The Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar EX: THE most anticipated power bar for me over the last year.
It feels like an eternity since Rep Fitness first mentioned that they were going to be creating an aggressive stainless steel power bar to complement their existing stainless steel power bar v2 (review here).
While I certainly enjoy the v2 power bar, particularly on bench press, the new aggressive Rep Power Bar EX is next-level for me.
It took Rep Fitness several iterations to get the Power Bar EX production-ready, and it seemed like every month the bar was “6-8 weeks away.” They ran through multiple knurling specs and manufacturing process adjustments before launching this bar, and I'll say this…
It was worth the wait. I applaud them for taking their time to get this one right, despite my internal impatience along the way.
This is a fantastic power bar – one the aggressive knurl fans are sure to fawn over.
I know I am.
Heading into this review, the fully stainless steel Vulcan Strength Absolute Power Bar has held the top spot among the power bars I've reviewed. It's a phenomenal barbell.
The Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar EX is strikingly similar across the board, but it comes with a cheaper price tag and it has one added benefit, in my opinion.
This bar is not without a couple of shortcomings, as will be noted in the review, but it's damn impressive.
Is it enough to overtake the coveted Vulcan Absolute Stainless?
Keep reading and you'll find out.
- Rep Power Bar EX Overview
- Rep Power Bar EX vs. the Competition
- Pros & Cons
- Full Rating
The Rep Power Bar EX review is rated based on the Garage Gym Lab Universal Barbell Score. Read more about the ‘UBS' here.
The Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar EX is the third barbell dedicated to powerlifting that Rep has produced. Among the three also include the stainless steel power bar v2 and the PowerSpeed bar (review here).
I was fortunate enough to get my hands on this bar a couple of weeks before its official release. In my opinion, after using the bar now for over a month, it's reigning supreme in the Rep power bar kingdom.
This bar is fully stainless from end to end, which isn't rare for Rep (stainless power bar v2), but it is rare in the greater stainless steel barbell world. The Vulcan Absolute Power Bar mentioned above is also fully stainless but, priced at $599, it's quite a bit pricier than the EX. Aside from those, most stainless steel bars are only stainless on the shaft. By also offering stainless steel sleeves, Rep Fitness is differentiating themselves from the likes of Rogue Fitness, American Barbell, etc…
The Power Bar EX is spec'd to comply with IPF standards (not IPF certified), and I think it's an excellent option for powerlifting-specific training. It's ideally suited for lower volume, but I've been happy with it even in the intermediate volume range (6-8 reps). If you're someone who already has a lighter-knurled bar or you're just someone who loves an aggressive profile, I think you'll be intrigued by the EX.
Let's check out the specs and then we'll get into the details:
Bar Weight: 20 kg
Shaft Diameter: 29mm
Knurl: Aggressive Knurl
Center Knurl: Yes – Same Pattern
Knurl Marks: Powerlifting
Shaft Coating: Stainless Steel
Tensile Strength: 200,000 PSI
Bar Length: 86.5″
Distance Between Collar Faces: 51.5″
Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.25″
Sleeve Coating: Stainless Steel
Made in: China
The knurling on the Rep Power Bar EX is one that leaves little to the imagination. Its pronounced, mountainous profile is impossible to ignore. Among the bars I've reviewed, it's near the top of the “aggressive” spectrum. Despite being noticeably aggressive, however, the bar walks the fine line of not being overly sharp. If you look at it a little closer, I think this can be attributed to two things:
- The knurling is slightly pitted at the peaks, which eliminates some of the sharpness that a true peak would offer. Having used a truly peaked bar in the Vulcan Elite Power Bar, I really appreciate the reduced bite that this bar offers. I don't find any real benefit to having an overly sharp bar and pitting the peaks is a good way of avoiding that.
- The points-per-square-inch ratio is fairly high. Like lying on a bed of nails, having tighter-packed points distributes the pressure more evenly across the hand. Said another way, higher ratios result in less pressure on any specific area, which translates to a lower perceived ‘sharpness'.
Now, although I think this bar has successfully navigated the “sharp” threshold, it is undeniably aggressive. If you're just starting in powerlifting, I can't say I would recommend this one over something more medium in feel. Both of Rep's other power bars would be suitable alternatives. If, however, you're yearning for aggression, this one fits the bill nicely.
