Welcome to the Olympic and Powerlifting Barbell Review. If you’re in the market for a quality barbell, or you’re looking to learn the basics of barbell construction, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re a man, woman, or youngster; or whether you’re looking for an Olympic bar, power bar, CrossFit bar, or just a general purpose bar, you will find information on a large selection of the bars currently on the market. With any luck, this article will help you find the perfect bar for you and your garage gym.
In an effort to stay current with new equipment and to keep up with changing prices, this page is updated regularly. Last update: Jan 2015 (added American Barbell SS Oly Bar, added American Barbell Training Oly Bar, added the Vulcan One CrossFit/Oly Bar, added the Vulcan Women’s CrossFit/Oly Bearing Bar, consolidated the Rogue Olympic WL Bar cousins [Froning & Burgener])
Barbell Guide Table of Contents
- Understanding Barbell Specifications (intended for new lifters)
- The Barbell Review & Shopping Guide
- My Top Bar Picks
Understanding Barbell Specifications
Barbell Differences for Men and Women
Barbell’s are not the same for men, women, and junior lifters. They vary in weight, shaft diameter, and in some cases overall bar length. Most bars are men’s bars, but many major manufacturers offer a women’s version of their more popular bars, and less frequently they offer a youth version. Below are the typical specs for each type:
- Men’s Barbell: weighs 20 kg (~44 pounds), has bar shaft of 28-29 mm, and length of 2.2 meters (7.2 feet).
- Women’s Barbell: weighs 15 kg (~33 pounds), has bar shaft of 25 mm, and a length of 2.01 meters (~79 inches). The reduction in overall length comes off the sleeves.
- Youth Barbell: weighs 10 kg (~22 pound) , has bar shaft of 25 mm, and length of 60-67 inches. The reduction in overall length comes off the sleeves.
Type of Bar (Olympic vs Power)
There are three major types of barbells available; Olympic bars, power bars, and dual-marked, multi-purpose bars. Power bars are designed for heavy deadlifts, squats, and bench presses. They are very rigid, stiff bars that do not store elastic energy, making them a poor choice for the Olympic lifts. Power bars have their own unique knurl markings that differ from those on the Olympic bar.
Olympic barbells are designed for the two explosive Olympic lifts; the snatch and the clean & jerk. Olympic bars are generally smaller in diameter and more flexible than Power bars (28 mm vs 29 mm+), and they store more elastic energy (referred to as whip) that is used to the lifter’s advantage when performing heavy clean & jerks. The markings on an Olympic bar are also a couple inches further out from center than the markings on Power bars.
There is a third type of bar that has become commonplace these days, and that is the dual-marked weightlifting bar. These hybrid bars are intended to be used as a general-purpose bar; a bar that is suitable for Olympic lifts, but can also handle the slower and heavier power lifts. This type of non-specialized bar is generally the best choice for most beginner and intermediate lifters and CrossFitters, and more times than not what you will find in a box or affiliate setting.
Both the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) and the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) specify that a men’s barbell should have center knurling. While you will always see center knurling on power bars (for heavy squats), it is not that uncommon these days to find Olympic bars offered without the center knurl despite the IWF standard. Center knurling on Olympic bars is normally much softer or passive than the knurling on the rest of the bar. Having this center knurl is really just about personal preference. Just pay attention to product descriptions if this attribute matters to you.
Sleeve Assembly: Bushing vs Bearing
This describes what components are used to allow the sleeves to spin on the shaft. Bushings are a low friction material (usually bronze, sometimes composite) placed between the shaft and the sleeve, while needle bearings spin more smoothly but typically increase the cost of the bar. Both mechanisms allow the sleeves to spin, but bearings allow for a smoother, quieter spin. Nearly all dual-marked/general purpose bars and powerlifting bars are bushing bars. Bearings are generally only found on high-end Olympic bars. Check out this discussion if you’re curious about these two mechanisms.
