Safety squat bars can be a valuable tool but they are relatively pricey. Find out how to decide whether the SSB is worth it to you.
In short, the safety squat bar can be worth it for individuals who have the budget, who already have a barbell with weight plates, and who are not able to do squat variations without it or just like this bar.
If you fit this description it becomes a question of whether the price tag is worth the extra benefits of being able to do a squat variation. Since this is such a valuable exercise this can definitely be the case.
Individuals who don’t have a barbell yet and/or are able to do barbell back squats in an uncomfortable way have a harder decision.
In that case, the decision becomes a consideration between shoulder/wrist/ back comfort, training goals, and price tags.
The rest of the article goes a bit more in-depth into the pros and cons of the SSB in each of these areas. This can make the decision easier.
What is the state of your shoulders and wrists?
One of the main purposes of a safety squat bar is to make the back squat easier on your shoulders and wrists.
For some individuals, regular barbell squats are painful in these areas. Sometimes up to the point where it is not even possible to do this exercise.
Other people simply prefer the feeling of the safety squat bar. Especially in a workout program with a lot of focus on bench presses, shoulder presses, and other exercises with the shoulder joint.
Something to keep in mind is that some people are not comfortable with back squats but are comfortable with front squats. These individuals could get more benefits for the price by investing in a regular barbell instead.
That being said, the front squat is a challenging exercise when it comes to technique, shoulder mobility in a different direction, and upper back muscle requirements to keep the barbell in place.
How do regular squats feel on your back?
Even if your shoulders and wrists are fine with back squats, there is another area that can benefit from safety squat bars.
During barbell back squats, you have to tilt your upper body forward to stay balanced. If you don’t do this, you fall back due to the weight distribution.
Something relatively unusual in the safety squat bar is that the bar has a camber, a dent. The sleeves with weight plates are not at the same height and depth as the main bar resting on your shoulders.
More specifically, these weight plate sleeves are positioned more forward. This makes it so you have to bend forward less in the safety bar squat compared to the barbell back squat.
To individuals who (currently) have weak backs and/or individuals recovering from injuries, this can make the safety squat bar more worth it.
Something to keep in mind is that this also makes the muscles worked with safety squat bars somewhat different. Training lower back muscles is not the main goal of the barbell back squat but it can be a nice addition.
Do you already have equipment besides a safety squat bar?
When deciding on a piece of fitness equipment you do not only want to look at its own benefits and price.
What the rest of your workout equipment collection looks like also plays a role in whether the SSB is the next best choice or something that would be nice to have someday.
Even if your shoulders and wrists do not quite have the mobility for barbell back squats, a barbell can still offer the option to do valuable exercises like deadlifts, shoulder presses, bent-over rows, etc.
While certain safety squat bars can be used for some of these, they are often not ideal. At the same time, squats are definitely still one of the best compound leg exercises. Especially if you want to focus on your quadriceps.
While safety squat bars are harder than back squats with the same weight, keep in mind that you also still need enough weight plates to make the exercise challenging enough.
If you already have a barbell set and/or other more standard pieces of fitness equipment, the decision about investing in a safety bar squat becomes more of a comparison between just its specific pros, cons, and cost.
Price of a safety squat bar and your budget
Of course, the price of something like a safety squat bar will be important in your decision too.
Not just in terms of having the money but also because alternative options could offer the same or more benefits for a lower price.
The best safety squat bars, even the cheaper ones, require a relatively steep investment. Most of the time more than 350 dollars and often more in the direction of 450 dollars.
What this means for your decision about whether safety squat bars are worth it depends on the other details in this article, your budget, and how good equipment alternatives would be for your personal situation.
Is a safety squat bar worth it for you?
In the end, you want to think about your personal situation in all of the sections in this article.
These include what you are training for, what your budget is, the state of your shoulders and wrists, what other fitness tools you have, etc.
If you already have a barbell with weight plates, the budget for an SSB, and shoulders or wrists that don’t allow you to do regular back squats, a safety squat bar can be worth it.
Training lower body strength with squats is a valuable addition to most workout programs. The question then becomes whether the benefits of these outweigh the price tag of a safety squat bar.
People with a high budget, a lot of other fitness equipment, bad shoulders/wrists, a preference for the SSB, and compatible workout goals will find the safety squat bar worth considering.