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New Strength Training Equipment & Gear – Spring 2018

New S&C Equipment Spring 2018 - bars, plates, and more

There have been a lot of new equipment releases this spring, and a great number of them are definitely worth sharing. Of course, there always seem to be more new products than I can fit into a single post, but I am going to share some of the more interesting releases with you. You know, just in case you missed them.

If you have any thoughts on any of these items, or if you know of any noteworthy releases that I might have missed, leave a comment!

Vulcan Absolute Calibrated KG Plates – Finally Available

A year or two ago Rogue Fitness showed us that calibrated steel powerlifting plates did not have to cost $10+ a kilo, and that for slightly more than the cost of machined iron plates we could have extremely accurate, super slim, colored plates in our garage gyms. As a matter of fact, because of how competitive Rogue’s Calibrated Steel Plate pricing is, they’ve more or less been the go-to plate for serious big-3 lifters ever since their release.

Vulcan Calibrated KG Steel Powerlifting Discs

Well Ivanko or the Swedes may not be able (or willing) to compete with Rogue for the calibrated plate sales but Vulcan is evidently willing to hop in and grab some of those transactions, as they recently released their Absolute Calibrated Steel Plates; a competitively-priced, classy looking alternative to the Rogue discs. What’s interesting is that the Vulcan discs may be an even better buy than even the ever-so-popular Rogue discs. Why?

Well Vulcan took their calibrated disc manufacturing a step further than Rogue. Rather than pre-drilling the holes for calibration plugs into each and every disc, Vulcan casts each plate whole, weighs them, then decides if they need a plug or not. That means some plates have no holes drilled at all, some have only one plug, and only those that absolutely need it have two plugs. It’s a little thing, but technically the fewer the holes, the stronger the plate.

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Prices are mostly on par with Rogue’s for pairs, but with free shipping on large sets Vulcan technically has much better pricing (or a lower total cost per kilo). Vulcan also offers a large set variety; basically allowing you to choose how many pairs of 25 kgs you get. I believe the only drawback of Vulcan versus Rogue is the lack of availability in pounds.

Plate colors are consistent with all other brands, of course, but all of Vulcan’s change plates below 5 kgs are black rather than chrome or colored. So far the Vulcan Calibrated KG Discs are the best calibrated option on the market, and if you ask me the Phoenix artwork makes them even cooler.

Rogue Cerakote Bars – Oly & Power Bars Galore

Rogue Cerakote Barbell Collection is growing

Rogue is adding colored Cerakote variants to what seems like the entire Rogue bar line-up. Oly bars, power bars, WOD bars; you name it! So if you want colors, Rogue has colors.

When it comes to the Cerakote versions of these bars, only the finish is different; each bar’s core specifications are unchanged. Sure the Cerakote bars cost more than their zinc, oxide, and bare steel predecessors, but rest assured that all the variations of a given bar have the same shaft specs, sleeves, bushings, and knurling (and because of this I won’t bore you all with those known specs here).

Rogue Cerakote Ohio Power Bar

Rogue Fitness Olive Drab Cerakote Ohio Power Bar

In addition to bare steel, black zinc, and stainless steel, the 45-lb Rogue Ohio Power Bar is now available in four new Cerakote colorways. Currently your shaft color options consist of black, red, blue, and olive drab/military green. All of them have a big Rogue logo across the center knurling (meh), and all of them are $325.

Rogue 45-lb Cerakote Ohio Power Bars

Additionally, there is a fifth Cerakote color option in the form of the Thor Edition Power Bar. It is a black Cerakote shaft with chromed sleeves, and the shaft features the text “Thor” in white alongside the Icelandic national flag. This special edition variation of the Ohio Power Bar is $395.

The Rogue Cerakote Thor Edition Ohio Power Bar

The ‘Thor’ version is my favorite of the Cerakote OP Bars because of the chrome-finished sleeves, but it’s basically a $70 up-charge which kind of sucks.

