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Watson – Safety Squat Bar

   

DISCLAIMER

This review is not sponsored by Watson.
(Though if anyone from Watson is reading this and wants to sponsor, please get in touch 😊).
What follows is an honest, unbiased review.
Feel free to skip to the sections below if you’re on a time limit.

Watson Safety Squat Bar (aka. Hatfield Bar)

RELATED PRODUCTS

 

1. Background

2. Delivery/Condition on Arrival

3. Technical Specifications

4. Build Quality

5. Ergonomic Rating

6. Adaptability

7. WOW Factor

8. Longevity

9. Price

10. Final Verdict

 

Background

This is my Safety Squat Bar. There are many like it, but this one is mine. Versatile, ergonomic and tough enough to survive the apocalypse. Say hello to my little (or not so little) friend!

Want to load more weight, hit squat PB’s that you can merely dream of AND win the lotto, buy a super yacht, get all the girls and live like a King?? Well, this Hatfield bar can help you achieve two of the three!

Let us rewind eight years. I was doing well progressing with the big three, but squats seemed to be plateauing. “There’s hundreds of ways to skin a cat”, I’d say to myself. I’d tried countless strength training methods: 5×5, Westside, 5-3-1. Hell, I even considered jumping on one of those mental old soviet programs like the Russian Squat Program and Smolov!

**side note, I did actually run the full 13 week Smolov Squat Program a few years after this, at a time when I considered myself to have truly peaked. It added 30kg to my PB, drug free! My body felt like I’d been run over by a tank by the end of it though**

Let us however temporarily forget about running insane strength training programs that were designed for athletes whose bodies were walking pharmacies, at a time when strength training was ran like a war of attrition in the Eastern Bloc!

27 year old me kept thinking “should I just be a sheep, follow the crowd and jump on the roid wagon?!” After all, humans (like water) will always seek the path of least resistance. I’d then argue with myself.. “but where’s the challenge in that?!”

At the time I felt like I had a more than average degree of emotional intelligence, along with a smidgeon of effective mood regulation. I didn’t want to jeopardize that and risk having to take Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) for the rest of my life just because I had a few heavy blasts stacking Deca, Tren and Halo!

I therefore simply introduced a different way of squatting (variety being a key principle a strength training). I was on track to naturally building a back and legs akin to those of the Greek God, Adonis himself.

I’ve somewhat diverged.

The Safety Squat Bar (SSB)

  • The SSB sits a bit higher than a standard bar due to the industrial level of padding, and the camber pushes you forward, forcing you to fight to stay upright. Therefore, you will be a bit more upright than a high-bar squat and a lot more upright than a low-bar squat. The more upright your torso is, the less pressure is placed on your lower back. With the SSB, the pressure will be displaced more towards your glutes and quads without putting your lower back in a tough spot. This helps to prevent your core from collapsing and will allow you to open up your hips and knees more freely, which is a mechanically advantageous position to squat with lower chances for injury.
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  • As increased demand is placed on the trunk, along with the mid and upper back (due to its position on the torso and shoulders), this challenges the user to maintain a rigid torso and neutral spine position to provide the stability required to allow the legs to produce sufficient force. It’s basically a hybrid of the front and back squat. As your elbows are forward facing too, with slightly more shoulder flexion than a standard front squat allows, it places significantly less stress through the shoulders which can be advantageous if one is plagued by shoulder injuries and wants to load up the squat.
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  • I feels it also helps to think about centre of gravity here. With a deadlift, the weight is set in front of our centre of gravity, meaning that the posterior chain is heavily involved in lifting the weight off the floor. With a back squat, the weight is placed almost directly on top of your centre of gravity which reduces the load on the lower back when compared to the deadlift. The SSB however, sits directly on top of your centre of gravity which helps maintain proper form without too much setup. Your knees, hips and spine will be automatically locked in space as soon as you get under the safety bar.
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  • In theory, using this bar should reduce the risk of lower back injuries for beginners. *I say in theory, because there’s very limited empirical research around any of the speciality bars. We simply use our knowledge of physics and biomechanics, alongside our anaectodal experiences to draw conclusions.
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  • To summarise, not only will the SSB squat improve overall leg strength, but it will also improve bracing, squat stability and reduce the risk of injury in the untrained (and even trained) athlete. It also provides that additional component of variety to one’s training that can help break through those mental and physical plateaus.

With all this being said, not all SSB’s are created equal. Some are just awful, cheap, jumping on the band wagon replicas of the real deal. Poorly manufactured SSB’s can bend under load, tear chunks out of your traps and be weighted and cambered in such a way that means it’s more awkward than squatting using a second hand, knock off Olympic barbell with odd plates!

