Gym Equipment

EZ Curl Bar Muscles Worked Plus 10 Effective Exercise Variations

ez curl bar muscles worked

What Is An EZ Curl Bar?

The EZ Curl Bar, also known as an Olympic curl bar, is a multi-angled specialty barbell used for exercises such as bicep curls and skull crushers. The angled grips help to minimize stress on your elbows and wrists.

The subtle ‘W’ shape of the bar gives you multiple grip options making it versatile and perfect for adding mass and strength to your biceps.   

One thing you’ll notice about the EZ curl bar is that it’s much shorter than a standard Olympic barbell which is typically around 7 feet in length, whereas the EZ curl bar is roughly 4 feet long.

The length of the curl bar means that weight plates are kept closer to your body making it easier to undertake isolation exercises like a bicep curl.

EZ Curl Bar Muscles Worked

The primary muscles worked when performing an ez bar curl are the biceps.  It’s one of the main muscles of your upper arm and lies between your shoulder and elbow. 

Secondary muscles are the brachioradialis (a forearm muscle) and the brachialis (a muscle located under your biceps).  Both these muscles help with elbow flexion.

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How Much Does An EZ Bar weigh?

The average weight of an EZ bar ranges between 10lbs to 15lbs. The difference in weight will depend on the brand and the material the bar is made from. It can be useful to know the weight of your curl bar, especially if you’re tracking progress with your training.

When compared to a standard 6ft Olympic bar, the ez bar weight is much lighter due its shorter length which is usually around 4ft.

Is The EZ Curl Bar Better Than An Olympic Straight Bar?

If you happen to suffer from any wrist or elbow pain when undertaking bicep curls then yes, use of the EZ curl bar will be significantly better for you than that of a straight bar.

To some degree, curling with a straight bar can offer better biceps activation.  This is because, when gripping the barbell, the palms of your hands are facing upwards.  This is what’s known as a supinated grip.  However, this movement can put a lot of stress on your elbows making it more likely for injury, especially when there is a lot of weight on the bar.

When using the EZ bar the palms of your hands are in a semi-supinated grip.  Facing both upwards with palms facing slightly inwards.  This is a much more natural position for your hands, wrists and elbows when curling thereby making it much more comfortable.

Overall, you’re unlikely to see much, if any, difference to muscle size and strength if choosing to use a straight bar.  This is because the range of motion using either barbell is the same.  So, on that basis we would opt for biceps isolation by using the EZ barbell.

How Should You Use An EZ Curl Bar?

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Using The EZ Curl Bar In A Standing Position

When doing standing bicep curls you want to stand with your feet shoulder width apart with knees slightly bent, this will help with stability.

With your elbows tucked in, hold on to the bar using an underhand grip, so palms facing away from you.

Keeping your chest out and shoulders back, curl the bar towards you using a slow and controlled movement, making sure your elbows remain tucked in throughout and then return back to the starting position.  Repeat sets as required.

Using The EZ Curl Bar In A Seated Position

Sit on the end of a workout bench, either a flat bench or an adjustable bench will work fine and give you ample stability during the exercise.  Keep your feet directly under your knees.

Start with the bar placed on your thighs and grip the bar in the exact same way as with the standing version with your hands shoulder width apart.

With your spine neutral, curl the bar towards your chest keeping your elbows tucked in, this will eliminate any momentum ensuring all the weight remains on your biceps.  Return back to the starting position.

Using The EZ Curl Bar With A Preacher Bench

Using a preacher curl bench allows you to isolate your biceps even more as you won’t be activating muscles such as your core for stabilisation.

Position yourself on the bench by keeping your chest against the flat pad and armpits resting on the top of the pad with the back of your arms flat on the sloped pad.

Hold the EZ bar with an underside grip (palms facing upwards) and curl the bar towards you keeping your elbows tucked in at all times to ensure complete isolation of the biceps.  Return back  to your starting position.

If you want to learn more about the preacher curl please head on over to this article.

What Exercises Can I Do With An EZ Curl Bar?

The EZ curl bar is a very functional barbell and can be used for many different exercises and not just bicep curls.  Below are some great bar curl exercises you can do with your ez bar.

  • Spider Curl
  • French Press
  • Bent Over Rows
  • Overhead Tricep Extension
  • Upright Rows
  • Drag Curl
  • Skull Crushers
  • Close Grip Curl
  • Reverse Grip Curl
  • Hip Thrusts

The above list is by no means exhaustive and there are many other ways in which to utilize this bar for great muscle and strength gains.

Is An EZ Curl Bar Better Than A Single Arm Dumbbell Curl?

An EZ bar curl is better than a single arm dumbbell curl.

The barbell curl is a bilateral movement, this means both arms work in unison whereas a dumbbell curl is a unilateral movement, arms working independent from on another.

Because of this, you’ll be expending far more energy with single arm dumbbell curls than you would by using an EZ bar.

Not only that, muscle overload with either method equates to the same so to preserve energy and complete more repetitions it would be more beneficial to undertake bar curls.

Are There Exercises That Are Best Avoided With The EZ Curl Bar?

It’s best to avoid heavy compound lifts with an EZ Curl bar such as Squats and Deadlifts.

Whilst it’s certainly possible to undertake the movements using the EZ Curl bar it is best suited to isolation exercises such as skull crushers or bicep curls due to its small frame and lightweight design.

