What Is A Safety Squat Bar?
Let us talk about the Safety Squat Bar.
If you have never seen one of these bars before you can check it out here. You may also have seen one of the bars hanging around your gym but you are not exactly sure why you should use it. Maybe you are someone that is considering purchasing one of the bars but you are sitting on the fence not exactly sure if it's going to be appropriate for you.
It's not my job to tell you whether this bar is something you should be using or something that you should consider purchasing.
What I do want to do is try and talk about the safety squat bar and uncover some of its benefits so that you can make a more educated decision for yourself. You can determine whether it is going to be appropriate for you or not.
What Are The Advantages Of Using A Safety Squat Bar?
Now, the best way I can describe this bar is if you imagine the front squat and the back squat came together and they had a baby, this is probably what their kid would turn out looking like.
It is a hybrid between the front squats and the back squat. The bar is going to be sitting on our back but we will be gripping the bar that protrudes in front of us like we would a front squat.
Let us compare the use of this bar between those two movements (front and back squat) starting with the front squat.
The obvious benefit is that the Safety Squat Bar has nice, thick, delicious pads that are going to protect both our neck and our shoulders which is going to be much more comfortable than what it would be if we were going to place a barbell on our shoulders.
If you have ever done front squats, I'm sure you would agree it is not the most comfortable of all movements. The pads make it a whole lot more comfortable.
You will also note that we have the ability to hold onto the handles, as opposed to using that clean grip position like we would in a front squat, or even that crossed arms position.
It can be really difficult to maintain if you do not have a really strong upper back or great mobility throughout your thoracic spine.
What often happens when people perform the front squat is that they tip forward. Then the upper back or the abdominal, which are both very much engaged in a front squat, will give way before the legs give way.
That situation means that you were not actually able to stimulate the legs or the quads as much as you should. Which results in not having as much strain or limitation as we would have if the bar was just resting on our shoulders.
The Safety Squat Bar is not going to roll off our body as easily as it would with an ordinary bar if we were going to be performing a regular front squat.
That's some of the advantages that this bar might have over the front squat.
If we compare the use of this bar in a back squat the big obvious difference is that we are going to be holding the bar out in front of us, as opposed to trying to hold the bar on our back.
This is actually the reason why the Safety Squat Bar was invented. It was invented for people that had significant shoulder issues that couldn't actually manage an overhead press position.
If they had a really difficult time externally rotating their shoulders due to injuries or due to tight muscle groups, then this bar became the solution because it meant that they could put a bar on their back continue and squat without being limited by shoulder issues if they were experiencing those.
It means that we get to hold onto the bar and overcome any sort of mobility issues that we might have on the shoulders.
If you are someone that does struggle to put a bar on your back, then this bar could be the best solution for you.
Importance Of The Cambered Design Of The Safety Squat Bar
The other massive difference with this bar compared to other bars used for squats is that there is actually a bend in the bar. The bar is cambered, it is positioned firstly lower and slightly forward.
So what is it going to do? Well by positioning the weight lower, it is going to shorten the lever, shorten the distance between the hips where the weight is distributed.
It is important because it should, in theory, reduce the amount of pressure surrounding these muscle groups and should reduce the amount of strain in the lower back.
The more distance that we have in a lever, the more it is exposed and the more pressure it is put under. By shortening that distance, it's actually going to reduce some of the pressure that we would experience through this area.
If you are someone that's often limited by lower back pain when performing a regular back squat, then you might find that this bar actually helps a lot with that because it does shorten the distance.
By positioning the weight further forward as well, it means that the weight is going to be distributed more in the midline of our body. If we were to put the bar on our back, it's going to be distributed behind our body. If we put the bar on our front, the weight is predominantly going to be distributed in front of our body.
Whereas the middle of our body is kind of in between. It sets the bar or the weight in the midline of our body which should, in theory, allow us to maintain a more upright position when we perform the squat.
So, when we compare both the front squat and the back squat it means that we are not going to have the same limitation that we would with the front squat that is having the bar roll off our shoulders. With the back squat, we are not going to have the same limitation of having our lower back concaving or putting additional strain and, thus, becoming the main issue that we have.
This bar situates the weight in a better position for us to load the legs slightly more effectively. Hopefully, you can see the differences between the front squat and the back squat with this bar. By now, you can conceptualize how this could be the unborn child of those two movements.
Who Should Be Using It?
Now, who should be using it?
Well, let us start with bodybuilders. We have talked a lot about how the Safety Squat Bar can help emphasize more of the quadriceps and remove some of the limitations that we might experience with a normal front squat and back squat.
For fellow bodybuilders, it could be very much advantageous for us to target quadriceps more. Keeping in mind with bodybuilding, our goal is to stimulate specific muscle groups rather than just perform a movement pattern. The goal should never be to just go from point A to point B like it would in either powerlifting or strongman.
With bodybuilding, we are trying to emphasize a specific muscle group. In the situation that we were trying to emphasize it is the quadriceps. In such a case, then the safety squat bar could be really good for that reason.
Powerlifters And Strongmen
Now, moving on to powerlifters and the strong men. Could this bar be appropriate? I think it absolutely could. Powerlifters often get beat up especially in their shoulders from a lot of low bar squatting. This becomes a fantastic alternative in the off-season.
If you are not currently working towards or close to a competition, then this bar can be a great way to give the shoulders a bit of a break. It can also be a great way to change up the training so it doesn't become quite as stale. Instead of always loading a bar on your back and always doing the same old movements. Sometimes a bit of variety can be a great way just to enhance or increase your levels of motivation.
Now for strongman, this bar is probably going to be much more relevant given that it's closely represented to many strongman's events such a picking up a big Atlas Stone for example.
The upper back muscles are very much going to be involved in many of those events and this bar heavily loads the upper back. We talked about how it reduces the load and lower back but it does actually distribute more load in the upper back much as a front squat would.
Lastly, the person that this could be appropriate for are people with shoulder mobility issues. If you are struggling to get a bar on your back, then this really could be a great alternative for you as well.
Although the bar is called a Safety Squat Bar we can do other movements outside of just normal squats. We can use it for things like lunges and good mornings as well. It does have some versatility in that regard.
Hopefully, that gives you a bit of information and a bit of clarity around why this bar could be effective.
You can determine by now whether it is a bar that you should be using or whether it is something that you should consider purchasing for your home gym.
I'm obviously a big fan of the bar and having a bit of variety. If you see my back wall, you will see that we have a few specialty bars which I think will be a great way to mix up your training.
Training really should be fun to some degree. When you are performing the same old movements over and over again, it can become a little bit monotonous and a little bit boring. By having a few things to change things up, even just psychologically outside of all of the physical benefits we discussed here it can be well worth it just from that perspective.
Definitely, something to consider. If you are interested in anything else, let us know. I hope you enjoyed this one.