For years, bodybuilders have debated the effectiveness of the straight bar versus the EX-curl (bent or cambered) bar when it comes to training biceps. There are pros and cons of each version of the barbell curl. Let's check out both movements, as well as a few warnings.
Advantages Of The Straight Bar or Horizontal Bar
If you go to the gym, you know that you'll always be able to fin a horizontal bar
. EZ bars, however, are often more scarce when you really need one. Additionally, if you're stocking up a home gym, using an EZ-curl bar means you need to purchase an extra piece of equipment. When using heavier weights, the long bar is easier to grip. For standard standing biceps curls, it's a classic.
Advantage Of The EZ Curl Bar
This version is much easier on the wrists than the straight bar. When completing «21s» or some other high-repetition variant of curls, an EZ-curl bar is essential. If you have smaller hands, as is the case with many of the skinny guys who enter the sport, you may prefer the EZ-curl bar. Gripping the bar shouldn't be your point of failure — that should occur when the biceps muscles can work no further.
What Do The Pros Use?
Most professional bodybuilders, when observed in their own training videos, prefer the use of the EX-curl bar to the straight bar. The more hardcore types — such as Ronnie Coleman and Branch Warren — are often seen with the straight bar. Other professionals, who sometimes rely on machines as much as free weights, tend to gravitate toward the EZ curl bar. Perhaps it's injury prevention, or perhaps its just a comfort level issue. However, if they have been training for 20+ years and they select the EZ curl bar, there might be some wisdom to their actions.
Solution: A Combination
In the end, you'll probably find some combination of 60/40 EZ/straight to be your best solution. You want to continually challenge the biceps to grow, and various angles certainly do that. Every bodybuilder has a different set of hands, biceps, experiences, injuries, and joint configurations, meaning no two curl experiences will ever be the same. At the very least, you owe it to yourself to try each of the bars before making an evaluation. You may prefer the businesslike nature of the horizontal bar
. Or you may prefer the biceps peak stimulation you receive from the EZ-curl bar. But you should at the very least try, and if you can tolerate them, use, both methods!
Keep an eye out for any soreness in the elbow, or more likely, outer wrist region in the days following curls with the straight bar. Many bodybuilders develop carpal tunnel syndrome, or simple tendonitis, from using the straight bars. For this reason, many personal trainers advise against its use from day one. If you're not comfortable with it, that's entirely acceptable. However you may find it is useful for adding inches to your arms, in which case you should employ both!