HomeBest of 202220 Best Barbells to Buy in 2022

20 Best Barbells to Buy in 2022

Barbells are one of the most important pieces of equipment in any gym. With a barbell and some quality weight plates, you can perform hundreds of exercises to build muscle and get stronger. I consider Olympic barbells to be one of the ‘core four': a power rack, a barbell, some weight plates, and a weight bench… especially for the home gym.

Barbells can range in purpose, knurling, strength, price, quality, etc… which can be a challenge when narrowing down a list of potential options.

In this article, I'll take you through some of the best Olympic barbells to buy in 2022. Whether you're looking for a powerlifting barbell, an Olympic weightlifting barbell, a CrossFit barbell, or just a general-purpose barbell, this article has you covered.

Let's dig in!

Best Olympic Barbells in 2022: The Categories

The format of this article will be to give you five top-rated barbells in each of the following categories:

  1. Multipurpose Bars
  2. Power Bars
  3. Olympic Weightlifting Bars
  4. Specialty Bars

How to Find the Best Olympic Barbell for You

Selecting gym equipment can be exhausting, overwhelming, and downright confusing when you factor in different features, prices, etc… Olympic barbells are certainly no exception, and it's important to filter them down to make the best buying decision for you.

In addition to this guide, which will detail everything you need to know about barbells, Garage Gym Lab also has a very useful equipment finder that will filter it down for you based on a few quick questions. It takes less than 30 seconds – no emails, no funny business – just helpful content right inside your browser.

I personally own nearly 50 barbells and I've used well over that. Each barbell that I have outlined in this article has either been personally owned/used by me or has been meticulously researched through spec comparisons, user reviews, and feedback from people I trust.


Quick Navigation

  1. Best Multipurpose Barbells
  2. Best Powerlifting Barbells
  3. Best Olympic Weightlifting Barbells
  4. Best Specialty Barbells
  5. Types of Olympic Barbells
  6. Important Factors to Consider
  7. Barbell Knurling & Shaft Finishes
  8. Barbell Maintenance Tips
  9. FAQ's

Best Multipurpose Bars

Best Overall Multipurpose Barbell

American Barbell California Bar

American Barbell California Bar - Best Barbells

Price: $349
Knurl Type: Passive/Mild
Center Knurl: No
Tensile Strength: 190,000 PSI
Weight: 20kg or 15kg
Shaft Diameter: 28mm
Shaft Finish: Cerakote
Sleeve Type/Finish: Smooth/Hard Chrome
Rotation System: Bushing
Made in: USA
Warranty: Lifetime

Pros

  • 28mm shaft provides nice whip and comfort
  • Cerakote shaft comes in a variety of colors
  • Recessed welds are best-in-class
  • Smooth sleeves are quieter than bars with grooved sleeves
  • One of the overall quietest barbells on the market due to composite bushings and sleeve assembly
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Cerakote finish with no center knurl can make it hard to find true center
  • Passive knurling may leave some users wanting more
Best Overall Multipurpose Barbell
American Barbell California Bar
4.9

The American Barbell California is an excellent 28mm multipurpose bar with a Cerakote shaft, dual knurl marks, and gorgeous recessed welds.

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The American Barbell California Bar is one of my favorite barbells of all time. I've owned this bar for almost 5 years and it has performed beautifully since day 1. It's one of the best-looking bars on the market, with numerous color options and recessed welds that are unique to American Barbell.

This bar has dual knurl rings and no center knurl, which is common on a multipurpose bar. The smooth center is nice if you're training higher rep/volume front squats or anything in the front rack position since it's more comfortable. The knurling on the California Bar is very passive – again, ideal for higher rep/volume work. The pattern can be classified as flat and ‘hilly' (see below section for a detailed look into barbell knurling). It's not aggressive at all, but don't mistake that for it not being grippy, because it is. It also takes chalk well, which you may be reaching for on heavier attempts.

The 28mm shaft is great for anyone looking to perform Oly movements since that's the standard diameter for a weightlifting bar. It can also be used effectively as a deadlift bar alternative if overload training is important to you, but keep in mind the knurling isn't aggressive. Straps and chalk will help. If you train with a hook grip like me, the 28mm shaft is especially comfortable… well, as comfortable as a hook grip can be.

The sleeve assembly on the California Bar is, in my opinion, second to none. The first thing you'll notice are the recessed welds. These are beautiful and unique to American Barbell. They function the same as a friction weld that you'd find on other barbells, but the craftsmanship is next-level. The smooth finish is quieter than most barbells, which may come in handy if you're training in a home gym. Speaking of quiet, the sleeve assembly on this bar is constructed with minimal – if any at all –  metal-on-metal contact. This greatly reduces the overall sound when using the California Bar, making it truly one of the quietest barbells manufactured.

The sleeves spin via composite bushings. Bushings are a very common mechanism on multi-purpose bars since they allow you to perform a variety of movements and they're less costly than needle bearings. Composite bushings are among the best type of bushing due to their performance, durability, and look from the inner collar.

This is simply a fantastic barbell. It's also available in a 15kg women's version on the same product page.

Read the full American Barbell California Bar review.


Best All-Around Multipurpose Barbell

Rogue Ohio Bar

Rogue Ohio Bar - Best Barbells

Price: $305-$395
Knurl Type: Medium
Center Knurl: No
Tensile Strength: 190,000 or 200,000 PSI
Weight: 20kg
Shaft Diameter: 28.5mm
Shaft Finish: Stainless Steel, Cerakote, E-Coat, Black Zinc, or Black Oxide
Sleeve Type/Finish: Grooved/Hard Chrome, Cerakote, or Black Oxide
Rotation System: Bushing
Made in: USA
Warranty: Lifetime

Pros

  • 28.5mm shaft is great for all lifts
  • Knurling is very refined – not passive nor aggressive
  • Includes a variety of finishes/colors to choose from
  • Zeus builder allows for unique customization
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Cerakote/2.0s sleeves can show marks and imperfections quickly
  • Some users don't like the “ROGUE” logo in the center of the bar
Best All-Around Multipurpose Barbell
Rogue Ohio Bar
4.9

The Rogue Ohio Bar is the most popular multipurpose bar in the world. Its 28.5mm shaft comes in several finishes, it offers a great knurling, and it's very well-reviewed by thousands of lifters.

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The Rogue Ohio Bar is arguably the most popular multipurpose bar ever created and sold. It has a longstanding history of outstanding performance from CrossFit to Olympic weightlifting and even to powerlifting. With multiple finishes available at a variety of price points, the Ohio Bar appeals to lifters of different levels and budgets.

The Ohio Bar utilizes a 28.5mm shaft, which is the most commonly used diameter among multipurpose bars. This truly bridges the gap between Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting, allowing lifters to train all the lifts very effectively. The Ohio Bar can be purchased in a variety of finishes, including stainless steel, Cerakote, black zinc, black oxide, and e-coat. Refer to the section below, which discusses shaft finishes in more detail. The Ohio Bar is also available in Rogue's Zeus builder, which provides lifters the ability to customize their bar. This includes shaft color, shaft text, shaft logos, bushing type, and sleeve coating.

The knurling on the Ohio Bar is volcanic in shape and, in my opinion, it's the ideal knurling for a multipurpose barbell. It has a terrific texture that isn't passive or aggressive. It strikes a great balance which, again, makes it great for a variety of lifts. You can use the Ohio Bar for rep work or even heavier attempts. Keep in mind that shaft finish will also play a role in this. For example, stainless steel will feel a lot better in the hand than black zinc. The Ohio Bar includes dual rings and it does not come with a center knurl.

The sleeves on the Ohio Bar are grooved and they will either include a hard chrome finish, a Cerakote finish, or a new conversion coating (exclusive to Ohio Bar 2.0s). The bars spin via bronze or composite bushings depending on which version of the bar you purchase. The spin is very smooth and controlled. On the Ohio Bar 2.0s, Rogue's newest version of the bar, the sleeve assembly has removed metal-on-metal contact, which greatly reduces noise. I also this version of the bar, and it's indeed much quieter than other bars. It's comparable to the American Barbell California Bar in that area.

There's a strong argument to be made that the Ohio Bar from Rogue is the best all-around multipurpose bar that you can buy. Female lifters can check out the Rogue Bella Bar 2.0 for a comparable 15kg version.


