11 Best Barbells 2024

Written by Daniel Mesa
Last Updated On

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The Rogue Ohio Bar was our top pick because of the combination of value and versatility. The great features, affordable price, and signature Rogue quality made it a hard barbell to beat.

Best Budget Barbell
Best Overall Barbell
Best Power Bar
4.3
5.0
4.9
Best Budget Barbell
Best Overall Barbell

Barbells are the most versatile and important piece of equipment in any gym. With just a barbell, squat rack, weight bench, some weight plates, you can build an incredible physique and stay in amazing shape. If you are just starting a home gym, the barbell should be at the very top of your list of items to get.

Even though a barbell may seem simple, there are a lot of different sizes, shapes, prices, strengths, etc. to think about. To help you navigate this growing market, we took the time to test dozens of different types of barbells to find the best barbells on the market. Whether you are just looking for a decent barbell to get your fitness journey started or a specialty barbell to suit your training, this guide will have the correct barbell for you.

Best Barbells 2023

Every single bar on this list has been tested hands-on by the team of personal trainers and athletes at FitDominium. Aside from testing, the team also compared specs, customer reviews, and pricing.

Rogue Ohio Bar: Best Barbell Overall

Best Overall Barbell
Rogue Ohio Bar
5.0

The Rogue Ohio Bar is the most popular multipurpose barbell in the world and for good reason. With endless customization and features, you can use this bar for anything.

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Specs

  • Knurl Type: Medium
  • Center Knurl: No
  • Tensile Strength: 190,000 or 200,000 PSI
  • Weight: 20kg
  • Shaft Diameter: 28.5mm
  • Shaft Finish: Stainless Steel, Cerakote, E-Coat, Black Zinc, or Black Oxide
  • Sleeve Type/Finish: Grooved/Hard Chrome, Cerakote, or Black Oxide
  • Rotation System: Bushing
  • Made in: USA
  • Warranty: Lifetime

Summary

In the world of barbells, there is no bar that is more tried and trusted than the Rogue Ohio Bar. This barbell is the best-selling barbell worldwide, and for good reason. The bar is very versatile and comes in a number of finishes and price points, making it a great budget option for lifters of any level or budget.

The Ohio Bar has a 28.5 mm shaft. This is right in the sweet spot between a power bar and Olympic weightlifting it bar, meaning that you can try any style pretty well. Since the bar has become so popular, Rogue has built an online Zeus Builder, that allows you to customize several aspects of the bar including colors, logos, finish, bushing type, and sleeve coating. The biggest decision you will have to make here that will affect the price is the bar finish. The Ohio bar comes in stainless steel, cerakote, black oxide, and e-coat.

During our use of the Ohio bar, we found that perhaps the best feature was the knurling. The barbell has a volcano knurling that is moderately aggressive. The volcanic shape means that you have plenty of surface area to increase grip strength but no sharp points digging into your skin. Because of the excellent knurling, the barbell is suitable for both heavy one-rep max attempts and higher volume rep work. Something to keep in mind here though is that the finish you get can have an impact on the knurling. Stainless steel will be the best since no additional coating makes the knurling shallower. This bar comes with dual rings but does not have a center knurl.

The sleeves on Ohio Bar come grooved and can be purchased with either a chrome, cerakote or conversion coating. The sleeves spin via bronze or composting bushings, depending on which version of the bar you get. The sleeves spin nice and smooth, making it great for weightlifting. One thing to be aware of is that the Ohio Bar 2.0 removed some of the metal-on-metal contacts that were taking place in the sleeve. The biggest change I noticed with this is that the noise of the 2.0 bar was significantly less than that of the original Ohio Bar, which can be important for a home gym.

Rogue makes great products, but the higher price points, often make it hard to recommend their products. That is not the case with barbells, though. In the world of barbells, Rogue delivers a best-in-class product at a very affordable price. If you are looking for a barbell that can basically do it all, you cannot go wrong with an Ohio Bar.

Pros

  • 28.5mm shaft makes the bar viable for most lifts
  • Knurling is a nice medium volcanic pattern
  • Lots of customization with Zeus builder
  • Made in USA
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Good value

Cons

  • Cerakote sleeves can mark easily
  • Not the cheapest bar

Rogue Ohio Power Bar: Best Power Bar

Best Power Bar
Rogue Ohio Power Bar
4.9

The Rogue Ohio Power Bar is the best-selling power bar on the market thanks to its great volcano knurling and customization options.