Measured in PSI, this is the breaking point of the barbell. Avoid barbells with no tensile strength offered in the specifications, as that normally means it’s too low to want to point out to the consumer. 150k is a good minimum, 180k is a number you’ll never need to worry about. Ivanko Barbell suggests you never buy under 190k (which covers all of their bars and eliminates a large portion of their competition, so take that with a grain of salt). While higher usually means more expensive, that is not always the case. The York B&R Barbell, for example, is 205k PSI at only $295, and lately even many bars in the $200-$300 range are hitting 190k+ PSI.
Shaft and Sleeve Finish
This is the protective coating on (or not on) the bar. Bare steel requires the most maintenance but has the most natural feel. Black oxide offers slightly more oxidation protection than bare steel, but still requires some maintenance. Both bright and black zinc offer even more oxidation protection, but quickly lose their luster, while satin, hard, and polished chrome offer almost full protection from oxidation but can increase the cost of the bar significantly. One step up from chrome would be stainless steel (not pictured). Stainless offers a similar feeling to bare steel, but without the oxidation; very nice, but very expensive. Read reviews on bars with finishes you’re interested in to see what people think of the feel.
Sleeve Design (Snap Ring vs Pin and End Cap)
This is the method by which the sleeve is secured to the bar. Both of these methods work well and I wouldn’t worry too much about which your preferred bar has. If however you do want to learn more about how these both work, try this article.
I do suggest that you run away from any bar with a hex bolt sticking out of the sleeve. This is very indicative of a bad bar. You shouldn’t come across a hex bolt when dealing with reputable brands; you’re likely only to see this on barbells offered in chain sporting good stores and a good number of the inexpensive bars on Amazon, for example (CAP, Marcy, Gold’s Gym brand, etc.)
The Barbell Review
All the bars listed here met a couple minimum requirements. First, they all have a stated PSI tensile strength, not just a max static weight. This eliminates pretty much every cheap box-store barbell. I strongly believe that buying a $100 bar is an absolute waste of money, and I refuse to pretend otherwise by recommending anyone even consider buying one. If you’re lucky, you’ll just outgrow a cheap bar in a few months and just be out the $100. If you’re unlucky, you’ll break the bar during a lift and hurt yourself.
Second, all these bars are manufactured by well established, reputable companies that know what they’re doing and they stand behind their products. Rogue, Eleiko, Ivanko, Vulcan, American Barbell, and WerkSan are all established players in the industry and they all offer warranties.
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28 mm Olympic Weightlifting Bars
Olympic Weightlifting Barbells are designed for the two explosive lifts: the snatch and the clean & jerk. True Olympic barbells are 28 mm bars (25 mm for women’s) and they will almost always have bearings in the sleeves. However, there are Olympic training bars (like the Vaughn and Vulcan Elite bar immediately below) that utilize bushings instead of bearings to keep the price down. Training bars are a great way to get under a true 28 mm Oly bar for less cash than what a bearing bar will cost you.
The Vaughn Olympic Training Bar (Bushing)
The Vaughn Bar was developed by two-time Olympian, Chad Vaughn in an effort to show that a high-quality true 28 mm Olympic bar can be manufactured and sold at a reasonable price. At only $399 including shipping, this bar is an amazing deal for any aspiring Olympic lifter or avid CrossFitter.
For starters, this bar has an very high 216,000 PSI tensile strength while still having decent whip. This is an impressive number that is typically reserved for bars like Eleiko, Ivanko, and Vulcan. The shaft and collars are coated in a beautiful black manganese, and the sleeves are micro-grooved chrome. While this bar is not a bearing bar, it has proprietary bushings that deliver a very smooth and reliable spin. In other words, it spins like a bearing bar, but is priced as a bushing bar.
I have a review for this bar. You can learn much more about it there and also see a video demonstration of the fancy sleeve spin. Great bar and great price.
Vulcan 28mm Elite Olympic Training Bar 3.0 (Bushing)
An absolutely incredible barbell for the price, the Vulcan Elite Olympic Training Bar is a true 28 mm, 20 kg Olympic training barbell with an unbelievable (and lab confirmed) PSI tensile strength rating of 221,000 PSI. This is a chrome moly bar with a satin zinc finish on the shaft and hard chrome sleeves; it has a nice whip, high tensile strength, and great protection against oxidation.
