Olympic Barbell Review and Shopping Guide

Compare Olympic barbells, power bars, CrossFit bars, Junior bars and more

Welcome to the Garage Gym’s Olympic Barbell Review and Shopping Guide. If you happen to be in the market for a quality weightlifting bar, power bar, WOD bar, or a general-purpose bar, then you’ve come to the right place. If you’re interested in learning the basics of barbell construction, then again, you’ve come to the right place.  Whether you’re a man, woman, or youngster; newbie, intermediate, or elite athlete; in this bar guide, you’ll find information and specs for some of the best barbell options on the market for you and your home gym.

In an effort to stay current with new equipment and changing prices, this page is frequently updated. The last update happened March 2020


Barbell Guide Table of Contents

Other In-Depth Barbell Guides (on this site)


Understanding Barbell Specifications

Barbell Review and Shopping Guide - Disassembled needle-bearing bar sleeve

Barbell Differences for Men, Women & Youths

Barbell’s are not all the same for men, women, and junior lifters. They vary in weight, shaft diameter, and in many cases overall bar length. Most bars are 20 kg men’s bars, but many major manufacturers offer a women’s version of their most popular 20 kg bars.

Below are the typical specs for each barbell type:

  • Men’s Barbell: weighs 20 kg (~44 pounds), has a bar shaft diameter of 28-29 mm, and length of 2.2 meters (7.2 feet).
  • Women’s Barbell: weighs 15 kg (~33 pounds), has a bar shaft diameter of 25 mm, and a length of 2.01 meters (~79 inches). Reduction in overall length comes off the sleeves.
  • Youth Barbell: weighs 10 kg (~22 pound), has bar shaft diameter of 25 mm, and length of 60-67 inches. Reduction in overall length comes off the sleeves.

Type of Bar (Olympic vs Power)

There are three primary types of barbells available; Olympic WL bars, powerlifting bars, and dual-marked, multi-purpose bars. Power bars are designed for heavy deadlifts, squats, and bench press. They are rather rigid, stiff bars that do not store elastic energy, making them a poor choice for the Olympic lifts. Power bars have their own unique knurl markings (or hash marks) that differ from those on the Olympic bar.

Olympic barbells are designed for the two explosive Olympic lifts; the snatch and clean and jerk.  Olympic bars are generally smaller in diameter and more flexible than Power bars (28 mm vs 29 mm+), and they store more elastic energy (referred to as whip) that is used to the lifter’s advantage when performing heavy cleans. The markings on an Olympic bar are also a couple of inches further out from center than the markings on Power bars.

Example of a dual-marked weightlifting barbell

The ever-so-popular and increasingly common dual-marked weightlifting bar.

There is a third type of bar that has become commonplace these days, and that is the dual-marked weightlifting bar.  These hybrid bars are intended to be used as a general-purpose bar; a bar that is suitable for the Olympic lifts but can also handle the slower, heavier power lifts. This type of non-specialized barbell is generally the best choice for most beginner and intermediate lifters, and CrossFitters, and more times than not what you will find in a box or affiliate setting.


Center Knurling

Both the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) and the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) specify that a men’s 20 kg barbell should have a center knurl.  For women’s 15 kg bars, no center knurl is required by the IWF, and there are no 15 kg power bars to worry about.

What this means is that you can expect the majority of 20 kg bars you come across to have a center knurl, while almost no 15 kg bars will have a center knurl. If you prefer to not have center knurling on a 20 kg bar, you’ll want to look at multi-purpose (CrossFit) bars; as more times than not those do not feature a center knurl.

Center knurling is usually passive  (softer than the rest of the bar’s knurling), but not 100% of the time. Just make sure to read product descriptions carefully if this feature (or lack of) is important to you.


Sleeve Assembly: Bushing vs Bearing

This describes which component(s) are used to permit the sleeves to freely spin around the shaft; or in the case of the Olympic lifts, the shaft to spin freely within the sleeves.

Bushings are a low friction material (usually bronze; sometimes composite) placed between the shaft and the sleeve. Needle bearings (or roller bearings) rotate far more smoothly than bushings but they almost always increase the production cost of the bar.  Both mechanisms produce ample sleeve rotation, but needle bearings allow for a smoother, quieter spin and a more reliable turnover at maximum loads.

Nearly all dual-marked, multi-purpose bars and power bars are bushing bars. You generally only find needle bearings in high-end Olympic weightlifting bars.  Novices don’t need to pay the premium for bearings, as any benefit of owning a bearing bar will be lost on them.

example of bushings for an olympic barbell

Bushings

Example of needle bearings

Needle Bearings

It’s in your best interest to go with either bronze or composite when selecting a bushing bar. Materials like brass and steel are not a good choice for this application, and seeing either of these materials being used is kind of a red flag in terms of the overall quality of the bar. The wholesale cost of cast bronze bushings is probably about $.50 a bushing. If a manufacturer is cutting corners on this component, imagine where else corners were cut.


Bar Tensile Strength Ratings

Measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), this is the supposed breaking point of the shaft. This number is intended to illustrate the strength (and ideally an inferred quality level) of the steel used for that particular bar.  It is the modern-day equivalent of the ‘maximum capacity‘ rating that we used to see in product descriptions in the past.

This rating is important, but it is also irrelevant. Tensile strength is tested by pulling the shaft apart from opposite ends; something a barbell shaft is never ever actually subjected to. The test you see being performed in manufacturer images and videos that show the shaft of the bar pinned on both ends and being bent using a hydraulic pin in the center is actually a test for the yield strength, a far more important number, and one we are almost never given in a barbell product description. Yield rating tells us at what point the shaft will deform to a point that it will not return to straight, so you can see why this would be considered a more useful figure.

