Axle bars are known for pulling exercises but you can also use them to do presses like the bench press. Find out how this changes the exercise.
The main difference between the axle bar bench press and the barbell version is that you will engage your forearm grip muscles just a bit more than the barbell version.
That being said, will definitely not change forearm grip muscle engagement as much as using the axle bar in pulling exercises.
Axle bar bench presses will still mainly be a chest, tricep, and front deltoid exercise.
Besides that, some people simply like the feel of the axle bar more.
Something to keep in mind is that you may need to apply markings to the axle bar due to the lack of knurling to grab the bar at the right distance.
You may need to sit a bit more forward too so you don’t hit the bar holder.
Most people will be able to see more results from doing a regular barbell bench press but if you like one of its benefits enough, you can consider the axle bar version too.
How to do an axle bar bench press
As you can expect, you will need a good axle bar, weight plates, a weight bench, and a bar holder that fits this specialty barbell to do the axle bar bench press.
Once you have the required gear, take the following steps to do the exercise:
- Load the racked axle bar with the desired weight.
- Lie down with your back on the weight bench, pull your shoulder blades back and down, and place your hands with an overhanded grip on the axle bar at about shoulder width.
- Unrack the axle bar and keep your arms slightly less than stretched and pointing up.
- Slowly lower the axle bar to your chest. Your upper arms should be at an angle of about 45 degrees or less to your sides.
- Push the axle bar back up until your arms are slightly less than stretched.
It is important to know that axle bar bench presses can be slightly harder than the barbell version. You likely want to start with low weights and build up from there to play things safe.
Potentially with a spotter or safety bars.
Next, most axle fat bars do not have knurling. This also means no queues to make sure you are placing your hands at the same distance from the weight plates.
To do balanced bench presses you may need to apply markings yourself. For example, with some athletic tape.
Additionally, you may need to sit slightly more forward on the bench so that the thicker bar does not hit the holders when pushing it up.
Axle bar bench press muscles worked
Similar to the regular version, axle bar bench presses will mainly work your chest, tricep, and front deltoid (shoulder) muscles.
In most axle bar exercises, choosing this type of bar results in a big increase in how much you work your forearm grip muscles.
This is still somewhat the case in the bench press exercise but a lot less than pulling exercises like the deadlift. If you really want to improve your grip strength, other exercises will be more useful.
Besides that, seeing muscle-related benefits still requires you to implement good training habits. That means doing axle bar bench presses with enough weight, sets, and reps.
Additionally, if you manage to get stronger with axle bar bench presses, you will likely need to increase what weights you use. Otherwise, you will start seeing fewer and fewer results.
Axle bar bench press benefits
Using an axle bar instead of a barbell in the bench press is not a night and day difference but there are some changes you can consider benefits. Some of these are:
- Stronger forearm grip muscles: Using the axle bar in the bench press makes it so your forearm grip muscles have to work just a bit harder. If this leads to more strengthening, the axle bar could benefit daily activities and potentially other lifts.
- Some people like the feeling: Some people simply prefer the feeling of the thicker axle bar without knurling.
- Keeps things interesting: To get the results of resistance training you still have to do the workouts. If you find axle bars a fun way to switch things up, they could help with these things.
To make full use of the benefits of axle bars you definitely also want to consider other exercises. Most people do not get this specialty barbell to do bench presses.
That being said, if you like these benefits and don’t mind the downsides, you can consider using the axle bar in this movement. Even if it is just to switch things up every once in a while.
Similar to the regular version, axle bar bench presses can be challenging for your shoulders, elbows, and wrists. Especially your wrist may experience a bit more pressure.
If any of these areas are a concern to you, you may want to talk to an expert before doing a lot more axle bar bench presses.
Another thing to note is that you may find it harder to balance the axle bar. You definitely don’t want to drop this bar on yourself while benching heavy weights.
Is the axle bar bench press a good exercise?
The axle bar bench press is still a good exercise to grow and strengthen your chest, tricep, and front deltoid muscles.
One difference with the regular version is that you work your forearm grip muscles.
Additionally, you may find the unusual setup a fun way to switch up your workouts.
While there are potential positive points, you also want to keep in mind that there are downsides to using an axle bar in this exercise too.
More specifically, axle bars typically do not have any knurling or marking. You may want to apply this with something like athletic tape to make sure you can hold the axle bar in a balanced position.
Besides that, not all bar racks will be able to hold a thicker bar.
Another thing to note is that the dry benefits of exercises are often not the only details that matter when putting together a workout plan.
People who find doing axle bar bench presses enjoyable may find it easier to do them consistently than other exercises. In turn, this could offer more positive effects.