A good barbell is arguably the genesis of any solid gym or workout program, yet is often one of the most overlooked pieces of equipment in a gym. To put it bluntly, if you don’t have the best barbell for your needs then you are setting yourself short from the start when building a gym. Barbells are important because they allow you to do a variety of movements in even the smallest of spaces available, which helps you get the most out of your gym whether it’s a home gym or a commercial gym looking for the best olympic barbell.
What Is A Barbell & What Should You Consider When Buying One Of The Best Barbells?
Simply put, a barbell is a straight, horizontal bar onto which you load the weight plates for lifting. Sounds simple enough but there are some elements of any barbell you should inform yourself about. Those elements would be:
Bar and shaft: On the shaft, you have what is called Knurling. These are simply the rough, cross hutched patterns you see in a bar. The knurl is crucial because it provides you with the proper grip.
The extent of the knurl differs from one manufacturer to another and is suited for different preferences and user needs. Some bars will have knurling that extends to the sleeve while some will have center knurling and others no knurling at all.
Sleeves: This is simply where the weights are placed on the barbell. What to look out for on the sleeve is the rotation or how the sleeve spins on the shaft. The spin on the sleeve is achieved by bearings or bushing. Most of the best barbell sets will have bushing which works well while remaining affordable as opposed to barbells with bearings which tend to be high-end. It is important to note that difference in performance is minimal and should only be used by professionals and elite level trainers or athletes.
In some barbells the sleeves have no rotation at all as the bar; shaft and sleeve are all in one continuous piece of iron. Sleeves can also be connected by bolts or snap rings. However, unless you want to end up with a broken barbell, this is the one you should stay away from.
Barbell strength: This is measured in three areas, namely: the tensile strength, yield strength, and test
- Tensile strength is the maximum load your bar that can support without breaking or fracturing. The best barbell you choose should have a lot of tensile strength and it should be your primary determining factor when buying.
- Yield strength describes how much weight the bar will hold without becoming deformed or bent.
- Test means that the bar has been loaded with weights and subjected to tests and the result was no bending or breaking. Test is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI).The higher the PSI, the better.
Finishes: Aesthetics have their place on a barbell. It is mainly displayed on the finishing which can range from chrome, zinc, black oxide, stainless steel to an unfinished look. There is a distinction between what would be suited to powerlifting and Olympic lifting. Powerlifting bars tend to be very stiff as powerlifters prefer the least possibility of fluctuation during a big lift.
Olympic weightlifters prefer more of a spring or “whip” to their bar to accommodate the sport.
Now that you know what to look out for in a barbell let’s find out the best in the market. Below are our top 5 picks of the best Olympic barbells of 2017:
Also known as the “Fat bar,” the Fit Wonder Bar Axle is a favorite in strongman competitions, primarily because it makes things a little harder owing to its design. It also ensures that those last reps are even more punishing because the grip area on the bar is deliberately thicker (about 2”).
The sleeves on this barbell do not rotate translating to an added degree of difficulty when going ground to shoulder or ground to overhead as compared to other barbells like the Olympic barbell.
- The axle weighs 44 pounds
- Standard collars fit on this fat bar
- Powder coat Matte finish
- One Solid Bar; the collars do not rotate.
- Quantity: 1-20kg axle “Fat Bar.”
- Weight: 44 Pounds
- Weight Capacity: 1000 Pounds
- Dimensions: 7 feet long, 2 “, steel.
- Warranty: 1-year warranty (Free Returns)
This barbell takes ‘power’ to a whole new level. The strength results are unmatched. It comes highly recommended for fitness enthusiasts and elite athletes looking for that power edge.
The Olympic Barbell is designed by renowned Chad and Jodi Vaughn and has the mark of quality all over it. Considered the best training barbell for aspiring Olympians it features a proprietary bushing collar designed for an unmistakable butterfly smooth spin. You could swear there are bearings in there, but it’s all Bush and it comes with a lifetime guarantee.
- IWF knurl marks, no center knurl
- Beautiful black manganese finished shaft and collars with bright chrome sleeves.
- 216,000 PSI steel
- 25mm shaft diameter
- Weight: 33 pounds
- Whip: whippy
- Spin: Oly
- Weight Capacity: 1500 pounds
This barbell has sleek looks but is equally strong, durable and has a good grip.
This Barbell is quite popular because of its 206,000 steel PSI. It makes it one of the strongest barbells you can buy. The bar is now knurled all the way to the collar which seems to be a preference for most lifters. It also comes with a lifetime guarantee just for good measure.
- 1500 pound static test weight capacity
- Amazing Knurl Depth, Not soft not too rough.
- Customizable grooved shoulder which comes including “Bomba Gear.”
- Ultimate black zinc finishes for maximum grip and rust resistant.
- Collars: Bronze Bushing
- Weight: 44 pounds
- Whip: Moderate
- Stiff: Moderate
- Material: Black zinc finish steel
The Bomba Barbell is well worth it. Its durability is unparalleled, and it is extremely versatile.
The wonder bar is an excellent product and will suit the needs of any fitness establishment; this bar comes with an option of bushing or bearing cartridge. However, the needle bearing cartridges provide excellent spin but may require occasional oiling. The specs for both are the same. Both bars are good for lifting and provide adequate spin. The 28mm shaft diameter is perfect for Olympic movements.
- Great knurl depth- Not as hard as a cheese grater nor too soft
- Incredible Dual Knurl pattern – single ring IWF with no center knurl
- 28mm and 25mm shaft diameter for men and women respectively.
- Fantastic all black zinc finishes throughout the bar.
Weight: 44 pounds.
Tensile strength: 216,000 PSI
Weight Capacity: 1500 lbs limit
Knurl: Dual knurling – Dual ring IWF + IPF knurling (No center knurl)
The wonder bar is a great buy because of its versatile nature. It owes its versatility to the bush and bearing cartridges, which is why it’s suitable for both powerlifting and Olympic lifts. This may be the best barbell if you are looking to build a great home gym.
The Ohio Bar from Rouge Fitness is hands down the best barbell of 2017. The sheen and feel on the finish of this multipurpose barbell are as a result of using the best steel variants. It is available in three different finishes each offering a different level of protection and a different feel of the knurl.
The Ohio barbell has great versatility. Enough “whip” for Olympic weight lifting yet still packed with enough stiffness to hold for heavy power lifting.
- Dual Knurl Marks, No center knurl.
- Tensile strength: 190,000 PSI
- Lifetime Guarantee
- Bar Weight: 44 Pounds
- Loadable sleeve length: 16.4.”
- Diameter: 28.5 MM
The Ohio barbell is a great and proven, versatile option with a unique finish without being compromised on all fronts which is what makes it our choice for the best barbell of 2017.
Our Final Word
In the ever-changing landscape of gym equipment, the barbell had somewhat been left behind. But according to current barbell reviews, it is not anymore! You are now given a lot of options, each with their unique features and capabilities that will surely make you better and stronger!
It’s important to remember also that no gym is complete with a set of solid dumbbells, for that reason you should check out our review of the best dumbbells of 2017.