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.
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- The Best Olympic Barbells
- 1. Rep Gladiator Olympic Bar from Rep Fitness
- 2. OB86 7-Foot Chrome Olympic Power Bar from Body Solid
- 3. 86-Inch Economy Olympic Bar from Titan Fitness
- 4. OB86B “The Beast” Olympic Lifting Bar from CAP Barbell
- 5. Lumberjack 7-Foot Olympic Bar from XMark Fitness
- 6. Olympic Training Barbell from Rage Fitness
- 7. POWER GUIDANCE Olympic Bar
- 8. 15-kg Women’s Training Olympic Bearing Barbell by Vulcan Fitness
- Choosing an Olympic Barbell
- The Hybrid Bar
The Best Olympic Barbells
The guys over at Rep Fitness are pretty up front about this bar. It is apparently one of their best products and I certainly agree. There are a lot of barbells within its price range but only a few are really solid enough to come up to par with this one.
For starters, the Gladiator has a pretty high tensile strength rating of 230,000 PSI and yield strength of 210,000. Cheaper bars will try to compensate substandard steel with a thicker shaft diameter but not this one. It is a pretty tough bar with a diameter of 28 mm and to make it even tougher, it even has a hard chrome finish, which you only usually find in pretty expensive barbells.
The Gladiator is a bearing bar and you might think that, yeah, for the price, it should spin okay. However, this one spins almost exactly like a more expensive bar should.
The only downside I find is that it could have been whippier. However, for the price, I’d say it is a pretty good buy already.
- High tensile strength and yield strength rating
- 28 mm shaft diameter
- Hard chrome finish means it has powerful rust resistance and requires less maintenance
- Bearings bar with great spin
- Not too expensive, considering quality
- Needs a bit more whip
- Knurling is a bit lacking
Sometimes, it can be tempting to be a bit lazy and just buy anything off the Internet—never mind if it’s as expensive as selling an arm and a leg. It might be convenient but you could overlook a lot of quality equipment from a reputable manufacturer that costs much less.
Body Solid has been in business for over 20 years and while you might have heard of them once in a while, they’re not exactly as popular as other top-tier brands. Very quietly, they’ve built a reputation for making quality but affordable fitness equipment like kettle bells, dumbbells, and yes, barbells.
The OB86 might look low-key but it does what it is required to do. Designed for the newbie lifter and affiliate alike, the OB86 is a nice, seven-foot bar with a chrome finish and consistent spin. The dual knurling is done according to International Weightlifting Federation standards but could probably be a bit more aggressive.
- Triple-plated chrome finish is meant to withstand not only rust but peeling, chipping, and scarring
- Consistent spin
- Affordable price
- Sleeves held in place by Allen bolts, which might come off with repeated drops
- Sections are not perfectly spaced and may be off by as much as half an inch
When you’re looking for home gym equipment, you’re after quality and affordability at the same time. You don’t need the fancy trimmings because you’ll probably be the only one using it and it won’t be subjected to harsher elements than a gym. Nonetheless, it is an absolute must that your bar could withstand the amount of weights you will be lifting as well as last a long, long time.
It might be cheaper than most bars but that does not mean that you want a hunk of steel that will practically be useless after a few weeks.
This Economy Olympic Bar from Titan Fitness ticks off all the boxes in your checklist for a home gym bar. It is not too pricey, fits Olympic weight plates nicely, and quite sturdy. I am a bit worried about the “DO NOT DROP” warning, although it looks like it can handle a bit of tough love. Also, it has brass bushings and while it does spin adequately, bearings are always more preferable in an Olympic barbell.
- Chrome finish
- Compatible with Olympic plates
- Sturdy build, made of cold-rolled steel
- Very affordable
- Designed specifically for home use
- Sleeves come with brass bushings, not bearings
When you’re pretty new to weightlifting, you might think that the bar that came with your weights will do well enough for you but you’re wrong. There are top-tier bars and then there are those bars that are rock-bottom level.
If you’re stuck with one of those bars, then you might want to get a new bar that will serve your newbie needs well. Ask around and a lot of seasoned lifters will probably mention “The Beast” in the conversation.
The OB86B, nicknamed “The Beast”, from CAP Barbell is a pretty good bar for those who are just starting out. Lifting snobs might look down on this bar because it’s not up to par with elite bars but it does a pretty fine job as an entry-level bar.
It is a nicely constructed bar that can take on moderate weights and probably last a long time, thanks to its chrome finish. As a newbie, this bar will do very nicely for a starter bar, compared to those ridiculous things that come with your weights.
Don’t expect it to take more than 500 pounds, though. It might claim to have a 1,000-pound weight capacity but it noticeably bends at around 500 pounds.
