A good quality weightlifting barbell is a key piece of equipment for anyone who takes lifting seriously. This versatile apparatus allows you to perform a wide range of exercises so you can progress to reach your weightlifting goals.
Whether you’re a weightlifting newbie or an experienced professional, you will want a robust and reliable barbell to achieve your personal bests. We’re not talking about your average and generic barbells. Although these are adequate for weightlifting, they may not be strong enough for your needs. We are going to focus on Olympic weightlifting barbells.
These are designed specifically for the kinds of lifts done in professional Olympic weightlifting. With an Olympic barbell, you can achieve different training variations such as the snatch and the clean and jerk.
With so many barbells currently on the market, we want to make it easier for you to choose the right one for you. That is why we have done our own heavy lifting and come up with the top 5 Olympic barbells for you.
With our expertise and background knowledge, we have considered the pros and cons of each product so you can make a balanced decision on which one is best for your needs.
Let’s not wait around any longer. Here are the top 5 Olympic barbells for you to consider.
OUR TOP PICK
We begin with the highly impressive Synergee Regional Olympic 20kg Men’s and 15kg Women’s barbells. This barbell has a maximum weight-bearing capacity of an imposing 1,500 pounds. You may think that it is only designed for heavy-duty powerlifting but it can also be used for CrossFit training. It’s ideal for lifting when the emphasis isn’t on the greatest amount of weight lifted.
This barbell has an outstanding tensile strength of 190,000 PSI. This means its resistance to this breaking is very high. It has a 13-inch loadable sleeve with 10 bearings that make up the rotation system so you can perform a wide range of movements.
This barbell from Synergee has a combination of unbelievable features that result in a great load-bearing capacity and the rotation system of a CrossFit bar. Available in a 44-pound version for men and a 33-pound version for women, this powerlifting bar is ideal for everyone.
- Very versatile - Can be used for CrossFit training and other lifting exercises as well as weightlifting
- Available for men and women - Sizes and shapes to suit both men and women
- Outstanding tensile strength - A tensile strength of 190,000 PSI means this is a very strong piece of equipment that can withstand very heavy weights
- Quite expensive - This is one of the more costly barbells on the market
Here, we have another Olympic weightlifting barbell with an outrageous tensile strength of 185,000 PSI. This XMark Voodoo Commercial Olympic Powerlifting barbell measures 7 feet in length and weighs 44 pounds. This is slightly longer than your standard barbell so you can really work on your gains.
We are very impressed by the features this barbell provides. It has a 1,500-pound maximum load-bearing capacity with special grooves on its sleeves to ensure the heaviest of plates don’t slip off.
The most unique aspect of this barbell is its durability and reliability. Made with heat-treated alloy steel and a snap ring lock system, this XMark Voodoo barbell will last a long time and withstand corrosion.
Its black manganese phosphate shaft is coated with some of the best anti-corrosive materials available to provide unbeatable abrasion protection. Be prepared to have this in your life for a very long time.
- Extremely high weight lifting capacity - Being able to support 1,500 pounds, this barbell is strong enough for Olympic sized weights
- Special grooves on the sleeve - These prevent the plates from slipping while you lift for added safety
- Corrosion-resistant - Coated with one of the hardest coatings available to protect your bar against corrosion and abrasion
- Expensive - Yet again, this is another expensive model but you will certainly get value for your money
With anti-rust qualities and top reliability, this Olympic barbell from Cap is a great option. Although this doesn’t have a tensile strength of the same caliber as our previous entries, 110,000 PSI is still pretty good.
Due to its lower tensile strength, the Cap barbell has a maximum weight-bearing capacity of 1,000 pounds. Despite not being able to bear as much weight, this barbell remains highly reliable.
It’s constructed from solid cold-rolled steel with a black phosphate finish that is stylish and highly durable. This is a perfect powerlifting bar for both commercial and home use.
We included this in our list because of its versatility. You can perform virtually all kinds of workouts with this bar to build up your stamina and strength. It’s built to accommodate any 2-inch Olympic plate and has snap clips on its sleeves to ensure these do not slip off.