Best Multipurpose Barbell for Olympic Weightlifting

LUXIAOJUN E1 Training Bar

Price: $235
Knurl Type: Medium
Center Knurl: No
Tensile Strength: 200,000 PSI
Weight: 20kg or 15kg
Shaft Diameter: 28mm
Shaft Finish: Hard Chrome or Black Chrome
Sleeve Type/Finish: Grooved/Hard Chrome or Black Chrome
Rotation System: Bearings
Made in: China
Warranty: 2 Years

Pros

  • Terrific value for a quality barbell
  • Two shaft and sleeve finish options
  • Needle Bearings provide smooth and fast spin
  • 28mm diameter is ideal for Olympic weightlifting movements
  • Very consistent, slightly passive knurling

Cons

  • Warranty isn't as strong as other barbells
  • Black chrome sleeves show imperfections quickly

The LUXIAOJUN E1 Training Bar was designed by world-renowned weightlifter, Lu Xiaojun. While this bar is a multipurpose barbell with its dual rings, it has definite Olympic weightlifting leanings given its diameter and spin mechanics.

Best Multipurpose Barbell for Olympic Weightlifting
LUXIAOJUN E1 Training bar
4.8

The LUXIAOJUN E1 Training Bar is a strong budget-friendly bar with a 28mm shaft and needle bearings, making it great for Oly lifting.

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The E1 Training Bar utilizes a 28mm shaft and 8 needle bearings. This combination is more akin to a weightlifting bar than it is to a multipurpose bar, but with dual knurl rings, you can use it for a variety of lifts. I've owned this bar since the Fall of 2020 and, even though I don't perform Oly movements much, I've enjoyed it on certain movements. For instance, I've really enjoyed overhead pressing with this bar. The 28mm shaft will provide great whip on Oly lifts and the needle bearings spin very nicely for that application as well.

The knurling on the E1 Training Bar is fairly neutral, but it is more passive than something like the Rogue Ohio Bar. The pattern is flatter with a slight volcano, so you get the best of both worlds in that respect. The bar does not offer a center knurl, which is very common for a multipurpose training bar like this.

This bar is available in two finishes: black chrome and hard chrome. Either version has the same finish on both the shaft and sleeves. I own the black chrome version of this bar, which has a totally blacked-out aesthetic. While I love the look, note that any colored sleeve is going to show imperfections as soon as you start loading and unloading plates. I think the hard chrome version looks the best aesthetically, but either option will feel similar given their chrome lineage.

If you're primarily an Olympic weightlifter who likes to dabble in other lifts, I think the E1 Training Bar from LUXIAOJUN is an excellent choice, especially for the money. Female lifters can check out the Women's E1 Training Bar which is a 15kg equivalent.

Read the full LUXIAOJUN E1 Training Bar review.


Most Feature-Rich Multipurpose Barbell

Rogue Chan Bar

Price: $420
Knurl Type: Medium
Center Knurl: Yes
Tensile Strength: 200,000 PSI
Weight: 20kg
Shaft Diameter: 28.5mm
Shaft Finish: Cerakote over Stainless Steel
Sleeve Type/Finish: Cerakote or Hard Chrome
Rotation System: Bushing
Made in:
USA
Warranty: Lifetime

Pros

  • Extreme oxidation resistance with Cerakote over Stainless Steel
  • Passive, stainless steel center knurl
  • Wider outer knurl for wider stances
  • Very aesthetic profile with negative logos and a slick end cap
  • 28.5mm is a true multipurpose diameter
  • Longer loadable sleeve length than most bars
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Cerakote sleeves will show imperfections quickly (hard chrome is an option)
  • Close grip bench may be affected by the wider outer knurl
Most Feature-Rich Multipurpose Barbell
Rogue Chan Bar
4.8

The Rogue Chan Bar is a unique 28.5mm multipurpose bar with a combo of stainless steel and Cerakote, plus several other notable features.

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The Rogue Chan bar was built alongside CrossFit athlete Matt Chan. Together, they made one the most unique and feature-rich multipurpose barbells on the market.

The 28.5mm shaft on the Chan Bar is going to appeal to anyone looking for the best balance between lifting styles. This bar offers a neutral knurl similar to the Ohio Bar, but with two unique features. The first is that, unlike the Ohio Bar, the Chan Bar offers a center knurl. This center knurl is more passive than the rest of the bar, so you'll get some extra tactile sensation, but it will remain comfortable for high reps/volume in the front rack position. The second is that the outer knurl is nearly 3.5″ wider than traditional multipurpose barbells. This effectively provides a larger smooth section for wider-stance lifters, which prevents the knurling from scraping their shins.

Another unique feature of the Chan bar is that it's a stainless steel shaft with a Cerakote top coat. This provides unmatched oxidation resistance in this class since both stainless and Cerakote are premier rust fighters. The center knurl, however, remains stainless steel. Not only does it look cool and help you immediately identify true center, but it also provides a more raw feel compared to the Cerakote elsewhere.

The bar utilizes composite bushings to spin and the sleeves can be purchased in either hard chrome or Cerakote. I recommend hard chrome since it does a better job of hiding scuffs from plates sliding on and off. Yet another unique feature of the Chan Bar is that it offers a slightly longer sleeve length, which means it accepts more weight on the bar. Typically, multipurpose bars have sleeve lengths of between 16″-16.4″. The Chan bar has a loadable sleeve length of 16.5″, so not a huge difference, but potentially impactful for heavy lifters.

The bar is embossed with negative logos of a Samurai and Rogue on the smooth portions of the bar. The end cap includes the same Samurai, which creates one of the coolest-looking end caps in the game.


Best Budget Multipurpose Barbell

Fringe Sport Wonder Bar

Fringe Sport Wonder Barbell - Best Barbells

Price: $298 w/ Free Shipping (Often on Sale)
Knurl Type: Medium
Center Knurl: No
Tensile Strength: 205,000 PSI
Weight: 20kg or 15kg
Shaft Diameter: 28mm
Shaft Finish: Black Zinc
Sleeve Type/Finish: Black Zinc
Rotation System: Bushing or Bearing
Made in: Import/Asia
Warranty: Lifetime

Pros

  • Great for beginner/recreational/budget-minded lifters
  • 28mm shaft works well for Olympic lifts
  • Neutral knurling profile for all lifts
  • Available with bushings or bearings
  • Excellent warranty for the price

Cons

  • Black zinc offers decent-not-great feel and oxidation resistance
  • Black zinc on sleeves will show imperfections quickly
Best Budget Multipurpose Barbell
Fringe Sport Wonder Bar
4.9

The Fringe Sport Wonder Bar is a quality multipurpose bar at a great price point. Often on sale, this bar comes with bushings or bearings.

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The Fringe Sport Wonder Bar is a tried and true multipurpose barbell that has been around for years. At its price, it's a fantastic bar for anyone looking for a budget option.

The Wonder Bar utilizes a 28mm shaft and offers the choice and bushings or bearings. If you're more into Olympic lifting, the bearing version (slightly more expensive) is likely the better option. If you're looking for something more ‘all-purpose'. the bushing version is the way to go.

The knurling on the Wonder Bar is fairly neutral, which allows it to play nicely with most lifts. Given its smaller diameter shaft, however, most lifters will be using this bar for Oly movements and general-purpose lifts, not necessarily power lifts. In this sense, the knurling is ideally suited for that application. The bar is equipped with dual knurl rings and no center knurl.

The black zinc on this bar exists on both the shaft and the sleeves. Black zinc is a budget-friendly selection that does a fair job of fighting oxidation. As a coated finish, it also provides a fair feeling relative to non-coated and conversion coated finishes. In other words, black zinc is a mid-level offering. It doesn't feel the best nor does it look the best, but it's cost-effective, which allows the bar to price lower than higher-end finishes. Black zinc on sleeves will also tend to show marks once plates are introduced.

Still, the all-black look is generally well-received and the raised end caps are a great touch. You can also buy this bar in the stainless steel variety (bushing only), which costs about $100 more, but which also provides superior feel and oxidation resistance. The 15kg Wonder Bar is also an option for female lifters.

All-in-all, for the price, specs (205k tensile, etc…), lifetime warranty, and longstanding history of positive reviews, the Wonder Bar offers impressive value.