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Specs

  • Knurl Type: Aggressive
  • Center Knurl: Yes
  • Tensile Strength: 200,000 or 205,000 PSI
  • Weight: 20kg
  • Shaft Diameter: 29mm
  • Shaft Finish: Stainless Steel, Cerakote, E-Coat, Black Zinc, or Black Oxide
  • Sleeve Type/Finish: Grooved/Stainless Steel, Cerakote, Chrome, or Bare Steel
  • Rotation System: Bearing
  • Made in: USA
  • Warranty: Lifetime

Summary

The Rogue Ohio Power Bar is our best power bar recommendation since it combines some great features and customization for a great price. In every home gym that I have owned, the Rogue Ohio Bar has always been present and has served me very well.

The Ohio Power Bar has a 29mm shaft which is the industry standard for a power bar. The bar itself has very little whip or flexion, making it perfect for the squat, deadlift, and bench press. The knurling is a medium-aggressive volcanic knurling. It is not the most aggressive knurling I have ever felt on a power bar but you can certainly tell that this is a bar meant for powerlifting. I have done plenty of heavy deadlifting with this bar and have always found the knurling to be aggressive enough for my needs. That being said, the fact that the knurling isn’t painful to use means that you can also use the bar for other purposes as well. The bar itself has powerlifting knurl marks and does include a center knurl.

The Rogue Ohio Bar comes in various finished including cerakote, stainless steel, e-coat, black zinc, and bare steel. I have personally bought the bar in cerakote and stainless steel since these provide the most corrosion resistance and the best overall feel. You should be aware that if you get a coating such as black zinc, the knurling will not be as aggressive since you will have an additional layer of coating making the knurling shallower.

The sleeves of the Ohio Power are grooved and also come in a number of finishes. The most common option if hard chrome, but you can also get bare steel, cerakote, and stainless steel. The Ohio Power Bar spins via bushing, which is again the industry standard for power bars. The bushing creates a slower, steadier spin more suitable for powerlifting.

Pros

  • Aggressive volcano knurl allows for great grip on heavier lifts
  • Lots of customization options
  • 29mm shaft is perfect for powerlifting
  • Heavily tested and loved in the powerlifting community
  • Made in USA
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Cerakote sleeves mark easily
  • Quite a loud bar

Rogue Pyrros Bar: Best Olympic Weightlifting Barbell

Best Weightlifting Bar
Rogue Pyrros Bar
4.8

The Rogue Pyrros bar was made in conjunction with the legendary Pyrros Dimas and members of the USA weightlifting team. The bar is loved in the weightlifting community for its excellent whip and spin.

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Specs

  • Knurl Type: Medium/Aggressive
  • Center Knurl: Yes
  • Tensile Strength: 200,000 PSI
  • Weight: 20kg or 15kg
  • Shaft Diameter: 28mm
  • Shaft Finish: Stainless Steel
  • Sleeve Type/Finish: Grooved/Stainless Steel or Hard Chrome
  • Rotation System: Bearing
  • Made in: USA
  • Warranty: Lifetime

Summary

The Rogue Pyrros bar is an IWF-certified barbell that was designed by Rogue in conjunction with 3-time Olympic gold medalist Pyrros Dimas. Since this bar is competition standard and boasts some fairly high specs, it does carry a premium price tag.

The shaft is 28mm which is the industry standard for weightlifting bars. The bar has a unique semi-aggressive knur pattern that was selected by Pyrrros and other USA weightlifting team members as well. I would say that during my use the knurling was versatile enough to be used in regular training along with the competition platform.

Similar to the knurling, the type of steel was also handpicked by Pyrros and USA weightlifting team members for the bar to have the ideal amount of whip and versatility.

The sleeves spin via five German needle-bearing for a total of ten bearings. The spin on this bar is very fast and fluid during competition lifts. In terms of public opinion, the sleeve spin on this bar has received lots of praise and attention with good reason. During our use, we found the spin to be incredible. The sleeves are grooved and covered in hard chrome although a stainless steel upgrade option is available as well.

Getting an IWF-certified bar is going to be expensive, but I think that Rogue has done well to deliver a quality product at a somewhat affordable price compared to its competitors. If you are serious or passionate about weightlifting, the combination of value and quality on the Pyrros is hard to beat.

Pros

  • Excellent fast and smooth sleeve spin
  • IWF certified bar
  • Has center knurl
  • Stainless steel provides great feel and corrosion resistance
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Pricey and not worth it unless you specialize in Olympic lifting

REP Sabre Barbell: Best Budget Barbell

Best Budget Barbell
REP Sabre Barbell
4.3

For under $200 the REP Sabre Barbell can really do it all. With dual knurl marks and good build quality, the bar is ideal for home gym owners on a budget.

