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 2017 (minor revisions, corrections, and price updates; added the Rogue SS Ohio Bar and edited the California for its new Cerakote finish).
Barbell Guide Table of Contents
- Understanding Barbell Specifications (intended for new lifters)
- The Barbell Review & Shopping Guide
- Dual-Marked / Multi-purpose Weightlifting Bars
- 28 mm Olympic Weightlifting Bearing Bars
- 28 mm Olympic WL Training Bars (bushing)
- Power & Deadlift Bars
- Youth Bars
- 15 kg Women’s Olympic Bars (links to separate article)
- Comprehensive Rogue Bar Guide (links to separate article)
- Comprehensive Vulcan Bar Guide (links to separate article)
- 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 20 kg barbell should have a center knurl. For women’s 15 kg bars, no center knurl is required by the IWF, and there are no 15 kg power bars to worry about.
What this means is that you can expect the majority of 20 kg bars you come across to have a center knurl, while almost no 15 kg bars will have a center knurl. If you prefer to not have center knurling on a 20 kg bar, you’ll want to look at multi-purpose CrossFit bars; as more times than not those do not have a center knurl.
Center knurling is usually passive (softer than the rest of the bar’s knurling), but not 100% of the time. Just make sure to read product descriptions carefully if this feature (or lack of) is important 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. Vulcan, Rogue, Eleiko, Ivanko, American Barbell, etc are all established players in the industry, and they all offer warranties.
♦ ♦ ♦
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 28.5 mm Vulcan Standard
The 28.5 mm Vulcan Standard is a USA-made, multi-purpose bushing bar. The shaft of the Standard is rated at 194,000 PSI, the sleeves rotate on oil-impregnated bronze bushings, and the knurl is moderate; which along with the lack of center knurl makes this bar perfect for high-rep work. The whole bar is finished in bright zinc. It’s a very reliable and affordable piece of equipment that has the added bonus of not having a single drop of black zinc anywhere on the bar. Currently this bar sells for $286.
This bar was actually designed to withstand the day-in and day-out abuse of commercial gyms and CrossFit boxes, and is warranted for just that. If the Standard can handle the negligence typical of that kind of an environment, imagine how well and for how long it will keep up in your garage gym.
The Standard is a great alternative to both the Rogue Bar 2.0 and the Bella Bar (yes, there is a 15 kg Standard as well). While both of these Rogue bars are also USA-made, reliable, and priced reasonably, the Standard does have the advantage of sintered bronze bushings over cast bronze; and like I previously mentioned; no black zinc. [full review here]
American Barbell California Bar
The California Bar is American Barbell’s first dual-marked CrossFit bar, and it was initially considered their answer to the Rogue Bar 2.0. However, in the last year or so it’s received some nice upgrades that has put the California’s specs (and the price) much more in line with higher-end multi-purpose bars like the SS Ohio Bar than the classic Rogue Bar.
The California Bar sports the industry standard 190,000 PSI alloy steel shaft. It has dual IPF/IWF markings, no center knurl, and the sleeves spin freely and reliably on high-load composite bushings rather than classic bronze bushings. What makes the Cali completely unique from any other multi-purpose bar on the market is the finish. The shaft is coated with a black graphite Cerakote finish; the same oxidation resistant finish used for firearms. This finish is clean and consistent looking, completely rust-proof, and naturally tacky (as in grippy.)
A couple other features that make the California different from the Rogue bars (and most other multi-purpose bars for that matter) is the use of a true 28 mm shaft rather than the usual 28.5 mm shaft, and the use of industrial chrome for the sleeves rather than cheaper bright or black zinc.
So between the 28 mm shaft, the chrome sleeves, and the Cerakote finish you end up with a real premium multi-purpose bar, but all of these features do put the price on the high-end of WOD bars ($335). This is more expensive than all the standard Ohio bars, but it’s still $15 less than the SS Ohio; the only one worth comparing the Cali to. As the proud owner of five different American Barbell bars I do not hesitate to recommend this bar.
Interestingly enough, if you’re okay with only IWF hash marks on your bar (as in, not dual-marked), you can get back under the Rogue 2.0 cost again with the $249 Black & Chrome Bar.
The 20 kg Rogue Bar 2.0
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 those sleeves 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 in the mid-$200’s, The USA-made Rogue Bar should 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 downsides to the Rogue Bar 2.0 is that it’s quite loud to drop, and it has a black zinc shaft. Rogue has even finally released different color rubber bracelets for the sleeves so it’s totally customizable now!
The 15 kg Bella 2.0 (The Women’s Rogue Bar)
This is the women’s 15 kg version of The Rogue Bar. The Bella has similar construction to the Rogue Bar (bright zinc on black zinc, 190,000 PSI shaft, dual-marked, etc). However, the shaft is narrower at 25 mm, the Bella uses cast bronze bushings instead of composite, and the bar is slightly shorter at 79-3/8″ (the difference in length comes off the sleeves, not the shaft). The Bella is a solid women’s bar. Of course the best thing about it is the $215 price tag.
