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5 Best Curl Bars for Home Gym [Buyer’s Guide]

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As a personal trainer with 20 years of experience, I’ve used many different curl bars. I know where and how they’re made. More importantly, I know where to look for flaws.

I’ve personally been through this exact process of researching curl bars to accompany the 50+ barbells in my commercial gym…

Olympic Barbells- Different Types

I spent over 40 hours researching 50+ bars. I analyzed and rated them in 16 quality categories, including finish, knurling, and sleeve rotation.

Let me share my findings with you…

Compare curl bars


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Rogue Cerakote
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Rage Curl
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REP Rackable
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Rogue Rackable
Best for
Stainless steel
Rating (*)
Brand & reputation
Bushing/ bearing
Nylon bushings
Bar diameter (")
Length (")
Distance between sleeves (")
Loadable sleeve length (")
Shaft coating
Cerakote Black
Hard Chrome or Stainless Steel
Hard Chrome or Stainless Steel
Black E-Coat
Sleeve coating
Bright Zinc
Hard Chrome or Stainless Steel
Hard Chrome or Stainless Steel
Bright Zinc
Tensile strength (k PSI)
190 (Chrome) 200 (SS)
190 (Chrome) 200 (SS)
5-year/ lifetime for SS
5-year/ lifetime for SS
Bar weight (lbs)
Sleeve size (")

Our testing and selection process

The team at Strong Home Gym is all about planning our content so that it serves you. That might sound like a cliche because everyone and their mother are saying it, but this time,  it happens to be true.

Anyway, I can see you nodding off, so let me speed it up.

This is what I did for this guide:

  1. I combed through the EZ curl bar market and chose 50 bars I believe are worth reviewing.
  2. I put together a ‘raw’ database with every single piece of information I could find. If a tidbit was crucial and I couldn’t find it (like warranty terms), I called up the manufacturer and asked (without disclosing what I needed it for, of course).
  3. I took the time to carefully define and refine 16 quality criteria (you’ll see those in a minute).
  4. Whenever possible, I tested the bars myself or asked other people who may have used them. My opinion can only be a tie-breaker, not a decisive factor.
  5. I rated the bars in the quality categories.

The TOP 9 bars here are those who scored the highest. If two products scored the same, the one that costs less was ranked higher.

Primary factors of choosing a good curl bar

Type – Olympic curl bar vs. standard

An Olympic EZ curl bar comes with sleeves that fit Olympic weight plates and collars.

Standard curl bars are typically 1-inch thick both at the shaft and the threaded sleeves. They’re less expensive but much harder on your wrists and elbows. They don’t fit Olympic weight plates or collars.

You can learn more about the difference between an Olympic barbell and standard barbells here. If you want to learn more about short barbells, check out our short barbell buying guide.

Super curl bar

A super curl bar is a subtype of an EZ bar with substantially more pronounced angles. The narrow grip angle is typically over 60 degrees and can go all the way up to parallel grip.

We did have a few of these on our longlist, but none of them made it to the TOP 15. The highest-rated super curl bar is the XMark IRONHORSE (shares spot 16-20 with a rating of 12). They tend to be more a niche product, best suited to those with particularly stiff wrists or limited forearm rotation due to previous shoulder injury. For everyone else, an EZ bar is perfectly suitable.

Weight capacity of a curl bar (0 to 1.5 points in our score)

*0 (under 200 lbs) to 1.5 points (over 600 lbs)

This is an obvious one. It’s directly related to the tensile strength of the material but “better” as criteria.

It’s better because all manufacturers must list it as essential information. Not all of them will talk about the tensile strength of their bars. In fact, most of them won’t.

Here’s a rule of thumb…

A capacity of 300+ lbs will be just fine for most people, and most of the best EZ curl bars are in the 400-449 range.

According to our stats, 45 % of the bars on the longlist are in the 400-490 max load range. On the other hand, over 67% of the bars from the top 9 are in that range. And only the HolleyWeb doesn’t support at least 400lbs.

It’s fair to say that best-value bars have a weight capacity between 400 and 449 pounds.

Whereas some like Eleiko have a 1102lb capacity!

Geometry of a curl bar (and what it means for you)

Things will get complicated here before they get really simple.