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Rogue Cerakote Ohio Deadlift Bar

Much the same as the Cerakote version of the Ohio Power Bar, the Cerakote version of the Ohio Deadlift Bar was released in the same four colorways; red, blue, black, and OD green, and all with black Cerakote sleeves. All four are priced at $385.

The Ohio Deadlift Bar is not (yet?) available in stainless steel, so dropping an extra $30 for Cerakote instead of black zinc seems like a reasonable option, but then again paying $295 for the bare steel still seems like a no-brainer to me (but what do I know!)

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Rogue Cerakote Olympic WL Bar

Even the Rogue Oly Bar is now offered in Cerakote, which means the Oly bar is offered in no less than three different finishes now – bright zinc, stainless steel, and Cerakote. What I like about this particular Cerakote variant is that the sleeves are chrome-finished instead of also being Cerakote; meaning the sleeves should age better over time.

Rogue Cerakote 28 mm Olympic WL Bar

In both the men’s 20 kg variant and the women’s 15 kg variant of the new Cerakote Oly Bar, current colorway options include red, blue, and black, and all variants sell for $545 with free shipping. I suspect more colors will added in the future.

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My Thoughts on Cerakote Bars in General

I believe Cerakote is a solid finish, and I’d take Cerakote over black zinc in a second. Now I don’t personally get excited about color shafts, but if you do then by all means have at it; it’s a solid shaft finish in any color. I do recommend trying to get a colorway that has chrome or bright zinc sleeves rather than Cerakote sleeves, but that’s more of a longevity issue than a performance issue.

I could certainly do without the branding on the shafts, but I’m sure it’s not going anywhere.

Rep Fitness Economy Adjustable Dumbbells

While I am definitely not a fan of buying weights that can’t be used on an Olympic bar and almost nobody likes having to make weight changes to an adjustable dumbbell in between sets, but I sure can’t argue with the fact that Rep’s Adjustable Dumbbells may very well be the least expensive way to add a pair of half-decent adjustable dumbbells to a garage gym.

Rep Fitness Economical Adjustable Dumbbell Pairs

I’m a huge fan of fixed-weight dumbbell pairs simply because they are grab and go. As you move through your sets you can just grab the pair you need to get lifting; no time wasted by adding and removing plates, or doing math. That having been said, building out a dumbbell collection is expensive, and most people cannot afford to run out and buy 10 pairs at once.

If you’re just starting your garage gym and you want to add pairs of dumbbells ranging from 5-pounds to 52½ pounds for under $100, Rep’s dumbbells are the answer. At only $44.99 a dumbbell, you get access to curls, lateral and front raises, delt and dumbbell flyes, shoulder presses, and all kinds of accessory work that utilizes the light to medium-weight dumbbells.

When you can afford a nicer and more permanent dumbbell option, Craigslist these for 75% of what you paid for them. Consider them a nearly free loaner. Yeah swapping plates out in the meantime will be lame, but not as lame as not being to do any dumbbell work at all.

Rogue Socket Pull-up Bars

Rogue Socket Pull-up Bar in Stainless Steel - Knurled, for Infinity racks

This next product is really kind of a neat idea, and if I wasn’t so torn about which version I’d actually like the best I probably would have purchased one by now.

The new Rogue Socket Pull-Up Bars are basically replacement pull-up bars for your Rogue power rack or squat stand. Intended to replace the basic powder-coated steel tube that new racks ship with, this product is basically a barbell for pull-ups. You can order this pull-up bar knurled or smooth, and in about half a dozen Cerakote colors. You can also save a few and order it in stainless steel (which is where I’m leaning).

Rogue Socket Pull-up Bars - Cerakote color and finish options

Prices start at $105 for the bar and socket sets, but once you have the sockets you can buy different bars for $30 less (say you want to switch from knurled to smooth, or change colors for some reason). Now there are different bars for the different types of Rogue racks so you need to choose the right version for your particular unit. Choose from Infinity, Monster Lite, and Monster, then select your color and style from there.

