The Rogue Ohio Power Bar is one of, if not the most popular power bar ever created.
I've been a user of this bar for several years in the black zinc variety. It was actually the first bar I ever purchased.
I recently decided to upgrade to the stainless steel version for two reasons. Firstly, I've come to really appreciate stainless steel and all that it has to offer, especially relative to other finishes such as black zinc. Secondly, I wanted to compare it directly to the Stainless Steel Rep Fitness Power Bar EX, which I positively reviewed here.
There is no denying that the stainless variant is superior to the black zinc, which I also reviewed here.
It feels great, it looks terrific, it performs well, and it comes in at a reasonable price for a stainless steel, Made-in-the-USA, barbell.
That said, there are a couple of things about this bar that I'm not a huge fan of, which I will discuss.
In this review, you're going to get an up-close and personal look at this bar. We'll see what makes it such a popular choice, and we'll check how it stacks up with a few other options that offer similar features and/or price points.
Let's do it.
- Rogue Ohio Power Bar Overview
- Rogue OPB vs. Rep Fitness Power Bar EX
- Rogue OPB vs. American Barbell Mammoth Bar
- Rogue OPB vs. Fringe Sport Lone Star Power Bar
- 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 stainless steel version of the bar. Every other finish option Rogue offers would score a lower rating.
The Rogue Ohio Power Bar deserves a lot of credit, in my opinion. While it's certainly not the first power bar ever created, I think it's been a huge contributor to the influx of available options on the overall power bar market.
While this bar, nor the other 45 lb Ohio Power Bars, are IPF approved, they do meet the generally accepted guidelines. If you require an IPF-approved bar, you can look at their 20 kg version, which is fully certified to be used in competition, and which also comes in stainless steel.
This bar comes in five finishes ranging from bare steel ($265) to fully stainless steel ($470), making it accessible to a lot of people based on needs, budget, etc…
There are now several stainless steel barbells in the powerlifting arena. Rogue has just released their fully stainless steel version of this bar to go up against the Rep Power Bar EX and the Vulcan Stainless Power Bar. It retails for $470 vs. the $395 price of the bar in this review (stainless shaft/hard chrome sleeves).
Regardless, if you're looking for a quality all-around power bar, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar is among the top choices.
Let's have a look at the overall specs and then we'll get into the review:
Bar Weight: 45 lb
Shaft Diameter: 29mm
Knurl: Leans aggressive
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: Hard Chrome
Made in: USA
The knurling on the Rogue Ohio Power is considered by many to be one of the best on the market. It has a volcano pattern that some would consider aggressive and others would consider “grippy.” I tend to side with the “grippy” folks. I don't personally find this bar to be particularly aggressive, especially when compared to some other power bars with mountainous knurl profiles. I don't think this bar is mild by any stretch – I think it falls in between medium and aggressive on the ‘feel' spectrum, leaning closer to the aggressive side.
While I do generally prefer a mountainous knurl over a volcano, there is something to be said about a volcano knurl's translation to each of the big three lifts. It's arguably more well-rounded in that respect. For instance, I prefer it over a mountain on bench press and, while I don't like it as much on deadlifts and low bar squats, it still works extremely well.
Said another way, I would use this bar without hesitation on each of the squat, bench, and deadlift. On a bar like the Rep Fitness Power Bar EX with a very aggressive, mountainous profile, I wouldn't use it on bench press… personally. But I would tend to gravitate towards it on the other two lifts. This is a case-study in why I advocate for more than one barbell, but if you're looking for a single power bar to do it all, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar is a great choice due to its knurling.
As for the nerdy details, the knurl itself is pressed in a way the creates a deep pit. The deep part in and of itself creates a semi-aggressive feel due to the more pronounced edges. What also contributes to that is the smaller points-per-square-inch ratio. Unlike some bars that have a more tightly-packed point profile, the Rogue Ohio Power has a wider spread. This effectively distributes the pressure around less than a higher ratio, which increases the amount of pressure on any given spot. My favorite analogy to illustrate this is the ‘bed of nails'. The more nails you have, the less pressure you feel. Magic, right?
The shaft of the Ohio Power Bar measures 29mm and it offers a tensile strength of 200k PSI. Both of these measurements stack up well against the competition. The 29mm diameter creates a very rigid bar that is ideal for the big three. While I think tensile strength tends to be an overblown metric, it's a consideration worth noting, and 200k is more than enough for virtually anyone.