As much as I love this knurl, there are a couple of areas where the execution could be improved. In full disclosure, the following will likely never impact the performance of the bar since you either won't be gripping the bar in these areas or the issue is isolated to a small enough area that it won't make a difference. That said, every bar reviewed at Garage Gym Lab goes through a process. If there is evidence of inconsistent machining, it will be noted. This is one of the biggest reasons the “Universal Barbell Score” was created.
On the whole, the execution of the knurling is very impressive, but there are a few troubled spots where the knurling meets the smooth part of the sleeve.
- On nearly every edge of the knurl, there are indications of feathering, which means the knurl gradually tapers before terminating. This is apparent on the center knurl edges, the power mark edges, and on one edge where the primary knurl meets the smooth section. On the opposite edge, there is a section about five rows deep with double-tracked knurling.
- The knurl pushes the limit by extending all the way to the collar. Mine terminates perfectly in-line with the collar. On one hand, I love the look of it and it doesn't affect my bar at all. On the other hand, if the knurl extends ever-so-slightly too far, it will almost guarantee some amount of grinding with the collar. There isn't much of a benefit of extending it that closely other than aesthetics, so it may be a good idea for Rep to terminate the knurling a littler earlier to eliminate any risks.
Again, these issues are largely immaterial when it comes to the performance of my bar, but they should be noted and reflected in the review. The knurling is outstanding from my overall perspective, and it's absolutely one of, if not my favorite knurlings in my collection right now.
The Rep Power Bar EX has a tensile strength of 200k, putting it firmly in-line with many other power bars on the market. If you've read some of my other reviews, you know I'm not a huge buyer in the tensile strength flex race. 200k is very respectable. It's equivalent to the Rogue Ohio Power Bar, it's higher than the likes of the Texas Power Bar, American Barbell Elite Power Bar, etc… and it's lower than the likes of the Kabuki Power Bar, both Vulcan Absolute Power Bars, etc… The overwhelming majority of people aren't going to realize much of a difference across the respectable range (190k+) of tensile strengths.
The 29mm shaft diameter is consistent with IPF standards and it creates a very rigid feel, as you'd expect with a power bar. The center knurl measures 4.75″ length, and it offers the same profile as the rest of the bar. As noted in the above section, there are several instances of feathering and/or double-tracked knurling on the shaft in isolated areas. If Rep can get this cleaned up, which I think they can/will, I would stack this shaft up among the most impressive that I've seen in terms of overall execution.
Winner winner, chicken dinner! This bar unequivocally offers the best sleeves that I have ever used.
Why? A couple of reasons:
- It's stainless steel. As mentioned earlier, there aren't many stainless steel bars that also offer stainless steel sleeves. The Rogue Ohio Power Bar and various American Barbell bars are examples of this. All stainless Rep bars are stainless from end-to-end. It's beautiful and it offers practical advantages when it comes to oxidation resistance over hard chrome, bright zinc, etc…
- It's SMOOTH. No, I mean it's REALLY SMOOTH. I love smooth sleeves and I prefer them very much over their grooved counterparts. This is, of course, personal preference, but Rep's execution on these sleeves is akin to a ‘Flawless Victory' in Mortal Kombat. Until receiving this bar, the American Barbell Mammoth Bar had the quietest sleeves in my collection. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my sound test comparing the EX bar to the Mammoth bar (smooth) and the Kabuki Power Bar (grooved). The Kabuki bar is far and away the loudest among all of my bars – the EX bar beat it soundly (get it?). To my surprise, it also beat the Mammoth Bar rather convincingly.
If you like smooth sleeves, you're going to love these.
The sleeves are operated by three bushings: two graphite plugged (self-lubricating) bronze bushings and one stainless steel bushing. The spin is slow and steady, which is exactly what you want in a power bar. My bar comes to a gradual stop with no evidence of stickiness. The sleeves are affixed with two heavy-duty snap rings, which is a nice touch over single snap rings, if not a bit overkill.
One of my criticisms on the first iteration of Rep's Stainless Power Bar was the amount of sleeve “slop”. The early versions of that bar had some undesirable movement laterally and vertically in the sleeve. This Power Bar EX has very tight tolerances and, from what I understand, they also cleaned this up in the v2 of the original Stainless bar. I also did a story comparison on Instagram, which showed the Stainless Rogue Ohio Power Bar having more play in the sleeves than the Power Bar EX.
Overall, Rep Fitness deserves a standing ovation for these sleeves. They're killer.]
