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Daniel Mesa

20 Types of Barbells for Strength Training: A Complete Guide

types of barbells

The barbell seems like such a simple piece of equipment, but over the years lifters have created dozens of variations. Each of these types of barbells has its own unique benefits and purposes.

Regardless of your goal, learning about the different types of barbells is crucial for you to pick the best barbells for you and your training needs. Whether you need to pack on mass, strength, or are just looking to work around an injury, there is a barbell out there that can help you reach this goal faster.

Here at FitDominium, we have tested over a hundred different barbells and know about each one in detail. In this guide, we will break down all the types of barbells and what they are good for.

Multipurpose Barbells

cap beast barbell

Best For: General Purpose Lifting, CrossFit | Weight: 20 kg/ 45lb | Shaft Diameter: 28mm – 28.5 mm | Knurl Rings: Dual| Knurling: Passive/ Medium | Rotation: Bushing or Bearing

Multipurpose barbells are general fitness barbells that can be used for basically any activity. Most of the time, these barbells will have knurl marks for powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting. These are some of the most common barbells in the world, and you will often find them in home and commercial gyms alike due to their versatility.

Multipurpose barbells will have a shaft diameter between 28mm and 28.5mm. This is right in the sweet spot between Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting, making it a viable barbell for both styles of training. If you are a dedicated weightlifter, the 28mm options will provide the closest feel to a real Olympic bar thanks to the added whip. The thinner diameter also makes it easier to grip if you have smaller hands. If you are looking for a more general-purpose barbell, the 28.5mm option tends to be the best blend for general-purpose weightlifting.

Since these bars are generally used for a variety of exercises, they will most commonly have a passive/medium knurling. Hill knurling has been the traditional knurling option but the volcano pattern has begun to become more and more common. Therefore, if you want to go for some really heavy deadlifts, the knurling on multipurpose barbells may feel a little lackluster you. Most multipurpose barbells will not include a center knurl but some have it as an option.

These bars spin via either bushings or bearings, with some even having hybrid systems. The best spin comes from the hybrid or bearing options, which can be helpful for Olympic weightlifting. On the other hand, bushings make the wheel spin more slowly and steadily, which can be better for lifting heavier things.

Olympic Weightlifting Barbells

rep sarbre barbell

Best For: Olympic Weighlifting ( Clean, Jerk, Snatch) | Weight: 20 kg/ 45lb | Shaft Diameter: 28mm | Knurl Rings: Single Olympic | Knurling: Medium/ Aggresive | Rotation: Bushing or Bearing

Olympic weightlifting barbells are designed specifically for Olympic lifts like the snatch, clean, jerk, etc. These bars are typically more expensive because they are made of specialty steel and are often built to a competition standard. You should really only invest in an Olympic bar if you are a dedicated weightlifter.

Weightlifting bars have a thinner diameter of 28mm to produce more whip. Since Olympic lifts are so explosive in nature, you want the bar to be able to keep up with the quick changes in direction without providing additional resistance. If you want to emulate the feeling of a real weightlifting competition, you should invest in a bar that has been IWF certified. Eleiko is the official bar used in most competitions but you can find Olympic barbells from other brands that are also up to competition standards.

The knurling on weightlifting barbells can really vary a lot. Competition standard bars tend to have more aggressive knurling and include a center knurl. Meanwhile, Olympic barbells that are not meant for the competition will have a more passive knurling and not include a center knurl.

The biggest defining aspect of an Olympic weightlifting barbell other than the whip is the sleeve spin. Similar to the whip, a solid sleeve spin will mean that less of the lifter’s force gets wasted during a lift. Olympic barbells can lift via bushings, bearing, or a hybrid system. However, the competition barbells will almost always use high-quality needle bearings. Having a smooth spin on your sleeves is essential to training the Olympic lifts.

