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Choosing a Barbell for the Starting Strength Program

One of the most commonly followed strength training programs for those working out in a garage gym is Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength, a simple and effective strength training program that focuses exclusively on compound barbell movements. Starting Strength (SS) is popular not only because it offers relatively quick and noticeable strength gains, but also because very little is required in the way of equipment. Since the program consists of only five lifts, none of which involve machines, dumbbells, kettlebells or other fancy accessories, it can be easily followed in any minimally-equipped garage gym.

Starting Strength by Coach Mark Rippetoe

The five lifts utilized in Starting Strength include the back squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press, and power clean. This makes the gear requirements a barbell, weights, bench, and a power rack. Since the barbell is absolutely the most important piece of equipment for any strength training program, and Coach Rippetoe is fairly vague about barbell selection in the Starting Strength book, it’s the barbell that I’m going to talk about and give some guidance on.

Barbell Spec Suggestions for Starting Strength

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; when it comes to the equipment in your gym, the barbell is not the place to be a cheapskate; it’s just too damn important. If you need to save some cash while building out your garage gym, buy used iron plates off Craigslist or get your bench off Amazon; do whatever you gotta do to make sure a real barbell is in the budget.

Now, you don’t need to go crazy and spend a grand on a barbell, but you can’t spend just $100 either; that kind of money just doesn’t cut it. Truthfully, a bar that sells for anywhere near the $100 mark is garbage, and garbage bars bend easily, lose sleeve rotation quickly, flake their spray-on chrome finish all over the place, and are even known to come apart at the sleeve or break entirely. Not only that (as if that wasn’t enough), the cheap bars are riddled with inaccuracies; from shaft and sleeve diameter to bar weight, length, and knurl placement, all kinds of things are known to be way, way off with the cheapo imported garbage bars. Just.. don’t.

In order to get a quality barbell that will both perform well and survive years upon years of training, you should expect to pay around $300 or so. Sure you can spend more, but you don’t really need to. You definitely shouldn’t spend too much less than that though.

If $300 seems like a lot to you, try and remember why you’re even doing this in the first place. It’s really a small price to pay if you’re even remotely serious about your training goals and progress. To help put that into perspective a little bit, $300 is less cash than what your iPhone is worth. You know, that device that even the brokest of people manage to update every 12 months. Priorities.

Here is what you should be looking for in a barbell suitable for the Starting Strength program, or any strength training program for that matter.

  • A standard “Olympic” barbell that follows the specification guidelines for either the IPF or IWF. This means a 2200 mm (~7.2 ft) long barbell with 50 mm (~2 in) sleeves weighing 20 kg (~44 lb). Some American power bars like the Texas Power Bar are 45 pounds rather than 20 kilos, and that’s perfectly fine.
  • Shaft diameter should be within the 28 mm – 29 mm range, with 28.5 mm and 29 mm being the most common for power bars.
  • Sleeve assembly should contain bushings, not bearings. The bushings should be either sintered/self-lubricating bronze, or composite. Avoid brass bushings, steel bushings, and bars that don’t even specify what makes the sleeves spin.
  • Sleeves should be held onto the bar using either an end cap (like seen on the B&R Bar below), or snap rings (like almost all Rogue bars.) If there is a bolt of any kind (usually a hex) sticking out of the end of the bar, you’re looking at the wrong bar.
  • Knurl should be moderate to slightly aggressive. Starting Strength has two heavy pulls (the deadlift and power clean), so you’re going to regret buying anything with a soft, baby knurl. A center knurl should also be present for back squats.

So I’ve eliminated most barbells already by suggesting you not spend anywhere near $100, so the question becomes: what bars can you use?

Temporary Update: Currently American Barbell is selling the AB Power Bar for $299 instead of $345, the Elite Power Bar for $325 instead of $485, and the Super Power Bar for $360 instead of $595. The Elite and Super are stainless steel bars; by far the best feeling shaft material available. They are not included in this article because their normal price puts them beyond what is necessary for the SS program. These are huge discounts, so its worth considering these bars while they are discounted. You can see the sale details here.

Burgener & Rippetoe (B&R) Bar

This is the obvious bar choice for many folks following the Starting Strength program being that the Burgener & Rippetoe Bar was co-developed by Mark Rippetoe himself (alongside Coach Mike Bergener.) As you might expect, the B&R Bar meets and exceeds all of the bar requirements of the SS program, and it does so at a very reasonable price.