The 20 kg Rogue Ohio Bar
The Rogue Ohio Bar is a 20 kg, dual-marked CrossFit bar with a 28.5 mm shaft rated at 190,000 PSI – the same shaft used for the Rogue Bar 2.0 actually. The bushings are bronze, the knurl is moderate to medium, and the whip is very average. The Ohio is available in three different finishes including black zinc, bright zinc, and black oxide, and the price ranges from $282 to just $295.
The Ohio Bar is Rogue’s flagship bar; the first to be manufactured entirely at the Rogue campus in Ohio. It currently has a 5-star rating based on over 100 reviews, and tons of positive feedback for this bar can be found all over the web. However, unless you want the black oxide variant I see little reason to buy the zinc Ohio over the Rogue Bar 2.0 for $30 less cash.
FYI: The following bars are identical to the Ohio Bar, only with different finishes: The Castro Bar (bare steel), The Froning Bushing Bar (all black zinc), and the Rogue Operator Bar (olive drab). I go into some detail about why this is here.
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. It’s not all good news though…
The Chan Bar is a 28.5 mm dual marked bar with a 190,000 PSI shaft. It’s basically an Ohio Bar at it’s core (same shaft, bushings, sleeves, etc) but the knurling on the Chan Bar is more aggressive than the Ohio and the Rogue Bar 2.0. Also the knurling of the Chan is set further away from center to allow for a wider stance with deadlifts – a blessing for tall folks like me. The Chan bar also has a passive center knurl for squats – I dare say very passive.
The not so good news is that the chrome version of this bar (was $375) is no longer being offered, and only black zinc remains (is $295). As many of you know, I am not a fan of black zinc – especially when applied to the sleeves. It chips, it fades, and it turns green over time. Because of the removal of that chrome option I find myself recommending this bar less and less. However, if black zinc doesn’t bother you then this is an absolutely fantastic bar. If you want a chrome bar, stop waiting around for a chrome Chan to be reintroduced and pick up something else. [full review here]
York Burgener and Rippetoe 20 kg Men’s Bar
The original York B&R Bar is discontinued and has been replaced with the Rogue B&R Bar. The new version of this bar is built to feel the same as the original, but a few things have changed in terms of specifications. The tensile strength of the shaft is up to 205k PSI (from 190k); there is no longer and end cap, but rather the standard Rogue snap ring system; and the bronze bushings are no longer self-lubricating sintered bronze, but rather simple cast bronze (the only downgrade). The price has stayed the same.
In addition to the 20 kg men’s B&R, there is a women’s 15 kg B&R as well. Both are great multi-purpose bars, and the ladies version is one of the only bare steel options in that 15 kg category, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I liked the original a little bit more. The men’s B&R is $295 and the women’s is $205 – a difference in price so large that it literally confuses me.
AF Team Bar
The Again Faster Team Bar is a train wreck and it should be avoided. The only reason I even bother to mention it here and risk drawing any attention at all to it is to save people who have it on their short list from actually buying it.
Normally I would just let the reviews do the talking, but Again Faster has been removing the negative reviews from their site. As in, they are literally just deleting the reviews that speak to the Team’s bent shafts and frozen sleeves, and the companies unwillingness to make exchanges or offer returns – an unbelievably disgraceful and unforgivable thing to do. If you’re so inclined and somewhat savvy, you can use Internet archives to dig up those reviews, but a customer who stumbles upon AF would never think to do this, so I felt it was my job to point it out here.
Below are a few of the many reviews out there that cannot be deleted and hidden from you. Shop there at your own risk.
Vulcan One Basic Economy Bar
The Vulcan One Basic is one of the better economy CrossFit/multi-purpose bars currently on the market. At $229, it’s incredibly competitive with the other 190,000 PSI bars like the Rogue Bar 2.0, Ohio Bar, and the California Bar, yet even at that lower price has some features that make it more appealing. For starters, the 20 kg One Basic is completely chrome – no zinc. It also has a true 28 mm shaft rather than 28.5 mm. Finally, the One Basic ships for free unlike the Rogue and American Barbell bars.
The One is offered in both a men’s 20 kg and women’s 15 kg version. These two bars used to be black zinc bars (middle bar in above image), but that finish easily chipped and scratched away so Vulcan started using chrome. The black chrome variation can still be purchased at a discount, but only for the 15 kg version. Prices start at $219 and cap out at $239.
This bar is a very real alternative to some good mid-range bars. When compared to the lesser imports like the Bomba, Team Bar, and other similar bars from the small CrossFit shops, the difference in quality and performance is night and day.