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Specs

  • Knurl Type: Medium
  • Center Knurl: Optional
  • Tensile Strength: 150,000 PSI
  • Weight: 20kg
  • Shaft Diameter: 28mm
  • Shaft Finish: Zinc, Black Zinc
  • Sleeve Type/Finish: Smooth/Zinc
  • Rotation System: Ball Bearing
  • Made in: China
  • Warranty: 1-year

The REP Sabre Barbell is a great, affordable barbell that gets the job done for 99% of home gym owners. With a 28mm shaft diameter, medium knurling, and dual knurl marks you can pretty much do everything you would need to with the Sabre bar.

The bar itself comes in either 15kg or 20kg and with or without center knurling, allowing for a decent level of customization. The sleeves spin via a ball bearing allowing for a decent spin during weightlifting movements.

Since this bar is the budget option, you will need to make some compromises. The zinc coating is not the most corrosion-resistant and will definitely fade over time as with most zinc coating. The tensile strength also is not amazing at 150k. This should be more than enough for most home gym owners but is certainly not up to the premium 190k standard set by the premium barbells on the market. Lastly, the Sabre barbell only has a 1-year warranty. This is very low when you consider that most premium barbells come with lifetime warranties.

Overall, the Sabre can get the job done if you are on a budget. If you can afford to make the step up to the Rogue Ohio Bar, I would simply get the better customization and warranty for just $100-$150 more. If you can’t, the Sabre should still serve your home gym just fine.

Pros

  • Very good value at less than $200
  • Good medium knurling
  • Dual knurl marks
  • Free shipping
  • Ball bearing

Cons

  • 1 year warranty
  • 150k tensile strength is not the highest
  • Zinc is not the most corrosion resistant

CAP Beast Barbell: Best Barbell On Amazon

Best Barbell On Amazon
CAP The Beast Barbell
4.0

At less than $150 is hard to complain about the CAP Beast Barbell. The bar will do great under most circumstances and comes with the ease of being available on Amazon.

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Specs

  • Knurl Type: Medium
  • Center Knurl: Yes
  • Tensile Strength: 110,000 PSI
  • Weight: 20kg
  • Shaft Diameter: 28mm
  • Shaft Finish: Black oxide
  • Sleeve Type/Finish: Grooved/Chrome
  • Rotation System: Bushing
  • Made in: Chine
  • Warranty: 5-years

Summary

Ordering on Amazon has so many advantages, from free shipping and returns to membership rewards, that we understand if you want to look at barbells only on Amazon. Finding quality gym equipment on Amazon used to be a challenge, but nowadays you can get quality options like the CAP Beast Barbell for a great price.

During our use of this bar, we found it to be decent. It is definitely nothing to write home about, but at this price point, it is hard to complain if it does all the basics right.

For less than $150, the CAP Beast Barbell has some good features. The bar has a medium knurling and spins via bushings. The bar is finished in black oxide, which is not the best, but at least it will provide some form of corrosion resistance down the line.

Overall, the CAP Beast Barbell is an average bar that is delivered at a great price. With free and fast shipping, this bar is hard to beat from a value standpoint. Not to mention, the bar is one of the most popular and well-reviewed fitness products on Amazon, so you know most people are satisfied with their purchase.

Pros

  • Under $150 for great value
  • Free shipping with Amazon prime
  • Free returns
  • Medium knurling

Cons

  • 110k tensile strength
  • Black phosphate finish

Bells Of Steel Olympic Weightlifting Barbell 2.0: Best Value Barbell

Best Value Barbell
Bells Of Steel Weightlifting Barbell 2.0
4.7

The brand new Bells Of Steel Weightlifting Barbell 2.0 provides the best value for home gym owners looking for a quality, affordable weightlifting barbell.

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Specs

  • Knurl Type: Medium
  • Center Knurl: No
  • Tensile Strength: 240,000 PSI
  • Weight: 20kg
  • Shaft Diameter: 28mm
  • Shaft Finish: Chrome
  • Sleeve Type/Finish: Chrome
  • Rotation System: Bushing
  • Warranty: Lifetime

Overview

When it comes to finding a high-quality barbell that offers exceptional value, look no further than the Bells Of Steel Olympic Weightlifting Barbell 2.0. This barbell is a great example of how high-quality construction and a low price can improve your strength training. This barbell is made of strong alloy steel and is made to last. It will help you reach your exercise goals by giving you the necessary tools.

The metal steel that makes up the Bells Of Steel Olympic Weightlifting Barbell 2.0 is what makes it work. This material adds to the barbell’s amazing durability and makes it easy to use for heavy lifting. The Olympic barbell has covered with standard diameter, so it can be used with many different kinds of weight plates. This barbell can help you improve your snatch, clean, jerk, or make standard powerlifting moves.

