Trap Bar - also known as a hex bar. This is easily my favourite and most used specialty bar. The trap bar works so well because it takes the technical aspects out of a deadlift or should I say lift from the floor, because depending on a lifters preference it's not always a true deadlift position, something to keep in mind. With the lifter positioned inside the centre of mass of the bar they simply need to keep their back straight and lift. It simplifies the lift so easily compared to a straight bar. Remember, only strength sport athletes HAVE to use a straight bar. Other athletes are chasing stimulus not skill with a specific implement. The reason I mentioned "lift from the floor" is because a lot of athletes will default into a squat position to perform a trap bar lift. That's not a problem if that is the stimulus you are after but if we are trying to train the posterior chain or focus on Deadlift mechanics it makes sense to cue the athlete into a more hip dominant Deadlift position. To me that's the beauty of the trap bar, we can train both patterns, easily. The other positive of the trap bar is the ability to use high or low handles. The bottom position of a typical Deadlift is difficult for a lot of athletes especially taller ones so again the trap bar makes things easier.
Safety Squat Bar - a great variation for strength athletes and a great tool when dealing with upper body injuries. The Safety Squat Bar creates a more upright trunk angle placing less stress on the lower back. It also creates a huge amount of lower trapezius activation compared to a straight bar. It's also the perfect tool when Powerlifters are dealing with elbow pain from heavy squat and bench sessions.
From a different perspective the Safety Bar is also great to use with people who present with limited shoulder mobility and struggle with a straight bar. It allows you to train the squat pattern with heavier loads and axial loading while you work on increasing their mobility.
Squat Bar - now this probably seems like an odd choice because it might not be viewed as a specialty bar given it's a straight bar. The squat bar is a 25kg, 35mm bar with full knurling (grip) from sleeve to sleeve. Ours is a Goliath Squat Bar it lives in our monolift and it is awesome. So essentially it's 5kg heavier, 6mm thicker, and it's also a touch longer than a typical barbell. The bar is also designed not to flex under any load. So what's the point of this bar? Well, the increased thickness creates greater surface area allowing a more comfortable bar position under heavy loads for bigger lifters. The full knurl means there is less chance of the bar moving on a lifters back. The increased stiffness or lack of flex means the bar and subsequent weight is more rigid allowing for more control. It's hard to put into words how a squat bar feels in comparison to a typical barbell or power bar, but at heavy loads you just feel much more connected to the bar, if that makes any sense. This type of bar is also used in the GPC Powerlifting Federation so it's great for our lifters to have a competition specific set up.
These are just three of the specialty bars we have here at Smith's Fitness, we have a whole host of others including; deadlifts bars, fat bars, swiss bar, logs, buffalo bar, mcdonald bar plus a few more I'm probably forgetting. Whilst they aren't a necessity, it's great to have these tools in our kit to help us get stronger. If you want to come and have a play, feel free to pop in for a visit.