Burgener & Rippetoe Barbell for Starting Strength

The B&R is a raw steel bar, just like in the days of old. It’s manufactured by York Barbell in Canada and sold exclusively at Rogue Fitness for $295. This 20 kg barbell has a 29 mm shaft, a pair of sintered bronze bushings in each sleeve, and dual markings for both powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting. The knurl is moderate, but secure.

There are a number of reasons why this bar works well for Starting Strength. For starters, the bare steel. It gives the shaft a very natural feel. Couple that natural, raw feel with the very nicely done knurl and you’ve got a bar that just stays securely in the hands, and does so without sharpness or discomfort. This nearly perfect grip is very important in a program in which 40% of the movements are heavy pulls.

Burgener & Rippetoe Bar, knurling

Additionally, the B&R has self-lubricating bushings that offer smooth, reliable sleeve rotation for years and years. Even if you lose some of the spin to chalk, dirt, and dust build up, just a little oil in each bushing once or twice a year will completely restore the spin. Also, this bar has a center knurl for squats; something too many companies are leaving off their bars lately.

My personal B&R is about four years old now and it’s not only still perfectly straight, but it spins flawlessly. The bare steel requires some maintenance to keep rust at bay; mostly for the first year or so while the bar develops a patina, but overall this is one of the best bars for the Starting Strength program, or any similar S&C program. It’s really a modern day classic.

Rogue Matt Chan Bar

The Rogue Matt Chan multi-purpose barbell

The Matt Chan Bar is another great option for the Starting Strength program. It’s a 190k PSI, multi-purpose (dual-marked) bar with a more aggressive knurl than most multi-purpose bars on the market, and a custom knurl pattern that gives your shins more smooth surface area for pulling deads and cleans. These knurling features along with the presence of a center knurl and added rigidity of a 28.5 mm shaft (vs 28 mm) makes the Chan feel very at-home when doing any of the static lifts.

Chan Bar knurl vs the standard power bar knurl

Difference in knurl pattern between the Chan (bottom) and a standard power bar. If you’re a scraper, your shins will thank you.

As much as I like the B&R Bar, it’s the Chan that ultimately replaced it for all of my non-Olympic training. I’m not necessarily saying that the Chan is superior to the B&R, but I personally prefer it. I prefer it for a couple reasons, but mostly because I lean towards more aggressively knurled bars. That may not be for you though.

I also liked the Chan over the B&R because the Chan is was offered in a satin chrome; a finish that eliminates any need for bar maintenance. Unfortunately, this finish option is no loner available, and the black zinc that is currently being offered on the Chan is not really my cup of tea. If I had to choose between the raw B&R and the black zinc Chan now, the decision would not be as easy as it was when the bar was offered in chrome.

Finish choices aside, I still believe that of all the bars manufactured by Rogue, the Chan is one of the best; it’s certainly my favorite. I recommend it all over the Garage Gyms site because it’s just a well-designed, multi-purpose bar sold at a reasonable price. It’s a bar that you can expect to perform well all over the gym.

Texas Power Bar (TPB)

Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar

The Texas Power Bar by Buddy Capps is another possible option. Power bars work well for the Starting Strength program since the program is based almost entirely on the slow, static lifts. The problem that I think most people will have with the TPB is the depth and sharpness of the knurl. This bar will just wreck the hands of most intermediate lifters, and no doubt all beginner lifters. The current generation TPB is really designed to be lifted by advanced powerlifters that work in the 1-2 rep range, not in multiple sets of 5’s like in Starting Strength.

Having said that, the older generation Texas Power Bars are not quite the cheese graters that they are now. If you are able to find yourself a used, old school TPB, I think you’d be good to go. Those older Texas Power Bars tend to maintain good sleeve spin, and they generally stay straight. They’re probably not an easy bar to track down used, but it could be worth checking into.

The current generation TPB is a 28.5 mm, 45 pound (as opposed to 20 kg) bar. The deeply knurled shaft is coated in zinc rather than being raw, but the sleeves are still bare steel. The bar has no published tensile strength, but it is rated for 1500 pounds, which is more than you’ll be lifting. Prices from the few vendors that offer this bar vary a bit, but expect to pay around $300 for it.

You should also know that due to Buddy Capps failing to patent his bar back in the day, there are knock-off Texas Power Bars galore. In order to avoid these imported imposters, you just need to know that the real TPB is still made by Buddy Capps in Irving, Texas, and you can identify them by their State of Texas end caps (in above image.)