The Bells Of Steel Olympic Weightlifting Barbell 2.0 boasts a 28 mm handle diameter with a thoughtfully designed knurling pattern. This provides you with a secure and comfortable grip, allowing you to focus on your lifts without worrying about slippage. The knurling strikes the perfect balance, ensuring a firm hold without being overly aggressive on your hands.

Bells Of Steel provides a lifetime warranty against bending defects on its products. This demonstrates their faith in the barbell’s durability and reliability, allowing you to focus on your fitness without worry.

The Bells Of Steel Olympic Weightlifting Barbell 2.0 will take your training to the next level by giving you a great mix of price, quality, and performance. Whether you’re new to lifting or have been doing it for years, this barbell is a reliable friend to help you reach your fitness goals.

Pros

  • Exceptional value for the price
  • Durable alloy steel construction ensures longevity
  • Versatile for both Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting
  • Standard diameter sleeves accommodate a variety of weight plates
  • Thoughtfully designed knurling pattern for a secure grip

Cons

  • Limited weight range compared to specialty bars

Rogue Bella Bar 2.0: Best Barbell For Women

Best Barbell For Women
Rogue Bella Bar 2.0
4.8

The Rogue Bella Bar 2,0 is the go to bar for any women looking to add a barbell to their home gym catalog.

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Specs

  • Knurl Type: Passive
  • Center Knurl: No
  • Tensile Strength: 190,000 PSI
  • Weight: 15kg
  • Shaft Diameter: 25mm
  • Shaft Finish: Several
  • Sleeve Type/Finish: Several
  • Rotation System: Bushing
  • Warranty: Lifetime

Overview

Dedicated to providing female athletes with the tools they need to excel, the Rogue Bella Bar 2.0 stands as a testament to Rogue’s commitment to quality and performance. This barbell is meticulously designed to meet the unique requirements and preferences of women lifters, offering a blend of style, functionality, and versatility that empowers you to reach your fitness goals.

At the core of the Rogue Bella Bar 2.0 is its stainless steel construction, which imparts a sleek aesthetic and ensures durability and resilience. The barbell was designed to withstand repeated heavy lifting sessions without losing its shape. Female athletes looking for a barbell that meets their strength training goals will find the 15 kg (33 lb) weight to be an excellent option.

The 25 mm handle width is among the best things about the Rogue Bella Bar 2.0. This smaller width is made for people with smaller hands, so you can hold it comfortably and securely. The Rogue Bella Bar 2.0 ensures your hands stay relaxed and don’t get tired while you do Olympic lifts, squats, or presses.

The Rogue Bella Bar 2.0 knurling pattern strikes the perfect balance between grip and comfort. It offers a secure hold without being overly aggressive, allowing you to focus on your lifts without the distraction of hand discomfort.

In terms of warranty, Rogue backs the Bella Bar 2.0 with a lifetime warranty against bending. This warranty reflects the barbell’s exceptional quality and provides you with peace of mind as you push your limits in the gym.

Pros

  • Specifically designed for female athletes
  • Stainless steel construction ensures durability and corrosion resistance
  • Comfortable 25 mm handle diameter tailored for smaller hands
  • Suitable for a wide range of lifts and workouts
  • Thoughtfully designed knurling for a secure grip

Cons

  • Lower weight capacity compared to standard men’s barbells

REP Fitness Double Black Diamond Power Bar: Best Barbell For Squatting

Best Barbell For Squatting
REP Double Black Diamond Power Bar
4.7

Apart of REP's latest line of barbells, the Double Black Diamond Power Bar is a premium power lifting barbell perfect for power lifters.

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Specs

  • Knurl Type: Aggressive
  • Center Knurl: Yes
  • Tensile Strength: 200,000 PSI
  • Weight: 20kg
  • Shaft Diameter: 29mm
  • Shaft Finish: Several
  • Sleeve Type/Finish: Several
  • Rotation System: Bushing
  • Warranty: Lifetime

Overview

When it comes to heavy lifting and intense squat sessions, the REP Fitness Double Black Diamond Power Bar is a standout performer. Designed with strength training enthusiasts in mind, this barbell is engineered to handle heavy loads and provide the stability and performance needed for demanding workouts.

The sturdy steel construction of the REP Fitness Double Black Diamond Power Bar is its foundation. This barbell is constructed to withstand the most rigorous lifting sessions, making it an excellent option for powerlifters, bodybuilders, and anyone else seeking to develop significant strength. The impressive weight capacity of the barbell guarantees that it can securely accommodate hefty weight plates.

