Welcome to the Women’s Olympic Barbell Guide. This article is more or less an extension of my original Barbell Guide, only the focus here is on women’s 15 kg bars instead of what is mostly men’s 20 kg bars in the original.
The original guide has a very thorough opening section that explains the basics of barbell construction including explanations of rotation mechanisms, finishes, PSI tensile strength ratings, and so on. If you’re looking for your first barbell or you just want a refresher course I strongly suggest taking a look at that section so you know what the various specifications mean when you see them below.
The first section will be women’s Olympic weightlifting bars, followed by multi-purpose and CrossFit bars. Women don’t get their own power bars (powerlifting bars are considered to be unisex), so I have none to show you. Either use your Olympic/CrossFit bar for your static lifts, or buy a power bar. If you do aspire to be a powerlifter, you’ll need to get used to using those 28-29 mm barbells because those are the rules (IPF.)
Last updated January 2018 – spelling/grammar edits, pricing and link checking.
Women’s Olympic Weightlifting Bars
The following women’s 15 kg bars are designed exclusively for the snatch and the clean & jerk, and they will all strictly follow the specifications set forth by the IWF. The knurling will have only Olympic hash marks, shaft diameter will always be 25 mm, sleeve diameter will be 50 mm, the length will be 1310 mm between collars, and there will be no center knurl.
Most of these Olympic bars will be needle bearing bars, but a small handful of them will be bushing-based training bars. The few manufacturers that offer these training bars simply do so as a way to make it possible for athletes with smaller budgets to still get their hands on a true Olympic bar. I’ll list these bushing-based Olympic bars first rather than mix them in with the bearing bars. Other than that, the bars in no particular order.
Vulcan Elite 3.0+ 15 kg Olympic Training Bar (bushing)
The Vulcan Elite 15 kg Training Bar is an amazing product, and an unbelievable bar for the price. The women’s Elite is a 25 mm, 15 kg, self-lubricating bushing bar with an incredible 221k PSI tensile strength and 206k yield rating. The Elite is a chrome moly bar with a matte chrome finish on the shaft (has a sticky grip like raw steel) and engineered chrome sleeves. In other words this bar has phenomenal whip, high-quality steel, a fantastic grip, and great protection against oxidation.
The Elite adheres to all IWF specifications, including not having the center knurl. The outer knurl is moderate; typical of this kind of training bar. The sleeves of the Elite are 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. $359 with free shipping.
I have reviewed the men’s version of the Elite 3.0 and aside from the diameter and weight differences, that review would apply to this bar. Feel free to check that out here.
Rogue 25 mm Olympic Training Bar (bushing)
This is Rogue’s version of the bushing-based Olympic training bar for women. This bar has the same 190,000 PSI, US-steel shaft as the Rogue 15 kg Women’s Olympic WL Bearing Bar (included below), but it has a pair of bronze bushings in each sleeve rather than needle bearings.
The Rogue 15 kg Trainer is IWF-standard; it has a 25 mm shaft with 50 mm sleeves, zero center knurl, and a lifetime warranty. The shaft finish is black zinc and the sleeves are bright zinc. The knurl is Rogue’s standard knurl, and is the same knurl that’s found on the bearing version of this bar. It’s made in the USA and retails for $305 before shipping.
The Rogue Olympic Training Bar is solid, and priced reasonably well. Higher performance is definitely possible for a little more cash, but not for less.
American Barbell 15 kg Precision Training Bar (bushing)
The last of the bushing-based Olympic bars that I’ll talk about here is this American Barbell Precision Training Bar. The sleeves of this very pretty bar are hard chrome, but the shaft of this bar is stainless steel, a rarity and gem in the marketplace. Stainless feels absolutely amazing in the hands; just like bare alloy steel, only without the maintenance requirements of bare alloy steel. Unfortunately, it’s that stainless steel shaft that puts the price of this bar at $450.
