Do you have clients who complain about neck and shoulder pain during heavy squats? Or are they already using squat pads but still feel they are not using the right product?
While you should teach proper placement of the bar on the upper back and it’s often the goal to go “raw” and lift without any extra equipment, many of your clients won’t be ready for the feel of a heavy steel bar pressed into their traps, shoulders and neck.
That’s why perhaps it’s time you introduce them to using the best squat bar pad in the market today. And to those clients who are already using the wrong barbell pads, you can help them choose the ones that will work perfectly for them.
Luckily for you, we have already done the heavy lifting of finding 6 of the best barbell pads that you and your clients can use for squats, heavy hip thrusts and other exercises.
At the end of this review, we will also reveal which product we think is the best squat bar pad under $50.
Best of the Best Squat Bar Pads Comparison
While the best squat bar pads are all very similar – it’s a simple product – there are different things to keep in mind as summarized in the table below:
1. Manta Ray by Advanced Fitness, Squat Load Distribution Device
- Focus on squat movement and technique, not discomfort, numbness or shearing muscle trauma
- Load distribution takes the bar off your shoulders and spine, and spreads the weight evenly across your trapezius and torso muscles
- Bar no longer presses against your neck, and less shoulder stress when holding the bar
- Reduces risks of injuries, protects against crush trauma, maximizes mass-building potential
- Easy to use. Snap it into the bar to keep it centered on every set. Provides a stronger connection compared to a typical, foam-based barbell pad
One of these is not like the others.
The Manta Ray squat pad is a huge departure from using towels and barbell foam pads as a cushion when doing squats. Its unusual shape allows proper distribution of loads across your neck, traps, and shoulders. Thus, it can significantly improve the quality of the movement as clients are focused more on technique and less on the pain on their upper back from the heavy squat load.
This device is made with a highly-resilient plastic called polyurethane polymer (PU), which is much more durable than your typical foam squat pad. The effective design and durability of the Manta Ray squat pad are just two of the many overwhelming reasons that kept many people squatting happily and pain-free for so many years.
Another astounding attribute of this product is that it is designed to hold the bar in place thereby preventing it from sliding out. It is essentially molded to snap fit to the bar.
Should the client’s arms are positioned too far backward because they lose grip and the bar slides downwards, this could cause excess stress on their shoulders and might lead to an unnecessary injury. And according to research, 36% of injuries caused by lifting weights occur at the shoulder complex.
Moreover, taller individuals, specifically those who are more than 6 feet in height, seem to benefit more from the Manta Ray squat pad. The device helps improve their movement significantly and also helps lessen the strain on their lower back.
- Extremely durable, can last for decades.
- Securely holds the bar thus preventing it from rolling off.
- Reduces shoulder stress by preventing your arms from moving backward.
- It helps you focus more on your squat technique and movement.
- Unparalleled load distribution than cylindrical foam squat pads.
- Ideal for high bar squats.
- Twice as expensive than other barbell squat pads.
- Does not provide a perfect fit for everyone.
- The design makes it impossible to fit an EZ bar.
- Not recommended for low bar squats. The bar can roll off your back.
2. Dark Iron Fitness 17 Inch Extra Thick Barbell Neck Pad
- WORK OUT MORE COMFORTABLY: Cushions neck, shoulders & thighs against the heavy bar during squats, lunges & hip thrusts. Designed to fit 2″ Olympic size bars perfectly
- WON’T FLATTEN OUT: Our design features top-grade, 3/4″ dense foam to provide optimal support and comfort during your WOD or powerlifting training. Retains its shape; won’t flatten easily.
- STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD: Choose one of several custom designs with motivational slogans. A refreshing twist on boring, generic-looking barbell pads! Sleek black background color
- WON’T ABSORB MOISTURE: Durable synthetic leather material won’t absorb perspiration. Moisture remains on the surface and can be easily wiped away. Won’t accumulate odors over time
- CUSTOMER HAPPINESS: Our responsive customer service team is fully committed to ensuring you have the best experience possible! If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us and we will answer ASAP!
The Dark Iron Fitness 17 Inch Extra Thick Barbell Neck Pad is one of the most useful tools in the gym. Its thick foam will not flatten out of weight while protecting the neck, shoulders, and thighs when doing repetitive heavy workouts.
If you need that extra protection on your upper back when doing a heavy squat, then this padding is for you as it can absorb a significant amount of weight.
Providing a complete cushion to your neck against heavy bars, you won’t feel pain on your neck and shoulders anymore when performing heavy squats with this pad.
Also, it won’t absorb your sweat since it has an anti-moisture absorbent property. Your sweat stays on its durable synthetic leather material surface. You can just wipe sweat off the surface.
