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8 Best Safety Squat Bars with Buying Guide

Choosing the best safety squat bar for your money has never been more complicated.

I’ve seen it all in the last few years – from awesome bars being discontinued to overpriced knockoffs flooding the market with fake reviews. It’s enraging at best and dangerous at worst.

That’s where this guide comes in. I spent over 45 hours researching 28 safety squat bars that I believe are worth looking into. The result is, I believe, the most complete guide out there, bar-none (pun intended).

As a personal trainer and gym owner, I have first-hand experience with many of these. Based on that, I defined 17 quality criteria, including camber balance, padding quality/comfort, finish, and price.

If you’re in a hurry, let me boil it down for you – the top value for money is the Titan V2.

With a rating of 15.5, Version 2 of the Titan Safety Squat Bar (SSB) is the bar to beat. Not because it’s a groundbreaking feat of engineering, but because it’s every bit as good as bars that cost two or three times more.

In terms of versatility, the Kabuki Transformer totally owns the competition and lives in a class of its own. For a home gym owner where space and budgets are tight, this is a huge plus point.

Best Handle

Bells of Steel

Best Overall

Titan Safety Squat Bar V2

Titan V2

Upgrade Option

Kabuki

Kabuki Strength Transformer bar

8 best safety squat bars

NameBest forRating out of 10Price
1. Titan V2Overall9$$$
2. Kabuki Strength Transformer barUpgrade8$$$
3. Bells of Steel SS3Handle design7$$$
4. Marrs BarRehab6$$$
5. Rogue safety squat bar SB-1Finish8$$$
6. GopherSport Cambered BarBeginners5$$$
7. PRx Safety Squat BarPortability5$$$
8. EliteFts SS Yoke BarClassic6$$$

I’ll go over the criteria for the ratings further down this page – that section of the guide is titled “How we rate safety squat bars.”

But first, let’s see why these bars made the cut.


1. Best safety squat bar overall – Titan V2

Summary

Titan V2 scored 15.5 out of the max 16.75 points.

It only dropped a point for customer service and 0.25 points for the camber not being adjustable.

Here’s the main reason for V2 being the top pick – it’s just as good as the more expensive bars in most critical quality aspects and better in some.

Seeing Titan climb to the top spot was a surprise because, up until now, I only knew Titan as a budget option. That holds true for the previous version of the bar, the original Titan safety squat bar.

Honestly, Titan’s previous safety bar was one of the worst specialty bars I’ve seen in my career. First of all, the geometry was way off, making the bar unusable, and don’t even get me started on the craftsmanship. You can see the difference for yourself in the video below:

Back to the value proposal, because that’s THE ONE point I want to bring home about the V2 – the similarities between this bar and the industry classic, the Elitefts SS Yoke bar, are too big to be a coincidence.

If you’re not phased by what Titan did here, you get a bar that’s just as good as the SS Yoke and costs much less. I have no intention of delving into the morality of the whole situation; I’ll focus on the quality of the bar.

Safety Squat Bar price

If the geometry of a safety squat bar is off, there’s nothing that can make up for it. It can be diamond-encrusted, but if the camber angle and depth* are amis, it’s worthless.

Titan got it just right with this bar. The camber angle is the same as that of the SS Yoke, and it’s not as deep. Balance-wise, the two bars are darn close.

*camber depth is the distance between the shaft and the sleeve

The hefty padding is high-density foam combined with rebond (open-cell polyurethane foam that’s firm but flexible, also known as carpet padding). Rebond might be cheap, and some high-end brands might frown upon it (looking at you, Rogue). But it’s the rebond that lends the structural stability and makes the padding of Titan and SS Yoke better than the Rogue Sb-1.

The vinyl cover seems rugged and well-stitched. I’ve seen very few reports of it giving in. The trade-off is that the rugged vinyl and rebond combo is not as comfortable as foam alone.

Then again, comfort is not what you’re after with a good SS yoke bar – it’s stability, balance, and controlled movement.

In those crucial aspects, Titan V2 delivers…and then some.

 Titan V2
Weight capacity1500 lbs
Padding materialHigh-density foam and “carpet padding”
Sleeve diameter (mm and inches)50 / ~1.97
Sleeve finishChrome

Pros

  • Value for money – you’ll pay substantially less and get similar quality.
  • Close-to-perfect geometry – a camber angle of 22 degrees and a 5-inch drop are comfortable to lift with.
  • High capacity – maximum weight is a whopping 1,500 lbs, allowing you to lift heavier and feel safe when doing it.
  • Removable handles – adds to the versatility; you can use the bar for stuff beyond squats, like JM presses.
  • Well-contoured handles – give you more tactile feedback.
  • Free shipping – you’ll save $50-100 on shipping alone because these things are hefty.