You can get a genuine TPB from LB Baker at Iron Dawg, an official distributor for Texas Power Bar. You can also get the other Capps powerlifting bars such as the Texas Squat Bar and Texas Deadlift Bar from Iron Dawg. Don’t order your TPB from Amazon and expect it to be real.

x Power Bar

Just about any mid-range or higher power bar can be used for the Starting Strength program. The only issue is that there is a shortage of high-quality, affordable power bars on the market. Prices start at around $125 for the super shitty garbage bars that you’d find on Amazon or in Dick’s, then they jump to about $325 for a good, reliable power bar. This is one of the reasons the B&R is so appealing, because it’s practically a power bar and it sells for under $300.

Of course premium power bars are all over the place. Ivanko, Eleiko, Iron Wolfe, and American Barbell all offer very nice, high performance power bars, but these premium bars start at $500 and can easily exceed a grand. Obviously no beginner or even intermediate lifter needs a thousand dollar power bar, and we already know not to buy a $100 bar, so we’re pretty much stuck at the $300’ish price point for a solid power bar.

Well there are three power bars that come to mind in the $325 to $350 range that would make excellent bars for the Starting Strength program. Those bars are the Ohio Power Bar, the Westside Power Bar 2.0, and the American Barbell Power Bar.

The Ohio Power Bar is a 29 mm bar that has a very rigid 205k PSI shaft, a pair of bronze bushings in each sleeve, and a fairly aggressive knurl. The shaft of the Ohio Power Bar is finished in black zinc, and the friction welded sleeves are finished in bright zinc. I’m personally not the biggest fan of black zinc as I don’t like the green hue that they take on over time, but it will prevent the rust, and it’s certainly better than black oxide. The Ohio Power does have a center knurl, and it sells for $325.

There is an alternative Ohio Power Bar that is sold as a 45-pound bar rather than a 20 kilo bar, has the same 205k shaft and deep knurl as the kilo Ohio Power Bar, but is offered as an unfinished, bare steel bar; much like the B&R. This version doesn’t have friction welded sleeves, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper at only $250. Like the B&R, some maintenance is required due to the lack of finish, but the feel of the raw steel is amazing; rivaled only by stainless steel.

Louie Simmons’ Westside Power Bar 2.0 is more or less the same as the Ohio Power Bar. Both are Rogue bars with the same 20 kg, 205k PSI shaft, and the knurl is just as aggressive. The difference is that the bushings of the Westside are composite rather than bronze (green composite!), and the entire bar is black zinc. For the same $325 price tag, it’s really a wash between the two. I’d probably go Ohio just because there is less black zinc involved, but I know some of you love those black bars.

Finally, the American Barbell Power Bar is a 190k PSI bar like the B&R and Chan, making it less rigid at really heavy weights than the 200k+ Rogue power bars or the TPB. The shaft is 28.5 mm, and the bar has composite bushings rather than bronze. Of all the bar’s I’ve talked about, the AB Power Bar has the lightest knurl. It’s adequate, but it’s by no means aggressive. This is the only bar on the page with a chrome finish, and since that process is superior to zinc, it’s more expensive. The AB Power Bar has a center knurl and it sells for $345. Actually it’s on sale right now for $299.

All three of these power bars are made in the USA.

End

I hope this has helped you zero in on a bar for the Starting Strength program. If you have any questions or comments, proceed below. If you want to be a swell fella or nice lady (I know you do), feel free to share this article on your favorite social media site.

{ 47 comments… add one }
  • Tony October 20, 2015, 6:35 pm

    Another great article. I notice you only selected bars with a center knurl. How important do you feel the center knurl is for SS? Would a bar without center knurl inhibit someone doing the program, specifically on squats?

    • jburgeson October 20, 2015, 7:17 pm

      I prefer it, and if I remember correctly Coach Rippetoe also strongly suggests it. I wouldn’t not do the program because your bar didn’t have a center knurl, but if I were starting fresh and buying a bar, I’d get something with the center. They’re all pretty much passive knurls in the center now anyway. Not everyone even has that problem with the bar sliding down the back anyway. Good form in the low back squat pretty much prevents it.

      • SteveL October 21, 2015, 11:17 am

        I have a terrible time keeping the bar on my back for squats if the center knurl isn’t there. The bar just wants to slide down my back. Now full disclosure I do have issues with my right shoulder so maybe if I didn’t have that I wouldn’t notice it as much.

  • ssmmgg October 20, 2015, 6:52 pm

    Why not include the bare steel Ohio power bar which only sell for $250 with best spec?

