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Squat with Confidence: The 6 Best Safety Squat Bars for Enhanced Performance

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

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Is your weightlifting game in desperate need of an upgrade? Are you constantly struggling to navigate through the never-ending minefield of heavy weights that seemingly keep going up and up? There’s no denying the effects that strength training and weight lifting can have on your body, and with the market seemingly being saturated with products claiming to be the next best thing, it can be hard to know what you actually need.

But among that thicket of equipment lies a gem that can help you take your powerlifting to the next level – a resilient safety squat bar to help with weight distribution and form. This specialized bar can be a game changer for the more advanced lifters, helping you target specific muscles while performing squat movements and allowing for a greater motion range.

A man using a safety squat bar at the gym
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In A Hurry? Here’s Our Best Picks

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RitFit Safety Squat Bar 700LBS, 2inch Sleeve Olympic Barbell with...
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Synergee 25kg Olympic Safety Squat Bar with Pad for Heavy Squats. 87”...
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image 135
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Safety Squat Bar [Bells of Steel] Safety Squat Barbell 4.0, Black Titanized...
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Product's nameBest Overall
Titan Safety Squat Olympic Bar V2
Great Alternative
Rogue SB-1 Safety Squat Bar
Budget Option
RitFit Safety Squat Bar 700LBS, 2inch Sleeve Olympic Barbell...
Best for Advanced Lifters
Synergee 25kg Olympic Safety Squat Bar with Pad for Heavy...
Best for Beginners
Marrs Bar
Most Versatile Option
Safety Squat Bar [Bells of Steel] Safety Squat Barbell 4.0,...
Final ThoughtIt's the perfect bar for anyone who wants to build strength and increase muscle mass, as well as athletes looking to step up their game and add a bit of variety to their routines.The sheer quality and performance of the Rogue SB-1 Safety Squat Bar make it a worthy investment for any serious athlete or weightlifter.If there was ever a viable option for people on a tight budget, the RitFit Safety Squat Bar would be it.The 5 inches of grip space and the reinforced alloy steel construction make this bar an ideal choice for experienced lifters and bodybuilders who need a heavy-duty barbell.The Marrs Bar has tight tolerances in terms of design and construction, which is where many of its appealing qualities come from.It's quite suitable for both novice and experienced lifters, as well as anyone who wants to add variety to their workouts without having to purchase additional equipment.
Maximum Weight Capacity1500 lbs1000 lbs700 lbs1000 lbs1200 lbs1500 lbs
MaterialsAlloy Steel with Chrome FinishSolid Steel with Cerakote FinishAlloy Steel with Chrome FinishAlloy Steel with Chrome or Phosphate FinishSolid Steel with Chrome FinishAlloy Steel with Zinc Finish
Length90.5'' with 16'' sleeves93' with 15.6'' sleeves87' with 14'' sleeves86.5'' with 11.25'' sleeves89'' with 13.5'' sleeves86.6'' with 11.5'' sleeves
Camber Parallel Drop5''5.5''4''5''5''4''
Price$$$$$$$$$$$
Learn moreSee at TitanSee at RogueSee at AmazonSee at AmazonSee at RogueSee at Amazon

Why You Should Trust BoxLife?

We’re proud to say that we’re a diverse and experienced team here at BoxLife. With our passion for weightlifting and strength training, we’ve had numerous encounters with all kinds of fitness equipment – from the good to the bad and everything in between. We’ve had countless disappointments along the road, but we’ve also had some pleasant surprises.

As such, we’ve made it our mission to bring the best of the best in terms of gym equipment, and safety bars are definitely on that list. We know the effects that a proper safety bar can have on an individual’s form and range of motion, and we’re determined to push the limits of what’s acceptable in the weightlifting world. We advocate for a positive user experience, along with proper safety protocols and guidelines.

Who Is This Guide for?

Anyone who wants to perform a range of exercises based on squats, deadlifts, and other movements with heavy weights, can benefit from using a safety bar. It helps those who are just starting out on their weightlifting journey and want to build the necessary core muscles, form and technique because of the balanced weight distribution. As for the more experienced lifters, this bar can help them get stronger and push the boundaries of their already established routine.

Our Top Pick
CAP Barbell - The Beast
Based on our testing, this is the best budget barbell for beginners. For less than 150$, you get a good, durable barbel made of Japanese stell with black matte finish. Frankly, it offers great value for money. It's also backed with an 1 year warranty.

How We Picked the Best Products?

