Picture this for a second…
The year is 1996. You’re at home making some dinner and watching TV when a commercial comes on. A woman is chiseling away at a statue of a muscular, long-haired man. She places a buttered piece of bread on the pedestal that he’s so eloquently leaning against when BAM…
Fabio, in all his glory, busts through the statue… and in his thick Italian accent he announces:
“I can’t believe it’s not butter.”
This is perfectly symbolic for how I feel about the American Barbell Grizzly Power Bar.
Imagine this with me for another second…
A striking woman is chiseling away at my towering 5’8″ frame of a statue. She sets a Grizzly Power Bar next to me, and in my slightly southern, but mostly neutral accent, I announce:
“I can’t believe this bar is only $250.”
In case you haven’t heard, American Barbell makes fantastic bars. In a sea of competitive barbell options, to see an AB bar at this price point is very exciting.
Whether you’re looking to purchase a full-time “entry level” power bar or you’re looking to round out your power bar collection with a different knurl pattern, this bar is a very solid option.
As someone who has an addiction to collecting power bars, I’ll tell you that this bar has found its way into my permanent rotation on at least one lift.
Find out more below.
American Barbell Grizzly Power Bar
The USA-made Grizzly Power Bar was created to compete against the Texas power bars of the world. As is customary with American Barbell’s products, the bar is beautifully constructed, it feels awesome, and it performs very nicely.
Not only that, but it’s extremely affordable. At only $250, it’s priced below the Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar as well as the majority of other power bars out there.
This bar is spec’d to satisfy the requirements set forth by powerlifting federations, including the IPF. While it isn’t IPF-approved (like most power bars), it meets the standards as established in their guidelines.
Bar Weight: 20kg
Shaft Diameter: 29mm
Knurl: Medium Knurl
Center Knurl: Yes – Same Pattern
Knurl Marks: Powerlifting
Shaft Coating: Hard Chrome
Tensile Strength: 190,000 PSI
Bar Length: 86.5″
Distance Between Collar Faces: 51.5″
Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.25″
Sleeve Coating: Hard Chrome
Made in: USA
Among other things, American Barbell is known for its knurling. Their lighter, more medium-depth pattern is not sharp, but it provides a really nice grip. The company stayed true to their knurling roots with the Grizzly Bar.
The pattern is not deep, but it provides a significant number of touch points. This finely cut knurling offers perhaps the highest points-per-square-inch ratio that I have found. Because of this, and despite not having any semblance of sharpness at all, the bar is able to yield a surprising amount of grip. The beauty lies in the fact that it won’t tear up your hands like some other more aggressive knurls can.
Let’s face it, knurling is completely subjective. I would consider myself more of an aggressive knurl kind of guy, but I’m always pleasantly surprised when I’m handling an AB bar. It’s grippy, yet mild… shallow, yet present.
I think you’ll find this knurling highly suitable if any of the below are true:
- You like a more medium/less aggressive knurl on any or all lifts.
- You’re wanting to find a bar to complement your more aggressively-knurled bar(s).
- Front squatting and high bar squatting are staples in your programming.
- You perform a lot of high rep/volume work in your training.
Knurl patterns are inherently unique, which is why I advocate for having multiple barbells if your budget allows for it (something more aggressive and something more mild). If you’re someone who is just starting out in powerlifting, a less aggressive knurl may be a great option for you as well. Having a budget-friendly bar is also a benefit in that respect.
Suffice it to say, this knurling will likely appeal to all lifters, from beginner to advanced, in some capacity. I give it high marks even though I personally tend to lean towards deeper and more aggressive patterns as a whole.
Like the majority of power bars being made right now, the Grizzly Power Bar has a 29mm shaft diameter. This thickness contributes to creating a very rigid barbell that is perfect for handling squats, bench, and deadlifts. The bar offers a 190,000 PSI tensile strength, which is plenty, in my opinion. Since companies like Kabuki Strength have started heavily marketing their bars with 250,000+ PSI, tensile strength has become a popular talking point.
To set the record straight, tensile strength isn’t the end all and be all. It’s a neat stat, and it certainly has merit in measuring hardness, but it has an overblown impact on a bar’s rigidity, which is predominately influenced by diameter. Yield strength, which determines the point in which a bar is permanently deformed, is actually a more useful measure. The problem is most companies don’t readily make this metric public knowledge.
All that said, the 190,000 PSI on the Grizzly Power Bar is 100% acceptable. It’s more than capable of setting high-weight PRs.
The center knurl on this bar is the same pattern as the rest of the bar and it measures 5.0″ in length. This is actually a little wider than most power bars, which is a nice benefit since you get a bit more coverage. The full distance from collar-to-collar is 51.5″, which again, is spec’d in accordance with powerlifting standards.
The last thing I want to point out on this bar, as I do with every bar I review, is that it has very clean knurl termination points. With the exception of the high-end Vulcan Stainless Power Bar, this Grizzly Bar has some of the cleanest start-stops that I’ve seen. American Barbell continues to kill it with their attention to detail, tooling prowess, and overall knurl profile.
Yes, yes, YES! I LOVE American Barbell sleeves. I think they make some of the best sleeves in the entire game. Now, one of the things AB is known for is their beautiful recessed welds between the sleeves and the collars. This bar does not have recessed welding. Rather, it is friction welded like the vast majority of other bars. Performance-wise it’s just as good as any other AB bar, but aesthetically it differs in that respect.
The sleeves are hard chrome and smooth, which I personally prefer over grooved. The bar actually has some of the quietest sleeves I’ve ever used. Even their California Bar (review here) is louder, and it also has smooth sleeves.