Despite the fact that tensile strength rating alone is only marginally useful to know,  it is still worth paying some attention to.  Since lower tensile strength ratings equate to a lower yield rating, you should still avoid any bars with low tensile strength (less than 165k) or no tensile strength rating at all.  I recommend that you stick with 190k and up, as this steel has proven to be very resistant to developing permanent bends.

What you do not want to do is allow tensile strength ratings to be the determining factor of a barbell purchase.  Many manufacturer’s know that you’ll be looking for this number, so they use it as a means to market inferior barbells to you.  They’ll buy up some super cheap, high tensile strength, low yield strength scrap steel and put together a bar that looks amazing on paper, but is absolute garbage in reality. They basically take advantage of the fact that yield ratings are considered ‘trade secrets’.

Don’t overthink it though. After reading this guide you’ll know what a 200k+ PSI Olympic bar should cost, so you’ll know that when you see a $250 bar with specs like a $700 Rogue that something is up, and you’ll know to avoid that $250 scrap steel bar.  Vulcan has some crazy high tensile strength bars, but Vulcan actually discloses their yield strength ratings and they aren’t $250 bars. Just be real. No one sells $700 worth of barbell for half that. Sorry.


Shaft and Sleeve Finishes

Barbell Finishes

Barbell Finishes (from left) Black Zinc, Bare Steel, Black Oxide, and Satin Chrome

Finishes are the protective coating applied to the steel. Their main purpose is to prevent or reduce oxidation, but aesthetics are a big factor too. Here are the most common finishes:

  • Black oxide: Most natural feel among finishes, but limited oxidation protection. Tends to rub off where hands frequently touch the bar. Maintenance/upkeep required.
  • Black zinc: Good oxidation protection, but has mediocre feel (feels slick with sweaty hands). Vibrant color fades to awful green. Absolutely horrible finish for sleeves.
  • Black manganese: Fairly uncommon finish. Has a grippy texture on par with oxide, but with more oxidation protection. Not sure why it’s not more often.
  • Bright zinc: Less costly alternative to hard chrome. Offers great oxidation protection if not in an extremely humid region, as zinc is a sacrificial metal.
  • Hard chrome: Hard chrome (includes polished and satin chrome) is probably the most durable of the common finishes. It stays shiny, doesn’t chip, and doesn’t rust except in the most hostile of conditions.
  • Decorative chrome: Usually found on cheap box-store bars. It looks like chrome, but it’s not. It chips/flakes off very easily because rust actually develops under this finish. If you buy a “chrome” bar that’s under $100, it’s just decorative chrome.
  • Cerakote: This finish used to be exclusive to American Barbell. Cerakote is a colored ceramic typically used for firearms. It’s durable, grippy, and quite oxidation resistant. It’s also very pricey compared to other finishes.
  • E-Coat: An electronically-applied paint that offers great adhesion, coverage, and rust / oxidation-resistance. It’s inexpensive and cosmetically superior to black zinc (it ages a lot better than the other black finishes; Cerakote excluded.)

Most unfinished bars (raw bars) are carbon steel. They feel the most natural in hands, they are affordable, but they will definitely rust if not maintained. Stainless steel is an alternative to carbon steel. Same natural feel, but no rust. Unfinished stainless steel will cost you more than any of these other finishes though. It’s the premium shaft material.


Sleeve Design (Snap Ring vs End Cap)

This is the method by which the sleeve is secured to the bar. Both snap rings and end caps work well and I wouldn’t worry too much about which your bar of choice has. If however you do want to learn more about how these both work, try this article.

Snap ring method for securing sleeve to barbell

Snap Ring

Pin and End Cap method for securing sleeve to barbell

End Cap

I do suggest that you run away from any bar with a hex bolt poking out of the sleeve. This is indicative of a cheap bar. You shouldn’t come across a hex bolt when dealing with reputable brands; you’re likely only to see this on bars offered in big box and sporting good stores and a good number of the inexpensive bars on Amazon (such as CAP, Marcy, Gold’s Gym, etc.)




Barbell Guide – Comparisons & Reviews

All the bars listed in this guide meet a couple of minimum requirements.  First, they all have a stated tensile strength, not just a max static weight. This alone eliminates just about every cheap box-store bar.  I very strongly believe that buying a $100 barbell is an absolute waste of money, and I refuse to pretend otherwise just to temporarily save you a few bucks. If you are lucky you’ll just outgrow a junk bar in a few months and simply be out some cash. If you are unlucky you’ll break the bar during a lift and hurt yourself.

If you want to be a cheapskate do it on a different piece of equipment, not your barbell. This is your most important piece of training equipment.

Examples of broken Olympic barbells and why quality steel is important

Two examples of how cheap, box-store bars hold up (CAP and Marcy). These breaks don’t happen often but the cheaper the bar the more likely it is – and when it does happen it’s going to be while it’s in your hands.

Second, all of the bars in this buyers guide are manufactured by well established, reputable companies that know what they’re doing and they stand behind their work. Vulcan Strength, American Barbell, Rogue Fitness, Eleiko, Ivanko, Rep and so on are all established players in the industry and they all offer warranties.

Finally, I did not include any of the bars that are like those I alluded to in the tensile strength explanation above; scrap iron bars with artificially inflated specs. Trust me when I say that a 28 mm, 210k-250k PSI, needle bearing bar that sells for $200-$300 is a piece of junk made with the cheapest components available. No one can assemble a durable, functional barbell with those specs for that kind of money and still have a profit margin. It cannot be done, not even in China. If it looks too good to be true, it is.