The REP Fitness Double Black Diamond Power Bar’s 29 mm handle diameter balances comfort and grip. The pattern of medium-depth knurling gives you a solid grip, so you can keep your balance during squats and other heavy lifts. The intense knurling in the middle of the barbell is meant to make it more stable during squats, making it less likely that the bar will slide down your back.

One of the standout features of this barbell is its black zinc coating, which not only enhances its visual appeal but also provides corrosion resistance, ensuring that it maintains its appearance and performance over time. The center knurling, combined with the coating, contributes to a consistent grip and minimizes the need for excessive chalk application.

The REP Fitness Double Black Diamond Power Bar comes with a lifetime guarantee since the company is so confident in its quality. With this guarantee, you can shop confidently, knowing you’re getting an item that will last and help you along your strength training path.

Pros

  • High weight capacity for heavy lifting
  • Aggressive center knurling enhances stability during squats
  • Corrosion-resistant black zinc coating
  • Suitable for powerlifting and strength training
  • Lifetime warranty ensures long-lasting performance

Cons

  • Aggressive knurling may be uncomfortable for some users during other lifts

Titan Safety Squat Bar: Best Safety Squat Bar

Best Safety Squat Bar
Titan Safety Squat Bar
4.8

The Titan SSB is has been our pick for the best SSB for years. The unmatched combination of quality and value makes it an easy pick for any home gym owner.

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Specs

  • Weight: 61 pounds
  • Camber Drop: 22-degrees
  • Shaft Finish: Chrome
  • Sleeve Type/Finish: Chrome
  • Warranty: 1-year

Overview

For those looking to target their lower body with added safety and comfort, the Titan Safety Squat Bar is an essential addition to your gym arsenal. This specialized barbell is designed to alleviate stress on the shoulders and wrists during squats, making it a valuable tool for individuals recovering from injuries or seeking an alternative squatting technique.

The Titan Safety Squat Bar has a one-of-a-kind design with padded shoulder and arm pads, allowing you to comfortably rest the bar on your shoulders instead of a standard back squat position. This shape considerably lowers tension on the shoulders and wrists, making it a perfect solution for people who have mobility issues or experience discomfort when performing standard barbell squats.

Crafted from heavy-duty steel, the Titan Safety Squat Bar is built to withstand heavy loads and intense training sessions. The bar’s sturdy construction ensures it can handle the demands of squats, lunges, and other lower-body exercises while maintaining its structural integrity.

The ergonomic shape and padding of the barbell make it comfortable and safe to hold, so you can concentrate on your squat technique without being distracted. The unique shape of the bar also encourages a more upright torso position during squats. This works the quads and glutes while putting less pressure on the lower back.

If you’re having trouble squatting because of shoulder or wrist pain, the Titan Safety Squat Bar is a flexible and efficient method to work squats into your workout program. This barbell is a safe and comfortable way to strengthen your legs, whether recovering from an injury or just trying to shake up your workout routine.

Pros

  • Padded shoulder and arm pads reduce strain on shoulders and wrists
  • Heavy-duty steel construction ensures durability
  • Ergonomic design promotes proper squatting technique
  • Ideal for individuals with mobility limitations or injuries
  • Versatile for various lower body exercises

Cons

  • Specialized design may not be suitable for all types of training

REP Open Trap Bar: Best Trap Bar

Best Trap Bar
REP Open Trap Bar
4.7

The REP Open Trap Bar is one of the most versatile pieces of home gym equipment on the market. Starting significantly lower than other trap bars, it is easy to see why this bar is a favorite in the home gym community.

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Specs

  • Weight: 59 pounds
  • Handle Options: High/Low
  • Warranty: 1-year

Overview

The REP Open Trap Bar is a useful piece of equipment that helps you work your upper and lower body muscles, especially your trapezius muscles. This barbell variation gives lifters of all levels a new and different way to do deadlifts, shrugs, and other workouts that are easier on the joints.

This barbell has an open and roomy design that allows you to step within the barbell and position yourself in the center. This design eliminates the need to lift the barbell off the ground, decreasing strain on your lower back and making it a good choice for people with mobility issues or back pain.

Crafted from sturdy steel, the REP Open Trap Bar is built to withstand heavy loads and rigorous training sessions. The bar’s construction ensures stability and safety while performing exercises such as trap bar deadlifts, farmer’s walks, and more.

The REP Open Trap Bar’s wide knurling on the handles gives a stable and comfortable grip, allowing you to maintain control and execute exercises with the appropriate form. Because of the elevated handles, you can use different hand positions to stimulate different muscle regions during your workouts.