Cons

  • The chrome finish is not ideal – the type of chrome used is more likely to rust over time than some of the other finishes we’ll go over today.
  • Padding too thick for hands-free squats– this might sound counterintuitive, but I’d shave about half an inch from the padding. As is, the pressure point is too close to the neck.
  • It’s not an “original” – if you’re a person of principle, it might bother you that Titan “drew inspiration” from the original SS Yoke bar in pretty much every aspect.

2. Best upgrade safety squat – Kabuki Strength Transformer bar

Kabuki

Summary

Kabuki Strength Transformer bar is the most versatile bar out there and our ‘money-no-object’ pick.

There’s nothing quite like it – you can adjust both the camber angles to mimic a range of exercises. From back to front squats and from goodmornings to goblet squats.

Safety Squat Bar adjustable positions

It seems that Chris Duffin and the team over at Kabuki took serious notice of the criticism they received for the previous iterations of their safety bar, which was not up to the Kabuki standard. They went back to the drawing board and came back with the awesome Version 4. 

Kudos for that.

V4 features 6 camber angles and 4 camber lengths, which is a total of 24 positions. In my experience, the Transformer Bar can do two things that no other bar can:

  1. When used in a commercial gym, it’s adjustable so that the geometry will work for most people.
  2. If used in a home gym, it will work for a range of exercises beyond the “regular” squat.

If we look beyond versatility, the quality gap widens even more.

The padding quality is second to none, and I don’t mean that as a turn-of-phrase – I’m awarding this bar the best-padding label.

The stress resistance (durability), bounceback properties (resilience), and resistance to wear and tear (longevity) are just what we’ve come to expect from Kabuki.

The padding resilience in most safety bars is a result of combining foam with layers of rebond. And that works. It also makes sense because rebond is cheap, firm, and flexible.

Down the road, however, inferior foam under the rebond might (read: will) start to sag and dip. How long before that happens depends on the density of the foam and whether it’s closed or open-cell.

Kabuki managed to get to that durability and resilience using only high-density foam, which means it’s more comfortable. This is no small feat.

Hats off to Kabuki for that.

 Kabuki Strength Transformer
Weight capacity1500 lbs
Padding materialHigh-density foam
Sleeve diameter (mm and inches)50 / ~1.97
Sleeve finishZinc and black oxide

If this sounds at all interesting, you might want to see this Kabuki in action. Below is a detailed video of all you need to know.

Pros

  • Versatile – 24 possible positions make it suitable for most people and multiple exercises.
  • High-end craftsmanship and robust build – it’s likely to last longer than most bars on this list.
  • Handles are angled – increased core stability, lat muscle activation, and lowered risk of injury for people with shoulder injuries.
  • Handles are knurled – deep knurl of the handles will feel better for those who prefer the hard-core feel of grabbing steel.
  • Injection-molded foam – similar stress resistance as foam & rebond combo, but less likely to change properties (sag or dip) over time.

Cons

  • Expensive – you’ll spend more than what you’d spend on a “regular” safety bar.
  • Printed markings – these are more likely to peel than laser-cut markings, which is what I expect in this price range.
  • Handles are knurled – yes, the knurled handles are both a PRO and a CON, depending on whom you ask. Rubber offers a better grip than knurled steel, no matter how deep the knurling.

3. Best handle design – Bells of Steel SS3

Summary

Bells of Steel found their way into the battle for the top only when they launched the SS3. Their original safety squat bar is nothing to write home about, even at the low price point.

The SS3, however, ticks most of the quality boxes (for its price range) and then over-delivers with the specialty handles…three of them, to be exact.

Including multiple handles is an elegant way to address a common problem – the fact that not all people will like short and stubby handles (like those of the Crepinsek SSB), nor will everyone like long handles (like those of the Kabuki Transformer). It’s also a good way to make things harder for advanced lifters, which the chain does.

I expect more brands to follow in the footsteps of SS3. It’s just smart design that adds value without jacking up the price.

The SS3 is not without its problems. The finish is not great and will chip with time – that especially goes for the black zinc shaft. The sleeves are not as robust as those in high-end bars like Kabuki or Marrs, and the distance between the cambers could use an extra inch.

None of these, however, are deal-breakers, especially with the price point in mind.

Watch Andrew from Bells of Steel answer questions about the SS3 below:

 Bells of Steel SS3
Weight capacity1200 lbs
Padding materialHigh-density foam
Sleeve diameter (mm and inches)50 / ~1.97
Sleeve finishZinc

Pros

  • Three pairs of specialty handles – allows you to find the handle that works for you and switch it up when you get bored.
  • Fully rotating bushings – bushings spin slower than bearings, which makes them more suitable for heavy lifts and less prone to wear over time (more on that here).
  • 30-day guarantee – you can get the bar, decide if you like it, and return it if you don’t.
  • Chain handles are harder to use – this will be a plus for advanced lifters because a chain feels close to not having a handle at all. It forces you to keep your upper back tight at all times.

