Curl bars, often referred to as EZ bars, are long bars that have angled grips in the middle. Like regular barbells, curl bars are available as a standard or Olympic bar.
The Olympic EZ bar has angled sections for hand placement which help reduce stress on the wrist joints.It also allows the user to exercise the biceps and triceps muscles from different angles — unlike a regular barbell that restricts wrist position.
Unlike regular barbells, Olympic EZ bar weight and dimensions are not set. They vary in size and weight depending on the manufacturer and the model.
Function of the Bar
An Olympic EZ curl bar is longer and heavier than a standard curl bar. Both styles have angled grips. Curl bars are most often used for bicep curls, hence the name of the bar. You can also use them for rows and tricep extensions.
According to a July 2018 study published by PeerJ, some users may find the wrist position with a curl bar more comfortable than a straight bar. The angled grips allow your hands to be turned slightly, placing the wrist in a more natural position.
This study also compared the effectiveness of biceps and brachialis muscle activation during elbow flexion exercise — curling — with a standard barbell, a curl bar and dumbbells. Muscle activation between the two bar types was relatively equal, and researchers commented that a curl bar might be chosen over a standard straight bar for increased comfort. However, the curl bar was found to activate the elbow muscles more effectively than using dumbbells.
Lack of Standards
Olympic barbells have specific size and weight standards. This is because they are used for the sport of Olympic weightlifting. Olympic EZ curl bars, although larger than standard curl bars, do not have any weight or size specifications. They are not used in any official sport capacity, so standardization is not necessary. Different manufacturers make EZ curl bars in a range of lengths and weights.
Consider Size Range
You have to use Olympic weight plates with an Olympic EZ curl bar. The bar has 2-inch sleeves, so only 2-inch Olympic plates fit. Standard plates have 1-inch centers to go on standard, 1-inch barbells. A typical Olympic curl bar is 47 inches long, although some are up to 52 inches long. Olympic EZ bar weight ranges between 18 and 25 pounds. A standard curl bar is much lighter, between 11 and 13 pounds.
Benefits of Olympic Curl Bars
Olympic curl bars have rotating sleeves at the ends. Standard curl bars do not. The weight plates on a standard barbell place stress on your wrists and forearms. As you move the barbell, the plates want to spin, but can't. This results in a constant pressure pushing against your hands. The rotating sleeves on an Olympic curl bar allow the weights to freely spin. This reduces the torque stress on your joints.