This product can last long since you don’t need to wash it frequently.
The pad has a simple design but it fits with any standard bar perfectly. It provides a secure fit around the bar thanks to its hook and loop closure locking system.
The best part, each pad comes with a motivational slogan, which could help boost your motivation or get a good vibe.
- Won’t absorb sweat and moisture.
- Made with long-lasting synthetic leather.
- The 4-inch thick pad provides support without gliding.
- Easy Velcro-style closure.
- Dense, ¾ inch thick foam.
- Comes with motivational slogan imprints.
- The product is a bit shorter compared to other squat pads. People with bigger upper bodies or with broad shoulders may find a hard time adjusting this pad.
- It doesn’t have that ergonomically curved cutout found on other brands. This pad may not provide complete support for your shoulders.
- Fits extremely tight around an Olympic bar.
3. Yes4All Foam Bar Pad – Olympic Barbell Squat Neck Pad
- FIT 1” to 1.125” STANDARD AND OLYMPIC BARS: Fits easily on standard or Olympic barbells, and Smith machines, an ideal size for most barbells
- 16-INCH LENGTH x 1.25-INCH THICKNESS BAR PAD: Full length pad distributes weight & releases pain and pressure to protect your shoulders, neck, hips from bruises or the risk of injury
- HIGH DENSITY FOAM & BREATHABLE NYLON SURFACE: Soft, thick, high quality foam will not deform or lose shape after repeated use. Nylon surface won’t absorb moisture to add comfort & durability
- VERSATILE SQUAT BADS: Our Bar Pad’s high grip surface is ideal to use when performing different exercises at Gym including squats, lunges and thrusts
- EASY SLIDE DESIGN: Great design with Velcro Closure allows you to simply slide over any bar for easy fit and easy removal
Are you skeptical about the advantages of using a squat pad but want to test some products first without spending much money? Then the Yes4All Foam Bar Pad might be the product for you.
The pad is 16 inches long and 1.25 inches thick. This makes it excellent at distributing load and releasing pain and pressure to protect your hips, neck, and shoulders against bruises or injuries.
And if you hate the feel of rubber on your neck, this barbell pad comes with breathable nylon covering that feels good against your skin. It is hand washable so you can keep any funky odors away.
In terms of comfort and durability, the Nylon surface won’t absorb sweat and moisture. You also don’t have to wash it frequently, which makes this product last longer.
Whether you have the standard-sized barbells or full-sized Olympic ones, the Yes4All Foam Bar Pad will fit snugly and perfectly. And you can use it on Smith machines as well.
The heavy-duty Velcro fastenings allow you to quickly attach and detach the pad with ease. The fastenings work well on all standard & Olympic barbells. It keeps firmly in place during workouts and can be removed when you want it to.
- Firm without being too hard.
- Easy to reposition.
- Won’t absorb sweat and moisture.
- Compatible on both standard and Olympic barbells.
- Can be used with Smith machines.
- Velcro fastenings may spin around and scratch your neck and shoulders.
- Too big for 1-inch bars and tends to roll slightly during use.
- When the pad rolls, the bar can get stuck in between the opening and causes discomfort.
- Not recommended for 100+ pound hip thrusts.
4. Harbinger NeoTek Foam Core Bar Pad
- Fits all standard sized bars
- Suede cover increases comfort and durability, and can be wiped clean after use
- For any level of lifter
- 90 day warranty
- Harbinger’s bar pad protects neck and shoulders with NeoTek foam
If there are qualities you won’t find in many options, the Harbinger NeoTek barbell pad’s cover is removable and washable. And it is made with soft, synthetic suede that you might love.
No more abrasions and bruises on your neck from those heavy bars. This barbell padding from Harbinger provides adequate support and the right amount of cushion for your intense workouts.
The padding might not be as thick as other barbell squat pads, but it won’t cause your arms to go back too far when holding the bar during squats. It has a thickness of less than an inch that won’t interfere when you’re attaching the padding on the bar.
The padding might be a mere 9/16 of an inch, but it is made with a high-quality dense foam that won’t flatten out with repetitive use.
However, some people may not like the synthetic suede cover as it looks and feels a bit cheaper than nylon covers. Synthetic suede also tends to rot after a couple of years.
- Handy Velcro fastening.
- Removable and washable cover.
- Designed for Olympic bars.
- Easy to clean surface.
- A bit dense, but comfortable to use.
- Some people find the foam too thin.
- Doesn’t completely cover Olympic bars.
- The Velcro starts to come off after 6 months of use.
- Does not fit the Smith rack bar.
