This is a guest post by Daniel Walter, co-founder/owner of Bar Shield USA and expert on barbell maintenance.
#1 – Bar Storage
Where are your barbells stored? Are they in a climate-controlled gym or a gym that is continually exposed to the elements? Depending on the climate that you live in, this could pose an immediate threat to your barbell(s).
Climate-controlled gyms are an ideal setting for barbells because there is less moisture in the air, resulting in less rust. On the other side of the coin, a gym continually exposed to humidity will increase the rate of oxidation (rusting) quite dramatically. As an example, Weightlifting and Cross-training gyms are rarely climate-controlled because the financial cost is too great.
Being mindful of where you store your barbell(s) can help mitigate this issue to some extent. At the very least, keep the barbell off the ground. Doing so will help keep some moisture off the bar. 9-Bar Holders and Gun Racks are two of the most popular storage options, but a climate-controlled room is best.
#2 – Remove Chalk After Use
Do you brush down your bar after use? Don’t be the guy who leaves loads of chalk in the knurling. When chalk is left in the knurling of the bar, you are opening the door to rust right away.
When chalk is caked on and left on the bar, it holds moisture (aka your sweat) much more easily. The result is the bar rusting on that particular part of the barbell only. We’ve seen bar after bar rusted out where people grip for their deadlift, clean, snatch, etc… Simply using a stiff nylon bristle brush after use can reduce the risk of oxidation.
#3 – Don’t Drop an Empty Bar!
Don't do it! At some point, most of us are guilty of dropping an empty barbell. Even if it’s from your shin or knee, you still shouldn’t be dropping them when there’s no weight on the sleeves.
For starters, it makes a horrendous rattling sound when it hits the ground. Most multi-purpose barbells out there have washers, snap rings and other hardware inside the sleeve that helps hold the sleeves in place so they don’t slide off.
The drops will start to add up over time, ultimately getting to the point of popping off (Yes, I’ve seen this happen). In addition, dropping an empty bar poses the risk of damaging the hardware inside. A bent washer, for example, may cause the bar’s sleeves to not spin correctly. And if you try to replace the hardware or barbell through your manufacturer, they may not be so kind.
Daniel makes excellent points on how to maintain a barbell without spending much money.
A barbell is an investment, friends, and it should be treated as such. Maintained properly, a quality barbell will last you years and offer you plenty of PR opportunities. A poorly maintained barbell, on the other hand, will have a shorter life and it won't look nearly as nice.
There are a lot of options out there these days when it comes to barbell finishes. On the oxidation spectrum, you have bare steel at the bottom and stainless steel/Cerakote at the top.
While buying a barbell with a superior finish like a stainless steel or Cerakote bar is great for fighting oxidation, it's not a reason to avoid maintenance. Stainless steel will generate some rust over time. Cerekote will also generate rust over time, especially if the finish wears off (which it will in places).
Regardless of finish concerns, it's the inner workings of the barbell itself that poses the real issues. If the sleeves of your barbell, including all the bits and pieces internally, become compromised, your barbell will not function as it should. This will require a more comprehensive maintenance process that may lead to purchasing parts to fix your bar. To make matters worse, some companies will actually void your warranty if you remove the endcap/sleeve.
The solution is simple: Take care of your equipment and maintain your bars with regularity.
In my opinion, BarShield makes one of the best maintenance kits out there. The kit comes with a nylon brush to clean the knurl, a lubricant for the bar and internal mechanisms, and 3 microfiber towels for a clean finish.
Priced at under $40, the kit will last a long time and it will really make a difference in protecting your investment.
Regardless of how you do it, remember this, maintaining your barbell is very worthwhile. You'll thank yourself later.
I'd like to thank Daniel for taking the time to provide his insights on 3 easy ways to maintain a barbell.
If you have any questions on barbell maintenance, please leave a comment below.
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The bar is loaded,