Aug 16, 2018
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The video below shows the difference between using a straight bar and EZ curl bar when it comes to biceps curls. Typically, the EZ bar has the advantage of putting less strain on the wrists, hence why many people prefer it. Some people claim the EZ bar emphasizes a slightly different part of the upper arm versus a straight bar, but for most lifters the effect is negligible. The same principles apply to skull crushers (also called lying triceps press or extensions).
To get bigger arms, it's a no-brainer to do exercises targeting your biceps, triceps, and forearms. While compound movements like bench press, barbell rows, etc. will absolutely recruit your bis and tris, it's important to also isolate your arm muscles. Two of the best and most popular movements to get maximum growth out of your arms are biceps curls and triceps extensions (a.k.a. skull crushers). For these, you need a curl bar. You can definitely do these exercises with a straight bar, but there are several advantages to going with an EZ bar - namely comfort and injury prevention. An EZ curl bar has a "zig zag" pattern to it, and you can grip it in various spots. The beauty of it is that gripping an EZ bar will lessen the tension on your wrists and elbows. Doing curls or triceps extensions on a straight bar could introduce strain and injury.
Most people in a gym performing skull crushers or preacher curls opt for an EZ bar, simply for wrist and forearm comfort. For bicep curls it's mostly personal preference as to whether a straight bar or EZ bar is more ideal, and for most gym-goers the result won't be too different. Again, for injury prevention, the EZ bar has an edge over the straight bar.
When looking for the best EZ curl bar, it's important to consider several factors. In this guide we'll help cut through the jargon so you can make an informed decision.
Sleeve diameter: The sleeves of a bar are the ends you slide weights onto. Olympic weights have a 2-inch diameter hole, and thus require a 2-inch diameter sleeve. Some EZ curl bars out there only accommodate 1-inch hole weight plates, so make sure to get one that matches the weight plates you have (or intend to buy). The sleeve diameter will also affect which barbell collars you need to get.
Weight: Make sure to note how much the bar itself weighs. Most EZ curl bars are around the 20 lb. mark, but they vary. By knowing how much the bar itself weighs, you'll be able to determine how many weight plates you'll need to load on it to get the desired level of resistance.
Knurling: Most bars are smooth, except for the "rough" areas where they're meant to be gripped. That roughness is known as the knurling, and some bars have more extreme knurling than others. Some amount of knurling is important because it introduces friction and makes it harder for your hand to slip while holding the bar. Too much knurling can be a little difficult to get used to, especially if you have painful callouses! Make sure to read reviews for whichever EZ curl bar you're considering and look for comments on how extreme the knurling is. Check out this gif or knurling being created on a bar.
Angle of the bends: Some EZ bars have a gentle curvature to them, while others have a more extreme bend. There's not really a right or wrong answer here; the former will be closer to how a straight bar feels, while the more extreme bend might slightly alter which arm muscles are targeted.
Coating: Some bars are composed of chrome coated steel, while others have a black coating. This is mostly an aesthetic choice, and with some minor maintenance either coating should last you for a long time.