While our own tests and assessment strategies were the backbone of our research, we needed a fully objective and unbiased system to properly review the various products. To achieve this, we took into consideration opinion-based reviews on the internet, namely through the discussion threads on Reddit and Quora. Here, users we’re more than willing to share their experiences and potential issues with each item, with comprehensive descriptions and rating metrics.

We also took into consideration the feedback from the general public as well, digging into customer reviews on major retailers like the Amazon Signature Fitness equipment section, as well as Titan and Rogue Fitness, in the hopes of finding a consensus on the best safety squat bar for home use. Each product was given a score based on the ratings provided by customers, and then compared against each other to determine which one had the highest average score. This helped us get a more comprehensive view of the market and determine which items were actually worth considering.

A man using the best safety squat bar at the gym
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How We Compared the Products

Once we had our shortlist of options, it was time to place an even playing field between them and get a better understanding of their features. Some manufacturers focus on aesthetics, while others prioritize functionality and performance, but they all had to satisfy the same criteria in order to make it onto our list of recommendations.

  • Material Quality and Durability – Weight lifting is inherently a dangerous activity, so we wanted to ensure that the bars we recommended were made from premium materials and had been tested for their sturdiness. Sometimes, even the slightest imperfection in the bar’s design and construction can have a negative effect on the user, so we wanted to leave no stone unturned when it comes to safety and quality.
  • Bar Finish – The base material is important, sure, but the coating that goes on top of it can dramatically increase or decrease its lifespan. From uncoated steel to chrome and black oxide finishes, each of these can have a direct impact on the bar’s overall performance. Some options prove to be much more durable than others, with specific finishes being better suited for repetitive and heavy loads.
  • Tensile Strength – This refers to the bar’s ability to resist bending under heavy loads. The higher the tensile strength, the better equipped it is to handle more weight in a safe manner. Even if a certain model ranks highly on this scale, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best choice for your workouts. Sometimes those with a lower tensile strength have greater flexibility and can be used more effectively in certain exercises.
  • Camber Angle – Next up is a metric that’s often overlooked but which can have a great impact on the user’s form and technique. The camber angle reflects the bar’s curvature, with some having an almost straight design, while others have a slightly curved shape. Depending on the type of exercises you’ll be performing, one may prove to be better than the other. A more pronounced camber can help you with squats, burpees and lunges, while a flatter angle might be better suited for overhead presses and curls.
  • Handle Diameter – How big a certain safety squat bar is, in terms of its handle diameter, plays a key role in its maneuverability and general feel. A narrower diameter often allows for greater control and better grip, but it may not be suitable for larger hands. On the other hand, stubby handles can provide better stability and feel more comfortable, but they can also make some exercises more difficult to perform.

The Products

When the preliminary rankings took place, we had a general overview of which model seemingly stood above the rest. From there, we got to testing and comparing each of them in more detail and, eventually, came up with our top picks for different categories and preferences.

Titan Safety Squat Olympic Bar V2 – Best Overall

The original Titan Safety Squat Bar had an underwhelming run – with an overly stiff base, poor quality finish, and a basic camber angle – it was far from being the best on the market. However, with the introduction of its successor, the Titan Safety Squat V2, this all changed. The brand took everything that was wrong with the original and improved upon it. The result? A high-quality bar that is both durable and comfortable to use, with superior craftsmanship and upgraded padding quality.

Pros

  • Heavy-duty vinyl covering that holds up well even under extreme
  • Removable handles with an ergonomic and tactile grip
  • Comfortable padding that feels great on the shoulders
  • Premium decorative chrome finish with stunning aesthetics

Cons

  • Lack of knurled handles
  • May not be as well-balanced as some of the other options

Key Specs

MaterialsAlloy Steel with Chrome Finish
Maximum Weight Capacity1500 lbs
Length90.5” with 16” sleeves
Camber Parallel Drop5”

Why It’s Great

The brand took learning from previous iterations and made the V2 into a powerhouse of safety squat bars. The alloy steel base is extremely durable and comes with a reinforced chrome finish, with sleek aesthetics and improved protection against rust and corrosion. The closed-cell foam pads on the shoulders and arms connect snugly to the handles for better comfort and breathability, while the rubber ends on both sides provide additional protection.

While there’s no knurling on the handles, they are contoured and textured for better maneuverability. The upgraded padding feels great on the skin, with a cleverly designed pattern that helps increase breathability and prevent sweat buildup. It’s a single-piece construction that comes in at 61 lbs in total, which is more than enough for most training routines.

As for the weight distribution, the bar feels quite stable and balanced, although it may lack the precision of higher-end models. It can support up to 1500 lbs in total weight, which is certainly a hefty number but it performs remarkably well at lower and moderate weights too. The 22-degree camber design keeps the weight plates at a neutral position, without compromising on the grip and overall form.

