A barbell is a highly adaptable piece of equipment that is essential for any home or commercial gym. However, with the growing popularity of barbell training and home gyms, numerous companies now manufacture thousands of different barbells.
This increase in options can be both beneficial and disadvantageous. On the one hand, you have a wide range of choices to enhance your squat, bench press, deadlift, Olympic lifts, and general training movements. On the other hand, it has become more challenging to select the ideal Olympic barbell and determine where to invest your hard-earned money.
That’s where we can assist you. In this guide, our aim is to assist you in finding the best Olympic barbell for 2023.
Force USA Gunner Barbell
The Force USA Gunner Barbell is a highly versatile piece of equipment that is made of 235,000 PSI steel and is available in a 20kg size. The barbell comes with smooth stainless steel bearings that provide a great spin, and you can choose between black zinc or bright zinc sleeves.
This barbell is perfect for lifters who are seeking a high-quality bar with a strong tensile strength rating. It also features dual knurls for weightlifting and powerlifting, making it suitable for athletes who prefer multiple lifting styles. If you are looking for a bar with the option between black zinc or bright zinc sleeves, the Force USA Gunner Barbell is an excellent choice.
However, if you are someone who prefers a fully stainless steel barbell, you may need to look elsewhere. Additionally, if you want a bar that’s dedicated to only powerlifting or weightlifting, you may want a less versatile bar. Furthermore, if you’re searching for a 10kg or 15kg option, this barbell only comes in 20kg size.
Despite these limitations, the Force USA Gunner Barbell is an excellent investment for anyone looking for a durable and versatile barbell that can withstand years of use and handle almost any lift you attempt. Check out our full review of the Force USA Gunner Barbell to learn more.
Best Barbell on a Budget
While it’s important to invest in a high-quality barbell when you’re going to be lifting heavy weights, we understand that not everyone has an unlimited budget. That’s why we’ve found a pick that is both budget-friendly and sturdy. The REP Basic Barbell is designed with beginners in mind and is up for tackling a variety of challenges.
The REP Basic Barbell boasts solid construction and a 700-pound weight capacity. Its 2″ sleeves are designed to accommodate Olympic-sized plates, and it features a 4.75″ center knurl to provide extra grip during back squats. The bolted sleeve and zinc coating add to its durability, while the 30mm diameter helps you get accustomed to barbell mechanics. Whether you’re just starting out or need a reliable backup barbell, the REP Basic Barbell is a solid choice.
CAP Barbell The Beast Olympic Bar
- Made of solid cold-rolled steel
- Features a durable black phosphate finish to prevent corrosion
- Offers a nice spin
- Affordable price
- Comes with free shipping and free returns
- Available with center knurl
- Bar bends more than expected under heavy weight (350+ lbs)
- Not great for squatting
The seven-foot Olympic barbell has been a best-seller on Amazon for years and is highly rated by customers. The bar has 15-inch sleeves that can hold any 2-inch Olympic plates and is built of 110,000 PSI tensile strength cold rolled Japanese steel with a black oxide finish, making it quite durable. It is rated to hold up to 1,000 pounds, making it suitable for beginner to intermediate lifters, although it may not be adequate for powerlifters.
Although some reviewers have complained that the bar tends to bend more than expected when lifting weights over 350 pounds, most customers have reported that it feels great in their hands, even without the knurled grip. The bar offers excellent value, costing approximately half the price of most premium alternatives, which makes it a fantastic option for anyone looking to upgrade their home gym or begin weightlifting without breaking the bank.
One Amazon reviewer stated, “It has a great feel, the knurling is not too deep so you get a good grip without cutting your hands. I use this daily and would definitely buy again!”
American Barbell California Bar
The American Barbell California Bar is a top-notch barbell with a beautiful design and durable construction. It features a smooth center with dual knurl rings, which is ideal for front rack positions and high rep/volume work. The passive knurling is flat and hilly, providing a secure grip for heavier attempts. The 28mm shaft diameter is perfect for Olympic movements and comfortable for those using a hook grip. The sleeve assembly boasts recessed welds, which are unique to American Barbell and function well, making it one of the quietest barbells available. The composite bushings offer a smooth spin and are cost-effective compared to needle bearings. This barbell is also available in a 15kg women’s version.