    • jburgeson October 20, 2015, 7:11 pm

      You know I completely forgot about that version of it. The thing was out of stock for so long that I guess I just put it out of my mind. I’ll add that in here shortly, thank you for reminding me.

  • clay October 20, 2015, 6:55 pm

    I was just about to ask you about the American…perfect timing. I want a power bar without the course knurling. I have the TPB and the Ohio Power bar and I really dislike the sharpness of the knurling.The ABs are pricey but do you know if the stainless version is that much nicer than the chrome as far as the feel? Those American bars look sharp

    • jburgeson October 20, 2015, 7:24 pm

      I have the Super Power Bar actually. It’s pretty damn nice. In the article image, it’s the second from the top. Has a nice dark hue to it from heat treatment, does weird things in low light.

      Anyway, ya it’s not like the TPB or Ohio at all, but it’s stainless so it has cheated the grip. I’m reviewing it currently; had it about a month now. Not to let the cat out of the bag, but it’s probably going to replace the Chan for my personal non-Olympic bar. I wouldn’t say it’s any easier to hold on to than a sharp bar, but it’s as easy, and far more comfortable.

      Since the Super feels like the other stainless bars from American Barbell despite the heat treatment that’s exclusive to it, I have no reason to think the Elite wouldn’t also feel the same.

      • Clay October 20, 2015, 7:41 pm

        Sweet…I was looking at Ironwolfe bars and the Artic looks like it has the same hue from the heat treatment. I guess that I am going to have to save up for the Super.

        • jburgeson October 20, 2015, 8:05 pm

          Yeah that bar is cool looking, but the Super isn’t blue like that. I’m no metallurgist so I don’t know how many ways there are to heat treat stainless, but I’m going to guess there is at least two =p

          • clay October 26, 2015, 5:52 pm

            Sold the TPB and the OPB for the Super. I had to buy the AB $230 off is a deal that I couldn’t pass up.

            • jburgeson October 26, 2015, 7:03 pm

              You got rid of two bars to upgrade?

              • clay October 26, 2015, 7:28 pm

                I didn’t like the harsh knurling. I chopped four fingers off to the middle phalanx and the skin is rather sensitive there and tears easily. I have other bars including the B&R so a stiff 28.5mm with a moderateknurling would get more use and is what I have been looking for. I only used The OPB for squats and the TPB has been collectiting dust. The bar rack is still full.

                • jburgeson October 26, 2015, 8:44 pm

                  Sounds like a reasonable change then. You’re gonna like the Super.

  • Greg S October 20, 2015, 8:21 pm

    Huge fan of the site, thank you for all of the content! I own both the B&R bar as well as the AB power bar. Both are really great bars, but I seem to get better sleeve rotation out of the B&R bar. It also helps that the B&R bar has a slightly wider smooth area off the center knurl for doing pulls. It definitely doesn’t appear to be as much room as the Chan bar, but it still helps keep my shins less tore up. AB power bar is great for training the competition lifts, but definitely not my everyday go-to like the B&R. As someone that trains out of my garage I really appreciate all of the insight and reviews that you’ve made available. My budget is not endless, so it’s nice to have an honest and accurate resource other than the useless “This bar is awesome” reviews that seem to flood equipment company websites.

    • jburgeson October 20, 2015, 8:41 pm

      Thanks Greg, very kind. Yeah composite bushings don’t spin quite as well as bronze, but they don’t spin poorly enough to be a problem. I think manufacturers know this or they wouldn’t use them at all. The word is that composite bushings are capable of holding onto the lubrication for longer, and in theory they should never deform. Frankly, I have never known of bushings deforming to be a problem anyway, but no doubt composite also saves in production costs. I’m not a huge York fan, but they did pull off the B&R. That thing ages well.

      Also, some power bars like the AB have actually brought the outer knurl closer to the center, which I don’t understand, but I don’t personally mind either. That kind of thing just makes the Chan more appealing to many though, no doubt.

  • SteveL October 21, 2015, 11:20 am

    I’m new to the home gym and am all set up now and have a B&R bar. You mention some corrosion possible on the bar. How did you maintain your bar when this came up? Want to be prepared.

    Oh by the way on a previous post and comment I went ahead and got the Fringesport 45lb bumpers and they look great. Thanks for the advice!

    • jburgeson October 21, 2015, 12:43 pm

      Oh yeah you were looking to expand the weight collection. Pretty thin plates right?

