While there’s no denying that squats are one of the most beneficial exercises when it comes to building muscle mass, they can often be difficult, painful and stand a chance of causing injury.
This is especially true if you’re a beginner, unsure of proper form and how much weight you’re capable of safely squatting.
One way to negate the risk of injury and make squatting generally more pleasurable is to use a safety squat bar (SSB).
These are different to regular bar bells, as they feature a number of pads as well as a two curves at either end of the bar. This allows the bar to conform to the shape of your body, much more so than a straight bar bell that most people use.
With all that said, how do you go about finding the best safety squat bar? Fortunately, it’s not too difficult, as we’ve put together this pretty comprehensive guide that should cover everything you need to know.
Let’s get to it.
Our Top Picks
Safety Squat Bar Reviews
TDS 1000lb Safety Squat Bar
- Weight capacity: 1000lb
- Bar weight: 65lb
- Knurled chrome bar
- 1 1/8” diameter
- 86” length
First up on list is the TDS 1000lb safety bar, which as the name suggests, is capable of carrying a load of up to 1000. This to be fair, is extremely high and it’s unlikely that most of us average Joes are going to be squatting this much.
Due to the TDS’ ability to carry such a large amount of weight, the bar itself weighs in at around 65lb, which is a bit more than traditional bar bells which typically weigh around 45lb. While this isn’t really a big deal, it’s good to be aware that you’ll be squatting slightly more weight if you were to use the same amount of plates as normal.
As with all of the best safety squat bars, the TDS features knurling that stretches along the majority of its length. Knurling is basically a pattern that is engraved into the material of the bar, which in this case is chrome.
This pattern is designed to allow you to maintain a better grip, as it creates more friction between your hand and the metal.
In terms of length, the TDS is measures in at 86”, which is pretty much standard with this kind of equipment. For reference, the standard length of a barbell is 7.2ft (86.4”) for men and 6.5ft (78”) for women.
The only real downside with this option is the price, which costs slightly more than some of the models on our list. That said, this is able to carry a ton weight, so you get what you pay for in that regard.
TDS 600lb Safety Bar
- Weight capacity: 600lb
- Bar weight: 30lb
- 1.78” diameter – fit Olympic plates
- Knurled chrome bar
- Includes weight collars
Next up we’ve got another model from TDS, this time with their 600lb version, which is 400lb less than the bar we just discussed. As such, this bar weighs significantly less, coming in at around 30lb.
The diameter of the TDS’ sleeves measures in at around 1.78”, meaning that it can perfectly fit Olympic weights, which have a whole size of 2”. What’s more, the TDS also comes with a couple of weight collars, which you attach to the bar to keep the weights in place.
In terms of overall design, it’s virtually identical to the 1000lb bar we just discussed, featuring thick neck and shoulder padding as well as knurling alongside the majority of the bars’ length.
One key difference that is worth pointing out is the price. If you’re not going to be squatting over 600lb (if you are, then I envy you), then this is by far the best choice. There’s no point paying a load more for the weight capacity if you’re not going to make use of it.
Overall this a fantastic option that’s built very well, makes squatting comfortable for a bloody change and has a very reasonable price tag.
Gronk Fitness Safety Bar
- Weight capacity: 1000lb
- 30 degree sloping weight sleeve
- Thick shoulder and neck padding
- Bar weight: 45lb
- Stainless steel construction
Up next is a safety bar from a family run fitness equipment brand called Gronk Fitness. This safety bar is as similar to a regular barbell as you can get, both in terms of weight and length.
The Gronk Fitness weighs a total of 45lb, which as I mentioned earlier, is the standard weight of a traditional bar bell. This means that you wont feel any difference in terms weight when transitioning to this type of bar.
What’s more, it can carry a weight of up to 1000lb and features some of the best padding you’re going to find. The shoulder pads also have two sweat proof handles that you can hold onto whilst performing each set. This will help to maintain control and balance when lowering yourself for each rep. Plus, you don't have to put any pressure on your hands and wrist, as you normally would with a normal straight bar.
Gronk Fitness have designed this bar to house Olympic weights, making it particularly ideal for gym owners, as this is these are the most common types of weights found in gyms these days.
It’s pretty clear that every aspect of the Gronk Fitness has been meticulously designed in order to produce the highest possible quality. Everything form the padding, to the bars overall aesthetic is top notch.
With that in mind, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is going to be the most expensive option on our list. While it’s by no means the cheapest, it’s definitely not the most expensive, which is very impressive given its overall quality, look and feel.