This bar adheres to the IWF specifications, including having the center knurl. The bar has moderately aggressive outside knurling typical of an Olympic bar, but the center knurl is of a lower depth in order to be more accommodating to high rep clean sets making this a good choice for CrossFit. The sleeves of this bar are also micro-grooved to keep change plates on the bar without the use of collars or when used outside of the collars.
Keep in mind that this is a bushing bar, not a bearing bar; although listed below you will find the upgraded bearing version of this bar. This bar comes with a lifetime guarantee against bending, breaking, and sleeve separation; not that you’ll even need it. This bar is a steal at $369, and it’s often on sale. Check it out! Seriously.
Vulcan Professional Needle Bearing Olympic Bar
I’m really starting to like Vulcan bars. Vulcan is blowing a lot of the other bar brands out of the water with their steel choices, attention to detail, and finishing touches.
The Vulcan Bearing Bar is a 20 kg, 28 mm, Olympic bar with 8 precision German needle bearings. This bar has been manufactured to all of the IWF specifications including the center knurl. The outer knurl is aggressive and the bar has an absolutely sick, lab tested tensile strength of 240,000 PSI and a 203,000 PSI yield strength. This bar is said to be one of the highest whip bars on the market.
The bar itself is finished with hard chrome, which is both beautiful and one of the best finishes for oxidation protection. If you’re looking for a true, competition-worthy Olympic bar but you don’t want to pay the $1000 price tag of an IWF-certified bar, this bar needs to be considered. $599 with free shipping.
Rogue Olympic WL Bar & Cousins (Burgener, Froning)
Rogue recently designed their own line of Olympic weightlifting bearing bars to compete with the high dollar imports like Eleiko and WerkSan. The Rogue Olympic WL Bar is an American-made bar that is definitely comparable in quality to the imports but at a fraction of the price. It’s a little lower PSI that the Euro bars, but it’s half the price of the Eleiko, and 190,000 PSI is still nothing to scoff at.
The Rogue WL bar is a standard 20 kg, 28 mm Olympic bearing bar and it is available in three different finishes; bright zinc, satin chrome, and polished chrome. All three of these finishes are also available either with or without the IWF center knurling (when inventory allows). This bar is made with the highest quality American steel available and it has a minimum tensile strength rating of 190,000 PSI. Like the Eleiko and Ivanko bars, all of these bars are straightness tested before they leave the factory.
There are two close cousins to the Rogue Olympic WL Bar: the signature Froning Bearing Bar and the Burgener Bearing Bar. Same bar, different finish options. The Froning is finished in a murdered out black zinc, and the Burgener is offered in either polished chrome or bright silver zinc. Pricing is identical among these three different bars, so it’s really just a matter of personal preference.
There is also a 15 kg women’s version of the Olympic WL Bar. You can see that here.
American Barbell Stainless Steel Olympic Bar
The Stainless Steel Bearing Bar is one of the more expensive bars offered by American Barbell, but it’s such a nice bar that I just had to add it. The core specifications for this bar are very much like the Rogue Olympic WL Bar. Both are 20 kg, 28 mm Olympic bearing bars, and both are built around a 190,000 PSI steel shaft. One of the most obvious differences between the two is that the American Barbell SS bar is a stainless steel bar.
Stainless steel is actually something I often forget even exists since so few manufacturers offer stainless bars. Stainless steel is arguably superior to any other material or finish option because it offers incredible protection from oxidation, but it feels more like a completely unfinished, bare steel bar. This feel comes with a price though; stainless is expensive (just look at the Ivanko bar prices below and you’ll see what the stainless does to the price.)
Fortunately you get a little bit more than just stainless steel for the nearly $800 price tag of this bar. American Barbell uses a proprietary concealed bearing system that they say can handle higher loads than other bearing bars. In other words, you won’t lose spin at extremely high loads, and the whole system will last for longer. Additionally, there is an extra seal that protects the inner workings of the bar from dust and chalk.
