Ive used one once before, and thought they were pretty cool. Anyone have any long term expirience with them?
Wow. That pictures kinda funny. Cambered bar increases rom, boards decrease ...
Yeah, but it's still about 1/2" below your chest with the boards. Going full range with the cambered bar is a recipe for a shoulder or pec problem.
To the OP, the cambered bar is a good thing to throw in every now and again if you're trying to add some bottom-end strength. You can also turn it into a mid-range or lockout movement by flipping it upside down; makes a nice substitute for a 2 or 3-board press.
I remember fooling around with one years ago (without the boards). I used it for max effort bench work. Fortunately, I was pretty weak then, and the "max" weight was light enough to not rip my pecs off (probably 245 or 275 at most). Even so, I think I remember it being painful enough that I dropped it as a ME exercise.
We have one of those arch bars that Louie Simmons sells sitting around the gym. It's a similar concept- a bigger stretch at the bottom- but way less radical becuase it is not due to a big camber in the bar, but rather it is due to the altered angle of your grip. That bar is pretty cool.
I actually spent quite awhile last year using the cambered bar for ALL of my benching. No boards either, full ROM to the chest with it (due to a lot of heavy weighted stretching, rotator cuff work, lots and lots of rowing, and thorough warmups I was comfortable with it, and always careful). I was mainly using 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps.
I upped my working weight by 35 lbs by the end of the cycle. Then I retested my 1rm bench. It dropped ten lbs.
Now, Im assuming this was because I wasnt rotating my chest exercises as I normally do (Doggcrapp style) It made benching FEEL easier, but I just couldnt move the weight up due to working for so long with a submaximal weight.
Lesson learned- Its a good exercise (my chest filled in a lot. It was very good for making my pecs larger due to the stretch) but make sure you rotate other exercises in as well.
I have a bar similar to that but only use it for squats or GMs. I never understood why someone would use this for bench. Maybe I am a little paranoid, but it seem like there are safer ways to work bottom end strength. Lat work, DB Press, maybe even some isometric work would be a hell of lot easier on my shoulders.
I am not moving that much weight these days, but when I was benching heavy (for me) on a regular basis I needed a break from regular ROM benching every now again. I would either deload the bottom with bands or do Manpon bench press to give my shoulders a break.
Benching heavy with a bar like that for too long would be a recipe for disaster for me.
I would think that might be quite a bit easier on the shoulders. I guess you could add Tyler Grips to the bar pictured above to acheive the same result. I probably wouldn't go all that heavy with rubber grips though.
When I was young (in college) we used them periodically with no ill effects. I remember thinking it helped develop my "inner pecs."
Now, I would state, (when used full range of motion) they are a good way to unzip your shoulders. I own one and we use it most of the time for shrugs. It is more difficult than a barbell shrug and I like it. Having no neck is cool, so you gotta shrug.
Very infrequently, when we are feeling frisky, we will bust it out for benching but we always use it off at least a one board. With a two board there is only like a half-inch over travel. We will also turn it upside down (the anti-camber) and bench with it like that.
Overall, we use it for shrugging and I like it for that.
Jesup Gym Equipment has a real inexpensive one that we have piled weight and chains on with no ill effect. They also have a great powerbar, that altough it is thicker than a standard power bar, you can literally drop off a building and will still be straight.