The tricep bar is a type of specialty weight lifting bar. Discover its unique features and benefits to find out whether it aligns with your goals and preferences.
Its name may imply differently but tricep bars are not only useful for tricep training.
1. Tricep bars can be more comfortable
Two of the main (but not only) uses of tricep bars are tricep and bicep isolation exercises like (lying) tricep extensions and bicep curl variations.
For many people, it is also possible to do these exercises with a straight bar.
Even so, the neutral angles of the tricep bar handles are typically more comfortable for your wrists.
In some cases, this benefit just means somewhat more comfortable tricep and bicep workouts.
In others, these handles can save you from weeks of downtime due to wrist injuries.
2. Tricep bars can work muscles in a different ratio
Individuals more experienced with bicep training may already know this but the angle of your wrists influences in what ratio you work your muscles during a bicep curl.
You can use the tricep bar to do a bar version of hammer curls where you implement a neutral grip (hand palms towards each other).
Hammer curls and thus tricep bar curls work your brachialis (deeper upper arm muscles) and brachioradialis (forearm muscles) slightly more and biceps brachii (most visible front upper arm muscles) slightly less.
This different muscle engagement is not necessarily good for everyone but it could be a benefit for certain people and training goals.
And even if you don’t like this specific aspect of tricep bars but do like the equipment for other reasons, you can also consider holding the top horizontal bar of the tricep bar for bicep curls.
3. Tricep bars engage fewer stabilizing muscles
You may wonder why someone would not just use dumbbells to do hammer curls to get the previous benefit.
This is still an option too but it is worth mentioning that the tricep bar works your shoulder stabilization muscles to a lesser extent because the handles are connected to each other.
When using dumbbells for hammer curls you will work muscles like your pronator teres, pronator quadratus, supinator, infraspinatus, teres minor, anterior deltoid, etc. a good amount.
These muscles are responsible for keeping your wrists at the right angle and moving your hands straight up, not outward or inward.
Again, this different muscle engagement is not always better or worse.
At the same time, people who like to do isolation exercises also tend to like working the target muscles as much as possible.
Tricep bars do not only help with this in hammer curls but also in tricep isolation exercises like skull crushers, standing tricep extensions, and similar movements.
4. Tricep bars are compact
This next benefit of tricep bars is not the most complicated but their short length and compact frame can be valuable anyway.
During your actual workouts, this makes it easier to move into position and again engage your stabilizing muscles less (since you don’t have to swing around a huge bar).
Outside of your tricep bar workouts, it is easier to store this piece of fitness equipment than for example a barbell.
This can be helpful for smaller home gyms and living spaces.
5. Tricep bars are relatively budget-friendly
Certain pieces of fitness equipment, including specialty barbells, can be somewhat pricier.
This is not always bad and these equipment options can still be worth their investments but being able to get similar effects with a smaller budget is great too.
It is true that tricep bars still require some investment.
However, when it comes to weight lifting equipment they are relatively budget-friendly. This makes tricep bars more worth it if the other benefits align with your training goals and preferences too.
Something you do want to keep in mind is that something like a barbell with weight plates typically has priority over tricep bars in terms of how much muscle growth and strength progress you can achieve per dollar invested.
It could even be worth passing on a tricep bar for now to save up for a barbell setup.
6. You can use tricep bars in different exercises
There are many examples of exercise and sports equipment options where you can only use the tool for a few or even one different purpose.
This does not necessarily mean these are never a good idea but it is worth mentioning that versatility is typically considered to be a benefit.
Tricep bars really stand out in tricep and bicep isolation exercises like skull crushers, standing tricep extensions, and hammer curls.
However, you can also use tricep bars in other exercises like front raises, shoulder presses, bench presses, etc.
7. Tricep bars have a low starting weight weight
Similar to many other specialty barbells, tricep bars have a non-standard starting weight.
The average tricep bar weight of the 17 examples I looked at was 16.81 pounds (7.62 kg). This is a lot lighter than the 45 pounds (20 kg) of a standard barbell.
As long as the tricep bars still have enough weight capacity for the exercises you intend to do, the lower starting weight is a benefit.
In exercises for “weak” muscles like your biceps and triceps, you want to be able to start with a weight that is low enough.
If the starting weight is too high you would not be able to do workouts with the optimal rep and set ranges for getting stronger.
8. Tricep bars can make things more interesting
Two big parts of resistance training are all the health and visual benefits you get from it.
That being said, there are also plenty of people that enjoy their gym sessions for other reasons too.
If this is one of your reasons for doing resistance training workouts, tricep bars could potentially make them even more fun.
This is because simply using different pieces of fitness equipment tends to add a “new” feeling to some of the exercises you have already done many, many times.
On top of that, by helping you avoid wrist injuries, tricep bars could also make it so you have to spend less time in recovery mode.