In terms of the 16-inch loadable sleeve length, it offers plenty of room for various weight plates and attachments, while the chrome-plated finish prevents oxidation and deterioration when exposed to moisture. There’s a 2-inch lining of high-density foam along the edges of the bar to prevent sliding and rattling, while the overall construction feels stable and reliable in the hands. You have more than enough room to use with various attachments and grip-strengthening aids, such as collars, straps and more.

Who It’s Best For

The Titan Safety Squat Olympic Bar V2 offers fantastic value for money, with a sturdy construction and robust performance. It strikes an excellent balance between cost-effectiveness and quality, with exceptional craftsmanship and impressive overall design. It’s the perfect bar for anyone who wants to build strength and increase muscle mass, as well as athletes looking to step up their game and add a bit of variety to their routines. With its impressive weight capacity and clever padding, it has enough versatility to accommodate any type of exercise.

Rogue SB-1 Safety Squat Bar – Great Alternative

In the runner-up position, the Rogue Safety Squat Bar features a fully-welded construction and a lengthened design to accommodate more weight plates and attachments. It has a premium feel and a solid feel in the hands, with a high-quality finish and delightful aesthetics. The all-black design is certainly eye-catching, while the wide diameter of the handles allows for a more comfortable grip and better control across various exercises, including an Olympic barbell.

Pros

  • Premium all-black cerakote finish with clever details
  • Curved handles with excellent padding resilience
  • Single-welded design with enhanced strength and stability
  • Increased sleeve length for better weight balance and distribution

Cons

  • Slightly heavier than the standard safety squat bar
  • Cerakote sleeves may get scuffed up over time

Key Specs

MaterialsSolid Steel with Cerakote Finish
Maximum Weight Capacity1000 lbs
Length93′ with 15.6” sleeves
Camber Parallel Drop5.5”

Why It’s Great

Rogue Fitness is one of those brands that always deliver top-notch quality and performance, and the SB-1 Safety Squat Bar is just as impressive. The fully welded construction ensures increased strength and stability, with a total weight of about 70 lbs. It has an all-black finish with a delightful cerakote coating that not only looks great but also prevents oxidation and corrosion. Despite being a bit prone to scuffing, it still holds up remarkably well over longer periods of time.

Moreover, the external rotation of the bar is more open than most traditional squat bars, with a 35-degree angle that effectively keeps your wrists in a more neutral position. It doesn’t necessarily improve performance, but it does make some exercises – such as box squats and Zercher lifts – a bit easier to perform. There’s sufficient padding on the arms and shoulders to provide better grip and comfort, while two additional bands at the back allow for more stability when lifting heavy or moderate weights.

As far as the camber parallel angle goes, the 5.5-inch drop helps you target different muscle groups and build body strength across different exercises. The spacing between the handles is a comfortable 10 inches, with a wide diameter that allows for a more stable grip when executing various movements. With its resilient construction and clever engineering, the weight is distributed evenly and without any issues whatsoever.

Perhaps the standout feature of this model is the high-density foam that lines the edges of the bar for better protection. It helps to reduce rattling and prevent any unnecessary sliding, while also making sure that the plates contain enough weight to mimic a reliable squat. Despite having slightly shorter sleeves at 15.6 inches, it can still handle up to 1000 lbs in total weight with impressive stability and balance. Each end is capped with high-density rubber for improved protection and a more tactile grip.

Who It’s Best For

The sheer quality and performance of the Rogue SB-1 Safety Squat Bar make it a worthy investment for any serious athlete or weightlifter. Its sturdy base and robust construction bring an unmatched level of stability and strength, with a sleek design that looks fantastic in any gym or fitness center. If you want a heavy-duty bar that doesn’t compromise on aesthetics and looks, this could be the ideal match for you, despite having a slightly steeper asking price.

RitFit Safety Squat Bar – Budget Option

While there are general apprehensions about buying budget-friendly equipment, the RitFit Safety Squat Bar proves that you can get a decent product without having to break the bank. It is far from the worst specialty bars we’ve ever seen, and it won’t let you down when it comes to quality either. Its minimalist yet effective design looks great in any workout environment, while the robust construction ensures stability and resilience.