The REP Open Trap Bar is a great complement to any strength training routine since it provides a safer alternative to barbell deadlifts. This barbell is a safe and effective technique to strengthen your traps, hamstrings, and other muscles, whether you’re a novice trying to perfect your deadlift form or a seasoned lifter looking to switch up your routine.

Pros

  • Open design reduces strain on the lower back
  • Suitable for lifters with mobility limitations
  • Sturdy steel construction ensures durability
  • Generous knurling for a secure grip
  • Versatile for a variety of upper and lower body exercises

Cons

  • Specialized design may take time to adjust for some users

Bells Of Steel Arch Nemesis Bar: Best Swiss Bar

Best Swiss Bar
Bells Of Steel Arch Nemsis Bar

Whether it be wrist pain or elbow pain, a quality Swiss is often the solution to achieve pain-free pressing.

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Specs

  • Weight: 24 pounds
  • Knurling: Mild
  • Handle Options: Neutral/Angled
  • Warranty: Lifetime

Overview

The Bells Of Steel Arch Nemesis Bar, also known as a Swiss bar, is a one-of-a-kind and versatile barbell that adds a new dimension to your strength training regimen. This barbell targets numerous muscle groups and puts a unique spin on typical barbell exercises thanks to its multiple grip options and ergonomic design.

This Swiss Bar features angled and parallel handles that allow for a neutral grip, which can be easier on the shoulders and wrists than standard barbell grips. This design is particularly beneficial for individuals with shoulder or wrist discomfort, making it a valuable tool for injury prevention and rehabilitation.

The Arch Nemesis Bar is sturdy steel and can handle rigorous training. Because of its strength and stability, this bar may be used for various workouts, such as bench presses, rows, curls, and more.

With the Bells Of Steel Arch Nemesis Bar, you can lift with less fatigue and fewer injuries because of its ergonomic design, which promotes optimal alignment and joint posture. The neutral grip positions offer a safe and stable hold, letting you concentrate on working specific muscle areas without sacrificing form.

Whether you’re a powerlifter, bodybuilder, or fitness enthusiast, the Bells Of Steel Arch Nemesis Bar adds versatility and excitement to your training routine. Experience the benefits of neutral grip variations and engage your muscles in new ways while enjoying the durability and quality construction that Bells Of Steel is known for.

Pros

  • Neutral grip options reduce shoulder and wrist strain
  • Durable steel construction ensures longevity
  • Ergonomic design promotes proper joint alignment
  • Versatile for various upper body exercises
  • Suitable for injury prevention and rehabilitation

Cons

  • May take time to adjust to the different grip angles

Types Of Olympic Barbells

types of Olympic barbells

Olympic barbells come in three main types:

Multipurpose Barbells

Multipurpose barbells can be thought of as general-use or functional fitness barbells. These types of barbells are the most type of barbell type in home and commercial gyms due to their versatility. CrossFit also commonly uses multipurpose barbells since they are suitable for so many types of movements.

The easiest way to spot a multipurpose bar is by looking for dual knurl marks. This means that the barbell has the knurl marks for both Olympic lifting and powerlifting. The knurling on these barbells will typically be medium/passive and use a volcano or hill knurl pattern. Since the knurling is generally more passive, the bar can be used for both heavier lifting and higher rep work. These bars may or may not come with a center knurl depending on which you get.

Multipurpose barbells will most commonly have a shaft diameter between 28mm and 28.5mm. 28.5mm is right in the sweet spot between powerlifting and weightlifting specialized bars and will be great in terms of versatility. Meanwhile, a 28mm shaft will allow for more whip so it will be better for Olympic lifts. Most multipurpose barbells on the market will also have a women’s option that has a shaft diameter of 25mm and a weight of 15kg. The smaller diameter and lighter weight make the bar easier to grip.

The great thing about multipurpose barbells is that they are some of the most customizable and affordable bars on the market. Since the bars do not have to meet any special needs or competition standards, you can find a good basic multipurpose bar for under $200 while more premium options will cost $600 or more.

For most home gym owners who will likely start out with just one barbell, a multipurpose barbell makes the most sense unless you have some special goals in mind.

Powerlifting Barbells

Powerlifting barbells or power bars are designed specifically for the big three powerlifting lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift. If you are a powerlifter or want to really focus on your getting your lifts up, the power bar can be a useful addition to your home, Power bars are generally easily identified by their thicker diameter, aggressive knurling, and powerlifting knurl marks.

Typically, power bars use volcano or mountain knurl patterns and be fairly aggressive. The more aggressive knurling can certainly come in handy for heavier lifts. Power bars also come standard with a center knurl to keep the bar still on your back while you squat. The center knurl is usually a bit more passive than the rest of the bar since you are not gripping it but instead using it to keep the bar stable on your back.

