Whether you are a seasoned powerlifter or just getting started on your fitness journey, squats should be a part of your weightlifting routine. They are one of the best exercises for building a powerful and muscular lower body.
However, while squats are an extremely beneficial exercise, they do come with challenges, including:
A simple way to eliminate these challenges is to use a safety squat bar (SSB) instead of a conventional straight barbell!Also known as the yoke bar, a SSB is a type of specialty bar that eliminates many of the potential challenges of squats.
With that said, we are sharing our top SSB picks in this Buyer's Guide!
For each of our picks, we are sharing the bars:
By the end of this, you will be able to choose a great bar that fits all of your needs.Here is everything you need to know about the SSB and which ones we recommend checking out!
Think that you are a squat pro and do not need a SSB? Think again!Safety squat bars aren't just for beginner squatters or for eliminating safety concerns. In fact, they are widely used among professionals to promote safety, proper form, and overall improved squat performance!
With that said, here are the top benefits that lifters of all levels can take away from using a SSB:
First and foremost, the most evident benefit of using a SSB is better squat safety. The way that SSBs improve safety is by stabilizing your center of gravity.It is challenging to maintain balance when doing squats with weight plates on a standard barbell. If you don't have balance, it is easy to fall out of the squat and injure yourself. SSBs remove that balance challenge by stabilizing your center of gravity.
They do that with the help of sturdy hand grips and greater shoulder mobility on the bar.Moreover, with a SSB, you can safely complete the full range of motion of the exercise without feeling like you will fall out of balance.
We always say that form is the most crucial part of any exercise! Squats are no exception to that rule. Proper form further promotes safety and ensures you get all of the benefits of the exercise.
One of the worst form mistakes you can make when squatting is rounding your upper back. Rounding the upper back is like asking for an upper or lower back injury for your birthday!
Thankfully, the SSB reduces the odds that you round your upper back and injure yourself. Not only that, but the SSB will reduce the odds that you develop back pain in general.
Are you a front or back barbell squat kind of person? Both variations have their own benefits, and most lifters tend to have a preferred variation.
SSBs act like a hybrid between the front and back squat. They combine the top benefits and techniques of both squat variations. Therefore, whether you are a front or back squat kind of lifter, you get all of your existing squat benefits plus a few extras!
Do you have an upper-body injury? More specifically, do you have a shoulder injury that reduces the amount of mobility you can get? If so, then using a SSB can help take some of the strain off of your injury.The soft shoulder pads on the SSB soften the blow that a straight bar takes on your shoulders.
At the same time, the SSB redistributes a lot of the weight that usually rests directly on your shoulders across your upper body to reduce pain.Therefore, if you have an existing shoulder injury or pain (or want to prevent an issue from coming about!), you can avoid worsening it by using a SSB!
There are dozens of different squat variations out there. Thankfully, the SSB is compatible with many of them, including good mornings and Hatfield squats. That way, you won’t get bored with your squatting routine! Not only that, but you can use the SSB for other heavy duty exercises, including deadlifts and bench press!
Now without further ado, here are our top 5 safety squat bar picks! You can find more information and purchase them on Amazon or the SSB’s official website.
The Titan Olympic Bar V2 is not the first SSB that Titan has put out. In fact, Titan put out their first SSB a couple of years ago, and it was by far one of the worst in the game. However, they made significant upgrades to that first version, and now the Olympic Bar V2 is one of the best safety bars out there!
Not only is it far more affordable than other bars, but it also checks the boxes of our other top priorities. The shoulder pad is extremely comfortable. It is made out of a thick material that reduces pressure on the upper body and minimizes sliding. Additionally, it has the ideal camber angle, removable handles, and a luxurious vinyl cover.
Considering the price and the fact that it is very high-quality, it is hard to beat the Titan Olympic Bar V2! Highly recommend checking it out, especially if you are looking to put together a home gym or garage gym on a budget!
Online price: $300
Here is what one online customer said about the Titan Olympic V2 SSB:
“You can actually squat hands free, it is that balanced. I have a bad back and shoulders. With this bar my shoulders do not hurt and my posture is better while squatting Two very big positives. I was hesitant while making the purchase. Now I would not hesitate, it is well worth the money, bad shoulders and back or not. Highly recommended.”
Rogue is known for producing some of the most heavy-duty fitness equipment. If you are a powerlifter or bodybuilder, then odds are that you are no stranger to Rogue's equipment, including this SB1 SSB.