The specifications are good; pretty much the same as the above Rogue 25mm Trainer. The Precision Bar has a 190k PSI shaft, a composite bushing system, no center knurl, and it too is made in the USA. It’s a great bar, but the question is whether or not you’re willing to drop $450 on an Olympic bushing bar just because it’s stainless steel when that amount of cash puts you within range of a true Olympic bearing bar. Probably not; it defeats the purpose of buying a bushing bar in the first place. Extremely beautiful bar though.
For the record, American Barbell’s SS bearing bars are totally worth the cash, but the point of a training bar is to save cash. Otherwise I’d be all about this bar (and you’re certainly free to be if you want though, obviously.) That having been said, the Precision Bar is available in all chrome for much less money ($295) in the form of the Performance Training Bar. All the same specs and perks of owning an American Barbell Oly bar, just no stainless steel shaft.
Rogue Women’s Olympic WL Bar (bearings)
The Olympic WL Bar was Rogue’s first premium weightlifting bar for women and it has been highly praised in both the CrossFit and weightlifting community. It has specs that rival some of the imported IWF-certified training bars, and does so at a much lower cost (the 215k zinc shaft version is only $525.) Not only does this bar make a great, reasonably priced Olympic training bar, it is a huge upgrade for advanced CrossFitters that still train with multi-purpose bushing bars.
The Women’s Olympic Bar has the usual 25 mm shaft, weighs 15 kg, and has an incredible tensile strength rating of 215k (it was recently upgrade to EU steel.) This is a true Olympic bearing bar – each sleeve has five high-quality needle bearings that deliver a very smooth, consistent spin. The knurling on the Rogue Oly is moderately aggressive; or rather Rogue’s standard knurl. There is no center knurl.
One advantage of going with Rogue for your Olympic bearing bar is that there are currently two finishes for you to choose from; zinc or polished chrome ($525 and $635 respectively.) Having two very differently priced options allows for both large & small budgets to consider this bar.
To really save money on this bar, watch for it in the Closeouts section of the Rogue website after the CrossFit Games. Last year they were selling the Games’ bars for the low $400s; a pretty big discount for a bar that’s only been used for a week.
WerkSan Women’s Training Olympic Bar (bearing)
This is the training version of the WerkSan IWF-certified Olympic Comp Bar. The WerkSan Training Bar has 5 needle bearings per sleeve, is finished completely in chrome and has no center knurl. It is guaranteed to be within 0.2 kilograms of the stated 15 kg weight, and the 25 mm shaft is rated at 205,000 PSI, which is more than adequate for a training bar.
WerkSan makes a pretty solid bar, and they are certified to supply gear for IWF-sanctioned events, but I’d probably go with anything else (Vulcan, American Barbell, Rogue, etc) over a WerkSan if I was willing to spend this kind of money on an Olympic bar. $880 is simply way too much in today’s market.
American Barbell 15 kg Stainless Steel Olympic Bar (bearing)
The Stainless Steel Bearing Bar from American Barbell is the competition, needle bearing version of the Precision Training Bar discussed at the top of this page.
The SS Bearing Bar is a beautiful, high-performance Olympic bar clearly designed with the experienced weightlifter in mind. The stainless steel shaft offers the perfect grip without the use of excessively sharp knurling; making it just as viable for a single, max-effort pull as it is for higher-rep sets. No bar finish feels like stainless steel; only bare steel is comparable in terms of grip feel, but bare steel easily rusts whereas stainless steel doesn’t.
Thankfully you get more than a stainless steel shaft for this bar’s $675 price tag (which was previously $799 btw). This bar has high-load, track-style bearing cartridges that outperform all other needle bearings. AB’s proprietary bearings can handle any load you could possibly put on this bar, and the sleeves will spin smoothly and reliably no matter what. There is also a chalk/dust guard that protects the bearings.
This is a beautiful, functional, high-performance bar. It is superior to Olympic bar that costs less money, and far too many of them that cost even more money. The new $675 price tag makes it even harder to ignore. I highly recommend it (see my review of the men’s SS Bar.)
