This is a review of the black zinc version of this bar. If you'd like to read the review of the stainless steel version, please click here.
True of False: The Rogue Ohio Power Bar is the best value power bar currently on the market.
While there are some really nice power bars being introduced, some of which provide excellent value, it's hard to argue that the Rogue Ohio Power Bar doesn't at least belong in the conversation.
It's well made, it has great specs, it looks awesome, and it's very well priced.
That, my friends, is a recipe for an awesome bar.
- Rogue Ohio Power Bar Overview
- Finish Types
- Pros & Cons
- Full Rating
The Rogue Ohio Power Bar is rated based on the Garage Gym Lab Universal Barbell Score. Read more about the ‘UBS' here. It's important to note that this review is based on the black zinc version of the bar. Every other finish option Rogue offers would score a higher rating.
Rogue has essentially created the most popular power bar in the world. Today it's used by some of the most elite powerlifters in the game throughout their training.
While it's not approved by the IPF (due to deliberate approval stagnation) as of the time of this review, it meets all the necessary specs along with the specs of other powerlifting federations.
As I will outline below, it performs masterfully on squat, bench, and deadlift. With multiple finish options available that range in price from $250-$395, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar will meet the needs of just about anyone.
With that, let's get into the review.
When it comes to a power bar, knurling plays a very important role due to its influence on your grip. It can be the difference in hitting a massive deadlift or missing an attempt all together because of a failed grip. Similarly, but to a lesser degree, it can help bar positioning on a back squat. It plays an even lesser role on bench, but it's still a consideration depending on preference in that respect.
The Ohio Power Bar is known as having a great knurl pattern. It's a volcano knurl that is deeply pitted and widely spread, both of which contribute to an aggressive profile. This is actually very similar to the Fringe Sport Lone Star Power Bar, which I recently reviewed here. The bar offers a smaller points-per-square-inch ratio than some other bars out there, which spreads the pressure around a little differently in the hand. It's very similar to laying on a bed of nails. The tighter the nails are packed together, the less pressure on any one area. This is true for barbells as well. The Rogue Ohio Power Bar isn't particularly packed tightly together, which tends to contribute to a more aggressive overall feel.
The nice thing about the knurl is that it's very grippy. It's moderately aggressive, but it's not as aggressive as some of the other bars with more mountainous knurls like the Rep Fitness Power Bar EX (review here). Interestingly enough, there are some mountainous knurls that are less aggressive, which is largely due to the points-per-square-inch. The Rogue Ohio Power Bar certainly has a nice balance, making it a great all-around power bar. As of this updated review, it's no longer my favorite knurl, but it's definitely high on the list.
The Ohio Power Bar boasts a tensile strength of 205,000 PSI. This is more than enough to indicate a very strong shaft that has no whip. You will notice some rather minor flexion with high loads (totally normal), but the shaft is for the most part extremely stiff. Insert sexual joke here. The bar has a 29mm shaft, which is a perfect diameter for a power bar.
The shaft offers a center knurl that is 4.75″ wide. The fact the center knurl pattern is the same as the rest of the bar could potentially be a knock on the bar for some people, as the aggressiveness could impose comfort issues while squatting. I've mainly heard this from people who squat high bar. If you squat low bar, I've found the knurl to be great at really sticking to your back.
The powerlifting knurl marks, distanced approximately 32″ apart, are within the IPF specs as well. These machined rings, along with every other section of flat steel, have clean knurl termination points. I get nitpicky with these sorts of things (knurl marks, weld joints, etc…), and Rogue definitely passes the test.
The sleeves on the Ohio Power Bar are operated via a bronze bushing system, which promotes a consistent spin. Spin of course isn't a particularly important consideration when it comes to a power bar, but it's nice to know that they spin freely even if it is minimal. A simple snap ring affixes the sleeves to the shaft.
The loadable sleeve length on the bar is 16.25″, which is good for 630 lbs of comp bumpers with room for collars at the end. If you have comp discs, you can of course load much more than this. The diameter of the sleeves is 1.96″, which is perfectly consistent with olympic bar sleeves.
The sleeves have a grooved pattern throughout. The reasoning for grooved sleeves is that they can assist in keeping plates in place better than smooth sleeves when you're not using a collar. I have found this to be true, but I don't find the difference to be mind blowing or anything. I actually find grooved sleeves (on any bar) to be a bit annoying because they make a loud zip noise when loading and unloading plates. My wife can actually sometimes hear me loading/unloading plates from inside the house if she's standing near the garage wall.
The Ohio Power Bar is available in four different types of finishes.
- Bare Steel – This version has bare steel on both the shaft and the sleeves. There are pros and cons to this. The biggest benefit is that raw steel knurling feels great in the hands because there is no coating interference. On the other hand, bare steel is very prone to rust. If you live or train in a humid environment, you will need to regularly maintain this bar with oil in order to limit the oxidation. You won't prevent it all together, but you can mitigate it to some degree. It will still produce a patina over time, but a lot of people like that look.