In any case, the combination of stainless steel and hard chrome sleeves, along with the unique assembly of this bar make just as functional as it is beautiful. There is a very well designed, high-end Olympic bar. $795 [review]
Ivanko OB-20KG Olympic Bar
No other company more thoroughly tests their premium bars than Ivanko Barbell. Each and every bar is tested for defects in the steel with no less than three separate tests: x-ray, mag, and ultra-sonic. Ivanko bars are also straightness tested to ensure that no deviation greater than 0.006/ft over the length of the bar exists.
The OB-20KG Olympic bar is a polished black oxide, true 28 mm Olympic bar. The steel is rated at 200,000+ PSI. The MSRP for this bar is about $650 (it’s actually less on Amazon), which is extremely reasonable for an Ivanko bar. There is also a stainless steel version of this bar, the OBS-20KG Olympic Bar and that bar is rated at 218,000 PSI and sells for over $1000. Both are fantastic bars, but the oxide bar is more reasonable priced. I’d go with American Barbell for stainless steel; much more reasonably priced.
WerkSan Training / Competition Olympic Barbells
WerkSan Olympic Bars are IWF certified Olympic bars which means they adhere to all IWF specifications. WerkSan bars are premium bearing bars that will add 10% to your PR’s. Ok that’s not a fact, just a myth. Maybe 5%.
The WerkSan Olympic bars are available both in a men’s 20 kg bar and a women’s 15 kg bar, and each version is available as either a full competition bar or a training bar. You’ll only save about $80 by going with the training bar, so why bother. Comp is $960, Training is $880.
Eleiko Training / Competition Olympic Bars
The Eleiko Olympic WL Barbell is the Olympic Barbell. Both Eleiko Competition and Training bars are individually tested in accordance with the Eleiko quality policy, and provided with a serial number (and even a brush! ) These two bars are both 20 kg with 28 mm shafts, and they are notorious for having some of the best knurl and spin of any Olympic bar.
The Competition Bar is calibrated and marked as an IWF-certified bar, while the Training Bar is not. Eleiko Olympic bars are needle bearing bars, and they have an impressive 215k PSI tensile strength… how about that Swedish steel. The training bar sells for $854 and the competition bar sells for $1044.
Eleiko offers both of these bars in 15 kg women’s versions as well. The Eleiko Women’s Olympic Barbells are the same except for the shaft thickness of 25 mm and the weight. Pricing is the same as the men’s bars.
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Dual-Marked / Multi-Purpose Bars
Many of the most popular bars on the market right now are dual-marked bars. These bars will allow you to perform both the explosive Olympic lifts and the slower power lifts all on the same bar. These bars are generally 28.5 mm bushing bars, but some variation does exist. These bars are much more affordable and versatile than the Olympic bars, perfect for most athletes, and ideal in CrossFit and garage gym settings.
The Vulcan One Olympic Bushing Bar
The Vulcan One is probably the best Olympic/CrossFit barbell available in the under $250 range by far. At only $235, this dual-marked, 28.5 mm barbell has a minimum tensile strength rating of 190,000 PSI, has self-lubricating bronze bushings, medium knurling, good whip, and a black zinc finish. The Vulcan One also has an extremely nice warranty for such an inexpensive bar; ten years to be exact.
Vulcan may not be a name you hear as often as some of the other brands, but I expect that will change over time. Vulcan puts out very high-quality Olympic and CrossFit barbells, and they do so at extremely competitive prices. These are not the cookie-cutter bars that so many CrossFit and strength training retailers are having made with their names stamped on the end cap. Vulcan bars are legit.
The Vulcan One is currently available in black zinc only, but hard chrome is coming soon. There is no ETA or price for that bar yet that I can find, but since it’s chrome, I expect it to be slightly more expensive. I own and have reviewed the Vulcan One, and you can read that here.
The Rogue Bar 2.0 (updated)
As of July 2014, The Rogue Bar is now The Rogue Bar 2.0. This bar has been drastically improved over the original, and the price has been lowered by about $20. Considering that both the price and the craftsmanship of the original Rogue Bar was already nothing to complain about, this is fantastic news.
So what’s the same? The Rogue Bar 2.0 is still a 20 kg, 28.5 mm bar with dual Olympic/Power markings (with no center knurl); the coating is still black zinc for the shaft, and bright zinc for the sleeves; and the bar is still guaranteed for life not to bend or break.