- Versatile - Ideal for weightlifting, powerlifting, and all kinds of exercises to build strength
- Excellent value - Comes in cheaper than our previous products making it a great choice for those on a budget
- Rust-resistant - Built with a chrome coating that prevents rust for longer-lasting use
- Lower tensile strength - At 110,000 PSI, its resistance to breaking is not as high
- Unable to bear as much weight - Can lift 1,000 pounds which may not be enough for some lifters
If you’re looking for a top-quality barbell for your CrossFit training as well as weightlifting, this model from XMark could be a great choice.
With a maximum weight-bearing capacity of 700 pounds, it may not be suitable for strenuous powerlifting.
Although this is significantly less than many typical powerlifting barbells, it’s a superb option for lower weight or high-rep exercises that can still get you ripped. This bar is flexible and stiff so you can effectively do snatches, cleans, bench presses, deadlifts, squats, and much more.
Chrome-plated sleeves and its black manganese phosphate shaft prevent the Xmark Lumberjack Olympic bar from rusting. When matched with the brass bushing, this bar is built to last.
- Rust-resistant - A combination of chrome-plated sleeves, its black manganese phosphate shaft, and a brass bushing result in a long-lasting barbell
- Ideal for CrossFit - Its lower weight-bearing capacity of 700 pounds makes it perfect for CrossFit routines as well as other high-rep, low-weight exercises
- Perfect for home use - This is a great choice if you want to lift at home and not burst the bank
- Not suitable for extreme powerlifting - A maximum weight-bearing capacity of 700 pounds is not enough for those who wish to really push themselves
On a budget? If so, the Body-Solid OB86B Olympic bar could be the one for you. However, with a maximum weight-bearing capability of 600 pounds, you may be better off sticking to CrossFit training with this barbell.
Its weight and dimensions are simply ideal for CrossFit training but not so much powerlifting. Weighing 44 pounds, measuring 7-foot long with a 30 mm thick barbell and 15.5-inch long collars, you will find this suits a wide range of lightweight exercises. That’s not to say it can not be used for powerlifting. If you’re quite new to powerlifting, you can still get some intense lifts out of this bar.
Its knurled grips are very useful as you jack up the weight and its black oxide finish protects the bar against rusting, chipping, peeling, and scarring. This bar can be your worthy companion through your weightlifting journey but don’t expect to break any powerlifting records.
- Excellent grip - Has extremely efficient knurling which is comfortable and easy to grip as you lift
- Ideal for CrossFit training - Although it can be used for some powerlifting, this barbell excels for different CrossFit exercises
- Durable - Its black oxide finish protects against scratches and rust for long-lasting use
- Low weight-bearing capacity - Not the best choice for those who like to lift very heavy weights
Best Olympic Weightlifting Barbells Buying Guide
You should do some research before jumping the gun and buying an Olympic weightlifting barbell.
Some major factors should be taken into account so you can build some general knowledge of how to distinguish between a good barbell and a poor quality model.
Each barbell differs in regards to its suitability for various lifting styles. Finding out the features that best suit your style will help you iron out any doubts you may have so you can buy your next Olympic barbell with peace of mind and confidence.
Your barbell will primarily be made from steel and it is critical that this is of high quality. Two properties you should examine with barbells are the strength of its steel and its tensile strength.
Tensile strength is the steel’s ability to resist bending or breaking when under a certain amount of pressure. This is usually measured in pounds per square inch or PSI. The yield strength is the amount of stress that a material can withstand before it becomes damaged and breaks.
Spin and sleeves
Your barbell will have sleeves, otherwise known as a spin system. They are designed to spin the bar when it is dropped. This redistributes the force in certain ways and helps minimize any potential damage.
You can choose between two basic kinds of spin systems: bushings and bearings. If you think you will be dropping the bar quite often, after lifting extremely heavy weights, then you should opt for a bearing system.
These tend to spin more easily and fare better when being dropped to the ground. However, they are usually more expensive and not the most resistant to wear and tear, especially when compared to those with a bushing rotation system.
