Can You Bench Press With a Curl Bar? – Garage Gym Pro Guide

Using one piece of fitness equipment for multiple exercises can save you a lot of money. However, that doesn’t mean all equipment is interchangeable for different workouts, and if you use some bars or machines incorrectly, you could injure yourself.  

Bench pressing is one of the most important exercises, and in this guide, we’ll explain whether you can bench press with a curl bar which should help you determine which equipment you need in your home gym. 

Curl bars, often called EZ curl bars, are specifically designed to target your biceps. They're typically made from iron or steel and have collars for loading weights onto the bar. EZ curl bars vary in weight and length more than traditional bars.

They tend to be shorter, generally 5-6 feet, and they are only about 12 pounds on average. These specifications vary depending on the make and model, and you can get some Olympic EZ curl bars that are heavier.

However, there is generally a lot of variation, and the measurements are not as standardized as they are with traditional barbells.

The key difference between curl bars and regular bars is the shape. EZ curl bars have sloped handles which force your hands and wrists into a specific angle. This angle forces you to activate your biceps and triceps more when you curl and will help you to build greater muscle mass in your arms.  

Bench pressing is one of the fundamental exercises that helps you develop a strong chest. It involves lying on your back and pressing a loaded bar upwards at chest height. This compound movement primarily activates your pectorals and triceps, and is regarded as one of the most beneficial exercises you can perform.

three ez curl bars on a bench

So, can you perform a bench press with a curl bar instead of a regular bar? The simple answer is yes. You will be able to load and press an EZ curl bar without too much difficulty, and even though it wasn't designed to help you grow a strong chest, it will definitely engage all the same muscle groups.

It's reasonably safe, and you should make sure that you grip the outer curled portion of the bar so that your hands are pointed towards you. This will maximize the pump and put less strain on your joints. 

However, there are some limitations to using an EZ curl bar. It's shorter than a regular bar, so if you're tall, it isn’t going to be as comfortable for you. You may also find that your hands are too close together, and you cannot fully activate chest muscles as thoroughly compared to using a regular bar.

You may also struggle to switch between wide and narrow grips to strengthen the smaller muscles around your chest and triceps.  

The other challenge is the comparative weakness of the curl bar. EZ curl bars are designed to target a much smaller muscle group and therefore won’t be able to handle as much weight.

This shouldn't impact beginners, but if you're an experienced lifter, then you shouldn't expect to be able to load more than 250 pounds onto the bar. The angle of the bar can also put more strain on your elbows and shoulders, so you should limit the load even if the bar can bear it.

Fitness leaders, personal trainers, and experts agree that EZ curl bars can be used for bench pressing, but they won't be as effective as regular bars. If you're an experienced lifter, you should look to invest in a traditional or Olympic barbell for your bench press, but beginners should be fine benching with an EZ curl bar.

Related Article - How Much Does A Curl Bar Weigh?

can you bench press with a curl bar

Downsides Of Using A Curl Bar For Bench Press 

While you can use a curl bar for bench pressing, there are some downsides. The angle of the bar can make the movement much less natural and put more strain on your joints. If you try to lift too heavy, you can injure your elbows or shoulders, so you'll have to take some of the weight off before benching.  

EZ curl bars can’t handle as much weight as a regular barbell. Curl bars are designed for lighter loads, so experienced lifters aren't going to be able to bench their max with a curl bar. This isn't as much of an issue for beginners but makes curl bars much less suitable for advanced lifters.  

The dimensions of a curl bar can be a major downside too. If you’re tall and broad, you may struggle to get your hands into the right place to bench press, and you might not be able to shift between wide and narrow grips. This can impact the effectiveness of your workout and can reduce your gains.

Read More - How To Set Up A Power Rack For Bench Press


How To Safely Bench Press With An EZ Curl Bar 

EZ curl bars aren’t designed for benching, so you need to be cautious when you’re using them. Here are some key tips to help you do it safely and limit any risk of injury:  

Warm-Up  

Perform at least 5 minutes of light cardio before you start benching. This will warm up your muscles and reduce the risk of pulling or straining anything.

Use The Outer Handle 

EZ curl bars have two bends in the middle for different hand positions. You should use the outer curled portion so that your hands are pointing towards each other while you bench. This will help you target your chest muscles and make it easier to keep a strong grip on the bar throughout the movement.  

Limit The Weight 

No serious lifter wants to reduce the weight on the bar, but if you're benching with a curl bar, then you will need to. The angle of the bar can strain your wrists, elbows, and shoulders if you try to bench too much weight, so you’ll have to reduce what you normally lift to do it safely.  

EZ curl bars will work for most exercises where you need a bar, and you can use them for deadlifting, benching, curling, and other movements (though it won’t work well with regular squats because the bar won't rest on your shoulders).

Just consider how you grip and move the bar and evaluate whether it will work before you start. Always keep the weight low at first and only increase when you feel really comfortable with the movement.  

man using a bench press

What Bar Is Best For Bench Presses? 

If you're serious about bench pressing, then you should really go for a full-sized bar, preferably an Olympic barbell. Olympic barbells are 7 feet long and weigh 45 pounds, and they are all made to exact specifications because they are used for competitions.

They are generally made from stainless steel and have 2-inch diameter weight collars. This does mean they’re only suitable for 2-inch diameter weight plates, but most plates have a 2-inch hole anyway.    

Olympic bars are the best for bench pressing for a few key reasons. They’re much longer than a curl bar and completely straight, so you can put your hands in the best position to really engage your chest muscles, and you can easily alternate between wide and narrow grips so you can put more emphasis on your triceps or pectorals as needed.

Olympic bars can also handle over 500 pounds of weight, and they spread this load across the whole bar. This makes them well suited for advanced lifters and makes it easier to lift the bar smoothly without straining your body. 

Curl bars aren't designed for bench pressing, and while they can be used this way, Olympic bars are much more effective. If you're a serious lifter, you'll benefit from having the best tool for the job, and an Olympic bar will help you get the most from your bench press.

Suggested Bench Press Barbell - Rogue Ohio Power Bar


Frequently Asked Bench Press With Curl Bar Questions

Is a curl bar better than dumbbells for bench press? 

Dumbbells allow you a greater range of motion and engage your core and smaller muscle groups to stabilize your body. This makes them better suited than EZ curl bars for bench pressing, but curl bars are better for building strong arms 

Can you do a close grip bench with an EZ bar? 

Yes, you can use the inner bend on an EZ curl bar for a close grip bench press, but keep the weight very light because the angle of your arms can make it challenging.  

Can you squat with a curl bar? 

Squatting with a curl bar can be uncomfortable because the curves of the bar mean it won’t rest on your shoulders. We’d recommend performing an overhead squat instead if you’re using a curl bar.  

Read More - Squatting With An EZ Bar

Can you use a curl bar for deadlifts? 

Yes, you can use a curl bar for deadlifts by using a double overhanded grip to lift the bar. However, the curl bar won’t be able to bear as much weight, so you may have to deadlift less than you usually would.  

Related Article - Can You Deadlift With An EZ Bar?


Conclusion

It can be expensive to buy a range of barbells for your home gym, so it's a real win if you can use one for multiple exercises. Curl bars can be used safely for bench pressing, though you might not get all the benefits you would get with a regular bar.

Hopefully this article has helped explain the pros and cons of bench pressing with a curl bar, and you now have a better idea of what will work best for you.    

Paul J