Squats are one of the key movements which really help to strengthen your lower body, but if you only have a curl bar, you might not know if you can perform them safely. You don’t want to injure yourself by using the wrong equipment, so in this article, we'll give you the complete guide to squatting with a curl bar so you can do it safely at home.
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Can You Squat With A Curl Bar? (Are EZ Bars Safe For Squatting?)
Squats are regarded as one of the most important movements. They engage your whole lower body, including your quads, calves, hamstrings, hips, glutes, and adductors. This helps you develop your legs and has been shown to benefit your whole body.
Curl bars are a variation on a regular barbell with small bends in the middle. This changes the position of your hands and puts the emphasis very much on your biceps.
EZ curl bars will help you develop your arms and improve your wrist and forearm strength. They tend to be made from steel and weigh about 5-10 pounds less than a standard barbell.
Squats are usually performed with a regular barbell that rests on your shoulders and lowers with you as you bend your knees down towards the ground. Unfortunately, the design and shape of a curl bar means that it won't be able to rest as comfortably on your shoulders. This can make it unsafe and ineffective to try and do a traditional squat with a curl bar.
However, you can still squat with a curl bar; you just have to be more creative. For example, several squat variations can be used where you hold the bar in front of you or above your head. This removes the need to balance your curl bar on your shoulders, and by positioning your hands and feet slightly differently, you can still get all the benefits of a regular squat.
The front squat is the most common, which involves reaching down and lifting the curl bar up to the front of your shoulders. You then lower your weight down to the floor by bending your knees to complete the squat movement.
Front squat and curl bar squats are a great way to mix up your routine and target different parts of your lower body. They can be more challenging for beginners because you need to have a bit more strength to lift the bar from the floor, but you can build that up reasonably quickly.
The key difference with curl bar squats is that the bar will almost always start on the floor, and you won't be able to use a squat rack. This can take some getting used to and makes it slightly less safe than a regular squat.
Popular Squat Variations Using A Curl Bar (+ How-To Guide)
Squatting with a curl bar is all about thinking outside the box. There are 5 popular variations that will give you a lot of the benefits without the need for a regular barbell:
The front squat is the most popular variation. To perform it, you'll need to start with feet shoulder-width apart and the curl bar on the floor in front of you. Reach down to grip it and perform a clean and press movement to lift it up to shoulder height.
Hold it at the front of your shoulders, and then squat down as low as you can. Next, push through your legs to rise back up and return to starting position to complete the movement.
The front squat targets all the same muscle groups as a regular squat but engages your quads more effectively. They tend to be a bit more challenging, and most people perform them at a lower weight than their standard squats.
To perform front squats safely, you need to make sure you're lifting the curl bar smoothly from the floor. Try not to engage your lower back, and keep your torso straight when you’re holding the bar at shoulder height.
It can be difficult to stay balanced at first, but stick with it and use light weights at first until you’re comfortable with your form.
Read More - How Much Does A Curl Bar Weigh?
Zercher squats are popular because the movement is easier, and you can lift a lot more weight. This can lead to greater muscle growth and make your lower body stronger. To perform a Zercher squat, you'll need to load the bar and set it at waist height on a rack.
Slip your arms underneath the bar and let it rest on your elbows. Fold your arms to bring the bar into your chest, and stand up, lifting the bar with you. Step back, and slowly squat down towards the floor. Push through your legs to rise back up and complete the rep.
Zercher squats are an excellent way to engage your glutes, hips, and quads. They also help improve your form by keeping your torso straight throughout the movement. You can load the bar heavy because your form is much more controlled, and this can lead to greater gains.
The only real risk with Zercher squats is to your biceps. If you load the bar too heavy and have the wrong grip, then it can put too much strain on the smaller muscles and even cause your biceps to tear.
The other slight risk with Zercher squats is that the bar slips and could damage your feet. Our advice is to just take it slow at first and keep the weight manageable until you're comfortable.
Overhead squats are a more intense exercise that targets your upper and lower body simultaneously. This allows you to build more strength with a compound exercise that engages all the major muscle groups.
To perform an overhead squat, start with the loaded curl bar on the floor in front of you. Squat down and grip it with a wide grip. Perform a clean and press to lift it up overhead and pause for a second.
Stabilize your body, squat down, and keep your arms and the bar outstretched above your head. Push back up through your legs and then lower the bar to return to starting position and complete the rep.
Overhead squats are a more well-rounded exercise that will engage your quads, glutes, hips, hamstrings, shoulders, arms, and back. They're a lot more challenging and probably aren't suitable for beginners, but even experienced lifters should reduce their weight to perform them.
Make sure you focus on keeping your core tight and the weight evenly distributed, or you could risk injuring your lower back during the movement.
Split squats offer a slightly different movement which is well suited for those with weak knee joints. They're often used as an effective lower body exercise for those in rehab or athletes recovering from injury. They're also a beneficial alternative squat to help you improve your leg strength and flexibility for other exercises.
Start by loading the curl bar with the weight and lifting it up into the front squat or overhead squat position. Step one foot back until you’re in a lunge position, and then slowly lower your weight down until your rear knee touches the floor. Pause for a second, and then rise back up to the starting position.
If you’re a beginner, the split squat offers a great way to develop your quads and glutes without putting as much strain on your joints.
You can perform the split squat with a variety of grips, but the best to improve your balance and posture is the overhead squat grip. Just be careful not to load too much weight, or you might risk injury during the movement.
Learn More - Split Squat Vs Lunge
The hack squat has long been used as a more controlled variation on a regular squat which is easier to perform. You can do it without a machine, and this curl bar squat is one you can perform using heavy weights for maximum muscle growth.
To perform a curl bar hack squat, start with the loaded barbell on the floor behind you. Squat down and reach behind you to grip the bar. Keep the curl bar close to your calves and Achilles tendon, and slowly raise yourself back up until you’re in a standing position. Squat down and lower the bar to the ground to complete the movement.
The hack squat targets your glutes and quads really effectively. It is similar to a deadlift movement, but it provides all the same benefits as a traditional squat. It's relatively easy to perform with any curl bar, but make sure you don't bend your back as you lift the bar, or you could tweak your lower back.
See Also - Hack Squat Vs Leg Press
EZ Curl Bar Squats (Pros & Cons Vs Alternative Bars & Weights)
Common EZ Curl Bar FAQs
Can you use a curl bar for hip thrusts?
A curl bar can be used for hip thrusts, but you'll need some significant padding to stop it from digging into you.
Can you do deadlifts with a curl bar?
You can do deadlifts with a curl bar, but to do it safely, you'll need to put less weight on the bar. Just remember that an EZ curl bar won’t be able to bear as much weight as a usual bar, so you’ll probably have to lower the load even if you feel comfortable.
Related Article - Can You Deadlift With An EZ Bar?
Can you bench with an EZ curl bar?
An EZ curl bar isn’t ideal for benching because the bar will twist and turn as you move it. This can make it harder to isolate your pecs and great the same muscle gains.
You can definitely squat with a curl bar; you just need to be a bit more creative and change where you hold the bar. This removes the need for multiple barbells and can save you valuable space in your home gym.
Hopefully, this guide has introduced some useful squat variations you can perform with curl bars, and you now feel as though you can try them yourself at home.
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