Half the battle for the novice in the free weight section is discovering all the available options. One possible source of confusion involves the EZ Curl bar, which is a shorter bar that is bent several times along its length, forming a zigzag pattern. A trainee might think to ignore the EZ Curl bar in favour of performing exercises solely on the straight bar or machines, but that would be a mistake. When properly used, the EZ Curl bar allows for interesting variations to quality exercises, making it a staple in the arsenal of any gym-goer.
EZ Curl Bicep Exercises
As one might infer from the name, the EZ "Curl" bar is useful for executing a variety of bicep exercises. The most traditional of these is, of course, the old standby -- the standing EZ bar curl, but there are many others. What follows is a list of common biceps exercises made possible by the EZ Curl bar.
Standing EZ Bar Curl -- To execute this exercise, stand while gripping the EZ Curl bar in both hands, holding it in front of the body. Using minimal body English, curl the bar upward by contracting the biceps forcefully, until the forearm comes into contact with the upper arm. Lower slowly and repeat.
Preacher Curl -- This exercise combines the EZ Curl bar with another piece of equipment with which you might not be familiar, the preacher bench. As seen in the attached image, the preacher curl is a slanted bench that places the arms in isolation at an angle. The preacher curl is performed by gripping the EZ Curl bar while resting your upper arms along the preacher bench. Complete the motion by contracting the biceps and curling the bar, lowering slowly, and repeating.
Concentration EZ Curl -- This motion is similar to the standing EZ bar curl, but differs in that while the other exercise was performed standing, the concentration curl is performed sitting and leaning forward to minimise the trainee's ability to use his body to move the bar. This places the biceps under greater stress, which compensates for the reduced loading possible (as you will not be able to use any body English as you would with standing curl) when performing this variant.
These three exercises can also be altered by changing the width of your grip on the bar. Thanks to the bar's design, the hands naturally fall into one of three locations: the outside of the bar, around the middle or dead in the centre (almost touching). All three grip variations are desirable, as they put the muscle under stress from different angles.
EZ Curl Tricep Exercises
Of course, the "EZ Curl" bar is not just for curling. The bar can also be used to perform a variety of tricep exercises. What follows is a sampling of some of the most popular.
Tricep Extensions (otherwise known as "skull crushers") -- While lying on a bench with feet on the floor and holding the EZ Curl bar with both hands, keep the bar at lockout position, as though you just finished a repetition on the bench press. Bending at just the elbows, slowly lower the bar until it comes close to contacting your forehead while keeping the elbows tucking in close to the body. You should feel a stretch in the tricep muscle. Reverse the motion, flexing the tricep to extend the bar back to the starting position. That completes one repetition.
French Press -- This will be performed from a standing position, with the bar held overhead and the arms locked. Again, begin the movement by bending only at the elbows, lowering the bar behind the head until it touches the back of your skull. Concentrate on feeling the triceps stretch, then flex them to reverse the motion and return to the starting position
Other EZ Curl Exercises
EZ Curl Pullovers -- Similar to skull crushers, set up for the movement in the same fashion by lying on a bench with the bar in lockout position. This time, however, lower the bar behind the head without unlocking the elbows. Rotate at the shoulder joint to accomplish this. The stretch should be felt in the lats (the large back muscles on either side of the torso). Reverse by contracting the lats and bringing the bar back to the starting position.
EZ Curl Extend and Press -- This combines the motion of a bench press with that of a skull crusher. Begin by lying on the bench with the bar locked out. Lower the bar to the chest and press it back overhead, then immediately complete one repetition of skull crushers. Alternate between the pressing and extending motions until fatigued.