Powerlifting Barbells

rogue pyrros bar

Best For: Powerlifting ( Bench, Squat, Deadlift) | Weight: 20 kg/ 45lb | Shaft Diameter: 29mm | Knurl Rings: Single Poweringlifting| Knurling: Medium/ Aggresive | Rotation: Bushing

Powerlifting barbells or power bars are specifically designed to train the big three powerlifting lifts: bench press, squat, and deadlift. Similar to Olympic weightlifting barbells, they can be a bit more expensive so you should really only consider a power bar a necessity if you are a dedicated powerlifter.

Power bars tend to have a thicker shaft diameter of around 29mm, but some will offer 28.5mm as an option. Generally, you want a thicker bar for powerlifting since this will increase the overall rigidity of the bar. A rigid, stable bar is ideal for trying to do lifts like the bench press or squat. Before picking your powerlifting bar, I would recommend checking on your federation’s regulations to see what diameter bar they use. A slight shift in diameter can really change the feel of a lift so you want to train under the same condition as the competition. The major federation you want to check in on is if you are competing in the IPF and USAPL.

Aside from being rigid, a defining feature of a power bar is aggressive knurling. Since you are mostly going to be doing low-rep sets or one-rep maxes, you want an aggressive knurling to assist you with your grip. The most common knurling patterns on power bars are volcano and mountain knurling. Both of these provide considerable benefits in terms of grip but I would recommend volcano since it tends to be less painful and provides more total surface area. Almost every power bar will come standard with a center knurl to help keep the bar on your back during squats.

If you enjoy lifting heavy but still want a general-purpose barbell, there are still some power barbells that could be used for more general training as well. For example, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar has a medium knurling which would make it more useful for everyday training in addition to powerlifting.

All power bars spin with a bushing system. The bushing produces a slower, controlled spin which is better suited for a heavy, squat, bench, and deadlift.

Trap Bars

Best For: Deadlifts, Shrugs, Carries | Weight: 45lb – 75lb | Shaft Diameter: 28mm+ | Knurling: Medium/ Aggresive | Rotation: Fixed

Trap bars, also known as hex bars, are a very popular specialty bar with a number of unique benefits. The main feature of the trap bar is that you can step inside it and be better aligned with the actual load of the weight. With a traditional barbell, the weight is held in front of you, forcing you to bend over. When you lift the weight up, this causes unneeded stress on your lumbar spine.Because of this, lifting with a trap bar can make lifting safer and more comfortable all around.

The other main benefit to trap bars is their handles. The handles of the trap are neutral and often come in with low and high handle options. Since the handles are neutral, this creates a safer and more comfortable position for your shoulders since they do not have to be rotated. Meanwhile, the variable handle height options added more versatility to the bar and means you can increase or reduce the range of motion depending on your needs.

Trap bars will generally come in either open or closed designs. I prefer the open variation since they allow everything that a closed trap bar does but with additional versatility. For example, with an open trap bar, you do things like walking lunges or split squats. Open trap bars used to be very rare but companies are now realizing that consumers prefer an open design so most new trap bars being released today are open.

Trap bars also come in rackable or unreachable options. Rackable is preferable since you can do additional exercises such as overhead presses or rack pulls.

Regardless of which kind of trap bar you get, this is still a very versatile bar that you can for a nearly endless list of exercises.

Safety Squat Bars

rep safety squat bar

Best For: Squats, Good Mornings | Weight: 45lb – 65lb | Rotation: Fixed

The safety squat bar is another popular specialty bar with several benefits. Notably, the safety squat bar allows for a great range of motion, injury prevention, and an overall comfortable squatting experience. If you are a fan of squats but struggle with injuries in your shoulder, elbows, or lower back, an SSB can be the ideal solution for you.

A safety squat bar has a padded section called a yoke that wraps around your shoulders and neck. This makes holding heavy loads on your back a more comfortable experience overall. Also, with handles in front of you, you can hold on to the bar without having to turn your shoulders or bend your wrists backward.

