When it comes to buying a safety squat bar, there’s really only about a handful of options that are worth your money.
The EliteFTS SSB is one of those options, and it’s arguably the best and most popular safety squat bar on the market.
When selecting an SSB, the most important factors to consider are general construction (duh), balance/camber angles, padding quality & comfort, and grip handles.
In my opinion, the EliteFTS bar excels in each of these categories. Mind you, some of this will come down to personal preference, but there’s a reason why this bar is consistently recommended as one of the best SSBs out there.
The EliteFTS Safety Squat Bar
I’ve been able to use a few different SSBs in my training, and I can say that this bar is my favorite of the bunch. While I felt some of the other options (namely the Crepinsek), were better or on par in certain aspects, the overall performance of the EliteFTS puts it at the top of my list.
Let’s break this down.
The team over at EliteFTS has created an absolute beast of a bar with this SSB. It measures 90 inches in length and, despite what the website says about it weighing 65 lbs, it actually weighs right at 62 lbs. Of course this is a moot point if you take the stance of guys like Joe Kenn, who say all bars weigh 45 lbs… anything else is just extra sauce. By the way, Joe is the S&C coach for the Carolina Panthers and he uses the EliteFTS safety squat bar in his training.
The sleeve diameter, like most other specialty bars, is smaller than what you would find on an Olympic bar. Because of this, your typical collars will not work. You will need to purchase a different pair of collars in order for them to fit. I personally like the Proloc collars the most because you can use them on any bar by tightening them down.
The construction of the bar itself is noticeably high quality, headlined by clean welds. It’s capable of holding an enormous amount of weight and built to handle constant abuse. Guys like Ben Pollack, Joe Sullivan, and Dave Tate use the bar with high frequency and at ridiculously high loads. In fact, Dave Tate has exclusively trained his squat with the SSB for years due to shoulder issues. If they trust the bar in their training, you can rest assured that the quality isn’t lacking.
The biggest and possibly only drawback of this bar is the clear coat finish, which is known to flake after sliding plates on and off the sleeves for an extended amount of time. This completely cosmetic issue has no bearing whatsoever on performance, but it’s a part of the construction that has led to complaints by some users. To be fair, specialty bars in general leave something to be desired when it comes to sleeve finishes. Most of them are powder coated, which will also chip and flake, so it’s hard to knock EliteFTS too hard on this. Still, it’s something to consider if you’re a stickler about such things.
Balance & Camber
The beauty of the safety squat bar is that it's built in such a way that it actually balances on your shoulders… or at least it should. Cheap SSBs have crappy balance. Thankfully, the EliteFTS bar is not cheap – it has a really nice balance to it.
I think the Crepinsek actually has the best balance of any safety squat bar on the market, but the EliteFTS is really close. I mean, you can pretty much do whatever you want without having to even touch the handles. Speaking of, I trained with the Crepinsek extensively and it didn't even have handles – just the shoulder pads. That's the sign of a well made bar with supreme balance. Truth be told, the EliteFTS is built pretty much identically.
The camber angle on the EliteFTS SSB runs about 30(ish) degrees to your body when it's on your shoulders, whereas the handles sit around 45 degrees. In my opinion this is ideal, as it centers the bar quite nicely. Cheaper SSBs have a camber that is nearly perpendicular to the body, or at least in-line with the handles. This type of camber causes issues with the balance of the bar. I would not recommend you buy one with this type of camber.
EliteFTS knocked this out of the park.
When it seemed like nobody else making safety squat bars could quite figure it out, EliteFTS absolutely nailed their shoulder pad. Seriously, it's shocking how many issues/complaints there with some of the other manufacturers' shoulder pads.
Take the Crepinsek for example. I really love that bar, but man, the pad is… sad. The one I trained with was literally taped together… as in 100% of it was covered with tape, not just a spot here and there. Other bars are accused of having pads that are too firm, too thin, or generally just lacking in quality.
The EliteFTS pad is just right. It's made of a very dense foam that actually looks like really thick carpet padding. The covering has a great feel to it – it's grippy, yet supple. The stitching on the pad is very well done, adding to the high quality look and feel. The velcro used to secure the covering is really strong and it doesn't peel in any direction. Aesthetically, I also think it looks pretty cool with the EliteFTS logo on the front and “SS Yoke” on the back.
In case you're wondering about width, the full pad is just over 18 inches and the inner gap between shoulders is just over 8 inches wide. Clinton Portis wouldn't even have a problem getting this thing around his neck, which is quite the accomplishment when you really think about it.
In general, the pad is really comfortable. I'm fully confident it will last a very long time with very frequent use.
Safety squat bar handles come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like the Crepinsek, have short and stubby handles. Others, like Edge Fitness Systems, have long and angled handles. The EliteFTS safety squat bar is somewhere in between, but leaning towards the shorter side. In fact, they are 7 inches long… just above the average…
Ultimately though this comes down to personal preference. Having used SSBs with each option, I find that I like the EliteFTS handles the most, the short/stubby handles second, and the long handles a distant third. I really don't like the long handles. I think it's a mental thing, but it just feels incredibly awkward to me.
The handles are uniquely capped with a grip style that is very easy to hold onto throughout the lift. They are actually molded in such a way that each of your fingers have their own little space (cute, right?). I for one like this more than just a flat surface that most, if not all other SSBs employ.
Lastly, the EliteFTS handles ship unattached, but in the same box as the bar itself. Installation is brainlessly simple – just screw them in. I actually applaud EFS for not even including instructions. It's like the opposite of when your dad used to try to put something together before regretfully realizing halfway through that he should have followed the instructions after all.
Man, those were some fun meltdowns.
EliteFTS Safety Squat Bar – Pros and Cons
- Due to a longer camber, the bar is strength rated to handle an enormous amount of weight
- Because of the camber angle, the balance on this bar is nearly perfect.
- The padding is absolutely top of the SSB market. It's extremely comfortable and very well made. Even after a ton of abuse by some very strong people, the padding is known to hold up over the long haul.
- The handle length, while largely subjective, is awesome. It's not so short that you feel like you're protecting your face in a boxing match, and it's not so long that you feel like you're holding on to handicap rails to take a poop.
- The handle grips are comfortable and unique to safety squat bars.
- This bar isn't cheap. While it's not the most expensive SSB on the market, at $389, it's up there. I will say, I feel there is a close correlation between price and quality when it comes to an SSB. This bar, even at that price, is a good deal. They also run frequent deals that will drop the price to around $350, and they will also drop it to less than $300 with free shipping once or twice a year.
- The clear coat finish is going to chip. It's just the way it is. Cosmetically, it's a bit annoying, but functionally it's a non-issue. As mentioned earlier, powder coated specialty bars will also chip, so this isn't limited to just EliteFTS.
To summarize, this is just a terrific bar. If you're in the market for a safety squat bar, I would strongly suggest you consider the EliteFTS. It's absolutely best-in-class and it will get you strong as hell.
Another suggestion: don't let a cheaper price tag from other manufacturers tempt you. I promise, you get what you pay for with an SSB. $149 SSBs, while seemingly attractive at that price, are going to be a crap product that will lead to buyer's remorse. Pay the extra money to buy the piece that will last forever and work more effectively.
If you want to read more about SSBs or powerlifting equipment in general, check out my ultimate guide to building a powerlifting home gym.
If you have any questions on this bar or safety squat bars in general, please leave a comment below. Likewise, if you own this bar and want to chime in on your own thoughts, please do so!
As always, I appreciate any feedback.
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The bar is loaded,