Barbells with a bushing system are better for beginners. The right choice depends on how you intend to use your barbell.
Finish and coating
There is more to consider than the steel’s raw strength. Another important aspect is the coating on the steel barbell. This can indicate the bar’s quality and durability as the coating is applied to prevent the bar from rusting.
Common types of coating include black zinc, chrome, and cerakote. It’s worth mentioning that high-quality stainless steel barbells should be resistant to rust on their own and wouldn’t need any coatings.
These steel bars tend to be very comfortable to use and feel more natural as you lift. Therefore, if you have a little more cash to splash, go for the best quality uncoated stainless steel barbells to ensure longevity.
This refers to the barbell’s ability to bend under pressure and certain weights before quickly moving back into form.
The shaft diameter and type of steel can determine how good a bar’s whip is. Olympic weightlifters who tend to lift high weights usually require a good amount of whip in their bars but, in general, most barbells should be very stiff.
The thickness of most Olympic barbells is most frequently 28 mm. Some models that are specifically designed for powerlifting may be as much as 30 mm thick.
This is so they remain more rigid during lifts. However, 28 mm will be the most common diameter for barbells unless you are a powerlifter.
During the manufacturing of barbells, knurling takes place. These are diagonal lines, ridges, or other patterns that are weaved into the steel bar. Knurling is crucial in barbells because it allows lifters to confidently grip the bar.
Without knurling, a bar would be completely soft and easily slip out of your hands. This is especially true as your hands become sweaty. The result can be extreme damage or a severe injury.
You should be careful with different types of knurling. Some can be quite aggressive and poke out of the steel causing cuts to your hands and great discomfort. This is why you should opt for a barbell with a moderate amount of knurling.
The load of your barbell is determined by the length of its sleeve. Those made for niche powerlifting federations can often be much longer.
The largest determining factor on load capacity is the plate’s width. For instance, competition powerlifting weight plates are generally much thinner than the cast iron plates found in the gym or Olympic Bumper plates. This is because of the greater loads that are used in the powerlifting discipline where you need to stack each plate closer together for extra weight.
Olympic weightlifting bars don’t need as much weight. This is due to the lower overall load potential which is under 270 kg for clean and jerk lifts. The barbells need to be wider and are designed to absorb shock when they are dropped from overhead. This helps protect the barbell from impact too.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different bars and lifting styles?
There are a few categories when it comes to Olympic barbells. These are based on the types of lifting they are designed for.
It’s vital to understand these categories as it can be very difficult to choose the right bar if you’re unsure which bar is meant for what form of lifting.
The two main categories to consider include:
- High weights with slow movements and a low number of reps
- Lower weights with fast movements and a large number of reps
Therefore, the two types of Olympic barbells and their associated lifting styles are:
- Powerlifting barbells - These are used by powerlifters who tend to perform slow exercises with extremely high weight levels. These include exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. If this is what you want to do, you will require a very stiff and strong bar. These barbells don’t need a high amount of spin since you won’t be dropping the bar very often. What you’ll probably need are bushings (which we mentioned earlier) and minimal amounts of whip (also mentioned above). You may also require a decent amount of knurling as the bar will usually be loaded with exceptionally high weights. The last thing you want is to let that bar slip out of your hands.
- CrossFit bars - These barbells tend to involve lower weights. Although lighter, the movements are generally much faster and more sudden. These high-paced exercises and jerky movements will mean you will be throwing the bar to the ground pretty frequently. This is why you will need a barbell with bearings and rubber bumpers to protect the barbell as it regularly makes an impact with the ground.
Should I use barbells or dumbbells to build muscle?
If you’re training for powerlifting or weightlifting, a barbell is an essential piece of equipment. It’s the primary tool for the required movements in these categories.
But if you’re looking to perform more functional fitness routines or like to work isometric training into your routine, then dumbbells are probably the best option.
Dumbbells may be the most versatile between the two but for weightlifting alone, always opt for barbells.