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: Mar 2016 (minor revisions, corrections, and price updates; removed the AB Super Power Bar (discontinued), added Wonder Bar 2, Ohio Deadlift Bar.
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 20 kg men’s bars, but many major manufacturers offer a women’s version of their more popular bars. 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 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 cleans. 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, while center knurling on a power bar can be either the same as the rest of the bar, or passive. 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. Needle bearings (or roller bearings) spin more smoothly than bushings, but typically increase the cost of the bar. Both mechanisms produce ample sleeve rotation, 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 (novices do not need to spring for bearings.) 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 draw attention to. 165k is a good minimum, 190k 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. Lately many bars in the $250-$300 range are hitting 190k+ PSI.
Tensile strength can be a tricky thing, so I don’t suggest basing a bar purchase on this attribute alone. Many manufacturer’s know that you’ll be looking for this specification, so they use it as a means to market a cheap, inferior bar as a premium bar at a price that will make you think you just found the deal of the century. Don’t worry too much. If you look at enough of the bars on this page you’ll get a pretty good idea of what’s normal. When you stumble upon a 210,000+ PSI bar for $199, you’ll know that’s not reasonable.
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 that oxide, 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 here, but found on a couple bars within this guide). Stainless offers a similar (arguably better) feeling to bare steel, but without the oxidation. It’s by and far the best feeling of any of these options, but also the most expensive. Read reviews on bars with finishes you’re interested in to see what people think of the feel.
Sleeve Design (Snap Ring vs 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 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 and recommend one just to save you a few bucks. 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.
If you want to be cheap, do it on a different piece of equipment, not your bar.
Second, all these bars are manufactured by well established, reputable companies that know what they’re doing, and they all stand behind their products. Rogue, Eleiko, Ivanko, American Barbell, etc are all established players in the industry, and they all offer warranties.
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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 Standard
The Vulcan Standard is a USA-made, multi-purpose bushing bar. The shaft of the Standard is rated at 194,000 PSI and is 28.5 mm in diameter. The sleeves rotate on oil-impregnated bronze bushings, and the knurl is moderate – not too much, not too weak. The whole bar is finished in bright zinc, and there is no center knurl.
For only about $40 more than the Vulcan One Bushing Bar ($280 vs $240), it’s almost a no-brainer upgrade. I actually have both of these bars, and the Standard really is just a nicer bar overall. It’s built to much stricter tolerances (less noise, less play in the sleeves), has a nicer finish, and it has a lifetime warranty. Matter of fact, the Standard was designed to be a gym bar so it has to be able to handle more frequent use in a more hostile environment – so why not grab the bar that will last forever even for just a garage gym.
The Vulcan Standard makes a solid alternative to both the Rogue Bar and the Bella (there is a 15 kg Standard). All of these bars are built in the USA and are priced competitively, but the Standard has no black zinc whatsoever – which I personally find to be a huge perk.
The 20 kg Rogue Bar 2.0
As of 2014, The Rogue Bar is now The Rogue Bar 2.0. This bar has been drastically improved over the original, and believe it or not the price was actually lowered by about $20. Not too bad of a deal.
The Rogue Bar 2.0 is a 20 kg, 28.5 mm multi-purpose/CrossFit bar. The 190k PSI shaft is dual-marked with no center knurl, and finished in black zinc. Each sleeve sits on a pair of high-load, composite bushings, and they are finished in bright zinc. As a fun little bonus, the shoulder is machine grooved so that custom rubber bands can be added as a way to personalize your bar.
If your budget is under $300, The USA-made Rogue Bar should at least be considered. It’s the most commonly purchased bar for CrossFit boxes, and there are over 100+ 5-star reviews for this bar (in addition to countless off-site reviews) to prove its incredible value, durability, and performance. The only real downside to the Rogue Bar 2.0 is that it’s quite loud to drop. Also, there have never actually been rubber bands released for it.