Rogue Stainless Steel Ohio Bar
The new Rogue Stainless Steel Ohio is the best priced stainless steel bar currently on the market, and one of Rogue’s best bars overall. At $350 this dual-marked bar has a 195k PSI stainless steel shaft, a composite bushing system, and bright chrome sleeves. It’s a beautiful bar, and a very functional bar.
The shaft offers flex on par with Rogue’s other multi-purpose bars (the 2.0 and standard Ohio line), super consistent and reliable spin, and a grip far superior to any zinc or chrome finished bar that I know of (short of spending $800 on an Eleiko). This is a great bar for anyone who trains both the big-3 and the Olympic lifts with the same bar, as it performs well for both.
I personally think that the SS Ohio is one of the best bars in the current Rogue line-up, and easily one of the best options for a garage gym. If you’re considering any of the standard Ohio bars for your personal gym, the SS Ohio is almost a no-brainer upgrade so long as you can afford the minor price difference. You’ll be happy you made the jump if you do, I can tell you that with certainty. You can read my full review of the SS Ohio here.
♦ ♦ ♦
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 also 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 superior to every other shaft material or finish option not only because of its resistance to oxidation, but also because stainless steel offers a natural and secure grip that no applied finish can compare to. Stainless bars don’t need to have overly aggressive knurl to stick to your hands, making them ideal for long training sessions. The American Barbell SS shaft is one of only two bar shafts that I’ve considered to be a 10/10 for grip and knurl quality.
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 Rogue Euro is $100 less than the AB SS.
So is it worth the cost? I own this bar and I think that it’s worth every penny [full 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 better than average. 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 always say, “don’t spend over $700 or $800 on an Olympic bar without at least considering stainless steel.”
Vulcan Professional Needle Bearing Olympic Bar
This is Vulcan’s high-end Olympic WL bar, a bar not only comparable to the IWF training bars (DHS, Elieko, Zhangkong) but probably even superior to them – and in most cases for a lot less money.
The Vulcan Professional is a 20 kg, 28 mm needle bearing bar. The shaft specifications blow all other professional bars out of the water – it has a sick, lab-verified tensile strength of over 240,000 PSI and a yield strength of 223,000 PSI. The yield is higher than the tensile strength of all other professional Olympic bars, meaning it would take an act of God or an almost deliberate form of negligence to put a permanent bend in it.
The Vulcan Pro is said to be one of the most elastic (whippiest) Olympic bars on the market, displaying its reflexive properties well at moderate weights, and better than even an Eleiko at heavy weights. It’s finished completely in engineered, hard chrome; which is both beautiful and thick enough to contribute to the bar’s overall strength. This is an end-game Olympic bar, and if you choose to purchase another Olympic bar after purchasing the Vulcan Pro, it will be for the fun of it, not out of necessity.
So if you’re looking for a true, competition-worthy Olympic bar but you don’t want to pay the $800-$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)
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 European and Chinese bars, but at a fraction of the price. The shaft has a slightly lower PSI that the Eleiko, but it’s like 30-40% lower in 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. Of course, 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. Good luck finding a defect in an Ivanko!
The OB-20KG Olympic bar is a polished black oxide, true 28 mm Olympic bar with a steel shaft 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 reasonably priced, and if you’re willing to pay for stainless, you really should consider the AB SS Bar discussed 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!
♦ ♦ ♦
28 mm Olympic WL Training Bars
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.
American Barbell Precision Training Bar
The Precision Training Bar is a very nice training bar. It’s a lot more expensive than the rest of the Olympic training bars that I’ll talk about, but that’s basically because it’s the exact same bar as the above-mentioned SS Professional Bar only with composite bushings rather than bearings. In other words, it has a flawless stainless steel shaft and hard chrome sleeves.
Like the SS Pro, 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. They are expensive though – this bar being just under $500.
Alternatively, American Barbell does off a version of this bar that is far more in line with the competition, yet still a fantastic bar. For $345 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 chrome-finished steel shaft. 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 affordable alternative to the Rogue 28 mm Oly Bearing Bar. For $325 you get the same 190k PSI shaft, same semi-aggressive knurl, and same 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.) There is also a women’s version of the Olympic Training Bar (15 kg, 25 mm shaft.)
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, you’ve got to consider the Vulcan Elite 3.0.
Vulcan 28mm Elite Olympic Training Bar 3.0
An amazing barbell for the price, the Vulcan Elite Olympic Training Bar is a 28 mm, 20 kg Olympic training bar 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 (has a sticky grip like bare steel) and bright, engineered 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 elite CrossFit as well as Olympic training. The sleeves of this bar are also grooved to keep rubber change plates on the bar when used outside of the collars.
You will not find a nicer Olympic training bar for the money. Matter of fact the only way to improve upon this bar is to upgrade to a bearing bar. $369 with free shipping.