Squatting With An EZ Curl Bar

With squatting, the bar should rest on your upper back and the shape of the EZ bar is probably going to cause some discomfort.

Not only that, when squatting it is usual to un rack your bar from either a power rack or monolift from shoulder height.  The width of an Olympic EZ curl bar will not allow for this.

Furthermore, the EZ bar is not designed to hold a significant amount of weight making it rather limiting when it comes to squatting.

Deadlift With An EZ Curl Bar

Deadlifting with the EZ bar is certainly easier when compared to squats but is met with some limitations.

Pulling an EZ bar up from the ground to waist height can feel slightly unnatural when it comes to grip making it more difficult to deadlift correctly.

Most people who deadlift tend to be pulling a fairly significant amount of weight, the downside of the EZ bar is that it cannot accommodate as many weight plates than a standard Olympic barbell.   This is because the sleeves are not as long and the tensile strength is not as high.

What Should I Look For When Buying An EZ Curl Bar?

With a wide variety of EZ curl bars on the market, it can be difficult to choose.

Each EZ curl bar can vary when it comes to the overall bar length, length of collars, weight and the angle of the grip meaning you may prefer one bar over another.

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When it comes to the finer details it’s worth paying attention to these.  For optimum grip ensure that the bar you choose has a good knurling with adequate depth.  When you train, you sweat and you don’t want your training to be impeded by poor grip when you have sweaty hands.

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Weight Loading Sleeve Finish

When looking to invest in a EZ bar, make sure the sleeves are good quality.  Ideally, you’ll want sleeves that are nickel plated as opposed to powder coated.  As soon as you begin sliding plates onto the bar, the powder coating will likely chip leaving your bar susceptible to rusting.  You shouldn’t have this problem with plating.

The sleeves on an EZ curl bar are shorter that those on more standard barbells.  As EZ bars are a speciality barbell especially designed for barbell curls, the likelihood of needing to load as many plates on when compared to a 7ft barbell is very slim.

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Sleeve Diameter

Not all plates will fit an EZ curl bar.  In terms of the sleeve sizes, there are generally two different sizes available.  A 50mm sleeve or 25mm sleeve.  The 25mm sleeve will accommodate standard 1 inch (25.4mm) plates with the 50mm sleeve allowing for Olympic plates at 2 inches (50.8mm).

Also check the ends of the sleeve, you may notice some have bare welds on show.  Not only does this look unsightly but it can prevent your plates from sitting flush.

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Sleeve Rotation

Some EZ bars are manufactured with rotating sleeves.  However, we believe this to be an unnecessary feature on this kind of bar.

All Olympic barbells have a rotating sleeve.  Each end rotates by way of a linear ball bearing which allows for spinning of the sleeves.  This is especially important when undertaking explosive movements such as clean and jerk, snatch and deadlift.  The spin on the sleeves allow the plates to rotate, not only does this make for a smoother lift, it also helps to prevent injury by limiting the centrifugal force.

Typically, when EZ curl bars feature rotating sleeves where they will use a bush instead of a bearing.  This is usually because they are cheaper to produce than roller bearings and generally wouldn’t need to be as free spinning.  The main difference is that a bush will slide instead of roll, meaning it has static friction to overcome, this results in a much less smoother rotation.

As an EZ curl bar’s primary function is for bicep curls, the range of motion with this movement is very limited.  So much so, that a user is unlikely to notice any benefit by having rotating sleeves.

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Will It Fit Your Preacher Bench?

If you are the owner of a preacher curl bench than you’ll want to be sure that your EZ curl bar will fit.  You need to measure from the inside of one sleeve to other inside of the other sleeve, as shown below.

EZ curl bar

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What Diameter Is The Grip?

There are also options for a thicker grip on the EZ curl bar, known as fat grip or thick grip EZ bars.

By incorporating bar curls with a thicker grip you’ll see big improvements with grip and forearm strength, this offers fantastic carry-over to movements such as deadlifts when grip strength is incredibly important.

There are some fantastic products out there which will help you to convert your regular grip EZ curl bar into a fat grip bar in a matter of seconds.  These Fat Gripz are ideal if you want to be able to switch up your barbell curls without having to invest in two different barbells.

Who Invented The EZ Curl Bar?

The EZ bar is a revolutionary innovation that was invented and patented by weightlifter and engineer, Lewis Dymeck.

Lewis was a keen weightlifter but didn’t particularly enjoy bicep barbell curls due to the stress being placed on his wrists.  As an engineer by trade, Lewis began working on the design of a bar that would eliminate that stress to prevent injury and allow for a better isolation of the biceps.

Shortly thereafter, the Dymeck Curl Bar was born and subsequently patented in 1950.  Lewis teamed up with Andy Jackson, founder of the Jackson International Barbell Company.  Andy had his own machine shop where he manufactured Olympic barbells, collars and calibrated plates.

For reasons we don’t know, the bar was rebranded as the Jackson curl bar between 1954 and 1964 when the rights of the patent were sold to Bob Hoffman, founder of the York Barbell Company which is still in existence today.  It was Bob Hoffman who changed the name to the EZ Curl Bar, EZ being an abbreviation of the word ‘easy’.

Whilst the Jackson Barbell Company closed down in 1975, back in 2000 Ivanko acquired the assets which had been discovered in archives.  These assets consisted of blue prints, lesser known technologies, patterns and some trade secrets!

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