Another unique aspect of the safety squat bar is that it is cambered. What this means is that the angle of the bar will drop off toward the end to create a cambered design. The mechanical effect of this is that the bar actively tries to roll you forward. The SSB will naturally have you in a more upright position, but you will have to work hard with your upper back and core to keep yourself from toppling over. This makes the SSB a great upper back and leg builder.

The safety squat bar is one of the most versatile specialty bars you can buy. Apart from squats, you can also use the SSB for JM presses, good mornings, front squats, lunges, and much more.

Multi-Grip Bars

swiss bar

Best For: Presses, Rows, Hammer Curls | Weight: 20lb – 55lb | Shaft Diameter: 30mm+ | Knurling: Passive or Nobe | Rotation: Fixed | Grips: Neutral or Angled

Multigrip bars, also known as Swiss bars, are great specialty bars that, as the name would imply, offer a number of grip options. Swiss bars are usually used for pressing, but they have lots of benefits that are applicable to other movements as well. These bars are usually framed and have multiple handles at separate widths and angles for added versatility and comfort.

The biggest benefit of a multi-grip bar is the neutral or angled handles. These handles help with shoulder, elbow, and wrist pain by putting your joints in a stable position and ensuring that your arms stay tucked in close to your body while you press. For many people that have suffered from previous shoulder injuries. the swiss are now the only way that they can press safely.

Most swiss bars offer three handle widths ranging from narrow to wide. Depending on the bar, the handles may come neutral, angled, or a combination of both. I would recommend bars that offer both options for added versatility.

Arched or cambered swiss bars becoming more and more popular since they add even more versatility. The cambered design means that you can get an even greater range of motion during your presses and even use the bar as a cable attachment as well.

Swiss bars are most commonly used for overhead presses and bench presses but you can use them for all sorts of exercises. Tricep extensions, rows, and hammer curls are all great exercises that you can do with a swiss bar.

Tricep Bars

best premium tricep bar

Best For: Triceps and Arm Isoaltion | Weight: 15lb – 35lb | Shaft Diameter: 30mm+ | Knurling: Passive or None | Rotation: Bushing or Bearing | Grips: Neutral

Tricep bars, also known as hammer curl bars, are a type of specialty bar that is primarily used for arm isolation exercises. It can be thought of as a sort of baby Swiss bar. The tricep bar is framed similarly to the swiss bar, but it is shorter and only has one grip option.

As the name would imply, tricep bars are most commonly used for tricep-related exercises. In the gym, you will most commonly see tricep bars being used for things like skull crushers and overhead extensions. The neutral grip of the bar means that you can train your triceps with heavy weight and high volume without putting lots of stress on your elbows, shoulders, and wrists. You can also press with the tricep bar like the bench press or overhead press. However, due to the close neutral grip, the majority of the load will still be on your triceps.

Aside from the triceps-heavy exercise, the bar is still somewhat versatile and can be used for some other movements as well. The hammer curl is a very popular tricep bar exercise. The neutral grips again allow the biceps to be heavily worked without much stress on the joints. You can also do rows with the tricep bar. The neutral grip and small footprint of the bar mean that you can get a really good range of motion on your lats.

Curl Bars

curl bar

Best For: Curls and Arm Isolation | Weight: 15lb – 45lb | Shaft Diameter: 28mm+ | Knurling: Passive/ Moderate| Rotation: Bushing or Bearing

Curls bars, also known as EZ bars, are a type of specialty barbell that is primarily used for arm isolation exercises. Like the name applies, bicep curls are mostly what this bar is used for but you can actually do a whole number of other exercises. You can use an EZ for skull crushers, overhead presses, upright rows, and even front squats if you want to,

The distinguishing feature of the curl bar is that has a series of ergonomic bends designed to induce bicep activation while reducing stress on your wrists and elbows. Most curl bars will come with both wide and narrow grip options. The exact angle and manner of the bend will depend on the manufacturer. Generally, the closer you get to neutral will mean less stress on your joints.

