Before getting to the items and their reviews, let’s briefly go over the five types we examined and ranked in greater depth.
Five Types of Barbells We Looked At
- Dual-Marked / Multi-Purpose Weightlifting Bars: The ideal bar for bench pressing due to their knurling, but these bad boys were designed for both powerlifting and Olympic lifts as well. When looking to add a weight bar to a home gym, these are the most common types you’ll come across.
- 28mm Olympic Weightlifting BEARING Bars: Prestige and fine tuning in the form of an Olympic weight bar. Don’t let the seemingly high price full you, this fitness equipment commonly comes with a lifetime warranty and will withstand the test of time.
- 28mm Olympic Weightlifting Training Bars (w/ BUSHINGS): These reasonably priced Olympic training bars are ideal for fitness enthusiasts looking to perfect their form without breaking the bank.
- Powerlifting Barbells: Minimal whip and more rigidness is what enables these powerful weight bars to pack a lot of weight. Power bars are not bound to strict specifications as is the case with Olympic bars typically, which means they come in different lengths and thicknesses. Most notably, you’ll find they are a little less pricey than their Olympic counterparts.
- Bars for the Aspiring Youngsters: Built for those aspiring youngsters who want to learn the fundamental techniques of weightlifting early on in their lives; these bars are designed to decrease the chances of injury and/or strain. Mainly for working on technique, and learning; though they are modeled off the real adult versions very closely, they are half the weight.
Perhaps one of the barbells on this list will match your needs, and earn a place in your home gym.
Reading through the subtle differences in these 24 popular brands of barbells is likely to make your buying decision easier. From type and weight, to different bearings and finishes, there are many traits of the mighty barbell, and each combination is unique.
Let’s check them out, shall we?
Best Dual-Marked / Multi-Purpose Bars
Dual marked barbells have knurling that is ideal for bench pressing, and are designed for both powerlifting and Olympic lifts. These are the most common types of barbells that the casual lifter will want for their home gym, particularly due to their versatility and affordability.
Just because these barbells aren’t specified for a specific type of lift does not mean their quality suffers, because each is manufactured with a lot of attention to detail, from the varying depths of knurling to the type of chrome finish.
Unless you plan on competing under Olympic regulations or getting into powerlifting levels of bodybuilding, then dual marked, multi-purpose barbells are most likely the optimal choice for you.
Related: How to Get a Wider Chest - Basic Tips
The 20 kg Rogue Bar 2.0
- 7 foot bar
- Bushing on the Sleeves
- Color: Black Zinc
This barbell from Rogue is about as sleek as it gets in terms of aesthetics. It features a black zinc shaft and sleeves, with dual knurl marks for bench pressing, and no center knurling.
The knurling is Olympic style, and the bushed sleeves help keep the price reasonable. Throw in the fact that it’s made in the USA and comes with a lifetime warranty, and this barbell from Rogue becomes an unbeatable deal.
The fact that this barbell is their version 2.0 shows in the amount of quality and detail involved with the design. At $255, this is a very sleek looking barbell that has been tested to the highest standard, and will be ideal for any strength exercises.
American Barbell California Bar
- Designed for Functional Fitness
- Bushing Sleeves
- Hard Chrome Sleeves
Made in San Diego, the California Bar by American Barbell features dual knurling on a black bar accompanied by shiny chrome sleeves. Although very similar to the aforementioned Rogue Barbell, this California Bar actually has a superior whip, and therefore is better for Olympic lifting.
The American Barbell California Bar is well-designed, and the high whip factor even makes it ideal for heavy lifters. Available in both 15kg and 20kg models, the California Bar will be the optimal choice for those who plan to use it in tough, functional workouts, such as CrossFit.
The 15 kg Bella 2.0 (The Women’s Rogue Bar)
- All-purpose barbell for female athletes
- No center knurl
- Finish: Bright Chrome
Rogue made this 33 pound bar to be the pinnacle of barbells for female athletes. Sharing the same specs as their popular Rogue Ohio Bar except 5 kilos lighter, the Bella 2.0 is perfect all-around.