American Barbell California Bar
The California Bar is American Barbell’s answer to the Rogue Bar 2.0. Like the Rogue Bar, the USA-made California sports a 190,000 PSI, black-zinc shaft with dual marks and no center knurl. Both bars are bushing bars, and they both use high-load composite bushings rather than bronze.
What makes these two different is that the California Bar has its sleeves finished in a beautiful and resilient hard chrome rather than the less expensive and less effective bright zinc that’s found on the 2.0. The California also has the benefit of being offered in both 20 kg and 15 kg, but that’s not the biggest deal considering that Rogue offers the 15 kg Bella.
The California entered the market being a few bucks less than the 2.0, but as of now it sells for $20 more. It’s not ideal, but American Barbell does put out a marvelous high-end product, and paying $20 for an upgrade into chrome sleeves isn’t at all unreasonable. The California Bar is $275 and has a lifetime warranty.
Oddly enough, if you’re okay with only IWF marks on your bar, you can get back under the 2.0 cost again with the $249 Black & Chrome Bar.
The 15 kg 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.
The 20 kg Rogue Ohio Bar
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 20 kg Men’s Bar by York
The original York B&R Bar is being discontinued; it is being replaced by the Rogue B&R Bar. The new version is being built the same for the most part; 29 mm bare steel shaft, bare steel sleeves, bronze bushings, and dual-markings. What has changed with the Rogue version is the tensile strength of the shaft (up to 205k PSI), and the sleeve assembly. More specifically, the Rogue B&R uses snap rings instead of a cap, and the bronze bushings are no longer self-lubricating sintered bronze, but rather simple cast bronze.
Both versions are available for purchase from Rogue. I still prefer the York because of the bushings used, but we’ll see as more people get their hands on the Rogue version if it’s up to par. Keep an eye on that York version though as it may be discounted in the near future.
The Matt Chan Bar
The Chan Bar is one of Rogue’s most unique and versatile bushing bars, and it’s a bar I own and love dearly.
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. [review]
Update: Rogue has once again discontinued the chrome version of the Chan. I was never a fan of the fully black zinc version; nor am I a fan of any blacked out zinc bar, so I find myself suggesting this bar less and less. If you don’t mind black zinc, then this is still an absolutely fantastic bar, but if you want chrome, stop waiting and pick up something else.
OFW Wonder Bar 2
The Wonder Bar 2 is Fringesport’s entry-level, multi-purpose bar, and although it can’t match the quality and sex-appeal of bars like the California or the Ohio, it’s still pretty solid, and it can be had for a lot less cash.
At $199, the black zinc Wonder Bar has shaft specifications on par with all the other bars in this class. It can definitely handle more than enough weight for beginners and intermediates, but the lower price does come with drawbacks. For instance, the sleeve assembly has a tad more play in it than a more expensive bar, and that pretty much amounts to a louder bar. Louder spin, and much louder drops.
Also worth noting is that Fringesport opted to use a couple of bearings per sleeve rather than the standard bushings. While you no doubt associate bearings with nicer bars, I don’t personally consider the use of budget bearings in a budget bar to be such a good idea. Simple bronze bushings are more reliable and durable than budget bearings, they’re quieter (in this case anyway), and they offer more than enough spin for entry-level lifts. It’ll probably never be a problem, but I definitely would have done it different myself.
At the end of the day, The Wonder Bar 2 is an acceptable choice for a beginner who can’t drop $300 or more on a new (first) barbell. It’ll handle the weight, it’ll spin, and it’s backed by a good company. Just remember that it’s a $200 bar, and it won’t be your last barbell purchase.
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28 mm Olympic Weightlifting Bearing Bars
Olympic Weightlifting Barbells are designed for the two explosive lifts: the snatch and clean & jerk. True Olympic barbells have a shaft diameter of 28 mm (25 mm for women’s) and they will almost always utilize the more expensive roller (needle) bearings for sleeve rotation rather than using bushings. Matter of fact, all of the bars in this section are bearing WL bars, but I have included bushing-based training bars in the section immediately following.