      If you’re willing to oil it once a week with 3-in-1, it will go a long way to keep rust away. Just wipe it down after that days workout. If you do allow it to build up, it can be removed with WD-40 and a steel wire brush. The longer it builds up, the more work it is to take it off. At one point mine was pretty rusty, and it took about an hour with a wire brush attachment for a drill, but it came off. I don’t recommend letting it go to that point obviously. I have to say this though for anyone else reading… don’t use a wire brush on any bar with a finish. This is specific to bare steel bars.

      Same goes if you’re not going to touch it for a while. Just oil it and it won’t rust. Over time, the bar will develop a patina and it won’t rust as much or as quickly.

  • Rob H October 23, 2015, 6:48 am

    Excellent review as always. I went to the AB website to check out the newly on sale barbells that you recommended. They are all very nice and very affordable considering the SS quality of the bars. But what stood out to me was the GHD that they are offering on sale at $450. I had pretty much made my mind that my next big purchase would be the Abrams 2.0 from Rogue for roughly $700 before shipping. Now I am obviously having second thoughts. Do you know much about this AB GHD and taking economics into account, should I go with this one instead? Please help me to make an informed decision. Thanks in advance.

    • jburgeson October 23, 2015, 11:02 am

      Rob I’ve never actually seen the AB GHD. Other than the unique sliding mechanism, it does remind me a lot of the original Abrams though. Same basic design, same steel choices, pads, etc. At $450 for an 11-gauge GHD, it’s hard to find a downside. About the only one I can find is that the Abrams has the reinforced plates where the base meets the uprights; which add to stability (though they all shimmy no matter what).

      I don’t want to straight up say “go for it” when I’ve never seen the thing, but I have no reason to not believe that it’s a great deal. $450 is a better price than many of the econ models out there, as I’m sure you know if you’ve already been shopping around. I’ve used a handful of those econ models and was not overly impressed after owning an Abrams. Again though, price is night and day for econ / Abrams. If I had to buy a GHD tomorrow, it would almost definitely be this one though since it still has band pegs, wheels, and so forth. At full price, I’d still go Abrams just because I am familiar with it and know I like it.

      I hope this is at least slightly helpful.

      • Rob H October 23, 2015, 1:06 pm

        Thanks again for the speedy response. I am really intrigued by this product. Any GHD units that I have seen in this price range have not been of the utmost quality. As you already stated, I’ve been researching quality GHD’s and besides the Abrams the only other model that I was even considering was the Vulcan for $599 shipped. The AB GHD appears to be on par with the quality of the Vulcan but for $150 less. I only wonder now if the shipping cost on the AB would make the savings over the Vulcan a moot point. It appears the sale is going for about another week or so so I still have some time to decide. Again, thanks for your informed opinion.

        • jburgeson October 23, 2015, 1:22 pm

          I did a shipping quote on that, and it’s pricey to ship. It says modular design for easy shipping, which basically means it arrives disassembled, so I’m not sure why it needs to go freight. Abrams shipping is a flat $95, and it comes disassembled as well; ground, not freight. To your door the AB is still $150 less which is still good (for the rate it gave me in TX), but not as much as it could be if shipping was handled differently/better.

          If you’re on the West Coast or anywhere near, you might call AB and ask for a custom quote.

          • Rob H November 13, 2015, 6:22 am

            Hey John,
            Just wanted to follow up with you on the GHD. After much thought and looking for the best value for me, I decided to purchase the Vulcan unit. The AB had no reviews and going in blind on something is just not something that interest me. Also, you mentioned that shipping would be pretty expensive so I went in another direction. My decision came down to the Abrams and the Vulcan. The cost of the products leaned the scales in the direction of the Vulcan. Although I know the Abrams is a great product, at $200 more after shipping I felt that the unit I chose was a much better value. At $599 with shipping included I felt that The Vulcan GHD was a steal.

            Suffice it to say that I am extremely happy with my purchase. The unit is very durable and at 5’11” and 220lbs I feel very secure while working out on it. The quality is very apparent and I will not hesitate to make another purchase from this retailer in the future. Again thanks so much for your input.

  • StephenS October 23, 2015, 10:24 am

    I’m looking to upgrade from my cheapy bar. I was more or less set on the Rogue Ohio (45lb) Power Bar. But with the sale going on of the American Barbell Power Bar, should I reconsider? Which would you suggest for someone who does a hybrid of powerlifting and bodybuilding (but no Olympic lifts)?

    • jburgeson October 23, 2015, 11:15 am

      Since no Olympic lifting is involved, you can pretty much go with anything 28.5 / 29 mm. You don’t need a whippy shaft, don’t need bearings. There is nothing wrong with the Ohio Power Bar in this case; nothing at all. However, if you’re willing to pay $325 for the Elite power bar, I cannot begin to tell you how much nicer of a bar that is for the money, even when not on sale. It’s a premium bar, but it’s not unjustified being stainless and all.