The geometry of a curl bar is defined by its three camber angles and distances. We’ll measure the angles with the axis of the bar as the starting point.

  • Angle 2 will typically be in the 15-20 degree range.
  • Angles 1 and 3 will be smaller – in the 10-15 degree range.
  • Most bars will be a combination of the two “rules” above.

Go with a bar that ticks the following boxes:

  1. Features moderate angles (ranges defined above) – there’s a good reason most bars will be in these ranges; it comes down to the anatomy of our joints.
  2. Go for bars with longer segments, especially if you’re lifting heavy – bars with shorter segments won’t give you the room for adjustment. I’m not a fan of bars that force you into a fixed-grip – I’ve seen it cause injuries.
  3. Generous knurling – if you’re only doing medium grip curls, you might be fine with a single knurled section. To get the most out of your curl bar, you’ll want a knurled narrow and wide grip (more on knurling below).

A typical example of a bar with a geometry that ticks all these boxes is the top-rated Rogue Cerakote.

Secondary factors of choosing an EZ curl bar

Materials of an EZ bar (looking beyond “solid steel”)

The shaft of a good EZ curl bar will be made out of solid steel. In and of itself, that doesn’t tell you much because properties that make or break a bar in the long run (like elongation, hardness, and tensile strength) highly depend on the composition and the heat treatment.

The answers you need are in the fine print -the weight capacity, ideally paired with a solid warranty and PSI (when listed).

Weight and overall length of an EZ curl bar

Weight is not a primary factor, but I do like to see round numbers here.

It’s easier to keep track of your progress if your bar weighs 20 or 30 pounds than if it’s 16.5.

The classic curl bars are 47-55 inches long, such as Rogue’s EZ bar. The rackable EZ bars are 70-75 inches long, such as REP’s bar.

On its own, it doesn’t tell you anything about the bar’s quality. Of course, it’s something to consider if you’re working with the limited space of a small home gym.

Finish of a curl bar – negative 1 to 2 points

* -1 (for bare steel) to 1.75 points (for cerakote) and 2 points (for stainless steel)

Finish resistance of barbells

This is a tricky one because none of the brands will say that their bar flakes and rusts. You’ll see them saying stuff like “durable black oxide.”

And “black oxide” does sound cool. It looks awesome, too…for a few weeks.

In reality, the only coating that will flake and rust more easily than black oxide is budget chrome (bare steel will rust even more quickly, but that’s not a coating).

As a rule of thumb – if you’re looking for a bar that will last without rusting, go for one of these finishes (least to most resistant):

  • Zinc
  • E-coat
  • Hard chrome
  • Cerakote
  • Stainless steel

Which of these you go with is not as important as staying away from stuff like decorative chrome.

Check out the REP curl bar if you’d like a super resistant stainless steel bar. 

Note: When I see that a manufacturer says the bar is “chrome,” I assume it’s the cheap, decorative kind. Anyone who covers their bar with hard chrome will go out of their way to make sure you know it.


You might see the companies describing it differently (standard, diamond, Ohio), but seven out of eight top curl bar picks feature medium knurling.

Knurling of a barbell

It’s because there’s a lot of movement and angular momentum involved in most exercises you’d perform with a curl bar.

In a word – you don’t want or need aggressive knurling in a curl bar and it might be too sharp for comfort.

The Ohio knurling of both Rogue bars is at the sweet spot for most people, while the Synergee bar (ranked 8th) might be too aggressive if your palms are not ‘pre-calloused.’

Loadable sleeve length of an EZ bar – 0 to 1.5 points

*0 (under 6.5 inches) to 1.5 points (over 7.5 inches)

I’m listing this as a primary factor, but I’m unsure if it deserves the label. It’s not something you have to worry about too much. Most of the better curl bars will have plenty of sleeve room (7 inches or more). Whilst this seems trivial, bear in mind a lot of home gym users will have bumper plates, which are thicker than cast iron. Thicker plates and shorter sleeves mean less available weight space.

Only 10% of the bars we looked at have sleeves shorter than 6.5 inches.

For example, the Synergee bar uses 6.25 inches compared to Rogues 10.5 inches. That can be the difference of adding an extra possible 180lbs to the bar!

The Synergee found its way into the Top 10 because even 6.25 inches will be enough for an average lifter.

