As more women are realising what a magnificent exercise squats are for strength, mobility and all-round super human positivity, the incredible benefits of getting a barbell on their backs is inspiring more women to get in the weight area, yay! So, I wanted to write a public service announcement to all the new super woman sticking two fingers to weight-room anxiety and warn them about a smaller piece of kit you see around the gym which you might be tempted to use… the bar pad.
Here’s the bar pad in my gym. Keep reading to see what it’s actually useful for…
I get it, I know that a barbell isn’t the most comfortable thing to have on your shoulders, especially when you’re just starting out, I hated it to begin with too. So I can see why the bar pad could be appealing, it’s squishy and stops that nasty knurling digging into your skin.. This is why I want to highlight a few reasons why you need to put the bar pad down & step away, especially if you’re a beginner…
Forward Lean/Incorrect Position -
Using the pad changes where the bar sits on your back, putting it in a higher position, so your centre of gravity is now slightly further back, causing you to lean forward slightly to compensate & therefore putting more pressure on your lower back - not ideal! Not using the pad means that you can get the bar in a safer position (be that high bar or low bar) and properly understand the mechanics of the squat
The bar is more likely to roll or slip down your back - this is rare but can happen - and could cause you to lose balance or even lose control of the bar.
That’s right, the bar pad will become useless eventually. Once you start getting stronger and the weight starts getting heavier (go you!) then the pad is going to compress down and the bar will start digging in again - only this time you haven’t got used to it with the smaller weights, so suddenly you have this much heavier weight pressing into your shoulders.
The solution? Practice makes perfect -
Understand correct positioning of the bar on your back, it should feel secure and comfortable (not moving around pressing on any bones)
Experiment with high bar vs low bar, you may find one or the other more comfortable depending on your own mobility or body proportions - Create a 'shelf' with your rear deltoid muscles for low bar or sit the bar on your upper trapezius muscles for high bar
Try out a narrower or wider grip, often simply changing the width of your grip can solve any issues you have with bar positioning
And most importantly -
If you’re experiencing pain in your neck, or pain anywhere, while squatting then seek help from a professional.
Using a bar pad to make your workout more comfortable could just be masking a more serious problem.
But! The bar pad isn’t all bad, I have one in my gym and would certainly recommend using it to protect your hip during Hip Thrusts/Glute Bridge.
The bar pad does have its place in the gym… it just isn’t on your back!
As always, if you want any help learning about the bar position or anything else related to becoming your new super strong self then let me know !