The barbell is an essential piece of gym equipment used in almost every major exercise for weight training. In fact, you could build incredible strength and a fabulous physique using JUST a barbell and some weight plates.
But if you are new to strength training, you may feel overwhelmed by all the different types of barbells and how to incorporate them into your workout.
For each type of bar you use, you should be aware of how much it weighs so you can accurately track your strength and keep making progress. Let’s go ahead and break it down bar by bar:
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Types Of Barbells
There are several different types of barbells. All have different weights and purposes.
The standard barbell weighs 45 pounds. It is what you find at most commercial gyms. It is also the most common choice for home gym owners as well. Standard bars are great for lots of exercises including:
Weight: 20 kg or 45 pounds
Olympic barbells look and feel very similar to standard barbells. The main difference though is that an Olympic barbell has rotating sleeves.
The sleeves are the part of the barbell located on either end where the weight plates sit. The benefit of rotating sleeves is that they help conserve force on explosive lifts.
Since Olympic lifts are very dynamic and require lots of torque, the Olympic barbell is used for these.
Weight: 20 kg or 45 pounds
Women’s bars are lighter, shorter, and smaller in diameter compared to a traditional barbell. These bars can be especially useful for beginners since the smaller diameter makes them easier to grip.
On top of that, many prefer the women’s barbell for movements such as the curl where balancing a larger bar can be cumbersome.
Weight: 15 kg or 33 pounds
Trap or Hex Bar
The trap bar, also known as the hex bar, is a unique barbell that allows the lifter to stand inside. The advantage to standing in the bar is that lots of the strain on the lower back is removed when deadlifting.
The trap bar variation of the deadlift also heavily targets the legs which may be preferable depending on your training goals.
Weight: 25-70 Pounds
Length: 7’2 (Can vary)
EZ Curl Bar
The EZ curl bar is smaller and has curves along the shaft. The curves along the bar make the grip especially ergonomic and remove lots of strain from the wrists compared to a straight barbell.
The EZ bar is typically used for isolation exercises that target the arms. Common gotos are skull crushers for the triceps and cheat curls for the biceps.
Weight: Can vary by type of EZ bar, Between 10-30 pounds
Length: 3′ (Can vary)
Safety Squat Bar
The safety squat bar has two arms protruding from the bar that goes on top of the lifter’s shoulders. The advantage of these bars is that they distribute across the upper back more evenly when doing back squats.
The change in weight distribution makes it easier to maintain balance and get a deeper squat. For most people, safety squat bars are a good starting point for squatting since it limits the pain from holding a bar on your back and corrects most balance issues.
Weight: 60-70 Pounds
Length: 7’5 (Can vary)
The Swiss bar, also known as the football bar, has a ladder going up the middle with a number of grip variations. The neutral or slanted grip options limit wrist strain and provide variation for lifts like the overhead press and bench press.
Besides presses, these bars are also commonly used to do heavy bicep hammer curls.
Weight: 35-55 Pounds
Length: 6’8 (Can vary)
The tricep barbell is similar to the Swiss bar much smaller and with only one neutral grip variation. The narrow, neutral grip makes the bar very useful for tricep extensions.
Weight: 20-40 Pounds
Length: 3′ (Can vary)
Smith Machine Bar
This may not be a free-moving barbell but it is still important to know the weight of the bar for your lifts. The Smith machine allows lifters to do many of the same barbell exercises with added stabilization from the machine.
While a nice option for beginners. lifters should strive to learn the technical and eventually be able to do free-weight barbell movements.
Weight: 30-55 Pounds
Length: 7′ (Can vary)
What About Collars and Clips?
To keep the weight plates from sliding around, some clips and collars are usually placed at the end of the barbell to lock the weight plates in place.
If you are new to the gym you may be wondering how much these weigh and if you should include that weight in your calculations.
The weight of these clips or collars is marginal at best (< 1 pound). I would not bother tracking the weight of these.
Types of Weight Plates
Just like there are different types of barbells, there are also different types of weight plates that you will encounter.
In a typical commercial gym, you will run into weight plates in the following sizes: 2.5 lb, 5 lb, 10lb, 25lb, 35lb, and 45lb. If you go to a powerlifting gym, you may also run into 55lb or 100lb plates.
These plates are usually hexagonal or circular. For lifts that involve touching the ground with the bar, you will want to opt for the circular option.
The vast majority of plates that you will find will be thin, metal, and black. However, you may also see colorful plates that have a thin plastic coating. These plates are known as Olympic plates or bumper plates and are usually used for CrossFit or Olympic lifts since they tend to absorb being dropped from heights better.
What Kind Of Exercises Can I Do With A Barbell?
The are lots of exercises you can do with a barbell, here are a few broken down by muscle group
Chest: Bench Presses
Shoulders: Shoulder Presses
Triceps: Tricep Extensions, Skull Crushers
Back: Row, Deadlift
Legs: Squat, Romanian Deadlift, Deadlift
Whichever bar you are using, it is important to know exactly how much you are lifting so you can track your progress.
Do not be scared to experiment with different types of bars. After all, these barbells are just tools for you to meet your health and fitness goals. As you gain more experience, you will learn what feels good for you and your body.
Are all barbells 45 pounds or 20kg?
Standard or Olympic barbells are all 45 pounds/2o kg. Specialty bars like the trap bar can vary.
How much does a normal barbell weigh?
45 pounds or 20kg
How much does a bench press bar weigh on its own?
45 pounds or 20kg
Are all bench bars 45 pounds?
All standard or Olympic bars are 45 pounds.
How heavy is a bench press weight?
The bar itself is 45 pounds. Weight can be added to bar using weight plates in increments of 5 pounds.