      I’m not sure whether you were looking at the bare steel Ohio or the zinc, but the AB Power Bar (the non-stainless) is still a chrome power bar for $299, which is more than the bare steel, but less than the new friction sleeved zinc Ohio. The normal price of about $350 is about what Rogue would charge for a chrome 28.5 mm bar. $299 isn’t as huge of a sale as the stainless bars, but it’s still a great price.

      Having said that, the bare steel Ohio is still cheaper than any of the AB power bars, and while different, it’s no less of a bar in terms of what you’ll get out of it in the lifts. The biggest difference you can make is the Elite because you get the superior feel of raw steel but without the any rust, ever, unless you live in the ocean.

      • StephenS October 23, 2015, 11:31 am

        I was probably leaning towards the OPB in Zinc just for less maintenance. I was trying to keep my cost at or under $300, but you seem to be suggesting that the AB Elite is totally worth it for the extra money. Maybe I’ll have to splurge.

  • Kyle October 26, 2015, 1:18 pm

    Curious why you are proclaiming the Troy TPB to be junk when it’s been said that Buddy Capp makes this for Troy. They are just marketing it under the Troy name is what I was told. Do you have info that states otherwise?

    • jburgeson October 26, 2015, 1:45 pm

      There is no way Buddy is making his bar for Troy. It would be the ‘Troy Texas Power Bar’ on all of the sites that are known to sell the real TPB, and there would be no need for Buddy and his dealers to point out how to distinguish the real TPB from the fakes. Also, if you look at Troy’s own website and the product listings for Troy TPBs, there is zero reference to Buddy or it being manufactured in Irving, nor do they ever show the end caps of the Troy bar. It’s a different bar completely.

      I don’t know the whole story, and I didn’t want to publish this in the article because it’s all hearsay, but the word is that Buddy didn’t patent his bar’s name before it became a popular, well-known product, so it became a free for all with the name. However, he did patent/trademark/whatever his logo later on, which is why they say to look for his logo in the end caps because no one can legally copy that.

      • jburgeson October 26, 2015, 1:51 pm

        Just as a follow up, if you look at Buddy’s distributor’s website, you’ll find this statement:

        “…The Texas bars were developed by Buddy Capps (a Texas powerlifter) more than 30 years ago and have become the standard in powerlifting. Due to the popularity of the Texas Power Bars there are many copies now. Buddy Capps of Capps Welding in Irving, Texas was the inventor and is still the only person or company who makes a Texas Power Bar. All others are fake.”

      • Kyle October 27, 2015, 2:24 pm

        Very curious situation indeed. A lot of mixed info out there. I’ve seen it posted that Bill Ennis from Weightlifter’s Warehouse admitted that Buddy Capp was making the Texas Power Bars for Troy but could never admit to it due to the legality/contract situation. I emailed and asked and he said he could not say for sure where the Troy versions are made but his company sells them direct from Buddy.

        I asked Troy and received this reply:
        The AOB-2000B is the Buddy Capp power bar. AOB-2000B is just our internal code for that item.

        Harley Duncan
        Sales Manager
        Troy Barbell & Fitness
        Tel: 713.957.2882 x212 | Fax: 713.957.3577
        harley.duncan@troybarbell.com | http://www.troybarbell.com

        I have a Troy Texas Power bar. 28.5mm shaft, black oxide finish, just no Texas end cap (there is glue residue as if a cap was there but removed). I can’t say that I have reached anywhere near it’s limits when I’m not quite to 1200 pounds in the 3 lifts but I love it. Great aggressive knurl and nice and stable with the weight I push. If it’s indeed a knockoff then I don’t know if I would say it’s junk. I’d be happy to share any info about it if anyone has a Capp one they would like to compare it with. I’ve read online that the two are completely indistinguishable but I’ve never seen for myself. Might make for an interesting article to rip both apart and examine them.

        Thanks for the reviews as always, just wanted to comment on that!

        • jburgeson October 27, 2015, 3:32 pm

          Yeah I don’t know for sure. Like you said, a lot of mixed information floating around. I saw what was called the Troy TPB at one point and I remember it having a pin sticking out of the end. No end cap at all. It didn’t look like a very nice bar. Couple this with the information from Iron Dawg and TSS, the lack of reference to Capps from Troy, etc etc, it’s easy to see why I err on the side of Troy not at all being associated with Buddy’s TPB.

