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.  

It is unsafe and ineffective to try and do a traditional squat with a curl bar. The design and shape of a curl bar means that it won't be able to rest as comfortably on your shoulders. However, you can still squat with a curl bar; you just have to be more creative. 
Can You Squat With A EZ Curl Bar? – Garage Gym Pro Guide

Why Are They Not Ideal? (Basic Variations Explained)

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 EZ curl bar weighs 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.

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.

Related Article - Best EZ Curl Bar Exercises

5 Best Squat Variations For Using A Curl Bar

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:  

1. Front Squat 

front squat with curl bar

The front squat is the most popular variation.

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.


  • Places more stress on your quads.
  • Improves core strength. 

How to do it:

  1. Start with feet shoulder-width apart and the curl bar on the floor in front of you.
  2. Reach down to grip it with a shoulder width overhand grip and perform a clean and press movement to lift it up to shoulder height.
  3. Hold it at the front of your shoulders, and then squat down as low as you can.
  4. Next, push through your legs to rise back up and return to starting position to complete the movement.
  5. Repeat

Tips From A Trainer!

If you're struggling with squat depth, place a small plate under your heels. The elevated heel position will allow you to squat deeper. The deeper your squat, the more muscle fibers you work.

2. Zercher Squat 

zercher squat with a curl bar

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.

I like Zercher squats as they're an excellent way to engage your glutes, hips, and quads [1].

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. 


  • Allows you to overload your legs.
  • Excellent for lower body development.

How to do it:

  • 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.  
  • Repeat to complete your set.

Tips From A Trainer!

It's a tough movement, to help out, you should get your breathing under control. Take a deep breath at the top of the movement and squat down, breathe out on your way back up. This will help you create internal pressure to help your maintain a strong upper body. 

Related Article - EZ Curl Bar vs Straight Bar

3. Overhead Squat 

Woman Doing Overhead Squat

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.  

I've used the overhead squat with several athletes. The movement provides them with a full body movement that translates well in sports. 

Overhead squats are a more well-rounded exercise that will engage your quads, glutes, hips, hamstrings, shoulders, arms, and back [2]. 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.  


  • Works your entire body.
  • Excellent for improving athletic performance.

how to do it:

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.  

Tips From A Trainer!

The overhead squat isn't like any other squat variation, so don't treat it like one. Begin with super light weight and gradually build it up. The last thing you need is to injure yourself by lifting too heavy. 

4. Split Squat 

Man Doing EZ Curl Bar Split Squat

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.  

I'm a fan of this movement as it's greatly improved the stability of my knees. At the end of last year I had a stability issue in my knee (thanks to Jiu Jitsu)... but since I've used the split squat, my knees have been in much better shape. 

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.


  • Excellent for knee rehab.
  • Works each leg separately. 

How to do it:

  1. Start by loading the curl bar with the weight and lifting it up into the front squat or overhead squat position.
  2. Step one foot back until you’re in a lunge position.
  3. Slowly lower your weight down until your rear knee touches the floor.
  4. Pause for a second, and then rise back up to the starting position.  
  5. Complete your set and swap legs.

Tips From A Trainer!

If you want to increase the range of motion, elevate your front foot. By doing so, you'll increase the amount of work your hamstrings, glutes, and quads need to do.  

Related Article - Split Squat Vs Lunge

5. Hack Squat 

Man Doing Hack Squat

The hack squat has long been used as a more controlled variation on a regular squat which is easier to perform.

Traditionally you do it without a machine. However, I've been a fan of using an EZ curl bar, and you can easily overload your muscles with this variation. 

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.  


  • Develops your posterior chain. 
  • You can overload your muscles.

How to do it:

  1. Start with the loaded barbell on the floor behind you.
  2. Squat down and reach behind you to grip the bar.
  3. Keep the curl bar close to your calves and Achilles tendon, and slowly raise yourself back up until you’re in a standing position.
  4. Squat down and lower the bar to the ground to complete the movement.  
  5. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

Don't lock your knees at the top of the movement to keep the tension on your muscles and not your knee joints. 

Related Article - Hack Squat Vs Leg Press

EZ Curl Bar Squats (Pros & Cons Vs Alternative Bars)

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


  • More Forward Load Distribution
    The angle of the bar and the positioning during the movement means that there's more emphasis put on the front of your body. This helps to strengthen your quads in particular and gives you broader legs.  
  • Improved Posture
    The curl bar squat variations engage your core and torso more than regular squats—this helps improve your posture and will improve your traditional squat form. 
  • Comfortable Grip
    EZ curl bars have an ergonomic grip which is easier to hold onto. This makes it less suitable for resting on your back but much easier on your hands and better supports those with weak hands, wrists, and shoulders.  
  • Space Saving
    Curl bars are smaller than standard or Olympic barbells, making them easier to store. Plus, if you're using the curl bar for squat movements, too, then you remove the need for multiple bars. This is a real asset for home gym owners with limited space.  


  • Less Convenient
    The curved shape of the curl bar is more difficult to load onto a squat rack. This makes it more challenging to load the bar and store it when it’s not in use.  
  • Lower Weight Capacity
    There are a few curl bar squats you can perform with higher loads, but in general, you will have to perform these squats with less weight. This can mean it will take longer to build muscle and develop your strength.  
  • More Challenging
    Most curl bar squats involve lifting the bar from the floor. They also require greater balance and stabilization. This can make them quite tricky for beginners, and they may not be suitable for everyone.  

Common EZ Curl Bar FAQs

Can you use a curl bar for hip thrusts? 

Yes, you can use a curl bar 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? 

Yes, you can do deadlifts with a curl barJust 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.  

Can you bench with an EZ curl bar? 

You can bench with an EZ bar, but it's far from ideal.  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.

If you're looking to buy a curl bar, you can check out our article for best curl bars reviewed and compared.




Lee Kirwin

Lee Kirwin

Lee has worked in the fitness industry for over 15 years. He's trained hundreds of clients and knows his way around the gym, including what you need for your garage gym. When he's not testing products, he loves weightlifting, Ju Jitsu, writing, and gaming.