Rogue Monster Light Socket Pull-Up Curl Bar

There is even a curl bar version of the Socket Pull-up Bar that starts at $145. It’s literally the Rogue Curl Bar shaft (28.5 mm, black e-coat) mounted to your rack. In a way I suppose it is a slightly less expensive way (vs multi-grip) to add more grip variety to your pulling routine, and of course if you own this and the standard socket pull-up bar you can swap them out at will; making it even more versatile.

Again though, the socket sets are exclusive to each Rogue rack style. Be sure to select the proper product for your rack. InfinityRMLMonster

Garage Gyms 3’x5′ Gym Flag

Embellish the bare walls of your garage gym while simultaneously supporting your favorite garage-gym-themed review site with a Garage Gyms wall flag. These 3’x5′ knitted polyester flags are pitch black with a white logo, and feature grommets on all four corners rather than just two.

Garage Gyms Flags now available at the Garage Gyms Store

The Garage Gyms flag is priced about as low as I can afford to sell it while still offering free shipping. I just want you guys n gals to be able to afford one should you want one. To those of you who already fly the Garage-Gyms banner in your garage gym, thank you very much. I am truly flattered to have your support.

Iron Company OB-5150 Olympic WL Bar

Iron Company has a number of new products this year, one of them being the IC-OB-5150 Olympic Weightlifting Bar. The 5150 is a “hybrid” bar; which basically means a CrossFit bar. It has a rotation system comprised of both bronze bushings and bearings, IWF hash marks, and no center knurl. You can kind of think of the 5150 as a less expensive NxG XF of sorts.

Iron Company IC-OB-5150 Olympic Hybrid Weightlifting Bar

The 28 mm shaft of the Iron Company OB-5150 is rated at 195k PSI tensile strength, and it is finished entirely in hard chrome. The knurling is of a medium depth and aggressiveness; which is pretty typical of a dual-marked WOD bar; and there is no center knurling.

I’ve actually been testing this bar lately and will have it reviewed within a few weeks, but so far I can say that it’s one of the nicer WOD bars I’ve lifted with. The 5150 is $299 delivered.

Iron Company has some of the most thorough bar product description pages of any retailer. If you’re not familiar with this company check them out – they offer equipment from so many brands – Ivanko, Precor, Body Solid, Iron Grip, York, and dozens more.

Proloc Camber Bar Attachment

Proloc Camber Attachment for Olympic bars

Want a cambered bar for $132 instead of several hundred? Well now you can! The makers of Proloc Collars just introduced this set of steel camber bar attachments that lock down on your existing bar. They are compatible with any Olympic or power bar with 50 mm sleeves, and they come with their own pair of Proloc Strongman Collars.

Vulcan’s “Too New” Products

What’s the hell is “too new”? Announcements for new products that you can buy but that won’t ship for months is, and Vulcan has quite a few of them right now. A lot of them are really exciting which makes it almost annoying that you can’t buy them, but what can you do, you know? Here are some of the more notable upcoming releases.

Vulcan Prime Adjustable Bench

Vulcan Prime Adjustable Bench – $379 ETA 5/25/18

Vulcan Prime 3x3 Flat Bench

Vulcan Prime 3×3 Flat Bench – $199 ETA 5/29/18

Vulcan Prime Urethane Bumper Plates

Vulcan Prime Urethane Bumper Plates – $83-$1116 ETA 6/30/18

Vulcan Pro Ballistic Med Balls

Vulcan Pro Ballistic Medicine Balls – $93-$253 AVAILABLE NOW


Tell me that doesn't look sweet on a tinted window.
{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Steve May 8, 2018, 6:03 pm

    So the socket pull-up bars. You want one for the looks or is there something else driving that desire?

    • jburgeson May 9, 2018, 10:08 am

      The knurl. So I actually at one point placed a normal, knurled bar on the top of my rack to try pull-ups with knurl – it was pretty nice. All this is is a permanent version of that.

      I actually decided which I’d prefer by the time I finished the article – definitely the knurled stainless. I wasn’t so much worried about color but whether or not I wanted it cambered. I don’t want cambered – especially if it’s just black e-coat (which I find to not be much better than powder coat – or shall I say, not much different in feel/grip.)