Some SSB’s also have the camber set parallel to the handles, which means it looks nice and sits flush when hanging on a wall, but it doesn’t allow hands free/hand supported squatting as the bar will just roll off your back.

This Watson SSB is however, a cut above the rest. Some might even say the crème de la crème. And no superlatives or hyperbole will be found here! 😊

It’s not cheap, currently sitting at £385 plus shipping. But I think this really is a case of ‘buy cheap, buy twice’. This thing will survive a nuclear war. In fact, I have it on good authority that one of these bad boys can be traded in for ONE MILLION bottles caps in Fallout.

Ok, enough background. Let’s get into the review!

 

Delivery/Condition on Arrival

This was on point. It arrived securely packaged, undamaged, straight to my front door. I can’t remember exactly how much I paid for delivery as it was over 8 years ago. Watson has a shipping calculator on their site, so you can check it out for yourself.

5/5

 

Technical Specifications

Weight: 30kg
Dimensions: 2250mm x 550mm (fits into an Olympic Power Rack)
Shaft: 30mm solid high-tensile steel
Shaft diameter: N/A
Distance between rings: 810mm
Loadable sleeve length: 405mm
Centre knurling: N/A
Knurling type: N/A
Recommended max load/rating: Can handle over 400kg
Warranty: Lifetime on all Frameworks.

 

Build Quality

Watson’s product testing is second to none. This is reflected in the quality of all their gym equipment that ships off the shelf. As mentioned in my intro – this thing is build to survive the apocalypse.

5/5

 

Ergonomic Rating

There’s nothing more to say here other than it feels like it’s giving you a warm, ergonomic bear hug! Well, ok. Maybe there’s a bit more to say.

This bar sits on your shoulders naturally, without you having to hold onto the handles (something that cheaper bars struggle to achieve). This is achieved by the weight distribution of the steel and the angles of the bars themselves. This places less stress on the elbows and shoulders when compared to a traditional Olympic barbell, with the naturally upright angle of the torso meaning more emphasis is placed through the quads. See our bullet list above for further details on the mechanics of the bar.

There’s no need to stretch off those tight pec minors, lats and cuffs to safely sqwaat with this bar (although stretching/releasing all those tight muscles is 💯 recommended for optimum joint health and longevity)!

Beginners will find it easier to get into the hole with this bar too.

5/5

 

Adaptability

The design of this bar does allow for more variation in training than a standard olympic barbell. Some exercises include, but are not limited to the:

SSB Good Morning
Hatfield Squat
Bulgarian Split Squat
Step Up

So I’d say due to the ability of the bar to rest easy on the shoulders without hand support, this is more adaptable than a standard straight olly bar. If required, it allows the user to utilise hand support on a fixed object like a squat cage if further stability is required.

It’s not exactly a multi gym though (nor though does it need, or confess to be). It’s earned a solid:

3.5/5

 

WOW Factor

Due to this being what I would consider to be the most effective of all speciality bars, along with it being top spec AND made by one of the worlds leading gym equipment manufacturers, it has to get a solid:

5/5

 

Longevity

It’s over eight years old with a lot of use, some abuse, and a tad bit of light weapon oil applied to it every now and again! I’m as happy with it now as the day it came into my life 🙂

5/5

 

Price

Compare this to other, cheaper – less well manufactured SSB’s and it can come across as pricey. Compare this to the cost of buying a cheap SSB, finding out it’s less than useless AND THEN buying this bar because it’s the top dog and the other is a pile of donkey 💩? Dropping the £385 + shipping first then works out as the more economical choice 🙂

5/5

 

Summary

Total rating: 4.79/5

Should you:

  • Avoid
  • Consider
  • Shortlist
  • Buy it NOW!

Okay, it’s got some battle scars. But this is exactly what they are… just scars! In keeping with the analogy… There’s no broken bones, torn ligaments or strained muscles. It serves its purpose as good as it did the day it was born into this world.

Grab one below today 😊

Watson Safety Squat Bar

Or find similar options at Amazon and check them out for yourself.

 

Now that we’ve gone over the basics.. it’s time to pay the bills and send the shameless plugs!

Fancy some gym equipment getting delivered straight to your door at lightning fast speeds? There’s some quality gear and an incredibly consumer friendly returns policy on most products at Amazon.

See our disclosure page for further information on our affiliates.

 

Until next time, all the best! Signing out.


 

Tim

 

Whilst not writing for FGUK, Tim works as a Physiotherapist, Personal Trainer and is a Retired Ammunition Technician with the British Army. In his spare time Tim enjoys engaging in a whole variety of sports, spending considerable time with his little rascal of a dog, relaxing with his friends and family, but most of all.. geeking out on all things fitness!

*Timmy’s Top Tips
‘If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!’

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