Go to: Dual-Marked Bars | Olympic Bearing BarsPower Bars | Youth Bars




Dual-Marked / Multi-Purpose Bars

Many of the most popular bars on the market right now are dual-marked bars.  These bars will allow you to perform both the explosive Olympic lifts and the slower powerlifting lifts all on the same bar. These bars are generally 28.5 mm bushing bars, but some variation does exist. Multi-purpose bars generally quite affordable.  They are more versatile than power or Olympic bars, perfect for most athletes, and ideal in CrossFit and garage gym settings.


The 28.5 mm Vulcan Standard

The 28.5 mm Vulcan Standard is a USA-made, multi-purpose bushing bar. The shaft of the Standard is rated at 194,000 PSI, the sleeves spin on oil-impregnated bronze bushings and the knurl is moderate; which, along with the lack of center knurling, makes this bar ideal for high-rep work. The Vulcan Standard is a reliable and affordable piece of equipment that has the added bonus of not having a single drop of black zinc anywhere on the bar – rather it is finished in resilient, bright zinc. The Standard ells for $299.

The Vulcan Standard Multi-Purpose Box Bar

This bar was actually designed to withstand the day-in and day-out abuse of a commercial gym or CrossFit box and is warranted for precisely that.  If the Vulcan Standard can handle the negligence typical of that kind of an environment imagine how well and for how long it’ll keep up in your garage gym.

The Standard is a great alternative to both the Rogue Bar 2.0 and the Bella Bar (yes, there is a 15 kg Standard as well).  While both of these Rogue bars are also USA-made, reliable, and priced reasonably, the Standard does have the advantage of sintered bronze bushings over cast bronze; and like I previously mentioned; no black zinc. [full Standard review here]

The 28.5 mm Vulcan Standard 28.5 mm Vulcan Standard sleeve and knurl 28 mm Vulcan Standard - made in USA The 28.5 mm Vulcan Standard's dual-marks and knurl close-up Vulcan Standard bright zinc finish 28 mm Vulcan Standard - made in USA

The 28.5 mm Vulcan Standard currently has about 50 5-star reviews. There’s also a 28 mm variant of the USA-made Vulcan Standard that has a nickel-chrome shaft finish. This variant would be more suitable for those whose interests lie heavily on the Olympic lifts and less on the slower strength lifts like the bench press. All great options; all USA-made.


American Barbell Cerakote California Bar

The California Bar was American Barbell’s first dual-marked CrossFit bar, and it was initially considered their answer to the Rogue Bar 2.0. However, in the last year or so it’s received a number of upgrades that have put the AB California Bar’s specs (and cost) more in line with higher-end multi-purpose bars like the SS Ohio Bar than the classic Rogue Bar.

American Barbell California Bar - CrossFit/Multi-Purpose

The California Bar sports the industry-standard, 190k PSI, alloy steel shaft. It has dual IPF / IWF markings, no center knurl, and sleeves that spin reliably on industrial-grade,  high-load composite bushings rather than classic bronze bushings. What makes the California special is the finish.  The shaft is coated with black graphite Cerakote; the same rust-resistant finish used for firearms. Cerakote is clean, consistent, completely rust-proof, and naturally grippy.

A couple of other features that make the California different from the Rogue bars (and most other multi-purpose bars, for that matter)  is the use of a 28 mm shaft rather than the typical 28.5 mm shaft, and the use of industrial chrome for the sleeves rather than a cheaper bright or black zinc finish. [see full California Bar review]

California Bar knurl pre-zinc finish California Bar in 15 kg and 20 kg Black Graphic California Bar Green Cerakote California Bar by American Barbell California Bar's sleeves with recessed weld California Bar - heavily photoshopped product image

So between the 28 mm shaft, chrome sleeves, and the Cerakote finish (a finish that AB first brought to market btw) you end up with a rather premium multi-purpose bar; but all of these features do put the price on the high-end of WOD bars ($335).  This is more expensive than all of the standard Ohio bars. Be that as it may, as the proud owner of five American Barbell bars I do not hesitate to recommend the California Bar. It has a flawless 5-star review rating as well.


Fringe Sport Hybrid Bar

The Fringe Sport Hybrid Bar is a fairly unique, dual-marked, multi-purpose bar, and one that I like very much. It sets itself apart from other multi-purpose bars in a number of ways, all of which I’ll gladly tell you about!

Fringe Sport Hybrid Bearing Bar

The Hybrid Bar is a 28.5 mm, dual-marked bar, but rather than the same, moderate knurling found on most WOD and multi-purpose bars, the Hybrid has a moderately aggressive outer knurling, and that knurl is set further out from center in an effort to protect your shins during cleans and deadlifts. There is even a passive center knurl rather than no center knurl at all.

The Hybrid Bar also has a much higher than average tensile strength rating for a dual-mark barbell; 216k PSI versus an industry average of about 190k PSI. The shaft is also coated in matte chrome while the sleeves are polished chrome,  both superior to the zinc found on so many of these bars.

The fairly unique matte-chrome finish of the Hybrid Bar

Finally,  the sleeves contain needle bearings rather than just bushings, making the Hybrid a great choice if you have reason to believe that you’ll be transitioning from WODs to Olympic weightlifting. There will be no need to immediately upgrade your bar.

So yeah, the Hybrid Bar is a real standout in the multi-purpose bar market, but it comes at a price; the Hybrid is $399 rather than closer to $300 like most others. Is it worth it? I certainly think so! Read my Hybrid Review here for more detailed information on this bar.


Rogue Stainless Steel Ohio Bar (SS Ohio)

The Stainless Steel Ohio Bar

The Stainless Steel Ohio by Rogue is the best priced stainless steel bar on the market, and one of Rogue’s best bars overall. At $350 this dual-marked barbell has a 195k PSI stainless steel shaft, composite bushing system, and bright chrome sleeves. It is a very beautiful and functional piece of equipment.

