Buying your first barbell isn’t just a walk in the park.
You might be a newbie or you might have some experience down the line but the basics remain the same-you want a good solid hunk of steel that will help you achieve your fitness goals without robbing you blind.
Fancy trimmings are nice but what you are really after is a nice, whippy bar with a consistent and reliable spin that won’t deform the moment you load it up.
So, you try looking it up on the Internet and VOILA! An avalanche of Olympic barbells just rained down on you!
The worst thing is you’re not even sure if these bars can do the job.
To make this easier for you, I have selected the best Olympic barbells and put them into this nifty guide. Not just that, I’ll also point out to you the things you need to consider when buying a new barbell.
|Rep Gladiator Olympic Bar - 1500 lb Rated - 20 kg||Check Price Now|
|Body-Solid Tools Olympic Straight Bar (OB86), 7 Feet, Chrome||Check Price Now|
|Titan 86” Economy Olympic Bar 700 lb Capacity Weight Bar Bench Press Chrome||Check Price Now|
|CAP Barbell Olympic Bar, 2-Inch, 1000-Pound Capacity, 7-Feet||Check Price Now|
|XMark Lumberjack 7' Olympic Bar, Chrome with Black Manganese Phosphate Shaft, 28 mm Grip,...||Check Price Now|
|RAGE Fitness Olympic Training Barbell, 15 lb, For Weightlifting and Power Lifting||Check Price Now|
|POWER GUIDANCE Olympic Bar - 1500 lb Rated - Barbell Bar for Cross Training, Weightlifting (20)||Check Price Now|
|CFF Women's Keystone Olympic Training Needle Bearing Bar, 15 kg||Check Price Now|
Last update on 2019-01-15 at 09:36 PST / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API - Details
Not all Olympic barbells are created equal. With that said, even the ones that made it to this list have their own pros and cons.
The selection above should give you an idea of what to expect in an Olympic barbell. It is important, however, to know how to choose an Olympic barbell before you go out to buy one.
Picking out a good Olympic bar requires you to be a good judge of steel. The steel isn’t there just to make your bar look cool-it is the essence of There are a lot of bars out there calling themselves Olympic bars but fail to deliver.
Luckily for you, you only need to keep an eye out for two things when judging the steel of an Olympic bar-tensile strength and yield strength. These are legit data that the manufacturing data gets through both static and dynamic testing.
A static test usually includes loading the bar with a high amount of weights. Naturally, the bar will bend to a certain degree. The testers will then slowly unload the bar to see if it will assume its original shape.
The dynamic test is a bit different in that it tests how much the bar will bend when you load it up and then drop it.
You might notice that some bars-usually the cheaper ones-have something like xx-pound test. These don’t really give you much useful information in the quality of the steel of the bar in question.
Stick to tensile strength and yield strength.
Knurling is what you call those rough patches on your barbell made up of two sets of diagonal grooves intersecting to form a diamond pattern. The depth of these grooves determine the aggressiveness of the knurling.
The roughness of the knurling is what helps you prevent grip failure. The more aggressive the knurling, the more it will dig into your skin, keeping the barbell in your grip.
Choosing knurling that is perfect for you is mostly preferential. Those who are into powerlifting naturally prefer a more aggressive type of knurling for the Big Three exercises-deadlifts, squats, and bench presses.
However, those who are into CrossFit or a more diverse training program might want to go with a medium knurl which hits the sweet spot between keeping a nice grip on the barbell without actually shredding the skin off your palms.
You have probably heard seasoned weightlifters throw this word around. Olympic weightlifters love it while those who squat and bench press don’t.
Basically speaking, whip is the way the ends of your barbell sort of bounce at the end of each rep. This is basically determined by the strength of the steel, the diameter of the shaft, as well as the processing of the bar itself. The load you place on the bar also affects the whip.
Olympic weightlifters like a certain degree of whip to their barbells as they can use the momentum for snatches and clean-and-jerks. There are even some seasoned weightlifters who have turned the use of whip in their lifts into an art form.