Curl bars usually come in rackable or untrackable versions. The rackable options are longer and a lot easier to load since you can place them in the squat rack. Since you can adjust the start position of the bar with the rack, it also means that you have more versatility when it comes to exercise selection. The upside to the uncrackable version is that the bar is easier to move around and store since it is much smaller overall.

Deadlift Bars

Best For: Deadlifts | Weight: 20kg or 45lbs | Shaft Diameter: 27mm+ | Knurling: Aggresive | Knurl Rings: Single Powerlifting | Rotation: Bushing |

The deadlift is a bar that is only used for deadlifting, as the name suggests. A deadlift bar is longer and thinner than a regular barbell, creating more whip. When deadlifting, the advantage of a bar with many whips is that the bend in the bar allows you to slowly move the weight off the floor in portions rather than all at once as you would with a rigid bar. If you have ever seen a really heavy deadlift done with a deadlift bar before, you will have noticed that the plates closest to the lifter move off the ground before the plates at the end of the bar do.

Deadlift bars usually range between 90 and 95 inches, making them significantly longer than a regular barbell at 86.75 inches. A barbell’s shaft diameter is 27mm, making it thinner than Olympic and Powerlifting barbells. Apart from making the bar have more whip, a thinner shaft also makes the bar easier to grip, which is very important for a deadlift. To further improve grip, deadlift bars also tend to have quite aggressive knurling.

Deadlift bars are definitely specialty barbells that you should really only be considered if you are dedicated to getting strong on the deadlift. The number of changes compared to a regular barbell means that this barbell will really only be viable for one lift at best.

Buffalo Bars

buffalo bar

Best For: Squats, Bench Press | Weight: 45lb – 65lb | Shaft Diameter: 30mm- 38mm | Knurling: Moderate/Aggresive | Knurl Rings: Single | Rotation: Bushing

The buffalo bar, also known as the bow bar, is a curved barbell designed to reduce stress on your joints.

The main benefit of the curve on a buffalo bar is that it removes a lot of the upper body discomfort that comes with a regular squat. By forcing your elbows lower, you can better use your scapular and upper back muscles to build a solid shelf for the bar to rest on.

Aside from squatting, the buffalo bar is also commonly used for bench pressing. The main features of the buffalo bar that make bench pressing it so nice are the curve and thicker diameter. Since your wrists will not be at such as a harsh angle as with a regular barbell. you may feel some relief by benching with a buffalo bar. The thicker shaft diameter at 30mm+ also means that there will be less stress place on your wrist joint.

Since the bar has a curve, it also means you can get a deeper stretch at the bottom of your rep.

Cambered Bars

cambered bar

Best For: Bench, Squat | Weight: 45lb-85lb | Shaft Diameter: 28mm – 38mm| Rotation: Bushing or Fixed

Cambered bars can vary a lot by type and manufacture, but they all have some sort of sleeve drop that creates the signature cambered design.

The main draw to cambered bars is that they create a sort of instability that your body has to fight against during the lift. In the process of learning how to counteract this instability, your body will strengthen some weaker muscles and develop some really good form habits that should translate nicely when you switch back to regular barbells.

Overall, I would say that cambered bars are better suited for strength athletes looking to break through plateaus or strengthen weak points in their lifts. For example, a cambered bench press will force the lifter to maintain a rigid core and back while also getting a deeper range of motion. If the lifter can maintain this same level of control, they should see serious gains on their regular barbell bench press when they switch back.

As far as specialty barbells go, the cambered bar is unique in the sense that it can be great for adding some new challenges to traditional barbell lifts.

Log Bars

Best For: Overhead Press, Clean and Jerk | Weight: 50lb+ | Shaft Diameter: 30mm+ | Rotation: Fixed

Log bars are generally used mostly in the strongman community. As the name suggests, they are built like logs and are usually used to demonstrate serious strength.

The main “log” section of the bar has two wide openings that allow access to two neutral handles. The neutral handles are usually quite thick at 40mm+. The thicker grips combined with the neutral angle make the log bar an excellent tool for pressing without any additional shoulder or joint stress.

