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 offer the best bang for your buck.
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 Fitness Ohio Power Bar
This is easily one of my favorite bars, and I’m not the only one who feels the same. 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. When you consider its price ($250-$395), it’s easy to see the value it carries.
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 one of the best knurlings among all powerlifting bars. To put it simply, it’s aggressive. When you grip the bar, you’re definitely going to feel the bite of the deep knurl pattern. The beauty of it though is that it’s not overpowering. I’ve lifted on some bars that have razor knurling due to a sharp peaked pattern. These did nothing to help my performance. In fact, they were quite detrimental because they managed to shred my flesh like a cheese grader.
With the Ohio Power Bar, there is a clear balance between grip and sharpness. If you’ve lifted on other power bars like the Texas Power Bar or other comp bars, you’re probably not in for much of a surprise in terms of its feel. If, however, you’re accustomed to lifting with a more medium or even light knurl, you’re likely going to go through an adjustment period.
I would describe the knurl as being “deep and very coarse.” It’s the absolute shining star on this bar, and Rogue should be applauded for what they’ve created. It’s definitely my favorite knurling on any power bar I’ve ever used, especially for deadlifts.
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 in my opinion. While some will prefer a smaller diameter (28mm-28.5mm) for deadlifting, 29mm is really a great blend for all big three lifts. This is of course within the standard IPF bar specs guidelines, which stipulates that a bar must be within 28-29mm in diameter.
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 amazing 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 final measurement of note is that the total distance between collar faces is 51.5,” which…. SURPRISE… meets IPF standards.
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 plenty of room to load a metric crap ton of weight. You can easily load 630 lbs of comp bumpers on the plate 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 three 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.
- Stainless Steel/Chrome – This is the most recent version that Rogue released and it offers a stainless steel shaft and chrome sleeves. 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 am surprised; however, that they elected to go with chrome sleeves in lieu of stainless. Rogue has indicated that they will offer a full stainless option in the future, but you can surely expect to pay a premium.
The cool thing about the Rogue Ohio Power Bar is that you get to pick from the above three finish types. Each provides its own characteristics and aesthetic nuances, and I find all three to look pretty awesome.
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 some of the pictures I’ve seen, it’s a really cool look that screams “let’s get to work.” 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 love the contrast between the shaft and the sleeves. The fact that the shaft hasn’t faded or patina’d yet is a big plus for me. As long as I maintain it the way I have been, I think it will continue to look badass for a long time to come. The stainless steel just makes for a beautiful looking barbell. It’s a timeless looking piece that will continue to look great and perform at a high level for years.
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.
Bar Weight: 45 lbs
Shaft Diameter: 29MM
Knurl: Deep and coarse
Center Knurl: Yes – same pattern
Knurl Marks: Powerlifting
Shaft Coating: Bare steel, black zinc, or stainless steel
Tensile Strength: 205,000 PSI
Bar Length: 86.5″
Distance Between Collar Faces: 51.5″
Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.25″
Sleeve Coating: Bare steel, bright zinc, or chrome
Bushing/Bearing: Bronze bushing
Made In USA: Yes
Rogue Ohio Power Bar – Pros and Cons
- 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 absolutely awesome, and it translates very well to all three main powerlifting movements.
- I love the fact you can purchase this bar with three different types of finishes depending on your budget, aesthetic preference, lifting setting, etc…
- This bar has unbelievable 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 several 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 fantastic looking bar with some of the best endcaps in the game.
- I prefer flat 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 amazing value. To answer the true or false statement at the top of the review, I absolutely think this is the best value power bar currently on the market. 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 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,