Pros

  • Relatively cheap safety squat bar with decent performance
  • Solid padding quality and an ergonomic design
  • Lightweight yet sturdy steel construction
  • Can handle lighter loads with impressive ease

Cons

  • Limited weight capacity may not be enough for some users
  • Some users may experience a padding issue over time

Key Specs

MaterialsAlloy Steel with Chrome Finish
Maximum Weight Capacity700 lbs
Length87′ with 14” sleeves
Camber Parallel Drop4”

Why It’s Great

If there was ever a viable option for people on a tight budget, the RitFit Safety Squat Bar would be it. It’s not as fancy or robust as some of its more expensive cousins, but it definitely delivers in terms of finish resistance, durability and overall performance. It weighs just around 44 lbs, which makes it one of the lightest safety squat bars on the market. Don’t let its airy design fool you, though – it’s surprisingly strong and sturdy when it comes to lighter loads, with a weight capacity of about 700 lbs.

Additionally, the steel base has a respectable 1.2-inch diameter, with fitted pads that are pleasant to the touch and provide sufficient cushioning during exercises. In terms of handle length, they’re a bit shorter than most other models, which could pose an issue for some users. But for the most part, they’re comfortable enough to keep your wrists in a comfortable position and ensure even spacing between the handles during lifts. Plus, the handles themselves are completely removable for more convenient storage and transportation.

The molded polyurethane padding covers the central part of the bar, and while it’s not the most resilient padding we’ve seen, it still offers a considerable amount of support and cushioning. The bar itself is finished with a black powder coating, which does a great job of keeping the steel protected from oxidation and maintaining its attractive black and chrome look.

Perhaps the most useful feature of this model is the medium knurling on the base that gives you a better grip when doing exercises. This is especially useful when working with lighter weights since the extra grip prevents any slipping and brings more stability to the mix. Keep in mind though, that the central area of the bar is approximately 15 inches, which could be a bit too wide for users with narrower builds.

Who It’s Best For

If you’re on a budget but want to perform safety bar squats with confidence, the RitFit Safety Squat Bar should be your top choice. It’s a great entry-level product that provides decent performance and a durable finish, along with the necessary protection and comfort to complete your workouts. It’s suitable for users of all sizes, although some may find the wider handle distance a bit too much for their build. In any case, it’s still an affordable bar that will get the job done without compromising on quality or performance.

Synergee Olympic Safety Squat Bar – Best for Advanced Lifters

Dubbed the tenured specialists in the fitness and weightlifting world, the Synergee Olympic Safety Squat Bar is a heavy-duty piece of equipment that’s built like a tank and has all the features you’d expect from a top-notch product. With an impressive 1,000 lbs weight capacity and a carefully-crafted design that oozes quality, this is the model to go for if you’re an experienced lifter who needs a reliable bar for heavy-duty exercises.

Pros

  • Classic safety and performance-based design
  • Durable construction and a stable base
  • High-density foam and rubber sleeves for extra protection
  • Convenient knurl pattern for better grip and control

Cons

  • Quite expensive given its features
  • Some users report poor padding placement upon arrival

Key Specs

MaterialsAlloy Steel with Chrome or Phosphate Finish
Maximum Weight Capacity1000 lbs
Length86.5” with 11.25” sleeves
Camber Parallel Drop5”

Why It’s Great

Along with Olympic sleeves and competition-grade bars, the Synergee Olympic Safety Squat Bar brings an admirable level of quality and reliability to the gym. The horizontal pull-up handles are incredibly tactile and responsive to the touch, with cleverly positioned knurling that gives you maximum grip and control. It doesn’t wobble or shift in the slightest when loaded, thanks to the heavy-duty 1.5-inch steel base and thoughtful construction that eliminates any unnecessary movement.

Speaking of the base, the alloy steel construction ensures that this bar can handle even the toughest workout sessions without breaking a sweat. It has an impressive weight capacity of 1,000 lbs, which is more than enough for any experienced lifter, and the padded central area ensures maximum protection during exercises. The padding itself isn’t particularly special – it’s made of high-density foam and rubber sleeves – but it does what it’s supposed to and offers support in all the right areas.

Our Top Pick
CAP Barbell - The Beast
Based on our testing, this is the best budget barbell for beginners. For less than 150$, you get a good, durable barbel made of Japanese stell with black matte finish. Frankly, it offers great value for money. It's also backed with an 1 year warranty.

While the sleeves are a bit shorter than you’d normally expect from a professional-grade bar, they still offer enough length to perform all the standard barbell and Olympic exercises. The knurling on the base is also slightly more aggressive compared to other bars in this category, but it doesn’t feel uncomfortable on the skin. Instead, it lightly grips onto your hands and helps you stay in control even when dealing with extreme loads and intense sessions.

This particular model is available in both a Chrome and Phosphate finish, with the former having more of a matte look and the latter being slightly shinier. The chrome finish also helps keep the bar rust-free for longer periods of time, which is arguably more important than aesthetics. Either way, Syngergee has a relatively simplistic approach to all of its products, and this bar is no different. You get what you pay for, both in terms of durability and expected results.

