Buying Guide: How to Choose a Barbell Squat Pad

Step-by-step Instructions

Here is what you need to do...
Step 1

Squatting is one exercise that you can never (and should never) avoid. It's arguably the single best exercise for your legs. Squatting also promotes testosterone release by working your entire body’s muscles. If there's one thing that gets very, very old when it comes to squatting, though, it's the pain that the bar puts on your neck. Now, once you develop a sizable pair of trapezius muscles, that pain will somewhat dampen; but it'll never fully go away. Never, unless, of course, you decide to invest in a squat pad.

Step 2

A squat pad helps lessen the pain caused by the Olympic bar resting on the back of your neck during squat exercises.

Step 3

A squat pad fits easily along the top center of your back, focusing all the bar’s weight in one location. It helps center and carry the weight.

Step 4

This focused weight distribution helps relieve your shoulders of extra and unnecessary stress, and prevents possible injuries.

Step 5

By allowing you to focus primarily on the movement, rather than neck pain caused by the bar, a squat pad also helps increase the amount of muscle mass you can gain.

Step 6

Choosing the right squad pad simply comes down to the money you're willing to spend. All three levels of squat pads are pretty decent at doing their job. But this is one particular set of products that closely follows the saying, 'you get what you pay for'. So, figure out what you can afford, and don't go skipping leg day after you buy one!

Step 7

There are two types of squat pads: one type is a long, circular tube that wraps around an Olympic bar. Another type is a pad that form fits to your shoulders and snaps onto the Olympic bar. Among circular tube types of squat pads, there are better-quality, heavy-duty versions and others made of padding covered with vinyl.

Step 8

A squat pad will be supporting hundreds of pounds. Therefore, buying a squat pad made of flimsy, cheap material is not a good choice. Buy a squat pad that is strong enough to handle the pressure of heavy weight.

Step 9

I'll go over the pad that I've linked to this tip. And I'll also explain a couple of other options that you can easily find on

Step 10

The Manta Ray is a squat pad that will ease away all of your neck troubles. The pad fits easily along the top center of your back, focusing all the weight in a precise location. This focused weight distribution helps to relieve your shoulders of extra and unnecessary stress, and prevents against possible injuries. The Manta Ray is made out of foam that is meant to deal with the pressure of heavy weight. So, have no fear loading up as much onto the squat bar as you can. This product will actually help increase the amount of mass you can gain by centering and carrying the weight in a way that allows you to focus primarily on the movement. It is pricey, though, so only buy one if you're sure that you won't be skipping leg day. Slap it on and enjoy the results- you'll definitely get what you pay for.

Step 11

There are other squat pads on that are possible options if you do not want a manta ray. These are constructed with comfortable foam.

Step 12

There are plenty of medium grade squat pads that go for around $25.00 and will provide a myriad of helpful benefits. While they may not focus the weight in the same way that the Manta Ray will, they are typically made out of a comfortable foam which will surely protect your traps and shoulders from any unnecessary pain or injury. One example is the Advanced Squat Pad from Iron Bull Strength. It has and ergonomic barbell pad design that fits your neck. It also has an anti-slip surface.

Step 13

If the mid-grade pads are too expensive, you can always buy one of the cheap ones that will run you around $10.00. These generally aren't made out of foam, but rather are packed with a minimal layer of protection. They are covered in a sleek nylon and do a decent job of keeping the hard bar off of your shoulders. For the amateur lifter or the lifter on an extremely tight budget, the low-end squat pads are still worthy of purchase. An example of this type of squat pad is the Barbell Squat Pad with Velcro by Rhyno. This has a secure Velcro close system that will keep the pad from moving during use and from slipping off. It is constructed with high density sponge foam.

Special Attention

Difficulties people often experience or parts that need special attention to do it right.

Some styles of squat pads only work with a 1-inch barbell and not an EZ Bar.

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Funny or interesting story about this topic...

So I remember this one day at the gym- dude walks in and sits down in front of the squat rack. Does a quick set of 135 for a bunch of reps to warm up, then starts spinning wraps around his knees. He's wearing sweatpants and nobody can tell the size of his legs, but he's looking at the squat bar like he's extremely focused. He loads it up with 4 45's on each side- that's right, 405 lbs. Everyone watches out of the corner of their eye. Before he gets up to do the set, he wraps a squat pad around the bar. One of the guys in the corner of the room snickers a bit. Everyone is laughing a little in their heads. But he gets up there and carries the weight back, plants his feet, and does a solid set of 10 squats. Then he adds another 45 to each side. At this point we're all watching without even pretending that we aren't. Someone goes up to him before he does the next set, "hey buddy, how come you're using that thing on the bar? Those are for little girls." The dude who was getting ready to do another monster set just laughed and said, "it's also for lifters who want to focus on getting a lot of weight up instead of trying to look tough and ruin their necks." There was a metaphorical mike-drop, and nobody was surprised when the guy who commented on the squat pad walked away without saying anything. After that, the dude got back up and did a set of 3 with 495lbs. Don't ever let anyone tell you that squat pads aren't for bodybuilders- that's all I gotta say about that.

When did you first do this & how did you get started?

I use squat pads whenever I'm lifting a lot of weight on the squat bar. I just figure that there's no point in ruining my neck muscles and feeling constant tightness in my back. They're very helpful, and grabbing one for yourself is the smart thing to do if you find yourself squatting at least once a month (you better be...)
Happy lifting,

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