At the end of the day, the big question remains: how well does this bar perform?
Make no mistake, it's a high-performing all-around power bar. But I do think it serves a particular place in training. With an aggressive knurl profile like the Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar EX, using it as an everyday training bar may be a bit much for some folks. I think this bar thrives in lower rep ranges – heavy singles, doubles, and triples especially. When you move up to the higher range (+8), it may become a bit “extra.” I've been using this bar frequently in the intermediate range (6-8), and I think it's totally suitable. But I also love aggressive knurling. Anything above 8, I tend to gravitate towards a milder bar.
This is why I advocate having more than one barbell!
Here's my breakdown by lift:
Squats – If you're a low bar squatter, you'll probably love this bar. It's very grippy and it feels very secure in general. High bar squatters may prefer a less aggressive knurl. When I'm not using a safety squat bar, the Power Bar EX from Rep Fitness will be in the constant rotation for me. If you're not accustomed to an aggressive bar sitting on your back, you can expect an adjustment period. Overall, I'm a big fan of this bar on low bar squats, but I won't be using it on high bar.
Bench – I don't see myself using the Power Bar EX very frequently on bench press. I stand by my position that this is a quality all-around power bar… BUT, I do prefer a power bar with a less aggressive profile when I'm benching. This is mainly due to my grip not being a limiting factor on bench.
Deadlift – This is my new favorite bar on deadlifts. I just absolutely love the knurl and I feel totally locked in grip-wise. Even as a hook-grip puller, I love the aggression. I haven't had to use chalk once, including near-max attempts. The stainless steel offers such a nice texture that isn't even the slightest bit slippery. I'm giddy just thinking about using this bar on deadlifts.
the Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar EX is a real looker, I'll tell ya. I think stainless steel is the best-looking finish there is and, because this bar has it on both the sleeves and shaft, its aesthetic profile is strong. The smooth part of the shaft of this bar has some very cool reflective qualities. When combined with the deep knurl casting some interesting shadows, it just makes for a really nice looking bar.
The sleeves are also beautiful, and they have more of a matte finish. One thing I liked about the PowerSpeed bar from Rep Fitness was the etching on the inside collar. I think I like this even better. The smooth face of the collar, coupled with the beveled edge, creates a really refined look that I'm loving.
The end cap is also a winner, in my eyes. I love how it's recessed, much like that of the renowned Texas Power Bar. I appreciate the simple design, the bold red outline around the center, and the glossy overlay. From what I understand, Rep will be similarly branding their other bars, but with different colors.
The fully extended knurl, notwithstanding the potential, albeit low, grinding risk, is awesome looking. The only things holding this bar back aesthetically, in my opinion, are the knurl termination points. Refining those would firmly place this power bar near the top of the looks department, but even as-is, it's a stunner.
Now, that we've seen what all the Rep Power Bar EX has to offer, let's see how it stacks up against the competition
Rep Power Bar EX vs. Rogue Fitness Ohio Power Bar
This has been the most heavily-asked comparison since I've owned the Power Bar EX. I've actually been using both bars side-by-side over the last month. Despite both bars being dedicated to powerlifting and both being stainless steel, they're quite different.
Firstly, the Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar EX is fully stainless, where the Rogue OPB is only stainless on the shaft (hard chrome sleeves). Secondly, the Power Bar EX has a mountainous, very aggressive knurl, where the Rogue OPB has a volcanic, less aggressive knurl. I don't personally find the OPB to be aggressive. Thirdly, the Rep power bar has smooth sleeves vs. grooved sleeves on the OPB. Lastly, the Power Bar EX is made in China, and the Rogue OPB is made in America.
In terms of price, they're pretty close. The Rep bar is $379 and the Rogue bar is $395, but depending on where you live, the Power Bar EX may end up being a little more expensive. I don't expect that to last long, however, since Rep is currently overhauling their logistics over the next several months.
Both are great bars. The Rogue OPB is one of the most popular bars ever made. That said, I prefer the Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar EX over the OPB for the more aggressive knurling and the smooth sleeves.
You can read my full review of the Stainless Ohio Power Bar here.
Rep Power Bar EX vs. Vulcan Strength Absolute Power Bar
From the moment I touched this bar, I knew exactly what to compare it to: the Vulcan Absolute Stainless Steel Power Bar. It's a dead ringer in many ways.
