and tricep extensions. The angled shape of the bar makes it more comfortable for placing your hands, thus taking stress off your wrists.
Trap or hex bar
You get inside the middle of this bar, so that you’re in the bar’s centre of gravity. A trap bar has four sides in a diamond shape, while a hex bar has six sides resembling a hexagon. This bar is mainly used for deadlifts, and by being in the centre of the bar, you can correctly position yourself, without putting strain on your joints. This bar has handles for an easy grip, so is ideal for beginner weightlifters. It can also be used for exercises such as push-ups, squat jumps and overhead presses.
Tricep or Swiss bar
Oval in shape with two metal bars going through it, the tricep or Swiss bar is geared towards upper body exercises, such as tricep extensions, curling, pressing or rowing. It has a neutral grip, which reduces strain on the shoulders.
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