- Black Zinc/Bright Zinc – This is the version that I own. It has a black zinc shaft and bright zinc sleeves. Since I train in a humid North Carolina garage, I wanted a bar that offered better corrosion resistance. Because the stainless option wasn't available at the time, I elected to go with the zinc. After using the bar multiple times a week for the last 13 months, I can tell you that it basically looks exactly like it did when it arrived. There are some minor spots on the sleeve where you can tell it's been used, but the shaft is very much the same. I do brush my bars regularly to remove chalk and I apply 3-in-1 oil monthly. The potential knock on this version is that it won't offer the same natural feel as the bare steel or stainless options because of the zinc coating. I honestly think this is a little overblown though.
- Cerakote – This is the most recent version that Rogue released and it's one that has become popular due to its resistance to oxidation and its aesthetic qualities. Cerakote can be highly customized with colors and patterns, making it a really cool looking bar. This is an applied finish and, as such, it's not going to provide the same level of feel that a bare steel or stainless steel bar would offer. That said, it requires minimal maintenance given its rust prevention qualities.
- Stainless Steel/Chrome – The benefit with this version is that you get maximum rust resistance without sacrificing the knurl's feel. While I haven't personally used this version yet, it looks like a beautiful bar. I hope that Rogue eventually offers a stainless steel sleeve, as it's currently only offered with a chrome sleeve. You can read my review of the stainless steel version here.
The cool thing about the Rogue Ohio Power Bar is that you get to pick from the above four finish types. Each provides its own characteristics and aesthetic nuances, and I find all four to look pretty nice, especially the stainless and cerakote options.
While I'm not a big fan of the look of heavily rusted bars, I can appreciate the patina that a well maintained bare steel bar provides. In the facility I used to train in, people could store their barbells on a locked gunrack; one of the bars was a fully rusted OPB. I wasn't able to use the bar myself, but I did touch it (shhhh… don't tell), and it felt pretty amazing.
With the black zinc version, I like the contrast between the shaft and the sleeves. I've owned the bar now for almost 3 years in my North Carolina garage, and it's just now beginning to show some signs of wear in the coating. To be fair, I don't use the bar as frequently as I did, so I'm sure that contributes to it. As long as you maintain it with oil, however, it should look nice for a long time.
Lastly, I personally love the endcaps on these bars. The shape of Ohio is a really cool tribute to the company's home State, and the black and white color scheme is clean and simple. I like how they also bring a focus to the words “Power Bar” rather than “Rogue Fitness.” It's an understated element that I can really appreciate.
This bar just performs. It's strong, it's durable, and it works beautifully on the big three lifts. Unlike some power bars with more medium knurling, the Ohio Power Bar is awesome for deadlifting. Whether you're training for a competition or you just want to pull on a stiff shaft (zing!), this is one of the best bars you can use. If you're accustomed to a gym bar or a bar with more whip, a stiff bar like the OPB is going to make for a humbling experience your first time.
I personally love it for back squats because I primarily squat low bar. I have zero concern about this bar slipping down my back because of the aggressive knurl (and because I get those traps tight… duh). I've also used it on high bar squats, but I do tend to prefer a more mild knurl there. I don't like it for front squats, but then again, it's not really designed for that.
The bar is of course great on bench too. I have; however, found myself benching more frequently with bars with a medium knurl. I find it to be more comfortable and I don't think the aggressive knurl plays a big role in the bench press. I'd rather save my hands for other lifts that require more grip.
- The best thing about this bar is definitely the knurl. It's deep and coarse without being overly sharp. While there may be an adjustment period for some, the knurl is well done, and it translates very well to all three main powerlifting movements.
- I love the fact you can purchase this bar with four different types of finishes depending on your budget, aesthetic preference, lifting setting, etc…
- This bar offers a nice value. You can buy the bare steel version for only $250 and the black zinc version for only $275. The stainless version is a bit higher at $395, but that's less than some other stainless options from other manufacturers.
- The resale value is best-in-class. Rogue equipment generally retains its value very well, and this bar is no exception.
- It's spec'd to meet IPF and other powerlifting federations' guidelines.
- Aesthetically, I think it's a nice looking bar with some of the best endcaps in the game.
- I prefer smooth sleeves vs the ribbed/grooved sleeves on this bar. I'm not convinced the plate-slide benefit is enough to outweigh the louder, slightly more annoying noise.
- If you're a high bar squatter, the aggressive center knurl may be a slight negative.
When it comes down to it, this is just a great power bar. There simply aren't many negatives. The bar performs beautifully on the big three, and it's got great value. To answer the true or false statement at the top of the review, I do think the Rogue Ohio Power Bar is among the best bang-for-your-buck power bars. You can spend a lot more money and buy some expensive power bars from Eleiko, Ivanko, etc… but the incremental benefit is marginal compared to the monetary outlay in my opinion.
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 want to read about the Universal Barbell Score, check it out here.
If you have any questions on this bar or power bars in general, please leave a comment below. Likewise, if you own this bar and want to chime in on your own thoughts, please do so!
As always, I appreciate any feedback.
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The bar is loaded,