Best Power Bars

Best All-Around Power Bar

Rogue Ohio Power Bar

Rogue Ohio Power Bar - Best Barbells

Price: $290-$485
Knurl Type: Aggressive (Volcano)
Center Knurl: Yes
Tensile Strength: 200,000 or 205,000 PSI
Weight: 45lb
Shaft Diameter: 29mm
Shaft Finish: Stainless Steel, Cerakote, E-Coat, Black Zinc, or Bare Steel
Sleeve Type/Finish: Grooved/Stainless Steel, Cerakote, Chrome, or Bare Steel
Rotation System: Bushing
Made in: USA
Warranty: Lifetime

Pros

  • Semi-aggressive volcano knurl makes for a great all-around power bar for various rep schemes
  • Various finish options based on budget and preferences
  • 29mm shaft is industry-standard and creates a very rigid bar
  • Stellar reputation in the industry as a leading bar
  • Made in the USA with a lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Cerakote sleeves can show imperfections quickly and permanently
  • Grooved sleeves are some of the loudest I've tested
Best All-Around Power Bar
Rogue Ohio Power Bar
4.9

The Rogue Ohio Power Bar is an excellent bar with aggressive knurling and multiple finish options. It's a strong pick as a daily powerlifting driver.

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The Rogue Ohio Power Bar is one of the most popular power bars and likely the highest-selling of all time. This is my top power bar recommendation for most people since it offers a solid spec profile, excellent performance, and a reasonable price range. I've owned Ohio Power Bars dating back to 2016 – they're great bars.

The Ohio Power Bar from Rogue has a 29mm shaft, which is standard for a power bar. This creates a very rigid barbell that serves the squat, bench, and deadlift very well. The knurling consists of a deep volcanic pattern that has a fairly aggressive texture. It's not the most aggressive knurling by any means, but it's certainly not the least aggressive among power bars. Because it strikes a nice balance on the aggression spectrum, it makes for a great all-around power bar for most people. Many lifters will use this bar as their daily driver. The bar includes single powerlifting rings and it offers a center knurl in the same pattern as the outer knurl

A great feature of the Ohio Power Bar is that it comes in a variety of finishes, including stainless steel, Cerakote, e-coat, black zinc, and bare steel. I've owned several versions of this bar, but the stainless steel version is by far my favorite for its rust-fighting properties and its overall feel. Black zinc would be my least favorite of the bunch, but it's still a suitable finish at a good price point.

The sleeves on the Ohio Power Bar are grooved and they too come in a variety of finishes. Most include hard chrome (great choice), but it can also include bare steel, Cerakote, and stainless steel. If you purchase bare steel, it's recommended to maintain the barbell with oil every few weeks to mitigate oxidation. See the section below on barbell maintenance tips. The Ohio Power Bar spins with bushings, which are industry standard on power bars. This creates a slow and steady spin, ideal for the big 3.

If you're looking for a high-quality all-around power bar, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar is near the top of the list.

Read the full Rogue Ohio Power Bar review.


Best Aggressive Power Bar

REP Power Bar EX

REP Power Bar EX - Best Bars

Price: $449.99 w/ Free Shipping
Knurl Type: Aggressive (Mountain)
Center Knurl: Yes
Tensile Strength: 200,000 PSI
Weight: 20kg
Shaft Diameter: 29mm
Shaft Finish: Stainless Steel
Sleeve Type/Finish: Stainless Steel
Rotation System: Bushing
Made in: China
Warranty: Lifetime

Pros

  • Very aggressive knurling – my favorite pattern of all time. Great for heavy attempts, deadlifts, and low bar squats
  • Stainless steel shaft and sleeves
  • Quietest sleeves I've ever tested
  • 29mm shaft is ideal for squat, bench, and deadlift
  • Includes a lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Very aggressive knurling may be too much for some users, especially with higher rep sets
  • There have been some copies of this bar that have shown signs of oxidation despite being stainless
Best Aggressive Power Bar
REP Deep Knurl Power Bar EX
4.9

The REP Power Bar EX is a very aggressive power bar with a fully stainless steel body, a mountainous knurl, and smooth sleeves.

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The REP Power Bar EX is one of my favorite and highest-reviewed barbells of all time. If you're looking for a stainless steel barbell with AGGRESSIVE knurling, this bar is a top contender.

Like most power bars, the REP Power Bar EX offers a 29mm shaft to create a rigid barbell. There are a couple of very nice qualities of this bar, but the most impressive to me is the knurling. It's downright awesome and very aggressive. The peaked, mountainous knurl creates an undeniable bite that feels great on PR attempts and low rep sets. While this bar can certainly be used as an all-around power bar, I think it's best served as a companion bar for the specific purpose of heavy deadlifts and low bar squats. It's my favorite knurl pattern without a doubt – very similar to the equally impressive Vulcan Stainless Absolute Power Bar, which is quite a bit more expensive. The bar also includes a center knurl in the same pattern.

This entire barbell is stainless steel, from shaft to sleeves. At $450 shipped, that's a very nice value. Stainless provides a completely raw feel, which compliments this knurling extremely well. There has been some evidence of shaft oxidation on some copies of the Power Bar EX – some worse than others – but REP has worked with metallurgists to remedy the issue. In addition to the sleeves being stainless steel, they're totally smooth, which creates the quietest sleeve I've ever tested according to several decibel readout comparisons. I prefer smooth sleeves over grooved for this reason, and the REP Power Bar EX is king in that department. The sleeves are operated via bushings and they spin as expected for a power bar.

This is one of my most heavily used barbells. It's become my go-to bar on anything from 1-3 reps, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an aggressive bar.

Read the full REP Power Bar EX review.


Best Power Par Under $350

Vulcan Absolute Power Bar

Vulcan Absolute Power Bar - Best Barbells

Price: $339
Knurl Type: Aggressive (Mountain)
Center Knurl: Yes
Tensile Strength: 221,000 PSI
Weight: 20kg
Shaft Diameter: 29mm
Shaft Finish: Black Oxide
Sleeve Type/Finish: Grooved/Hard Chrome
Rotation System: Bushing
Made in: Import/Asia
Warranty: Lifetime

Pros

  • Aggressive knurl that provides excellent grip without sharpness
  • Less aggressive center knurl is great for high bar squats and front squats
  • Black oxide finish provides a very raw feel
  • Matte chrome sleeves have wider grooves to reduce noise
  • Among the highest tensile strength ratings in the power bar industry

Cons

  • Black oxide is more susceptible to oxidation
  • Less aggressive center knurl may leave some users wanting more on low bar squats
Best Power Par Under $350
Vulcan Absolute Power Bar
4.9

The Vulcan Absolute Power Bar is an awesome bar with aggressive knurling, a black oxide finish, and a more subdued center knurl... all for under $350.

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The Vulcan Absolute Power Bar is another personal favorite. I've owned this bar for several years and it has been one of my most-used power bars in that time. This bar is NOT to be confused with the Vulcan Stainless Absolute Power Bar. Despite having basically the same name, they're different bars with entirely different knurl patterns. The Stainless version is very similar to the REP Power Bar EX above.

The knurling on this version of the Absolute Power Bar is also mountainous, but instead of a sharper peak with more depth, this is a bit shallower and more rounded off. It's still aggressive – more so than something like the Rogue Ohio Power Bar – but it's more suitable as an all-around power bar than some other more aggressively-knurled bars. In my opinion, this is one of the best all-purpose power bars on the market. It can also very effectively be used for heavy attempts across the spectrum. The center knurl on this bar is less aggressive than the outer knurl, which makes high bar squats and front squats more comfortable.

This bar offers a black oxide finish, which is one of my favorite coatings due to its very raw feel. Being a conversion coating (see detailed knurling section below), there is no interference with the knurl pattern like on a plated coating (chrome, zinc, etc…). The downside to black oxide is that it's susceptible to oxidation over time, but not to the level of bare steel. Some maintenance is recommended. I've owned this bar since 2018 in my humid South Carolina garage and it has held up very nicely with oil application every 3-4 weeks.

The sleeves on the Absolute Power Bar are finished in matte chrome and they have thicker/wider grooves than normal grooved sleeves. This makes them noticeably quieter than conventional grooved sleeves as it reduces the zip noise. They operate via bushings and the end caps are some of the best out there, in my opinion.

Read the full Vulcan Absolute Power Bar review.