5. BEAR Strength & Conditioning Next Generation Squat Pad
- Barbell neck pad is for every gender and femininity feature of this product makes it unique. Our Barbell Squat Pad reduces discomfort to allow you to workout longer, and with more weight- increasing your gains!
- Ergonomic design relieves pain and pressure on your neck, shoulders or hips during exercises like Squats, Lunges and Hip Thrusts.
- Thick, high density, non-slip rubber-foam squat sponge absorbs impact and reduces pains! Easily applied to any Olympic-style barbell, and even easier to remove when you want
- Quickly install or remove the Barbell pad in the blink of an eye, but remains securely fastened during lifts. Versatile 18″x3.5″ pad can be applied to all olympic sized barbells
- squat barbell pad helps in weight distribution across the body, relieve pain that occurred in neck while squatting. The quality of this pad is that it helps you do exercise without pain.
With the BEAR Strength & Conditioning Next Generation Squat Pad, clients can focus more on the workout and less on the pain around the neck. It has a distinctive ergonomic design that reduces pressure and pain on shoulders, traps, and the neck during intense workouts.
This pad won’t spin around or rotate once it is in place and when weight is applied. Likewise, the right thickness of the pad and its unique design prevent it from coming off during hip thrusts.
The extra coverage on the Bear Strength barbell pad makes it ideal for hip thrusts as well as squats, shrugs, lunges, and calf raises. It is 1.25 inches thick and 18 inches in length, which can be great in protecting your hip bones, neck, and spine from unforgiving steel bars and heavy loads.
Switching between movements, you might like this barbell squat pad since attaching and removing it is so easy.
- Lightweight and easy-to-carry design.
- 18 inches wide for better load distribution.
- Thickness is ideal for hip thrusts.
- High-density, non-slip rubber-foam thick enough to prevent injury.
- It has a carved area that conforms to your neck and shoulders.
- The 1.25-inch thick dense foam provides maximum protection.
- It offers a universal fit.
- Prevents loss of circulation.
- Padding is somewhat bulky for squats and some exercises.
- It doesn’t come with straps, the bar may slide out.
- Not compatible with Olympic-sized bars. Does not completely cover the bar.
6. Elevator Fitness Squat Barbell Pad
- 18″ x 3.5″ squat pad, fits all Olympic sized barbells
- Safely Perform Squats, Lunges, Hip Thrusts and more
- Ergonomically designed neck groove helps to provide comfort and promote good form
- High quality rubberized memory foam sponge pad
- Provides relief to neck and shoulders while training
The thick padding of the Elevator Fitness Squat Pad is designed to give you ergonomic support when performing squats, lunges, and hip thrusts. The padding has a dimension of 18 x 3.5 inches, which is the standard size for squat pads used for Olympic barbells.
The pad is constructed from a black memory-foam sponge material, which adapts to your contours and specific needs over time. With that said, this pad allows you to perform your workouts comfortably and safely.
This Elevator Fitness Squat Pad has a unique ergonomic design that conforms to your neck and shoulders, which can alleviate discomfort and pain during intense workouts.
Some users find this barbell padding excellent for hip thrusts. They no longer get bruises since this padding keeps the bar in place during their workouts.
While the pad does not completely wrap the bar and leaves a gap about half an inch, the opening makes it easy for you to attach the pad onto the barbell.
- Ergonomic neck groove.
- Also ideal for calf raises.
- You can use it on Smith machines.
- Great quality for the price.
- Doesn’t smell funky after a workout.
- There’s no other color option but black.
- Its large size makes it a hassle to carry around.
- Not ideal for squats, may cause neck pain.
- Does not fit the bar properly.
- The bar can slide out from time to time, which makes training a bit difficult.
Which is the best squat bar pad for squats and hip thrusts?
Good-quality squat bar pads don’t have to be necessarily expensive. The products on our list are all great for:
- Alleviating pain during workouts
- The quality of material and construction
Comfort should be your goal when it comes to choosing the best squat bar pad. However, there are other key considerations such as:
- Ease of use
- Ergonomics and
And if you ask us, we think the Dark Iron Fitness 17 Inch Extra Thick Barbell Neck Pad is the ‘best bang for the buck’. It has all the features of a barbell padding that can be used by just about any client.
- Its 4 inches-thick foam provides added protection to your neck, shoulders, and thighs.
- It can remove minor discomforts from weightlifting since it absorbs a significant amount of load, which is beneficial to those needing extra protection on their back.
- The non-moisture absorbent surface material keeps sweat on the surface, which you can just wipe it away rather than washing it.
So get one to add to your own personal training equipment toolbox and recommend the products on our list to each of your clients so they can perform intense workouts without experiencing discomfort and pain.