Barbell Buying Guide | How To Choose Right Barbell

Before purchasing a barbell, it's important to determine your exercise goals, whether you're focusing on weightlifting, powerlifting, or versatility. Many individuals struggle to select the right barbell for their needs, which is why we've created an in-depth barbell buying guide.

Take a look to better understand your requirements and find the perfect barbell to match your fitness objectives!


Anatomy of Barbell

  • A Men’s bar is 7.2ft long and weighs 20 kg.
  • A Women’s bar is 6.5ft long and weighs 15kg
  • A Junior/Training bar is 5.6ft long and weighs 10kg.


Understanding the difference between an Olympic Barbell and a Gym Rod is crucial.

An Olympic Bar is crafted from premium-grade steel, engineered to withstand substantial loads, featuring precise tolerances and smooth-spinning sleeves that facilitate weight rotation as required.

On the other hand, Gym Rods are typically manufactured using lower-quality steel rods without sleeve construction, resulting in looser tolerances and more imperfections. Consequently, they are unsuitable for weightlifting or intense powerlifting routines.


An Olympic Standard Bar weighs 20kg, whereas a gym Rod has a large margin of tolerance & imperfections, hence can be of any weight between 15kg – 25kg.

Sleeve Rotation:

Olympic bars are distinguishable by their 50mm or 2-inch ends. Typically, the sleeves of these bars rotate freely. This rotation is particularly beneficial during Olympic lifts and CrossFit exercises, as it helps diminish the torque generated by the weight plates.

The rotating ends of Olympic barbells enable the weights to spin freely, thereby reducing torque and alleviating strain on your wrists and shoulders.

The degree of spin in the bar is determined by whether it rotates on bushings or bearings.

Sleeve and Shaft Diameter:

Gym Rods typically have a diameter ranging from 25mm to 29mm across the entire length. In contrast, Olympic bars feature a main shaft diameter of 28mm, with end sleeves measuring approximately 49.8mm (nearly 2 inches) in diameter.

A high-quality Olympic bar maintains a consistent sleeve diameter with minimal variation, while a lower-quality bar may exhibit up to a 2mm difference in diameter from the standard 49.8mm. 


Barbell Knurl:

The cross-hatch pattern of grooves on the shaft is referred to as Barbell knurling or simply knurl. This pattern enhances grip by creating friction between your hand and the barbell, thereby optimizing your hold based on the type and intensity of the knurl.

The width and depth of these grooves dictate the aggressiveness of the knurl. Greater depth coupled with an appropriate width results in a more aggressive knurl, leading to a stronger grip. For instance, a 1.5mm knurl is considerably more aggressive than a 1.2mm knurl, followed by a 1.0mm knurl in terms of grip strength.

Barbell knurl types

 Among various knurl patterns, the Volcano knurl stands out as the most optimal choice. Its higher density of points per square inch increases surface friction, providing excellent grip without causing undue stress to the palm skin. Consequently, many powerlifting barbells feature a 1.5mm Volcano knurl pattern.

Knurl Markings: Knurl markings refer to the 5mm thick circled indicators found on the barbell's shaft, positioned in accordance with IPF or IWF specifications.

- IPF knurl markings denote the widest permissible grip for bench presses.

- IWF knurl markings denote the widest permissible grip for snatch lifts.

Center Knurl: The Center knurl plays a crucial role in squatting exercises, aiding in bar stability on the back during back squats and on the chest during front squats.

Barbell Coating:

Different types of barbell coating affect the knurl feel and the oxidation resistance of the bar, which are

  1. Black Oxide
  2. Chrome: Bright chrome
  3. Hard chrome
  4. Ceramic coating
  5. Stainless Steel Barbell

Barbell Coating Explained

Black Oxide Barbells

The grip of a Black Oxide coated bar offers a tactile experience closely resembling that of a "Bare steel" bar. To maintain the aggressiveness of the knurl, a thin coating layer is applied, typically achieved economically through Oxide coating. However, this coating offers minimal to mild protection against oxidation. Therefore, it's important to note that regular maintenance is necessary, with recommended intervals ranging from 15 to 45 days, depending on climate conditions and geographical location, to safeguard against oxidation.