Cons

  • Distance between the cambers could be a peg greater – an extra inch or two would make it a better fit for a standard power rack.
  • Chain handles tend to pull on the pads – it can be frustrating, and the chain catching the pads can damage the foam edges.
  • Poor packaging – carries an increased risk of the bar arriving chipped or scratched if dropped during shipping.

4. Best safety squat bar for rehab – Marrs Bar

Marrs-Bar?

Summary

If the reason you’re looking into padded squat bars is a spine or shoulder injury, Zac Marrs made THE bar for you.

Before I get into what makes it different, let me just say that I’m a Marrs bar fanboy if there ever was one. That had no impact on the ratings because each time I proposed a tweak that would push the Marrs bar higher, the rest of the team saw right through me.

But I digress.

The Marrs Bar is different from any other SSB here. Geometry-wise, squatting with Marrs is closer to squatting with a ‘regular’ bar, without all the stress to your shoulders and neck.

There are two main differences compared to a classic safety squat bar:

  1. The front squat movement here is more hip-dominant because the angle is shallower.
  2. There’s less stress exerted on the lumbar spine because the weight sits lower, making the arm of the force shorter.

To sum up – the Marrs bar takes the concept of a safety squat bar a step further. You can watch Zac Marrs talk about his invention with Dr. Rob Jones below:

 Marrs Bar
Weight capacity1200 lbs
Padding materialHigh-density foam
Sleeve diameter (inches)2
Sleeve finishBlack oxide

Pros

  • Sits on your back instead of your shoulders – will not pitch your forward or put stress on your shoulders.
  • The resting position is locked in – the unique curve of the yoke ‘hugs’ you in a way no other SSB can. It feels more stable.
  • Better for hands-free movement – exercises that rely on hands-free stability, like the Hatfield squat, will feel more natural and safe
  • Hip-dominant movement – the movement is closer to your classic low-bar squat, without the shoulder and neck strain.
  • Camber angle is good for front-squatting – you can perform a front squat much more comfortably while still hitting similar plate angles.

Cons

  • Handles and padding not removable – you won’t be using the Marrs bar for any upper body movements like skull-crushers or JM presses
  • Expensive – you’ll pay 200-300% compared to some of the budget-friendly options on this list, like the Titan.
  • Researching it requires looking at pictures of candy – not a real CON; I’m just on a keto diet as I write this.

Note: At the time of completing this guide, a new version of the Marrs bar was already on the market. The main difference is the molded polyurethane padding instead of vinyl. I don’t have enough information to speak on it, so we’ll include it in the upcoming updates.


5. Best finish – Rogue safety squat bar SB-1

Summary

In terms of finish resistance, cerakote is pretty much as good as it gets. Rogue SB-1 is the only bar in our Top 8 that uses cerakote. This is a massive plus because not only will this bar not chip; it’s much less likely to rust over time. 

If you train outdoors, or your home gym is slightly exposed to the elements, this is a big plus.

Barbell Finish Resistance

It’s also a great option for big and tall guys, but not powerlifters.

Let me explain…

The space between the padding and the distance of the handles in the Rogue SB-1 bar is a peg greater compared to other bars. My measurements put the handle distance at about 12.7 inches and the space between the pads at 10 inches.

This means that bigger and taller guys will likely find the width just right, and those on the smaller side might find it awkward. Based on my experience, I’d put the cutoff point at about 5’7 tall.

There is a caveat; however – the padding is not robust enough for lifting heavy every day. To be more specific – in the long run, it’s not a great option if you’re regularly lifting over 350.

Let me clarify the padding issue because it’s touch-and-go.

The padding of the Rogue SB-1 is closed-cell foam, which is great. If there’s enough of it, that is.

That’s the main ‘problem’ of the SB-1 – the padding could use an upgrade. Even a cheap layer of rebond over the foam would make it better. And because the padding is critical in our ratings, this issue alone cost this bar three full points.

Upgraded padding would shoot the SB-1 bar right up into the runner-up position. We’ll be on the lookout for Rogue’s reaction here.

Still, for most people lifting moderate weights, the padding won’t be a deal-breaker.

 Rogue SB1
Weight capacity1200 lbs
Padding materialClosed-cell foam
Sleeve diameter (inches)2
Sleeve finishBlack cerakote

Pros

  • Broad handle grip – a massive plus for big and tall guys and a potential comfort issue for those under 5’7.
  • Superior cerakote sleeve finish – much less prone to chipping or rust than zinc and chrome, let alone powder coat.
  • Spot-on geometry – the 5.5 camber drop hits that sweet spot between the front and back squat.
  • Aggressive design – the all-black cerakote looks way cooler than any bar on the list, except the Kabuki.