What’s new with the 2.0? The steel is of a much higher quality. The PSI tensile strength of this bar has been improved to 190k from the previous 155k. The bronze bushings have been replaced with composite, self-lubricating bushings that should extend the life of the bar and keep those sleeves spinning. Machined grooves have been added to the sleeves so the bar can be customized with colored bands. Finally, the price has been lowered from $274 down to $255.
The Rogue Bar 2.0 should be on most people’s short list when shopping for a barbell. If your budget is in the under $300 range, this is an outstanding bar for the price. Additionally, the original bar had an unbelievable
65, 5-star review on Rogue’s site, and I see no reason that these updates wouldn’t keep that perfect rating alive and well. Only complaint I’ve heard so far is that this is a loud bar when dropped, but still much quieter than other bars in its price range.
*The Rogue Bar was replaced at the CrossFit Games with the new Rogue Olympic WL Bar. Bye-bye.
The Bella 2.0 (The Women’s Rogue Bar)
This is the women’s 15kg version of The Rogue Bar. The Bella 2.0 has similar construction to the Rogue Bar (bushings, snap rings, zinc coating and 190,000 PSI steel). However, the shaft is smaller at 25 mm, the Bella still uses bronze bushings, and this bar is slightly shorter at 79 3/8″. The difference in length comes off the sleeves, not the shaft. This is a great women’s barbell, and a steal at $215.
Vulcan 15 kg Women’s Bearing Olympic Barbell
Say hello to one of the best priced women’s needle bearing bars on the market. At just over $300, the Vulcan 15 kg Women’s Olympic Barbell is a steal. It has an impressive 191,000 PSI, 25 mm shaft with a completely blacked-out oxide coating and four needle bearings per sleeve. This bar also has a good amount of whip, but that is to be expected with Vulcan bars.
This bar is intended to be a high-quality, more affordable alternative to Vulcan’s Professional Women’s Olympic Bar. The cost is driven down nearly $300 by using black oxide instead of hard chrome, and by having a slightly lower tensile strength than the Professional Bar (not that it matters, 191,000 PSI is extremely respectable for any bar much less a 25 mm bar.)
The Vulcan 15 kg Women’s bar has a lifetime guarantee, has medium knurling depth (no center knurl), and is dual marked for Olympic/Power lifting; making it an excellent CrossFit bar. If you are okay with having to give this bar occasional cleanings with 3-in-1 oil to keep that oxide looking nice, it really is one hell of a bar for the price.
The Rogue Ohio Bar (updated)
The Rogue Ohio Bar is a 20 kg, dual marked bar with a 28.5 mm shaft. It is available in four different finishes including satin hard chrome, black zinc, bright zinc, and black oxide. This is a bushing bar with snap rings, and while the tensile strength used to vary by finish (150k – 165k), the Ohio Bar got an upgrade recently that raised all variations of the bar to 190,000 PSI. This bar has no center knurling and ranges in price from $282 to $365.
The Ohio Bar is Rogue’s flagship bar; the first to be manufactured entirely at the Rogue campus in Ohio. It currently has a flawless 5-star rating based on 45 reviews, and tons of positive feedback for this bar can be found all over the web. However, unless you intend to purchase the satin chrome version of this bar, I suggest you consider The Rogue Bar (above). Both have the same shaft, but The Rogue Bar is priced better and has bad ass collars.
FYI: The following bars are identical to the Ohio Bar, only with different finishes: The Castro Bar (bare steel), The Froning Bushing Bar (black zinc), and the Rogue Operator Bar (olive drab). I go into some detail about why this is here.
Burgener and Rippetoe Men’s Bar by York
If you’ve seen any other posts from me about Olympic Barbells, you’ll already know I love this bar. This bar is a beast for the price. The B&R Bar is 20kg, has a 29 mm shaft, is marked for both Olympic and Power lifts and DOES have a center knurl. This is a sintered bushing bar with an end cap and it has an amazing 205,000 PSI tensile strength. This is a bare steel bar and does require maintenance. This bar is a steal at $295.
