Updated November 2022
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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 all opinions about the products are our own. 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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Best of the Best
Advanced Fitness Manta Ray Squat Load Distribution Device
Advanced Fitness
Manta Ray Squat Load Distribution Device
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Bottom Line

The Manta Ray locks into place on your bar, so it won't pop off like many round foam pads; our fitness expert has used this for years.


Takes the stress off your deltoids and vertebrae, and transfers it across your trapezius to reduce risk of injury. Maximizes mass-building potential. Snaps into bar to keep it centered on every set. Provides a stronger connection than foam barbell pad. Makes the bar very stable on your back.


Will not fit an EZ Bar. Takes time to get used to the feeling on your back.

Best Bang for the Buck
Dark Iron Fitness 17" Extra Thick Barbell Neck Pad
Dark Iron Fitness
17" Extra Thick Barbell Neck Pad
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Our fitness expert owns and loves this pad that stays in place on your bar thanks to a hook-and-loop closure – a feature which many other pads lack.


Designed to fit 2-inch Olympic-size bars perfectly. Hook-and-loop closure. Made of top-grade 3/4-inch dense foam for optimal support. Retains its shape; won't flatten easily. Several designs available. Won't absorb moisture – stays on surface for wiping. Comfortable indentation for neck.


May not fit larger bars well.

Iron Bull Strength Advanced Squat Pad
Iron Bull Strength
Advanced Squat Pad
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Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

This pad's anti-slip finish and ergonomic design helps keep it place on your shoulders while you squat.


Made from high-density, thick foam rubber. Helps absorb shock. Easy installation – just slip the bar pad onto the bar. Anti-slip matte finish reduces slip risk. Comes in a variety of colors. Great for hip thrusts. Helps protect the knees and shoulders.


Be careful to keep the slit on the top, or your shoulders can knock it off the bar.

Greententljs Barbell Rack Cushion
Barbell Rack Cushion
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Customer Favorite
Bottom Line

This option comes included with ankle cuffs, making your workout comfortable and easy.


Made of thick, non-slip rubber foam. Absorbs all impacts and reduces workout pain. Possesses a curved design to fit your neck. Will not slip or fall off. Lightweight and easy to carry. Easy to put on and remove from the bar.


Some users wish that the straps were attached for easier quick release and attachment.

ProFitness Squat Pad
Squat Pad
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Bottom Line

A great choice that our fitness expert praises thanks to its high-density foam cushioning and its easy on-and-off system.


Easy to slide on and off when needed while also maintaining a grip on the bar during hip thrusts and squats. The foam padding does a great job of supporting shoulders without losing its shape during high-intensity workouts. Small and light enough to fit in most gym bags.


May not be wide enough for some users.


We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best barbell pads

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.

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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.


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 made of 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.

Expert tip
Barbell pads are best used for exercises like squats, lunges, seated calf raises, and hip thrusts. If you do not plan on incorporating these exercises into your routine, then I would not recommend purchasing one.
BestReviews Fitness Expert

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.


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.


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
Based on my experience, barbell pads with a grooved indention in the middle usually provide the best ergonomic support since this design allows lifters to tuck their chin while performing exercises.
BestReviews Fitness Expert


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.

Barbell pad 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.


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


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.

Expert tip
Barbells can get very dirty from sweat and will store bacteria, so the best practice is to clean them after each use. I usually use disinfectant wipes on mine.
BestReviews Fitness Expert

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.

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