Use an Earthquake Bar to Improve shoulder stability

Chest 3 min Read

Written by

Keith Hansen

The glenohumeral joint (the fancy name for your shoulder) is the most mobile joint in the human body, but it comes at a cost.

When a joint gains mobility it tends to sacrifice stability, and instability in the shoulders leads to impingemenets & rotator cuff tears.

But that’s not going to happen to you, because you’re reading this article.

The Earthquake Bar

It’s a lightweight barbell weighing in at 6lbs designed to hang weights on via resistance bands.

The resistance bands stretch and contract as you move through your bench press (or overhead press, or squat) movements which cause instability in the bar by pulling and pushing constantly in different directions.

The bar wants to shake and oscillate (that’s the earthquake part) as you lift. Your shoulders will have to work overtime to stabilize the load. 

The oscillations of the bar cause pertubations (fancy word of instability movements) in the shoulder which require all the tiny stabilizer muscles to kick in.

How to set up

Setting up for use of the earthquake bar when benching is just like setting up for your bench press.

The key difference is loading the earthquake bar.

You will need:

– an earthquake bar (or a hacked version, check it out below)
– resistance bands (the short ones are best)
– weights (kettlebells are highly recommended)

You’ll need to loop your band around the kettlebell and suspend it from the end of the earthquake bar.

It helps to have a partner because the bar is so light that adding one side at a time can cause the bar to lift off of the rack.

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Start light because it’s going to feel weird.

You can use different combinations of band thicknesses, kettlebell weights, and how many kettlbells you hang from each side to vary difficulty.

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The best advice I can give is to treat it exactly like your normal bench press.

It has a way of shaking more the harder you try to stabilize the load because instead of letting the stabilizers do the work you’re tensing too much. Relax, be fluid, and just bench.

It’s going to take a few sets to click.

Remember: they earthquake proof buildings by allowing them to move with the oscillations of an earthquake. Buildings that are too rigid crack and fall.

Work your way up slowly until you find a weight that you can control with effort through a set of 10-20.

This weight will usually be 1/3rd of what you can normally do for a set of 10-20.

Earthquake bar Hack

The earthquake bar is expensive ($300). Adding the kettlebells and resistance bands will bring your setup to ~$500.

But there is a way around this for under $20

It does exactly the same thing, but it needs a little help.

You just need 6ft of 1.25″ PVC pipe.

Use a sharpie or tape to mark the places for your hands, and the places where the bands should go so your setup is loaded symmetrically.

Check out How to Make Your Own Homemade Earthquake Bar for a detailed walk through.

Be sure to visit the Serious Guide to the Bench Press for more information on benching big.

Now that you’ve improved your shoulder stability, check out The Seriously Strong Intermediate Program to continue progressing your strength training journey.

Download The Seriously Strong Intermediate Program

Keith Hansen

Keith was an All-State wrestler in high school and in 2007 hung up his singlet to attend Florida State University to pursue a B.S. in business management. He wasn't sure what industry he wanted to be involved in at the time, but soon realized after graduating in 2011 that fitness was the ever-constant activity in his life. Keith began studying to become a personal trainer and in 2013 earned the National Strength and Conditioning Association's Personal Trainer certification. After a short stint as a big box gym trainer he realized he wanted to bring something different to Tallahassee. Keith competes in Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, and Crossfit.