Best High-End Power Bar

Kabuki Power Bar

Kabuki Power Bar - Best Barbells

Price: $599.99-$669.99
Knurl Type: Aggressive (Mountain)
Center Knurl: Yes
Tensile Strength: 250,000+
Weight: 20kg
Shaft Diameter: 29mm
Shaft Finish: Bright Zinc, Black Oxide, or Electroless Nickel
Sleeve Type/Finish: Grooved/Bright Zinc, Black Oxide, or Electroless Nickel
Rotation System: Bushing
Made in: USA
Warranty: 5 Years

Pros

  • Very refined knurl with aggressive pattern
  • Three finish options to choose from based on budget and preferences
  • Extremely high tensile rating and hardness
  • Longer loadable sleeve length than most bars
  • Double ringed center knurl looks nice and creates a perfect setup every time

Cons

  • Among the highest-priced power bars
  • Zinc/Nickel coatings can be slicker than some finishes while black oxide can be more susceptible to oxidation
Best High-End Power Bar
Kabuki Strength Power Bar
4.9

The Kabuki Power Bar is one of the finest power bars on the market. It has several great features including an ultra-high tensile strength, aggressive knurling, and more.

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The Kabuki Power is a very well-known and respected power bar with excellent features. I've owned this barbell for several years now and it looks and performs as well as the day I received it. If you're looking for a barbell that will last for generations, this is the best bet.

The Kabuki Power Bar is known for having the highest tensile strength in the game at 250k (most are around 200k). When paired with a high Rockwell hardness rating, its durability is unmatched. The knurling on the Kabuki Power Bar is another of its best features. This pattern is mountainous but with slightly rounded tips and a very high points-per-square-inch ratio. This creates an aggressive bar but without a sharp bite in the hand. It's great for higher rep work as well as heavy PR attempts. The center knurl offers the same pattern as the outer and it includes two rings in the middle to make lining up for a squat effortless.

The Kabuki Power Bar comes in three finishes: bright zinc, black oxide, and electroless nickel. I own the nickel version, which offers the best oxidation resistance by far compared to the other two. It is, however, slightly slicker than some other finishes. It's comparable to zinc in my opinion. If I could go back, I would probably go with the Black Oxide since it provides a much tackier sensation and which is also generally one of my favorite finishes overall. Still, the nickel is a very high-quality finish all-around.

The sleeves on this bar are finished in whichever shaft finish you select. They're also very finely grooved, which creates an audible zip noise. Some people love the noise while others do not. They're operated via a bushing system with a very solid spin. The best thing about the sleeves is the amazing end caps. These are all metal end caps with a stamped logo and they just look outstanding. I have yet to find a nicer-looking end cap.

At the end of the day, this is one of the most durable and best-performing powerlifting bars on the market.

Read the full Kabuki Power Bar review.


Best 28.5mm Power Bar

Texas Power Bar

Texas Power Bar - Best Barbells

Price: $285-345
Knurl Type:  Aggressive (Mountain)
Center Knurl: Yes
Tensile Strength: 190,000 PSI
Weight: 20kg
Shaft Diameter: 28.5mm
Shaft Finish: Bare Steel, Black Zinc, Hard Chrome, or Cerakote
Sleeve Type/Finish: Grooved/Hard Chrome or Bare Steel
Rotation System: Bushing
Made in: USA
Warranty: Lifetime

Pros

  • Iconic barbell with a longstanding history
  • 17″ sleeve length is longest among power bars
  • Includes four finish options based on budget and preferences
  • Aggressive, mountainous knurl
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • 28.5mm shaft does not meet IPF standards
  • Tensile strength is lower compared to many power bars
Best 28.5mm Power Bar
Texas Power Bar
4.9

The Texas Power is an iconic 28.5mm power bar with aggressive knurling, multiple finish options, and a stellar reputation.

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The Texas Power Bar is arguably the most well-known and “famous” power bar on the market. This bar has been used for decades across the biggest stages and by some of the biggest powerlifters. It has a strong reputation as being a high-quality, strong-performing, and PR-setting power bar.

The knurling on the Texas Power Bar leaves nothing to the imagination. It's very aggressive with a firm bite in the hand. Deadlifters and low bar squatters will likely love this bar, especially on 1-3 rep sets. This pattern is mountainous with noticeable peaks – not for the faint of heart. The bar offers a center knurl in the same pattern.

The bar offers four different finish options, including bare steel, black zinc, hard chrome, and Cerakote. The bar is known for its bare steel finish, which provides the rawest feel, but their Cerakote application is great and it offers several color options. The shaft on the Texas Power Bar is 28.5mm, which is thinner than the standard 29mm. This still creates a rigid shaft and it will be more comfortable for smaller-handed lifters, but just know that some competitive powerlifting federations will only accept 29mm bars. Therefore, if you're training for a competition, specificity is important, which may require you to train with a 29mm bar.

The sleeves on the TPB are pinned instead of using a snap ring and they have a recessed end cap that Texas Power Bars are known for. The sleeves can be purchased in bare steel or chrome and they're grooved. They're also 17″ long, which is the longest in the powerlifting bar game. You can therefore load more weight on this bar compared to others.


Best Olympic Weightlifting Bars

Best Competition Weightlifting Bar

Eleiko IWF Competition Weightlifting Bar

Eleiko IWF Competition Weightlifting Bar - Best Barbells

Price: $1,173
Knurl Type: Aggressive
Center Knurl: Yes
Tensile Strength: 215,000 PSI
Weight: 20kg or 15kg
Shaft Diameter: 28mm
Shaft Finish: Hard Chrome
Sleeve Type/Finish: Grooved/Hard Chrome
Rotation System: Bearing
Made in: Sweden
Warranty: Lifetime

Pros

  • Aggressive, competition level knurling w/ center knurl
  • IWF-Certified
  • Needle bearings for fast/controlled spin
  • Dust-proof seal keeps sleeve mechanics functioning optimally
  • Stellar reputation from home gyms to the international platform

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Would prefer stainless steel over hard chrome for feel/oxidation resistance
Best Competition Weightlifting Bar
Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar

The Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar is the gold standard of Oly bars. It has needle bearings, refined knurling, and several notable features.

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The Eleiko IWF Competition WL Bar is perhaps the best Oly bar on the planet. This bar has all the specs that you would expect from a top-notch weightlifting bar and it's IWF-certified. If you're a competitive weightlifter and you have the budget to support a nearly $1,200 barbell, you may not find a better bar.

Eleiko is known for having extremely high-quality Swedish steel that performs great and looks flawless. This bar offers a 28mm shaft and 215k tensile strength, which is on the higher end of the spectrum. This is a competition barbell. It's not necessarily intended to be used as a training bar with high reps or volume since the knurling is more aggressive. This bar also differs from non-competition barbells in that it does offer a center knurl. This will give you more feedback in the front rack position and on back squats, and it also helps you line up under center more easily.

The bar is entirely coated in hard chrome from end to end. For a bar that costs as much as this one does, I wish it was stainless steel, but it's hard to argue against performance and years of real-world feedback.

The sleeves on the Eleiko Bar operate via needle bearings to produce a very efficient and fast spin – ideal for Olympic lifting. One great feature about this bar, and these sleeves in particular, is that they include a dust seal. This seal keeps chalk and other debris from entering the sleeve assembly, which keeps the bar operating at peak levels.

Eleiko barbells are in an elite class, and owning one puts you in one. They're expensive, but they're mighty fine bars.


Best Rogue Fitness Weightlifting Bar

Rogue Pyrros Bar

Rogue Pyrros Bar - Best Barbells

Price: $615 w/ Free Shipping
Knurl Type: Medium/Aggressive
Center Knurl: Yes
Tensile Strength: 200,000 PSI
Weight: 20kg or 15kg
Shaft Diameter: 28mm
Shaft Finish: Stainless Steel
Sleeve Type/Finish: Grooved/Stainless Steel or Hard Chrome
Rotation System: Bearing
Made in: USA
Warranty: Lifetime

Pros

  • IWF Certified
  • Semi-aggressive knurl works for training and PR attempts
  • Includes a center knurl
  • German needle bearings produce efficient spin
  • Stainless steel shaft provides raw feel and great oxidation resistance

Cons

  • Stainless steel sleeves are a sizable upcharge
Best Rogue Fitness Weightlifting Bar
Rogue Pyrros Bar
4.8

The Rogue Pyrros Bar is an IWF-certified Olympic Weightlifting Bar designed by the iconic Pyrros Dimas. This bar has several excellent features.

