At first glance, the EZ curl bar and triceps bar are nearly identical pieces of equipment. They aren’t quite the same though – if you want to provide high-quality training for biceps, triceps, and the upper body in general, then you should have both in your home gym.
How You May Approach Training Your Arm Muscles
Training the biceps and triceps can be done with other exercises – for example, after bench press. Or you can train them separately.
There is no fundamental difference between either dedicating a separate day to your arm muscles or training them with other, bigger muscles. The difference will mostly be in the number of sets or repetitions, especially given that you can do more on a separate day.
If you want to get the maximum effect, it is probably better to have separate training sessions for these muscles. However, unless you want to grow these muscles specifically, there is no need to dedicate a whole day to them – they are loaded pretty well on other days.
What You Can Do With EZ Curl Bars Or Triceps Bars
Below, we will have a look at what you can do with an EZ curl bar and triceps bar for all muscles, but we’ll focus on the upper body and try to highlight the most useful exercises with them.
EZ curl bar
Let’s start with the EZ curl bar.
Using a wide grip, you can train your pectorals while lying on a bench. Besides, you may use the EZ curl bar for training your lats and even in squats!
With that said, EZ curl bars aren’t as strong as regular Olympic barbells, so you can’t load them as heavily. Besides, the shape of the bar makes it not the most convenient for exercises like squats.
However, if you have only an EZ curl bar at home, then you can improvise and use it as a regular bar.
While the EZ curl bar is particularly popular with the biceps, it may also be used for triceps training. To do this, you can bench press with a narrow grip, for example. The curved shape of the bar even allows you to conveniently position your forearms, removing unwanted stress from your wrists and elbows.
Then, you may even switch to your regular-width grip and perform the traditional bench press! But you will be able to bench press effectively only initially – since the bar isn’t too durable, it will allow you to only go so far.
And finally, you can do the two most popular exercises with an EZ curl bar – the French press and the pullover!
As you can see, there are plenty of exercises that you can perform with the EZ curl bar lying on a bench.
The same can’t be said for sitting exercises though. In this position, you can only do a few things. The most famous is the curl on the preacher’s bench. You may also do strict press while sitting, but not too conveniently if your EZ bar is narrow.
The lack of diversity from a sitting position is more than compensated by the exercises you can do while standing. You can do pretty much any standing exercise that you would do with a straight bar or dumbbells.
EZ curl bar exercise complex
First of all, warm up.
I do it this way:
- I hold the bar in my hands and do a horizontal press, as if simulating a blow. I do this explosively but carefully so as not to let the bar slip out of my hands. This exercise may seem weird, but it has been working decently for me.
- Then, I hold the bar in front of me in fully stretched arms and as if do front raises with it. You can also give a little stretch to your shoulders at the peak of the motion, but it must be done carefully without jerking and sudden movements.
Then, I do 2 exercises.
Overhead triceps extension
This exercise is simple – you need to lift the bar above your head onto extended arms and then bend your elbows, lowering the bar behind your head.
- Ideally, the angle of your upper arms – the section that runs from the shoulder to the elbow – should stay unchanged, but not everyone is flexible enough to perform this exercise with their upper arms fixed.
- Be sure not to let the bar go too low – it’s very difficult to get it up from there even with very light weights. You may overstretch your muscles, not to mention that you may strain them while trying to get the bar back up.
- When pushing the bar back up, keep your upper arms as motionless as possible. If you let your elbows drift forward, then you’ll be somewhat engaging your shoulders and chest muscles. This will just ruin the purpose of the exercise.
Then come the good old curls. This is a simple exercise that probably everyone has done at least once in their life. You just pick up the bar, hold it on hip level, and then bend your elbows to raise the bar and work your biceps.
Before the regular curls, I do this little warmup routine:
- First, I perform 5-6 reps in the lower range, that is, from my waistline up to my lower chest.
- Then, I perform 5-6 reps in the upper range – from the lower chest to shoulder level.
- Finally, I do 5-6 full-range reps.
Curls may seem simple, but it’s actually easy to make mistakes since the biceps can be easily overpowered by excessive weights.
Below are a few tips for proper curls:
- Ideally, you should choose a comfortable angle for your elbows and maintain their position throughout the entire range of motion. I place my elbows onto my sides – there’s no need to allow the elbows to move backward, and my sides support my elbows, making maintaining positions easier.
- When raising the bar, be sure to keep your elbows as motionless as possible. Don’t worry if your elbows shift a little forward. But don’t allow your elbows to go up with the bar – this will make your shoulders and chest take some of the load away from the biceps.