It’s only a crucial factor in two scenarios:

  • You’re lifting heavy, and you need the extra space.
  • You’re working with the limited space of a small home gym. In this case, the shorter bars will be easier to use.
Sleeve rotation of a curl bar – 0 to 1 point

*0 if none, 0.75 for bushings, and 1 point if a bar has bearings or both

Barbell Sleeves Bushings vs Bearings

Smooth sleeve rotation means less torque created by the plates, better grip, and less stress on your wrist and elbows.

Most of the best EZ curl bars are equipped with bearings, bushings, or both.

For our purposes today, you should know two things:

  1. Bearings rotate more freely than bushings
  2. Bushings are less expensive

Going into the nitty-gritty of the “bushings vs. bearings” is beyond this guide. If you’re curious about it, below is the best video I know on the topic.

Bottom line: As a rule of thumb, I’d say you should only lift light loads on a bar without bushing or bearings in the collars.

% of 3-star or less reviews

If there are over 10% 3-star reviews or less it lowers the score

Repetitive flaws with the machine

For example, multiple people complaining about the head support being too low for them if they are over 5 foot 10” lowers the overall score

Customer support score

We contact every brand as a customer to determine the speed of support and how helpful they are at resolving our question (see image below)

REP Fitness Customer Service

Repetitive reviews of poor delivery

When multiple reviews mention slow delivery times or poorly packaged and damaged products it lowers the score

  • Price/ quality
    • We divide our quality score by the price to ensure the quality of the machine is taken into consideration
  • Price
    • The highest weighting goes onto price as this is often one of the main purchasing decisions for most people
  • Warranty
    • A lifetime warranty helps to score higher. 1 year or under scores lower

Find the right curl bar for you

Overall | Stainless steel bar | Budget | Rackable | Premium

1. Best curl bar overall – Rogue Cerakote

Rogue Curl Bar Cerakote


This bar scored 16 points out of the maximum 19.125. It is THE MOST WELL-ROUNDED curl bar out there.

The three main reasons for that are geometry, knurling, and finish.

Let me be precise:

  • The angles and distances are spot-on and knurled throughout – this means you’ll get a comfortable grip whether you’re curling over or underhand, narrow or wide.
  • The Ohio knurling is just aggressive enough – this gives you a good grip without cutting into your hands.
  • The sleeves are bright zinc, and the shaft is Cerakote – this means your bar will change very little over time, come sweat, tears, or blood.
My take

If curl bars were toothpaste, Rogue would be Colgate – four out of five people who know their stuff would recommend it.

And if you gave me 10 minutes to show “the fifth dentist” our data, we’d cave too.

Weight capacity400 lbs
Bushings or bearings?bushings
KnurlingOhio pattern
Shaft finishCerakote
Sleeve finishZinc


  • Durable cerakote finish of the shaft – you’re not likely to see any oxidation for years.
  • Zinc finish of the sleeves – even with heavy use, you’ll see minimal to no flaking of the sleeves.
  • Knurling throughout the bar – this gives you a solid grip for a range of exercises, not just your classic bicep curl.
  • Well-made bushings – the sleeves will smoothly rotate to minimize the torque exerted on your wrists.
  • Over 10 inches of loadable sleeve length – you can pack on more weight, regardless of the plate size you have.


  • Premium price point – you’ll pay more than you would for other bars.
  • Cerakote might dull the knurling – if you like particularly aggressive knurling and the feel of stainless steel, a bar with a cerakote finish might not feel grippy enough.

2. Top stainless steel pick – REP EZ curl bar

REP Ez Curl Bar


If it’s about durability and corrosion resistance, there’s a good chance that your search ends with this REP bar. They’re the kings of the value fitness equipment world, blending quality and price better than most.

There are two versions of this bar – stainless steel and hard chrome finish. The bar that found its way into the top 3 is stainless steel.

It scored 14.5 in our ratings – 1.5 points lower than the top-rated Rogue Cerakote.

It’s important to mention where it dropped the points because it might not be a big deal for you – the knurling length.

Stainless steel has superior tactile feedback because it’s not dulled by coating. And that’s great.

However, I feel that they could have been more generous with the knurling. You have four knurled sections (70 mm/2.75 inches each) and 10-inch sleeves.

