Best Barbell Pads

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

22 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
313 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best barbell pads

Last Updated October 2019

Barbell pads fit onto barbells and rest across the back of your neck to make squatting more comfortable. This reduces the amount of pain in your shoulders, upper back, and neck while exercising, which increases the amount of lifting you’re able to do. In the long run, this leads to better results from your weightlifting, making a barbell pad a key part of a balanced weightlifting routine.

Barbell pads work well for performing other types of weightlifting exercises as well, like lunges and hip thrusts. Though this may seem like a straightforward purchase to supplement your weightlifting routine, there are quite a few factors to take into account when picking out the perfect barbell pad for your needs.

After compiling all the key considerations that affect your barbell pad-related needs, we designed this guide to help walk you through the process of shopping for one and then using it. Keep reading to learn more and check out our recommended models.

If you choose an ergonomic design for your barbell pad, try not to change it too often. This will cause you to alter your form slightly, which is not good for your workout results long-term.

Key considerations

Comfort is at the forefront when it comes to purchasing barbell pads. However, there are other aspects of the pads that you need to take into account, such as durability, price, and design. Think about the following when shopping for your new barbell pads.

 

Material

Although the vast majority of barbell pads are made of high density foam or foam rubber, there are a few that are made from different materials. Most of these alternatives are a hard molded plastic that rests on your shoulders. These models, however, are few and far between and are an “acquired taste” for many who prefer the more traditional foam style.

When using a barbell, you certainly want a thick, cushioned material in the barbell pad; however, you don’t want it to be so soft that the weight of the barbell crushes the material. Barbell pads that are too soft don’t really provide the support you need, while barbell pads that are too firm don’t provide enough comfort and support.

Convenience of attaching

Think about whether you plan to keep your barbell pad on your barbell at all times or whether you will be taking it on and off. Some barbell pads fit around the bar tightly, which makes it somewhat arduous to remove and replace. If you plan to use your barbell pad at home, this isn’t a problem; alternately, if you plan to take your barbell pad to the gym for regular use, you may want to consider a pad that slips on and off of the barbell more easily.

Size

Barbell pads come in a few different sizes in terms of length, but the majority are between 16 and 18 inches long, with variations at every half inch. The size you choose depends on both your body size and the width of the support area you’re looking to achieve. If you aren’t sure what size to choose, it’s usually a safe bet to go with a longer barbell pad, as it will offer you excessive coverage rather than not enough.

Type of barbell

When shopping for a barbell pad, you need to consider whether you will be working with an olympic size barbell (two inches diameter) or a standard size (one inch diameter.) Many barbell pads will fit both, but it’s a good idea to verify before you buy.

Ergonomic fit

While some barbell pads are simple straight cylinders, designed to be as basic as possible, others offer a little more ergonomic engineering. Many now have a small groove a few inches wide in the center that usually goes around the entire circumference of the pad, offering a resting place for the back of your neck. Many people find this design helps them to maintain a better hold on the barbell when doing squats. Others prefer the simplicity of the basic cylinder design that allows the dense foam to adhere to their body’s shape.

Durability

As mentioned above, most barbell pads are made of a solid and dense foam material. However, some are more durable than others. For example, you can purchase barbell pads with a higher percentage of rubber in the “foam rubber” composite. More rubber in the mix makes these barbell pads more durable than the competition, so make sure to look at the composition breakdown of your barbell pad before you buy.

Shape resilience

“Open and close cell” design makes some barbell pads more resilient than others. If your barbell pad fails to spring back to its original shape after use, then it’s more or less a useless purchase. Make sure that the barbell pad you choose can return easily to its original shape after use.

EXPERT TIP

Make sure you place your barbell pad in the center of the bar before starting your reps. If the pad is off-center, your lifting will not be optimal.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Different barbell pads offer different features that can optimize different workouts, so think about how you’ll be using your barbell.

Bar-locking design

While most barbell pads are designed as a straight cylinder, some are now made of more rigid molded plastic. This shape mirrors the back of your neck and shoulders, resting comfortably while you do your squats. Because this design is more rigid, the back of the pad actually locks into place on the barbell, making it immovable during your workout.

Locking straps/Velcro

Most barbell pads offer some sort of locking mechanism for keeping the pad locked into place on the bar. The most secure option involves straps that wrap around the outside of the pad. Another option on some pads are Velcro strips that hold the pad closed during a workout. Velcro, however, might not offer the same longevity as straps because it tends to wear out the more times it is opened and closed.

Anti-slip surface

Because of the amount of movement occurring during a workout set, some barbell pads are now designed with an anti-slip surface. This usually involves a coating on the exterior surface of the pad that helps keep it in place during your squats and other exercises. Sweat can cause slippage during your exercise, which is why having a barbell pad with anti-slip surface can be useful.

EXPERT TIP

If your barbell pad has Velcro or straps, make sure you fasten them completely before use.


Staff  | BestReviews

Prices

From $10 to $25, you can find a number of good quality barbell pads — although they might not be as durable as those that cost a little more.

A mid-range barbell pad will cost between $25 and $50. These will be highly durable pads that should hold up well under extended stress.

If you spend $50 to $75, you will be able to find a barbell pad made from solid materials that lock snugly into your barbell.

EXPERT TIP

Don’t forget to remove your barbell pad if you’re working out in a public gym. They are easy to forget after a workout.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Always use proper form when lifting free weights. Most weightlifting injuries are caused by improper form when lifting.
  • Only use your barbell pad for the type of barbell specified in the instructions. Using it for another type can cause serious injury.
  • Use a spotter whenever lifting heavy free weights. This will not only make your workout safer, but more productive.
  • Secure your barbell pad tightly before lifting. A loose pad can make for awkward squats and a less effective workout overall.
  • If you’re using a communal barbell pad at a gym, always wipe down the pad after use as a courtesy to your fellow gym goers.

Other products we considered

There were a number of other options that impressed us not included in our top five picks. One of them in the inexpensive range was the Yes4All Barbell Foam Pad. This Velcro-locking model is a simple yet solid choice for a reasonable price. If you want to spend a little more, the mid-ranged SPRI Barbell Pad has a thick foam cushion that’s one of the most comfortable on the market. If you’re specifically looking for a barbell pad designed for hip thrusts, the Hip Thrust Pad provides the flexibility for deeper thrusts without being too bulky.

If you are sweating profusely during your workout, you may want to wipe down the barbell pad between sets to avoid slippage.

FAQ

Q. Can I do barbell squats without using a barbell pad?
A.
You can, but you will likely be unable to do as many without a pad, cutting down the effectiveness of your weightlifting session. Also, after your workout you’ll likely be sore from the pressure on your neck.


Q. How do I know when I need to replace my barbell pad?
A.
When the foam on your barbell bad begins to lose its shape, you need to consider getting a new one. Misshapen barbell pads can lead to shoulder and back pain.


Q. Can I just use a t-shirt or other soft object to wrap around my barbell instead of a barbell pad?
A.
No. You shouldn’t use anything in a gym setting for something it was not intended for. This is a dangerous habit and can cause injury.


Q. Are barbell pads required by my gym for lifting with barbells?
A.
Although every gym makes its own rules, it’s unlikely that your gym requires a barbell pad for lifting. Nevertheless, check to rules of your gym to make sure.

The team that worked on this review
  • Adam
    Adam
    Writer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Sarah
    Sarah
    Editorial Assistant

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