EZ Curl Bar vs Straight Bar: Which Should I Use and When?
Most well-equipped gymnasiums have the EZ barbell and straight bar as standard for fitness users to choose their preference according to their workout plan. Often, there is confusion among newbies and veterans in the gym about which types of barbells are better for their fitness goals.
The straight bar and EZ barbell apply to various exercises, including military press, skull crushers, and upright rows. These exercises target one chief muscle in the upper arm, the triceps and biceps brachii. Understanding the benefits and differences between each type of bar will help you optimize your workout plans for your desired outcome.
What Is An EZ Curl Barbell?
An Olympic EZ curl bar is a multi-angled barbell whose design focuses on working your triceps and biceps while helping to reduce pressure and stress from your elbows and wrist. The 'W' shape on the EZ bar allows you to have multiple grip options, making it a versatile barbell.
The EZ curl bar is excellent for strengthening your bicep muscle and adding mass to your arms. An EZ barbell is shorter, at approximately four feet, than a standard men’s or women’s Olympic barbell, which is around seven feet long. The shortness of the Olympic curl bar ensures that loaded plates are closer to you, which results in easy bicep curl movement.
EZ Inventor and How it Got Its Name
The revolutionary training equipment was invented and patented by engineer and weightlifter Lewis Dymeck. Lewis had experienced stress on his wrists while using the bicep bar curls when he decided to make the invention.
In 1950, Lewis teamed up with Andy Jackson, founder of Jackson International Barbell Company, and the Dymeck curl bar was created and patented. However, the duo sold the rights to Bob Hoffman between 1954 - 1964. Bob Hoffman later changed the name to EZ curl bar, with EZ being an abbreviation for 'easy.'
What is a Straight Barbell?
A straight barbell is a standard piece of equipment in the gym used for various exercises, including the straight bar curl and straight bar press. The straight barbell is a cylindrical metal rod with a straight shape that approximately weighs 45 pounds, measuring between four to seven feet.
The straight barbell is used on a free-standing machine with other self-supporting machines like the Smith machine. Weights are equally added on each end by adding secured plates when using a straight barbell. Before using a straight barbell, whether it's a 45lb bar or a 15lb barbell, check that the plates are tightly attached to avoid the plates from sliding, causing an imbalance in the equipment, resulting in severe injuries.
How is an EZ Curl Bar Different From a Straight Bar?
The EZ curl and straight bar are common resistance training equipment in a gym. You can interchange the bars if your preferred bar is unavailable. Before interchanging the bars, note the differences to help you determine if they are suitable for your fitness target. The type of bar you choose will depend on the following factors:
1. Weight Difference
When lifting weight, it's essential to have an exact number of weight your body can carry without causing injuries or straining. The total weight is determined by the number of plates added to the bar weight during mounting.
A curl bar often weighs between 20 - 30 pounds, while an Olympic straight bar usually weighs 45 pounds, and the smaller version weighs 35 pounds. The weight difference is because the EZ curl bar is shorter than a straight bar.
2. Your Fitness Plan and Goals
Consider your training program2 and overall ability before settling on a specific bar. For example, an EZ curl bar is suitable for exercises that work on a smaller group of muscles, such as the triceps and biceps. These muscles need less weight than chest and leg exercises that use a straight bar for more impact on a larger group of muscles.
In addition, if you lack wrist strength, resist from using the straight bar as it can cause wrist injury or pain. A straight bar applies pressure to your wrist because you have to stretch out your wrist and arms when you want to turn inwards or outwards, depending on the exercise.
On the other hand, a curl bar has the 'W' shape, which provides your hand with a natural hand down position during an exercise routine that requires you to bend your elbow.
3. Shape Difference
A straight bar is cylindrical, and on each end of the barbell are two attached straight rods that hold down the weight plates to increase resistance. The cambered 'W' EZ curl bar has similar straight rods at the end of the bar where plates are mounted to increase resistance during use.
4. Hand Position Options
With a straight bar, you can assume an underhand or overhand grip with your wrist straight. However, a curl bar allows your wrist to be slightly bent because the rod provides you with a natural grip. In addition, using an EZ curl bar, you can turn your wrist inward when exercising using the overhand-based reverse grip.
