There are a lot of different pieces of equipment floating around the gym and if you’re new to the environment, the names of some things may not be apparent or you might just get your wires crossed. Here is a quick rundown of the different types of weight lifting bars you can find in your typical gym and what they’re used for.
Barbell- The barbell is the classic and universal straight metal bar that we use in most of our heavy lifting exercises and some of our not-so-heavy lifts as well. A typical barbell is approximately 45lbs and about seven foot long. Barbells are used for squats, bench press, incline bench, rows, military and overhead press, power cleans; you name it! There are a lot of creative uses for these bars to target specific areas of the body but you get the point.
There are also shorter and lighter variants of barbells as well. Though smaller, these are still just barbells.
There are also what’s called fixed barbells. These are just barbells with weights attached (fixed) to either end. You can usually find these on a pyramid rack with their weight value labeled on the sides somewhere.
Curl Bar (EZ bar)- The EZ curl bar is a short bar with angled grips in the middle. The EZ bar makes curling easier on the wrists by allowing the thumbs to stay above the pinkies and keep the forearms and wrists in a neutral, less supinated position. Though it reduces stress on the wrists and forearms, the angle of the hands causes the biceps to not attain a full contraction making the EZ bar curl less effective than a curl with a barbell. You can use EZ bars for curls and reverse curls. It can also be used for triceps workouts.
Like fixed barbells, you may also find fixed curl bars on a pyramid rack in your gym.
Triceps bar- the triceps bar is a small box shaped bar with two neutral grip handles in the middle. The handles serve a similar function as the EZ bar grips, creating less tension and stress on the user’s wrists and forearms. A lifter can use the triceps bar to perform a number of triceps exercises like triceps extensions, and skull crushers. The neutrality of the grips also allows the user to perform hammer curls as well.
Hex Bar/Trap bar- This is a diamond shaped bar in which the lifter stands in the middle and can grip two neutral handles at his side to lift the weight. Typically, these are used for deadlifts when barbells feel cumbersome to the lifter or he doesn’t want to have to worry about the barbell banging against his knees as he lifts. These bars can also be used to perform shoulder shrugs for the same reason.
Outside of these two lifts there is not really much else that can be performed with this type of bar.
Dumbbell- the last kind of bar we’ll talk about is the dumbbell. It’s ambiguous whether or not you call a dumbbell a bar or not but it is definitely a piece of equipment with which you should be savvy. A dumbbell is not very large, it has a grip for just one hand to fit but that is what makes it insanely versatile. Dumbbells can be fixed or adjustable, though most gyms have racks of dumbbells with fixed weights. You can use dumbbells to assist in targeting ANY muscle on your body.