The barbell is often associated with powerlifting, with exercises like the power clean lift coming to mind. But the barbell is one of the most versatile pieces of gym equipment, and you can use it to work a variety of muscles.
Even if you’re not trying to set a world record or get arms that would make Popeye jealous, you can still get a lot of use out of the barbell. For example, a barbell can enhance your squats when it’s leg day. It’s no secret, though, that the barbell can dig into your neck when you’re doing squats and lunges. It’s important to build back strength to be able to withstand the pressure from a barbell, but if the irritation is keeping you from your workout, then you may want to consider a barbell neck pad.
A barbell neck pad is a foam tube with a protective cover that sort of resembles a hulked-out pool noodle. The soft foam protects your neck from irritation while lifting. Some barbell neck pads are thinner in the middle and wider on the sides to create a sort of cradle around the neck. Barbell neck pads are also great for hip thrusts. Hip thrusts are done with the barbell across your hips, when the bar can uncomfortably dig into your bones. These are the barbell neck pads to get right now.
1. Dark Iron Fitness Thick Barbell Neck Pad
Dark Iron Fitness’ neck pad is a simple option that is designed to fit with any Olympic bar. It has a hook and loop closure that runs the length of the tube, allowing a secure fit around the bar. The cover is made out of a synthetic leather material that looks good and is easy to grip. The 3/4″ thick foam is designed to be dense enough to not flatten out with repeated use.
Pros: Easy Velcro-style closure. Synthetic material is designed to not absorb moisture.
Cons: Doesn’t have the curved hourglass shape of some other options, which may not provide as much shoulder support.
2. Iron Bull Strength Advanced Squat Pad
This barbell neck pad has a curved ergonomic shape that provides support for the upper shoulders without being too bulky on the neck. It has no closure, and simply wraps around the barbell. This is less secure, but also time-saving and convenient. The pad is well suited to squats, lunges and hip thrusts. It also comes in several colors besides black, including red, pink and blue.
Pros: Ergonomic design, available in multiple colors, extra-thick shoulder padding.
Cons: Does not secure to the bar in any way, which may be a problem for some.
3. REEHUT Barbell Squat Pad
The Reehut barbell squat pad features a curved, ergonomic design that provides additional support to the upper shoulders. It’s available in black, but we also like the red option because it stands out, making it easy to keep track of and less likely to be confused with someone else’s neck pad. The barbell slides into the pad, and additional security comes in the form of separate buckles that clasp to the ends.
Pros: Easy on and off, but more secure than some other options because of the included belts. Ergonomic curved shape.
Cons: Since the straps aren’t attached, they might be easy to lose. Somewhat bulky, and may be hard to pack in a gym bag.
4. POWER GUIDANCE Barbell Squat Pad
The Power Guidance barbell squat pad is available in black or pink, and it features an open design that easily slots onto the barbell. Two hook and loop straps are included to secure the foam pad to the barbell. Like many of the other options, this pad has a curved, ergonomic shape for cradling the neck. It’s designed to be small enough to fit in a gym bag, too.
Pros: Compact design with comfortable padding. It comes with hook and loop straps to secure the pad to the barbell.
Cons: Since the straps are separate, they might be easier to lose.
5. Elevator Fitness Squat Pad Barbell Pad
The thick padding and curved shape of this barbell pad is designed to provide ergonomic support while doing squats, lunges and hip thrusts. It has an opening that allows you to easily slide the pad onto the barbell. The pad is also made out of a memory-foam material that contours to your specific needs over time. The pad is black and features the Elevator Fitness logo.
Pros: Memory-foam material that contours to your body over time. Ergonomic neck groove.
Cons: Only comes in one color.