Whether you plan to slam it to the ground during intense CrossFit sessions, or use it for traditional Olympic or Powerlifting exercises, the Bella Bar has all of the details you’d expect from a top-quality barbell.
Dozens of perfect reviews from a wide array of gym owners and other customers cannot be ignored. The Bella is a masterfully crafted barbell that handles well, looks great, and at $215, is highly affordable compared to other barbells on the market.
The 20 kg Rogue Ohio Bar
- Tested to 205,000 psi
- Friction Welded Sleeves
- Black Zinc Shaft and Bright Zinc Sleeves
The multi-purpose Rogue Ohio Power Bar is made for the heaviest workouts, and is a bit more expensive and higher quality than most. It has center knurls which add support for squats, and aggressive powerlifting knurls for an enhanced grip.
Ultimately, the higher psi, friction welded sleeves, and center knurling are key characteristics that separate this from other multi-purpose barbells on the shelf.
Priced at almost $100 more than similar bars on the market, Rogue’s 20kg Ohio Power Bar has some nuanced advantages that hardcore bodybuilders will appreciate. Those who incorporate a lot of squats into their routine will appreciate the center knurls, which are more aggressively engraved than in most bars.
For those who want a bar that’s even stronger than other excellent powerlifting bars and don’t mind the extra cost, the Ohio Power Bar by Rogue maybe right for you.
Burgener and Rippetoe 20 kg Men’s Bar by Rogue
- Medium Depth Dual & Powerlifting Knurling
- Bare Steel (Requires Consistent-prevention)
- Bronze Sintered Bushings
The most unique characteristic of this tensile strength improved old school barbell (formerly by York), which is the fact that rather than a finishing agent, this barbell is bare steel.
Those with experience using bare steel barbells swear that the feel of a bar that you’ve maintained over time is unlike anything else out there. Further key factors include the exceptionally high PSI rating of 205,000, and a fair price.
Since this barbell is bare steel, the environment you live in will be a major concern. For example, if you plan on putting this in your garage in Florida, the humidity will turn it to rust in quick fashion unless you’re brushing it regularly with oil.
Otherwise, this barbell brings back memories of gyms from decades past, and is very well crafted in all regards. That said, there is no lifetime warranty for this barbell, so only get it if you intend to do proper maintenance to prevent rust.
The Matt Chan Bar
- Designed by CrossFit Pro, Matt Chan
- Passive center knurling
- 190,000 psi
Rogue Fitness gave firefighter and 4-time top 10 finisher in the CrossFit games, Matt Chan, the opportunity to put his personal touches on a barbell, and The Matt Chan Bar is the result.
Notable improvements include knurling that’s been tempered down so as to not irritate the chest or back during squats, and wider knurling that won’t scrape your shins while doing deadlifts and cleans. While still excellent for bench presses, this bar is fine-tuned for the needs of the CrossFit athlete.
Pricier than similar bars at $295, the Matt Chan Bar is also more detailed, and will have special value among the CrossFit community. While not the most affordable bar at the 190,000 psi rating, it has unique specifications that make it an excellent purchase for those who are dedicated to CrossFit and want a bar with passive center knurls for your home gym.
OFW Wonder Bar 2
- 205,000 psi Tensile Strength
- Medium Knurling
- 1600 Pound Weight Capacity
This black-zinc bar by One Fit Wonder is described as an excellent beginners bar, mostly because at less than $200, it’s among the least expensive barbells on the market.
It also has a stiff whip, which further cements its reputation as a beginner bar. Other unique traits include its dual, medium depth knurling, but ultimately, this bar sticks out as a high-quality bar at an excellent price.
For those whom price is a top concern, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a solid, high-quality bar that’s meant for multi-purpose use at a cheaper price. Many bars of similar quality are well over $200, so the price really sticks out for the Wonder Bar 2, especially if you don’t mind its stiffness.
Best 28mm Olympic Weightlifting Bearing Bars
In comparison to the multi-purpose bars that use bushing, you can expect these 28mm Olympic Bearing Barbells to be more fine-tuned, and significantly more expensive. That said, some on the list come with a lifetime warranty, and all of them are in specs for competitive weightlifting.