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The Rogue Pyrros Bar was designed alongside 3x Olympic gold medalist, Pyrros Dimas. This is an IWF-certified barbell with high-quality specs, solid user feedback, and a fairly high price tag.

The knurling on the Pyrros Bar was designed to be semi-aggressive, which allows lifters to use the bar in regular training environments as well as on the competitive platform. Confirming its competition-level design is the presence of a center knurl. The shaft is 28mm, which is industry standard and, according to Rogue, this steel was hand-selected by Pyrros based on its whip.

The sleeves on this bar are each operated with 5 German needle bearings for a total of 10 bearings. Reviewers have raved about the spin this bar produces in terms of its speed and fluidity. The grooved sleeves are coated in hard chrome, which is a perfectly acceptable sleeve finish, but you can upgrade to stainless steel if you'd like. That will cost over $100 on top of the base price.

Female lifters can purchase the 15kg version of the Pyrros Bar. Ultimately, this is a high-quality competition, IWF-certified Olympic weightlifting barbell at a fraction of the cost of other premier barbell manufacturers like Eleiko.


Best Training Bar

American Barbell Performance Training Bar

American Barbell Performance Training Bar - Best Barbells

Price: $425
Knurl Type: Medium
Center Knurl: No
Tensile Strength: 190,000 PSI
Weight: 20kg or 15kg
Shaft Diameter: 28mm
Shaft Finish: Hard Chrome
Sleeve Type/Finish: Smooth/Hard Chrome
Rotation System: Composite Bushings
Made in: USA
Warranty: Lifetime

Pros

  • Medium knurl makes for an ideal training bar
  • Unique recessed welds
  • High-quality composite bushings
  • Made in the USA with a lifetime warranty

Cons

  • No center knurl
Best Training Bar
American Barbell Performance Training Bar
5.0

The American Barbell Performance Training Bar is a high-quality Oly bar with a hard chrome finish, composite bushings, and recessed welds.

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American Barbell is known for producing some of the finest USA-made barbells regardless of style. Their Olympic Weightlifting bars are no exception. This Performance Training Bar is their entry-level Oly bar and it includes some nice specs.

The knurling on the Performance Training Bar, like many other American Barbell bars, is on the more passive side. This makes for a great training bar where you're utilizing higher reps and volume. This bar can be used for lower rep/higher weight sets too, but just know that you may find yourself wanting something more aggressive. This may cause you to have to chalk up sooner when using this bar.

The shaft measures the standard 28mm Oly diameter and it's coated in hard chrome. If you want to jump up to stainless steel, you would need to look at the American Barbell competition Stainless Bearing Bar. It's an amazing bar, but it's also quite a bit more expensive than this training bar.

The sleeves are also coated in hard chrome and they're operated via composite bushings. These are the same bushings used in the California Bar, which offer tremendous spin. If you want a bearing version of this bar, look at the Performance Bearing Bar.

If you're looking for a quality weightlifting barbell with a more entry-level spec profile, and you appreciate some of the American Barbell characteristics (recessed welds and mild knurling), then this is a great option.


Best Training Bar Under $400

Vulcan v4 Elite Bar

Vulcan v4 Elite Bar - Best Barbells

Price: $369.99 w/ Free Shipping
Knurl Type: Medium
Center Knurl: Yes
Tensile Strength: 221,000 PSI
Weight: 20kg or 15kg
Shaft Diameter: 28mm
Shaft Finish: Chrome
Sleeve Type/Finish: Grooved/Chrome
Rotation System: Bushing
Made in: Import/Asia
Warranty: Lifetime

Pros

  • Very high tensile strength rating
  • Medium knurl makes for a solid training bar
  • Includes center knurl
  • Conical collars with laser etching look beautiful

Cons

  • Recessed center knurl may leave some users wanting more
Best Training Bar Under $400
Vulcan v4 Elite Bar
4.7

The Vulcan v4 Elite is a very well-regarded Oly bar with a high tensile strength, a chrome finish, and a center knurl.

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When it comes to barbells, I view Vulcan Strength as one of the most underrated companies on the market. They routinely manufacture high-quality bars at affordable prices. The v4 Elite Bar is a great training bar for beginner to advanced lifters.

The spec that jumps off the sheet with this bar is its high tensile strength rating of 221k PSI. While tensile strength isn't the end-all, be-all by any means, this is a nice feature relative to some other bars on the market.

The knurling on this barbell is considered medium in texture, and it has been refined over four versions to get to this point. It's ideally suited as a training bar but it offers enough bite to also be used on heavier lifts. The center knurl offers a slightly less aggressive pattern. This is great for training purposes, but when used on heavier sets, some users may find themselves wishing for the same pattern as the outer knurl. The shaft is coated in a dense chrome that has a nice matte look to it.

Also finished in a matte chrome are the sleeves on the v4 Elite. They include wider grooves, which help to reduce noise compared to finely grooved sleeves. The sleeves are operated via bushings to produce a consistent, albeit not as fast, spin. The collar on this bar is striking with its conical, Leoko-style shape, and laser etching. The end cap is also very nice-looking.

Female lifters can look into the 15kg version of the v4 Elite Bar.


Best REP Weightlifting Bar

REP Stainless Steel Gladiator WL Bearing Bar

REP Stainless Steel Gladiator Bar - Best Barbells

Price: $469.99 w/ Free Shipping
Knurl Type: Medium
Center Knurl: Yes
Tensile Strength: 230,000 PSI
Weight: 20kg
Shaft Diameter: 28mm
Shaft Finish: Stainless Steel
Sleeve Type/Finish: Grooved/Stainless Steel
Rotation System: Bearings
Made in: China
Warranty: Lifetime

Pros

  • Fully stainless steel from end to end
  • Collar band for easy identification
  • Medium knurling with a center knurl in the same pattern
  • 5 needle bearings per sleeve

Cons

  • Thinly grooved sleeves produce a loud zip noise
Best REP Weightlifting Bar
REP Stainless Gladiator WL Bearing Bar
4.9

The REP Stainless Steel Gladiator WL Bar includes a full stainless steel construction, needle bearings, and a center knurl

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The Gladiator Bar from REP Fitness comes in a few different variations, but none are as nice as this one. With a fully stainless steel body and needle bearings, this bar offers impressive specs for the money.

The knurling on the REP Gladiator Bar is medium in texture with a hilly pattern that has a hint of a volcano. This bar is great for higher rep/volume training sessions, but it can effectively be used across the spectrum. This bar does include a center knurl, which consists of the same pattern as the rest of the bar.

Unlike REP's stainless power bar offerings, the Stainless Gladiator Bar offers grooved sleeves. While they do produce a louder noise, they're also stainless steel, which is a great feature on a bar at this price. They're each operated with 5 needle bearings for a total of 10. Around the collar, you'll find blue and white bands that help quickly identify the barbell when it's stowed away.

If you love the idea of stainless steel, especially full-body coverage, and you don't want to pay $700+, the REP Stainless Gladiator is a fantastic choice. The stainless version does not come in a 15kg variety.


Best Specialty Bars

Best Overall Specialty Bar

Kabuki Transformer Bar

Kabuki Transformer Bar - Best Barbells

Price: $669.99
Type: Safety Squat Bar
Bar Weight: 25kg
Shaft Finish: Bright Zinc
Sleeve Finish: Black Oxide
Olympic-Sized Sleeves: Yes
Made in: USA
Warranty: Lifetime

Pros

  • 24 total adjustments make this the most versatile safety squat bar in the world
  • High-density foam core is very comfortable
  • Removable sleeves save shipping costs and allow for 4 height adjustments
  • Knurled handles provide tactile sensation
  • Olympic-sized sleeves will accept standard collars
  • Pop-pin allows for adjustments without having to remove plates

Cons

  • Long/angled handles can be awkward to some users
  • Black oxide sleeves will show imperfections faster than other finishes
Best Overall Specialty Bar
Kabuki Transformer Bar
4.8

The Kabuki Transformer Bar is far and away the most versatile safety squat bar with 24 different adjustment options. It's extremely high-quality, and it's made in the USA.

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The Kabuki Transformer is without a doubt the most unique and feature-rich safety squat bar currently on the market. This bar can be quickly adjusted to optimize a variety of movements with the added ability to influence physical demand by adjusting load placement.

