Love ‘em or hate ‘em, squats are one of the oldest functional movements in human nature. Sometimes we just don’t realize it. Think about how often in a day you sit down and get up. On the couch, dining table, work desk, and even the toilet, humans perform a squatting movement multiple times every day. As we have evolved, we have added resistance to the movement, creating a powerful exercise that helps strengthen the buttocks, thighs, hip flexors, core, and calves. From squat racks to dumbbells, kettlebells to EZ curl bar squats, incorporating weights into your squats will help you create a more powerful and toned lower body.
- Can an EZ Curl Bar Be Used For Squats?
- Are EZ Curl Bar Squats Safe?
- Best Squat Exercises with an EZ Curl Bar
- EZ Curl Bar Squats Muscles Worked
- Advantages and Disadvantages of EZ Curl Bar Squats
Can an EZ Curl Bar Be Used For Squats?
It’s hard not to find a gym that doesn’t have an EZ curl bar and if you have your own home gym, invest in this multi-angled barbell. Used primarily for upper-body muscles, there are several ways that one can use the EZ curl bar for squat exercises. Unlike the standard barbell squat, where you can rest the bar behind your head on your shoulders, EZ curl bar squats require a bit more creative movement and positioning of your body and the equipment.
There are a few reasons you should not perform EZ curl bar squats the same as standard squats, the first two being safety and comfort. As the EZ curl bar is not long enough to fit a proper squat rack, there is no safe way to lift it to place on your back shoulders or to re-rack without the potential of doing some serious damage to your shoulders, neck, back and even your head. Some people may prefer a wider grip when holding a bar while doing weighted squats and, unlike the traditional Olympic bar, which is seven feet long and forty-five pounds, the shorter EZ bar is usually three to four feet long and around twenty-five pounds.
Are EZ Curl Bar Squats Safe?
Some say that using an EZ curl bar is not safe for performing squat exercises. However, if done properly and safely, it is a perfectly safe way to execute several lower body exercises. While primarily designed to keep your wrists, forearms, and elbows in a more natural, comfortable, and safe position when performing curls (hence the name), the following five exercises are ideal for pairing with the EZ curl bar.
Best Squat Exercises with an EZ Curl Bar
1. Front Squat
The EZ curl bar front squat is a great exercise to target your quads, core, and lower back. Ideally, using less weight than a basic back squat, this variation focuses on specific muscle groups.
- Load the EZ curl bar with weight while it rests on the floor
- With your feet placed shoulder-width apart, pick up the bar with an overhand grip, palms facing towards you.
- In order to balance the bar on the front of your shoulders, execute a “power clean” lift
- With the bar at the top of the power clean position, perform a squat to lower yourself until your thighs are parallel with the floor
- Repeat squats for reps.
2. Overhead Squat
If you want to get more of that upper body burn, while continuing to build your lower body strength, the EZ curl bar overhead squat hits all the traditional squat muscles, plus your shoulders and upper back. It is one of the best EZ curl bar squats to perform with resistance. These squats can be done with less weight and possibly more depth than a more traditional squat, as you are required to pick up the bar from the ground rather than a squat rack.
- With the EZ curl bar resting on the ground, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and drop into a squat position. Grab the bar with a wide overhand grip on the straight sections (closest to the weights)
- Execute a clean and press lift to get the bar from the floor into an overhead position.
- With the bar held overhead (arms extended but not locked), make sure that you maintain your balance and have your core engaged as you perform a regular squat movement.
- Repeat squats for reps
3. Zercher Squat
For those looking to do an EZ curl bar squat using heavier weights, the Zercher squat is your way to go. Named after former strongman Ed Zercher, this squat makes lifting the weight much easier than having to do a power clean or overhead lift.
- As you are not lifting the bar overhead, you can load it with a heavier weight while balancing on a rack, bench, or platform.
- Slide your arms under the “W” part of the bar so it sits in the crooks of your elbows. Consider long sleeves or placing small towels in the crooks of your elbow for the bar to sit on more comfortably.
- Fold your arms inward, clasping your hands together in front of your chest, holding the bar close to your chest.
- Remove the bar from its resting place on the rack, bench, or platform
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width
- Perform the exercise for reps.
4. Split Squat (Use With Zercher, Overhead or Front Squat)
A great way to build strength in your knees, quads, and glutes, performing either the front, overhead or Zercher squat in a split squat position can help improve your ability to execute a proper EZ curl bar squat, while rehabbing your knees and reducing any pain or lack of mobility. As with the regular form, the Zercher squat will allow you to load the bar with more weight, while the front and overhead versions will focus on your balance and stability.
- Load the EZ curl bar with the desired weight for the respective bar position
- Step backward with one leg and set into a lunge stance with your back knee dropping towards the floor and your front knee stacked with the ankle.
- Drive upward from the lunge position using the front leg to power yourself up.
- Perform the exercise for reps and then switch legs. You may also choose to alternate reps.
5. Hack Squat
Traditionally done with a barbell or squat machine, you can also do the hack squat using an EZ curl bar. As with the Zercher squat, this squat exercise can be done with heavy weights as you are not lifting the bar overhead or placing it on your shoulders, therefore eliminating the need for a squat rack.
- As you will be lifting a heavy weight from the floor, ideally you should do this exercise on a platform or rubber mat.
- Stand in front of the loaded EZ curl bar
- Settle into a traditional squat position and grab the EZ curl bar with your arms closely beside your legs.
- As you rise from the squat position, hold the bar closely behind your legs. Be aware not to drag it along the back of your calves or Achilles.
- Engage your hip flexors and glutes as you stand up. Keep your shoulders rolled back.
- Return to the starting squat position with a controlled movement, focusing on balance and stability.
- Repeat for reps.
EZ Curl Bar Squats Muscles Worked
Many of the muscles worked performing the various EZ curl bar squats are like those targeted when using a barbell. Although for most of the exercises you should not load the bar with as much weight as you would a properly racked barbell, you will still engage the same muscle groups with more of a toning purpose rather than strength building.
Quads, glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves are the main lower body muscles that you will use during each squat. Core muscles such as the obliques, rectus, and transverse abdominis, and erector spinae will be used to help with balance and stabilization. As for the upper body, biceps, shoulders and upper back muscles will all be engaged during the various forms of EZ curl bar squat exercises depending on the position of the bar.
Advantages and Disadvantages of EZ Curl Bar Squats
As with most pieces of gym equipment, there are advantages and disadvantages to using an EZ curl bar for squat exercises.
- When performing the front squat, the position of the bar will allow for better posture, including a more upright torso, forward load distribution, more focus on the quadriceps, and increased trunk development.
- The smaller bar takes up less space in your home gym.
- The EZ curl bar has an ergonomic grip, which can be beneficial for sore hands, wrists, and shoulders.
- The shorter bar allows for better stabilization and weight distribution.
- The “W” shape of the bar can be slightly awkward to hold and can be uncomfortable when performing the Zercher squat
- The smaller bar will not properly fit in a squat rack, making it unsafe to load with heavy weights for the front or overhead variation.
- The short EZ curl bar can also impact your balance and cause cramping in your shoulder girdle when attempting to use it for a traditional back squat.
- Lower weight capacity