If you have aspirations of competing as a bodybuilder and are far beyond a beginner, then these Olympic and training bars have all the credentials and details you’ll need to take your power to new heights.
American Barbell Stainless Steel Olympic Bar
- High-load Bearings
- Meets IWF Specifications
- Hard Chrome 50mm Sleeves
With original proprietary features and phenomenal anti-corrosion protection, the American Barbell Stainless Steel Olympic Bar fully abides by Olympic standards.
Their sleeves use a unique system developed by American Barbell to handle the heaviest loads on the market. Ultimately, the detail incorporated in the design of this stainless steel barbell is impressive, and creates an Olympic bar that’s unlike any other.
Among top-quality, competition barbells, the American Barbell Stainless Steel Olympic Bar is one of the finest. Lots of proprietary details ensure that the bearings will stay strong and sleeves will maintain spin for a long time. Factor in the lifetime warranty, and it might be the best $795 you’ve invested into your fitness goals.
Rogue Olympic WL Bar
- Center Knurling Available
- Available in Bright Zinc or Polished Chrome
- 5 Variations
Designed from the ground up to have the perfect amount of whip, this Olympic Barbell by Rogue is customizable in terms of center knurl and finish. Completely in specifications for Olympic weightlifting including a single Olympic knurl, this is the only barbell you’ll need for competitions.
For a top-quality Olympic barbell that is customizable in five different ways, the Rogue Olympic WL Bar boasts an excellent whip, sturdy bearings, and knurling in all the right places. If you’re hesitant about dropping $500 plus on an Olympic barbell, the lifetime warranty from Rogue makes it an easier decision.
Rogue “Euro” 28 mm Olympic WL Bar
- 215,000 Min Tensile Strength
- 10 Quality Needle Bearing Sets
- Made from European Steel
The most rigorously tested of Rogue’s many barbells, the Euro Olympic WL Bar has a superior whip, above average tensile strength, and both center and Olympic knurling.
The knurling is of medium depth, and only top tier European steel was used on the bar’s construction. Ultimately, the spin, whip, and strength values of this bar have been tested and verified to the top standards in the world.
Possibly the very best Olympic barbell on the market, the Euro Bar from Rogue endures the strictest testing to ensure it meets IWF-standards. Coming with a lifetime warranty, a Polish chrome finish, and free shipping, the Euro bar is arguably the highest quality barbell you can get for less than $700.
Ivanko OB-20KG Olympic Bar
- 200,000 psi
- Black Oxide Finish
- Meets IWF Specs
Developed using an exclusive technique with the goal of achieving high levels of strength, this black oxide bar by Ivanko meets all standards for Olympic competition.
That said, it’s also a top-quality cross training bar, with a center knurl to improve grip during squats. This barbell endured detailed testing to ensure that it’s fit for hardcore competition.
Whether you need a top-quality bar for competitions or to add some shine to your home gym, this Ivanko OB-20KG Olympic Bar is made strong, and within IWF standards. Ultra-sonic tested and X-ray tested, this Olympic Bar from Ivanko has what it takes to handle decades of tough workouts.
Unlike some other Olympic bars on the market, this one by Ivanko is both top-quality and multi-purpose, as it proves ideal for Olympic competition and casual training.
Eleiko Sport Training Bar – 15 and 20 kg
- Swedish Steel
- 10 Precision Bearings
An Olympic barbell that has set numerous world records, the Eleiko Sport Training Bar uses a proprietary design method and tests at a whopping 215,000 psi. Top quality all-around, this bar is among the most expensive on the market, but comes with a ten year warranty from Eleiko.
Compared to other top-quality Olympic barbells on the market, the Eleiko Sport Training Bar is more expensive than most, but is known for its excellence and meticulous building process.
The combination of spin, grip, and whip creates a unique feeling that is specific to Eleiko’s design. While over $200 more than comparable Olympic bars, the Eleiko Sport Training Bar would surely be a candidate for the absolute best.