Cons

  • Not for smaller guys and women – the padding and the distance between the handles will probably be uncomfortable if you’re under 5’7.
  • Padding not thick enough – can be a durability issue with prolonged, intense use.
  • Handles are too smooth – this one is subjective, but I feel that a bit more grit would offer better grip once the sweat kicks in.

6. Best safety squat bar for beginners – GopherSport Cambered Bar

Summary

Gopher did a great job finding a niche within a niche with this bar – people in the market for an SSB but looking for something simple and easy to use.

In our ratings, it earned a total of 12 points out of 16.75. None of the factors where Gopher dropped points are show stoppers. I’m talking stuff like the handles and padding not being removable and the fixed camber.

I’m labeling it as the best safety square bar for beginners based on the following three factors:

  1. The molded padding is comfortable without being ‘huggy’. This will not give you a false feeling about how much you can lift as some of the more intricate bar designs, like the Marrs bar.
  2. The neutral angles are not challenging and do not change the bar path during squats.
  3. The sleeves have a nice heft and rotate smoothly around the shaft, minimizing the stress on your wrists.

On top of it all, it’s in the lower price bracket with Titan and Bells of Steel.

 GopherSport Cambered
Weight capacity1000 lbs
Padding materialMolded high-density foam
Sleeve diameter (mm / inches)50 / ~1.97
Sleeve finishChrome

Pros

  • Generous molded padding – more durable, non -absorbent, and easier to clean than stitched vinyl.
  • Simple comfort-focused design – allows you to focus on the form and learn the squatting basics.
  • Rotating sleeves – smoother lifts and less stress on your joints.

Cons

  • Handle distance might be too great for some – 12 inches between the handles might prove to be uncomfortable for women or guys with narrow shoulders.

7. PRX Safety Squat Bar

Summary

You’ll notice that PRX is the only bar on the list that carries no special label. It’s because I couldn’t decide between two labels – ‘best looking’ or ‘easiest to store’. I’ll explore each.

The slightly granular black powder coat paired with ample leather padding looks imposing. It’s the second-longest (91.25 inches long, second only to the Elite FTS) and second-heaviest (weighs 65 lbs, second to Rogue SB-1) bar on the list.

Safety Squat Bar weight

Combine all that with the fact that PRX has its own wall-mount system that retails for about 50 bucks, and you have an awesome addition to your home gym. I’m playing it loose with the word ‘system’ here because it’s really just a cool wall-mount.

It will, however, do a great job of displaying the bar when you’re not using it.

 PRX Safety Squat Bar
Weight capacity1200 lbs
Padding materialHigh-density foam
Sleeve diameter (mm / inches)50 / ~1.97
Sleeve finishBlack powder coat

Pros

  • Aggressive, all-black design – it adds a substantial coolness factor to your gym, and it’s a conversation starter.
  • Long and heavy – will be easier to rack, and the extra heft feels robust.
  • Easy to store – PRX’s wall-mount (sold separately) will allow you to get it out of the way and not store it on the rack or in the corner – great for smaller home gyms.
  • Fast delivery – you’re less likely to experience delays in getting your bar, which is not uncommon in the industry.

Cons

  • The finish is a black powder coat – it will scratch and chip more than cerakote or chrome.

8. Best geometry among classic SSBs – the EliteFts SS Yoke Bar

Summary

Dave Tate and his guys over at EliteFts did all the hard work in terms of geometry. Their bar is still the best where it counts the most – the balance.

I’d say that, in those terms, it’s second only to the Marrs bar, which is not really a classic SSB.

It’s at the ‘low’ 8th place because it dropped points in convenience areas like customer service, warranty, shipping, and fitting Olympic collars. There was no way around including these in our ratings because it’s what users deemed important. Your relationship with the company doesn’t end on delivery – if there’s a problem with the bar, you want and need the after sales support.

But it ticks all the boxes.

It has the same weight capacity as our top two picks…

Safety Squat Bar max weight capacity

And it’s the longest bar on the list, making it ideal for the bigger lifter…

Safety Squat Bar length

But the top-rated Titan safety squat bar has full 4 points on the EliteFTS even though the bars are pretty much identical.

If you take a step from convenience and price and shift your focus to raw quality, the Elitefts SS Yoke bar becomes superior – for a few reasons:

  1. The padding doesn’t push your neck forward – about 0.8″ thinner than Titan’s, according to my measurements. 
  2. Better vinyl used for the pads.
  3. With all other things equal, the slightly longer camber does a better job at balancing the bar.

Finally, there is a case to be made that some people will go with EliteFTS just because spending money on clones of their product feels wrong. That number would grow if they just somehow found a way to lower the shipping costs.