The Transformer bar allows for two adjustments: camber angle and sleeve drop. With the camber angle, you can adjust to accommodate 6 different movements, including goblet squats, front squats, traditional safety bar squats, high bar back squats, low bar back squats, and good mornings. This adjustment is made via a simple pop-pin. You can then increase or decrease the difficulty by adjusting the sleeve drop across 4 levels. The further the load is placed from the bar, the harder the lift becomes. This makes for 24 total options between lift and difficulty. No other safety squat bar can accomplish something like this, making this a truly unique barbell.

The yoke includes an updated foam core with leather upholstery that is much more comfortable than prior versions of the bar. Extending out are long/angled handles with a knurled end for a grip advantage. The shaft and the handles are finished in bright zinc while the sleeves are finished in black oxide. Black oxide, especially on sleeves, will show imperfections quicker than other finishes. The sleeves themselves are removed to make the ‘difficulty adjustment' with the added benefit of reduced shipping costs since it's not all one body. These sleeves are also Olympic-sized, meaning you won't need any special collars to keep weight on the bar. One possible downside to the sleeves is that they're slightly shorter by around a half-inch, which means you won't be able to load as much weight on the bar.

If you're looking for a do-it-all safety squat bar, look no further than the Kabuki Transformer Bar. It's a one-of-a-kind piece with a very strong reputation and excellent user reviews.


Best Basic Trap Bar

Rogue TB-2 Trap Bar

Rogue TB-2 Trap Bar - Best Barbells

Price: $395
Type: Trap Bar
Bar Weight: 60lb
Handle Height: Dual Handles
Shaft Diameter: 28mm
Knurl Type: Medium
Olympic-Sized Sleeves: No
Sleeve Type/Finish: Smooth/Power Coat
Rackable: Yes
Made in: USA
Warranty: General

Pros

  • Dual handles allow for standard height or elevated/partial range of motion
  • Rackable for increased versatility
  • 25″ handle width accommodates the majority of users
  • Corner gussets increase strength and durability

Cons

  • Non-Olympic-sized sleeves will not accept standard collars
  • Power-coated sleeves will show imperfections immediately
Best Basic Trap Bar
Rogue TB-2 Trap Bar
4.8

The USA-made Rogue TB-2 is a great all-around rackable hex bar with solid features, including dual handles and knurled grips.

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The Rogue TB-2 Trap Bar is one of the best standard trap bars available. This is a closed, rackable trap bar that offers several nice features.

The best feature of the TB-2 is the dual-height handles. This allows users to lift from standard barbell height or they can train a partial range of motion using the high handle. This is great for rehabbing injuries or for training a certain portion of the lift (e.g. lockout). Both sets of handles are knurled in a medium grip that's neither passive nor aggressive. Another great feature of these handles is they're spaced 25″ apart, which most users will find to be very comfortable. Too wide or too narrow and some users can find issues based on their shoulder width. This spread strikes the perfect balance.

With this bar being rackable, you have the option to use it in more ways than just from the floor. You can set it up in your rack and perform rack pulls, overhead press, etc… Even with it being rackable, it still provides 16″ long sleeves, which is just shy of standard barbell length. Depending on what plates you use, you can load a significant amount of weight on this bar. A downside to the sleeves, however, is that they are 1.91″ in diameter, which is standard for many specialty bars. This means standard Olympic collars will not work. I recommend Proloc collars since they can be used on any bar. They're reasonably priced and they work great on all bar styles.

Not uncommon among specialty bars, the entire TB-2 is powder-coated. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but just know that once you start sliding plates on and off, you'll immediately see imperfections on the sleeves.

Ultimately, if you're looking for a quality closed trap bar, the Rogue TB-2 is a fantastic option.


Best Basic Safety Squat Bar

Titan Safety Squat Bar v2

Price: $299.99 w/ Free Shipping
Type: Safety Squat Bar
Bar Weight: 61lb
Shaft Finish: Chrome
Sleeve Finish: Chrome
Olympic-Sized Sleeves: Yes
Made in: China
Warranty: 1-Year

Pros

  • Excellent value for a quality safety squat bar
  • Comfortable yoke with thick padding
  • Removable handles allow for easy hand/grip modifications/add-ons
  • Contoured grips feel great in the hand
  • Olympic-sized sleeves will accept standard collars
  • Chrome sleeves look better over time than powder coat or clear coat

Cons

  • 1-year warranty is less than most
  • Despite being nearly a clone of the Elitefts SS yoke, the balance isn't as nice
Best Basic Safety Squat Bar
Titan Safety Squat Bar
4.9

The Titan Safety Squat Bar is a budget-friendly SSB modeled closely after the Elitefts SS Yoke Bar. This bar ships for free and has excellent reviews.

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The Titan Safety Squat Bar v2 is essentially a copy of the SS Yoke bar from Elitefts, but with a couple of minor differences and a much smaller price tag.

This is a standard safety squat bar. Unlike the Transformer Bar, which can do a lot of things, the Titan SSB is mainly used for safety squats, although front squats, good mornings, and other movements are also possible. My favorite thing about this style of safety squat bar is the yoke and handle design. I prefer short handles myself – they're comfortable and very natural feeling. Similarly, the yoke is padded well and feels good on the back/shoulders. One thing to consider is that this yoke is slightly thicker than the Elite version, which moves the load just slightly backward. In that sense, it's not quite as well balanced as the Elitefts Yoke bar.

The handles are contoured with individual finger slots that feel great in the hands. They're also removable, which allows you to perform movements like the JM Press or to add different grip styles. Refer to my YouTube video on a great SSB hack.

Another great feature of this bar, especially as it relates to the Elitefts SS Yoke is that it uses a chrome sleeve with an Olympic diameter. This allows you to use any barbell collar and it looks better over the long term.

The bottom line is that for the money, the Titan Safety Squat Bar v2 is one of the best value bars available.

Read the full Titan SSB v2 review.


Best Deadlift Bar

Rogue Deadlift Bar

Rogue Deadlift Bar - Best Barbells

Price: $345-$410
Type: Deadlift Bar
Bar Weight: 20kg
Knurl Type: Aggressive (Volcano)
Center Knurl: No
Tensile Strength: 190,000 PSI
Shaft Diameter: 27mm
Shaft Finish: Bare Steel, Black Zinc, E-Coat, or Cerakote
Sleeve Type/Finish: Grooved/Bare Steel, Hard Chrome, or Cerakote
Rotation System: Bushing
Made in: USA
Warranty: Lifetime

Pros

  • 27mm shaft + extra bar length generates more whip on the bar for overload training
  • Multiple finish options based on budget and preferences
  • Aggressive volcano knurl works great for deadlifts
  • Made in the USA with a lifetime warranty

Cons

  • 15.5″ sleeve length is shorter than power bar sleeves
  • Cerakote sleeves will show imperfections faster than other finishes
Best Deadlift Bar
Rogue Ohio Deadlift Bar
4.9

The Rogue Ohio Deadlift Bar is a 27mm bar with a very aggressive knurling, multiple finish options, and great whip for heavy deadlifts.

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The Rogue Ohio Deadlift Bar is a great option for anyone looking to take their deadlift training up a notch. Deadlift bars are useful in deadlift training because they carry more whip, which allows you to break the floor more easily. In this way, you can overload the lift with more weight, which has a carryover to your normal deadlifts with a conventional barbell.

The knurling on the Rogue Ohio Deadlift Bar is aggressive, as you would expect with this type of bar. Whether you're looking to set a PR or hit higher reps, the knurling on this bar will work well because it's not overly sharp. It is, however, very grippy. The bare steel and Cerakote versions take chalk especially well, but the bare steel version will certainly provide the rawest feel. In addition to those finishes, Rogue also offers black zinc and e-coat.

The shaft on this bar measures 27mm, which is consistent with other deadlift bars. It's also longer than Olympic barbells by a few inches. This diameter combined with a longer bar is what creates that additional whip. 27mm is also very comfortable in the hands, especially for hook grip lifters.

The sleeves on the Ohio Deadlift Bar are grooved and they also come in several finishes. One thing to note is that despite the bar being longer than traditional Olympic barbells, it uses shorter sleeves. This will limit the amount of weight you can load onto the bar relatively speaking, but depending on what plates you're using, you can still load a significant amount.


