A squat bar is a type of standard weight bar.
As a standard weight bar, the squat bar you’re most likely to find on the rack at your local gym weighs the same amount as other standard weight bars –
44 pounds (20 kg)
This is the Olympic standard for powerlifting bars and the weight bar designed for use by (most) men.
Smaller Squat Bar Weights
Like most things at the gym, one size of squat bar doesn’t fit all. So, weight bar manufacturers have designed bars with non-stereotypical weightlifters in mind.
Squat bars designed for women weigh less than standard bars at –
33 pounds (15 kg)
While junior weight bars weigh –
22 pounds (10 kg)
But lower weights aren’t the only thing that distinguish women’s and junior weight bars from standard weight bars. One might argue the weight of a bar isn’t even the most important difference.
Women’s and junior squat bars also have smaller grips.
The grip diameter on a women’s/junior squat bar is typically –
The grip diameter on a men’s/standard squat bar is typically –
The smaller diameters of women’s and junior squat bars have the biggest impact on how well (and how much) women, younger weightlifters, and men with smaller hands can lift.
Larger diameter bars are more difficult to grip and can make lifting harder. While a difference in diameter isn’t as noticeable during squats as it is during other types of lifts, it can be noticeable as weight increases.
Having a properly-fitted grip allows you to lift more, regardless of how big you are or what size bar you’re using.
Side note: Men’s and women’s/junior squat bars also hold different maximum weights – around 1,200 pounds for a women’s/junior bar and around 2,000 pounds for a men’s bar.
Though, this difference matters very little, since the chance of someone at your local gym getting anywhere near either limit is miniscule to none.
Different Types of Squat Bars
Any standard weight bar with center knurling and good rigidity makes for a fine squat bar. It’s this type of bar you’ll find on most squat racks in gyms.
The knurling – the rough patterned area of the bar – helps the bar cling to a weightlifter’s clothing to prevent it from sliding during movement.
The rigidity of the bar (a lack of bend or “whip”) helps a weightlifter maintain form and balance.
A standard weight bar is not all that’s available for doing squats, though, and, depending on your abilities and where you are in your lifting, it may not be your best choice.
If you need help with your form or you need more challenge from your squat sets, one of these bars might be the better bar for you.
Safety Squat Bar
A safety squat bar is a unique bar with distinct weight distribution and a handle feature. This handle juts forward from the bar’s center, providing handholds in a more neutral position on either side of the chest.
Due to the weight distribution, a safety squat bar keeps your spine more erect, which reduces impact on the lower back. It can also protect shoulders, elbows, and wrists from strain that comes with incorrect hand positioning.
The bar part of a safety squat bar typically weighs the same amount as a standard bar at 45 pounds. Plus, the additional weight of the handle/arms for a total weight of:
Cambered Squat Bar
Where a safety squat bar is designed to make squats easier, a cambered bar is designed to make them more difficult. But it does have the same benefit of helping to improve your form.
A cambered bar is designed so that the grip portion of the bar is higher than the positioning of the weights. That means the weight can “swing” and shift your center of gravity if you lean forward or backward too much.
The tighter your form is, the less a cambered bar moves, which forces you into a perfect squat.
A cambered bar weighs the same amount as a standard squat bar –
What if I can’t lift a squat bar?
The great thing about squats is they’re good for you (and help tone muscle) no matter how much weight you lift. Even a bodyweight squat with no extra weight at all is a powerhouse lower body exercise that engages every major muscle in the leg.
If you can’t lift a standard squat bar, try a women’s or junior weight bar.
And, if that’s still too much weigh, start smaller.
First, perfect bodyweight squats. Once you have the form down and can easily go through several sets, you can move up to weights
Next, move onto dumbbell squats. By using dumbbells instead of a barbell for your squats, you’ll have a lower range of weights to work through and can slowly make progress toward squats with a traditional squat bar.