Rogue SS Ohio knurling close-up

The 28.5 mm shaft of the SS Ohio offers whip on par with Rogue’s other multi-purpose bars and knurling that’s far superior to any zinc or chrome finished multi-purpose bar that I know of (even the Matt Chan). This is a fantastic bar for anyone who trains both the big three and the Olympic lifts with the same bar, as it performs well for both.

Stainless Steel Ohio Bar - should and sleeve assembly Stainless Steel Ohio Bar end caps SS Ohio Bar by Rogue SS Ohio bar dual-marked, knurl detail Rogue Stainless Steel Ohio Bar

I personally think that the SS Ohio is one of the best bars in the current Rogue line-up, and definitely a contender for a home gym. If you are considering any of the basic Ohio Bars for your garage gym, the SS Ohio is a no-brainer upgrade so long as you can afford to pay the minor price difference.  You’ll be happy you made the jump if you do, I can tell you that with certainty. [SS Ohio Bar Review].


The 20 kg Rogue Bar 2.0

The new Rogue Bar 2.0 by Rogue Fitness

The Rogue Bar 2.0 – King of the CrossFit Box?

The Rogue Bar 2.0 is a 20 kg, 28.5 mm multi-purpose, CrossFit bar.  The 190k PSI shaft is dual-marked with no center knurl, and finished in black zinc. Bright zinc sleeves rotate on a pair of composite bushings.  As an interesting little bonus, the shoulder is machine grooved so that custom-colored rubber bands can be added as a way to personalize your bar.

If your budget is in the mid-$200’s, the American-made Rogue Bar should be on your short-list.  It’s the most commonly purchased bar for CrossFit boxes and garage gym WODs, and there are over 200+ 5-star reviews for this bar  (in addition to the countless off-site reviews) to prove its incredible value, durability, and performance. The only real downsides to the 2.0 is that it’s quite loud to drop, and that it has black zinc.

Rogue Bar 2.0 End Cap Customization options for Rogue Bar 2.0 Rogue Bar 2.0 center knurl Rogue Bar 2.0 machine-grooved collars Close up of Rogue Bar 2.0 knurling

Rogue finally released multiple rubber bracelets for the sleeves, so now the Rogue Bar 2.0 is customizable in reality, and not just in theory.


The 15 kg Bella 2.0 (The Women’s Rogue Bar)

The Rogue Bella Bar 2.0. The Woman's Rogue Bar

This is the women’s 15 kg version of The Rogue Bar.  The Bella 2.0 has similar construction to the Rogue Bar (bright zinc on black zinc, 190k PSI shaft, dual-marked, etc), however, the shaft is narrower (25 mm), it has cast bronze bushings instead of composite, and the bar is slightly shorter at 79-3/8″ (the difference in length comes off the sleeves, not the shaft).

The Rogue Bella Bar is a solid ladies bar, and the best thing about it is the $215 price tag.

The Ohio Bar in Blue Cerakote The Ohio Bar in Red Cerakote Rogue-branded Cerakote Ohio Bar The Bella Bar 2.0 End Cap The Rogue Fitness Bella Bar 2.0

The Bella 2.0 is also available with a Cerakote finish.  The Cerakote version features all the same specifications, only the shaft and sleeve finish has changed. Currently there are like a dozen different color options for Cerakote Bella; all selling for $275. [Cerakote Bella review]


The 20 kg Rogue Ohio Bar & Ohio Variants

The Rogue Ohio Bar and its many variants and finish options

Rogue’s Ohio Bar is a 20 kg, multi-purpose (CrossFit) bar with a 28.5 mm shaft that is rated at 190k PSI; the same shaft used for the Rogue Bar 2.0 actually. The Ohio Bar sports a pair of cast bronze bushings, has moderate knurl (Rogue’s “standard” knurl), and average whip. The Ohio Bar is available in multiple different finish options including black zinc / bright zinc for $282, black oxide for $295, and multiple Cerakote options for $325.

The Ohio Bar is Rogue’s flagship bar; the first bar to be manufactured entirely at the Rogue campus in Columbus, Ohio.  It currently has a 5-star rating based on over 200 reviews, and tons of positive feedback for this bar can be found all over the www.  The only variant of the Ohio Bar that I see no purpose for in the $282 zinc bar. The Rogue Bar 2.0 is effectively the same bar for about $30 less – just go with that if you don’t want black oxide or Cerakote.

FYI: The following bars are identical to the Ohio Bar, only with different finishes: the Castro Bar (bare steel) and Operator Bar (olive drab or desert sand Cerakote). Froning’s black bar (zinc) has been discontinued, but it too was an Ohio variant.  Cerakote Ohio Bars are listed on their own page, much like the Stainless Steel Ohio Bar is (discussed above).

Rogue Castro bare steel Ohio variant The Ohio Bar in Red Cerakote Rogue Matt Chan Bar end cap Ohio knurling versus Chan knurling Rogue-branded Cerakote Ohio Bar Ohio Bar knurling and finish options Operator Bar in Desert Sand The Ohio Bar in Blue Cerakote Rich Froning Bushing Bar - an Ohio variant Operator Bar in olive drab

The Rogue Matt Chan Bar is yet another variant of the Ohio Bar, only with the Chan it’s not the finish that’s different, but rather the knurl situation. The outer knurling of the Chan is set further away from center to allow for a wider stance with deadlifts (a blessing for taller folks like me) while also being knurled more aggressively than the other variants. It also sports a passive center knurl; something that the other variants do not have. Fantastic barbell. [see Chan Bar review]

In my opinion, the classic Ohio Bar is nearly obsolete thanks to all the other variants.  I can see the appeal of an Operator, Chan, or the stainless steel version, but with the Rogue Bar 2.0 being less expensive I cannot see buying a Classic Ohio Bar over that.