However, if you are going to use your barbell for squats or bench presses, you might want to look for a more rigid bar. Whipping is not exactly useful for these exercises.
Another word that gets thrown around in the search for an Olympic barbell.
You have probably wondered why there are some lifters who are finicky with the spin and some who are not.
When you are just starting out and lifting less weights, the importance of a freely spinning barbell might be lost on you. However, when you start to lift heavier weights, you will note the difference between a barbell that spins reliably and one that doesn’t.
Spinning is very important in an Olympic barbell because it allows the lifter to get their elbows through in the clean, then position themselves in the snatch and jerk without breaking their grip at any point.
This might not seem like much for those lifting lighter weights but those lifting heavier weights with a bar that does not spin will have to reverse curl the weights. In the previous days when the bars don’t allow much spinning, this usually led to strained wrists.
Bushings and bearings are incorporated into the sleeves to enable the bar to spin.
Bushings are placed between the bar itself and the sleeve. They allow a lower amount of friction and can be made of bronze to make them last longer. Powerlifting bars are bushing bars.
Bearings, on the other hand, make use of small needles or metal balls housed within the sleeves. They allow the sleeves to spin freely and more consistently. The high-end and costlier Olympic weightlifting bars generally employ the bearings mechanism in their sleeves.
When it comes to the finish of the bar, it is generally a matter of personal preference. However, do not forget to take into account the environment you will be using your bar in.
The finish of the bar serves two purposes-to protect the bar from the nasty effects of oxidation (rust, in layman’s terms) as well as enhance the feel and grip of the bar.
Bare steel or raw steel is popular for being the “best feeling” bar finish. It is, however, more prone to rust and will require regular maintenance to keep it happy. It also generally costs less than the other types of finish.
Black oxide is more resistant to corrosion than their bare steel counterparts and provides a certain degree of tackiness to the grip of a bar. In terms of price, it is a bit of an upgrade from bare steel.
Zinc finishes are more resistant than even black oxide. The only downside to this type of finish is that it tends to turn an ugly shade of green after some time. It does not matter whether it’s black or bright zinc that is being used.
High-end bars usually have a chrome or stainless steel finish. These are the types of bar finishes that are most resistant to the nasty effects of corrosion. Chrome can feel a bit slippery, which is why most powerlifters don’t particularly like it. Stainless steel, however, feels a lot like bare steel so you get the best of both worlds in terms of oxidation resistance and “feel”. Both chrome and stainless steel are a lot more expensive than other types of finishes.
Most of the market for weightlifting is saturated with equipment for men. However, when it comes to Olympic weightlifting, women have different needs. Fortunately, there are manufacturers who do produce Olympic barbells for women.
These barbells are known as hybrid bars and they are tailored specifically for women. A man’s bar typically weighs 44 pounds or 20 kg and has a length of 7.2 feet or 2.2 meters. In contrast, a woman’s Olympic barbell weighs only 33 pounds or 15 kg and is a little over 2 meters long at 79 inches. Hybrid bars also have shorter sleeves than Olympic bars for men.
See what I meant when I said buying a barbell isn’t a walk in the park?
When you’re doing Olympic weightlifting, you need to make sure you have a barbell that is just as hardcore as you are but with enough flexibility for those snatches and clean-and-jerks.
The Gladiator Olympic Bar from Rep Fitness is your best bet, if you’re still hung up on what to get for your home or garage gym. Its tensile strength and yield strength are pretty high, which means you can load it up with no worries if it would break under the pressure.
Unlike most other Olympic bars that toe the line to becoming a power bar, the Gladiator is a bearings bar, which makes for a nice spin that is comparable to those on higher-end bars.
For its price, the quality of this bar is top notch. You’d be hard-pressed to find a bar as good as this one in that price range.
Did your favorite Olympic barbell make it to the list? What other Olympic bars do you favor and why? Let us know in the comments below!
I am Mike R.Bowen, founder of Fitness On The Weekend dot Com and my aim is to help busy people find time for fitness. We will give you actionable advice on how you can keep fit and healthy even on those busy days!
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