Chrome (Bright Chrome)

Chrome is a cost-effective alternative that boasts superior resistance to oxidation compared to oxide coatings. It offers a shiny, bright finish and provides a moderate knurl feel experience. However, over time, there is a possibility of the coating beginning to chip or peel, potentially compromising its oxidation resistance and leading to rust formation on the bar.

Hard Chrome

Hard chrome emerges as an excellent choice for commercial facilities due to its silver finish appearance, which lends a professional aesthetic. Its low maintenance requirements make it particularly suitable for high-traffic environments. Additionally, it offers a moderate knurl experience while providing more than adequate resistance to oxidation, ensuring durability and longevity even under heavy use.

Ceramic Coating

It boasts up to 100 times the corrosion resistance of a typical black oxide or phosphate coat. Thanks to its ceramic composition, it offers nearly flawless rust resistance, requiring minimal maintenance and sporting an attractive matte appearance. However, it's susceptible to scratches from metal-to-metal contact, such as when racking the bar on bare J-cups. Yet, when paired with UMHW Plastic J-cups, this bar can maintain its quality and durability for years to come.

Stainless Steel Barbell

For those residing in coastal regions or experiencing severe winters with high humidity and moisture levels that increase the risk of rust formation on barbells, stainless steel barbells offer a reliable solution.

In comparison to other coating options applied to bare steel, stainless steel provides superior finish quality and durability, making it an ideal choice for combating rust in challenging environmental conditions.

Sleeve Construction:

Bearing Vs Bushing

The spinning mechanisms on barbell sleeves vary depending on the construction, with options including Bearings or Bushings.

Needle bearings are engineered to deliver a smooth, consistent, and quieter spin, tailored to the demands of weightlifting. On the other hand, Bushings are designed to offer the optimal (ranging from minimal to moderate) spinning mechanism required for powerlifting.

In summary, individuals engaged in Weightlifting or CrossFit training are advised to opt for a bar equipped with Needle Bearings, whereas those focused on powerlifting routines should consider a bar featuring bushings.

Shaft Diameter:

The IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) mandates a bar diameter of 28mm for men and 25mm for women and youth, whereas the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) specifies a grip diameter within the range of 28-29mm.

As a result, our Olympic bars are tailored to these specifications, featuring a 28mm diameter for men and a 25mm diameter for women. Conversely, Power bars typically come with a 29mm diameter, as this slightly larger size proves to be more practical and efficient for bench pressing and squatting exercises compared to a 28mm diameter.


Purpose: To introduce momentum into the lifts caused by the bar.

Weightlifting: Whip Desired

Powerlifting: Whip Not Desired

Some serious deadlifters may disagree since they prefer great whip while lifting off the weight.

Barbell Strength:

When selecting a barbell, it's crucial to consider two key technical parameters:

  1. Yield Strength: This measurement indicates the amount of weight that can be safely placed on the barbell while it's suspended in the rack without causing permanent bending. Essentially, it denotes the bar's resilience to deformation under load.
  2. Tensile Strength: This parameter represents the maximum load that the bar can withstand without fracturing or breaking. It is typically expressed in pounds per square inch (PSI) and serves as an indicator of the bar's overall durability and resistance to structural failure. 


Barbells can be followingly categorized according to the type of exercises performed using them.

Powerlifting Barbells:

In powerlifting workout routines, the core lifts consist of Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift, with various variations such as Front Squat, Back Squat, and different deadlift forms. As per IPF specifications, the diameter of the barbell shaft should range between 28mm and 29mm.

Power bars typically have a diameter of 29mm, offering increased surface area for grip, particularly advantageous for bench press and squat exercises.