          I’ll dig into this some more and see what I can learn from the source. I am not certain that Buddy or anyone at his company will talk to me, but I’ll try. If I get no where, perhaps I’ll look into stripping down both the Troy and the Capps and see if they are the same in any way.

          Also, Troy has a very few not bad bars in the mix; mostly a couple that tend to be distributed to clubs and school athletic departments via commercial distributors (like Legend, for instance.) The problem is that their retail line of equipment is almost all not so great. Their bumpers are some of the worst in the industry. If you have one of their better bars, that’s awesome. I hope you know I don’t mean any disrespect to Troy owners though, it’s just not something I tend to promote because finding the few gems is more work than it’s worth when you can pick up a Rogue Bar or something and be done with it easy peasy and know you have something that’ll last.

          • Kyle October 27, 2015, 4:17 pm

            No worries. I just thought that was interesting. Before I bought this I did endless research and I had thought the conclusion was they were the same. The ends and pins and everything are the same. Same shaft diameter and finish. I can take some pics if you ever decide to look into it more. if not it’s all good, I’ve been happy with it.

          • Clay October 27, 2015, 5:04 pm

            What’s interesting to me is that Troy lists on their website that the shaft is 28mm on their TPB. I thought it might be a typo but Buckeye Fitness and other retailers state the same specs. Also, the price of the TPB varies a lot. I bought mine for 299.00 including shipping at Lifestyle Fitness but I have seen them sold for mid 300 not including shipping. The Troy seems Ike on average is sold higher than the Capps. Who knows….Buddy might be doing what other companies do by selling the brand name and the generic and making coin on both ends.

            • Clay October 27, 2015, 5:16 pm

              Edit: lifestyle sports not lifestyefitness

        • jburgeson October 28, 2015, 12:14 pm

          Ok so I think I got to the bottom of this.

          Troy is not licensed to make the official TPB, but Buddy Capps does sell the TPB to Troy for resale. Apparently the problem Capps has with Troy is that Troy commonly sells Troy TPB knockoffs to their customers; both wholesale and retail, because there is much greater margin, and most customers are none the wiser.

          A genuine TPB regardless of its retail source will still have the Texas / 1980 end cap and Buddy Capps signature on the other side. I’m unclear as to whether that signature is on the actual end cap, or under the end cap though. Still, the Texas end cap should be more than enough to show that its genuine.

          Also, the reason you see other brand TPBs even beyond Troy is because Buddy did in fact not patent his bar. Only his 1980 Texas logo is his exclusively. So if TPB owners don’t see this exact end cap, you probably have a knockoff.

          The moral of the story is to buy your TPB from sources that only offer the actual TPB. It doesn’t cost you any more money to buy it from one of these distributors like LB Baker at Iron Dawg, or Texas Strength Systems, but you know you get the real thing instead of a Chinese knockoff meant to look like the TPB.

          • clay June 4, 2016, 5:38 pm

            Have you seen the new Troy Power Bar? It is 28mm with dual markings and the sleeves aren’t pinned but have double snap rings. The psi rating is 177,000 and is made in US. Do you think Capps makes this?

            • jburgeson June 4, 2016, 6:09 pm

              I’m going to guess no. Buddy would put his name on his bar. Plus I can’t imagine him ever wanting to get in bed with Troy of all companies. Then again, anything is possible. I certainly wouldn’t put my money on it though.

  • Eric November 8, 2015, 7:50 am

    Hi, I have learned a lot from your site and this is a great review. I’m considering upgrading my Cap OB-86b even though I think this is a great bar. I have read everything I can find about the Chan bar and think this might be the right one for me (aggressive outer knurl, no more scrapes). I’ll have to measure out my grip to see if this lands completely on the outer knurl. I have read that for some, the middle part of their grip is on the smooth part of the bar because the outer knurl is too short. Has this been an issue for you. Thanks, E

    • jburgeson November 8, 2015, 10:34 am

      It’s not a problem for me, but I’m tall and broad so my natural hand position is wider than that of someone 4-8″ shorter than me. Now, my best friend is 5’4″ and won’t use any other bar despite many other bar options in the gym, so even for ppl who have a finger or two off the knurl, they still like it. Best suggestion I can make is to mark on your bar where that knurl starts and stops with the Chan and do some lifts to see if you think it will bother you.

      That CAP has fairly rough knurl doesn’t it?