It’s better to have a grip that goes beyond your palms if you’re loading those sleeves up.

Weight capacity400 lbs
Total length55”
Bushings or bearings?bushings
Shaft finishstainless  steel
Sleeve finishstainless  steel


  • Stainless steel finish – it’s more durable and corrosion-resistant than any other finish. It will last longer, won’t change for the duration, and have better tactile feedback for heavier lifts.
  • One bushing and one bearing – will give you a good balance between stability and rotation.
  • Good camber geometry – will work just as well for skull crushers and curls.
  • 10-inch sleeves – you’ll have more than enough space whether you’re curling 50 pounds or breaking records.


  • Knurled sections are only 70 mm long (2.75 inches) – this might prove to be too short – especially for big lifters with big hands!.
  • No knurling on the outermost bends -the bar will be too slippery for stable wide curls.

3. Best budget curl bar – Rage Fitness Olympic

21UvW LSPDL. SL500


It was touch and go in many categories of the best EZ curl bars…the top budget pick wasn’t one of them.

This curl bar by Rage Fitness blew the competition out of the water. The whole bar is coated in hard chrome, which is a miracle in its own right at this price point.

Add extra-durable nylon bushings, and you have a great quality bar for the money. The savings come from the shorter length – material costs are lower on a 47 inch bar than a 50+ inch bar. .

If you’re not sure if you’ll be needing a curl bar this time next year, this is the bar for you.

Weight capacity400 lbs
Total length47
Bushings or bearings?BUSHINGS
Shaft finishhard chrome
Sleeve finishhard chrome


  • Value for money – you’d pay much more for a similar bar from some of the more reputable brands.
  • Rugged hard chrome finish – the shaft is less likely to rust, and the sleeves will flake less.
  • The sleeves rotate – this means less torque and lowered risk of injury.


  • Reported on-arrival issues – you might have to deal with replacing the bar if you’re unlucky to get a faulty one.
  • The bushings tend to develop a squeak over time – working out with a bar that squeaks can be frustrating.
  • Shorter length – at 47” this is on the shorter end of the scale. Just something to bear in mind if you like a wider grip or the versatility of the longer bar.

4. Best rackable curl bar – REP Fitness EZ

REP Rackable Curl Bar


This beast from REP Fitness is the only rackable bar in the TOP 9 with a stainless steel finish.

That means unbeatable corrosion resistance and durability. It also means that the knurling you see is how the bar feels because there’s no extra coating to dull it down.

Fun fact- stainless steel isn’t technically a finish. It is just the type of metal the bar uses. This means when you grip the bar your hands touch directly on the steel, unlike every other coating such as zinc, chrome, or cerakote.

It scored 14.125 points. It’s one of the bars that I feel belongs higher on the list, but it dropped points in warranty and manufacturing location because we couldn’t find the information.

Finally, it’s 74 inches long and has nice 10-inch sleeves. This is plenty of space for those heavy lifts or for the taller guys with a wider wingspan!

Weight capacity400 lbs
Total length74 “
Bushings or bearings?both
Shaft finishStainless steel
Sleeve finishStainless steel


  • Stainless steel finish for both the sleeves and shaft – it’s likely to last a lifetime without changing much at all. Furthermore, stainless steel looks awesome and has a more “grippy feel” than coated bars.
  • It fits onto a power rack – convenient for squats, goodmornings, and lunges.
  • Knurling is at the sweet spot – just aggressive enough to give you a solid grip without biting into your palms.
  • One bearing and one bushing – smooth rotation means less strain on your wrists and a lower risk of injury.
  • Ten inches of loadable sleeve space – comfortably fits the extra weight if you lift heavy or own smaller plates.
  • Free shipping – the price you see listed is what you’ll pay, no extra cost.


  • No knurling for a wide grip – not the bar for you if you do a lot of wide-grip curls without gloves. It’s likely to slip.
  • Premium price – you’ll need to spend more compared to most curl bars out there.

5. Premium pick – Rogue e-coat

Rogue rackable curl bar


Rogue Rackable scored 13.25 in our tests, which is 0.625 lower than the top-rated rackable bar from REP.