Best 28 mm Olympic WL Training Bars (Bushing)
For those that want the durability and quality of an Olympic bar, but less expensive and for training purposes, then a 28 mm Olympic WL Training Bar may be the ideal barbell for you.
The most notable difference between real Olympic barbells and those made for training is that rather than highly elaborate and pricy bushings, Olympic training barbells use less expensive but still reliable bushing.
Among these three Olympic training bars, some of the most important differences include whip, brand, textile strength, and price.
The Vaughn Olympic Training Bar – 15 & 20 kg (Bushing)
- 216,000 psi
- IWF Knurling with no Center Knurl
- Black Manganese Finished Shaft with Chrome Sleeves
Two-time Olympic Weightlifter, Chad Vaughn, left his personal touches on this Olympic training barbell. Vaughn Weightlifting is his company, and the barbell is massively strong at hundreds of dollars less than Olympic barbells with bearings.
Throw in the lifetime warranty and a 365 day no-stress return policy, and this becomes an easier purchase than ever for serious bodybuilders. Many customers have reported that the knurling appears subtle on the black manganese shaft, but the grip is excellent for everything from clean and jerks to bench presses.
Created primarily for heavy, competition-level clean and jerks, the Vaughn Olympic Training Bar works well for functional or casual training as well. With strong purchasing options, remarkable level of tensile strength, and designed by a big name, this bar really has it all.
Unless you’re in a position where you need a high-priced Olympic Bar with bearings instead of bushing, then you really can’t lose with this training bar from Chad Vaughn.
American Barbell Precision Training Bar
- 190,000 psi Tensile Strength
- Meets IWF Specs
- Made in America
Finished with hard chrome and using a precision weld, this Precision Training Bar by American Barbell contains no center knurling. The fact that it’s made from stainless steel adds a unique feel, and makes the bar heavily resistant against corrosion, and easy to clean and maintain.
Lots of detail ensures that this barbell has excellent whip and longevity, and a limited lifetime warranty is in place to back it up. The male version is available at 20kg, with the female barbell weighing 15kg.
While high-priced and undoubtedly of top-quality, this barbell is $100 more than the Vaughn Olympic training bar which is significantly stronger at 216,000 psi.
That said, if it’s important to you to get a popular name brand that has been known in the industry for years, then this Precision Training Bar by American Barbell is a phenomenal stainless steel barbell.
Rogue 28mm Olympic Training Bar
- 190,000 psi
- Available in Black Zinc or Bright Zinc
- Olympic Knurl Marks with no Center Knurling
Featuring all the design and knurling of Rogue’s Olympic Bar, the only difference is that this training bar contains bronze bushing in the sleeves rather than steel bearings.
Their goal was to make a high-quality yet affordable training bar, and at $325, it may very well be the most cost-efficient Olympic bar on the market. Considering the added options of a bright or black finish and a lifetime warranty against bending, this barbell from Rogue seems like an excellent deal all-around.
While lower in tensile strength than the Vaughn Training Bar, Rogue’s Olympic Training Bar is substantially lower in price as well. The purchasing options, quality guarantees, and fact that Rogue is a well-known brand that specializes in barbells all serve to make this a great deal for any who are in need of an Olympic training barbell.
Best Powerlifting Barbells
There are three basic differences between Olympic and powerlifting barbells in general. Powerlifting barbells are more rigid with minimal whip to enable heavy lifters to hit the highest maximums possible.
Also notable is that powerlifting bars are not bound to strict specifications like their Olympic counterparts, so they may vary in length or thickness.
Finally, knurling on powerlifting bars is more close together to facilitate the bench press. Since powerlifting bars typically use bushing rather than steel bearings, their prices will be about half of the top Olympic barbells.
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Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar
- 1500 pound capacity
- Black Zinc plated with Raw Ends
- Length: 84 inches
Few people have more experience welding powerlifting equipment than Buddy Capps. A former champion himself, Capps has been in the business for 30 years, and his Texas Power Bar is widely regarded as the quintessential powerlifting bar. The knurling is known to be more aggressive than other powerlifting bars, and its aesthetics set it apart from the rest.
