When you hear the
name "Football Bar," the first thing
that pops into your head is probably a drinking
establishment with big TV's on every wall with
football fans everywhere.
Well, this is NOT
that kind of bar...
The Football Bar
is a barbell designed with a very specific purpose
in mind...to make it possible for football players
with all-too-common shoulder injuries to bench
The bar itself looks
like a regular straight bar with two "bubbles"
(sort of loops in the bar). These bubbles have
three short diagonal bars in them in a pattern
that looks like this:
The angled bars change how the shoulder joint
functions during the bench press movement. It
results in a more neutral grip, which is designed
to be easier on the shoulder joint during the
bench press movement.
DOES THE FOOTBALL BAR WORK?
Now, I read the
excellent testimonials on the Football Bar site
and was very impressed with how players who thought
they'd never bench again were able to find a groove
with this bar and really make progress on the
bad shoulders myself (not through injury but through
anatomy - they're just not put together all that
well), I wanted to test the Football Bar to see
how it would feel on my shoulders.
When I do regular
flat barbell bench press, I generally don't get
shoulder pain right away - it generally happens
only when I do it too much or push it too hard.
In fact, my whole first year training, I was unable
to flat barbell bench at all - I would feel a
sharp pain in my shoulder whenever I unracked
the bar. I did dumbbell bench press instead so
my shoulders could find their own groove.
So I set up the
Football Bar in my rack to test it out.
Here's the thing...for
me, I actually found the angled grip to be MORE
painful on my shoulder joints than the standard
grip. This is totally contrary to the experience
of almost everybody who has used this bar.
I played around
with the grip and grip width a little to see if
I could make it feel better but was unable to.
For my particular (and no doubt bizarre) shoulder
anatomy, the neutral grip didn't work well.
What I DID find,
however, was that when I lightened up the weight
and focused on really feeling the pecs work, I
actually got MUCH greater pec activation with
the Football Bar than I could with the straight
bar, especially in the inner pec area.
There was still
some tension in the shoulder joints for me, but
the increased tension on the pecs was substantial.
Now, just to be
clear, I actually DO believe the bar would be
good for most people with shoulder injuries. A
neutral grip SHOULD allow for reduced tension
and torque in the shoulder joint. For me, that
doesn't seem to be the case.
I don't want to
slant your opinion of the usefulness of the bar
based on my own messed-up structure (to give you
an idea, when I hold my arm directly out to the
side and rotate it, I can hear and feel continuous
grinding and popping...and this is without any
injury to the area).
So to give the Football
Bar a fair test, I moved from bench pressing with
it to seeing what other exercises could be done
HERE is where the Football Bar REALLY shines,
in my opinion.
The creator of the
bar mentioned to me that it works very well for
Front Squats. So I set it up in the rack and got
myself under the bar for Front Squats.
And let me tell,
it worked GREAT for Front Squats.
Those bubbles and
diagonal bars sit right on your shoulders, creating
a wide base of support for the bar. It eliminates
any tendency for the bar to roll and really helps
distribute the weight over a great area, making
the exercise more comfortable (it can only be
used for the crossed-arm setup, just fyi, if you've
ever done Front Squats).
Next, I tried it
for Barbell Curls. The position your hands end
up in will be more of a Reverse Curl but let tell
you...GREAT again. You can focus on different
aspects of the upper arms depending on which direction
you hold the bar.
I set the bar on
the floor and lay down in front of it, reached
back and grabbed it for Lying Tricep Extensions.
LOVE it for this exercise. The angled bars allow
for a neutral grip in this exercise, which really
targeted the long head of the triceps. I felt
this one VERY strongly - my triceps were like
Jello after a few sets.
These are just a
few of the exercises I used it for - there will
be a link at the end to a page with all the exercises
I tried out with the Football Bar.
Two exercises I
wouldn't recommend the Football Bar to be used
with would be Deadlifts and Shrugs, though. The
structure of the bar (with those bubbles I mentioned),
means you have to keep the bar a few extra inches
away from your body, will can put extra torque
on the lower back.
The bar itself is
constructed EXTREMELY well. It has a very solid
feel to it and will be able to support more than
enough weight for whatever you use it for (rated
to 500 lbs).
The Football Bar,
while not working great for ME on the bench press,
I believe has great potential for those with shoulder
injuries. The diagonal structure of the grips
allow for more neutral positioning in the shoulder
joint, which SHOULD be easier on a normal shoulder
The Football Bar
is also very versatile which, for me, more than
made up for the small shoulder discomfort I experienced
with it. The range of exercises that are actually
better when done with the bar makes it a good
fyi, the Front Squat exercise,
which I mentioned in the article
as being one of the best alternative
uses of the bar is, of course,
the one exercise I forgot to get
video for. I'll be adding that
WHERE GO I GET A FOOTBALL BAR?
To get yourself
a Football Bar and to learn more about it, click
the following link:
Just fyi, they're
not cheap ($300) but if you've got the money and
are interested in a very versatile and effective
piece of equipment, it's a good investment.