The shafts on powerlifting barbells tend to be thicker with the diameter ranging typically from 28mm-30mm. The thicker diameter helps create a rigid bar which is what you want for the three big lifts. The sleeves usually spin via a bushing rotation system. The bushing creates a slower, more controlled spin which adds extra stability during heavy lifts.

You can definitely still use a power barbell as a general-purpose bar, but just be aware that the aggressive knurling may make it uncomfortable for higher rep work.

Power bas can be as little as $190 to $1000+ for a high-quality competition standard power bar.

Olympic Weightlifting Barbells

Olympic weightlifting barbells are designed specifically for training Olympic lifts such as the snatch, clean, and jerk. Similar to the power barbells, an Olympic barbell is really only needed if you are an Olympic lifter or want to get better at Olympic lifts. The distinguishing features of weightlifting barbells are thinner diameter, greater whip, weightlifting knurl marks, and needle bearings.

The most common type of knurling on weightlifting barbells is hill or volcano. These knurling will tend to be on the passive-medium side or training bars and more aggressive for competition bars. The center knurl may or may not be present depending on the bar.

Since Olympic lifts are so fast and explosive, the bar is designed to be frictionless and effectively transfer the force that the lifter is producing. One feature that does this is the thinner shaft at 28mm. The thinner shaft combined with a specific steel selection leads to a whipper bar. The sleeve can spin via bearings or bushing and will generally spin faster than other types of barbells. Again, this is just to keep up with the fast, explosive movements.

Since these bars are often to competition standard and require special materials, they tend to be the most expensive types of barbells. They can range anywhere from $200 to easily $1000+ for a competition-spec bar.

How We Ranked And Compared Barbells

With literally hundreds of barbells on the market, the team at FitDominium established clear criteria that we would use to rate the barbell after using it. We would go barbell part by barbell part and analyze the overall quality.

Here are the key criteria we used to find the best barbells for 2023:

Type Of Barbell

The first thing we look at is what crowd the barbell is meant for to get a baseline for how we will judge the bar on later criteria. For example, a really aggressive knurling may be good for a power bar but not necessarily something you want out of a multipurpose barbell.

This also allowed accounting for the fact that different types of barbells will cost more.

Knurling

Knurling is very important since it will be what you directly interact with while using the barbell. Generally, we tend to rate a volcano knurl pattern higher since it provides a great grip without the pain brought on by a mountain knurling. It is important to remember that a more painful knurling is not necessarily more effective.

Shaft Diameter and Whip

The shaft diameter is an aspect that will depend on what type of bar it is. But the shaft diameter tends to be a good overall indicator of the whip and ease of grip. Generally, with Olympic weightlifting, you want a whipper, thinner bar while power bars are better suited for thicker and more rigid shafts,

Tensile Strength

Tensile strength is a measure of how much force has to be applied to the bar for it to literally break. Generally, this number will range between 130k and 250k. I think that tensile strength is a somewhat overblown barbell spec but I understand why some people consider it to be so important.

Generally, the industry standard is 190k for a good, premium barbell. That being said, most home gym owners can easily get away with 150k with no issues.

Shaft Finish

The shaft finish is the coating that goes on the shaft to provide some level of corrosion resistance if any. Some finished are more corrosion-resistant than others, see our full guide below for more information.

The finish is also important to consider since finishes such as zinc will actually add another layer to the bar and make the knurling shallower as a result.

Sleeve Finish

Just like the shaft, the sleeves come in a number of finishes that affect the look and feel of the bar. The most common finishes on sleeves are hard chrome or zinc but you can also get stainless steel, cerakote, and black oxide depending on the bar.

Generally, hard chrome and stainless steel tend to be the best options as they are very corrosion-resistant and do not scratch or chip easily.

Rotation Mechanism

Barbells can either rotate via bushings or bearings. Bushings are generally better for more general use since they slow and controlled spin of bushings is preferable for most lifts. Bearings produce a faster spin that is really only required for very explosive lifts like the Olympic lifts.

Sleeve Type

Barbell sleeves can either be grooved or smooth. Grooved sleeves have a slight texture which improves the friction between the sleeves and plates. The result is that plates stay on better if you do not use barbell collars.

The trade-off is that grooved sleeves make significantly more noise when taking plates on and off. Smooth sleeves are quieter.

Maintenance Requirements

Depending on the finish and build, some barbells will require some more active work to keep them in their best shape possible. For example, bars that are bare steel usually more work to keep them rust-free and looking good.

Warranty

Warranties can vary from as little as a year to as long as a lifetime. You should be aware that these warranties only apply to the original buyer. So secondhand purchases on Craiglist or Facebook Marketplace are not eligible for a warranty claim.