Who It’s Best For

The 5 inches of grip space and the reinforced alloy steel construction make this bar an ideal choice for experienced lifters and bodybuilders who need a heavy-duty barbell. It’s arguably a mammoth of a bar, and it’s quite expensive by most standards. But if you’re looking for maximum protection and stability during squats, lunges, presses and explosive box squats from an upright trunk position, then this bar is worth every penny. Keep in mind, however, that the shorter sleeves may not be suitable for taller users or anyone with broader shoulders.

Marrs Bar – Best for Beginners

Healthy lifters who are just starting their weightlifting journey should opt for the Marrs Bar if they want a safer option for squats and similar exercises. This bar features a distinct backpack-like shape across the neck and shoulders, which is a striking difference from the classic straight bars we’re all used to. The unique design keeps the weight centered and evenly spaced along the spine, providing more stability and balance throughout the lift and a better alignment of the body in the bottom position.

Pros

  • Unique design for better stability and balance
  • Excellent foam with layers of padding across the shoulders
  • High-tension steel construction with superior knurling
  • Facilitates better weight distribution and a comfortable position

Cons

  • 45-degree camber drop may feel awkward at first
  • The most expensive option on this list

Key Specs

MaterialsSolid Steel with Chrome Finish
Maximum Weight Capacity1200 lbs
Length89” with 13.5” sleeves
Camber Parallel Drop5”

Why It’s Great

A fully molded polyurethane padding on the Marrs Bar is by far the biggest selling point here. The padding is thick and soft, but it also provides the necessary support to keep your body upright during the exercise. This helps to reduce stress and strain on the lower back, providing a much more natural experience than with regular safety squat bars. The shape of the bar itself is also beneficial as it allows for a more upright torso and greater range of motion.

This American barbell has a total of 7 inches of space between the inner padding and the outer frame, which is certainly a plus if you have wider shoulders. The bar relies on a signature weight distribution system which keeps the load centered on the spine and evenly spread across the neck, shoulders and arms. The inherent level of security this design feature offers is almost unparalleled – your body won’t strain even during the most intense workouts. You can even do hands-free squats and lunges without any worries since the harness-like shape of the bar will keep everything in place.

What’s more, the Marrs Bar is made from high-tension steel and comes with a knurling pattern across the entire bar. This is undoubtedly a huge advantage for any beginner lifter, as it will help to maintain a secure grip regardless of the weight load. The 45-degree camber drop is a bit steep, so it may take some getting used to. But once you adjust to the form, you’ll find that this bar is ideally suited for low-impact exercises such as squats, lunges and box jumps.

As for the finish, the black oxide coating offers superior rust protection but also gives the bar a sleek, modern look. It doesn’t chip or wear off easily, which is certainly a plus if you’re looking for something robust that could stand up to a lot of wear and tear. Plus, the vinyl-wrapped finish also helps to keep the bar clean and free from sweat and grime. It may not be the cheapest option out there, but it brings a lot of value to the table regardless.

Who It’s Best For

The Marrs Bar has tight tolerances in terms of design and construction, which is where many of its appealing qualities come from. It’s a fantastic option for beginners, as the natural shape of the bar makes it easier to learn and master proper form without worrying about weight distribution. Plus, it’s a great choice for anyone who wants greater stability and balance during their workouts without putting too much strain on their lower back. It’s a bit expensive when compared to other models, but for those who want a full-body experience with their barbell exercises, this is an investment worth making.

Bells of Steel Safety Squat Bar – Most Versatile Option

This all-around safety squat bar by Bells of Steel stands apart from most other models thanks to its adjustable padding and handles, which automatically give the user more room to maneuver the bar and modify their position as needed. The bar comes with three sets of handles – a long and a shorter pair, as well as a chain-based version – which can be adjusted depending on the user’s size, type of exercise and even level of experience.

Pros

  • Removable padding and handles for greater exercise variety
  • High-density carpet padding provides superior comfort
  • Excellent knurling with a moderately aggressive grip
  • Decent camber lengths across the length of the bar

Cons

  • Shorter sleeves may not be appropriate for wider plates
  • May not be as well-balanced for hands-free lifts

Key Specs

MaterialsAlloy Steel with Zinc Finish
Maximum Weight Capacity1500 lbs
Length86.6” with 11.5” sleeves
Camber Parallel Drop4”

Why It’s Great

This lighter safety bar squat comes with an admirable level of versatility packed into a more compact size than most of the other models featured here. It brings together all the features of a premium barbell, such as the knurling pattern and the camber length, while also introducing adjustable handles and removable padding. The central steel frame feels sturdy and can handle a fairly generous amount of weight, with the silver and black contrasting of the zinc-coated finish adding a touch of style to the whole package.