The center knurl measures 4.72″ in length, which offers good coverage on the back during squat movements. The knurl termination points are super crispy. Each edge comes to a clean stop and I was unable to locate any areas of feathering or double-tracking in the knurl anywhere on the shaft. The execution is virtually flawless from end to end.
The sleeves of the OPB are my main point of contention with this bar. As I mentioned earlier, the sleeves are hard chrome. Hard chrome is a very suitable sleeve finish, but you now have the option to purchase the fully stainless Rogue Ohio Power Bar for $470, which represents a $75 premium over the stainless/hard chrome OPB.
The sleeves themselves are grooved, which I don't like nearly as much as a smooth sleeve. This is personal preference and it seems as though it's very similar to the crunch vs. creamy peanut butter debate. It seems to be split pretty evenly down the middle.
I prefer smooth sleeves mainly because they aren't as loud when loading the plates. The Rogue Ohio Power Bar is no exception to this. Loading and unloading plates results in an audible zip noise that you'll either love or you'll hate. Now, it's not the loudest sleeve I own thankfully, but you'll still get an ear full more or less. The perceived benefit of grooved sleeves is that they help keep the plates on better. I think this is true to a marginal extent, but I use collars anyway, so it's a moot point for me.
The sleeves are operated with bronze bushings, which is customary in the majority of power bar applications. This creates a slow, steady spin that you want with powerlifting movements. The spin itself is very smooth – each one comes to a gradual stop. There does seem to be some minor lateral sleeve movement, but I wouldn't consider it a big concern at all. I haven't noticed it whatsoever when I'm actually using the bar.
Overall, the sleeves are nice and they function very well. The drawback of grooved sleeves is entirely personal preference.
The Rogue Ohio Power is a true all-around power bar. It's aggressive enough for heavy deadlift attempts yet not so aggressive that I avoid it on bench press, for instance.
Squats – The bar feels really nice on squats, especially in the low bar position. The wide center knurl offers good coverage and the knurl grips well. I do tend to prefer a slightly more aggressive knurl on heavier attempts, but if I'm working with higher volume, the less aggressive/more grippy Ohio Power Bar is a go-to. Although I wouldn't personally use this bar on high bar squats, if you do squat high bar and you want a single bar, the OPB is still a good option.
Bench – At one time I wouldn't have used the Ohio Power Bar very much on bench, but as I started using more and more aggressive bars, the OPB seemed more comfortable to me. Is it a bar I'm going to use often on bench? Probably not… but only because I have some more medium depth bars that I prefer. This is a great bar to bench with overall. There are some bars that I wouldn't even think to use on bench (outside of reviews, of course) – this bar, however, is not one of them.
Deadlifts – I like aggressive bars on deadlifts. I'm talking mountainous knurl with bite. That's not to say I don't like the Ohio Power Bar on deadlifts, because I do, but it's not my first choice when going heavy. That's also not to say that it isn't perfectly suitable for heavy attempts, because it is – it's just not MY first choice. For anything with higher volume, even +4 reps, this OPB feels great.
As is the case with any bar, people have their preferences. I think this is a fantastic power bar that plays very nicely with each of the big 3. Because it falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, you may prefer a more or less aggressive bar on certain lifts. If, however, you're a single-bar user or you just prefer a volcano knurl, the Ohio Power Bar is likely going to be very hard to beat.
The stainless steel version of this bar is absolutely stunning. It's easily one of the best looking bars in my collection. The stainless shaft is practically flawless and it looks oh-so-nice under the lights. The beauty of stainless steel, of course, is that it's likely to stay looking great for years to come. While the hard chrome sleeves look just fine, I imagine stainless steel sleeves will look even better.
The end cap on the Rogue Ohio Power Bar is one of my favorites. I love the simple design as well as the outline of the state of Ohio. The words “Power Bar” at front and center sum it up perfectly. Lastly, I'm tipping my cap to Rogue for a nice job on the knurl termination points. It's the little things that add up to create a great looking bar, and Rogue did very well to hit those details.
How does the Stainless Ohio Power Bar stack up against the new kid on the block: the Rep Fitness Power Bar EX?
Well, I've been using both of these bars side-by-side over the last 5-6 weeks, so I've gotten to know them quite well.
I think it's important to note that these are two very different bars, despite them being stainless and them both being power bars. For one, the Rep EX has a very aggressive, mountainous knurl. It's also fully stainless steel, including the sleeves, which are also smooth vs. grooved. The price is pretty in-line ($379 Rep vs. $395 Rogue), but you're not getting the stainless sleeves with the Ohio Power bar… yet. I expect the price to increase when those are available, which will create a bigger price spread. Lastly, the Rogue OPB is made right here in the USA, whereas the Rep EX is made in China.
