Fed up with neck pain and bruising from barbell squats? Here is a look at the best barbell squat pads for squatting in comfort.
Barbell pads are a strength training accessory that protects your body against the weight of a loaded barbell when doing squats, allowing you to lift safely and comfortably.
Barbell pads come in various shapes, thicknesses, and sizes, and are made of high-density foam that can withstand a lot of weight, reducing the discomfort and pain of resting a heavy barbell on your shoulders and neck.
In this guide, we will highlight the top barbell pads for squats on the market and key in on some important things to consider when shopping for one.
In a hurry? The best barbell pad for squats is the Conquer Strength Barbell Pad. It has an extra thick foam construction, removable safety straps, and a slip-free exterior that won’t slide on your back when performing squats in the gym. Shop the squat pad at Amazon.
Choosing the right barbell pad for squats means focusing more on squatting with perfect technique and hitting new PRs instead of worrying about bruising and discomfort from the barbell.
Let’s dive right in!
The Best Barbell Pads for Squats
The top barbell pads for doing squats are:
- Conquer Strength Barbell Pad – Best choice overall
- Iron Bull Strength Barbell Pad – Best for narrow necks
- FITGIRL Squat Pad — Best with a Velcro closure
- Dark Iron Fitness Barbell Squat Pad — Best for experienced users
- Gymletics Barbell Squat Pad Kit — Best barbell pad set
- FlyFlow Rubber Barbell Squat Pad — Best non-foam barbell squat pad
Next, we will examine and evaluate each barbell pad for squats and the pros and cons of each pad.
1. Conquer Strength Barbell Pad
🥇 Best overall barbell squat pad
The Conquer Strength Barbell Pad is our top choice for the best barbell squat pad. It features extra thick, high-density foam for maximum comfort, a slip-free surface to keep the weights in place, extra-long width, and removable safety straps that can be used for increased safety.
Let’s dig into how this barbell pad can help you squat like a total boss.
For starters, the extra-thick cushioning means that no matter how heavy you are squatting, the bar isn’t going to dig into your shoulders.
Neck and shoulder pain from a barbell is not a fun way to chase gains in the gym, and the Conquer Strength Barbell Pad has a generous 1.5″ of padding to protect your neck, allowing you to focus on technique and form rather than discomfort.
Secondly, the safety features of the Conquer Strength Barbell Pad make it perfect for heavy squats.
The squat pad has two removable safety straps to lock up the pad onto the barbell like Fort Knox. These are removable, so if you don’t need them, you don’t have to use them, but they are a great option for lifters nervous about the barbell rolling or sliding out of the pad.
(Additionally, the safety straps are a good bet for lifters who want to use this pad as a hip thrust pad.)
While the exterior of the squat pad looks shiny, it’s not slippery, with a slip-free coating to help keep the barbell firmly in place when doing squats.
And finally, for lifters with broader shoulders (or hips, in the case of hip thrusters), the Conquer Strength Barbell Pad is the widest on the market at 17.5″ in length.
Conquer Strength sells this barbell pad, our top choice for the best barbell squat pad, thanks to comfort, performance, and durability, over at Amazon.
The only downside to this particular squat pad is that it only (currently) comes in one color, Darth Vader black, so if you are looking for a splash of color, we will give you some alternative barbell squat pads below.
|✅ PROS||❌ CONS|
|Extra thick for maximum comfort||Only available in black|
|Removable straps for added barbell security|
|Slip-free exterior to reduce barb rolls|
2. Iron Bull Barbell Pad
⭐ Best squat pad for narrow necks
The Iron Bull Barbell Pad is an excellent squat pad for users who have more narrow necks.
The middle of the barbell pad, the foam section that lines up against the back of the neck, is thinner compared to the Conquer Strength Barbell Pad, making it a superior option for trainees looking for more “flex” at this part of the pad.
The Iron Bull Barbell Pad also gets top marks for offering more color options—six in all the last time I checked—perfect for people who want a little splash of bright color with their squat pad.
The main reason we didn’t rank the Iron Bull Barbell Squat Pad higher is because it’s not as thick and not as wide as the Conquer Strength Barbell Pad.
It also doesn’t have the optional safety straps that can give weightlifters more peace of mind when doing squats.