      • Eric November 8, 2015, 3:05 pm

        I don’t think the Cap OB86b knurl img is very aggressive. I put my hands on an Ohio Power bar at a power lifting gym near me but was not really paying attention to the bars detail, was more focused on their rogue racks. However, I do recall the aggressive knurl, not cheese grater level, but more aggressive than the Cap.
        I bought the Cap based upon the reviews in this thread:
        http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=166852731
        Here is a Rogue video that goes over their bars:
        http://youtu.be/SuPyQR2Toms
        E

        • jburgeson November 8, 2015, 4:55 pm

          I have an Ohio Power here. It’s definitely aggressive. I don’t deal with CAP stuff for reviews and such because frankly that bar you have is their only half decent barbell, but I had heard that it had fairly aggressive knurl. If it doesn’t feel at all like the Ohio Power, then I heard wrong I suppose. I was just curious.

          Also that video… not to take credit haha, but that video was made about a month after I published an entire guide explaining the difference between all the Rogue bars. It used to be pretty damn confusing on the surface, but very simple once you knew which bars were the same. Someone had to do it.

          • Tony November 8, 2015, 8:16 pm

            I’d be interested to hear how the CAP bar fairs in your hands for a review. Might be a good reference point for people wondering what is so much better about bars in the $300 range vs. the $150 they’d be paying for the CAP. I definitely took a long hard look at the CAP bar myself but didn’t really have a way to measure it against your other recommendations. Same with the Rogue Beater.

            • jburgeson November 8, 2015, 9:36 pm

              I’ve considered picking up the CAP just for that purpose, and I may still. I wouldn’t pay for a Beater though as I think that bar is only a temporary solution. That is, for someone serious about training. The Beater is too close to $200 after shipping, and for a super thick, pinned bar. May as well add $50 or so and get a real bar. The only benefit of the CAP is that it’s a lot closer to $100 than $200, and that’s the only reason I’ve even considered grabbing one.

              I’ve heard decent things about your CAP. The quality of the steel used is obviously inferior to a more expensive bar; especially something made stateside, but a novice who can’t put enough weight on the bar to bring out that inferiority (in the form of a permanent bend) should be able to get some use out of it. At the end of the day if it opens up the world of training to someone, then I’m all for it.

  • sean November 24, 2015, 6:40 pm

    I guess Rogue kicked York to the curb with the B&R 2.0. The in-house bar has the 205,000 PSI. I like my old one, the description of the 2.0 says it has no whip and the York seems to have a little give to it. Looks like they are going to sell for 250 on turkey day.

    • jburgeson November 24, 2015, 9:36 pm

      Yeah we’ll see if the new one is better or worse soon enough. I like York’s bushings.

  • Patrick January 6, 2016, 8:48 pm

    They marked the remaining B&R bars down to $225. Would be a nice bar at tbat price for sure.

  • Van March 8, 2017, 3:45 pm

    Hi – First, Thank you for all the research you’ve done and posted. I am new to weight training and in the process of creating my own home gym, so you information is invaluable! I actually was one about to become one of those guys that cheaped out on the barbell, then stumbled upon your web page when I started to look into barbells and wow…you completely changed my outlook on barbells. Anyways, straight to the point. I am trying to decided between two Barbells. 1) The Rogue Bare steel Ohio Power Bar or 2) The AB Power Bar chrome. I am 5’4 with medium size hands. My intended use are the 3 big lifts. My gym will be in a finished basement. I take care of all my toys, so maintenance will not be an issue. My first inclination is to get the OPH bare steel bar due your very detailed review and also because it just looks damn cool and I like the idea of maintaining a bar that ages well as you care for it. But then the AB power bar has the chrome finish, which I believe you stated is a superior finish to everything else (besides Stainless Steel)..So what do you recommend? Thanks! Van.

    • jburgeson March 8, 2017, 5:13 pm

      The biggest obvious difference between the two is the aggressiveness of the knurl. The Ohio Power Bar has an aggressive knurl while all American Barbell bars are pretty mild. The mildness is acceptable on American Barbell’s stainless steel and newer Cerakote bars where the finish greatly improves grip security, but with chrome and zinc it feels pretty insubstantial. As a newer lifter the mildness of the AB may actually feel better at first, but over time I think you’ll wish you had the OPB. Don’t get me wrong, the chrome power bar and all American Barbell bars are very refined, legit bars, but in this case I think the OPB is just a better bar – and also less costly which works out pretty well too. Truth be told, if ever a person is okay with bare steel maintenance, then that’s all you need to know. Bare steel is just fantastic to lift with.

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