York Burgener and Rippetoe 20 kg Bar Review

Burgener & Rippetoe Men's Bar from Rogue

The original York Burgener & Rippetoe Men’s Bar

The original York B&R Bar is discontinued and has been replaced with the Rogue B&R Bar. The newest version of this bar is built to feel the same as the original but a few things have changed in terms of specifications; the tensile strength of the shaft is up to 205k PSI (from 190k); there is no longer an end cap, but rather the standard Rogue snap ring system; and the bronze bushings are no longer self-lubricating sintered bronze, but rather a simple cast bronze bushing. The price has remained the same.

Close up of Rogue B&R dual-marks and knurling

The new Rogue bare steel B&R ($205-$295)

In addition to the 20 kg men’s B&R, there is a women’s 15 kg B&R.  Both of these are great multi-purpose bars, and the ladies version is one of the only bare steel options in that 15 kg category, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I liked the York a little bit more. I really dug those bolt-on end caps, and sintered bushings just hold lubricant so much better than cast bronze bushings. Oh well, it is what it is.

The standard men’s B&R is $295, and the women’s is $205 – a difference in price so large that it literally confuses me. This bar is great for novices and for Starting Strength.


Vulcan One Basic Economy Bar Review

Vulcan One Basic in black zinc and chrome

The Vulcan One Basic Bar is one of the better economy multi-purpose,  CrossFit-style bars currently on the market. At $249 it’s quite competitive with the other 190,000 PSI bars (such as the Rogue Bar 2.0, Ohio Bar, and the California Bar) yet even at its lower price point has some features that make it even more appealing.  For instance, the men’s One Basic is fully chromed; it has no zinc. It also has a true 28 mm shaft rather than 28.5 mm shaft.  The One Basic also ships for free, unlike the Rogue and American Barbell bars.

The One is offered in both a men’s 20 kg and women’s 15 kg version ($219).  Both of these bars used to be black zinc coated (middle bar in above image) but that finish easily chipped and scratched away so Vulcan started using chrome instead.

Vulcan One Basic knurling detail Vulcan One Basic sleeve and shaft Original Black zinc One Basic 20 kg One Basic Economy CrossFit Bar 15 kg One Basic Economy Women's Bar

This bar is a very real alternative to some tried-and-true mid-range bars. When compared to the lesser imports like the Bomba, Team Bar, and other similar bars from the small CrossFit shops, the difference in quality and performance is night and day.  The One Basic will serve novices well, and will even grow with them and handle intermediate training too. [review]


Again Faster Team Bar 2.0 Review

Again Faster Team Bar - the worst bar from the shadiest company

The Again Faster Team Bar is a train wreck of a bar, and should absolutely be avoided. The only reason I bother to mention it here and risk drawing any attention to it or the brand is to save people who have it on their short list from actually buying it.

Normally I would just let the reviews do the talking, but Again Faster (owned by X-Training) has been removing the negative reviews from their site. As in, they are literally just deleting the reviews that speak to the Team Bar’s bent shafts, frozen sleeves,  and their total lack of willingness to make exchanges or offer returns  (an extremely disgraceful and unforgivable thing for a company to do.)

If you’re so inclined and somewhat savvy, you can use the Internet archives to dig up these reviews, but a customer who stumbles upon AF would probably never think to do this, so I felt it was my duty to point it out here. Below are a few of the reviews out there that cannot be deleted and hidden from you. Shop Again Faster and X-Training at your own risk.

Video Review #1 | Video Review #2 | Video Review #3


Wonder Bar V2 Review

The Fringe Sport Wonder Bar V2 is an entry-level WOD bar offered either as a bushing bar or a bearing bar ($219 and $239, respectively.)  The 28.5 mm shaft is rated at 205k PSI and the yield is rated at 160k PSI. The entire bar is coated in my least favorite finish: black zinc.

OFW Wonder V2 WOD/Multi-purpose Bar

I don’t mind the bushing version of the Wonder Bar for novices, but I am not a big fan of the bearing version.  When a 205k PSI barbell with eight total needle bearings can be delivered for only $239, well it’s pretty obvious how cheap those bearings must be. Now, that shaft on a bushing bar for $219 delivered makes much more sense. Not only that, we’re told that the bushings are oil-impregnated bushings, which we like.

In terms of overall feel, the Wonder Bar is pretty normal as WOD bars go. The knurl is fairly moderate, there is no center knurl, and rotation is fine (average.)  The thing that stands out the most about this bar is the low,  $219 price tag versus the $250 of the Vulcan One Basic, or the $265 of the Rogue Bar 2.0. If you’re a dedicated Fringe Sport fan; and I know they’re out there; I strongly recommend that you save up a little bit more and go for the Hybrid Bar. It costs twice as much but it’s 5x the bar.




 

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28 mm Olympic Weightlifting Bearing Bars

IWF Olympic Barbell specifications

Olympic Weightlifting Barbells are designed for the two explosive lifts; the snatch and clean & jerk. True Olympic barbells have a 28 mm shaft diameter (25 mm for women’s), and they will almost always utilize the more expensive roller bearings for sleeve rotation rather than using bushings. Matter of fact, all of the bars in this section are bearing WL bars, but I have included bushing-based training bars in the section immediately following this one.


American Barbell Stainless Steel Olympic Bar (SS Pro)

The Stainless Steel Bearing Bar is American Barbell’s finest and most expensive bar. It’s an American-made, 20-kg,  28 mm Olympic bearing bar built around a 190k PSI stainless steel shaft. It has American Barbell’s highly-refined, moderate knurl,  and the sleeves are finished in a very thick and resilient layer of hard chrome.