American Barbell Stainless Steel Olympic Bar
The Stainless Steel Bearing Bar is American Barbell’s most expensive bar, and it’s their best bar. 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 (other than the $200+ price difference) is that the American Barbell SS bar is a stainless steel bar.
Stainless steel is arguably superior to every other barbell shaft material or finish option because it not only offers incredible protection from oxidation, but you get a completely natural and rock-solid feel that just cannot be beat with any applied finish. I mean, the grip is just ridiculously secure. The American Barbell SS shafts make up one of only two shafts that I’ve ever considered to be a 10/10 for grip and knurl quality. No chrome bar feels like this bar; stainless steel is just in a league of its own.
This natural yet resistant feel comes with a price though, and that is of course the price. You’ll pay about $200 more for this SS bar than you would pay for an equivalent non-stainless bar like AB’s Pro Olympic Bar (the chrome version of this same bar) or the Rogue Olympic WL bar. Even the Euro is $100 less than the AB SS.
So is it worth it? I own this bar and I think it’s fantastic and worth every penny [review]. The sleeves are a beautiful and resilient chrome, the grip is solid and completely secure, the bearings can handle more weight than even Dmitry could put on the bar, and the whip is nearly perfect. This bar is as functional as it is beautiful, and I think it’s a very reasonable price for such a premium piece of equipment. I’ve received a lot of amazing feedback from others who own this bar as well, many of whose comments you can see at the bottom of my review. Don’t spend the kind of money that it takes to own a premium Olympic bar until you’ve at least checked out this bar.
Rogue Olympic WL Bar & Cousins (Burgener, Froning)
Not so long ago Rogue designed their own line of Olympic weightlifting bearing bars to compete with the high dollar imports. That bar is the Rogue Olympic WL Bar, and this American-made bar is definitely comparable in quality to the high dollar Euro and Chinese bars, but at a fraction of the price. The shaft has a slightly lower PSI that the Eleiko, but it’s nearly half the price; plus 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; which isn’t often). 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.
Rogue “Euro” 28 mm Olympic WL Bar
The recently released Rogue Euro Oly Bar is gunning for the title of Best American-Made Olympic Bar, and I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what it is. This bar is only similar to the US-steel version in that they are both Olympic bars with 10 needle bearings. Just about everything else is different.
The Euro has a shaft rated at 215,000 PSI rather than 190,000 PSI; a number that puts it completely on par with the Eleiko Olympic bars. Rogue claims this bar is whippier, smoother, and quieter than it’s US-steel predecessor, and they’re absolutely right. The sleeves are friction welded rather than one-piece, and the entire bar is finished in what is quite honestly a very beautiful polished chrome. The Euro is completely IWF spec’d, including the presence of a center knurl.
This bar sells for a good deal more than than the original Rogue Oly WL Bar at $695 (vs $525 and up), but it’s well within reason. The Euro is completely capable of going head-to-head with any European or Asian IWF bar, and it’s still considerably less expensive than comparable WerkSan, Eleiko, and Uesaka bars while still being competitive with the cheaper DHS and ZKC training bars.
For what it’s worth, I dropped the $695 to buy this bar, and I do not regret it. See my review here.
Ivanko OB-20KG Olympic Bar
No other company more thoroughly tests their bars than Ivanko Barbell. Each and every premium 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, and if you’re willing to pay for stainless, you really should consider the AB SS Bar above.
Eleiko Sport Training Bar – 15 and 20 kg
The Sport Trainer is Eleiko’s “budget” 28 mm Olympic training bar, but don’t let the word “budget” confuse you here; this is still an Eleiko, and it’s still expensive.
The Sport uses the same 215,000 PSI Swedish steel shaft and the same high load, smooth bearings that you’ll find on the Eleiko IWF Comp and Training bars. The only significant differences include one less bearing per sleeve (4 instead of 5), and a price that is about $150 less than the Trainer. The knurl is also a touch softer than the Trainer, but it’s still that firm, Eleiko grip.
