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How to Get Stronger With the Safety Squat Bar

train Sep 06, 2023
Get Stronger With The Safety Squat Bar  | Arangio

There is a unique piece of equipment that can help refresh your leg workouts and build serious lower-body strength. 

This special tool is especially useful if bad shoulders are keeping you from doing squats.

Also known as a cambered bar or yoke bar, the safety squat bar is characterized by its mild C-shape. This shape positions your hands and arms in a more natural position compared to a straight-bar back squat. The camber gently angles your arms forward, reducing strain and discomfort in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists.

If you've ever had shoulder rotator/labrum surgery, you probably won't be able to hold a straight bar while squatting without pain. Fortunately, the safety squat bar is an excellent substitute.

The safety squat bar also shifts the load forward slightly compared to a straight bar, placing more emphasis on your legs and core. The bar's shape allows you to squat with better posture for increased muscle activation. The safety aspect comes from the camber catching the bar if you get into trouble at the bottom of the squat. It also keeps your back in a better position. 

Why Use the Safety Squat Bar?

Here are the main benefits of incorporating the safety squat bar:

  • Reduces stress and strain on the shoulders, elbows, and wrists compared to back squatting with a straight bar. The cambered shape puts your arms in a more natural and comfortable squat position.
  • Builds core strength. The slightly forward shifted load requires greater core activation to maintain tightness and resist spinal flexion.
  • Hits the leg muscles from a different angle, spurring new development in the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Varying your squatting can shock your muscles out of a plateau.
  • Allows you to lift heavier loads with less discomfort compared to straight bar back squatting.
  • Provides a greater sense of safety, reducing need for a spotter. The camber essentially acts as a built-in spotting mechanism.
  • Increases muscle activation in the legs due to improved squat posture and body positioning.

Regularly mixing in the safety squat bar is an excellent way to drive new strength gains and muscle growth after a progress plateau. The safety squat combines the intense workload of a back squat with the posture of a front squat. For many, this leads to personal records they never hit with a straight bar.

Muscles Worked

The safety squat bar targets the muscles differently than a straight bar back squat. Expect increased emphasis on the following areas:

  • Quadriceps - The greater forward lean enhanced activation of the quads through a fuller range of motion.
  • Glutes - The cambered shape allows greater depth and a more upright torso, driving more glute recruitment.
  • Hamstrings - The glutes and hamstrings work synergistically to produce powerful hip extension.
  • Core - Greater torso rigidity is required due to the forward load shift. The core must work hard to prevent excessive spinal flexion. 
  • Upper back - The camber results in a more upright squat posture, increasing upper back tightness to stabilize the bar.

Along with the above primary movers, the safety squat bar also activates the calves, forearms, traps, and triceps due to the need to stabilize and support yourself under heavy load.

How to Get Stronger With the Safety Squat Bar

Here are some effective ways to incorporate the safety squat bar into your routine:

  • Back Squat - Set up just like a back squat holding the cambered section of the bar. Your hand position should feel natural based on the bar's shape. Keep your elbows up and chest tall as you squat down, allowing the elbows to track forward a bit as you descend. Come back up driving through your heels and squeezing your glutes.
  • Good Morning - With a light load, set up like a back squat. Maintaining a neutral spine, hinge at the hips to push your butt back and lower down. Squeeze glutes and hamstrings to return upright.
  • Box Squat - Perform any squat variation but sit back onto a low box at the bottom position. Pause briefly before driving back up using a powerful hip extension.

The safety squat bar can be used for higher volume squat sessions to reduce shoulder, elbow and wrist strain. It may allow you to handle heavier loads compared to a straight bar. Rotate the safety bar into your program every 4-6 weeks for a new stimulus.

Incorporating Accommodating Resistance

Bands and chains are excellent tools for getting even more out of the safety squat bar. The accommodating resistance provided by these implements challenges you through a full squat range of motion:

  • Bands increase the load at the top of the lift as you straighten your body and the bands stretch and deform.
  • Chains gradually increase the load as more links come off the floor at the bottom of the squat.

This variable resistance forces you to exert maximal force output at each point in the squat. The chains and bands overload the top and bottom ranges where regular weights alone don't provide as much challenge.

Adding chains, mini bands or full length bands to your safety bar squats provides a potent strength stimulus to drive new gains.

Safety Squat Bars for Specific Populations

The safety squat bar can benefit a wide range of trainees, especially:

  • Men and Women Over 40 - The camber greatly reduces shoulder, elbow and wrist strain compared to back squatting. The safety bar may extend the lifting lifespan for older athletes.
  • Injured Lifters - The safety bar shifts load off the shoulders and spine. This allows continued squatting while recovering from shoulder or back injuries.
  • Older Athletes - The unique stimulus and core demands enhance athletic performance and muscle development.

The safety squat bar is an incredibly useful tool for nearly any lifter but especially those looking to reduce strain, work around injuries or drive new progress.


Be patient in learning the nuances of the safety squat bar and allowing your body to adapt to the novel stimulus. Stick with it and you're likely to hit personal records you never reached with a straight bar. The safety squat bar is a pain-free way to tap into new strength reserves while building a resilient core and bulletproof legs.

To your success,

Coach Joe



Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women lose weight, gain strength, and slow aging. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to increase longevity with the best online age-management program, or you want to visit the best age-management program in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.

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