Moreover, the carpet padding on each of the handles is thick and dense, providing a soft cushion against the skin while still giving enough grip to maintain a secure hold on the bar. The knurling pattern is also quite remarkable – it’s not overly aggressive, but it does provide enough traction for a safe and secure grip, with sufficient ridges to keep things from slipping. It doesn’t irritate the skin during long lifts or cause any blisters like some of the more aggressive patterns.

While the 22-degree camber parallel drop meets the industry standard for safety bars, it does fall a bit short in terms of overall length. While this may not be a problem for many users, it’s worth noting that the sleeves may not be wide enough to fit wider plates. That being said, the three different handle options make it easier to adjust the bar to best suit your needs, whether you’re lifting heavy or going for a lighter workout. Even the lightest chain option feels quite solid and reliable, so you can rest assured that your form is in good hands.

Additionally, the edges are assembled with additional bushings and snap rings, with reinforced ends and welded brackets for added security. This bar is designed to last thanks to its meticulously crafted quality, and you won’t have to worry about any kind of breakage or wear and tear even after years of heavy use. The only downside is probably the signature 1.2-inch sleeve diameter which requires a specific clip to secure the plates, which could be a bit of an inconvenience if you don’t already have it in your toolkit.

Who It’s Best For

If you want more control over the range of exercises you perform – from box heights and widths to handle lengths – then you’ll find all kinds of value in this bar. It’s one of the few models on the market that has adjustable handles and removable padding, along with decent tensile strength and an impressive camber length. It’s quite suitable for both novice and experienced lifters, as well as anyone who wants to add variety to their workouts without having to purchase additional equipment.

A type of safety squat bar on a white background
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The Buying Guide

It wouldn’t be a complete guide to the best safety squat bars without a few pointers on what to look for when shopping for one. Of course, manufacturers make a wide range of models to cater for different types of lifters and budgets, so it pays to do some research before settling on a particular model. But before you even do that, you’d need to understand the specific benefits this type of bar brings to the table.

Benefits of Safety Squat Bars

Regardless of what your fitness level or goals are at the moment, there are some universal benefits to using this particular piece of equipment. If you practice proper form and regular maintenance, you’ll be able to achieve the following:

  • More Accurate Workouts – When you have a performance safety squat bar in your hands, you can be sure that it won’t twist or bend under heavy weight, as this type of bar is designed to stay still throughout your entire workout session. This allows the user to maintain perfect form and stay safe in the process. Many of us don’t have proper wrist mobility or shoulder strength to perform the classic barbell squat, and a good safety squat bar is designed to help you overcome these issues.
  • Lower Back Comfort – This part of your body is very delicate and can easily be injured if you don’t take the proper precautions. When you’re dealing with heavy loads, the majority of the weight is distributed to your lower back and legs, which could potentially lead to pain and discomfort if you don’t have the right support. A good safety squat bar helps spread out the weight evenly, resulting in less stress on your spine and joints.
  • Improved Squat Performance – By getting the right balance between shoulder width, back angle, and grip, you can easily achieve your fitness goals with greater efficiency. The safety squat bar also helps improve the mobility, flexibility and stability of the lifter while they perform their exercises, with greater control over the bar path and descent. This piece of equipment is a fantastic option for rehab exercises as well, as it facilitates correct posture and better muscle activation.
  • Weakness-Specific Training – By adjusting the angle and width of the bar, you can target specific areas in your body that need more work. You can either increase or decrease the resistance in your weak areas, depending on what you need. This effectively minimizes the chances of weight bias and gives you a better chance of achieving the results you’re aiming for. Plus, you avoid overworking your weaker muscles, which can lead to an imbalance in the body.
  • Boosts Unconventional Exercises – With a safety squat bar, you can perform a load of deadlift alternatives, such as the Jefferson lift and Zercher squat. Not only is this particularly useful for femur lifters, but it also helps strengthen your grip and core muscles, providing a more well-rounded workout. You get more freedom to explore different exercises and try out new movements that you wouldn’t normally do with a traditional barbell.
A man using a safety squat bar at the gym with Titan plates
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Source: Titan Fitness

With the main perks of this kind of workout out of the way, it’s time to focus on which aspects of a safety transformer bar you need to keep in mind. Some models have greater tensile strength than others, while some offer more adjustable setups for added convenience. You need to compare this to your own needs and budget to make the right decision.