This is easily among the most popular powerlifting barbells available, so much so that it’s inspired impostors. For the real Texas Power Bar, look for its distinct logo on the ends, and know you’re getting a bar that was created by one of the industry’s most experienced craftsman, Buddy Capps.
If a strong, rigid barbell that will stand the test of time is what you need, many hardcore bodybuilders swear by the Texas Power Bar.
American Barbell Super Power Bar
- 210,000 psi Tensile Strength
- Stainless Steel with Hard Chrome Finish
- Made in America
A stainless steel barbell with a massive tensile strength, the American Barbell Super Power Bar is designed to handle huge amounts of weight. A center knurl will help stabilize heavy squatting attempts, while the lack of any whip in the bar makes it ideal for the strongest powerlifters.
While no longer available from American Barbell, the Super Power Bar is known as a strong, rigid bar, and is on sale from other online retailers for varying prices.
The fact that it is comprised of stainless steel means it has a unique feel in the knurling, and a high-level of durability and corrosion resistance.
CAP OB-86B Power Bar
- Length: 86.6 inch barbell
- Black Phosphate Finish
- 1000 pound weight capacity
A strong, affordable barbell from CAP, the OB-86B Power Bar is made for heavy lifting up to 1000 lbs. The barbell features snap rings rather than caps, and diamond knurling of a medium depth. There is no center knurling, and sleeves are grooved to prevent plates from slipping.
The most notable factor of the CAP OB-86B Power Bar is the price. At only $137 on Amazon, this barbell by CAP is one of the least expensive powerlifting barbells on the market.
While the 1000 pound capacity is lower than most powerlifting bars, the price is significantly lower too. Ultimately, if you plan on doing squats, bench presses, and other workouts with less than 1000 pounds on the barbell, then the price of the CAP OB-86B Power Bar makes it an excellent value.
Rogue Ohio Power Bar
- 205,000 psi Tensile Strength
- Two Finish Options
- Powerlifting and Center Knurling
Available in black and bright zinc or bare steel, this Power Bar from Rogue features bronze bushings and snap ring design.
The name comes from the fact that it’s made in Ohio like Rogue’s other Ohio bars, but this Power Bar version has no whip and knurling that is aggressive but not sharp. Rogue offers a limited lifetime warranty against bending for the Rogue Ohio Power Bar.
Designed for hitting your max on powerlifting exercises, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar abides by the same high-standard of their dozens of other barbells. With the mark of their home state in the bar’s name, the Ohio Power Bar carries a special level of quality, and a lifetime warranty to back it up.
Westside Power Bar 2.0
- 205,000 psi Tensile Strength
- Black Zinc Finish
- Green Composite Bushings
The Westside Power Bar 2.0 has a unique black and green appearance that’s unlike any other barbell out there, but that’s not the best part.
Famous powerlifting competitor and strength coach, Louie Simmons, co-developed this power bar, adding details like an updated knurling pattern that’s deep but non-abrasive. It passes all the tests as a top-quality power bar, but earns special points for its aesthetics.
If you like originality in your home gym, this black zinc barbell with green bushings and caps sticks out above almost any other. If price isn’t your absolute top concern when purchasing your barbell, then spending a little bit extra on this Westside Power Bar 2.0 will definitely spice up your bench or squat rack.
With unique looks and designed by a true expert in Louie Simmons, there’s a lot to like about the Westside Power Bar 2.0.
Eleiko Powerlifting Training Bar
- 215,000 psi Swedish Steel
- 4 Bronze Bushings
- Competition Grips
Eleiko barbells tend to be more expensive than many of their competitors, but each is made using rare Swedish steel in the town of Halmsted, Sweden.
Designed to be the only powerlifting barbell you’ll ever need, the Eleiko Powerlifting Training Bar features a raw grip with aggressive, somewhat sharp knurling. This barbell supports a monumental amount of weight, with a maximum load of 3300 pounds.
This bar is pricey, but if you’re a serious heavy lifter who’s going to be taking advantage of the 3300 pound max, then it could be a good investment, especially since it comes with a 10-year warranty. For casual powerlifters, there are far cheaper bars of comparable quality on the market.