Best Curl Bar

REP Rackable Curl Bar

REP Rackable Curl Bar - Best Barbells

Price: $199.99-$299.99 w/ Free Shipping
Type: Curl Bar
Bar Weight: 35lb
Knurl Type: Medium
Shaft Diameter: 30mm
Shaft Finish: Hard Chrome or Stainless Steel
Sleeve Type/Finish: Smooth/Hard Chrome or Stainless Steel
Rotation System: Bearings & Bushings
Made in: China
Warranty: 5-Year

Pros

  • Solid value for a quality curl bar
  • Rackable allows for much easier loading/unloading of the bar and opens up more training options
  • Two finish options, including chrome and stainless steel (shaft and sleeves)
  • Comfortable bends with several areas for hand placement
  • Medium knurl feels good for a curl bar

Cons

  • knurling does not extend 100% through the bends
Best Curl Bar
REP Curl Bar
5.0

The REP Curl Bar comes in hard chrome or stainless steel in either a rackable or non-rackable version. This bar offers comfortable bends that are sure to take your biceps gains up a notch.

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The REP Rackable curl bar is a very solid option as far as curl bars go. I've owned this bar since it was released and I've enjoyed using it. REP also sells a non-rackable version at a smaller price point.

The most important consideration of a curl bar is the bend angle(s). It should be comfortable on the wrists and allow you to target the biceps efficiently. The Ivanko curl bar is more or less the gold standard as far as bends are concerned and the REP curl bar does a nice job of creating a similar profile. It's comfortable on the wrists and biceps isolation is no concern.

The knurling on the curl bar is medium in terms of aggression, which is appropriate for this type of bar. It's the same knurling that REP uses on their multipurpose barbells. One thing I do wish this bar offered is knurling that extends entirely through the bends rather than segmented.

The sleeves are operated with a combination of 1 bearing and 1 bushing, which creates a fluid spin. These sleeves are 10″ long, which is appropriate for a curl bar – max load isn't a big concern on this type of bar.

Having a curl bar be rackable is a great advantage, in my opinion. It's much easier to load and unload plates since it sits in your rack exactly as an Olympic barbell does. It also makes it much easier to perform movements like lying triceps extensions since you can push the bench directly under the racked bar.

Read the full REP Curl Bar review.


Types of Olympic Barbells

Types of Barbells - Best Barbells

Multipurpose Barbells

Multipurpose bars can be classified as general fitness or functional fitness barbells. These bars are commonly used in CrossFit given their specs and performance qualities. Multipurpose bars are most easily identified by their dual knurl rings. These rings mark the proper hand position for powerlifting movements as well as Olympic weightlifting movements. The knurling on multipurpose barbells is not aggressive. They usually have a hilly or volcanic pattern, which is ideal for higher reps. These bars may or may not have a center knurl.

Multipurpose bars typically have a 28mm or 28.5mm shaft. A 28mm diameter shaft will be better suited for Olympic lifts since it will offer more whip. You will sometimes find 28mm multipurpose bars with bearings as the rotation system for this reason (i.e. Olympic weightlifting). A 28.5mm diameter is a good all-around diameter since it bridges the gap between Olympic lifts and power lifts. You will also find many high-quality women's barbells, which have a 25mm shaft, a shorter length, and a 15kg weight.

Typically, multi-purpose bars are the most affordable of the main three barbell categories. Prices can range from ~$170 for no-frills multipurpose bars to ~$800 for very high-end multipurpose bars. If you're a CrossFitter, a beginner lifter, or you're a lifter who likes to dabble in multiple areas of training, a quality multi-purpose bar will go a long way.

Powerlifting Barbells

Powerlifting barbells are used specifically to train the big 3 power lifts: the squat, the bench, and the deadlift. If you're a competitive powerlifter or you're just someone who loves to train these movements, a dedicated power bar is highly recommended. Power bars are identified by single powerlifting knurl rings, aggressive knurling, and a thicker shaft diameter.

Power bar knurling is typically volcanic or mountainous with a more aggressive pattern compared to other styles. When it comes to setting heavy PRs, the extra bite can come in handy. Every powerlifting bar will offer a center knurl. Sometimes the center knurl will be the same pattern as the rest of the bar and sometimes it will be less aggressive. Center knurls are helpful on back squats, particularly low bar back squats commonly seen in powerlifting.

The shaft diameter on power bars is usually 29mm, which creates a very rigid barbell. Sometimes, however, you will see a 28.5mm power bar (e.g. Texas Power Bar) and you also may find 27mm and 30mm+ on deadlift bars and squat bars, respectively. Powerlifting bars also utilize a bushing rotation system, which creates a controlled, slower spin.

Power bars can range in price from ~$190 to over $1,000 based on quality, specs, etc…

Olympic Weightlifting Barbells

Olympic Weightlifting bars are used specifically for training Olympic lifts such as the snatch, clean & jerk, etc… As with power bars, if you train with specificity towards these lifts, owning a dedicated Oly bar is highly recommended. Olympic weightlifting bars are identified by single weightlifting rings, a thinner diameter shaft, and often, needle bearings.

Olympic Weightlifting bars have various types of knurling patterns. You'll most commonly see hilly and volcanic patterns with medium aggression, but on barbells spec'd for competition, you may find more aggressive patterns. You also may find some Olympic Weightlifting bars with a center knurl, and some without. Typically, competition bars will have them and training bars will not.

Olympic Weightlifting bars have 28mm shafts to increase the whip on the bar. This will make explosive Oly lifts more efficient and responsive. Many Olympic Weightlifting bars will also use needle bearings as their primary spin mechanism. This is especially true on competition bars, but you will find them on other versions as well. You will also find some Oly bars with a bushing system and others with a combination of bearings and bushings. Either way, weightlifting bars usually spin faster than other barbells.

Olympic weightlifting barbells are typically the most expensive bars given their specificity and their use of more expensive bearings. They can range from ~$200 to over $1,100 depending on a variety of factors.

RELATED: Best Barbell Collars


Important Factors to Consider when Choosing an Olympic Barbell

Gungnir Allrounder - Shaft- Garage Gym Lab

  • Purpose – Before picking out the right barbell for you, it's important to determine your lifting intent. Are you someone who competes in a specific sport/event? If so, I recommend a sport-specific bar. If you're someone who trains a variety of lifts or if CrossFit is your sport, then a multipurpose bar is an ideal option.
  • Shaft Diameter/Whip – Along those same lines, having an understanding of the various diameters and their influence over the bar's whip is important. Shaft diameter is the biggest indicator of whip – not tensile strength. The thinner the bar is, the more whip it will generate. Also, consider your hand size. Lifters with smaller hands may just prefer a thinner shaft for comfort.
  • Tensile Strength – Tensile strength is a commonly referenced spec that has somewhat of an overblown influence on a barbell's performance. In general, tensile strength is the measure of the point at which a barbell will literally break. The number generally ranges from 130,000 to around 250,000 PSI. Barbells with 190k tensile strength or more are going to be perfectly acceptable for virtually any lifter. Beginner lifters or lifters who aren't lifting a significant amount of weight can use bars with smaller tensile strengths, but I would recommend at least 150,000 PSI. If you can, stick to 190k or higher as a general rule of thumb.
  • Yield Strength – Yield strength is arguably the better spec relative to tensile strength. Yield strength measures the point at which a barbell will bend and not return to its normal position. Generally speaking, barbells are going to be more prone to bending permanently (yield strength) than they are breaking (tensile strength). Watch Joe Sullivan's Squat bend to see what I'm talking about. Most companies do not report a yield strength, although some will. Ultimately, most high-quality bars are going to offer adequate yield strength. Issues that may arise are usually the result of user error (e.g. slamming rack pulls onto safeties, etc…).
  • Knurling – Knurling is one of the most important considerations when buying an Olympic barbell. Refer to the ‘Barbell Knurling and Shaft Finishes' section below for a detailed overview.
  • Rotation System/Spin – This will also come down to lifting intent, but you should understand which rotation system is best for you. If you're a powerlifter, bushings are the best, and only choice. Look for bronze bushings, composite bushings, or stainless steel bushings. Brass bushings or anything else will be inferior in comparison. With multipurpose bars and Olympic weightlifting bars, you can buy barbells with bushings, bearings, or a combination of both. Bearing bars will generally be more expensive. If you're a competitive weightlifter, I would highly recommend them. If you're buying a multipurpose bar, ask yourself if you plan to use the bar more for weightlifting movements or more for general purpose. The closer you are to general-purpose, the more likely a bushing system (or a combo) is appropriate for you.
  • Barbell Shaft Finish – Barbells come in a variety of shaft finishes. Each finish has pros and cons based on price, oxidation resistance, aesthetic, feeling, and more. Read more in the below section titled ‘Barbell Knurling and Shaft Finishes'.
  • Barbell Sleeve Finish – Sleeve finishes do not come in quite as many varieties as shaft finishes, but there are still several. Most commonly, you will find hard chrome and bright zinc sleeves, however, you will sometimes find stainless steel, Cerakote, black oxide, etc… I recommend chrome, zinc, and stainless steel if possible. Cerakote and other colored sleeves look great at first, but they show imperfections very quickly after plates are introduced.
  • Barbell Sleeve Type – Barbells sleeves come in one of two varieties: grooved/ribbed and smooth. Grooved sleeves create a little more friction against the plates, which keeps them on the bar better when you're not using barbell collars. The downside is they make an audible zip noise that some can find irritating. Smooth sleeves, on the other hand, are much quieter.
  • Maintenance – Barbells are an investment into your gym and health. They should be maintained to ensure a long life of strong performance. Different bars will require different levels of maintenance based on finish type and sleeve construction. Read the below section titled ‘Barbell Maintenance' for an in-depth look into the best ways to properly maintain a barbell.
  • Warranty – Barbell warranties will typically start at one year and last up to a lifetime depending on the manufacturer. Keep in mind that these warranties are for new first-time barbell purchases. Secondary purchases on the used marketplace will typically not have a transferrable warranty. These warranties will generally warrant manufacturer defects and they will warrant bending and breaking so long as the barbell was used appropriately. If you mistreat the bar (e.g. drop a loaded bar on safeties, etc…), a warranty claim will be denied. Similarly, companies do not typically warrant finish issues stemming from user negligence. Always read the fine print of a company's warranty policy. For instance, some companies will void a warranty if the end cap is removed.

