Even though I’m mainly a runner, I like dabbling in weightlifting every now and then. It has progressed a little bit, and the weights are getting heavier and heavier.
With this progress, I realized I needed to invest in better gym equipment. It became especially important when I got these pains after using the bar for certain weightlifting exercises, such as hip thrusts and squats.
You might also be experiencing these pains despite your great form. Sometimes, you just can’t avoid the weight of the bar digging into your skin, and there’s no shame in admitting you need extra help.
Barbell pads are there to provide a little bit of cushion. It can seem quite simple, but some barbell pads can actually be much more of a hassle than a help. They can slip around and hinder your progress.
Which ones are the best barbell pads? Which ones will slip around? Let’s try and find out! I researched the best barbell pads out there on the market. These have been rated by popularity, durability and purpose.
Best Barbell Pads For Weightlifting Compared and Reviewed
|ProFitness Barbell Pad||ProFitness||Check Price on Amazon|
|Iron Bull Strength Advanced Barbell Pad||Iron Bull Strength||Check Price on Amazon|
|Dark Iron Fitness Barbell Pad||Dark Iron Fitness||Check Price on Amazon|
|POWER GUIDANCE Barbell Pad||POWER GUIDANCE||Check Price on Amazon|
|Elevator Fitness Barbell Pad||Elevator Fitness||Check Price on Amazon|
#1 - ProFitness Barbell Pad
ProFitness has created a barbell pad designed to help you ease your shoulder and hip pains, especially after your barbell squats and hip thrusts. It is made of high-density foam, which means it is able to rest comfortably on your body while still protecting you from the firmness of the bar.
This particular barbell pad is super easy to use. It is essentially cut right down the middle, so all you have to do is push this down and slide over any barbell.
The straps are also included, which helps keep it in place. That’s usually the number one issue with barbell pads: how easily they can slide off.
It also provides you with extra grip and friction, so you have enough control over the bar. It’s super lightweight too, so you can bring it with you to the gym. Overall, it’s a simple but effective barbell pad. Some users have reported that the velcro straps that are included with the barbell pad snap off after only months of use. Be careful of that!
#2 - BCAN 38" Foldable Mini Trampoline
Iron Bull Strength has created another variation of the barbell pad. Though other barbell pads include straps to help you adjust the diameter of the holes and how tight they are around the bar, this barbell pad claims not to need straps.
They claim that their quick-slip design makes it so all you need to do is clip this barbell pad around your bar without any extra straps. Some users disagree with this, saying that it did not wrap around fully and even slipped off after going heavier and heavier with the weights.
You can’t deny that it does have an ergonomic design, with its neck nook to help relieve your neck and shoulder pain.
It is also made from thick high-density foam rubber. This makes it both comfortable but protective. Once you get the barbell pad on, you’ll find that it promotes more grip and stays on your skin, which reduces slipping.
#3 - Dark Iron Fitness Barbell Pad
Dark Iron Fitness pays more attention to the details of their barbell pads. For example, their synthetic leather material is able to wick away moisture, so you can easily wipe away any of the sweat that might have built up there.
This also means that moisture won’t be absorbed into the barbell pad and won’t build up any odors. Their foam is ¾ inches, which makes for a more comfortable weightlifting session.
This barbell pad was designed to fit 2 inch Olympic size bars, which is great since you really don’t want your barbell pad to slip around.
Instead of having to slip it into the bar and having separate straps to keep your barbell pad around your bar, the velcro is integrated into the barbell pad itself.
I also like the sleek design of this barbell pad! However, some users have turned on this barbell pad because of how it didn’t provide that much support after going heavier with the weights.
#4 - POWER GUIDANCE Barbell Pad
The material of this barbell pad prevents any slipping with its anti-slip design. It claims not to slip around or off the bar, but do users agree? Users absolutely love the thickness of this barbell pad. The cushioning on it is apparently really amazing and can help with your after-workout sores.
They aren’t a fan of how big the hole is in the middle of the barbell pad, though. Although velcro straps are included, tighter barbell pads are definitely more convenient.
Even though this is super thick, the design is still meant to be compact and portable. It’s also lightweight, so no extra effort for your gym bag. There is also a nook for the back of your neck, intended for when you’re doing squats. This makes it more comfortable and helps prevent injury.
#5 - Elevator Fitness Barbell Pad
This barbell pad is made of a memory foam sponge, so your barbell pad will contour itself onto the shape of your body.
It also has a neck groove that will fit around your neck, which is great for your back squats. This helps lessen the pain on your neck and shoulders, which gets more and more prominent as your weights get heavier.
It’s important to know what your particular bar needs. FYI: this barbell pad is 18 x 3.5 inches.
You might also want to know that some users have experienced that this barbell pad slides off easily. This is because the barbell pad is basically cut down the middle for your barbell pad to slide in.
You can try to add a hair tie around your barbell pad to keep it closed. The barbell pad does include straps to keep it attached to your bar, which is great.
My Number One Pick
What To Look Out For When Considering Barbell Straps For Weightlifting
Buying any kind of gym equipment can tend to be overwhelming. It can be all hype with nothing to back it up. On the other hand, the really good equipment might be drowned out by the buzz.
It helps to know what to look out for in a good barbell pad. Remember to keep in mind what exercises you usually do. This will help you choose the best barbell pad for you.
Also, remember to keep it simple. You really don’t need much of a show for barbell pads. After all, it’s a piece of foam that will cushion the bar and help you reach your fitness goals.
What are barbell pads?
When you start lifting heavier weights, you might find that you spend a lot of time trying to look for the right position for the bar on your shoulders or on your hips.
To avoid that hassle, barbell pads, also known as squat pads, help create extra cushioning for your bar. This reduces the pressure on your body and instead helps you focus on doing the proper form.