Both bars are fully stainless steel, both bars have a nearly identical knurl profile, both bars have similarly recessed end caps, both bars have dual snap rings, and both are made in Asia.
The biggest differences are price, sleeves, tensile strength, and termination points. The Vulcan Stainless Power Bar is $599 (shipped), so it's costlier vs. the Rep Power Bar EX. It also has grooved sleeves, which are beautiful to look at, but certainly louder than the EX. The tensile strength of 240k PSI on the Vulcan bar well exceeds the 200k of the Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar. And lastly, the knurl execution on the Vulcan bar is practically perfect – it offers the cleanest termination points I've ever seen.
This is a tough one for me. These bars are strikingly similar – I love both and I recommend both highly. I'm leaning towards the Power Bar EX because of the relative price and smooth sleeves, but it's damn close.
You can read my full review of the Vulcan bar here.
Rep Power Bar EX vs. Kabuki Strength Power Bar
This has been another common comparison request, and it's an interesting one. There has been a big misconception since its release that the Kabuki Power Bar has a volcano knurl – it does not. It's completely mountainous.
But not all mountainous knurls are created equally. The Kabuki Power Bar, from my experience, isn't nearly as aggressive. It's a great knurl, no doubt, but it's not one that I'm grabbing much these days on heavier attempts.
I own the electroless nickel version of the Kabuki Bar, which retails at $669.99, nearly $300 more than the Rep EX. It has a significantly higher tensile strength and it's one of the sexiest bars in my collection. But I don't feel that I get the same grip on that bar and the loud sleeves are hard to ignore.
Again, both are tremendous bars with pros and cons relative to each other, but $300 extra is essentially a second barbell. I give the edge to the Power Bar EX from Rep Fitness overall.
You can read my review of the Kabuki bar here.
Rep Power Bar EX vs. Rep Stainless Power Bar v2 vs. Rep PowerSpeed Bar
I think it's important to stack the new Power Bar EX up against Rep's other two power bar offerings to give you an idea of what the big differences are.
When the PowerSpeed bar comes out in stainless steel, each of these bars will be priced exactly the same. Each of these bars will be fully stainless steel and each will be made in China.
The primary differences are in the knurling, which will come down to personal preference. The Power Bar v2 is not an aggressive bar at all. I really enjoy it on bench press and high bar squats. The PowerSpeed bar is a fairly aggressive knurl with a mountainous knurl. Interestingly enough, it has a virtually identical knurl to the Vulcan Absolute Power Bar in Black Oxide. It's unique, however, in that it cuts the knurl short on the ends to allow for easier re-centering of the bar.
As I mentioned earlier in the review, I think the Power Bar EX is the best of the bunch.
- The Rep Power Bar EX includes a stainless shaft and stainless sleeves, making it a rare offering in the stainless bar arena.
- The deep knurl profile is one of the best I've ever used. It's aggressive in all the right ways and it offers a supreme grip and feel.
- These sleeves are buttery smooth and they're the absolute quietest in my collection.
- The bar spins very smoothly and there is virtually no sleeve slop.
- I love the way this bar looks aesthetically, including the simple, clean endcap.
- The bar comes with a lifetime warranty.
- The knurl termination points need work to make this bar truly refined. I don't think it's going to interfere with performance at all, but the devil is in the details.
- Depending on how you intend to use the bar and your general preferences, the aggressive knurl may make this a niche-use bar (low volume, PR attempts, etc…).
- Some may look at the $379 price tag as a con given its position to the American-made Rogue Ohio Power Bar ($395).
In summary, the Rep Fitness Deep Knurl Power Bar EX is my new favorite barbell. It has so many great things going for it, and I find myself wanting to grab it more than any other bar right now.
From my perspective, the $379 price is pretty fair. I think we may have gotten spoiled with the $269 price of the original Rep Stainless Power Bar (now also $379). When you consider this bar is fully stainless and the next closest fully stainless competitor is ~$600, it doesn't feel like a reach to me. Add the rising costs of raw materials and the current tariffs and it's understandable why the price to the consumer has increased.
I think any aggressive power bar fan is going to love this bar. I highly recommend it – so much so that it has officially become the highest-rated bar that I've reviewed! It offers an excellent blend of performance and value, which is a recipe for a strong rating.
If you want to read about the Universal Barbell Score, check it out here.
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 the Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar EX and you 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,