Can You Do Deadlifts With an EZ Bar?

Young man lifting barbell, low angle view

Deadlifts are traditionally performed with an Olympic barbell -- a 7-foot-long straight bar. The design of the Olympic bar allows you to deadlift using a narrow or wide stance and a variety of different grips. If you don't have access to a regular barbell though, you can use an EZ bar. The EZ bar is a shorter, lighter barbell with angled handles, which make gripping the bar slightly easier, especially for women. This isn't an ideal option for deadlifting, but it will make do when you're short on equipment.


The technique for deadlifting with an EZ bar is almost exactly the same as deadlifting with a regular bar. Your shins should be touching the barbell in the starting position, with your knees slightly bent and your hips pushed back. Initiate the movement by straightening your legs and pushing your hips forward while keeping your lower back flat and head looking forward. Finish the exercise by powerfully squeezing your glutes and standing tall, then lower the bar back down under control.


How you grip the bar will be the main difference when switching to an EZ bar. Because of the angles on the EZ bar, your hands will be facing slightly inward, rather than straight back as they would be when lifting the straight bar. As the EZ bar is shorter than an Olympic bar, the weight plates will also be closer to your body than they would under normal circumstances, which will change the feel of the exercise.


It's highly unlikely you'll be able to lift as heavy deadlifting with an EZ bar, and even if you feel like you can, the weight limit of an EZ bar is much lower than a straight bar, so you may have to reduce your poundages for safety reasons. If you're looking to compete in powerlifting, straight bar deadlifting is essential, as EZ bars aren't permitted in competition. Switching to an EZ bar could change your deadlift technique very slightly, which may prove detrimental in the long run.


When equipment is limited, your gym is busy or you're on the road and have to make do with poorly equipped gyms, you can substitute EZ bar deadlifts for regular deadlifts. Whenever you have access to an Olympic bar though, use this over the EZ bar. For a different EZ bar deadlift variation, try the plate-grip deadlift. Instead of holding the bar, pinch the rim of the weight plates at either end of the bar and perform your deadlifts. These will build your grip and forearms strength, notes strength coach Craig Ballantyne.