Titan Fitness Olympic Safety Bar
- Weight capacity: 1500lb
- Bar weight: 61lb
- 5” drop on weight sleeve
- 6” hand grip located at on the end of shoulder pads
- Bar diameter: 1.5” (suitable for Olympic plates)
The Titan Fitness Safety Bar features 1.5” plate sleeves, designed to carry Olympic weight plates. The bar itself weighs in around 61lb and is able to carry a weight of up to 1500lb, which is absolutely insane.
As you can probably see, the weight sleeves on either end have a 5” drop. This allows the bar to conform to the shape of your body, as opposed to being a straight metal pole going across. your back. What’s more, this drop makes you centre of gravity lower, providing more stability as well as allowing you to maintain balance easier.
One of my favourite aspects of this bar is the hand grips at the end of the shoulder pads. You can hold onto these whilst squatting, allowing to maintain control of the bar and feel more comfortable whilst performing each rep.
Another nice touch is the size and quality of the padding, which makes a massive difference in terms of comfort, as you don’t have a crushing metal pole directly weighing down on your upper back.
Compared to some of the other options in our article, the Titan Fitness model falls somewhere in the middle of the pricing range. It’s not the cheapest on out list, but it’s not the most expensive either.
PopSport Olympic Safety Bar
- Weight capacity: 700lbs
- Fits 2” Olympic weight plates
- Length: 86.6”
- Bar weight: 46lb
Last up we have one of the cheapest options, this time from PopSport. With that in mind, if you’re looking to populate your home gym with squat equipment and are shopping on a relatively tight budget, then this is a fantastic option.
This particular option has a weight capacity of up to 700lb, which for its' price tag, is extremely high. The weight sleeves are designed to fit 2” Olympic weight plates, which are very much the standard weights used for squatting.
One of the best aspects of the PopSports is that their equipment is stored and shipped from the US. This means you don’t have to pay the ridiculously high shipment fees that normally come with this type of product. Plus, it also means you should get your bar in a couple of days, which is always a good thing in my opinion.
The bar itself features knurling among the majority of it’s surface. Having said that, the knurling isn’t really necessary for squats though, as you’ve got the ability to hold onto the two handles located next to the pads.
All in all, this is a pretty great option for anyone looking for a top notch safety bar on a budget.
Benefits of Safety Squat Bars
So, what's the actual point of using this type of bar?
Below are some of the main benefits that using a SSB can provide, as opposed to the traditional straight bar bell.
Helps Straight Bar Form
When jumping straight into a straight bar bell squat, it can often be hard to keep your back straight and remain as upright as possible (especially if you're like me and have awful posture).
Due to the design and nature of a SSB, the bar somewhat pulls you forward, making it a battle to remain upright. This battle against the bar pulling you forward will help to build strength in your upper back. After a month or so of squatting with a SSB, you'll naturally be able to have a straighter posture when you transition back over to a straight bar.
The big pads around your neck and shoulders aren't there for the sole reason of looking ridiculous. When performing a squat with a straight bar, the bar can feel extremely uncomfortable against your upper back and shoulders, and can even cause an injury to these areas.
Fortunately, the padding of a SSB will massively reduce the feeling or a metal bar crushing down onto your upper body. Yes, squatting is never going to be the most comfortable of exercises, but using a SSB sure as hell helps.
If you tend to have shoulder or elbow pain whilst squatting, then the SSB will help to negate this pain. While the term 'no pain, no gain' is somewhat true, hurting your joints week in, week out can, and probably will worsen what ever issue you've got going on. With that in mind, try out a SSB if you can, as I'm sure you'll be surprised in the difference.
While the main use of a SSD is for back squats, there's a whole range of different exercises that can be done with it. I won't go into too much detail here though, as I've prepared a list of all the different exercises you can do with your new SBB later on.
Due to the SBB's ability to engage and target a number of different muscle groups, the gains made from using an SBB can carry over to other vital exercises such as the deadlift, or even straight bar back squat.
You can also check out this video by Brian Alsruhe, who discusses the benefits of powerlifters and strongmen using a SSB.
How to Choose the Best Safety Squat Bar?
Below are a few tips that you can use to find the perfect SSB for your needs.
What Do You Want to Achieve with the Bar?
This can be said of any type of fitness equipment, as knowing what your goals are can have a direct impact on the type of gear you'll need to get there. Do you solely want to use the bar for backs squats, or are there any other exercises you plan to incorporate?
If so, it's worth checking what exercises each bar can help you with, as some are more versatile than others.