Steel Quality

While many of the products feature a stainless steel base with a specialized finish for corrosion resistance, the steel quality is still a vital factor to consider. The thicker the steel, the better it can handle high-intensity exercises and heavy weights – you don’t want to go for something that can easily crack or bend under stress.

Look for models that have a minimum thickness of 1.25 inches, and preferably even higher. This will ensure that you’re getting a strong and durable bar with plenty of safety features to protect your body during your workout. But if you go overboard in the thickness department, then you might find yourself dealing with a heavier bar than you were expecting. Keep an eye on the product specifications to make sure that everything is in order.

Moreover, there are subtle differences between sold and alloy steel that you should take into consideration. Sold steel is usually heavier and more durable, with better corrosion resistance and tensile strength. But it’s also more expensive than regular steel, with more complex manufacturing techniques that add to the overall cost. The alloy variety is more affordable, but it’s also less durable and has poorer corrosion resistance.

Either way, you may see a black powder coat finish or a zinc coating on the steel, both of which can help with better durability and corrosion resistance. They don’t compromise the integrity of the steel base underneath and can be a great way to extend the life of your equipment. Whether or not this is something you need depends on the type of environment you’re using it in.

For outdoor use, a zinc coating is usually preferred due to its superior weather resistance and corrosion protection. Consistent contact with moisture and other elements can lead to the steel deteriorating over time, but a zinc coating is designed to prevent that from happening. On the other hand, indoors usually don’t require this extra layer of protection, so you can go for something else that won’t add to the overall cost.

Sleeve Drop

This is directly related to the camber parallel angle, which is the distance between the front and back of the bar. In other words, it reflects how far away the handles are from each other. The easier it is to lift the bar, the more suitable it will be for advanced lifters and heavier loads.

In most cases, a 5-6 inch drop is suitable for most lifters, and this would give you sufficient room to maneuver your body without having to worry about the bar getting in the way. If you’re a beginner, then the higher sleeve drop can be an advantage too since it allows you to adjust the bar into different positions in a more comfortable manner. If you want to go shorter, then you can do so up to 4 inches.

A weightlifter lifting plates with a safety squat bar
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Yoke Design

The SS Yoke is the part of the bar that falls directly on your shoulders as you perform the exercise. It’s crucial to make sure that the yoke is comfortable when you’re performing your workout, as this will determine how well you can perform the squat and the exact position of the bar as you lift.

The best models feature an ergonomic design that caters to different body types, with padded shoulders using a vinyl-coated foam for cushioning. Thicker cushioning doesn’t automatically mean more comfort, as some lifters prefer lighter padding with higher durability. If it’s too thick, it can get in the way during your exercise by limiting your range of motion.

For instance, the Rogue SB-1 bar has a balanced approach to the padding, as it’s thick enough to remain comfortable but not so thick that it gets in the way. It has a reinforced outer shell around the edges to ensure a secure and ergonomic fit, while the cosy and comfortable design helps reduce the risk of injury.

Grip Width

The grip width reflects how easy it is for you to hold the bar while performing a squat. This is especially important if you have narrow shoulders or a smaller frame, as you need the bar to be as close to your body as possible. Most models come with a standard grip width of almost 28 inches, with sufficient padding and cushioning around the handles to provide comfort during your workout.

The best safety squat bar is one that fits your body correctly and offers the best grip for your hands. If you’re a beginner, then start with a narrow stance and gradually increase the width as you gain more experience and confidence. Your starting position should be wide enough for your hands to reach the middle of the bar, and this will help you achieve a stable base while lifting.

If you move to a wider stance and your hands aren’t able to reach the middle of the bar anymore, then you should find another model that offers more space for your hands to grab the bar. Anything above 28 inches is considered wide, and this might be too much for most people. Even if you’re an advanced lifter, going for something narrower would be advisable, as it’s easier to control and maintain good form.

An athlete using a safety squat bar in front of a squat rack
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Source: Titan Fitness

Handle Type

There’s no doubt that bad handles can ruin your whole workout, as they can be uncomfortable and awkward to grip even if the yoke fits perfectly. It doesn’t matter if they have sufficient cushioning or if you’re left with skimpy padding across the handles – if they’re not designed to be comfortable, then you won’t enjoy your workout.

In most cases, you’ll find curved handles rather than straight ones. This helps with the grip and overall stability, thanks to the ergonomic design and carefully crafted slopes. The Rogue SB-1 and the top-rated Titan Safety Squat bar have great handles that are angled flawlessly, so you can comfortably grab the base of the bar with minimal effort.