The knurl pattern on the barbell is crucial for powerlifting, especially considering the preferred grip style for Deadlifts, whether it's Hook Grip, Mixed Grip, or Overhand Grip.

For those favoring Hook Grip, a 1.2mm knurl is recommended, as it strikes a balance between grip strength and comfort during prolonged practice.

For lifters opting for Mixed or Overhand grip, a 1.5mm knurl provides a strong and aggressive grip on the bar.

For powerlifters, bars with bushings are preferable, offering optimal spinning mechanism suitable for power lifts, given the vertical push and pull movements involved. A minimal whip is desired, except for those who specifically prefer it for deadlifts.

Center Knurl is vital for squatting exercises, aiding in bar stability on the back during back squats and on the chest during front squats.

Weightlifting Barbells:

Weightlifting focuses on two primary lifts: Snatches and Clean and Jerk, both requiring full limb extension for increased range of motion and stability.

As per IWF specifications, weightlifting bars should have a shaft diameter of 28mm for men and 25mm for women and youth.

Needle bearings are essential components of weightlifting bars, providing smooth, consistent, and quieter spin, crucial for executing Snatches and Clean and Jerk lifts efficiently while reducing the risk of wrist injuries.

During weightlifting movements, lifters must precisely catch the momentum of the barbell, especially during the initial phase of the lift. A barbell with "whip" allows lifters to utilize the bar's momentum, rather than relying solely on their own strength. Skilled lifters exploit the whip effect to propel the weight upward, such as bouncing the bar off their chest during the Clean and Jerk, utilizing the flexion momentum to drive the bar upwards into the jerk position.

Multipurpose Barbells

For individuals who aren't specialized lifters or primarily workout in a home gym setting, multi-purpose bars offer versatility and convenience.

An ideal multi-purpose bar should weigh around 20kgs and measure 7.2ft in length, catering to both powerlifting and weightlifting exercises.

With a depth of 1.2mm, the knurling on a multi-purpose bar is suitable for various lifting activities.

Some multi-purpose bars may feature a center knurl, beneficial for front and back squats in powerlifting routines.

For those engaging in less intense training or occasional weightlifting, proprietary bushings suffice. However, for frequent or heavy weightlifting sessions, bearings are recommended for smoother spin and durability.

In multi-purpose bars, whip is a desirable feature as it's essential in weightlifting, and preferred by some powerlifters, particularly during deadlifts. 

Specialty Barbells

Specialty Barbells, as the name suggests, are designed with specific purposes in mind, offering versatility and targeted training for various muscle groups and strength qualities. These specialized barbells are invaluable not only for targeted training but also for working around injuries or focusing on specific areas of strength development. By incorporating different variants of the traditional barbell, you can supercharge your training regimen, allowing for a more comprehensive approach to weight training across all areas of fitness.



Multipurpose (Weightlifting + Powerlifting)


Utility/Curls bar

The Eagle Bar 20kg (Black oxide/Chrome)

Powerlifting Barbell 20kg

The Eagle Bar 20kg (Black oxide/Chrome)

The Squat Bar

EZ Curl Bar 4ft

Red Falcon Bar 20kg

Stainless Steel Powerlifting Barbell 20kg

Olympic Barbell 15kg

The Deadlift Bar

Straight Bar 4ft

Olympic Barbell 20kg

Hercules Powerlifting Barbell 20kg

Red Falcon Bar 20kg

The Hex Trap Bar

Straight Bar 5ft

Olympic Barbell 15kg

The Hex Trap Bar

Hummingbird Bar 15kg

The Safety Squat Bar


Hummingbird Bar 15kg

The Squat Bar

Arctic Camo Bar 20kg

The Buffalo Bar


The Eagle Bar 20kg (Gold Edition)

The Deadlift Bar

The Eagle Bar 20kg (Gold Edition)



Arctic Camo Bar 20kg

The Safety Squat Bar




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