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When it comes to big lifts, the barbell is usually the go-to bar. And while many bars can be used for a variety of different exercises, some bars are specifically designed for specific exercises to improve performance and prevent injuries. Two of the most common and most useful bars to have in any gym are the squat bar and the deadlift bar. But what exactly is the difference between the two? We’ve laid out the nuances here so you can get the most out of your lifts.

Squat Bar

Whether you’re talking about traditional squat bars or the newer safety squat bars, these bars are designed for stability and eliminating pain. 

One thing that you definitely don’t want when doing squats is for the bar to slip or slide on your shoulders. The squat bar has knurling in the middle that grips your shirt to prevent slipping. While it’s possible to use other types of bars for squats, you definitely don’t want one that doesn’t have center knurling. 

Squat bars are also thick in diameter and tend to have very little whip. They may be somewhat heavier than other barbells, especially safety squat bars which have additional handles and a padded area to reduce neck and shoulder pain and weighs about 60 pounds. While a traditional squat bar is much more versatile and can be used for a number of exercises, some lifters still swear by the safety squat bar, especially beginners or those who are prone to lower back or shoulder pain. 

Check out more powerlifting bars at Rogue Fitness

Deadlift Bar

Compared to the thicker, stiffer squat bar, the deadlift bar tends to be fairly narrow in diameter, lighter, and has more whip to give you speed in lifting it from the floor. It also has sharper knurling for maximum grip control. If you’re focused on perfecting your deadlifts, this bar is definitely worth having in your gym. It can hold a lot of weight, maximizes speed when lifting from the floor, and allows for a really strong grip. But, if deadlifts aren’t a big part of your routine or you’re not willing to shell out an extra $300 or so for a specialty bar, you may think about using a similar and more versatile barbell, since the deadlift bar isn’t really all that useful for any other type of lift. 


While it’s great to stock your gym with versatile barbells that can be used for a lot of different exercises, as you become a more advanced lifter it’s worth having more specialized equipment. As the sport of weightlifting advances, more and more options become available  and having the right tools can definitely take your training to the next level.  If squats and deadlifts are part of your routine, investing in a squat bar and a deadlift bar to your gym will be worth your while.