You can use an EZ curl bar for squats safely as long as you perform the proper exercise variations. You should not use the EZ curl bar to perform standard squats with the barbell resting across your shoulders behind your head. Instead, you should incorporate front squats, Zercher squats, overhead squats, and other creative squat variations into your strength training routine using the EZ curl bar.
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Can You Use an EZ Curl Bar for Squats?
You can do squats with the EZ curl bar, but you will have to think outside the box with your exercises. Do not attempt to do standard squats (with the barbell resting across the top of your shoulders behind your head) using an EZ curl bar. The bar will not rest properly on the shoulders. Not only that, but there will not be a way to properly rack and lift the EZ curl bar for back squats in most cases. So, you will have to choose types of squats that involve safely lifting the bar from the floor.
- Several squat variations can be performed with an EZ curl bar.
- Do not perform standard back squats with an EZ curl bar.
- Squats designed for the EZ curl bar must be exercises where the bar can be lifted from the ground, not a squat rack.
- Use the EZ curl bar for squat variations where the bar is held in front or overhead.
The best way to perform squats with an EZ curl bar is to use a grip where the bar is held in front of the body or over your head. By employing different grips and foot placements you can get the most out of squats with the EZ curl bar.
5 Best Squat Exercises with the EZ Curl Bar
Squats are an excellent lower body workout that targets the quadriceps, glutes, and hip flexors. If you are looking to perform a comprehensive lower body workout with the EZ curl bar then you must include squats. Try these variations on the classic squat to get the most out of the EZ curl bar.
The front squat is an essential squat variation that is a great addition to any lower body workout plan. Not only are front squats very comfortable to perform using an EZ curl bar, but you can also start with the bar on the ground and get into the front squat position. Here’s how to do it:
- Begin with the EZ curl bar on the floor, loaded with the desired weight.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Grip the bar overhand, with both palms facing toward you.
- Perform a power clean to lift the EZ curl bar off the floor and balance it on the front of the shoulders.
- Squat while holding the bar in the top of the power clean position. When squatting, bring your thighs parallel to the floor at the bottom of each rep.
- Straighten up from the squat position. Use the muscles of the quads and hips to produce power for the exercise.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Front squats are an excellent exercise that target the quads even more specifically than back squats. They also engage the core muscles and strengthen the lower back. Because they target specific muscle groups, they are generally performed at lower weight than back squats. This makes front squats ideal for an EZ curl bar workout plan.
The Zercher squat is great for squatting heavy weight with an EZ curl bar. It is much easier to lift a heavily loaded bar in the Zercher position than into a power clean or overhead position. To do this exercise:
- Load the EZ curl bar with the desired weight. The bar can be loaded while balanced on a lifting bench or platform if you do not have a way to rack the bar. Ideally, the bar should be resting at waist height when loaded.
- Slip your arms under the bar, so that it rests in the crook of your elbows.
- Fold your arms and bring your hands to your chest, keeping the bar close to your body.
- Stand, lifting the loaded bar from the bench, rack, or platform.
- Step back from the bench or rack.
- Set your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
- Perform squats for the desired number of repetitions.
The Zercher squat is an excellent quad, glute, and hip flexor exercise. Whether performed with an EZ curl bar or standard barbell, it helps improve your squat depth and encourages an upright torso while squatting. This helps to build strength and reduces the risk of injury.
For an intense exercise that builds lower body strength at the same time it engages the core and shoulder muscles, perform overhead squats with an EZ curl bar. The best way to do this exercise is:
- Load the EZ curl bar with weight while the bar is resting on the ground.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and sink into a squat position, gripping the bar where it straightens close to the weights at either end.
- Perform a clean and press to lift the bar from the floor and hold it overhead.
- Perform squats with the bar held overhead. Your arms should be extended but do not lock your elbows.
- Focus on balance and maintaining a tight core while performing the overhead squat.
- During both the downward and upward motions of the squat, your weight should be evenly distributed across your feet. Too much weight on the heels or balls of your feet can unbalance you and contribute to poor form.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Overhead squats are an excellent option for an EZ curl bar workout because they must be done at much lower weight than a traditional squat. This makes it easy to load a bar with weight that will provide a great leg workout while still allowing you to lift the bar from the ground in the absence of a barbell rack.
Split Squat (Front, Overhead, or Zercher)
The split squat is a great way to build strength in the glutes and quads while simultaneously strengthening your knees. If you experience knee pain during other squat variations, split squats are a great EZ curl bar exercise. They can rehab your knees, reduce pain, and improve your performance at other squat variations. For this exercise:
- Load your EZ curl bar with the desired weight.
- Lift the EZ curl bar into the front squat, Zercher squat, or overhead squat grip.
- Step back with one leg, in position for a lunge.
- In a controlled manner, drop into a lunge position until the knee of your rear leg touches the floor.
- Stand up from the lunge position, using your front leg to drive yourself upward.
- Repeat for the desired reps before switching your stance to work both legs evenly.
When performing split squats with an EZ curl bar, you can use any of the grips discussed above. Split squats can be accomplished with a front squat, Zercher squat, or overhead squat grip. Experiment with different varieties. Zercher squats will allow you to squat more weight, but front and overhead squats will train your stabilizer muscles and improve your balance.
The hack squat is an excellent way to target the quadriceps and doesn’t need a barbell or machine. You can also lift heavy weight using an EZ curl bar. This is because the hack squat, much like the deadlift, involves lifting the bar from the floor with each rep. This means it can be easily performed without a squat rack. To do the hack squat:
- Load the EZ curl bar with the desired weight. Preferably, this exercise should be performed on top of a lifting platform or these rubber mats.
- Stand in front of the loaded bar with the barbell behind your legs.
- Drop into a squat position and grip the bar with your arms close beside your legs.
- Stand up from the squat position, bringing the bar close behind your legs without scraping your Achilles tendon or the backs of your calves.
- Tense your glutes and hip flexors as you straighten to a standing position. Make sure to keep your shoulders back and your eyes up throughout the exercise.
- In a controlled motion, guide the bar back to the ground until the weight touches the floor.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
At first glance, the hack squat may appear to be little more than a strange deadlift performed with the bar behind your legs rather than in front. The truth is, the hack squat is much more than that. By positioning the bar behind your body, you will target your quadriceps muscles (the muscles on the front of your thighs) far more than during a deadlift. This means the hack squat achieves many of the same goals as a standard squat, and it’s easy to perform with an EZ curl bar as the only equipment.
Is it Safe to Squat With a Curl Bar?
Not only is it safe to squat using an EZ curl bar, but there are also several squat exercises that pair excellently with the EZ curl bar. These lifts can also be performed without a squat rack, making them great for a minimalistic home gym. The best squats for an EZ curl bar leg workout are:
- Front Squats
- Zercher Squats
- Overhead Squats
- Split Squats (with the bar held in the front, Zercher, or overhead position)
- Hack Squats
Each of these squat exercises targets the muscle groups used during a traditional barbell back squat. Primarily, the quads (the muscle in the front of the thighs), glutes, and hip flexors will be activated by these exercises, but the core and back will also be strengthened by performing these squats with the EZ curl bar.