Ivanko OBX-20KG Powerlifting Bar
- 200,000 psi
- Black Oxide Finish
- Center Knurl
For a black oxide bar that’s precision straitened and tested in multiple different ways, the OBX-20KG Powerlifting Bar by Ivanko is in a league of its own. Ideal for powerlifting or cross training, this is a barbell that’s striving to be great in all situations.
The highly-detailed testing is relevant because it detects even the tiny cracks that may form in the bar, and does a lot to improve the bar’s longevity.
The Ivanko OBX-20KG Powerlifting Bar is designed and tested to be superior in all aspects. From high-standards in the manufacturing process to meticulous testing, this is a black oxide barbell that truly strives for perfection, driving its price ahead of most competitors.
Best Bars for the Aspiring Youngsters
Youth barbells are designed for teens who want to learn fundamental weightlifting skills with minimal chance of strain or injury.
At half the weight of adult barbells, youth bars are an excellent tool for working on technique, and learning the basics of powerlifting and Olympic lifting.
Like most youth bars, the two examples on this list are closely modeled off proven and successful adult versions, with similar knurling and materials.
American Barbell Black & Chrome Junior Bar
- 180,000 psi
- 10kg Barbell
- No Center Knurl
With a black zinc shaft and hard chrome coating, this is a barbell designed to prepare a young lifter for larger weights. At half the weight of adult barbells and shorter sleeves, this youth bar should be easy to handle for beginners who are learning the fundamentals of bodybuilding.
The bar is made to IWF standards, with knurling properly placed to get the young lifter acclimated to an official barbell.
American Barbell is a well-known and trusted name in steel fitness equipment, and going with them for a young lifter’s first barbell will not leave you disappointed. The youth barbell has a cool black and silver appearance and is modeled after their most elite competition barbells.
Rogue 10kg Junior Bar
- 190,000 psi
- Good Whip
- Dual Standard Knurls with No Center Knurl
Modelled after their original Rogue Bar and Bella Bar, the Rogue 10 kg Junior Bar is designed to be a top-quality technique bar with lasting power. Featuring 190,000 tensile strength, the Junior Bar is of comparable strength to the adult versions, but with shorter sleeves for reduced weight, and the bar itself is 10 kg instead of 20.
That said, to learn the many techniques that utilize the barbell, the Rogue 10 kg Junior Bar is an excellent starting point for a weightlifter in training.
When it comes to barbells, Rogue is a strong brand with a massive variety of barbells for every occasion. Regarding their 10 kg Junior Bar, the price is excellent compared to other technique bars on the market.
At under $200, the Rogue 10 kg Junior Bar is a well-made barbell with good whip and a smaller footprint than the bigger, more expensive versions.
Beginners Guide to Choosing Weight Bars
An Olympic barbell is the quintessential piece of weightlifting gear, and even those who’ve never worked out have images of powerful men and women hoisting bars loaded with massive weights over their heads at the Olympics.
Casual gym-goers have probably used barbells for squats and bench presses, because both are among the most popular workouts in general. CrossFit fans find ample uses for barbells as well, as lifts like the clean and jerk and the deadlift are often incorporated into their routines.
Whatever your reason for wanting to add an Olympic barbell to your home gym, knowing the types, traits, and differences will help you make the most informed decision possible.
Related: 10 Best Sit-Up Benches for Your Home Gym
Major Considerations When Purchasing a Barbell
One of the first questions to ask before purchasing a barbell is whether it has to fit equipment you already have, and where do you plan to store it.
After that, your personal needs are top priority, so buying a barbell that’s appropriate for your size, strength, and intentions is a worthy goal. Price and quality are considerations as well, as competition barbells will be significantly more expensive than those meant strictly for the home gym.
Doing the Research: Seven Ways Barbells are Different
Even a product as seemingly simple as the barbell has many variations. From size to curvature, the home gym market is filled with different types of barbells, each with their own advantages.