 SS Yoke bar by EliteFTS 
Weight capacity1500 lbs
Padding materialHigh-density foam
Sleeve diameter (mm / inches)50 / ~1.97
Sleeve finishBlack powder coat

Pros

  • Geometry is spot-on– feels stable and safe, even for hands-free squats.
  • Padding is just right – likely to last without changing and doesn’t affect the geometry/balance.
  • US-made made of high-tensile steel – while the latter goes for most of the bars here, the SS Yoke just feels sturdier and less likely to whip, bend, or, God forbid, break.

Cons

  • Finish of the sleeves is clearcoat – it chips and scratches much more than chrome or cerakote.
  • Doesn’t fit Olympic collars – if you don’t already own adjustable collars, you’ll need to spend extra for a separate pair to fit the 1.9-inch thick sleeves.

Honorary mention – Crepinsek SSB

OK, this might be more than an honorary mention; it’s also a nostalgic mention.

The good ol’ Crep is not only discontinued but practically impossible to find, even on eBay. Old-school lifters will remember that, along with the SS Yoke and some Watsons, it was the king of the castle just a short decade ago.

Today, Titan Fitness safety squat bar plays Crepisnek’s role in the comparisons to SS Yoke.

Looking back on it now, or-break factors. In the case of the safety squat bar, I feel that Crep had great geometry and crappy padding. It was/is a solid bar for squats, but each good morning felt like someone was trying to snap my neck off.

Good bar, good times, good riddance.


Safety squat bar buying guide

If none of the picks we listed catches your eye, the following section is for you. There’s a lot to go over, so let’s be clear and concise.

I’d split all the quality aspects/features into three groups:

  1. Primary factors – the make-or-break factors. With safety squat bars, there are three – basic structural solidity, padding quality, and above all, the geometry of the bar.
  2. Secondary factors – if a product ticks all the primary factor boxes, secondary factors will be the difference between a good and a great bar.
  3. Moot factors – the whatchamacallits and marketing gimmicks pushed by the makers or reviewers with an agenda.

These are the most important factors I personally considered when purchasing my safety squat bars for my own gym like this…

Primary factors

Structural solidity of a safety squat bar

Any steel with a tensile strength of over 165k PSI* is plenty strong, even for advanced lifters (as defined in our guide on best Olympic barbells here). There are only two brands on the list that stand out in terms of the tensile strength of the steel – Rogue & Kabuki.

Rogue uses 190k-220k PSI steel for all their bars, which is as high as you can go with ‘regular steel’ before it becomes brittle. If you’re shifting serious tin though, you’d be better off looking at 190+. I don’t buy any barbells below 190, but that’s because I get some absolute beasts in my place and my equipment needs to be up to the usage it’ll face.

Kabuki goes above and beyond, up to a whopping 285k PSI, all without facing brittleness issues – courtesy of their proprietary steel manufacturing.

To be honest, I was red in the face on the first day of research because none of the companies are explicitly listing the tensile strength. I had to draw conclusions based on what I knew about their other products.

Here’s what I mean – let’s take Titan as an example. My best guess is that Titan V2 is made of 190,000 PSI steel because it’s the closest in characteristics to their Blues City Olympic Barbell. For SS Yoke, my guesstimate is ~165k PSI because the bar is close to the characteristics of their Multi Bar but not as strong as the Iron Cowboy or the Varikas.

That being said, a bar is only as strong as its weakest point and high tensile strength can be let down by poor quality welding. That’s why paying attention to build quality is so important.

My advice

All the bars in this list are strong, and the connections/welds are structurally sound, so you can always go with one of those. If you’re looking outside our list and tensile strength is not specified, contact the company before buying and look for 165k steel or higher.

*Ultimate tensile strength (often shortened to tensile strength) is the maximum stress a material can take before breaking. It’s expressed in PSI, which is pounds of force Per Square Inch.

Padding of a safety squat bar

This one is much simpler than the pesky analysis above. There are a few simple rules when it comes to choosing the padding:

  1. The sweet spot for padding thickness is 1.5-1.7 inches.
  2. For best value, go with a pad that includes a layer rebond. Combined with high-density foam, rebound makes for a firm but comfortable padding.
  3. More is not always better – padding that’s too thick will push your neck forward and mess with the geometry of your lift. As a rule of thumb, I wouldn’t go over 1.75 inches. The exception here is the Marrs bar because it sits on your back, and the padding will not mess with the balance.
  4. A removable cover is also useful for hygiene – it can be washed after use, so keeps things cleaner. If there’s multiple users of the bar, it’s a good idea.

Camber geometry of a safety squat bar

Out of the primary factors, geometry is the only deal-breaker. It’s also the most complicated to explain without boring you to death, so I’ll make it short and sweet.