Pros of the American Barbell California Bar include its 28mm shaft diameter, which provides comfort and a nice whip for Olympic movements. The Cerakote finish comes in a variety of colors, and the recessed welds are impressive. The smooth sleeve assembly minimizes noise when in use. Additionally, this barbell is made in the USA. However, the Cerakote finish without a center knurl may make it difficult to find the true center, and the passive knurling may not be sufficient for some users.
Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar – Best Barbell for CrossFit
The barbell has a high tensile strength of between 190,000 and 200,000 PSI, making it perfect for heavy lifting. Its standard 28.5 mm diameter makes it versatile and multipurpose, ideal for CrossFit. The dual knurl marks and lack of center knurl make it practical and comfortable for CrossFit lifts like cleans or thrusters.
Additionally, this bar is available in various finishes such as stainless steel, Cerakote, black oxide, and black zinc. It is also customizable in terms of color, bushing type, and sleeve coating. However, the Cerakote sleeves may show wear and tear or imperfections quickly. Overall, this barbell is an excellent option for those seeking a versatile and durable piece of equipment.
What To Look For In Bench Press Barbells?
Barbells are typically made of high-quality stainless steel, with bare steel being a close second. The steel quality affects the price of the barbell, with higher quality steel typically costing more. In addition to the type of steel used, barbells come with various coatings such as zinc, black oxide, and cerakote, which can impact their durability.
Tensile strength is an important factor in barbells, as it determines how much weight the barbell can hold before breaking or fracturing. Barbells typically have a tensile strength between 120,000-230,000 PSI, with higher tensile strength indicating greater durability. For advanced lifters, a barbell with a tensile strength of 180,000 PSI or higher is recommended.
Knurling is the grip markings on the bar, and it affects how well you can hold and grip the barbell during your workout. Standard knurling is a diamond pattern that improves grip without being too uncomfortable, while aggressive knurling has deeper etches and is more suitable for heavier lifts. The spin of the barbell refers to the sleeves, which rotate during your lift, and can be made of bushings or bearings. The whip of the barbell refers to its flexibility or bounce, with more whip indicating greater flexibility.
Barbell versatility depends on the type of bar you choose, with standard barbells being versatile enough for a range of exercises. However, specialty bars like Duffalo bars or Cambered bars can limit the versatility of the barbell. The value for money of a barbell primarily depends on its quality and how it meets your needs, but seeking out a versatile barbell can help ensure you get the most out of your investment.
How much do barbell sets cost?
How much are you willing to spend? If money is no issue, we suggest choosing a higher-end option like the Rogue Ohio bar. This is versatile, high-quality and backed by a lifetime warranty.
If you’re buying this for a gym, especially if you cater to more serious lifters, it may be worth investing in multiple different models of barbell. Most gyms only have one type of barbell. Serious lifters will likely seek you out if they know you have different options, such as power bars and safety squat bars.
How do I choose a barbell size?
Assuming you’re building a home gym or space is limited, you’ll likely only have room for one bar. They aren’t “big,” but they are long, and you need to put them somewhere.
Gyms often have specialty barbell racks. But in a home gym, you may have to lean your barbell against a wall to get it out of the way. This can be tricky if you have more than one.
What is a good weight for a barbell?
There are two things to consider here: The bar’s weight and how much you normally lift.
First, while the standard barbell is 20 kilograms (approximately 44 pounds), some manufacturers also sell a women’s weight, which is only 15 kilograms (33 pounds). If you’re a woman training at home and don’t need to share the bar, that may be a great option for you. It’ll be easier to use on more lifts.
Second, you need to consider how strong you are. If you’re a powerlifter regularly putting more than 500 pounds on the bar, lower-end, weaker bars can bend and warp over time. The same can happen if you’re regularly dropping or slamming your weights; stiff bars can become damaged and bend.
Anyone who’s lifting more than 250 pounds on any lift should consider investing in a higher-quality, stronger bar, which will last significantly longer.