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Dual-Marked / Multi-purpose / CrossFit Barbells
Dual-marked bars are multi-purpose bars. They are marked for both weightlifting (IWF) and powerlifting (IPF.) These bars are great for garage gyms and home gyms, and they’re what you’ll typically find being used in CrossFit; though many advanced CrossFit athletes tend to prefer true Olympic bearing bars for their WODs because of the better turnover at the high weights.
The advantage of a multi-purpose barbell for women is really more about the reduced cost than anything else. Other than the fact that multi-purpose bars usually have bushings rather than bearings, almost everything else is the same as it is with Olympic bars. Shaft diameter is the same, still no center knurl, etc. Women’s bars don’t tend to vary in shaft diameter like men’s bars do.
If your budget doesn’t afford you a bearing bar; or if your skill level does not necessitate it, know that there is nothing wrong with dual-marked bushing bars. They will take you pretty far with your training, and they’ll do so for a lot less money.
The Rogue Bella 2.0
I’m going to go ahead and crown the Bella the Queen of Women’s CrossFit Bars. I’d wager that there exists no other womens bar out there that fills as many home gyms and CrossFit boxes as the Rogue Bella 2.0. Ya this bar is popular, and why shouldn’t it be? The Bella is more or less the 15 kg version of the economical Rogue Bar 2.0 ($255), and it’s even more affordable than it’s 20 kg counterpart at only $215.
The Bella is a solid multi-purpose bar. It’s a 25 mm, dual-marked, bronze bushing bar that has reliable spin, decent whip, and a high-rep friendly knurl. The price would be reasonable even if it were a single-application bar, but the fact is that it makes a great bar for both your WODs and general strength training.
The Bella has 190,000 PSI black zinc shaft and bright zinc sleeves. The bar is warranted against defects for life, and like all Rogue bars, it’s made in the USA. The Bella also has a flawless 5-star review rating. $215 before shipping.
The Bella Bar 2.0 is also now available in a Cerakote finish for a small premium of $60 (or $275). Currently there exists upwards of twelve different color combinations allowing you to sort of personalize your bar. Aside from the Cerakote finish, the bar remains the same as the original. [see my review]
Burgener & Rippetoe Women’s Bar
The Burgener & Rippetoe Bar is one of the better multi-purpose bars out there. Developed by Mark Rippetoe and Mike Burgener, and originally manufactured by York Barbell (Rogue has taken over production), this bar separates itself from the rest of the dual-marked bars by being one of the only raw steel options. Raw steel has the huge advantage of offering a natural, grippy feel that can’t be achieved with any applied finish (chrome, zinc, oxide, etc.) Sure steel requires maintenance, but plenty of folks will tell you that it’s worth the trade off.
The bar itself boasts very respectable specifications for being just $205; the PSI rating of the shaft is average at 190k PSI, and the bronze bushing system is reliable. Shaft whip is typical of a 25 mm bar and the knurl is, of course, Rogue’s standard knurl pattern. There is no center knurl.
Again, bare steel is great, but you do need to be willing to clean the bar in order to prevent rust. It’ll become a chore if you avoid this responsibility for too long, but it’s easy to stay on top of it. Don’t want to brush and oil your bar? Well the only way you’ll get a feeling like bare steel without the maintenance is to buy a stainless steel bar, but that’ll set you back at close to twice as much cash for an otherwise comparable bar.
Vulcan One Basic 15 kg Barbell
The Vulcan One Basic is 15 kg multi-purpose bar on par with the Rogue Bella both in terms of specifications, and price ($219 versus $215; but shipped for free.) Like the Rogue, it has a 25 mm, 190k tensile strength shaft, dual-markings, and no center knurl. Unlike the Bella, the One Basic has no zinc; it’s 100% finished in chrome. I think this alone makes it a better buy than the Bella.
The One Basic is an excellent beginner to intermediate bar for CrossFit & general strength training. The warranty of 3-years leaves a little to be desired, but if an issue hasn’t shown itself in 3-years I think you’ll be alright. It’s not an amazing warranty but it beats the hell out of 1-year or less like many lesser economy bars. Truth be told, these ~$200 WOD bars tend to be outgrown by anyone training consistently anyway.