American Barbell Olympic SS Bar

Stainless steel is an incredible material to use for a barbell shaft.  It is superior to just about all other material and finish options out there because stainless offers a natural and secure grip that no other applied finish can compare to. Bare carbon steel will feel just as good, but unfinished carbon steel will rust. Stainless steel will not. Stainless steel bars also don’t need to have overly aggressive knurl to stick to your hands,  making them ideal for longer training sessions than super-aggressive, competition-style Olympic bars.

Close up of the stainless steel shaft

Another slightly less obvious feature of the Stainless Steel Bearing Bar that makes it better than the competition is in the sleeves; or more specifically, the bearings.  American Barbell is one of the only companies to use high-load track bearings in their high-end Olympic bars. What this boils down to is a bearing that won’t wear out over time,  will rotate reliably under any load, and will never lose its ability to rotate. You will never in your life clean the amount of weight this bar can handle.

All these features; the stainless steel and the premium bearings; come with a price, though. You will pay $125 more for the SS Pro than you’d pay for the equivalent, non-stainless steel Performance Olympic Bar (the chrome version of this same bar),  and about $40 more than the chrome Rogue Olympic Bar.

American Barbell SS Pro Bearing Bar American Barbell SS Pro Bearing Bar knurling American Barbell's beautiful stainless steel American Barbell SS Pro knurling Women's 15 kg AB SS Pro Bearing

So is it worth the cost? Well, I own this bar and I think that it’s worth every damn penny, and I picked it up when it was $799! The sleeves are a beautiful and resilient chrome, the grip is solid and completely secure,  the bearings can handle more weight than you’ll ever need for it to, and the whip is above average. This bar is as functional as it is beautiful and I think the new $675 price tag is more than reasonable price for such a premium piece of equipment. I absolutely recommend it. [SS Pro full review]


Vulcan Professional Needle Bearing Olympic Bar

Vulcan Professional Needle Bearing Olympic Bar

This is one of Vulcan’s high-performance, Olympic WL bars.  It’s not only comparable to the IWF Training Bars (DHS, Elieko, ZKC, etc.) but perhaps even superior to them. It’s also less expensive; by a lot in many cases.

The Vulcan Professional Oly WL Bar is a 20 kg, 28 mm needle bearing bar. The shaft specs blow all other professional bars out of the water. It has a sick, lab-verified tensile strength of over 240k PSI, and a yield strength rating of 223k. The yield strength is actually higher than the tensile strength of all other professional Olympic bars.  It would practically take an act of God or an almost deliberate form of negligence to put a permanent bend in this bar.

The Vulcan Pro is said to be one of the most elastic (whippiest) Olympic bars on the market at high weights, and it displays its reflexive properties even at moderate weights. The whole bar is finished in engineered, hard chrome;  which is beautiful, durable, and thick enough to contribute to the bar’s overall strength.

Vulcan Pro Women's 15 kg Oly Bar Vulcan Professional Olympic Bearing Bar - Garage Gyms Review Vulcan Pro Women's 15 kg Oly Bar Vulcan Professional 28 mm Olympic Bar Vulcan Pro 28 mm Oly Bearing Bar - knurling Grooved, chrome sleeves of the Vulcan Pro Oly

If you are looking for a true, competition-worthy, Olympic WL Bar but you do not want to pay the $800+ price tag of an IWF-certified bar, this bar deserves to be considered.  The Vulcan Pro is an end-game Olympic bar, and if you choose to buy another Olympic bar after buying the Vulcan Pro, it will be for the fun of it, not out of necessity. $599 shipped (15 kg women’s variant is $579). [see full review]


Rogue Olympic WL Bar & Rogue Oly Variants

New Rogue Olympic Weightlifting Barbells

Not all that long ago, Rogue developed the Rogue Olympic WL Bar line to compete with the high-dollar, IWF trainers. At a starting price of $495, these American-made bearing bars are definitely far less expensive than their European and Chinese counterparts yet they do offer comparable quality and performance.

The Rogue Olympic WL Bar is a 20 kg, 28 mm Olympic bearing bar. The standard variant is made with both US and European steel, has a tensile strength rating of 215,000 PSI, and is finished entirely in bright zinc.  It has no center knurl, but there is an IWF-certified version of this same bar that does have the required center knurl.  Both versions of the Rogue Oly Bar are straightness tested before leaving Rogue HQ.

Women's 25 mm 15 kg Olympic WL Bar Rogue 28 mm Olympic WL Bar - knurling Rogue Oly 28 mm Olympic Bearing Bar in bright zinc Optional blue bushings for Rogue Oly Rogue Oly center knurling

In addition to the two bright zinc variants, there is also a Cerakote version of the Rogue Oly Bar that has a black Cerakote shaft and chrome sleeves,  and a stainless steel version that has chrome sleeves like the Cerakote version, but the SS variant does have a slightly lower tensile strength shaft (200k PSI vs 215k PSI). Neither of these variants has a center knurl.

There is also an IWF-certified, 15 kg women’s version of the Rogue Olympic WL Bar, and it uses the 215k PSI steel as the 20 kg men’s bar. It sells for the same $495 as the men’s bar as well. There is also a Cerakote version of the women’s Rogue Oly Bar that sells for $525.

The new Rogue Pyrros Stainless Steel Olympic Bar Review

Finally, there is now the Pyrros SS Olympic Bar, a variant of the SS Oly Bar that features a more aggressive knurl, custom greasing process that mimics track bearings, and of course its own custom, Greek-themed Pyrros end-cap. The price is the same at $595, and is by all accounts a better buy than the basic Stainless Steel Oly Bar.