Nevertheless, it’s the perfect squat pad for people who a) want more color options and b) have a thinner neck and want more of a “wrap-around” sensation with the barbell squat pad.
|✅ PROS||❌ CONS|
|Lots of color options||Not as thick or as long|
|Thinner middle section||No safety straps|
|Soft padding for maximum comfort|
3. FITGIRL Squat Pad
⭐ Best Velcro-close barbell squat pad
Looking for a barbell squat pad that FIRMLY locks into place? Won’t get anywhere not matter how much you are lifting? The FITGIRL Squat Pad is your best option.
The FITGIRL Squat Pad has a Velcro closure that locks the pad firmly into place around the barbell. This ensures the pad stays on the bar (no matter what) when doing squats (or hip thrusts, for that matter).
The splashy design looks great, and makes it stand out compared to other barbell squat pads, which tend to go for the simple (and for some, boring) flat black.
FITGIRL offers the squat pad in five different color combinations, too, giving you the option to pick a barbell pad that matches your aesthetic.
While the FITGIRL Squat Pad gets rave reviews from a majority of users, many note that it’s not ideally suited for heavier lifts, with the padding losing its structural integrity once lifters moved beyond having 170lb on the barbell.
|✅ PROS||❌ CONS|
|Velcro-closure to keep the squat pad firmly in place||Some users reported discomfort at heavier weights (170lbs+)|
|Excellent squat pad for beginner lifters|
4. Dark Iron Fitness Barbell Neck Pad
⭐ Best barbell squat pad for more experienced users
The Dark Iron Fitness Barbell Neck Pad is a budget-friendly pad that has a Velcro closure and a synthetic leather shell that won’t absorb sweat, reducing that stinky gym stink.
The Dark Iron Pad is definitely for more experienced users as it has reduced foam thickness versus other squat pads.
Compared to the 1.5” thickness on Conquer Strength Barbell Pad, our top choice, the Dark Iron Pad has only 0.75” padding. For lifters who want maximum padding, or for people who have really boney necks and hips, the Dark Iron Pad won’t be a great choice.
But for the lifter who is more comfortable with the feeling of a barbell against the body, the somewhat minimal padding helps create a better connection with the barbell.
The Dark Iron Fitness Barbell Pad comes in one color, has a sturdy Velcro closure, and the leather exterior shell is perfect for retaining shape and for being super easy to clean.
The Dark Iron Squat Pad is also very budget friendly, coming in at a couple of dollars less than all of the other squat pads on this list.
|✅ PROS||❌ CONS|
|Best for more experienced lifters who don’t need a lot of padding||Less padding compared to the competition|
|Simple, classic design|
|Velcro-closure that locks the barbell into place when doing squats|
|Leather shell; easy to clean and won’t stink with heavy use|
5. Gymletics Barbell Squat Pad Kit
⭐ Best squat pad kit for conquering leg day
The Gymletics Barbell Pad is a squat pad, for sure, but it also comes with a carry case, fabric resistance band, and ankle cable cuffs, giving you the full kit-and-kaboodle for conquering leg and glute day.
The barbell pad itself is made of high-density foam and can be snapped on easily to Olympic barbells.
Gymletics ships the pad with removable safety straps if you want to have that added confidence of knowing the pad is going NOWHERE when you line up in the squat rack to start squatting.
The real value comes with the carry case, fabric resistance band, and ankle straps. The pad can be used in conjunction with these other strength training accessories to give you a fully rounded leg and glute workout.
The price of the Gymletics kit is priced super competitively, making it an excellent value pick for lifters ready to take their leg workouts to the next level.
While most users love the budget-friendly approach to the Gymletics Barbell Pad Kit, there were some quality concerns with the carry bag.
|✅ PROS||❌ CONS|
|High-density foam pad||Carry case isn’t of the highest quality|
|Easy to put on and off|
|Optional safety straps|
|Comes with carry case, resistance band and ankle straps|
|Color options (black or pink)|
6. FlyFlow Rubber Barbell Squat Pad
⭐ Best non-foam barbell squat pad
All of the barbell squat pads reviewed so far have a similar construction, using high-density foam that snaps the squat pad into place. But what if this type of barbell squat pad has not yielded the requisite comfort for you?
The ultimate alternative—short of developing an extra twenty pounds of meat in your upper traps overnight—is the FlyFlow Rubber Barbell Squat Pad. It’s the best non-foam barbell squat pad for lifting with maximum comfort.
