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What is a Cambered Bar?

By Micki Elizabeth
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A cambered bar is a type of barbell used in weightlifting that has a raised mid-section. This middle section might be arched just a few inches or centimeters, or it may reach over one foot (30.5 cm); this measurement is often referred to as the bar's camber. An individual can add a desired amount of weighted plates just as he would with a normal barbell and then perform a variety of exercises. The bar can be less restrictive during certain moves due to the raised middle, and it should be used with care and supervision.

This type of barbell is often made of iron or another heavy metal that can support hundreds of pounds or kilograms. Some people confuse a cambered bar with an “EZ curl” bar, which has a contoured grip. While the bar is also curved, it is different from the EZ curl bar in that the arched section lies between the two points where one would grip the bar.

This raised portion may have several benefits for weightlifters. For instance, when one performs a squat, the arched part of the bar can rest on the upper back along the shoulder blades. The arms can be situated lower while gripping a cambered bar than they normally are when using a straight barbell.

This stance typically puts far less stress on the shoulders and wrists. Some athletes believe this slightly different posture one takes when using this barbell forces them to put less stress on the lower back as well. The bar may also come with a fitted pad or could be wrapped in a towel for added comfort. A “good morning” is a similar exercise often done with this particular type of barbell.

Many weightlifters also prefer the cambered bar during the bench press. This exercise is typically done while lying flat on a bench on one's back, so the raised portion of the bar is meant to fit over the chest. In this way, it is possible to achieve a deeper movement than when using a straight barbell by lowering the bar until the top of the arch touches the chest.

It is important, however, to understand that using a great deal of weight during this movement can also injure the shoulders. For this reason, many people place wooden blocks on their chests to decrease the effects of a bar’s full camber. Many fitness experts suggest starting with only one added inch (2.5 cm) and increasing the range of motion gradually.

A cambered bar can also be helpful when doing a row while lying flat on the stomach on a weight bench. The raised part of the bar can fit around one’s body and the bench, allowing for both support and a fuller range of motion. It is strongly suggested that individuals use spotters when performing these exercises, especially when large amounts of weight are used.

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Discussion Comments
By Sporkasia — On Sep 05, 2014

@Feryll - If you are concerned about safety when doing squats then I suggest you use a safety squat bar. This bar is much better at preventing injury than simply using a cambered bar. The safety bar is specifically designed to prevent accidents.

By Drentel — On Sep 04, 2014

Maybe a cambered bar would force more weightlifters to actually perform the bench presses the way they are supposed to be done so they can get the full benefits of the workout.

When I was in high school, all of the football players had to lift weights. Back then, lifting weights were not as popular for sports as they are now. So for a lot of us, this was the first time we had spent any time in a weight room. The coaches didn't give us any real instruction on the proper ways to lift weights, so we learned from one another.

We would do a lot of repetitions with lighter weight during the first of the week and then on Fridays we would go for our max weight. There was a chart on the wall with how much everyone was lifting, so we wanted to lift as much as possible.

One thing some of my teammates would do is they would let the bar bounce off of their chests so they could get the weight halfway up before they had to start using their actual strength. Some guys would go so far as to lower the weight onto their midsections and lift it with their stomachs.

By Feryll — On Sep 04, 2014

One of the guys in the weight room where I work out told me I should use a cambered bar when I am doing squats because these bars are easier to handle when the bar and weights are behind your back. At the time he told me this, I didn't know what a cambered bar was.

After reading this article, I can see how the bar would be safer, especially for someone with shorter arms, which is not a concern for me. Still, I think my balance would be thrown off with this type of bar.

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