is there any added benefit when using a cambered bar as opposed to a straight bar for squats or anything?
Hmmm...squats? I don't think I'd be comfortable loading up a cambered bar with enough weight to do squats. If you're still a beginner and aren't using much weight, maybe. But even then, cambered bars (also called "Easy Curl bars") were created to take pressure off the wrists.
If your wrists really bothered you during squats (which probably isn't the case) then perhaps them might have some benefit. But once again, I'd personally suggest sticking to a straight olympic bar for squats.
Now, they can be helpful for exercises like curls, or skull crushers, I even sometimes use them for upright rows, but heavy compound exercises are best done with regular olympic bars.
They take a lot of stress of the shoulders when squatting.
The also change the your center of gravity. It makes it more like a front squat. For bench, it can be used to increase your range of motion. If you use a cambered bar with 2 boards you effectively increase your range of motion by an inch or two. This assuming your cambered bar is 6 inches. I wouldn't do it with less than two boards. Too much of range of motion is bad on the joints.
A cambered bar for bench press variations would have some benefit to increase the stretch but I don't see a significant benefit for squatting with one. If you have one already go for it, it certainely is a different exercise than an olympic bar squat, but if you are thinking about buying one for I would save your money for something else.
Off topic: Do you go to UM or just live there? I've got about 50 friends that are in school there.
I was wondering b/c I dislocated my shoulder and tore my labrum a month ago playing rugby and I can't get my arm back that far to hold the bar when squatting w/o a lot of pain. I've been doing front squats instead but I still prefer back squats and was wondering if the cambered bar would relieve some of that stress, and according to mattwray they might, I'll give it a try.
yes I do go to UM
I know several lifters who use the straight bar very little in non-meet training. They live and die with the safety squat bar and giant cambered bar for the lack of stress to their shoulders. You can also take a very wide grip on the straight bar to help.
Good luck, I have a torn supraspinatus and it sucks.
I think he meant a cambered bar similar to a Buffalo bar, which many people feel takes a lot of stress off their shoulders when squatting.
Ahhh...well in that case then I take back my previous statement about not using them for squats. I was wondering "Do all of these big strong powerlifters posting in this thread really squat with an easy curl bar?"
Honestly, I'd never seen a squat/bench press cambered bar before, just googled it and now see what you guys are talking about. Oh, well I guess you learn something new every day.