These warranties also tend to have rules and stipulations stating that thing such as dropping the barbell on safeties or removing the endcaps voids the warranty. Some companies are known to be more stringent than others with other companies like Rogue being known for great warranties and customer service.

Price

For most people, the price will be the largest factor they consider when purchasing a barbell. In our rating criteria, a more expensive or cheaper was not necessarily better, We instead looked at how the features of the bar compared to the price. Barbells that offered incredible features for a lower price, provided the best value ranked higher.

Barbell Knurling Explained

knurling comparison

The barbell knurling is the pattern on the barbell designed to help increase friction and improve your grip. There are tree main types of knurling that you should be aware of: hill, mountain, and volcano.

Hill Knurling

Hill knurling is the most common type of knurling seen on multipurpose bars. This type of knurling has a series of small rounded points that provide very little bite. It tends to be flatter and more shallow which makes it better for higher rep or volume workouts.

You can still lift heavy with this type of knurling just be aware that you may need to use straps or something else to help with your grip.

Mountain

Mountain knurling is the most aggressive type of knurling. It is similar to the hill pattern but instead of rounded points has sharp points that dig into your skin. You will most commonly see this on power bars but weightlifting bars will sometimes have a more passive mountain knurl as well.

This type of knurling is best suited for heavy, low-rep training. If you never used a bar with mountain knurl before, be aware that he sharp points can be painful if you are not used to it.

Volcano

Volcano knurling is a more modern knurling pattern that is beginning to pop up on all types of bars. It can be thought of as a mountain knurl with the top cut off to leave a crater of sorts. The impact of this is that now you have more points of contact to improve your grip but also less pain since the share point is gone.

Overall, I think that volcano knurling provides the best balance between comfort and grip.

Barbell Finishes Explained

The finish of a barbell can impact the look, feel, and durability of a bar. With barbell finishes, you either have no coating (bare steel, stainless steel), an applied coating (chrome, cerakote), or a conversion coating like black oxide.

Finishes that do not require a coating will feel the best in your hands since they are not putting an additional layer on top of the knurling. Any sort of applied coating will make the knurling shallower to some extent.

The other large factor to consider is that different finishes provide different levels of corrosion resistance. Stainless steel and cerakote tend to be the best while bare steel and black oxide are the most vulnerable to rust. Other finishes like chrome, zinc, and e-coat tend to fall somewhere in between.

From a look standpoint, finishes like cerakote allow you to have different colors which I know many people think is a cool customization feature.

How To Maintain A Barbell

Since barbells are just steel at the end of the day, they will be fairly durable even if you fail to take care of them properly. However, since barbells are also expensive, you want to do your best to ensure that you keep your barbell in great shape. Here are a few key tips on barbell maintenance, that will keep your barbell in good shape for a lifetime:

  • Limit Empty Drops: You really never want to drop an empty barbell. When you have plates on, the plates will take most of the load. But with no plates, you can damage the internal sleeve components of your barbell.
  • Brush Your Barbell: Every so often, especially if you use chalk, use a brush to get all the chalk and moisture off your bar. Do not use a wet cloth as this will only make things worse, instead opt for a quality nylon or deck brush.
  • Oil Your Barbell: Every month or so apply some 3-IN-ONE oil to every surface of your barbell and inside the collar. The oil will help with oxidation resistance and keep the internal components running smoothly. YO can generally just use a shop rag or paper towel and be good to go.
  • Store Your Barbell Off The Ground: The best option here is a storage rack or platform of some kind. By limiting contact with the ground, you limit the amount of dirt and water exposure.

FAQs

What is a good price for an Olympic barbell?

Unless you have some special training goals in mind, the vast majority of home gym owners will be well served by a barbell under $400. I think that a barbell in the $200-$300 from a company like Rogue is at the sweet spot between price and overall features.

Do I need more than one barbell?

To get big or strong, you do not need more than one barbell. I recommend that most people buy one good multipurpose barbell and get all the use out of it that they need.

If you can afford it or are simply passionate about home gym equipment, then sure get more than one barbell. There are tons of specialty options out there that could add something new to your training.

Final Verdict

After extensive testing, we selected the Rogue Ohio Bar as the best overall barbell for the money. It offers great value at an affordable price and great features.

We also recommend the Rogue Ohio Power Bar as the best powerlifting barbell. The fact that it is the most common power bar in the world says enough, it is hard to beat the features and specs of this bar.

The Rogue Pyrros Bar is our pick for the best Olympic Weightlifting Bar, This bar is up to competition standards and really shows that Rogue took the advice of weightlifters when building this bar.

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