  • Steve May 9, 2018, 10:27 pm

    I’m so glad you spoke to the knurl as I was going to ask about that. Hmm you may have sold me on one of those for my Monster Lite.

  • Jason May 15, 2018, 2:07 pm

    Curious if you have any thoughts on the Vulcan Prime Adjustable Bench just from what you know now? I am looking at doing a pre-order since it is discounted right now.

    Also, please do a review of the Urethane Bumper Plates in the future! I am curious how they will compare to the American Barbell variety.

    You have an excellent and useful website! I bought the Absolute Stainless Steel Power Bar in large part based off your review, and it is an incredible barbell.

    • jburgeson May 15, 2018, 2:33 pm

      Hey Jason, thank you. Yeah with just a rendering of an image up and no real specs I don’t yet have an opinion. It does look like the seat has good adjustments for the incline bench – a nice angle rather than sitting mostly flat.

      All urethane bumpers are the same except for the American Barbells, which are the superior version. You can distinguish the older model from the new ones by the ridges (or lack thereof) in the hub; at least until someone makes that change to bypass that indicator. The short story is that the older model that everyone copied wasn’t living up to extensive abuse so AB threw a few million into R&D to fix it, and the result of that R&D is the model AB currently sells, and since American Barbell now manufactures this plate themselves rather than outsources product AND it’s patented, everyone else gets to sell only the older version.

      • Jason May 15, 2018, 2:44 pm

        Makes sense! I think that I will just hold off buying the adjustable bench. I wasn’t sure if I needed a flat or incline cabable bench in general. I pre-ordered the Rep FB-5000 Competition Flat Bench with the soon to be released larger pad since I am 6′ 3″ and wear a size 50 long suit due to gorilla proportion arms, lol. Had shoulder issues with my last bench. Probably don’t need incline anyway.

        Thanks for the information on the difference with American Barbells vs others. I am definitely going to save up to buy a full set to replace my misc weights.

        • jburgeson May 15, 2018, 2:52 pm

          Yeah of course. Keep in mind those tests they do put plates through more than any of us will. An Olympic training center would need to maybe go AB for urethane, but I have some of the old ones and I’ve yet to have any problems. Then again, if the price is about the same why not go for the gold.

          You’ll love that bench btw.

  • Billy May 19, 2018, 12:13 am

    On the Thor edition OPB I’m also liking that if you choose the chrome sleeves over the Cerakote sleeves, you get it in KG instead of Lb.

    Safe to assume the Vulcan urethane plates are like the old urethane from before the AB upgrades? Does AB licence it out for other brand(s) that you know of?

    • Billy May 19, 2018, 12:17 am

      Also, definitely pulling the trigger on those Vulcan calibrated plates. Once you factor in the free shipping on sets they end up lower cost shipped to me than the rogue machined, and almost as low as the rogue basic black cast iron!
      Finally getting my garage gym this month!

      • jburgeson May 19, 2018, 2:39 pm

        That’s awesome – I still haven’t seen even a good picture of them really, outside of those initial pre-release pics.

        • Billy May 24, 2018, 8:32 pm

          Just ordered them. I can get some pics sent to you when they arrive if you are wanting them.
          New setup:
          R-3 shorty rack
          B&R bar
          209 KG Vulcan calibrated plate set
          Preorder of Vulcan Prime flat bench

          • jburgeson May 24, 2018, 10:14 pm

            Hell yeah I definitely want to see those plates and bench.

            • Billy June 11, 2018, 11:27 pm

              Will do. Plates are scheduled to arrive on the 19th (didn’t realize Vulcan turnaround time was so much longer than Rogue! Rogue stuff arrived last week) and still no ETA on when that bench is supposed to ship.

    • jburgeson May 19, 2018, 2:41 pm

      Yes all urethane plates aside from AB’s are the old model, and no they don’t license them to anyone outside of their partners (Life Fitness/Hammer Strength), which I imagine are even more costly. The only reason they were copied before was because they were basically stolen – a backdoor deal from the manufacturer AB had hired. They’ve since taken to manufacturing them in-house where they cannot escape again.