Rogue Euro 28 mm Olympic WL Bar

Rogue 28 mm Euro Olympic WL Bar

The new Rogue European Steel 28 mm Olympic WL Bar

The Euro Olympic Bar is an upgrade of sorts to the Rogue Olympic Bar, and one of the only US-made alternatives to the high-end, competition bars like those from Sweden and Japan. While this bar shares many similarities with Rogue’s Oly Bars (including IWF certification); it is different enough to be its own bar.

The Euro has the same 215k PSI shaft as the Rogue Oly, a value that puts it completely on par with the other IWF bars.  Rather than being finished in zinc or chrome, the steel shaft is finished in a clear, high-gloss Cerakote. The sleeves are friction welded and finished in hard chrome, and as per the requirements of the IWF there is a center knurl.

Tight tolerances on the Rogue Euro Rogue Euro WL Bar knurling Rogue 28 mm Euro Olympic WL Bar Rogue 28 mm Euro Olympic WL Bar Included card signed by assembler and Bill Henniger

The Euro sells for a very reasonable price tag considering that it’s certified. It’s considerably less expensive than a Uesaka or Eleiko at just $545, yet it is still capable of going toe-to-toe with either of them in terms of specifications (and the Asian IWF bars as well.)  The knurling of the Euro is a lot less aggressive than that of other IWF bars which I find a little surprising, but that does kind of make it a standout in the market for those who prefer less bite. [Rogue Euro Review].


Ivanko OB-20KG Olympic Bar

No other company more thoroughly tests their bars than Ivanko.  Each and every premium bar is tested for defects in the steel with no less than three separate tests:  x-ray, mag, and ultra-sonic.  Ivanko barbells are also straightness tested to ensure that no deviation greater than 0.006/ft over the length of the bar exists. Good luck finding an Ivanko defect!

Ivanko OB-20KG and OBS-20KG Olympic Bars

The OB-20 KG Olympic bar is a polished, black oxide, true 28 mm Olympic bar with a steel shaft rated at 200,000+ PSI. The price for this bar is about $650, which is reasonable for an Ivanko bar (for what that’s worth).

There is also a stainless steel version of this bar; the OBS-20 KG Olympic Bar, and that bar is rated at 218,000 PSI and sells for over $1000! A bit less reasonable.

Both of these are fine bars, but not too many people want oxide on an Olympic bar, and the stainless variant is just way too expensive.




 

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28 mm Olympic WL Training Bars

These bars are more or less the same as the Olympic WL bearing bars. They have 28 mm, high-whip shafts designed exclusively for the two explosive lifts, only they utilize a bushing system for sleeve rotation rather than high-cost roller bearings.

The point of these bushing-based Olympic bars is simply to provide a less-costly option for Olympic training. These are great for beginners to the sport, adequate for intermediates, & less than ideal for professional lifters (go with bearings).


American Barbell Precision Training Bar

The Precision Training Bar is a very nice training bar. It’s a lot more expensive than the rest of the Olympic training bars that I’ll talk about, but that’s because it is the exact same bar as the above-mentioned SS Professional Bar, only with a composite bushing system instead of needle bearings. In other words, it’s more expensive because it’s a) a stainless steel barbell and b) it’s an American Barbell bar.

American Barbell Precision Training Bar - Stainless Steel

 

Like the SS Pro, the tensile strength of the stainless shaft is 190,000 PSI.  This IWF-spec’d bar is made in the USA, comes with a lifetime warranty,  and is offered in both a 28 mm, 20 kg version, and a women’s 25 mm, 15 kg version. I have a ton of experience with American Barbell’s stainless steel bars (I own many of them);  I think they’re very well-designed, high-performance bars that look just as amazing as they feel. They’re expensive though, this bar being $450.

Recessed weld of the AB Performance Training Bar Close up of AB's stainless steel shafts The American Barbell Performance Training Bar

Alternatively,  American Barbell does off a version of this bar that is far more in line with the competition, yet still a fantastic bar. For $325 you can pick up the Performance Trainer. The Performance is basically the same as the Precision, only the stainless steel shaft is chrome finished alloy steel. You can’t go wrong with either of these bars. The Performance Training Bar is just as much bar for those that can’t afford the luxury of stainless steel.


Rogue 28 mm Olympic Training Bar

The 28 mm Olympic Training Bar is Rogue’s affordable alternative to the Rogue 28 mm Oly Bearing Bar. For $325 you get Rogue’s standard 190k PSI shaft (instead of the newer 215k PSI shaft), the standard, moderate knurl pattern, bright zinc-finished sleeves, and no center knurl. What you don’t get are needle bearings. These have been replaced with simple, cast bronze bushings.

Rogue 28 mm Olympic Training Bar - bushings

This is one of the more reasonably priced 28 mm training bars on the market. It’s a fine bar offered by an outstanding company. The only real drawback in my opinion is the use of zinc rather than chrome; or rather the lack of chrome as an option. Black zinc is an awful finish, I feel, and currently that’s all that’s available.  There is also a women’s version of the Olympic Training Bar (15 kg, 25 mm shaft.)

Knurl close-up - Rogue 28 mm Olympic Training Bar Chan pulling the Rogue 28 mm Olympic Training Bar 15 kg Women's Rogue Olympic 25 mm Trainer 15 kg Men's Rogue Olympic 28 mm Trainer

If budget is your primary concern when shopping for a 28 mm trainer then this may be your bar. If you can throw a few more bucks at this bar (and I strongly suggest that you do), then check out the Vulcan Elite 4.0 (discussed next).