In my experience, the ideal camber depth is in the 5-6″ range, and the optimal angle is 22-30 degrees (measured from your body).

My advice

Don’t obsess over the numbers. The only proper way to look at the geometry of a safety squat bar is to look at the bar as a whole – depth, angle, handles, and padding. It either works or it doesn’t.

If you get the chance (and this is easier said than done) try out a few bars first and see what works for you. You don’t have to buy the bars – ask a local gym if you can try out theirs and see what you think of them. 

You’ll learn a lot about what you like and don’t like.

Secondary factors

Weight capacity of a safety squat bar

In my opinion, weight capacity is the single most overrated quality factor. And I get it; it’s cool having a bar that holds a ton. It’s largely a vanity measure for manufacturers though. I’ll explain why…

If you ask me, the number alone tells you very little about how the bar meets the challenges of real-world use.

Think about this for a moment – the weight capacity of the top 3 picks is either 1,500 or 1,200, and Brian Carrol’s all-time world record squat is 1,306 pounds.

If it’s strong enough for Brian, it’s strong enough for you.

My advice

If you’re lifting heavy, go with a bar that’s listed for 1000 lbs. Only use the number as a rule of thumb, not as a reason to get/not get an SSB. I know 1K bars that bend and whip like a pole vault.

If you’re not lifting heavy, you’re probably OK even with 700 lbs. And by the way, a 700 lbs squat is SUPER impressive – I’ve never seen it done in a commercial facility. If you can squat 700 lbs, you’ve probably already got a good grasp on gym equipment! 

Yoke spacing and handles of an SSB

For most people, comfortable spacing of the yoke will be as follows:

  • 12-14 inches distance between the handles
  • 7.5-9.5 inches of space between the pads

The default handles you see in most of our top picks are straight and short. They can also be stubs with chains, long, bent, or feature rubber ball knobs.

There’s no right or wrong here. It’s a cliche, but I don’t shy away from it because it’s true – it all comes down to what you like or need. If in doubt, get a bar with short removable handles so that you can experiment.

What’s comfortable in terms of handle length and grip is highly individual. As a rule of thumb, you should have at least 13 inches between the shaft and the end of the handle and no less than 4-5 inches of grip space.

Handles of all the better safety squat bars are either naked or covered in plastic/rubber.

  • If they’re naked, make sure they’re aggressively knurled (like those of the Kabuki Strength).
  • If they’re plastic or rubber, the choice comes down to flat (Marrs bar), mildly contoured (SS Yoke), or substantially contoured (Titan V2).

The plastic contouring removes the need for chalk, so it’s still grippy even when your hands are covered in sweat…

Finish of a safety squat bar

There’s too much noise surrounding the finish.

Let’s make it simple by listing the finishes from least to most resistant to corrosion:

  • Black oxide
  • Decorative Chrome
  • Zinc/nickel
  • E-coat
  • Hard Chrome
  • Cerakote
  • Bare steel
My advice

Look at the primary factors, make a shortlist of the bars you like and then compare the finishes. 

Here’s a tidbit of info that no one talks about  – the more humid the area you live in, the more of a factor the finish should be.

The zinc finish of the SS3 will not be a deal-breaker if you’re in Nevada or Arizona at 38% humidity but will rust in Florida or Louisiana. If you buy a bare steel bar, it’s going to need a lot of care regardless of where you live! You get the idea…

Personally, I pay little attention to cosmetic stuff like scratches. I’m yet to meet a lifter who stopped using their SSB because the paint chips.

The real issue is how much care and attention you give your bars. If you’re the kind of guy (or gal) who brushes their bar down after each use, gives it a regular clean and light coating of oil (which is then wiped off with a towel) and makes sure it is stored correctly, your bar will last longer regardless of its finish and your location. 

Customer service of the companies making the bars

This was a tough category to rate, so we only awarded a point to companies for which we “Found proof of great customer service.”

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(above  is placeholder text, it would be great if we sent 8 mystery shopping emails with a question or two)

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Warranty terms

  • Three out of our TOP 8 safety squat bars have a Lifetime Warranty. Two of those apply to manufacturing defects (Kabuki and Marrs) and one to bending (PRX). They’re all limited and don’t cover “careless or faulty use.”
  • Two out of 8 bars are covered by a 1-year warranty: Titan and Rogue.

Two companies only offer guarantees:

  • GopherSports offers what they call an “Unconditional 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.” If I understood it right,  it basically means they’ll refund you if you don’t like the bar or replace it if there’s a problem on arrival. I found no information on how long the offer is good for, and I detest obscurity when it comes to this stuff.
  • Bells of Steel offers a 30-day money-back guarantee – not great, but clear.

Finally, EliteFts only offers a warranty on the pad. At that price point, they should know better.