The best way to describe how the squat pad feels is like a synthetic leather car seat. Soft and firm at the same time (I know, that sounds like a contradiction) when you wrap it around the barbell and sink your shoulders into it.
The ergonomic design of the FlyFlow Barbell Pad ensures that the pad wraps around your shoulders and traps so that you can lift properly.
The FlyFlow Rubber Barbell Squat Pad is very comfortable, and the reviews on Amazon and elsewhere reflect this. The squat pad is a welcome alternative for people who can never seem to get the right comfort level using a foam pad.
While it provides an excellent balance of firm support for squats, many users (myself included) found that it was too firm when lifting really heavy or when doing hip thrusts.
Ultimately, I really liked the FlyFlow Rubber Barbell Squat Pad because it represents an alternative to standard squat pads.
|✅ PROS||❌ CONS|
|Best non-foam alternative||Not enough padding for heavy hip thrusts|
|Excellent grip; won’t slide around when doing squats||Pricer than the competition|
|Easy snap-on design|
What to consider when choosing a barbell pad?
The key things to consider when choosing a barbell squat pad include length, pad thickness, material, how it is fastened, and price.
Length – Barbell pads vary in length from 15” to nearly 18” in length. Weightlifters with broader shoulders (and hips, in the case of performing hip thrusts) will want a longer barbell pad to ensure maximum comfort.
Pad thickness – Barbell pads vary in thickness, from 0.75” to 1.5”. The thinnest squat pad on the market is made by Dark Iron Fitness and the thickest and most comfortable pad for squats is manufactured by Conquer Strength.
Material – The interior of barbell squat pads are almost universally high-density foam. This material is long lasting and retains structural shape even under repeated exposure to heavy weight. Where pads differ is the exterior shell. Most standard squat pads have a slip free nylon or rubber shell. The Dark Iron Fitness Pad offers an exterior leather shell that some users may prefer as it repels moisture and is easier to clean.
Fasteners – Squat pads need to be locked firmly into place so that you can focus on lifting with excellent technique and not worrying about the pad sliding off mid-lift. For maximum peace of mind, look for a squat pad that has fastening straps.
Price – Squat pads are generally affordable strength training accessories, typically priced around $20. With proper care, a squat pad can last for years.
Selecting the ideal barbell squat pad involves considering various factors, but by keeping these key factors in mind, you can narrow down your options and find the perfect pad for your needs.
What are the benefits of squats with a barbell pad?
Using a barbell pad when performing squats offers several benefits that will improve your squats and overall workout routine.
Squats with a barbell pad enhance overall comfort, reduce painful bruising, reduce pressure on the musculoskeletal system, and increase lifting confidence.
Performing squats with a heavy barbell placing pressure on the neck and upper spine can be painful for some users. A squat pad mitigates this discomfort so that you can focus on lifting with proper technique instead of compensating for pain.
Do gyms have barbell pads for squats?
Yes, many gyms provide barbell pads for their members. The type of barbell pad varies, but it’s always a good idea to call ahead to ensure the pads are stocked.
However, if having reliable access to a barbell pad for doing squats is important for a successful workout, consider investing the $20 in purchasing your own pad for squats.
Additionally, there is the hygiene component to consider when sharing a barbell squat pad with countless other users. In my experience, these items rarely get washed or cleaned by users or staff.
Barbell pads are very lightweight, fit in most gym bags, and are inexpensive.
How to use a barbell pad for squats?
To use a barbell pad, start by choosing a pad that suits your preferences in terms of thickness and length. Secure the barbell pad, inserting the barbell into the slit of the pad and letting it “close” around the barbell.
Many barbell pads feature a closing mechanism, whether Velcro or safety straps that further lock the pad into place and prevent the possibility of the barbell slipping out of the pad while exercising.
When using a barbell pad, make sure that the slit or opening is facing up and away from where the pad is making contact with your body.
The Final Rep
A barbell squat pad, like any other fitness accessory or strength training aid, is designed to help you lift safely and without pain (the bad kind, at least) so that you can focus on lifting with excellent technique and more weight.
To summarize our top choice, the best squat pad on the market is the Conquer Strength Barbell Pad.
The squat pad features extra thick high-density foam, optional safety straps, and the long width makes it perfect for even the most broad-shouldered of users.
Pick up the barbell squat pad that matches your goals, squat with comfort, and take your weightlifting goals to the next level!