The unusual shape of cambered bars changes your exercises in a few ways. Find out whether these cambered bars offer any benefits for your situation.
Something to note first is that the cambered bars come in different types. The most popular one is a cambered squat bar where the weights hang lower than the bar on your shoulders.
Additionally, there are cambered bench press bars with a bend in the middle. Lastly, some people also use the name cambered bar for buffalo bars. These are basically bent barbells.
The exact effects of these different types are not always the same but each cambered bar can benefit certain areas of your workouts in some of the ways below.
1. Cambered bars work your stabilizing muscles more
This first benefit mostly applies to the cambered squat bars where the weights are on a lower level.
During compound exercises like squats muscles like your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves have to do most of the work.
At the same time, there are stabilizing muscles like hip adductors, hip abductors, core muscles, and erector spinae that influence the trajectory of your body and the weights you use.
Cambered bar squats will involve more swinging than barbell squats due to the lower position of the weights. In turn, this requires more work than usual from your stabilizing muscles.
This same concept also applies but with different muscles during other cambered squat bar exercises like the bench press, good morning, etc.
Additionally, you also likely work different muscle fibers in the same big muscle groups.
It is worth noting that this extra stabilizing muscle engagement can be a benefit in certain situations but a downside in others.
Even if you take the heavier cambered bar weights into account, you will likely be able to use less extra weight due to this instability.
This can make your workout of the main muscles less optimal.
2. Cambered bars may help prevent injuries
A benefit of working your stabilizing muscles more by using a cambered bar is that this tends to reduce your injury risk in the areas you work.
Especially in combination with a lot of strength in the main muscles, having weak stabilizing muscles can lead to injuries if you overdo it with certain movements.
One thing to keep in mind is that the swinging of the cambered bar weights can also be the cause of injuries.
Especially in resistance training beginners and people who don’t warm up well.
In your first few cambered bar workouts, you likely want to load the bar light to play it safe.
3. Cambered bars add some variety
Cambered bars are definitely not unique in this next benefit but it is worth mentioning anyway.
Changing up the equipment you use can add some freshness to your workouts.
Especially with more unusual equipment options like cambered bars that can really change the feeling of traditional exercises.
This can be helpful for people who struggle to stay consistent because they find their workouts uninteresting but also for people who want to like their weight lifting workouts (even) more.
Additionally, not many people will like being injured. If cambered bars help you avoid this, this is a positive point too.
4. You may find cambered bars more comfortable
In back squats with a regular barbell, you have to turn your shoulders somewhat to hold the bar in position.
To some people, this shoulder position can be uncomfortable and prevent them from doing squats optimally.
When using a cambered squat bar you can put your hands lower on the vertical bars that connect the upper bar with the lower bar with weights.
By doing this you have to turn your shoulders less which can in turn lead to more comfortable squats.
It is possible that this benefit of cambered bars does not apply to you at all. However, if it does, this can make your squat routine a lot more comfortable.
5. You can use cambered bars in many exercises
Back squats are basically the most popular use for cambered bars but there are other exercise options too.
Some of these include cambered bar bench presses, lunge variations, the good morning exercise, Bulgarian split squats, shoulder presses, etc.
How much exercise equipment options make your life better is important too.
However, being able to work different muscles in different ways is typically a positive point too.
6. Some cambered bars offer a bigger range of motion
The next benefit applies to the cambered bench press bars (and buffalo bars).
These have a bend in the middle that allows you to lower it more compared to a straight bar during the bench press exercise.
This is a benefit because going through a larger range of motion under tension tends to be good for muscle growth and strength progress.
In simpler words, cambered bench press bars could help you gain more chest, tricep, and front deltoid muscle mass and strength faster.
It is true that you can also use more standard equipment options like dumbbells to get a bigger range of motion in the bench press.
At the same time, you may not like the increase in stabilizing muscle engagement of these.
Another thing to note is that the bigger range of motion from cambered bench press bars is not always a benefit.
For individuals who already have trouble with their shoulders during regular bench presses, a bigger range of motion could magnify the issues.