- Besides, make sure not to lean back as the bar goes up – if you do this, you will be assisting your biceps with your back and legs. You can lift heavy weights by using your body, but it will no longer be a biceps exercise.
- When returning the bar to the lower position, I usually don’t allow my arms to fully extend and my elbows lock out – it’s difficult to perform curls from the lowermost position, and if the weight is picked badly, you may injure yourself while fighting the bar.
Both exercises can be performed with either an overhand or underhand grip. The underhand grip is preferable since it’s less demanding on your flexibility, but for some variety, you may try the other grip. Keep in mind that when gripping the bar with an overhand grip, you’ll be straining your forearms, elbows, and shoulders.
I usually go for 5-6 reps in 3 sets. This is what I like and what works relatively well for me. You may try to experiment with the reps, sets, and weights. If you find that something works well for you, stick to it.
Triceps bar exercise complex
You can do pretty much the same exercises with the triceps bar.
Due to the vertical handle placement, the triceps bar is more convenient in many exercises. It allows you to hold the bar with a parallel grip where the palms are facing each other. This grip is more convenient and less taxing on flexibility yet allows you to train your muscles as effectively.
The triceps bar is especially great if you have limited flexibility or injuries and cannot perform exercises with the EZ curl bar, even with an underhand grip.
As mentioned above, you can do all the exercises that you would do with an EZ curl bar with a triceps bar. The parallel grip makes holding the bar very convenient. You can do hammer curls, bench press to work your triceps, overhead triceps extensions, and French press.
All the rules and precautions described above apply to the triceps bar as well. Be sure to pick weight properly.
Do keep in mind that the triceps bar is bulkier than the EZ bar. In some exercises, the size of the bar may cause discomfort. For example, if you do overhead triceps extensions, the bar may scrape the back of your head if you aren’t careful.
The rep and set number are the same as with EZ curl bar exercises.
When To Perform EZ Curl Bar Or Triceps Bar Exercises
You can find plenty of online material with tips on how and when to incorporate EZ curl bar or triceps bar exercises in your training routine.
When it comes to exercise selection and its placement in the routine, things are very individual. Some people like hammer curls but hate curls with the EZ curl bar. Besides, some people do biceps on leg day, while others place it after bench press.
With that in mind, I will talk about my preferences and, if possible, explain the logic behind my choices.
I prefer to do biceps and triceps exercises with the EZ curl bar and triceps bar in combination with the bench press. That is, I do bench press first, then triceps exercises, then train the biceps, and/or sometimes do a few exercises on a straight Olympic bar.
- After I’ve done bench press, I start triceps exercises with deep dips. I usually do 3-5 sets of at least 5 reps. After bench press, my triceps are warmed up enough, so I can somewhat cut down on the warmup for dips. However, I sometimes do light shoulder work to prepare myself for the deep dips.
- Then, I perform overhead triceps extensions with the triceps bar and hammer curls over the entire amplitude from the bottom to the shoulders as a warmup. A reminder – choose the right weight and pay attention to your form. Properly selected weight and proper form will safeguard you from injuries.
- After finishing these exercises, I move on to the EZ Curl Bar and work out the triceps with narrow-grip bench press.
- We pass to the biceps. The main exercise is curls with a narrow underhand grip. I do one set, where I first perform 5 reps from the bottom to the chest, 5 reps from the chest to the shoulders and 5 reps across the entire range from the waistline to the shoulders. 3-5 sets, depending on weight and preference.
- Finally, you may complete your workout with curl-ups (pull-ups with reverse grip). This should help you strengthen the carpal, ulnar, and brachial ligaments. Alternatively, do curls on the preacher bench. I prioritize pull-ups, but I may go for the curls if I feel weak for the pull-ups.
All this takes about 30 minutes. I don’t do heavy weights – I prefer to focus on light weights but high volume.
At first glance, such a routine may seem intense and difficult, especially after a bench press. But it all depends on the weight chosen, the number of sets, and reps.
Do remember that I perform my routine with relatively light weights. I do not push myself to the limit – I try to stay within a comfortable range but still give my muscles a good workout.
Unless you are an athlete, there is no need for you to push the weights very hard. You are working out for longevity, long-term health, and perhaps to look good, after all.
There’s no need to rush anything – you have months and years before you, and there’s plenty you can do. No need to give it all now – be smart and distribute your effort over the long term.
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