  • jordan May 21, 2018, 2:02 pm

    Just curious about whether you’re going to do a review on either of the new Vulcan benches? Particularly the adjustable bench.

    • jburgeson May 21, 2018, 6:48 pm

      I probably will; at least the flat but perhaps both; but I’ve learned not to get overly excited about pre-released Vulcan products until they are actual, real products available for sale. Those ETA times are often much longer than planned.

      • jordan May 22, 2018, 7:51 am

        10-4. I didn’t realize that about them. As an aside, I find their website frustrating. It’s not very user friendly, and seems kind of quirky anyway. For grins, I priced out about 5-6k worth of stuff on there, and the supposed 10% discount (for sales over 5k) flat out disappeared. Additionally, the freight just kept getting crazier and crazier. At least Rogue generally caps the freight at a reasonable amount. Just ranting, I guess.

        I’m thinking about adjustable benches. My top two are the Rogue Adjustable Bench 2.0 (545.00) and the Rogue AB-3 (935.00). I keep hearing that the seat adjustments on the 2.0 are weak (only one slight angle on the seat). The AB-3 seems solid, but the price is a huge obstacle. Guess I should keep some of the other companies in mind (Rep, Iron Master, etc.). Any advice or experience with Rogue’s adjustable benches?

        • jburgeson May 22, 2018, 9:38 am

          I believe it’s a Volusion site which I think severely limits access to apps that can handle freight and complicated pricing schemes well. That may even be why Vulcan does so much free shipping – because it’s easier than dealing with whatever freight calculator is available for Volusion. Not that it’s an excuse on their behalf – I mean poor site function needs to be addressed one way or the other even if it means switching platforms.

          I don’t really care for the IronMaster at all. The Rep FID is acceptable – good for decline, good for upright, not amazing for flat or lower incline settings but still acceptable. A Legend 3-way might be worth considering – it will cost more than the Rogue 2.0 but less than the AB-3. I wish I could comment on the Prime Adjustable but it’s only a rendering that may or may not be accurate, plus I can’t really see where the pivot point is on the pad so estimating the gap is impossible. It looks sturdy based on design and verbiage, and I see a lot of pad settings and 3 seat settings, but still a real picture would go a long way.

          It’s not so much that it’s hard to find a good adjustable bench, it’s just hard to find a good adjustable bench that doesn’t cost $1000. Vulcan’s $600 adjustable is a Precor Super Bench – very nice bench for incline, not so great for flat. But same goes for the Legend; I wouldn’t use my Legend for flat benching. So far, in terms of function, feel, and pricing, the Rogue 2.0 is the best option for an incline bench that can also be used for flat benching.

          • jordan May 22, 2018, 11:58 am

            Wow, lots of good info. Thanks for posting all of that in response.

            I do wish Vulcan’s site was better, but I suppose there are enough opportunities to get free shipping throughout the year (based on sales I’ve seen).

            I’ll have to look closer at Vulcan’s precor super bench. I may wait to see better pictures of the Prime adjustable bench though as I’ve not in a big hurry. Ideally, if the Rogue 2.0 (545.00) bench had one more seat adjustment I’d be all over it. The common complaint is that the only seat adjustment (aside from flat) isn’t steep enough to keep you stable in certain positions.

            I have a Rogue Utility 2.0 flat bench, and have no use for either flat or decline positions from an adjustable bench. Don’t care too much about the pad gap as it doesn’t matter much on incline positions.

            One thing is for sure,….the market is getting better and better for gear. This is a good time to be in. Seems to be getting more and more competitive which is always to our benefit.

  • Sean June 18, 2018, 8:13 am

    That Vulcan Prime bench looks great at $379.

    Their website, as of 6/18/18, still says “Availability: Pre-Order”. But now has a price of $499… at lot more than the initial $379 unfortunately.

    • jburgeson June 18, 2018, 8:25 am

      Yeah they are not targeting us (home/garage gym owners) with a lot of that new equipment I don’t think. It’s for the school/military bids.

      It may not end up being a bad deal in the end, but having seen it for over $100 less does make it a tough pill to swallow, that’s for sure.

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