Moot factors of choosing an SSB

I’ll just skim over a few factors that I think are ‘moot’, meaning they have very little to no impact on your experience. Yet, you might see them purported as important to get your focus away from the crucial stuff that’s lacking.

I call these ‘the noise’.

Sleeve length

The sleeve length of the bars we looked at goes from just over 11 inches (Power Systems bar) to 16 inches (in more than one bar, including the top-rated Titan). 

I’ve seen no correlation between shorter sleeves and how well users like a bar.

To be clear, I’m not saying that it’s absolutely not important. I’m saying that none of the better SSBs has short-sleeve issues, and an inch in sleeve length isn’t something most people will notice when using the bars.

Knurling of the shaft

This one will only make sense in bars with completely removable padding and a shape that might work well for bench presses or skull-crushers.

To be real, people looking for an SSB are (almost) never looking for a bar to bench press with.

It makes even less sense talking about it in bars with fixed padding.

Other safety squat bars we tested

About half of the bars we looked at are worth the money. I’d say that the cutoff point is a score of 11 or more points – 13 of the 28 bars fit that bill.

Let’s go over some of them and look at how close (or far) they were to make the list of best safety squat bars.

Sorinex safety bar – good looking, decent geometry, bad padding, and too expensive.

Black Widow SSB – an industry classic that I expected to see in the Top 8, but it dropped points in most non-crucial categories and slipped just under the red line. The padding could use a boost, though.

Perform Better SSB – love the knob handles, not a fan of the skimpy padding.

Vulcan safety squat bar (currently unavailable) – a nice little cheap safety squat bar that might do the job if you don’t expect too much. At higher weights, the geometry imperfections become a problem.

Yoke Safety Squat Bar by EdgeFitness – cheap and it shows. If you look past that and you don’t lift heavy, you might save a pretty penny. Still worth it.

Power Lift’s Safety Squat Bar – unique, multiple-handle design – too contrived for my taste.

American Barbell SSB – long curved handles, geometry not good enough for heavier lifts.

Fortis low-bar SSB – decent geometry, eyesore design.

Xtreme Monkey Olympic Safety Squat Barbell (currently sold out) – pretty much an exact replica of the Gronk SSB. Good geometry, poor padding, and bad handles.

“Close-but-no-cigar” bars

Now that’s a mouthful…let me mention a few bars that I reviewed for this guide but wouldn’t buy.

Happybuy Safety Squat Olympic Bar – the first of the few safety squat bars available on Amazon that look exactly the same but are branded and priced differently. Bad bar – poor padding, worse angles.

Popsport Safety Squat Olympic Bar – similar to the Happybuy above. They even managed to get the kilogram-to-pound conversion wrong in the specs.

RitFit Yoke Bar with Shoulder and Arm Pads – another bar with the camber parallel to the handles…’nough said. The brand seems legit, but I don’t know them. After seeing this bar and reading a few customer reviews on Facebook, I have no intention of learning about RitFit.

Botabay 700lbs Safety Squat Bar – cheap Chinese bar from a brand that also “makes” fruit choppers, hair dye, and telescopes.

Cambered Squat Bar by Power Systems – poorly put together, the DIY look is a massive turn-off.

TDS safety squat bar – same as HappyBuy, Botabay, and Popsport.

Ader safety squat bar – I spent time looking at three bars from Ader Fitness, the 82-inch, 1000, and 1500 lbs bars. None of them were close to finding their way into the top picks, mainly because of the poor padding.

How we rate safety squat bars

The team here at Strong Home Gym looks to bring together theoretical, practical, and methodological approaches and shape one complete data-driven rating system.

I know the sentence above looks like a Thesaurus puked on your screen, but it’s important to get the message across. Simply put – we’re moving away from opinion-based reviews and towards data-based ratings.

To choose the best safety squat bars, I went through these steps:

  1. I put together a list of 29 bars – which pretty much includes every bar out there that’s worth mentioning.
  2. I gathered raw data on all the bars – everything from size and weight down to the city they’re made in. The database is huge.
  3. I defined the 17 rating criteria and the gravity each of them carries (not all are equally important). I’ll list them below.
  4. I tested some of the bars myself (those I had access to). For others, I analyzed existing experiences, watched tens of hours of video reviews, and read hundreds of user reviews.
  5. I rated all the bars in the quality categories. Those that scored highest against the set of 17 criteria are presented above.