I consider the B&R to be one of the best priced bars on the market, and ironically the only York bar that interests me. This bar is one of the strongest bars in its price range, but again, it requires maintenance. Read my review on this bar here.
*Aug 2014: FYI, I still use this bar in my gym more than any other*
Burgener and Rippetoe Women’s Bar by York
The Women’s B&R Bar is a little different than the men’s. While still a bare steel bar with bushings and end cap sleeve design, the weight is 15kg, the shaft is 25mm. It is still dual marked, but there is no center knurling. The tensile strength is 195k and it’s a few bucks less at $285. Like the men’s B&R, this is a very versatile bar; great for women who Olympic lift/CrossFit and still like to get under a heavy bar inside the rack as well.
The Matt Chan Bar
The Chan Bar is a 28.5 mm dual marked bar with a 190,000 PSI shaft. It is available in two finishes; satin chrome or black zinc. The knurling on the Chan Bar is more aggressive than the rest of the Rogue bushing bars, and that knurling is set further away from center to allow for a wider stance with deadlifts. The Chan bar also has a passive center knurl for squats. The zinc Chan is $295 and the chrome is $375. 5-star rating, of course.
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Power Bars are designed for the big three powerlifting lifts: the bench press, deadlift, and the squat. Power bars are knurled and marked a little differently than Olympic bars (the marks are closer to center). A power bar should always have the center knurling.
Power bars are also more stiff and rigid than an Olympic bar due to the large amount of weights that gets put on the bar. Additionally, powerlifting bars don’t need the sleeves to spin as smoothly so they are usually bushing bars.
Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar
The most talked about Power Bar around. The TPB is 86″ long with 15″ sleeves, 4″ center knurling, and it has a 28.5 mm shaft. It’s 20 kg and has a 1500 lb test capacity. Don’t assume that because you find a bar called Texas Power Bar that it is the real TPB. The name wasn’t copyrighted so all kinds of knock-offs exist (Troy, Ader, etc.) Look for the state of Texas decal at the end of each authentic TPB. The Buddy Capps TPB is finally easy to buy on Amazon.
Rogue Ohio Power Bar (new)
The new Ohio Power Bar is a 205,000 PSI power bar with a 29 mm shaft. It’s stiff, it’s rigid, and it has practically no whip whatsoever. This bar is not entirely released yet, but there is expected to be both a 20 kg version of this bar and a 45 pound version of this bar. Additionally, there will be a choice between bare steel (awesome) and a black / bright zinc finish. Hats off to Rogue for finally updating the Rogue Power Bar; this is a great looking bar at an even better price point. $250 bare steel, $275 zinc.
I have not yet had a chance to review or even see this bar, but Joel at AMRAP has, and he’s reviewed it here.
Rogue Power Bar
The Rogue Power Bar has been replaced with the Rogue Ohio Power Bar (above). Tootles to you, old Rogue Power Bar.
Westside Power Bar
The Westside Power Bar is a 29 mm powerlifting bar designed to the specs of Louie Simmons, the founder of Westside Barbell. This bar features an aggressive deep knurl and does have center knurling. The shaft is 29 mm thick and the bar weighs 20 kg. The shaft is black zinc and the sleeves are bright zinc. This is a bushing bar with snap rings and it has a strong 205k PSI tensile strength. This is a sweet powerlifting bar for $375. There is also an Econ version of this bar that has pinned sleeves to keep the price down ($315).
Eleiko Powerlifting Bars
Eleiko offers two powerlifting barbells; the competition and training PL bars. Both bars have bare steel shafts and chrome sleeves. They are 20 kilo bars with a 29 mm shaft and they have bronze bearings specifically designed for powerlifting. The training bar is $949 and the IPC-certified competition bar is $1099. I challenge you to tell me the difference other than the certification. Both come with a decent 10 year warranty, but I’ll bet you’ll never need to call that in. Knurl is said to be extremely aggressive.