It’s a great bar with close to perfect geometry and smooth sleeve rotation, which are the two quality aspects that make or break an EZ curl bar.

Compared to REP, it dropped points in pricing and finish resistance. Not that there’s anything wrong with e-coat; it’s just not close to stainless steel.

So, which one is better?

Rogue is superior in terms of geometry and knurling placement, and REP has a better finish. Do with that what you will.

Weight capacity400 lbs
Total length74.75 “
Bushings or bearings?bushings
KnurlingOhio pattern
Shaft finishe-coat
Sleeve finishZinc


  • Generous knurling – will give you a solid grip whether you’re doing curls, skull crushers, or squatting.
  • Good geometry – the angles and distance will feel comfortable and put considerably less stress on your joints than a straight bar.
  • Durable coating – lives longer without rusting or showing signs of wear.
  • Rackable in most standard power racks – it’s easier to load the plates on and off.


  • It might be too big for home gyms – it’s almost 75 inches long, so if space is an issue, it might not be the bar for you.
  • Costly – it will set you back more than a standard curl bar. That also goes for other rackable bars.

Buyer’s guide to choosing a good curl bar

This section is for the conservative buyer who wants to understand the logic behind their choices.

I like this buyer. I understand this buyer. I am this buyer.

Primary and secondary factors of choosing a good curl bar

There are 16 quality criteria we used to choose the bars. Not all of them are equally important (duh!).

Imagine you’re buying a car, and you’re trying to come up with a score for the few cars you like. Your system might carry five points for power and reliability and 0.5 points for the paint job.

Here’s how that logic applies to curl bars:

  1. Primary factors – things like maximum load, shaft and sleeve finish, geometry, and knurling. You know, the stuff that can ruin it for you no matter how little you pay.
  2. Secondary factors – criteria like the sleeve and knurling length, central curve, weight and length of the bar…price, warranty, etc. These factors make a difference but aren’t deal-breakers.
  1. Weight capacity (0 to 1.5 points) – zero points for max load under 200 lbs and 1.5 for 600+ lbs
  2. Loadable sleeve length (0 to 1.5 points) – zero points if under 6.5 inches and 1.5 points for 7.5+ inches
  3. Finish of the sleeves (-1 to 2 points) – two points for stainless steel to minus one for bare steel
  4. Finish of the shaft (-1 to 2 points) – same as the sleeve finish
  5. Sleeve rotation (bushings or bearings – 0-1 point) – zero if none, 0.75 for bushings, and one for bearings or both
  6. Sleeves fit Olympic plates and collars (0-1 point) – one point if yes, zero if no
  7. Knurling is medium or higher (0-1 point) – one point if yes, zero if no
  8. Knurling is generous enough for any grip (0-0.5 points) – 0.5 points if yes, zero if no
  9. Knurled for a full narrow grip – same point distribution as 8.
  10. Knurled for a standard grip – (0- 2 points) – 2 points if yes, zero if no
  11. Knurled for a full wide grip – (0-0.5 points) – 0.5 points if yes, zero if no
  12. Central curve/indentation for skull-crushers (0-0.25 points) – 0.25 points if yes, zero if no
  13. Weight is a quintuple (a multiple of 5) – (0-0.125 points) – 0.125 points if yes, zero if no
  14. Warranty (0-1.75 points) – zero points if there’s no warranty or if the terms are vague, 1.75 for Lifetime Warranty
  15. Price (0-1.75 points) – zero points if a bar costs $300 bucks or more to 1.75 points for those under $50
  16. Consumer Opinion (-2 to 2 points) – factor with the most gravitas and the most complicated to rate.

Short story – a curl bar got 2 points if we deemed that people are “completely satisfied/very interested” and -2 if they hate the bar.

Slightly longer story – we try to develop statistical models to recognize fake review patterns and take ratings on manufacturer’s websites with a grain of salt.

The complete story – would bore you to death.

  1. Where it’s made – (0-0.5 points) – zero points if made in China or if the info isn’t available (typically also means made in China) and 0.5 points if made in the US or Europe.

*We recognize the fact that this isn’t perfect, and not all bars made in China are created equal, but it’s a statistical approximation that’s fair in our experience. If a bar is good and Chinese-made, it will more than make up for it in the pricing category.