Whether you’re a highly experienced gym rat or just getting started, reading over these seven common differentiators will give you a solid idea of the kind of barbell that’s perfect for your home gym.
Mens vs. Womens Barbells
Much like in basketball or other sports, slight modifications were made to barbells with respect to the differences between men and women.
While the men’s Olympic barbell is 7.2 feet long (end-to-end, pictured is the sleeve length) and 44 lbs., the women’s Olympic barbell is three inches and eleven pounds smaller at 6.9 feet and 33 lbs. For casual use, anyone can workout with either barbell, but ideally a barbell specific to your gender will be more effective.
The main two types of barbells are Olympic and Powerlifting. Each has subtle physical differences, and is meant for entirely different workouts. While the Olympic barbell is intended for a single set of snatches or clean and jerks, the Powerlifting barbell is meant for squats, deadlifts, and bench presses.
The bars themselves have subtle differences as well, with Olympic bars being known for their high quality, smooth rotating sleeves, and ability to whip, or store elastic energy. Powerlifting bars on the other hand are more rigid for handling heavy weights, and have grips in the proper space to enable bench presses.
Often added to enhance grip, knurling is a method of cross cutting that is typically used with barbells. While Olympic bars can be found with or without center knurling, the primary purpose for it is to aid in squats when using a powerlifting barbell.
When shopping for a barbell, center knurling is a trait you might want if you plan on making lower body workouts, like squats, a consistent part of your routine.
Related: Barbell Lifting Grips
Sleeve Assembly: Bushing vs. Bearing
The difference between whether you need bushing (pictured left) or bearing (pictured right) on your barbell depends solely on your intentions. The reason is bearings are specifically for competitive Olympic use, and are much more expensive than their bushing counterparts.
For most people who are just using their home gym to stay fit, participate in CrossFit, or gain strength at another sport, the far less expensive busing will be the superior option.
Tensile Strength of an Olympic Barbell
Tensile strength is the most important quality when evaluating the strength of a barbell. While yield and test are also important factors, tensile strength is the paramount value, because it measures the breaking point of the bar.
While Olympic bars are tested to a strength of 1000 lbs, other bars may vary, so depending on how heavy a lifter will be using the equipment, tensile strength is an important number to know before making your purchase.
The Final Look of the Shaft and Sleeve Finish
While the finish of your barbell will be mostly a matter of opinion, stainless steel finishes are recommended if moisture is going to be a major issue. Other common options include black oxide, zinc, chrome, and a raw, unfinished look.
Unless you’re really looking for something specific, then the type of finish probably won’t be a top priority when searching for your barbell. If issues like price, type, and weight limit are within your preferences, then choosing a barbell that matches your home gym equipment is a matter of style.
Sleeve Design: Snap Ring vs. End Cap
Due to the fact that both of these methods work well, the type of cap or ring is a concern of minimal importance for just about everyone. One factor regarding the tips of the barbells that is worth mentioning is that you want to avoid hex bolts and bolts in general.
While you won’t even see them among reputable brands, some independent sellers may sell inexpensive bars with bolts on the ends, and those are known to break easily and cause problems. Snap rings (pictured left) and end caps (pictured right) are both known to be reliable, so stick with those and there shouldn’t be any issues.
Summary of Olympic Barbell Reviews
To the unfamiliar, all barbells seem identical. But with a wide range of differences that include type and depth of knurling, color of finish, bushing or bearing, and overall type of barbell, purchasing a barbell can be a surprisingly complicated decision.
Even beyond the physical aspects of the barbell are considerations like price, brand, and warranty options.
Knowing whether you want an Olympic barbell, which has a good whip and abides by strict specifications at a higher price, or a powerlifting bar that has virtually no whip but is strong enough to get up your highest max, is the best place to begin your search.
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One Final Rep
If competition is not a goal of yours, then a simple, multi-purpose barbell may be the ideal choice for you, as they often combine qualities from the other types, but with more room for creativity.
Ultimately, no matter what barbell you choose, adding any of them to your home gym will enable the powerful lifts that Olympians and strongmen have used for centuries to sculpt their physiques, such as squats, snatches, and the bench press.
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