♦ ♦ ♦
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 weight that gets put on the bar. Additionally, powerlifting bars don’t need the sleeves to spin as smoothly so they are almost always 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.
Vulcan Absolute Power Bar
The Vulcan Absolute Power Bar is the highest-rated tensile strength power bar on the market. At 221,000 PSI, this 29 mm beast of a bar will handle any amount of weight you throw at it. The shaft is aggressively knurled and finished in black oxide, and the grooved sleeves are unfinished bare steel. The Absolute should feel right at home to you veteran powerlifters.
The Absolute is a 20 kg bar with bronze bushings, and it sells for $339; and that includes the shipping. There is also a lifetime warranty against breaking or bending – a warranty you’ll never have to call in.
Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar
The most talked about Power Bar in existence 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 (whatever that means), 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 Texas Power Bar. The authentic Buddy Capps TPB can be purchased from Texas Strength Systems or from Buddy’s distributor, LB Baker at IronDawg.
Vulcan Powerlifting Bar
The Vulcan Powerlifting Bar is a 29 mm, 196,000 PSI power bar. It has very aggressive knurling, Oilite self-lubricating bronze bushings, and a bright zinc finish from sleeve to sleeve. Since power bars tend to be black oxide and/or bare steel, the Vulcan being a more corrosion-resistant finish creates yet another option for us when trying to find a power bar, and that’s a good thing.
An interesting feature of the Vulcan Power Bar is the presence of dual hash marks. It has both IWF and IPF marks just like a multi-purpose bar, only it’s not a multi-purpose bar. I’ve tried to come up with a good reason for putting weightlifting marks on a power bar, but I came up with nothing. Your guess is as good as mine.
I’m optimistic about this bar, and hope to review it at some point. At $295 it has a nice price point for having Oilite bushings and bright zinc instead of oxide (or nothing.)
Rogue Deadlift (Ohio) Bar
The new Ohio Deadlift Bar is a 90″ long beast designed for nothing more than deadlifts. The thin, 27 mm shaft is rated at 190,000 PSI, the knurl is super aggressive (no center), and the bar flexes under even moderate amounts of weight. Rumor has it that you can add 20-pounds to your deadlift just by switching to a deadlift bar. I’m not so sure that applies to anyone with a deadlift under 500-pounds, but whose to say!
The Ohio Deadlift sells for $295-$350 depending on finish (bare or zinc), and while that’s a hefty price to pay for a single-lift bar, I will admit that it was a welcome addition to my garage gym. I only deadlift with the Ohio now, and I’m super glad that I picked one up for a review (read that here). It’s one of those bars I will not be getting rid of. It’s pretty solid, I recommend checking it out if you’re an avid deadlifter and an “accessory” bar is in your budget.
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 or bend 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.
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.
♦ ♦ ♦
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.
OSO Mini – Kid’s Technique Bar
The OSO Mini is a 5-lb, 48-inch long anodized aluminum bar designed for teaching children proper lifting technique. The shaft is 22 mm thick, the sleeves spin on a unique and inexpensive bearing system, and the bar can handle being loaded to up to 50-pounds. The Mini is made in the USA and comes in three different colors; the red being unique to Rogue Fitness. Price is $100.
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
♦ ♦ ♦
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, Vulcan has the most unique, high-end barbells, 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 following 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.
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. It’s the ultimate high-end training bar because it has a medium-depth knurl that is far more accommodating to long training sessions than the IWF cheese graters, but because of the grippy, stainless steel shaft there is no sacrifice to grip security. Matter of fact, even with less coarseness, the SS Pro may very well offer a grip superior to the sharp IWF trainers.
In addition the quality and feel of the knurl, the bearings of the SS Pro are simply insane; they are unstoppable. No amount of weight that you could load onto this bar will slow or seize the bearings. The bar is a champ, and it’s $799 because of the high quality of the bar and its components, not simply because there is an IWF sticker to pay for.
For something more traditional (and less expensive), the Vulcan Professional would be my next choice. The specs are crazy and the price is reasonable. With whip and tensile strength being the most important specs when hunting for a high-end Oly bar, well, you certainly can’t do any better than this bar.
My Pick for a General Strength and Conditioning Bar
Right now the Rogue Stainless Steel Ohio is my favorite general-purpose bar. At $350 it has a stronger than average shaft, a super grippy knurl (without being too aggressive), and of course the best feeling shaft material; stainless steel. I prefer the SS Ohio to any other multi-purpose bar that Rogue currently makes, including the discontinued chrome Matt Chan Bar, and I can’t think of any other multi-purpose bars that I’d rather use (though to be fair there are some very good alternatives that cost a good $50-$75 less.)
♦ ♦ ♦
If you enjoyed this article or learned anything helpful, please consider sharing this article on your favorite social media site or giving me a +1 on the top right of any page on this site. Thank you!