The criteria and points awarded

Below is the list of criteria I used and the number of points each carries:

  1. Weight capacity 700 lbs or more – 1 point.
  2. Bar doesn’t bend or change properties over time (high-tensile solid steel no less than 30 mm in diameter) – 1 point.
  3. Bar features comfortable camber – angle, shape, and length are well balanced – 1 point.
  4. Finish/coating of the bar doesn’t chip (cerakote, zinc, chrome) – 1 point.
  5. Sleeves fit Olympic plates/collars (~50 mm) – 1 point.
  6. Material and stitching of the padding are durable – 1 point.
  7. Padding material is comfortable yet supportive and maintains properties (rebond, high-density foam, or closed-cell foam) – 1 point.
  8. Padding is generous enough for heavy lifters – 1 point.
  9. Handle spacing is comfortable for most people – 1 point.
  10. Good handle grip – 1 point.
  11. Handles are removable but don’t come loose – 0.25 points.
  12. Adjustable camber – 0.25 points.
  13. Removable padding – 0.25 points.
  14. Proof of great customer service (TrustPilot, Better Business Bureau, Reddit or our own mystery shopping) – 1 point.
  15. Warranty of minimum 1 year (on the bar, explicitly listed) – 1 point.
  16. Consumer Opinion – from -2 to +2 points.
  17. Price – carries 2 points if the bar costs less than $300, 1 point if it’s between 300 and 500, and no points if it’s above $500.

Maximum possible score: 16.75

Note that price and consumer opinion carry more gravitas, which means that ‘the best’ bar is actually top value.

Future updates

The team here at Strong Home Gym has one absolute priority – helping you, the reader. If that sounds like BS, let me just casually mention two things:

  1. We’re the only ones out there listing products that we have no affiliation with
  2. We’re the only ones in the space with a meticulous rating system. It does take some elbow grease to get to our ratings. But when we do get them, it’s not just arbitrary numbers we’re throwing around – it’s data-based ratings that we stand behind.

FAQs about safety squat bars

What is the purpose of a safety squat bar?

The purpose of a safety squat bar is to improve your motion range and minimize the forces exerted on your lower back when squatting.

By doing so, an SSB, like the Titan V2 helps injured athletes lower re-injury risks. It will be a way for advanced lifters to break through plateaus by changing up the angles and range.

Are safety squat bars good?

Safety squat bars are excellent. They improve your core stability and mid-back musculature, lower the stress exerted on your spine and shoulders, and allow you to change up your routine. This isn’t opinion either – it’s backed up in the research. 

Analysis of SSB use shows higher torso activation, a more upright trunk position and reduced hip flexion during the squat. This reduces the stress on the lower back, making it a useful option for those lifters who struggle with lower back issues, or are looking to challenge their torso in new ways. It also makes the SSB a viable option for rehab exercises.

They are just as effective for lower body strength as an Olympic barbell (you can see a study comparing the two bars here).

Should I use a safety squat bar?

You should use a safety squat bar. That goes for both injured and healthy lifters. If you suffer from back and shoulder mobility issues, you can use it exclusively, and if you’re injury-free, it will allow you to keep overloading your squat.

If you’re returning to squatting following a lower back injury, it’s a good idea to start with the SSB on lighter loads, then move to a standard Olympic barbell when you’ve regained some strength. 

How much does a safety squat bar weigh?

A safety square bar weighs 30-70 pounds. The weight depends on whether the steel is solid or tubular and the bar’s size.
These numbers are based on our database of 28 SSBs. It’s worth mentioning that the better bars are usually 60+ lbs.

What is the right way to use a safety squat bar?

The right way to use a safety squat bar is with the handles in front of you. The padding should comfortably sit on your back.
The one expectation is the Marrs bar, which allows you to use it both ways.

Is a safety squat bar easier to lift with?

Safety squat bar is not easier to lift with. It’s safer and more stable, so you can change things up and progress, but don’t expect to lift more just because you’re using an SSB – in fact the opposite is true – you’re likely to lift less with the SSB.

A study looking at the effects of an SSB on body mechanics found the powerlifters had an 11.3% lower 3RM (Three Repetitions Maximum) when they used a safety squat bar compared to an Olympic barbell (you can see the study here).

The bottom line for Safety Squat Bars

The 50+ hours of research did pay off well. You should now have a clear idea of which of the safety squat bars might be best in your case.

For most people looking to add an SSB to their home gym, I’d recommend the Titan V2. The balance between quality and price is what sets it apart. Most importantly, the geometry is spot-on, which is the make-or-break feature of a good safety squat bar.

If the price is not a deal-breaker, Kabuki Transformer is the most versatile SSB out there and our top upgrade pick. It’s the only SSB that allows you to adjust the geometry – both the angles and depth. No such luck with any of the other bars.

Safety Squat Bar ratings

Skip back to the specs and prices tab by clicking here.

by Steve Hoyles
Hi! My name is Steve Hoyles. I’m a personal trainer, gym owner and fitness copywriter. Since graduating with my Sports Science degree in 2004 I’ve worked in the fitness industry, helping thousands of people reach their health and fitness goals. My writing has been read by millions of people in over 200 countries.

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