The sleeves operate via a composite bushing system, which promotes a slow and steady spin. This is ideal for a powerlifting bar since we aren’t turning the bar over during movements… something that a bearing bar with more spin helps with. The important part is that the sleeves spin freely with no hitches along the way. The fact that there is virtually no lateral or vertical sleeve movement greatly helps. This also helps in creating a barbell that has little-to-no rattling to speak of.
The loadable sleeve length is 16.25″, which is right in the wheelhouse for powerlifting bars. One thing I like to note on these reviews is that I can load over 600 lbs of competition bumpers on the bar with room for a collar at the end. This means that if you have a thinner profile plate, like a calibrated plate for instance, you can load much more onto the bar. The sleeve diameter is 1.96″ (also consistent) and they are affixed to the bar with a thick snap ring.
Having used the bar numerous times now on all the lifts, I can confidently say that the Grizzly Power Bar performs very well.
- Squats – I’ve used the bar on low bar squats, high bar squats, and front squats – each of them with impressive results. I do generally prefer a more aggressive center knurl on low bar squats, but I wasn’t concerned here, as the knurl is grippy enough. Front squats and high bar squats felt like a dream. I’m a huge, huge fan there, and I’ll likely use this bar fairly frequently on them. I don’t really see myself using it much for low bar squats, but that’s just because I have some other bars I prefer more on that specific lift.
- Bench – Remember when I wrote that I was going to add this bar to my permanent rotation on at least one lift? This is the main one I was referring to. I like a more medium-depth knurl on bench, and by golly the Grizzly Power Bar delivers! I absolutely love using this bar on bench. When I’m not actively reviewing other bars, I see myself exclusively benching with this bar for the time being.
- Deadlift – I’ve used this bar on heavy deads and I’ve used it on volume deads. I love it on volume deads, and I like it on heavy deads. The lighter knurl feels amazing with any type of rep work and I absolutely plan on using this bar frequently in that manner. While the bar definitely performs on heavy pulls, I just prefer aggressive knurling when I’m hitting anything 1-3 reps. I don’t envision myself using it much when going heavy.
From this, I hope you’re able to see how I’m looking at this bar’s utility and then infer how you could see it in your own training. For the record, I completely believe that this could be a solid all-around single power bar.
To put it simply, American Barbell makes some of the most beautiful bars on the market. The Grizzly Power Bar is no exception, and while it differs in some ways to their other bars, it’s a fantastic looking barbell.
One of the first things I noticed about the bar was how flawless the finish was from end-to-end. The hard chrome makes for a beautiful color that is bright and vibrant. I haven’t found a single material cosmetic issue, which is a real testament to American Barbell’s quality-conscious attitude.
I think a BIG reason for this is also AB’s meticulous packaging. Nobody, and I mean nobody, packages a barbell like American Barbell. The tube is extremely durable, the ends are screwed on, the sleeves are protected by “pool noodles”, and the entire barbell is wrapped in a heavy-duty protective bag. Seriously impressive stuff.
As I mentioned above, the knurl termination points are exceptional. To take it a step further, the knurling in general is noticeably consistent. On some competing bars, you may find a small section here and there where the tooling bit dulled out, the points got chopped, etc… I have noticed no such thing on the Grizzly Power Bar. It’s perfect from what I can ascertain.
The sleeves, as I mentioned earlier, are a favorite feature of mine on AB bars. While a lot of their bars offer their infamous recessed welds, this one is friction welded. Still, American Barbell found a way to make it look great. It’s such a clean transition that it looks like it was machined out of one block of steel. Excellent execution all around.
The end caps on this bar, just like their other power bars, are simply laid out against a vibrant red background. Their classic eagle-on-shield logo anchors the design, and the “Made in USA” text is a nice touch.
American Barbell continues to impress me with their design and aesthetic-minded approach.
American Barbell Grizzly Power Bar – Pros and Cons
- This bar has remarkable value. A $250 offering from American Barbell is just awesome. You can rest easy knowing that the AB reputation provides superb resale value… although I doubt you’ll want to sell this one.
- Construction quality is top notch, just like all American Barbell products.
- Smooth sleeves baby – stylish and quiet.
- The knurling is medium-depth, which could be a pro or con depending on what you’re looking for in a bar. The knurl itself is perfectly executed.
- The specs on this bar meet generally accepted powerlifting guidelines, including the IPF.
- The weight is highly accurate coming in at 20.05 kg.
- American Barbell continues to deliver in the aesthetics department. This bar is clean, headlined by a flawless finish.
- Hard chrome isn’t the best finish, but it’s not the worst either. At this price point, it’s a standard offering. The feel is still quite good. I do recommend maintaining the bar with oil on occasion if you’re in a humid environment.
- Depending on your knurl preference, the medium-cut pattern may not be as aggressive as you would like.
I think American Barbell made a very smart decision to introduce this bar to the market. It’s absurdly affordable and it performs well overall.
I think this bar is a wonderful option for those just entering the power bar arena and/or those entering the sport of powerlifting in general. Similarly, if you’re looking for a nice complementary bar to your collection, this one is a strong contender. I maintain that any of American Barbell’s power bars would be a great complement to their more aggressive competition. Budget is, therefore, one of the deciding factors.
In terms of price competition, the following will be the closest to the Grizzly Power Bar:
- Bare Steel Rogue Ohio Power Bar – You can read my OPB review here
- Rep Fitness Stainless Power Bar – You can read my review here
- Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar
- Fringe Sport Power Bar – You can read my review here
Oh, and this review would be incomplete without sharing the unforgettable Fabio commercial.
If you want to read more about power bars or powerlifting equipment in general, check out my ultimate guide to building a powerlifting home gym.
If you have any questions about this bar or power bars in general, please leave a comment below. Likewise, if you own this bar and want to chime in with your own thoughts, please do so!
As always, I appreciate any feedback.
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The bar is loaded,