Some weightlifters try to shame others, saying that this extra cushioning really isn’t real weightlifting. However, this stigma around barbell pads only discourages people from using gym equipment to achieve their fitness goals.
Barbell pads aren’t the solution to all your weightlifting problems, though. For certain exercises, it might cause more harm than good.
To understand when you should be using your barbell pad and when not to, keep reading.
Benefits of using barbell pads
Using barbell pads provide a lot of benefits when done correctly. Let’s talk a little more about them.
Having that heavy bar dig into your skin while lifting 90 pounds might cause bruising. This heavy pressure causes the blood vessels under your skin to burst.
Your barbell pad can help provide a little more cushion so that this pressure is distributed into the foam instead of directly onto your muscles.
Aside from protecting you from the pressure of heavy weights, a barbell pad can help reduce the pulling of your skin, causing other kinds of skin tears.
Added grip or friction to reduce risk of injury
A barbell pad can increase friction without causing skin tearing. Because of the soft material of the foam, you can usually find that these barbell pads will give you a bit more grip on your bar.
When you’ve been exercising for a while, you might find that the bar tends to get sweaty. A slippery barbell isn’t a great look, and frankly, it isn’t safe either.
To prevent your barbell from slipping off your hips, a barbell pad can help you prevent any injury. Barbell pads are also a great option for those who are recovering from an injury, as they can be almost like a protective barrier and added support.
You can’t deny that barbell pads make things more comfortable for you. Some weightlifters tend to look down on this, with the whole “pain is gain” concept still embedded in their minds.
Keep in mind, though, that to progress and achieve your fitness goals, some gym equipment can help you accelerate that process, and there’s nothing wrong with that. As long as it’s healthy and used properly, you don’t have to worry about being a “real” weightlifter.
Comfort is just as important. After all, barbell pads can’t take away the weight of those plates!
A barbell pad can easily provide a lot of support for your body to be able to effectively lift heavier weights.
This might be important to those trying to recover from an injury and is still taking it slow. The support you get from a barbell pad can help you get back on track.
Best and proper ways to use barbell pads
Although barbell pads seem quite easy to use, you might want to take extra precautions before using them in certain exercises.
In particular, you want to avoid using them for your squats.
Barbell pads are not for squats
Although you’ll see a lot of weightlifters use barbell pads for squats, you might be surprised to know that it might be doing more harm than good. After all, are they not known as “squat pads” too?
You might need to use a barbell pad at first because you might not be used to the feeling of a bar digging into your skin. However, after a while, it might hold you back.
For one, needing a barbell pad to be comfortable with a bar on your shoulders means that your form might not be great. Your trapezius muscles should be able to cushion you.
Your traps are the muscles at the base of your neck. It’s another misconception that your bar should be resting on your shoulders mainly, but you want to focus the bar on your traps.
Barbell pads with squats tend to throw your center of gravity off. If you’re only a beginner at weightlifting, this is something that will hinder you from truly achieving the right form and technique.
Barbell pads, I think, are perfect for hip thrusts or bridges! We all know the pain of a bar hitting your hip bones, how uncomfortable that can be.
Barbell pads will provide cushioning for your hip thrusts, so you don’t have to feel that digging sensation anymore. Simply position the barbell pad in the middle of the bar and place the barbell pad on your hips.
Yup, you can use this for your deadlifts! I know this is unorthodox and might not be the first exercise you run to for your barbell pads.
Deadlifts, however, tend to make you have contact with your shins as you lift the bar up. Some bars are quite rusty and heavy duty, which might not be the most comfortable thing in the world.
To prevent your bar from scratching your legs, place a barbell pad in the middle of the bar. Make sure it’s secure with velcro straps to prevent it from twisting around the bar.
Other factors to consider
Now that you know which exercises are best used with your barbell pad, you might want to think about other things that will help you decide which barbell pad is the best for you.
This is definitely something you want to think about while shopping for barbell pads! The thickness of your barbell pad will usually determine how much cushion you get.
You also want to check if your barbell pad is long enough. If you still plan to use this for your squats (as a beginner, of course), you might want to check if the foam spans the width of your back and shoulders.
If you’re using this for hip thrusts, check if the barbell pad is long enough to cover your hips (and a bit more).
Another thing you want to look out for in your new barbell pad is the kind of material it is made of. You want a thick rubber or foam for extra cushioning.
Not only are these materials comfortable, they also provide some shock absorption. As you lift heavier and heavier weights, the pressure on your body also increases, so you want a material that is able to support that pressure.
Frequently Asked Questions About Barbell Pads For Weightlifting
Q: What are velcro straps?
A: Velcro straps, or hook and loop straps, are what usually keep the barbell pads around the bar instead of sliding around. Although some manufacturers will claim that their barbell pads have an anti-slip technology, you still want to have velcro straps for your safety.
Q: Will barbell pads affect my form?
A: The short answer is yes, if you’ll be using it for squats. Barbell pads shift your center of gravity, so the technique you’ll be using for squatting with barbell pads is different from the technique you’ll be using without them.
Q: Are barbell pads ergonomic?
A: Yes! They can provide more comfort as you lift your heavy weights. Sometimes, the barbell pad will include neck nooks or a dip in the foam where your neck can rest. Remember, though, that you shouldn’t put the bar directly behind your neck when squatting; it should be on your traps.
Barbell pads are a relatively easy buy, and you don’t have to feel shame about buying something that will ultimately lead you to get in better shape. Don’t listen to weightlifting gatekeepers!
Instead, listen to the reviews of people who have bought barbell pads in the past. The positives and the negatives will tell you what people think about this product, even as you read behind the screen.
Do your own research, and have fun taking one step towards reaching your fitness goals!
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.