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Barbells are a popular piece of fitness equipment for both at home or in the gym. Find out what accessories you can use to make even better use of your barbell.
A barbell is a long bar that can hold weight plates. You can use this piece of exercise equipment to modify regular exercises like squats or to do specific barbell exercises.
Among other benefits, a barbell can help you strengthen muscles, you have the weight capacity that other free weights don’t allow, a barbell can improve your workouts for many years, etc.
For many of these benefits, weight plates and a barbell are all you need.
Even so, with the right barbell accessories you can make certain exercises more effective and/or comfortable, allow you to store the bar in a convenient way, protect your floor, etc.
Depending on things like your training goals and budget, certain of the barbell accessories below can be a worthwhile investment.
1. Barbell clamps
With popular exercises like the barbell back squat the heavy weight plates can move back and forth on the bar. This can be uncomfortable in the best case, and cause accidents in the worst case.
Luckily there is a relatively simple solution to this problem. There are barbell clamps, also known as collars or clips, that are small round objects that can be clamped securely around the part of the barbell that holds weights.
To use this weight lifting accessory you simply load your barbell with the desired weight and put the clamps right next to these weights so that they can’t move back and forth.
A benefit of this barbell accessory is that it is relatively inexpensive. Especially compared to the discomfort and accidents barbell clamps can help you avoid.
If you are somewhat serious about barbell exercises this option likely deserves a spot in your fitness equipment collection.
2. Drop pads
Even if you have a power rack with a barbell holder, some exercises will start with a loaded barbell on the ground. To protect your floor, both from dropping and simply putting the barbell down, you can get some form of protective flooring.
Instead of getting complete protective flooring, you can invest in barbell drop pads. As the name implies, these are thick pads made for dropping, or at least lowering, your weights to the ground.
Something to keep in mind when using this barbell accessory is that some of the models are relatively bouncy. You don’t want to drop your weight on the pad only to see it bounce off to the floor anyway.
While likely not as expensive as a new floor, drop pads tend to be relatively pricey compared to some of the other options on this list.
3. Barbell jack
One of the things where barbells stand out from other free weight equipment options is their high weight capacity. This makes a barbell ideal for an exercise like deadlifts where you generally use a lot of weight.
The deadlift is an exercise where you lift a barbell loaded with weight plates off the ground. Before being able to do this exercise, loading the weight plates on the barbell can be a challenge, especially if you lift heavy.
To solve this issue, or make loading a barbell on the ground at least a lot more comfortable, there is a barbell accessory called a barbell jack.
This is a piece of equipment that helps you lift your barbell a certain amount in the air and keeps it there while you load your weight plates. These generally come in steel or wood.
Some have a long handle which makes lifting the barbell easier, others come with a short handle which can certainly be sufficient too.
Whether or not you should invest in a barbell jack depends on things like your budget, how often you do deadlifts or other ground-loaded exercises, and how much you dislike putting on the weight plates.
4. Barbell storage rack
This next barbell accessory is for individuals with a home gym and a few different bars and possibly other fitness equipment.
A good barbell rack allows you to store your barbell(s) and other bars in your home gym in a convenient and compact way. Instead of putting them on the ground in a messy pile, you can stack them either horizontally or vertically.
In turn, there is more room to do your (barbell) exercises or for other fitness gear.
There are a few barbell storage rack types to choose from. You have wall-mounted vs free-standing options, options that are more vertical vs more horizontal, and with room for other fitness equipment vs bars-only storage.
If you have any non-standard-sized barbell or other fitness equipment you want to store, you may want to double-check what the storage racks can hold.
5. Lifting straps
As mentioned before, barbells are great for lifting relatively heavy weights. More than other fitness equipment.
In some exercises, the issue becomes that your grip muscles fatigue faster than the main muscles targetted. This can happen in exercises like deadlifts, bent-over rows, shrugs, and rack pulls.
This is generally not helpful for growing and strengthening the target muscles of the exercise as much as possible. One way to overcome this challenge is to use lifting straps.
These accessories are basically straps that you wrap around your wrists and the barbell. Lifting straps make it so your grip muscles have to work less hard. In turn, you can focus more on fatiguing the main muscles of the exercise.
If you do not care that much about using your grip muscles less, but instead want more comfort, you may also be interested in lifting hooks. These put a hook of softer material between your hands and the barbell on top of making the grip slightly easier.
6. Barbell squat pad
The back squat is one of the most popular uses for a barbell with weight plates. One potential downside is that some people find it painful to hold the bar on their back.
To resolve this issue there are barbell squat pads. These are soft foam barbell attachments to be a cushion between the steel barbell and your body.
Besides that, barbell squat pads can be even more useful during the hip thrust exercise. This is an exercise where you hold a barbell on your hips and lift it with the help of your glutes. In this exercise, the pad can protect your hips instead of your back.
If you plan to do either hip thrusts or squats regularly, a barbell squat pad is likely not an unnecessary luxury. Especially since this barbell accessory is so inexpensive.
One downside of these pads is that they generally do not last that long. You may need a replacement every once in a while.
7. Steel chains
There is something that can be unhelpful about most free weights for certain training goals in some exercises. The resistance your muscles experience can lower at the top of the movement, for example during bicep curls.
If you don’t like this or avoiding this would benefit your training goals you have a few equipment options to choose from. One of these is steel chains that are attachable to a barbell.
When you attach these accessories to the barbell, as you lift the bar higher, more of the steel chain comes off the ground. This leads to more resistance at the top of the movement and more constant tension throughout the exercise.
Additionally, you can also wrap these steel chains around your body for exercises like weighted pull-ups and dips where you need your hands somewhere else. Steel chains will generally last a long time too.
One potential downside of steel chains is that they are relatively expensive. If you are on a budget, other workout equipment options like dumbbells could be a better choice.