The Rep Fitness Power Bar EX has actually garnered the highest rating of any bar that I've reviewed. Among other things, this is primarily due to smooth, stainless steel sleeves and the mountainous knurl, which I prefer. You can read the full review here.
At the end of the day, both are terrific barbells. I think it just depends on which knurl you prefer – volcano (Ohio Power Bar) or mountain (Rep EX)? I'd also look at how you intend to use the bar. The OPB is a more appropriate single-use bar, in my opinion, whereas the Rep EX is superior for certain things (e.g. heavy pulls).
The American Barbell Mammoth bar is an interesting comparison, but these are also quite different. Both bars are made-in-the-USA stainless power bars with hard chrome sleeves, but the Mammoth Bar isn't aggressive at all. It also has a cerakote top layer over the stainless shaft, which is great for protection, but not so great for feel. It's a very nice bar to be sure, but it serves a different purpose for me. If I'm trying to hit a heavy set, I'm not grabbing the Mammoth unless it's on bench press.
The Mammoth bar is also quite a bit more expensive at $495, but it does offer beautiful smooth sleeves with their unique recessed welds, and it has a higher tensile strength.
Since I prefer a more aggressive bar and I appreciate the true raw feel, the Stainless Rogue Ohio Power Bar would get the nod from me on this comparison.
I chose to compare the Ohio Power Bar to the Fringe Sport Lone Star Bar for three reasons: One is that they have a very similar knurl profile, two is that they're priced fairly similarly ($395 Rogue vs. $369 Fringe), and three is that they're both made in the USA.
Other than that, there are different bars as well. The Fringe Sport bar is a 28.5mm power bar, which competes more with the Texas Power Bar. The Fringe Bar has a bright zinc shaft, bright zinc sleeves, and a lower tensile strength (190k).
I do like the Lone Star Bar, but more so as a change-of-pace bar. I think a 28.5mm absolutely serves a purpose in powerlifting training, and it's fun to deadlift with… especially for hook grip pullers like myself. I also feel that the Fringe Lone Star bar is slightly more aggressive than the OPB.
For less than $30 more, you can get a stainless steel barbell that is spec'd to meet IPF standards. For that reason, I would pick the stainless Ohio Power Bar between these two.
- The Stainless Rogue Ohio Power Bar offers a very refined, grippy knurl that makes for a quality all-around power bar.
- The overall execution and construction quality of the bar is noticeably high.
- It's 100% made in the USA.
- The bar comes with a lifetime warranty.
- The sleeves spin very smoothly.
- Aesthetically, the stainless OPB looks phenomenal thanks to the overall finish and the attention to detail.
- Rogue equipment generally retains its value very well.
- The sleeves are grooved, which creates a zip noise when loading and unloading plates. This may or may not be an issue for you.
- There is some minor sleeve play laterally that appears mainly as an audible click, but doesn't appear to impact performance at all.
- My copy of this bar weighs 45.3 lbs, which makes it one of the most inaccurate bars I own. My black zinc OPB weighed 45.1 lbs. Unless you're very particular about weight being extremely accurate, this is merely something to point out… it may even be an anomaly with my particular copy.
In summary, I think the Rogue Ohio Power Bar deserves a lot of credit. It's become arguably the most popular power bar ever made, and I think it has a lot going for it.
From my personal experience, I love that this bar can effectively be used on each lift, but I do find myself sometimes reaching for more aggressive bars on heavier squats/deadlifts and less aggressive bars on bench press.
If you're looking for a single barbell, this one is perhaps the ideal candidate. I think it's a great option too if you're just looking to add one to your collection and round out your training options. For instance, I like the Rep EX on heavy deadlifts but I would prefer the OPB on volume pulls. They can both be interchanged quite well, but owning both gives me more flexibility.
At $395, it still represents a nice value considering it has a stainless steel shaft and a lifetime warranty. Compared to some other stainless options, it's actually on the low end. Now, if/when they introduce stainless sleeves, I would anticipate a price closer to the $450 mark, but time will tell. Even at that price, a fully stainless bar for $450 is pretty attractive.
All-in-all, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar is an awesome powerlifting barbell. I don't think you can go wrong with it.
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 Rogue Ohio Power Bar 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,