Barbell Knurling & Shaft Finishes

Barbell Knurling - Best Barbells

When it comes to barbells, no barbell is the same. Each bar has its own character, its own spec profile, its own nuances, etc… Two of the biggest contributors to a barbell's uniqueness are knurling and shaft finish.

Simply put, knurling is the grippy part of a barbell. It comes in different shapes, sizes, and profiles based on lifting purpose and manufacturer preferences. The primary styles of barbell knurling, as popularized by Chris Duffin, include hills, volcanoes, and mountains.

  • Hills – Hilly knurling is considered passive or mild knurling and it's typically seen on multipurpose barbells, Olympic weightlifting barbells, and gym barbells. It has a flat and shallow pattern that presents very little “bite” in the hand. This makes it a very good choice for higher rep and volume workouts. A notable barbell with hilly knurling is the American Barbell California Bar.
  • Volcanoes – Volcano knurling is considered medium on the aggression spectrum, but that doesn't mean it can't be aggressive in its own right. This pattern looks exactly like a volcano, meaning a point has been removed, leaving behind a crater of sorts. Surrounding that crater are essentially four less-pronounced points that provide a grip that isn't overly sharp. The depth and width of each crater will ultimately determine how aggressive the knurling feels in the hand. You'll find volcano knurling on all styles of barbells. A notable barbell with volcano knurling is the Rogue Ohio Power Bar.
  • Mountains – A mountainous knurl is the most aggressive type of knurling since it has an obvious peak at every point. These are most commonly seen on powerlifting bars, but you also may find them on competition Olympic weightlifting bars, just less pointy. The point itself will determine how aggressive a mountainous knurl is. For example, a peak that has been rounded off will feel less aggressive than a very pointy peak. This style of knurling is great for low rep training and PR attempts. A notable barbell with a mountainous knurl is the REP Power Bar EX.

Shaft finishes are also a very important factor because they influence several things, including feel, oxidation resistance, and aesthetics. With shaft finishes, you either have no coating (e.g. bare steel), an applied coating (e.g. hard chrome, Cerakote, etc…), or a conversion coating (e.g. black oxide). No coating and conversion coatings have the best feeling since they don't impact the knurl at all. Applied coatings, on the other hand, fill in some of the knurl depth, which can reduce the aggression of the knurling. The following chart illustrates the relationship between oxidation resistance and feeling among the main barbell finishes.

Barbell Shaft Finishes - Feeling vs. Oxidation Resistance

As you'll see, there's a much larger variance when it comes to oxidation resistance. Barbell finishes tend to feel good overall, but applied coatings tend to feel inferior compared to conversion coatings or no coatings at all.

Where do your preferences fall? If you want high oxidation resistance and a great feel, stainless steel may be your best bet, although it's typically the most expensive. If feeling is the most important thing to you, then bare steel or black oxide (one of my favorites), may be best, and you'll save some money. The chromes, zincs, and e-coats of the world work to find a balance between feel, oxidation resistance, and price. In either case, let this chart guide your decision to see which barbell shaft finish is best for your needs.


Barbell Maintenance Tips

Gymway USA Cross Training Bar 2.0 - Shaft Angle

To maximize the life, performance, and looks of your barbell, there are a few maintenance practices that you should consider. These are quick and easy tips, but they can really make a difference.

  1. Never, ever drop an empty barbell. This is a sure-fire way to cause serious damage to the sleeve assembly of a barbell. Inside the sleeves are needle bearings and/or bushings that, when dropped properly with plates, can withstand it because the plates are absorbing much of the force. Without plates, all of that force is distributed directly through the bar, which can lead to permanent issues.
  2. Brush your barbell out after every training session to remove chalk, sweat, and blood. If left to sit on the barbell's shaft, this can attract and hold oxidation-inducing moisture. By staying on top of it, you can ensure your barbell will look great for longer. I recommend the Nylon 360 Brush or a simple Deck Brush. Both work well without removing any finishes.
  3. Apply 3-IN-ONE oil from time to time on all surfaces of your barbell and inside the collar. A shop cloth or rag works great to spread the oil and remove any excess. This oil helps protect against oxidation and keeps the inner workings firing on all cylinders. The frequency will largely depend on the barbell's finish and the environment in which you're training. For example, a bare steel barbell in a humid garage should be treated with 3-IN-ONE oil every 3-4 weeks. Less humid environments and/or more protective finishes don't require nearly as much frequency. Either way, the bottle will last a long time.
  4. Store your barbells off the ground. If you leave your bar on the ground, it's more prone to picking up dirt, grime, etc… which can all be damaging to a barbell over time. Storing your barbells on a storage rack is a great way to stay organized and keep your barbells protected.

FAQs

How Much Does a Good Barbell Cost?

Barbells can range in price from under $150 to well over $1,000. While you can find great value bars in the $200-$300 range, the sweet spot for a good barbell is between $300-$400. There are very high-quality barbells in this price range that are just as nice, if not nicer than bars that cost $500+.

Should I Buy More than One Barbell?

Owning more than one barbell isn't required by any means, but having access to more than one barbell is advantageous in a few ways.

First, you can train different styles of lifts more effectively. For example, a powerlifter may own a power bar and a multipurpose bar so that they may train the big 3 with the power bar and accessory movements with the multipurpose bar.

Second, you can pick your “bar of the day” based on programming or preferences. For example, you may prefer a more aggressive barbell on low rep/low volume/PR days and a less aggressive barbell on higher rep/volume days. Owning more than one barbell allows you to accomplish that easily.

Third, you can train more than one person at a time or set up “stations” for yourself. If you have a squat rack and a deadlift platform, for example, you could have your bars “live there”. This makes your training time more efficient.

Who Makes the Best Barbells?

There is no shortage of quality barbell manufacturers. Below is a list of some of the top brands:

So, there you have it – my top ranked barbells to buy in 2022!

If you have any questions about barbells, please leave a comment below. Likewise, if you own any of these barbells and you want to chime in with your own thoughts, please do so!

If you found this review useful, please feel free to share it on social media!

The bar is loaded,

Adam

Adam
Adam
Adam is the founder of Garage Gym Lab. He serves as the chief content creator with over two decades of training experience. When he's not testing equipment and writing about all things fitness, Adam loves spending time with his wife and two children.

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