The Sport is available for both men and women (20 kg and 15 kg). The price for either is $729 and they both have the standard strict 10-year Eleiko bar warranty. Very beautiful bar, and a great buy when it’s on sale – not that it’s ever on sale! Truth be told, for the money I’d go with the American Barbell SS Pro Bar over the Sport.
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28 mm Olympic WL Training Bars (bushings)
These bars are more or less the same as the Olympic WL bearing bars. They have 28 mm, high-whip shafts designed exclusively for the two explosive lifts, only they utilize a bushing system for sleeve rotation rather than high-cost roller bearings. The point of these bushing-based Olympic bars is simply to provide a more affordable option for Olympic training. These are great for beginners to the sport, adequate for intermediates, and less than ideal for professional lifters.
Note: this section is a new addition, and is still lacking many of the bars I expect to include.
The Vaughn Olympic Training Bar – 15 & 20 kg (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 $399 including shipping, this bar is an amazing deal for any aspiring Olympic lifter or avid CrossFitter.
The Vaughn has an very high 216,000 PSI tensile strength. This is an impressive number that is typically reserved for bars like Eleiko and Ivanko. 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. This bar literally spins like a bearing bar, but it’s priced as a bushing bar. The Vaughn also has a good, above-average amount of whip.
The Vaughn is available in both a women’s 15 kg bar and men’s 20 kg bar. Specs are identical except for the shaft diameter and weight. [20 kg Vaughn review]
American Barbell Precision Training Bar
The Precision Training Bar is a very nice bar. It’s a little more expensive than the other Olympic training bars like the Vaughn or Rogue Trainer (the AB is $495), but it is a premium barbell with a stainless steel shaft.
This bar is basically the exact same bar as the American Barbell SS Professional Bar (previous section), only the bearing system is replaced with high-load composite bushings. It has the same flawless, stainless steel grip, double hard chromed sleeves, great whip, and reliable sleeves that spin no matter how much weight you’re pulling.
The tensile strength of the stainless shaft is 190,000 PSI. This IWF-spec bar is made entirely in the USA, comes with a lifetime warranty, and is offered in both a 28 mm 20 kg version, and a women’s 25 mm 15 kg version. I have a ton of experience with American Barbell’s stainless bars (I own three of them), I think they’re very well-designed, high-performance bars that look as amazing as they feel. I highly recommend AB’s stainless steel bars.
Alternatively, American Barbell does off a version of this bar that is far more in line with the competition, yet still superior. For $345 (about $50 less than the Vaughn) you can pick up the Performance Training Bar. The Performance is basically the same as the Precision, only the stainless steel shaft is replaced with the standard chrome-finished steel shaft (same 190k PSI.) You can’t go wrong with either of these bars, and the Performance is just as much bar for those that can’t afford the luxury of stainless steel.
Rogue 28 mm Olympic Training Bar
The 28 mm Trainer is Rogue’s alternative to the Rogue Oly (discussed above.) For $325 you get the same 190k PSI shaft, knurl, and sleeves that are found on the $525+ Rogue Oly Bar, but instead of high-speed bearings you get simple cast bronze bushings. In other words you get the same grip, whip, and feel of the more expensive bearing bar, but you save about $200 by ditching the bearings.
This is one of the more reasonably price 28 mm training bars on the market. It’s a great bar offered by an outstanding company. The only real drawback in my opinion is the use of zinc rather than chrome; or rather, the lack of chrome as one of the options. Currently all you can choose from is different configurations of zinc (black or bright.)
If budget is your primary concern when shopping for a 28 mm trainer, this is your bar. If you can throw a few more bucks at this bar, there are chrome alternatives.
Vulcan 28mm Elite Olympic Training Bar 3.0
A great barbell for the price, the Vulcan Elite Olympic Training Bar is a 28 mm, 20 kg Olympic training barbell with an unbelievable PSI tensile strength rating of 221,000 PSI and 206,000 yield rating. This is a chrome moly bar with a matte chrome finish on the shaft and bright, hard chrome sleeves. It has amazing whip, high tensile and yield strength, and great protection against oxidation.