Ivanko OBX-20KG Powerlifting Bar
Bust out the wallet. The Ivanko OBX-20KG Power Bar is 20 kg and has a 28 mm thick shaft. This bar is PSI rated at over 200k. Each Ivanko Barbell is mag tested, ultra sonic tested, and x-ray tested against defects in the steel. These guys are serious about putting out quality bars. This bar has a black oxide coating and the center knurling is 4.75″ rather than 4″. This bar is sweet, IPF approved, and expensive.
$667 $605 on Amazon! I’ve been drooling over this bar for a while now.
This bar is also available in stainless steel which gives it a PSI rating of 218,000. That model is $
1259 $1155. What a bad ass looking bar. I’ve given Amazon links because you cannot buy Ivanko bars direct from Ivanko, and the company that is selling these on Amazon is reputable. Plus, you can’t ask for a better return policy than Amazon.
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Training and Technique Bars
Technique Bars are for training and practicing the Olympic lifts. Some are steel, some are aluminum. Most have limitations of some kind. Carefully read the product description to make sure that the bar can handle what you intend to put it through. Never leave weights on a racked technique bar when not in use (shouldn’t do it with any bar, but especially a tech bar.)
If you really need to keep the bar light, but you want the feeling of plates on the bar, consider purchasing technique plates in addition to a technique bar. American Barbell has a very large selection of Hi-Tech brand tech plates, but be warned, technique plates are far more expensive than bumpers.
American Barbell 5 kg Technique Bars
American Barbell makes two 5 kg technique bars; an economy technique bar and a high-strength technique bar. They both have the same distance between the collars as you would find on a true Olympic bar, but the sleeves are shorter. Both of them are made of aluminum, have a 25 mm shaft, and are marked for the Olympic lifts. The economy bar is rated at 40k PSI ($120), and the high-strength bar is rated at 65k PSI ($245).
Rogue 15 lb Aluminum Technique Bar
The Rogue Technique Bar is a 15-pound aluminum training bar that has a lot of features that make more like a true Olympic barbell. First of all, it has the same distances between the sleeves as a true Olympic bar. It also isn’t given a soft, insignificant knurl; it is knurled with the same aggressiveness as a real Olympic bar. Finally, this is one of the few Olympic training bars to have a 28 mm shaft rather than a 25 mm shaft.
The Rogue Technique Bar is like a true Olympic bar in so many ways that the transition from a training bar to true bar should be a very smooth transition indeed. Only the weight difference will come as a shock. This bar is also priced very well at only $136.
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I am blown away by the limited number of youth barbells (quality youth barbells) available. If you know of any that you’d like to recommend for this review, let me know in the comments.
American Barbell 10kg Junior Bar
The American Barbell 10KG Black and Chrome Junior Performance Training Bar is quite an incredible youth barbell. The shaft is rated at an incredible 180,000 PSI. That’s pretty damn strong for a 10 kg, 25 mm shaft barbell. The bar is a tad under 1700 mm long, but as with most junior bars, the reduction in length comes off the sleeves, not the shaft. This of course makes for a smooth transition to a full-size bar.
The shaft is coated in black zinc, and the sleeves are chrome. This is a bushing bar, and it’s marked for the Olympic lifts. As with all American Barbell bars, this junior bar is made in the USA. You could say that this bar is more of a high-end junior bar. Pretty nice!
Rogue Junior 10kg Economy Bar
The Rogue Junior Bar is a 10 kg bar with a 25 mm shaft. This bar is shorter with an overall length of 66.75″, but the distance between collars is the same as a competition bar; only the sleeves are shorter at 7.5″ each. This bar is a bushing bar with snap rings and has an impressive 155k PSI tensile strength (impressive for the size). This junior bar is unique in that it is dual marked for both Olympic and Power lifting, but it has no center knurling. $174.99
Olympic Barbell Review Summary
So the take away is this; there are a lot of solid bars on the market. Just about every manufacturer offers something unique. Rogue has the biggest variety of bars and the most options for bar finishes, American Barbell is one of the few manufacturers to offer stainless steel, Vulcan has a nice selection of affordable but very high-quality Olympic bars and some of the best priced premium bars, and Eleiko, Werksan, and Ivanko still produce some of the nicest bars in the world for prices that force us to buy someone else’s bars. There’s really something for everybody!