Most log bars will have diameters between 8 inches – 12 inches. The bar overall uses more steel material so it will be heavier in general at 50lb+. Also since the bar has a thicker overall diameter it presents a unique challenge for the lifter by having the weight out further in front of their body.

Logs bars have become very popular in recent years since how functional and fun they are to use. However, since there are not that many affordable options on the market, DIYing log bars has become a very popular option,

Logs bars are best for overhead presses and that is how you will most commonly see these bars used in competition. But you can also use logs bars for cleans, jerks, bench presses, and rows.

Axle Bars

Best For: Deadlifts, Overhead Press, Grip Training | Weight: 24lb+ | Shaft Diameter: 48mm+ | Rotation: Fixed

Axle bars are another barbell that originated in the strongman community but has now made its way into mainstream fitness. The main feature of these bars is their incredibly thick shaft diameters of 48 mm.

Thick diameters are not ideal for getting a great grip which is what makes them ideal for training grip strength. If you want to get achieve elite grip strength or just get massive forearms, you cannot really go wrong with the axle bar. The axle deadlift in particular is a brutal lift. The thick shaft diameter and lack of whip in the bar mean that you will have to fight for your life to get the bar off the ground with any sort of weight.

Axle bars are also commonly used for pressing. The thicker diameter makes more a more comfortable pressing position on the wrists and elbows.

You can also use axle bars for overhead presses, cleans, jerks, rows, and more.

Earthquake Bars

Best For: Bench, Instability Training | Weight: 6lb+ | Shaft Diameter: 38mm

If cambered bars create a level of instability, earthquake bars take the up by a factor of ten. These bars on built on the principle of oscillating kinetic energy. Essentially instead of placing weights on the bar, the weights hand from the bar. As a result of just hanging in the air, the weight begins to move up and down violently, creating chaos for your muscles.

This type of barbell is made primarily by BandBell and comes in a number of variations. The bar itself only weighs 6 pounds but do not just look at that number and underestimate this bar. The earthquake bar is one of the most humbling pieces of gym equipment that you can use.

As you lift the bar, the plates or weights begin to move up, down, and sideways. The bar itself will also bend in weird ways. The end result is a bar that is not even a bar at that point. Your stabilizing muscles will have to work like never before to keep the weight even somewhat stable.

Overall, I think the earthquake bar is quite a niche bar but it certainly has some use cases. If you are a strength athlete looking to come back from an injury or a strength athlete looking to address weak points,, the earthquake bar may have some unique benefits that you can take advantage of.

Elephant Bars

elephant barbell

Best For: Strongman Deadlifts | Weight: 45b+ | Shaft Diameter: 30mm | Knurling: Aggresive

The Elephant bar can be thought of as a specialized deadlift bar made specifically for strongman competitions. The bar itself is about 1.5 times longer than a regular barbell and has high amounts of whip which make it the perfect tool for strongman deadlifts.

The notable thing apart from this bar is that it can have around 28 inches of loadable sleeve length which allow strongmen to load insane amounts of weight onto the bar. Most elephant bars can easily handle over a ton of weight.

Overall, this bar is highly specialized and will likely only be seen during strongman competition but really is an interesting barbell.

Freak Bars

The freak bar is a unique bar designed by the guys at Westside barbell. The thought is that you can adjust your lift while you are lifting the weight. This can be a unique overloading tool since you will of course be stronger with different grips during different portions of the lift.

Considering how many people struggle with different portions of their presses like the lockout or bottom of the rep, this can be a great tool to break past plateaus. At the moment this seems to be a Westside exclusive but hopefully a company picks up the idea and begins to mass produce these bars as they have done with so many other Westside inventions.

Tsunami Bars

Best For: Instability training | Weight: 6lb+ | Shaft Diameter: 30mm |

The Tsunami Bar is similar to the Earthquake bar in that it is designed to create a very unstable lift to challenge your muscles in a different way.

