In your typical Globo gym setting there’s a good chance you’ll never see any of the barbells listed below. For awhile trap bars were seen as strange, but with the continued growth of strength sports there are new innovative specialty barbells constantly being created.
Specialty barbells are made to be creative alternatives to your typical barbell while facilitating training adaptations. These are the barbells you’ll see in specific strength sport gyms. Such as the axle bar most often found in Strongman gyms and cambered bars found in powerlifting gyms.
Although, what about the downright strange bars…like the tsunami, earthquake, and freak bars? What are they and what do they do?
1. Cambered Bar
What it is: This barbell features a thicker bar that then attaches two side bars which swing below. The swinging weights add an aspect of instability to the movement. There are a few creators of the cambered bar, but one of most well-known brands is Rogue Fitness.
What it does: This style bar is said to allow ample loading of the posterior chain (lower back and hamstrings specifically). The weights that hang below the top bar allow the lifter to achieve full depth, while maintaining an upright posture.
2. Tsunami Bar
What it is: The Tsunami Bar comes in multiple levels of flexibility, weights, and grips. This bar bends and flexes throughout movements, especially at the top and bottom of a lift. Normal weights attach on each side, which makes it different than the Earthquake/Bamboo Bar we’ll discuss next. Tsunami Barbell is the creator of this bar and have other products that rely on their flexible composite technology as well.
What is does: The Tsunami Bar creates oscillating waves throughout exercises at various points. These waves are thought to help improve an athlete’s strength and power by providing a unique overload stimulus to muscle, especially at sticking points.
3. Earthquake/Bamboo Bar
What it is: These bars are made to create an emphasis on improving a lifter’s ability to keep bar stability with Oscillating Kinetic Energy (OKE). This style bar is made lighter than a typical metal bar and is meant to be flexible. Since they’re bamboo based, they’re durable and can hold weight of up to 300+ lbs. Their texture is different than your typical metal bar as they’re wood. Earthquake and Bamboo bars are made by BandBell, this a company founded by Jim Seitzer, who’s one of the founding members of Westside Barbell.
What is does: The idea behind training with the emphasis on using Oscillating Kinetic Energy is to provide increased muscle stabilization. In addition, these bar may be a good alternative to support healthy joints.
4. Axle Bar
What it is: An axle bar is a thick alternative to your normal barbell. You typically see these bars in Strongman gyms as the axle clean & press is often used for their competitions. Much like the cambered bar, the axle bar is made by multiple companies, but one of the more well-known is Rogue Fitness.
What is does: Since this bar is made thicker than regular bars it has the ability to work and focus on grip better. The extra width in the bar’s diameter forces the forearms and hands to work harder to maintain bar security and stability.
5. Freak Bar
What it is: This barbell is a patent pending plate loaded bar. The Freak Bar uses springs to allow grip adjustment throughout a lift whether it be in the vertical or horizontal plane. Westside Barbell is the creator and brand that makes this style bar.
What is does: This bar is meant to strengthen the upper body by focusing on bar stability. Westside Barbell’s site mentions, this bar is great at strengthening the connective tissue, muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the upper body.
6. Kabuki Strength Duffalo Bar
What it is: This bar was created by Chris Duffin who’s a well-known strength coach and powerlifter. There’s a proprietary bend in the bar, which is designed for both squatting and pressing movements.
What is does: This bar is said to reduce stress on the back, shoulders, and biceps during squats and pressing movements. The bar’s bend is also made to reduce stress on the wrists and allow full scapular engagement normal barbells cannot.
As strength sports continue to grow, it’s exciting to see what innovations will come next. From bars that are designed around flexibility and bars with spring loaded grips – what will come next?
Feature image from @underthebar / Dave Tate’s Instagram page.