At the end of the day, one of the main reasons people are interested in using a safety bar is for the added padding and comfort they provide.
With that in mind, making sure that any bar that you're considering has sufficient and good quality padding is incredibly important. Some of the worst SSB's that I've used are virtually pointless in that the padding has almost disappeared entirely.
As with everything in life, you tend to get what you pay for when it comes to quality. That said, there's plenty of fairly priced SSBs out there, a lot of which we've included today. When assessing the quality of a SSB, there's a few different factors and things to look out for.
Firstly, is padding, which we've already discussed. Secondly, is the material. Keep an eye out for SBB's made from steel, that have chrome plating, have been knurled and have been made with anti-rust properties. All of these things will help to keep your SBB looking new and working properly for the foreseeable future.
As a general rule of thumb, the more weight a bar is able to carry, the more expensive the bar tends to be. With that in mind, it's important to consider how much you can squat and how much you are likely to squat in the future. This is particularly important if you're trying to build a home gym as cheap as possible, especially given that the cheapest squat racks can be pretty expensive.
The last thing any of us want to do is spend money on expensive equipment that we'll never make the most out of, especially when there's perfectly adequate bars out there that can cost half the price.
Whilst on the subject of weight, it's also worth keeping an eye out for what type of weight plates the bar is able to fit. Most, if not all of the SSBs we've discussed in this article are designed to fit 2" Olympic weight plates.
If you've already got a home gym set up that doesn't use these plates, check the diameter of the bar to make sure that it is smaller than the hole of your plates. If it is, you're good to go.
Does it Come With Any Accessories?
Some SSBs will come with accessories such as a pair of weight collars. Whilst this won't always be the case, it's worth keeping an eye out for as it will save you time and around $15 getting a pair separately.
How to Squat with a Safety Bar?
Check out this awesome video by strongman Steve Slater, who will walk you through the various steps when performing using a SSB.
- Step 1: Make sure you've got collars on both sides of the bar.
- Step 2: Hold onto the handles, putting your head between the yolks on the bar. Lift the bar of the squat rack and walk forward, making sure that the handles are in a neutral position. You the bar to be comfortable on your traps and shoulders.
- Step 3: Place your feet just wider than shoulder width apart, angling your feet out to the side slightly.
- Step 4: Lower yourself down to the ground, keeping your back straight.
- Step 5: Lift yourself up back to the starting position.
When performing each rep, make sure to keep your hands in a neutral position, avoid pulling them down to your chest.
Other Exercises You Can Do
Here's a list of all the various exercises you can do with a SSB and the main muscles that they target.
- Front Squat - quads & upper back
- Zercher Squat - quads, upper back, glutes, abdominals & biceps
- Good Morning - glutes, hamstrings & lower back
- Seated Good Morning - lower back & obliques
- Single-Leg Good Morning - hamstrings & glutes
- Front Lunge - quads, hamstrings, glutes & calves
- Back Lunge - quads, hamstrings, glutes & calves
- Split Squats - glutes, ham strings, quads & calves
- Step-ups - quads & hamstrings
- Hip Thrusts - glutes, hamstrings & quads
- Overhead Press - deltoids, pectorals, traps & triceps
- Triceps Press - triceps
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does a Safety Squat Bar Weigh?
That will vary from brand to brand, however you can expect a SSB to weigh between 40lb - 65lb.
As I mentioned earlier, a traditional straight bar bell will weigh 45lb. This means that finding an SBB that weighs a similar amount should help the transition, as you won't be lifting any more or any less with the same amount of weight plates on.
How Often Should I Use a Safety Squat Bar?
There really is no right or wrong here as it massively depends on your workout programme and your over all goals. It also depends on what exercises you're planning on doing with an SSB, as you could essentially use it every day, even if targeting different areas of your body.
That said, most people will train their legs once or even twice a week. If you don't, then you could end up with chicken legs, and no one wants that.
Do I Need to Front Squat as Well?
By nature, front squats tend to be more difficult, as there's no way of turning a front squat into a good morning. If you do, there's a good chance that you're going to face plant the floor.
As such, there's a general rule of them that you should be able to back squat 85% of your front squat. If you're able to do this, then it can be to change up your squat every few weeks. That said, if your max back squat is less than 85% of your front squat, it's probably worth sticking with that until you've reached that mile stone.
Well there we have it. Hopefully you've got a an idea as to what is the best safety squat rack for your needs.
Please leave a comment down below if you've got any questions or would like to suggest any SSBs for us to add!