This bar adheres to all 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 grooved to keep rubber change plates on the bar when used outside of the collars.
Keep in mind that this is a bushing bar, not a bearing bar; which is why its under $400 instead of closer to $600. This bar comes with a lifetime guarantee against bending, breaking, and sleeve separation; not that you’ll even need it. $369
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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.
There are no women’s power bars. They are all either 45 pounds or 20 kilograms, and the shaft diameter will be between 28 mm and 29 mm. Women are expected to use the same bars as men.
Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar
The most talked about Power Bar around. The Texas Power Bar is 86″ long with 15″ sleeves, 4″ center knurling, and it has a 28.5 mm shaft. It’s 20 kg, has a 1500 lb max capacity, and the shaft is finished in black zinc.
Don’t assume that because you find a bar called the 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 can be purchased from Texas Strength Systems or from Buddy’s distributor, LB Baker at IronDawg.
American Barbell Super Power Bar
The Super Power Bar is out of stock and being re-developed.
Rogue Deadlift (Ohio) Bar
Not yet available. But you can sign up for in-stock notifications here.
CAP OB-86B Power Bar
I have been reluctant to include any of the CAP OB-86 bars in this article as they are probably the very last bars that I’d recommend to anyone, but the CAP OB-86B is probably the least amount of money that you could spend on a barbell and not have it break within a week, so I have finally decided to talk about it here.
Just briefly let me say that this bar is not marketed as a power bar, but it is a power bar. It has only IPF markings, crappy steel bushings that don’t spin well, and it’s rigid as they get. Even the knurl is very power-bar’ish. This is absolutely a power bar despite using the term Olympic in the name of the bar. The only thing CAP left off this bar is a center knurl, which is actually another minor reason I hesitated to include it.
The OB-86B has a tensile strength rating of 130,000 PSI, a price tag of anywhere from $130-$150 depending on which way the wind is blowing at Amazon, and no real warranty to speak of. This is a beginner’s bar, it won’t handle the snatch but can it handle lesser power cleans, and the only reason you should even consider this bar is if you’re flat broke but you need to lift.
While this is indeed the best product that CAP has produced in a long time, that isn’t saying much, so don’t run out and equip your gym with CAP-branded products. Nine times out of ten you will be disappointed. CAP is 100% imported, box-store equipment, and it will not last.
Rogue Ohio Power Bar
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. There is 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.
Btw, I finally picked up this bar, and boy is it a sharp looking bar. That knurl is something else; very aggressive. I like it. I’ll eventually fully review my Ohio Power, but not right away. Need some time with it.
Westside Power Bar 2.0
Like the original Westside, the Westside Power Bar 2.0 was co-developed pro powerlifter Louie Simmons; the founder of Westside Barbell. This revised version of the Westside actually has a decent list of changes made to it. The knurl was modified to be less abrasive while still being deep and coarse, the entire bar is finished in black zinc now rather than the sleeves being bright zinc, and the bushings were changed from bronze to composite. Not only that, the new composite bushings are green to match the updated end caps.
The bar still sports a super rigid, 29 mm shaft rated at 205k PSI, so at the end of the day it should still feel much like its predecessor. It’s also a much better deal than it used to be as the price was lowered from $375 to $325 to be more in line with the Ohio Power Bar variations. It definitely was leaning towards over-priced at the $375 price tag, so it’s a good change to have made.
At the time of this update, you could still buy the original Westside Power Bar, but I suspect that it will ultimately be moved into the closeouts section.
Eleiko Powerlifting Bars
Eleiko offers two powerlifting bars; the competition and training PL bars. Both bars are bare steel bars – there is no shaft finish. They are 20 kilo bars with a 29 mm shaft with super aggressive knurling, and they have bronze bushings rather than bearings. The training bar is $899 and the IPF-certified competition bar is $999. I challenge you to tell me the difference other than the certification and end-caps. Both come with a 10- year warranty.
I don’t actually recommend this bar for a home or garage gym. The cost is prohibitive (to say the least), and nobody needs an IPF sticker in their garage. Hey if you’re flush, knock yourself out. If nothing else, you’ll be the envy of your lifting bros.
