Once you’ve established your home gym and have the essentials in place, it’s time to move on to the more specialist elements of your setup.
For many lifters–myself included–that includes a safety squat bar.
But which one to choose?
As a gym owner for over a decade, I know a thing or two about safety squat bars, and the importance of getting the right one.
In this review, I share everything I know about safety squat bars to make sure you’re equipped with the best information when you go to make your purchase
A safety squat bar is a specialist item, so the range of bars out there isn’t vast. This means you have to be really sure about your pick, so you don’t end up choosing a low quality option that falls apart quickly.
In the guide, we’re going to look at the features of the three best safety bars on the market, so you can be 100% certain you’re choosing the one for your needs.
Let’s dive in.
**Note: If you’re in a rush and don’t have time to read the guide below, I highly recommend this safety squat bar from Titan. It’s extremely affordable and built to last: Titan Safety Squat Bar
It’s important to point out that safety squat bars aren’t built to standard sizes like normal weightlifting barbells. You need to know this because you’re likely to have to purchase new collars for the bar.
Fortunately, our #1 option from Titan allows for standard collars
The safety squat bars are typically thicker construction, they weigh more and will vary in their length and weight.
The sleeves are different–there’s no importance of fast-spinning collars, bushings and the like, so those features aren’t important in a review.
Instead, what I focus on (and you should too) is the build quality of the bar, the price, the comfort and the usability. The more technical characteristics of barbell design such as whip and spin don’t really matter here, so we won’t get lost in the weeds on that score.
Just so we’re all clear with the terminology in the review, I’m going to outline a couple of aspects of the terminology I’ll be using:
This is the drop between the shoulder pads and the depth of the bar where the weight sits. Bigger camber means the weight sits lower to the ground, adjusting the biomechanics.
On a safety squat bar, there are handles that sit on each shoulder. These will be spaced differently depending on the size of the bar and the padding.
The safety squat bars are different shapes, they have different depth of camber etc. The length refers to the end to end length of the entire bar, not the handles.
The range of high-quality safety squat bars on the market is limited, so I’ve kept it to the best three around from a usability, quality and value standpoint. Here’s the bars in the order I like them, with justifications for each…
I’m a big fan of Titan Fitness barbells and the Titan Safety Squat Olympic Bar V2 is another fantastic offering from them. When it comes to safety squat bars I’m primarily looking at three things–the build quality, the shape and the user comfort.
This bar has them in all spades.
At 61lbs it’s a mid-weight bar and with a weight capacity of 1500lbs, you’ll have no worries about its strength.
It’s a longer bar than most, but what that allows is for comfortable handle spacing that means it’s suitable for bigger and smaller guys alike. The 12.75 spacing between the handles (8 inch gap when padding is accounted for) will sit on almost all shoulders.
The bar is perfectly balanced, showing care has been taken in the construction.
It’s made with a 1.5 inch diameter steel and the handles are capped with plastic grips for better user comfort.
The 5 inch camber drop is deep enough to shift the weight, but not so deep that it unbalances the bar.
The sleeves are designed for olympic weight plates, which means standard collars fit onto the bar–a small but VERY welcome feature because it saves you from having to buy specialist collars for the bar.
Another thing I look at is reviews. When I’m not the only one that loves a bar, I know that’s a great sign–and this safety squat bar from Titan has phenomenal reviews.
It has nearly a 5 star rating and over 201 reviews–which it deserves–and why it got our #1 spot.
This one from Titan is an excellent value safety squat bar. It’s well made, strong, fits all sizes, and comes with a standard sleeve, meaning normal collars are suitable. With payment options and free shipping available, it’s a clear winner in my eyes.
Rogue makes excellent equipment and their SB-1 Safety Squat Bar is no different.
It’s heavy, it’s solid and like with all things Rogue, you can’t fault the build quality.
It’s the heaviest bar in the review here (70lbs) and the one with the most consistent build quality.
The bar is number 2 in this list for a few reasons–mainly the price and a couple of elements of the design.
At $395, this is a lot of money, especially considering how solid the bar quality of our #1 option is at only $260.
In terms of the features, however, the bar is excellent.
It’s made with a 1.5 inch solid steel shaft and is load tested to 1000lbs. It’s slightly shorter than the Titan at 89 inches (Titan 91’’) and the 1 inch diameter handles are 10 inches long.