- Well-constructed, sturdy bar
- Nice chrome finish
- Snap rings for sleeve mechanism
- Sleeves rotate freely
- Very affordable
- Will bend at around 500 pounds of weight
- Ring markings are for powerlifting, not Olympic weightlifting
Having a nice, solid bar with consistent, reliable spin and a nice whip are the basics of a great Olympic bar. If it looks great, then that’s an added bonus.
The Lumberjack 7-foot Olympic bar from XMark Fitness does look pretty good for an Olympic bar with its black manganese phosphate finish and chrome sleeves. However, it proves that it’s not just a pretty face as this bar is made out of high-quality alloy steel.
According to its product description, this bar was designed for more of an all-around use instead of focusing on a specific niche like Olympic weightlifting or powerlifting. This bar also has dual markings for both IPF and IWF but has no center knurl, which is helpful for keeping the bar in place during squats.
It might be a bit of a concern as it appears that this bar is more like a jack of all trades, in terms of weightlifting. This simply means that this bar is great for a variety of weightlifting exercises but if you need something more specific for either powerlifting or Olympic weightlifting, you might want to find a bar that is tailored for your needs.
However, for newbies and those looking for a great all-around bar, the Lumberjack definitely fits the bill.
- Nice, moderate whip
- Made of high-quality alloy steel with black manganese phosphate finish to resist rust
- Tensile strength of 180,000 PSI
- Has dual IPF and IWF markings
- Moderately knurled
- No free spin. Sleeves are made of brass bushings with chrome finish. Bearings would have given it a nicer spin.
When you’re just starting out with weightlifting, you don’t need to get a high-end bar that is more or less tailored to a specific niche. You might not even have decided whether you truly want to pursue one road or the other.
For those who are just after weight training, the Olympic training barbell from Rage Fitness offers a bar that can go from either the Big Three of powerlifting to snatches and clean-and-jerks. Unlike power bars, which are more rigid, this training barbell hits the sweet spot with just the right amount of whip.
It also has a center knurl, which is essential for those squats. Generally, only power bars usually possess a center knurl as there is not much use for it in Olympic weightlifting.
However, this bar is only 6 feet long. While it might fit in a standard bench rack, you might find that it is a bit too short for a power rack.
- Medium knurling
- Good construction and pretty well made
- Satisfactory whip when loaded up
- Nice spin
- This is a bushing bar and while it has a nice spin, it could have been better if they used bearings.
- Only 6 feet long, which means that it will not fit in a standard power rack.
At first glance, the Power Guidance Olympic bar might seem like one of those bars that can’t make up its mind whether it’s a power or Olympic weightlifting bar. It has dual knurled markings for both IPF and IWF.
On closer inspection, though, it truly is an Olympic bar-dual markings aside.
It might have dual markings but its specs lean more towards Oly than power. The Power Guidance Olympic bar is made of steel with a shaft coating of black zinc, with a diameter of 28 mm.
It has no center knurl, which is oh-so-important for squats. It also has a nice whip to it, which is great of snatches and clean-and-jerks but not so much for bench presses. Aside from that, the sleeves have eight bearings for a nice spin.
This is definitely an Oly and a well-made one at that. A couple of gyms also use this bar, which should speak well for its ability to withstand a bit of tough love.
- Good tensile strength rating of 190,000 PSI
- Smooth bearings that make for a nice, consistent spin
- Good whip
- Dual knurled markings for both IPF and IWF
- Standard knurling makes for a good grip
- Great quality for the price
- Black zinc coated shaft might provide resistance to corrosion but tends to turn an ugly greenish color over time
If you hang around forums and bar reviews, you might have heard of hybrid bars or to put it simply, Olympic barbells that are specifically tailored for the female of the species. All around the world, women are getting into strength training, too. It is only right that the ladies finally get a bar that fits their needs.
One of the best Olympic bars for women is the 15-kg women’s training Olympic bearing barbell from Vulcan Fitness. Unlike its more expensive counterpart, the 15-kg women’s professional Olympic bearing bar, this one costs considerably less.
However, for the price range, it has a pretty good whip and spins just as well as the more expensive professional Olympic bearing barbell. Like higher-end Olympic bars, this bar also features a hard chrome finish, which is one of the most resistant to corrosion.
- Good tensile strength rating at 191,000 PSI, which is considerably higher than that of other Olympic bars within the same price range
- Hard chrome finish is very resistant to corrosion, chipping, and flaking
- Bearings offer a smooth, consistent spin that is comparable to the more expensive professional version
- Good whip
- Pretty well-made and solid bar
- Lifetime warranty
- Some might find the knurling to be a bit lacking
- Cannot be used in competitions
Choosing an Olympic Barbell
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.
The Hybrid Bar
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!