The “EZ curl” portion of the EZ curl bar name is a misnomer for a couple of reasons. First of all, nothing you do is going to make effective curls easy, so purge any such misguided thoughts from your mind immediately. Sliding dozens of plated weights onto a cambered bar and then curling it is going to pump your muscles and microtear the fibers just like a straight bar will; you merely mitigate some of the joint discomfort.
Second, yes, the angled hand positioning does make the curling motion less stressful on the wrists — and by extension, the shoulders. However, the angled center portion of the bar is equally helpful for extension movements by the triceps during overhead lifts, or lifts performed when lying in a supine position, and also for upright rows that target the upper lats. On top of that, the outer reaches of the bar are usually straight, which makes it adequate for assorted raises and presses as long as the diameter of the weight plates doesn’t interfere with the bar’s path of movement. In other words, if you’re looking at your EZ curl bar exclusively as a curling device, you’re missing out on much of its potential value.
What to Look for in an EZ Curl Bar
Heft: There are EZ curl bars that are solid steel and weigh up to 15 pounds, and then there are other bars within that family that are completely hollow and weigh comparatively little. That’s not to say that a hollow bar can’t get the job done, but it does mean your own personal preferences must be taken into account.
Angularity: While an EZ curl bar has a standard objective of adapting hand angles to ease the joint strain imposed by specific lifts, some bar designers take liberties with the angles and can create bars with extremely steep slopes. As such, the peaks and valleys of the bars can vary drastically, and can influence the arrangement of other parts of the bar, affecting its overall feel during training.
Length: The closer the weight of the plates is to your hands, the easier it will be to control. On the flip side, the further the weight is from your hands, the more clearance your shoulders and elbows have if you want to throw in military presses, barbell rows or even some light bench pressing.
The Best EZ Curl Bars
Best Standard Screw Collar EZ Curl Bar: Marcy Threaded Chrome Steel Curl Bar
Why It’s the Best, Bar None: This bar is 11 pounds of solid steel all by itself, which means that you’re already in 30-pound bicep pumping territory the instant you add just a single 10-pound plate to each side. You can also load up the bar with all of the weight plates you can reasonably curl or row without having to be concerned about any bending or collapsing.
Why It’s a Subpar Bar: I have a love-hate relationship with this bar for one very critical reason: The ability of the threaded collars to maintain their locked-in position is often tenuous. It’s one thing if the plates on both sides of the bar are free to spin, or if they’re both securely locked in place. It’s another thing entirely if one side is free and the other is locked away. So if you want to ensure consistency under all circumstances, you may prefer plates that are free to spin. It’s also worth mentioning that screwing and unscrewing threaded collars is undeniably the most maddening and time-consuming aspect of transitioning between curl-bar weights.
Best Standard Clasp Collar EZ Curl Bar: Marcy Standard Size Curl Bar and Dumbbell Handle Set
Why It’s the Best, Bar None: Without any weights on it, this bar may weigh five pounds, which means it’s more than likely hollowed-out. The reason I say it may weigh five pounds is because it comes with two adjustable dumbbell handles, which might add to the overall weight of the packaging. This smoothness of the bar and the spring-collar loading method allows weights to slide on and off of the bar with relative ease.
Why It’s a Subpar Bar: Compared to other bars that are at least double or triple the weight and far more solid internally, this bar is definitely going to feel flimsy. Also, if it’s hollow in its center, there’s a risk of it bending and collapsing if it’s tasked with supporting very heavy weights. That said, if the use of this bar is limited to curls and extensions, the 150-pound weight limit suggested by the manufacturer vastly exceeds most people’s curling capabilities.
Best Standard Olympic EZ Curl Bar: Everyday Essentials Standard Olympic Super Curl Barbell
Why It’s the Best, Bar None: With its two half-pound collars attached, this barbell weighs a whole 20 pounds, which means it has considerable heft to it before any additional weight is employed. Also, if you’re a fitness dogmatist who insists on using the same Olympic plates for every weightlifting exercise — whether they’re deadlifts, curls or anything in between — the bar is going to accommodate you without necessitating the purchase of different kinds of weight plates.
Why It’s a Subpar Bar: While heft can be an attractive feature in a curl bar, 20 pounds is a rather high starting point, so that may make regular training with this bar impossible for many beginners. Also, Olympic plates tend to have wider diameters than standard plates, which isn’t a knock on Olympic plates, but is something you should be aware of.