Best Barbell Pads of 2023 for Hip Thrusts and Squats

Nick Collias
Written by

woman putting barbell pad on a barbell

Soreness is often part of the game when it comes to training your lower body. But if the weight of a cheap barbell on your upper back or across the front of your hips is making squats and hip thrusts pure misery, your bar pad (or lack thereof) is probably to blame!

A barbell pad can help you lift more safely and focus on your technique, not on the discomfort you're experiencing. Trusting that your local gym will have one that someone else isn't using is a serious gamble. Instead, use this guide to find a bar pad to add to your own gym bag!

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The Best Barbell Pads - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall Barbell Pad - REP Fitness Barbell Shoulder Pad

REP Fitness Barbell Shoulder Pad


  • Material: Foam, nylon
  • Dimensions: 4" x 17"
  • Thickness: 2"


This pad from REP lands right between "thick enough for heavy hip thrusts" and "not so thick that it'll roll off your back during squats." But even if you just use it for hip thrusts, it's a vast improvement over that rolled-up yoga mat you've been using!

Unlike many options in the same price range, this comes with a tough fabric exterior for more durability. Just remember to take it off the bar when you're done—someone else would be glad to have it!

What We Like

  • Thick enough for heavy hip thrusts
  • Tough outer cover and velcro closure
  • Inexpensive but effective

What We Don't Like

  • Foam gap under velcro demands careful placement
  • Small barbells might wiggle around in it

BUY: Rep Fitness Barbell Shoulder Pad

Best Budget Barbell Pad - Iron Bull Strength Advanced Squat Pad

Iron Bull Strength Advanced Squat Pad


  • Material: Single-piece foam
  • Dimensions: 16" x 3"
  • Thickness: 3"


Iron Bull is a common "house brand" in weight rooms, so there's a solid chance you already know this pad. But if not, you might have looked at it and thought, "That ergonomic neck gap looks comfy!"

True enough, comfort and thickness are this pad's big draw, particularly with squats. Despite its slick-looking surface, the pad stays put well, even without velcro to hold it tight. It's a solid, inexpensive way to make leg day just a bit more comfortable.

What We Like

  • Neck gap for squats
  • Thick padding
  • Lightweight for carrying

What We Don't Like

  • Less durable than more expensive models
  • Foam is easy to tear (or get chewed up by a dog)

BUY: Iron Bull Strength Advanced Squat Pad

Best Barbell Pad for Hip Thrusts - Abmat Hip Thrust Pad

Abmat Hip Thrust Pad


  • Material: 6-layer foam with Cordura outer shell
  • Dimensions: ‎19.53" x 11.02"
  • Thickness: 1.97"


This isn't just another squat pad repurposed for hip thrusts. It's designed specifically for thrusting and booty-building. Just slide the heavy-duty six layers of foam (wrapped up in tough Cordura) between your delicate hip bones and that bar, and go to town!

This particular model is made by Abmat, who manufactures equipment that takes a beating in CrossFit gyms. So yes, it'll last! And unlike squat pads, you could use it as a neck rest or ab mat during other exercises, too.

What We Like

  • Thick and comfortable for hip thrusts
  • No gap to watch out for or velcro to attach
  • Tough and durable

What We Don't Like

  • Bulkier to carry around in a gym bag than other pads
  • Can't double as a squat pad

BUY: Abmat Hip Thrust Pad

Most Comfortable Barbell Pad - REP Fitness Barbell Shoulder Pad

REP Fitness Barbell Shoulder Pad


  • Material: Foam and nylon
  • Dimensions: 4" x 17"
  • Thickness: Approx 2"


Following a demanding booty-building workout program? Don't be surprised if you end up squatting or thrusting twice or even three times a week for months straight. That means a lot of time under the bar, and a lot of time in close contact with your bar pad—so, it had better be comfortable!

REP Fitness has plenty of loyal fans for its home gym equipment, and this pad is equally at home in the garage or the weight room. If you've been rolling up yoga mats and gritting your teeth, or watching someone you care about suffer through every set, this is a necessity!

What We Like

  • Way better than DIY solutions
  • Strong velcro fastener lasts long-term
  • Big pay-off in comfort for a low price

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn't really work with dumbbell hip thrusts
  • Can't fix your squat form on its own

BUY: REP Fitness Barbell Shoulder Pad

Best Thick Barbell Pad - M. Manakulear Hip Thrust Pad

M. Manakulear Hip Thrust Pad


  • Material: Foam and nylon
  • Dimensions: 13.78" x 5.91"
  • Thickness: 3.5"


If your hip thrust numbers are going through the roof and no other pad seems to seem to be able to hold the bar in place, then this pad is for you. With 3.5 inches of solid protection, it's downright luxurious.