I am a big fan of Vulcan bars and I can see myself buying the One Basic over the Bella 2.0. I can absolutely see myself buying it over the lesser, off-the-shelf imports like the Wonder, the Get bars, and other similar overpriced, box-store quality bars.
Rep Women’s Sabre Bar
The Rep Fitness Sabre Bar is kind of your last ditch “I have no money!” option for a barbell. Sort of the ‘something is better than nothing’ approach – but without being CAP Barbell or Again Faster bad.
The 15 kg Sabre is a 25 mm, dual-marked, bushing bar with a lower than average 150,000 PSI, bright zinc-plated shaft. This import would be appropriate for a beginner and perhaps even take you a short distance into intermediate Olympic weightlifting, but it’s by no means an end-game bar. Like I said if cash-flow is seriously tight and you can either drop $179 on something basic or not lift at all, then by all means go this route. If you have a hot minute to save up a few more bucks for something like the Vulcan One. then do that.
Don’t get me wrong; Rep is a solid company. The market is just super competitive right now with equally affordable and higher performance American-made bars.
American Barbell Women’s California Bar
While certainly not as inexpensive as the Bella or the Vulcan One Basic, the California Bar is definitely a higher-end bar than either. The California has all the same specifications as any other dual-marked women’s bar, but it’s built so well and to such strict tolerances that if I had to bet on which bar would survive for 100-years, it would be this one.
The California isn’t just built well for the $335 price tag, it’s also a Cerakote-finished bar; the first Cerakote bar to exist actually (well it was either the California or the Mammoth Bar, but either way it was an AB bar.) So between the Cerakote shaft and the industrial hard chrome sleeves, this bar will not age like lesser bars, and it absolutely will not rust.
I realize the California is 50% more money than other dual-marked bars, but it is a lot of bar for the money. If you’ve already got a lot of experience under your belt and you want a bar that can keep up with your progress, this is the bar.
Want pink? The 15 kg Cerakote Training Bar, while not a California, is dual-marked – and for only $295.
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My Bar Suggestions
Full disclosure, I am not a woman, and I don’t lift with 15 kg bars very often. Usually only for warm-ups, snatch balances, stuff like that. That said, I do like to think I know enough about bars to pick out the right one for a given job. Feel free to comment, disagree, and/or leave your own personal feedback on any of the bars on this page, or even bars not on this page.
Women’s Economy CrossFit Bar Recommendation
Definitely the Bella or One Basic. Both are solid barbells, and the low price tags just makes them no-brainers. They perform well and will last many years. The chrome on the Vulcan along with a lower delivered price makes it stand out a little, but both are great. Spend less than this at your own risk.
Women’s Multi-purpose Bar Recommendation
By multi-purpose I mean truly using the bar for both Olympic lifting (whether CrossFit or not) and general strength training (like the big three).
I think the California Bar is the nicest, true, general purpose bar available for the cash. The rotation system of the California (the composite bushings) along with the premium finish makes it a real stand out.
Women’s Professional Olympic Bar Recommendation
Easily the American Barbell SS Bearing Bar. This beast has a flawless bearing system, a great non-aggressive knurl, and the stickiness that you can only get from raw bars. This is my favorite men’s Olympic bar, and this preference easily carries over to the 15 kg version. Beautiful, functional, and expensive – but the last bar you’ll buy for a very, very long time.
I doubt that anyone would have a reason to dislike this American Barbell bar, but I certainly don’t suggest buying a nearly $700 bar for your first Olympic bar. This bar is intended for experienced Olympic weightlifters.
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Women’s Olympic Barbell Review & Shopping Guide Summary
Always do your homework. Read those user reviews and understand that I am not the only opinion out there. Yes I do favor certain brands because of their track records and their innovative approaches, but I try to remain unbiased enough to just give you the information and let you decide. Please share this post.