What makes this SSB by Rogue different is its unique weight distribution technology. This is super important for those lifting extremely heavy weights. The higher the weight on the bar, the easier it is to fall out of balance. A simple solution to this is to have a bar that gives you a hand with weight distribution. That way, you are less likely to lose balance.
Also, the SB1 SSB does a better job of targeting the anterior chain muscles than the posterior chain. Moreover, it simulates a front squat better than it does a back squat. If you are looking for an ideal powerlifting piece of equipment, then look no further than Rogue's SB1 Bar.
Online price: $445
Here is what one online customer said about the Rogue SB1 SSB:
“I ordered this bar at the end of April, and almost canceled it when given the option because it was backordered for an extended length of time. I am so glad I didn't! My squats and good mornings feel incredibly comfortable-squats are my weakest lift and I feel a lot of fear of getting under the bar and adding more weight and I am very hopeful that this bar will help me make some long overdue breakthroughs."
Perhaps the most popular and widely-used SSB is the EliteFTS SS Yoke Bar. EliteFTS put out the first version of this bar many years ago, and it was a hit. But then in 2012, they made some minor adjustments to the bar, and now it is one of the most popular, high-quality, and technical bars out there!
By technical, we mean that EliteFTS did some serious research to make this bar the best one in the game. Specifically, they used their research to design the perfectly cambered bar. This bar has a longer camber, which makes it able to withstand the heaviest weight plates and still be light on the upper body.
Not only does this SSB scientifically improve traditional squats, but dozens of online reviews confirm that it is beneficial for countless different squat variations.
Online price: $445
Here is what one online customer said about the EliteFTS SS Yoke Bar:
“I've had mine for over 3 years and regularly have between 400-700lbs on it weekly and the padding is still perfect, this is the best bar I have. I also use it for all types of good mornings, JM presses-makes it simple and idiot proof, front squats-which suck but are comfortable. You can't go wrong!"
The Kabuki Strength Transformer Bar is the most versatile SSB in the fitness world! The fact that it has so many applications makes the steep price tag more justifiable. Another unique aspect of this SSB is its patent-pending barbell design. The barbell allows for the adjustment of the center of mass.
Therefore, you can adjust the bar according to your fitness level. If you are a beginner lifter, you can use the bar for many years as you continue to progressively overload.
Or, if you are already an experienced lifter, the bar can be adjusted to fit the heaviest Olympic plates. Moreover, this is an expensive bar. But, given its versatility and state-of-the-art weightlifting bar technology, the price can be justified!
Online price: $670
Here is what one online customer said about the Kabuki Strength Transformer Bar:
“This bar is the coolest/most versatile bar I have ever used. It can simulate any type of squat in a matter of seconds and can also increase the difficulty of the squat. If you are someone with injuries that prevent you from standard squatting or just generally trying to get stronger, this is the best bar on the market hands down. This thing is a mechanical masterpiece!"
The Bells of Steel SS3 is a fairly new SSB to join the game. What makes it stand out are its features that assist lifters who have limited joint mobility. The front-facing parallel handles reduce the odds of hyperextending injured or painful shoulders, elbows, and wrists.
Also, if you are particularly keen on building up your posterior chain muscles, then this is a great bar for you. Unlike other SSBs that help you find a middle ground between the back and front squats, the SS3 acts more like a back squat simulating bar. While this isn't ideal for everyone, it is ideal for those who want to build up stronger hamstrings, glutes, and back muscles.
Bottom line: If you have limited joint mobility and are looking for a less expensive SSB that targets the posterior chain muscles, then you have found your match!
Online price: $330
Here is what one online customer said about the Bells of Steel SS3 SSB:
“I had previously purchased a cheaper SSB and it was more like doing a front squat than a SSB squat. The pads were barely doing anything.The Bells of Steel SSB was like a completely different thing. The first squat I ever did with it was hands free and it stayed balanced and the pads on the bar made doing 3 plates like there was no pressure applied to my shoulders. Great for box squats and just taking the stress off my shoulders."
Regardless of your fitness level or how good you think your squats already are, we highly recommend trying out a SSB! Specifically, we recommend trying out one of our top SSB picks from this guide.
It doesn’t matter which one you pick; you will see improved squat performance, better form, and minimize potential safety concerns. Don’t hesitate to upgrade your squat game!
Squats are one of the most important exercises you can do in weightlifting. Therefore, make sure you invest in the best piece of equipment to help you get them right!
Bonus tip: How else can you optimize your daily routine to build the most muscle? Following the proper diet of course! But, is the keto diet considered an optimal diet for building muscle? We are debunking everything you need to know about the keto diet and how it impacts your ability to gain muscles!