Essentially, this bar is longer and thicker than a regular barbell but has lots of whips. So while the weight may be stable on the bar, the bar itself will move violently up and down to make the lift more challenging. This can be a very humbling bar and a great strength tool if used correctly.

Women’s Bars

womens barbell

Best For: General Purpose Lifting, CrossFit | Weight: 15kg | Shaft Diameter: 25mm | Knurl Rings: Dual| Knurling: Passive/ Medium | Rotation: Bushing or Bearing

Women’s barbells are essentially “mini” versions of Olympic barbells that are better designed to fit and work with female bodies. They are lighter, shorter, and have smaller diameters.

Women’s barbells will typically weigh 15kg which is slightly less than the 20kg of a regular barbell. Most of this reduction in weight comes from the shorter length (79 inches vs 86.75 inches) and smaller diameter (25mm vs 28mm). The smaller shaft is also more useful for allowing people with smaller hands to get a better grip.

Aside from the size differences, Women’s barbells will have the same spin, knurling, and finish options that you would expect with a regular barbell.

Technique Bars

Best For: Technique and Pratice | Weight: 5lb-20lb | Shaft Diameter: 25mm-28mm| Knurl Rings: Dual or Single Olympic| Knurling: Passive | Rotation: Bushing or Fixed

Technique bars are used to practice the Olympic lifts. Since these bars are lighter and made of aluminum, you can really focus on perfecting your technique and form as opposed to just trying to lift heavier weights.

These technique bars will most often have a 28mm shaft diameter and dual knurl marks. The knurling on these types of bars tends to be more massive. The most common weight for a technique bar is 15 lbs, but you can find some that are much lighter as well.

These bars are not meant to be the focal point of your training sessions. You should use these bars to perfect your form and get comfortable before moving onto the real lift with an Olympic barbell.

Standard Barbells

Best For: Beginerrs/ On a budget | Weight: <20lb | Shaft Diameter: 1 inch | Knurl Rings: Single or None| Knurling: Passive/ None | Rotation: Fixed

Standard barbells are some of the most affordable and basic barbells that you can buy. The most notable difference is that they have smaller sleeve diameters (1 inch vs. 2 inches on a regular barbell) so they can accommodate smaller plates. The shaft diameter also tends to be smaller, at 25mm, with a passive knurling to make gripping the bar easy for beginners.

Standard barbells also range between 5 feet and 7 feet, making them smaller length-wise than regular barbells as well. Since these bars are lighter and thinner overall, they will not be able to support as much weight as a regular Olympic barbell. While you can expect most Olympic barbells to hold 1000lb+, a standard barbell will be lucky to hold 350lb.

The other downside to standard barbells is that sleeves are fixed in place and have no rotation. This makes lifts, especially the explosive kind, feel really rigid and static compared to an Olympic barbell.

Since these bars lack so many features, they are really only recommended for people that are just starting out or are looking for a cheap bar that they can lift some weight with.

Should You Have More Than One Barbell?

types of barbells

I personally have over 10 types of barbells in my home gym. Each one gets used to some extent in my training depending on what I am working on that day. Each of these bars has its unique characteristics that I believe enhance my training in some way. Whether that be the knurling, diameter, whip, shape, or grip, each of these bars has something special that I value in my training.

Now if you do not have the money or space for more than one barbell, that is understandable, For many years, I got great lifting sessions using just one multi-purpose barbell. But if you can afford to make the jump and want to take your training y to the next level, having more than one barbell has some unique advantages:

Can Train For More Than One Style

Lots of people vary their training by blocks or even by exercises. I know plenty of people that like to rep out sets of 1-15 on the bench press but prefer to stick to low rep sets on deadlifts and squats.

In this type of scenario, having the option to switch between a power bar and a more general-purpose bar could be really useful. You do not want to rip your hands up with an aggressive knurling for high volume but you also do not want to worry about your grip when going for heavy singles.

More Versatility

The more bars you have, the more versatility you will have in your training it really is that simple. There is so many exercises like the SSB squat, trap bar deadlift, or neutral grip bench press that you need a specialty bar to perform.