You can learn more about this in the how we assess curl bars section.

Close-but-no-cigar bars

(Other curl bars we reviewed and rated)

In this section, we’ll mention some of the bars that almost made the list of best EZ curl bars.


1. XMARK Fitness – I expected to see at least one XMark bar in the top 9 because of their popularity and low price point.

However, most of their bars are coated with black manganese and decorative chrome, which proved enough to push XMark down from the top spots.

Xmark bars that made it onto the longlist: XM-3675, Lumberjack, IronHorse, Olympic Chisel, and Rackable Convict.

2. CAP Barbell – yet another brand that I expected to see represented in the top 9, especially among the budget options.

The black version of the CAP Barbell Olympic EZ Curl Bar is probably the cheapest Olympic-sleeves curl bar that deserves a mention. Even the standard threaded from Cap Barbell bar costs more.

Still, the decorative chrome in most of their bars just isn’t cutting it.

3. E.T.ENERGIC – solid hard-chrome bar that almost made it to the top picks. It does have a high user rating, but we were skeptical about the legitimacy of those reviews – we need a higher number to move it past the “interested” status.

4. Vulcan – a good bar that dropped points in the shaft-finish category. The price is too steep for a black oxide shaft finish, even when it’s available (currently sold out).

5. Titan – three bars from Titan are on the longlist and the highest rated one is ranked 14th (the basic Olympic version, rated 12.25). The ‘fat’ and the standard versions of the Titan rackable bar are at spots 24 and 25 respectively, rated 11.875 and 11.75. The Main ‘problem’ Titan has compared to the top curl bars- the finish.

6. Bowflex – a great convenience option for some but it only goes from 10-80lbs in 10lb jumps.

Brands that dropped points in the finish category

Most bars dropped points in the finish category because of the inferior chrome.

To be fair, this rating is not ideal because we assumed that the coating is decorative chrome unless it’s explicitly listed as “hard chrome.”

Bars that dropped points because of the chrome (or powder) coating: Elevens, Papababe, Goplus, RitFit, Everyday Essentials, Deloboll, Body-Solid, Marcy, Waful, Champion, Ivanko, Sogawave, LApapaye, Hiraliy, and Topliu.

FAQs about EZ curl bars

What kind of bar is best for curls?

An EZ curl bar such as Rogue’s EZ bar with rotating sleeves is best for curls.

It’s safer compared to a straight bar because you’re not curling in full supination.

It also activates more muscle fiber compared to a dumbbell curl, as reported in this study.

Which size curl bar is best?

In terms of size, a curl bar that’s 47-55 inches long is best.

In that size range, most bars are big enough for a comfortable grip but big enough to interfere with the movement.

For rackable squat bars, such as the REP Fitness Rackable EZ barbell, the optimal size range is 71 to 75 inches.

What’s the weight of a curl bar?

The weight of the curl bar is in the 10-60 lbs range.

You have your standard threaded bars on the lighter end of the spectrum, the Olympic curl bar in the middle, and the rackable bars in the 30-35 range.

Finally, there are outliers like the Titan Fat EZ curl bar that weighs a whopping 60 pounds.

Can a curl bar be used for squats and deadlifts?

Yes, you can use a curl bar like Rogue’s curl bar for squats and deadlifts.

If that’s your intention, go for slighter angles, more space in the middle, and no central knurling.

Positions that work well for squatting with a curl bar are front and Zercher.

What are the best curl bar exercises?

The best curl bar exercises are curls, reverse curls, preacher curls, upright rows, standing overhead tricep extensions, and seated military press.

Best curl bars: The bottom line 

From my experience as a personal trainer and the hours of research into curl bars, I’d recommend the Rogue cerakote curl bar for most people.

It’s hard to beat the cerakote finish and 110,000 PSI at a price like this.

If you want a rackable curl bar so you can use it for changing the angles of your bench press, then I’d recommend the REP rackable EZ bar.

To skip back to my TOP 9 picks, click here.

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Steve Hoyles is a certified personal trainer and gym owner. Since graduating with his Sports Science degree in 2004 he's worked in the fitness industry, helping thousands of people reach their health and fitness goals. His writing has been read by millions of people in over 200 countries as he inspires to help as many people as possible live a healthy lifestyle.

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