How To Use the Different Bars At the Gym —and How Much Each One Weighs – Parade Magazine

If you tend to stay on the cardio side of the gym, favoring the elliptical and treadmill, walking over to the weight section can feel a little intimidating. But strength training is important for everyone: It improves the ability to do regular activities, helps prevent injuries and could even increase lifespan.
You’ll notice that there are several different types of bars at the gym. Each one weighs a different amount and is used in different ways. The most common bars you’ll find at the gym are barbells, EZ bars and trap bars. There are also different types of barbells, which weigh different amounts. Before you get started, it’s important to know how each one of these bars is used in order to protect yourself from injury.
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Barbells are one of the most standard pieces of gym equipment. Personal trainer and fitness blogger Jen Eddins explains that it’s a long, straight, weighted bar with the option to add additional weights to the end. “A barbell is a long bar used for weight training and is generally used for the meat and potatoes exercises such as bench press, squat and deadlift,” says Danny Galvan, the general manager and instructor at EnergyX Fitness in San Antonio, Texas.
There are different types of barbells—Olympic, standard, and women’s—which weigh different amounts. “Olympic barbells weigh 45 pounds and are around seven feet long. Standard barbells are available in lighter weights like 35, 25, 15 pounds and shorter lengths,” Eddins says. Galvan adds that women’s barbells weigh between 33 and 35 pounds.
Galvan says that barbells can be used for many different strength training movements and are especially beneficial for targeting the upper body. “It's different from the [other bars] because it allows you to perform upper body specific strength movements such as a bench press and a shoulder press,” he says. “The squat and deadlift are also key movements for the barbell, but they load up the spine more than others.”
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If you’re using a barbell for the first time, Galvan says it’s important to get used to the barbell knurling and ring. “This is the grip that manufacturers engrave on the bar. It can be irritating at first but is key for learning grip strength on the bar,” he says. “The rings also teach you how wide or narrow your grip should be when performing specific exercises.”
He also says it’s important to get familiar with the leverage of the bar. “It’s a long bar, so stabilizing it is key to strength as well and perfecting the movement,” he says. Before you start adding weights to the bar, Galvan says it’s important to try strength training without any weights added first to make sure you can control the bar. Then, he says, you can slowly add weight as you get stronger and learn how to maintain control.
Eddins says that EZ bars weigh between 18 and 25 pounds and are about four feet long. “An EZ bar is a multi-angled barbell that is designed to alleviate stress from the wrists to elbows when performing movements that target the biceps,” she says. She explains that the way EZ bars are shaped allows for different grip options. “You can also add additional weights to the ends of this bar,” she adds.
Eddins and Galvan both say that EZ bars are primarily used for bicep exercises. “It's more of a complimentary piece of equipment, however, you could do lower body movements with [the EZ bar] on your back or perform hinging movements, like deadlifts,” Galvan says. He adds that since EZ bars are short, there isn’t much room to stack more weight plates, unlike barbells.
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Trap bars (also known as hex bars) are heavier than EZ bars and most barbells. Eddins says they weigh between 40 to 70 pounds depending on style, make and model. “A trap bar consists of bars that are bent and welded into a hexagonal shape,” she says. “You step into the center of the hexagon to use the bar and pick it up by using two large handles rather than placing it on your back. Just like the barbell and EZ bar, you can add additional weights to the ends of the trap bar.”
Eddins explains that trap bars are typically used for deadlifts, shrugs and squats, but can also be used for pressing movements, such as rows and carries. “They have been shown to reduce lumbar pressure when performing deadlifts and the neutral grip position of the handles often allows people to lift heavier weights more comfortably,” she says.
While barbells are primarily used for upper body strength training, Galvan says that trap bars are commonly used for lower body movements. “The lower body movements [using a trap bar] puts less tension on the spine and may be more suitable for people not trying to put a bar on their back,” he says.
Barbells, EZ bars, and trap bars are all beneficial for enhancing strength training in different ways. With each one, it’s important to get comfortable with the bar first before adding additional weight. When you do add weight, go slow. With these tips in mind, you’ll be confidently navigating the weight room in no time—and you’ll be stronger too. Consider the bar for an effective workout officially raised. 
Next up, find out the seven strength training myths fitness experts wish everyone would stop believing


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