By adding more variety you can keep your training fresh and avoid plateaus. I often like to switch between the swiss bar bench and the regular bench whenever I notice my progressing stalling. It keeps things find interesting since I continually make progress.

Work Around Injuries

One of the main benefits of most specialty bars is that they allow you to work around injuries or rehab back from one.

The swiss bar is perfect for anyone looking to press that suffers from shoulder or wrist pain. The trap bar allows people to deadlift with lower back issues. Meanwhile, the SSB allows those with upper body injuries to still squat heavy.

Anyone that has experienced an injury knows how annoying and frustrating it can be to watch months of progress slip away from being unable to train. Specialty bars can help get you back in the gym sooner even if you are still dealing with a nagging injury.

What Makes A Good Barbell?

There are tons of factors that go into picking a barbell that is right for your and your training style, but here are some important ones you should be aware of:


The finish applied to a barbell can have a dramatic impact on the price, look, feel, and overall durability of a barbell.

As far as finishes go, the cheaper options such as bare steel and black oxide tend to be quite poor when it comes to oxidation resistance. Even with proper attention and care, you can expect these bars to develop a layer of rust over time. On the other side of the spectrum, stainless steel and cerakote are highly oxidation resistant but can be some of the most expensive potions out there.

In terms of feel, if a barbell has an applied finish such as cerakote or zinc, it can negatively impact the feel of the barbell. An applied coating will add additional material to the bar and make the knurling shallower to some extent. Meanwhile, options like bare steel and stainless steel provide the overall best feel since they do not add any layers to the barbell.

From an aesthetic point of view, most barbells will come standard with a silver finish. Options like zinc, chrome and black oxide come in black as well. If you want the most customization, cerakote has multiple color options that you can choose from.

Collar Size

Collars refer to the attachments that go on the ends of the bar to secure the weight. These are a very important part of lifting safety and will depend on the diameter of your sleeve to fit properly.

Most barbells will have standard Olympic sleeves since this is a universal standard. However, specialty bars from some brands can use thinner sleeves. Rogue’s multi-grip bar for example uses thinner sleeves. As a result, you will have to buy specialty axle collars to secure the weight.

Since you likely want to avoid additional costs, it is best to look for specialty bars that come standard with Olympic-sized sleeves.


knurling patterns

The knurling is the pattern etched into the barbell designed to improve grip. More aggressive knurling will be better intended for powerlifters or low rep sets, While higher volume training will be best suited by passive knurling.

If you want a good all-around barbell, you should look for a barbell that has a medium, volcano knurling. The volcano knurling pattern will provide plenty of surface area while being too painful.

Tensile Strength

In simple terms, tensile strength is the amount of force that has to be applied to a barbell for it to literally snap. Generally, most barbells will range between 130k – 250 tensile strength. The industry standard for a good all-around barbell is 190k.


Barbells can get very expensive. Some barbells that are made to competition standard can easily be over $900. Likewise, specialty bars made by premium companies like Kabuki or Eleiko can also retail for $600 or more.

If you are just looking for some good, affordable options, I would say that a barbell in the $200-$400 range will serve most people just fine.

best barbells

Find The Best Barbell

After years of testing, we assembled a master list of the best barbells on the market for every home gym owner. Whether you are just starting out or looking to buy your tenth barbell, this guide will have you covered,

How many types of barbells are there?

There are over 20 different types of barbells with each having its own variations as well.

What barbell should I get first?

You should first get a multipurpose Olympic barbell. This type of barbell will also you to do the vast majority of exercises. From there, if you want to get a specialty bar it is up to you.

Do I need a barbell?

If you have a home gym, a barbell will provide you with the most exercise variation for the best price. There are plenty of other ways to train but is hard to beat the versatility of a barbell.

How much is a barbell?

Barbell cost will be influenced by a number of factors, like price, finish, and build quality. You can get a good quality barbell for $240 – $400