The Bamboo Bar

By Shane Sweatt and Laura Phelps-Sweatt

In CrossFit, Equipment, Videos

December 08, 2011

Video Article

Join Shane Sweatt and Laura Phelps-Sweatt of Westside Barbell as they introduce the bamboo bar for stabilization training.

“This bar is great for stabilization. It’s great for shoulder rehab—also teaches you a really good release (the negative phase of the lift),” Sweatt says.

Sweatt spots a lifter using the bar with bands and kettlebells to safely work on the athlete’s stabilization. Sweatt says you can perform reps or just hang out at the top for static-hold competitions. The drills can be performed with a light barbell but, according to Sweatt, the best tool is the bamboo bar.

“The thing with the bamboo bar is the bar is so light, the kettlebells are moving and you don’t have the extra weight to help slow it down at the top,” he says.

Sweatt says he used kettlebell benching to rehab after a shoulder injury and afterward, when he went back to the straight bar, his shoulders felt “phenomenal.” Phelps-Sweatt says the specialty bar can even speed up recovery times.

Sweatt says the bamboo bar also teaches you to lift consistently over your chest to maintain balance and speed. It forces you to place your forearms at a 90-degree angle to the ground or else you’ll lose the bar forward. Similarly, the bar forces you to fix lifts that drift too far backward and gives you a faster reaction time.

Finally, the bamboo bar loaded with kettlebells isn’t just for benching; it can also be a useful tool for overhead squats and other movements.

6min 57sec

Additional reading: Shake Hands With the Fat Boys by Daniel Hersee, published June 20, 2011.

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9 Comments on “The Bamboo Bar”

1

wrote …

Very cool.

2

wrote …

Great stuff. Maybe I can work on my shoulder tendonitis with this technique.

3

wrote …

Were can I purchase a bamboo bar?

4

wrote …

Nice piece, love the overhead squats. Shane and Laura really do a great job of explaining the performance points and the benefits of the device.

5

wrote …

It was great to have Both Laura and Shane at our gym. They were amazing coaches and taught us a great amount about building power, in coaches and clients.

If you want to check out more videos with the bamboo and some of the great PRs that were set that day check out our site http://if-fit.com

6

Andrew Bueno wrote …

If you've ever build a HyperLite bar (search 'The Missing Barbell Link?' on the CFJ) they work incredibly for this application- the bar weights 3kg/~7lbs.

7

wrote …

OK I've done some research and playing.

The proper name for this piece of equipment is a bandbell http://bandbell.com/
There are several places you can get them from
Westside barbell http://www.westside-barbell.com/products/?c=14&p=115 being one.

It isn't in fact made of bamboo and it isn't very flexible, it's just a light strong bar made from wood. While the bar flexing would add another dimension of instability, it's the dangling weights and the lightness of the bar that make such a potent combination.

I hung some plates from a piece of sand filled PVC I keep in the shed and it worked quite nicely to produced the desired wobbles, even with the light weights you're limited to with PVC.
I haven't tried a heavier bar but I believe the Sweatts and others online who say a heavier bar damps the oscillations.
That doesn't mean you can't hang weights from a normal bar and get an unstable implement. There's quite a nice article here (http://articles.elitefts.com/articles/training-articles/innovative-training-band-suspended-weight%E2%80%94not-just-for-the-bench/)with some suggestions based on just that.


The hyperlite bar (http://journal.crossfit.com/2010/02/the-missing-barbell-link.tpl) should indeed work very well. It will probably be a little heavier than a bandbell due to the metal pipe shaft, so experimenting with hanging plates off a stout piece of dowel, e.g. a shovel handle might be better.

8

wrote …

I first tried this exercise a few years ago. It does an amazing job with increasing an athletes awareness during the bench press movement. You can only press a fraction of the weight that you can with the traditional bench, but benefit so much more. Athletes who are prone to shoulder injury can greatly benefit from an exercise like this.

I also tried this with a squat. If you attempt this with any leg exercise, make sure you have a spotter as well as a safety bar. Due to the length of movement with a squat as opposed to the bench, there is a lot more room for error.

9

wrote …

I first tried this exercise a few years ago. It does an amazing job with increasing an athletes awareness during the bench press movement. You can only press a fraction of the weight that you can with the traditional bench, but benefit so much more. Athletes who are prone to shoulder injury can greatly benefit from an exercise like this.

I also tried this with a squat. If you attempt this with any leg exercise, make sure you have a spotter as well as a safety bar. Due to the length of movement with a squat as opposed to the bench, there is a lot more room for error.

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