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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I am blown away by the limited number of youth bars available (quality youth bars, that is). If you know of any that you’d like to recommend for this review, let me know in the comments.
American Barbell Black & Chrome Junior Bar
The American Barbell B&C Junior Bar is a 10 kg bar with a 25 mm shaft. Like all junior bars, this bar has less overall length (1693 mm), but the reduction comes from the sleeves. The distance between sleeves is the same as a standard Olympic bar as to a allow smooth transitions between junior and men’s bars.
The shaft of the AB Junior is rated at 180k PSI and is finished in black chrome. The sleeves are finished in hard chrome; a very nice touch for a youth’s bar. The bar is IWF marked and it has no center knurl, and the bushings used in this bar are high-load composite rather than bronze. Very nice American-made Junior bar, and it retails for $225.
Rogue 10 kg Junior Bar
The Rogue Junior Bar is a 10 kg bar with a 25 mm black zinc shaft. This 66.75″ long bar is shorter than standard 15 kg and 20 kg bars, but the distance between collars is the same as a competition bar; the difference comes off the sleeves (only 6.6″ long each.) Rogue’s Junior is a cast bronze bushing bar with snap rings, and it has an impressive 190k PSI tensile strength (same as any Rogue bushing bar).
This junior bar is different from other Junior bars in that it is dual marked for both Olympic and Power lifting. It has no center knurling. USA- made, $174.99
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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 has a great selection of affordable but very high-quality American-made 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!
Links in this section take you back up to the bar’s listing on this page.
My Pick for a Competitive CrossFit Bar
Taking money out of the equation, I would go with the Rogue Olympic WL bar (or its cousin, the Burgener) if I was looking for a competitive CrossFit training 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 for those of us who prefer it. The steel is strong, there is no center knurling, and it has a lifetime warranty backed by Rogue. Additionally, if you’re serious about competing in the Games, it could be in your best interest to train on the same bar that you’ll compete with; and the Rogue Olympic WL Bar is the current Games Bar.
My Pick for a CrossFit Bar on a Budget
My pick would have to be the Rogue Bar 2.0. The Rogue Bar (and the women’s Bella Bar) fill CrossFit boxes and garage gyms all around the world because they are reliable, perform well, and are very affordable. These two Rogue intro bars will be the default choice for many people probably for years to come.
Alternatively, American Barbell has the California Bar which is nearly identical to the Rogue Bar 2.0. The biggest difference is the use of chrome over zinc, which will of course look better for longer and offer superior protection from oxidation. The drawback is about a $20 difference in price, with the Rogue being the lower priced bar.
My Pick for a Professional 28 mm Olympic WL Bar
With no consideration to price, I’d have to say the American Barbell SS Pro bearing bar. This bar is the ultimate high-end training bar because it has a medium-depth knurl to it that is far more comfortable for long training sessions than the IWF cheese graters, but because of the stainless steel shaft actually offers an overall grip that is at least as secure, if not far more secure than the $900 IWF training bars.
Not only is the grip superior to just about any other bar, the bearings in the SS Pro are insane; they are simply unstoppable. You’ll never load up this bar enough to slow/seize the bearings. This bar is a champ, and it’s $800 because it’s loaded with features, not simply because the IWF-approved name carries it enough to charge that $800.
My previous favorite; the Rogue Olympic WL Bar; is still a great choice if you need to spend less. At $525 and up, it’s still a lot of bar for the money. No match for the SS, but that better be true for $200-300 more!
My Pick for a General Strength and Conditioning Bar
Unfortunately, my favorite bar for general training is out of stock and being revised (AB Super Power Bar). My previous favorite was the Matt Chan Bar; that is until Rogue discontinued it in chrome and I got my hands on the Super. Still, the Chan remains one of the better multi-purpose bars on the market, especially considering the under $300 price tag.
If you can handle a sharper knurl, the Ohio Power Bar is another great option; same goes for the Texas Power Bar.
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