But just as importantly, its slight pyramid-shaped design helps it stay in place on the hips, whereas some similarly thick pads with round shapes put you at risk of the bar rolling onto your stomach. Once you're thrusting north of 300 pounds (which plenty of strong women and men are), that's not what you want!

What We Like

  • Seriously thick and comfortable
  • Design minimizes risk of slipping or dropping bar
  • Handle for easy carrying or clipping to your gym bag
  • Can double as a bench press "block" for powerlifters

What We Don't Like

  • Definitely not designed for squats!
  • Bulky addition to a gym bag

BUY: M. Manakulear Hip Thrust Pad

Best Portable Barbell Pad - Bellabooty Hip Thrust Belt

Bellabooty Hip Thrust Belt


  • Material: Nylon strap with foam padding
  • Dimensions: ‎54.25" x 9"
  • Thickness: 0.32"


While not technically a barbell pad, the Bellabooty belt allows you to connect dumbbells or kettlebells to either side, creating a hip thrust station that can work in a hotel gym, home set-up, or anywhere else where a barbell isn't an option. This makes it highly portable, but it also means that no weights are directly on your pelvis. In that respect, it mimics high-end hip thrust machines where you thrust against a belt, but at a fraction of the price.

Of course, this design only works if the materials are capable of handling heavy weights. The Bellabooty velcro and fabric are tough and durable, and can theoretically handle up to 400 pounds (good luck getting those dumbbells into place!) but the same can't be said of knockoff versions. A number of reviewers have noted that they bought a cheapo version, regretted it, and ended up getting the real thing instead.

What We Like

  • Takes up very little space in gym bag or luggage
  • Great for barbell-free gyms
  • Weight is on the sides rather than placed on top of pelvis
  • Works with dumbbells or kettlebells

What We Don't Like

  • Can be used for squats, but pretty awkwardly
  • Have to unstrap and restrap weights to move up or down in load

BUY: Bellabooty Hip Thrust Belt

Best Non-Slip Barbell Pad - Fit Viva Barbell Pad with Safety Straps

Fit Viva Barbell Pad for Standard and Olympic Barbells with Safety Straps


  • Material: Single-piece foam with separate nylon straps
  • Dimensions: ‎54.25" x 9"
  • Thickness: 0.32"


Fit Viva's barbell pad is designed to make you feel secure since you can strap the pad directly to the bar as tightly as you want. For this reason, the manufacturer recommends it as being suitable for both Olympic (2-inch) and standard (1-inch) barbells. Not every pad can say that!

Aside from the straps, though, this is a fairly standard single-piece foam pad, similar to what you'd find in any commercial gym. If you're a big squatter or hip thruster, be prepared to replace it every once in a while once the barbell starts to wear through the foam.

What We Like

  • Straps down tight
  • Suitable for Olympic and standard barbells
  • Good choice for light weights in home gyms
  • Works for both squats and hip thrusts

What We Don't Like

  • Not the most durable option
  • Easy to lose straps

BUY: Fit Viva Barbell Pad with Safety Straps

What to Look for in Barbell Pads

Unlike some other gym tools, a bar pad can be used for several different lifts. So consider what lifts you'll be using it for most often when making your choice.

If you're going to use it for both squats and hip thrusts, a simple round, fabric-covered pad can be a "good enough" option for both lifts. But if you're primarily using it for hip thrusts, consider investing in a thicker pad designed specifically for thrusts. Uncovered, single-piece foam mats are cushy and soft, but tend to fall apart more quickly.

FAQs About Barbell Pads

How thick should a barbell pad be?

If you're hip thrusting or squatting under 200 pounds, 2 inches of padding should be sufficient. If you're a super-thruster pushing 300 or more pounds, consider something 3 inches thick.

Should I use a pad on a barbell?

Using a pad on a barbell when squatting isn't mandatory. But despite what some people say, it's not "wimpy" either! If a pad helps you focus on your form and not on the discomfort in your upper back, then use one!

Should I use a barbell pad when doing hip thrusts?

If you're only doing light, high-rep hip thrusts, you can get by without a pad. But once the weights get serious, you're at risk of bruising and serious unnecessary pain. Invest in a good pad and you won't regret it.