My Pick for a Competitive Crossfit Bar
Taking money out of the equation, I would go with the Rogue Burgener/Rogue Olympic WL bar for a CrossFit bar. I really like the Rogue bearing bars for the money. $525 for the zinc version is a fantastic price for a true 28 mm needle bearing bar, and chrome is also available. The steel is strong, there is no center knurling, and it has a lifetime warranty. Plus, if you’re serious about competing in the Games, it’s probably in your best interest to train on the same bar that you’ll compete with; and the Rogue Olympic WL Bar is the official bar of the CrossFit Games.
My Pick for a Crossfit Bar on a Budget
This one is easy, especially now that the price came down and the steel got upgraded. The Rogue Bar 2.0 is the obvious CrossFit bar on a budget, and I would say that for women who want a 15 kg bar, the Bella is just as obvious. There is a reason these fill garage gyms and CrossFit boxes all around the world.
Also, after working out with the Vulcan One for a month, I realize that it too is a great option for a budget CrossFit bar. It’s actually less than the Rogue Bar. I have a review for the One here.
My Pick for a 28 mm Olympic WL Bearing Bar
Obviously one of the IWF training bars would be the ideal Olympic bar to own, but we’re talking a ton of money for those (nearly a grand for the ones that matter.) I’m also a huge fan of the American Barbell SS Bar, but again, we’re talking serious cash. The $800 price tag on the SS is completely reasonable , but it’s clearly not in everyone’s budget. So let me make a couple more reasonably priced suggestions. Just keep in mind that 28 mm bearing bars of any quality aren’t going to be as cheap as a basic CrossFit or power bar.
I have two favorites, and both are in the $500-600 price range. The first I’ve already recommended, and that’s the Burgener/Rogue Oly. I just think that you can’t get much more for your money in terms of an Olympic bar. At $525 for the zinc version, you can’t go wrong.
Now if you were going to spring for the chrome Rogue Oly/Burgener, I might suggest that you consider my next choice, the Vulcan Professional Oly Bar. The Pro not only has extreme and legitimate tensile strength, but it has what most bars lack… an extreme yield strength. This is the closest you’re going to get to owning an IWF training bar without buying an IWF training bar. This bar is one of the whippiest bars on the market, and it’s finished in actual hard chrome. I’m a huge Vulcan fan, and if you ever lift on one, you will be too.
Both the Burgener and the Vulcan Pro are great bars, and both are priced very competitively for their specifications. Honestly, I haven’t heard anything bad about any of the bars I discussed in the Olympic bar section. Matter of fact, when I find an excessive amount of poor feedback on a bar, I pull it off this page (you’ll notice that there is no Bendlay or York Olympic bars.) I hate the idea of having anything to do with anyone buying something that’s not living up to expectations.
My Pick for General Weightlifting
Matt Chan Bar, hands down. Two different price points available to fit different budgets (zinc or chrome)*, great knurling, strong steel, and a brilliant knurl pattern for pulling. Just an all-around, well-designed bar for those who do it all; Oly, power, and a variety of accessory lifts. High-five Matt Chan when you see him out on the town. He designed an amazing barbell for a great price.
* The chrome Chan (and all Rogue satin chrome bars) has been [temporarily?] discontinued. The Chan is currently only available in black zinc, and although I dislike black zinc, I’d still buy this bar over any other for general strength training.
My Pick for Powerlifting
Honestly I love the stainless Ivanko, but the price for Ivanko stainless is just too rich for my blood. I have been seriously considering buying the black Ivanko Power Bar though, but I really dislike black oxide (more than I dislike black zinc). For those not wanting to spend $600, I’d suggest the new Ohio Power Bar; that bar has been very well received. I hear nothing but good things, and the price is very reasonable.
I hear the TPB is brutal on the hands, but an amazing bar despite the cheese grater knurl. As much as I love Eleiko Olympic bars, I’m not overly impressed with Eleiko Power Bars. That price point for bare steel is a bit excessive, and power bars aren’t overly expensive to manufacture. If you want to charge me $1000 for a bar, give me something for that money other than a name.
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