As for straight and stubby handles, these are usually reserved for heavier weights and more complex movements. They’re also perfect if you have to switch between different exercises during your workout session, due to their versatility and greater user control. Of course, the knurling plays a big role here too, as it helps ensure that you don’t slip out of the grip while performing your exercises.

Medium patterns are usually the ideal choice when it comes to knurling, as they provide a secure grip without being too aggressive. Having bad padding and knurling on the handles can lead to a painful workout, with the most common complaint being sore hands and wrists. If the pattern is too aggressive and the cushioning lacks comfort, then it’s time to search for a different model.

Adjustability

This goes hand in hand with the weight capacity, as you want to make sure that the bar is compatible with your existing setup. Safety squat bars usually feature a specific range of weights that are suitable for the model, and these are usually highlighted in the product description. Anything that goes above the specified range might void the warranty, so it’s always better to play it safe and stick to the recommended weight.

If you’re looking for something with greater adjustability, then go for models that offer add-on weight plates that can be added or removed as needed. This is especially useful if you don’t want to buy a new bar every time you want to increase or decrease the weight. Think about the kind of exercise routine you want to pursue and choose a model that can accommodate your goals.

In addition, you need to look out for the inch in sleeve length parameter, as it determines the number of plates you can load and the overall stability of the bar. If you’re looking to perform powerlifting exercises, then the sleeve length should be at least 18 inches so that you can add enough plates to make a noticeable difference in your performance. If there’s not enough room for everything you want to fit on the bar, then it’s time to switch models.

If you get the pound conversion wrong or load too much weight on the bar, then you risk damaging it or even worse – injuring yourself. If there’s a greater degree of adjustability, then you can easily switch between different exercises and load the bar with varying weights. Anything that’s limited in this regard is best avoided, as it will limit the number of exercises you can do and reduce your overall gains.

Most plates come in 30-70 pounds increments, with smaller sizes being available depending on the model. If you want to stay safe, then it’s best to go for something between 50-70 pounds as an absolute maximum. Of course, smaller increments are always better as they make it easier to track your progress and upgrade your gear when needed.

A woman using a safety squat bar in front of a squat rack
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Source: Titan Fitness

Assembly Time

Even if this is a once-off procedure, you still don’t want to spend hours putting things together. Most models are designed for simple assembly, with minimal tools and no complex components. All you need to do is attach the weight plates, tighten a few screws, and you’re ready to go – it really doesn’t get much easier than that. Of course, there’s no time world record that you need to beat, but you should at least be looking for something that won’t take more than an hour to put together.

Whether this is a one-man or a two-man job depends entirely on the model, but in most cases, you can pull off the whole process without additional help. Some manufacturers send out their products pre-assembled, which is definitely a plus if you don’t want to waste time trying to figure out how everything fits together. But keep in mind that getting the bar into your workout space might be tricky, as many of them have longer lengths and can’t fit through narrow doorways.

Price and Warranty

Any yoke safety squat bar that’s based on a solid steel construction will inherently be more expensive, due to the higher production costs. Some brands are more affordable than others, while some manufacturers also offer special discounts and bundles if you buy specific products.

But at the end of the day, you get what you pay for – cheaper models will definitely have certain compromises in terms of quality and adjustability. Nonetheless, you can still find decent products in the budget range if you do a thorough comparison between all the available options.

As for the warranty, it’s not uncommon to come across lifetime warranties on some of the higher-end models. This is especially true for the bars manufactured by well-known brands, as they’re confident in their product quality and want to attract more customers. Even if you don’t get a lifetime warranty, at least look for a model that’s covered for at least one year, so that you can get a replacement in case something goes wrong.

FAQs About Safety Squat Bars

Is it better to squat with a safety bar?

Given the natural shape of the bar, it can be more comfortable to perform squats with a safety squat bar than with a traditional Olympic one. This is because it helps keep your spine in a better posture during the exercise, which can reduce the risk of injury and promote better gains. It’s not necessarily better, but it’s definitely a safer option.

What weight are safety squat bars?

It depends on the length and overall construction of the bar. Most models start at around 20 pounds and can go up to 60-70 pounds, depending on how much weight you want to add. There are also small increments available, so you can adjust the weight as needed and make sure that it meets your specific needs. Lighter models are usually better for beginners, while heavier versions are more suitable for intermediate and advanced lifters.

Can you bench with safety bars?

Absolutely – the design of the safety bar allows you to perform a variety of exercises that involve pushing and pulling motions. You can use it for bench presses, overhead presses, rows, and other upper-body exercises without any issues. The only downside is that the weight plates may not provide enough stability for certain movements, so you’ll have to use a spotter if you want everything to go smoothly.

About

Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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