January 12, 2022 6 min read
At first glance, it appears as though the bars are the same. However, the one difference between each of the bars is that the Swiss bar features grip options that are straight, whereas the football bar offers grips which are on an angle.
Either bar can sometimes be referred to as a multi-grip bar. Some bars are manufactured in a way that feature both straight and angled grips. This can cause some confusion with some suggesting that a Swiss bar and Football bar are one and the same thing.
The Swiss bar is used for a variety of pressing and pulling exercises, with the core benefit being that it reduces stress from the wrists and shoulders when compared to using a straight barbell.
In comparison, the football bar is used for the same range of exercises but further limits wear and tear to delts and wrists and reduces stress to joints. This is thanks to the angled handles making for a more ‘natural’ feeling movement when pressing.
For example, if you undertake shoulder pressing with a football bar it’s going to feel very similar when compared to undertaking the same exercise but with dumbbells.
So, why not just use dumbbells you may ask?
Well, when using dumbbells you are performing a unilateral movement, this means that each limb is working independently from one another. Unilateral exercises require much more balance and use of stabilisation muscles. This could mean you add unwanted stress to your joints, not ideal if you are suffering from any injuries.
A further downside is that you cannot overload the muscles in the same way. If you’re not lifting your max weight then you’ll be missing out on building extra muscle.
If you swap out using dumbbells for a Swiss bar or football bar not only will you be doing your joints a big favour by keeping stress to a minimum, you’ll be able to lift much more weight for bigger strength and muscle gains.
Using either of these bars for pressing is a bilateral movement. This is an exercise where both limbs work in unison to target the intended muscles. Because both limbs work together, there is a significant improvement in stability which allows for lifting more weight.
There is much speculation that the name of the Swiss bar derives from it’s positioning of the handles. Switzerland has a neutral foreign policy. The Swiss bar has neutral positioned handles. Another suggestion is that the name reflects the versatility of the Swiss Army knife. Whether or not either of these are true remains to be seen, but they are interesting theories!
In respect of the name of the football bar, this comes about from American football. It is said the bar was designed with this specific sport in mind and the semi-neutral positioning of the handles allowed the players to bench press even if they were suffering from any upper body injuries, especially the shoulders.
Whilst the answer to this question very much depends on the manufacturer, generally speaking the Swiss bar or Football bar weigh between 15kg to 25kg (35lbs to 55lbs).
If the weight of the bar is an important aspect it would be wise to confirm this before purchasing from your chosen supplier.
As above, the size of a swiss bar or football bar can vary depending on the producer. However, as a rule of thumb, the overall length of either bar tends to be around 2000mm.
When it comes to the sleeve size, bar width and measurements between grips and the collars, these can be very different and depending on how you wish to use the bar, they are important factors to consider before buying.
Both the Swiss bar and football bars are incredibly versatile and not just limited to bench pressing or shoulder pressing. Below is a list of exercises (not exhaustive) that can be undertaken safely and effectively with either of these bars. Essentially, anything you can do with a straight bar, you can swap out for one of these speciality bars.
The different handles on these bars will mean you can choose a grip that’s most comfortable and most suited to the exercise you are going to undertake.
When it comes to bench pressing with a swiss bar, you’ll likely not be able to lift more than if you were using a regular Olympic barbell. This is because more emphasis is being placed on your triceps, which is a smaller muscle. That being said, these bars are great for building strength to the triceps and thereby offers excellent carry over to bench pressing with a straight bar potentially meaning you can press more in the long run.
Nowadays, most things are not created equal and when it comes to strength training equipment the little, hard to spot, variations can make all the difference when it comes to the outcome of your training and the overall quality of the item itself. Below are some things to consider before buying either of these bars.
When it comes to specialist bars, either of these should be part of your arsenal of equipment. Below are some benefits to owning one of these bars;
There are a wide variety of speciality barbells on the market, some of which only have one use. For example, the safety squat bar. However, when you consider the broad range of exercises that can be undertaken with the Swiss bar, this makes it a very cost effective investment for both commercial gyms and home gyms.
Before investing in your own Swiss bar or football bar, make sure to bear in mind the above factors to ensure the bar you choose suits your needs.
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