The 5.5 inch camber drop is perfect for challenging the core. The bar is finished in cerakote, offering fantastic corrosion resistance.
Now for some of the downsides of this one.
To start, the bar requires you to purchase you specialist collars–unlike our #1 option, standard collars aren’t suitable for this one.
The handles are wider than other bars, so this isn’t a bar that smaller guys and most women will find too comfortable.
If you’re less than 5’7, this bar probably isn’t for you.
I also have my questions about the quality of the padding as well, most notably that it’s not thick enough, but of course this can be fixed, so it isn’t be a deal breaker.
All in all though, this still is a great bar and while it’s not my top choice, it’s a great option–and the reviews back it with a 4.8 average rating.
If you’re a big, strong lifter without budget concerns and you’re looking for a solid bar, this is the one to go for. If you’re smaller or more price-sensitive, I’d argue there’s much better value to be found in the Titan bar.
The third option in the review today is the bar from American Barbell. It’s another solid offering and one that, although expensive, has justified its place on the list based on the versatility it offers.
The American Barbell safety squat bar is the smallest of the three bars, so I have included it on the list because it’s arguably the most suitable for the shorter lifters, particularly anyone under 5’7.
Despite being light (53lbs), it’s strong enough to cope with any lifting you’ll be able to manage. It’s a shorter bar at 85.25 inches, so will be slightly easier to store in a garage gym too.
The interesting thing about this bar is the handle set up as well. The handles protrude forwards and down, giving you a lot of different handle positions. If you have dramatically impaired mobility this bar could be perfect for you, allowing you to squat without discomfort.
The negative factors with the bar are the price–it’s the most expensive bar here.
Like the Rogue bar, standard collars don’t fit either so you’re looking at another $40-$50 for the collars, which means you’re actually spending up to $450.
The construction is solid and the shape of the bar is more of a yoke than a deep-cambered bar.
This isn’t a problem, just an observation.
Some users don’t like the pads, but again this is easy to change.
The American Barbell safety squat bar certainly has its place on this list–it’s well made, it’s an interesting shape and it caters perfectly for the smaller and mobility-impaired lifter. That being said, it’s expensive, so unless you have to go for it (i.e you’re small or have the mobility issues that force you to choose this bar), I’d steer you towards the Titan.
What’s the use case for a safety squat bar? Why won’t a normal barbell suffice for all of your squatting?
The answer here lies in biomechanics and training effects. A standard barbell is great for squatting, but the safety bar forces a different position which affects the loading and the positioning of the body during the movement.
This switches the biomechanics of the movement and makes the lower back and core work harder during the lift.
Additionally, your body responds well to variety.
There’s a benefit to mixing up positioning, loading and lifting in your training.
Legendary powerlifting coach Jim Wendler swears by the safety squat bar for helping improve your squat and deadlift by way of crossover benefit.
It also allows you to perform additional movements with different loading too.
Finally, some people struggle with the positioning of the hands with a standard barbell squat.
If you have impared shoulder mobility due to age, injury or general inflexibility, the safety squat bar can be a much more comfortable way to squat.
Additionally, there are people who struggle with their elbows, so the safety bar squat is a more comfortable option.
This will largely determine the comfort of the bar, but I wouldn’t let it rule your decision because it’s easy to change. If you’re undecided between bars and this is the only difference, go with the thicker padding.
This is the depth of the drop in the bar between the shoulders and the point where the weight sits. The deeper the camber, the lower the weight and the further forward your centre of mass shifts. Expect 5-6 inches. Any more than that if you’re looking at a yoke bar.
The gap between the handles can impact the comfort. If the gap is too wide, it can put pressure on the shoulders so smaller-framed lifters need to be aware of this. Likewise, if you’re a big guy, the smaller bars won’t work for you.
Personally I like a plastic handle, because it’s less susceptible than smooth metal to grip slip with a sweaty hand. Not a deal breaker, but a nice feature.
In my opinion you should always go for usability over anything–ultimately you need to buy a bar that you’re going to be able to use well.
Consider your size, first. That’s not something you can change, so buy a bar that’ll suit your frame.
Then, consider your mobility. If it’s compromised you’ll need to buy a bar that suits.
And lastly, consider the budget and make a choice having given these factors the consideration they deserve.
In my opinion, for most people that’ll mean buying the Titan Fitness Safety Squat Olympic Bar V2.