Four Barbell Variations That You Don’t Have (But Probably Should)

Variety is the spice of life. And it's key for creating well-rounded CrossFit athletes. Mix up your training with these barbell variations.
By Logan Gelbrich, CCFT ,

If CrossFit has taught us anything, it’s the power of variance. An ever-changing stimulus can keep athletes progressing forward without plateau. If you’re training in a CrossFit gym, there’s no doubt you’ve trained with a barbell. The barbell, however, can be varied just as much as your workouts are.

Here are four key barbells to add to your arsenal for the ultimate constantly varied strength program:

Cambered Bar

With the increasing reach of the conjugate method, the cambered bar may have popped up on your Facebook news feed here and there, but most CrossFitters probably haven’t squatted with one. This bar drops the plate loading well below shoulder level. The changing position of the weight loads the system differently and the camber has a bit of a forward pull, which demands more upper-back strength in the athlete.

Axle Bar

Image courtesy of Rogue Fitness

The axle opens up opportunities from the deadlift, presses, cleans and even squats. The axel is much fatter than a standard barbell, and if you didn’t appreciate the fact that barbells rotate before, one power clean with an axle will hammer that appreciation home. The axle introduces grip training, too, which is a premium in CrossFit and has carry-over to more time on the barbell, more time on the kettlebell and more time on the pull-up bar.

In addition to adding spice to the usual barbell movements, the axel bar is a great tool to use for a new movement: the Zercher squat. This places the load closer to the athlete’s hips and demands midline stability in a whole new way.

Safety Squat Bar

This bar has handles in front, which position the load in a slightly different location than a straight bar does. In addition to adding another layer of variance, the safety squat bar frees up the shoulders and grip of a straight bar for folks who have range-of-motion issues or are injured in some way.

Bamboo/Earthquake Bar

Image courtesy of Rogue Fitness

Louie Simmons and Jim Seitzer joined forces to produce this barbell to accentuate the stability demands of pressing or holding a barbell with kettlebells hanging from bands. The stabilizing muscles in the shoulder are never given a break whether the athlete is bench pressing or holding statically. This offers incredible rehab-like benefits and creates healthy joint function.

These are not the only bars one could add to any arsenal of gym equipment, but they are some key ones. Don’t feel overwhelmed to fork over a ton of money for these right away, either. Over time, make it a goal to collect more and more variance in your barbell collection.

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