Pros and Cons of Using a Curl Bar
There are several advantages of using a curl bar vs. straight bar. They include:
- Ease of use - EZ curl bars are suitable for lifting newbies as they are light, while for the more experienced lifters, they provide a variety of lifts allowing you to build strength and make progress in your routine.
- Better angle - the EZ bar has an angled grip that reduces the pressure on your wrists, elbows, and shoulders, resulting in a comfortable workout experience.
- Favorable size - an EZ curl bar is small, light, and excellent for training your upper body. In addition, it's applicable for at-home curl bar workouts as they do not take a lot of space.
- Muscle isolation - the angled curl bar allows you to work on specific parts of your biceps and triceps, making it ideal if you are looking for mass on your upper body.
The main disadvantage of using the EZ curl bar is that you can only lift it in a single motion–up and down, not left or right or forward to backward.
Pros and Cons of Using a Straight Bar
A straight bar is more common among lifters, even outside the gym. Below are some of the advantages that a lifter can experience after using the straight bar.
- Has a better bicep activation as the weights are further from your body
- The resistance created is by you and not a machine choosing the path of motion
- Creates the ability to stabilize your body by working on balance and the control of the weights
The cons include:
- Lifters are at a higher risk of being injured on their wrists, elbows, and shoulders
- It's heavier, and the weights are further from your body, forcing you to work harder on your balancing ability
Which Type of Bar Should I Use?
The type of barbell you use for your training and fitness goal depends on your workout plan and desired outcome. The EZ curl barbell targets your biceps and is functional for other exercises, which include:
- Drag barbell curl
- Close grip curl
- Reverse grip curl
- Spider barbell curl
- French press
- Upright rows
- Bent over rows
- Overhead tricep extension
- Skull crushers
- Hip thrusts
On the other hand, the straight bar is suitable for the following exercises:
- Back and front squats
- Bench press
- Rack pull
- Romanian deadlift
- Bent over row
- Push press
- Hip thrusts
Reasons for Using a Curl Bar vs. Straight Bar
The EZ curl bar's design can isolate your biceps and triceps, allowing more focus on the muscle during a workout. The 'W' angled grips on the bar protect your elbow, wrist, and shoulder from the risk of joint damage resulting from the pressure on the arms by lifting the bars.
If you want to concentrate on arms development, the EZ curl bar is the most suitable. It has various applications that allow you to train using a variety of movement patterns like overhand bar curls, overhead tricep, and french presses.
A straight bar is more effective for building muscles in the upper body because the bar's supinated position on your hands allows maximum bicep activation. The EZ curl bar does not work intensely on the upper body muscles, but it has a low injury risk rate because of the angles along the EZ bar, which makes it safe to use.
EZ Curl Bar vs. Straight Bar: Which is Better for Building Muscle?
A straight bar is more effective in building your muscle as it places your biceps into full supination, which can have positive and negative effects. A completely supinated grip optimizes your biceps, allowing your muscles to grow faster than when using an EZ curl barbell.
In addition, it also enables strength development as your biceps are working at their maximum force due to their positioning and allows you to lift heavier weights. However, the EZ curl bar will allow you to exercise the same routine and achieve your training goal without experiencing pain if you have joint issues.
Get Your EZ Curl Bar and Straight Bar From Tru Grit
Using gym equipment allows you to have a controlled and safe workout environment as you have domination over the path of motion, which enables you to match the amount of force going to your muscles. At Tru Grit, we provide a variety of workout equipment, including a straight bar and the Olympic EZ curl bar, which allows you to achieve your workout goal.
- Upper extremity weightlifting injuries: Diagnosis and management. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5895929/
- Four Types of Exercise Can Improve Your Health and Physical Ability. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/four-types-exercise-can-improve-your-health-and-physical-ability/
- It's Not All About the Gun Show - Your Guide to the EZ Bar - Gym Crafter. https://gymcrafter.com/ez-bar-buying-guide/
- Barbell Biceps Curls: EZ Curl Bar vs. Straight Bar. https://www.aworkoutroutine.com/ez-curl-bar-vs-straight-barbell-curls/
- The Weight of an Olympic Easy Curl Bar | Livestrong. https://www.livestrong.com/article/344875-weight-olympic-easy-curl-bar/