Vulcan 28mm Elite Olympic Training Bar

Barbell Review - Vulcan true 28 mm Elite Olympic Training Bar

The Vulcan Elite Olympic Training Bar is an amazing barbell overall, and an unbelievable barbell for the price. The Vulcan Elite is a 28 mm, 20 kg, self-lubricating bushing bar with an incredible 221k PSI tensile strength and 206k yield rating. This is a chrome moly bar with a matte chrome finish on the shaft (has a sticky grip like black oxide) and engineered chrome sleeves. What it all boils down to is that the Elite has phenomenal whip, high-quality steel, and great protection against oxidation.

The Vulcan Olympic Training Bar, 28 mm, 20 kg

The Elite adheres to all IWF specifications, including having the center knurl. The bar has moderate knurling typical of an Olympic training bar, but the center knurl is of a lower depth in order to be more accommodating to high rep clean sets – making this a good choice for elite CrossFit as well as Olympic training. The sleeves of this bar are also grooved to keep rubber change plates on the bar when used outside of the collars.

Vulcan Elite 3.0 sleeve and collar Vulcan Elite Olympic Training Bar 15 kg Dense chrome shaft finish of the Vulcan Elite Knurl close-up - Vulcan Elite 3.0 Training Bar Vulcan Elite 3.0 Olympic Training Bar

You will not find a nicer Olympic training bar for the money. Matter of fact the only way to improve upon this bar is to upgrade to a bearing bar. $369 with free shipping for the men’s, and $359 with free shipping for the women’s Elite. [Vulcan Elite review]


GetRx’d Space City Bar Review

Since a couple people have asked, the Space City is basically an old Chad Vaughn Bar (no longer in production), which is basically an old Vulcan Elite. I don’t recommend the GetRX’d Space City over the Elite,  as the Vulcan has better steel (it is literally the whippiest shaft on the marker for under $600), better bushings, much better knurling, a better finish (black zinc is the worst), and best of all, a lower price.

In other words, buying a Get Space City for more cash makes no sense whatsoever. Vulcan Elite every time.




 

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Powerlifting Bars

IPF Recognized Power Bar Specifications

Power Bars are designed for the big three powerlifting movements;  the bench press, squat, and deadlift. Power bars have thicker shafts than weightlifting bars (usually 29 mm) and are knurled and marked differently than weightlifting bars (the marks are closer to center).  Real power bars will also always have a center knurling, whereas it’s not uncommon to find a WL bar without a center knurl.

Power bars are larger in diameter because stiffness and rigidity is desired for the Big-3 lifts, and the bar needs to maintain that stiffness under much larger loads than is typically loaded onto a weightlifting bar. Additionally, power bars don’t need the sleeves to spin as quickly so they are almost always bushing bars.

All power bars are considered to be men’s bars in that they are all either 45-lbs or 20 kg. No 35-lb or 15 kg power bars exist. Women are expected to use the same equipment as men.

For more power bars, see the Comprehensive Power Bar Guide.


Rep Fitness Deep Knurl Power Bar EX

The Rep Fitness Deep Knurl EX is a fully-stainless steel power bar; that’s both a stainless steel shaft and stainless steel sleeves.

Rep Fitness Deep Knurl Power Bar EX

Rated at 200k PSI, the shaft of the Deep Knurl is both super stiff and aggressively knurled. As a matter of fact, the Deep Knurl has one of the best-feeling aggro knurls out there. The peaks of the perfectly-spaced knurl have been just slightly blunted to take the edge off the knurl that would otherwise be pretty damn sharp. It’s hard to describe how much the Deep Knurl sticks to the hands without punishing them.

It’s nearly impossible to find something wrong with this Rep power bar. A fully stainless bar with texture-less sleeves (no noise, no grinding), decent sleeve rotation, a lifetime warranty, and a price that comes in remarkably low all things considered ($379).

the Rep Fitness Deep Knurl Power Bar EX

I’ve reviewed this bar just like I have most the bars on this page, and I can say with honesty that the Rep Deep Knurl is one of my all-time favorite power bars. I think it’s a huge mistake to not have this power bar on your shortlist.


American Barbell SS Elite Power Bar Review

The American Barbell Elite Power Bar is a 29 mm stainless steel power bar that is probably the closest we’re ever going to get to the classic (and retired) AB Super Power Bar; my own personal favorite (yes, even over the Deep Knurl EX). At $450, the Elite is an expensive bar for the big three, but it is a hard bar to beat when it comes to overall feel, grip, performance, and construction quality, and you’ll find that it’s the perfect bar for more than the big three.

American Barbell Stainless Steel Elite Power Bar

The knurl depth of the AB Elite is standard American Barbell; which as many of you know is mild to moderate. While normally this is the opposite of what you’d want on a power bar, the fact that its a stainless steel bar with moderate knurl makes it surprisingly appealing. That is to say, the Elite offers a very nice grip without being a cheese grater,  and unlike it’s biggest rival; the SS Ohio Power Bar; the Elite isn’t uncomfortable for back squats like the OPB can be because it doesn’t have that super aggro center knurl.

American Barbell Elite (bottom) versus Ohio Power Bar - knurl depth/aggressiveness

Knurl depth difference between AB SS Elite (bottom) vs SS OPB

It should also be said that American Barbell just makes amazingly refined, tight bars.  There is zero lateral play in the sleeves, the industrial composite bushings are smooth and reliable under any load, and the beautiful, hard chrome finish on the sleeves will outlast pretty much any other manufacturers finish. What I like to demonstrate to folks who visit my garage gym is the ‘AB vs. the others’ drop test.  I simply drop an unloaded AB bar from 4-5″ and listen to the sound it makes then do the same with nearly any other brand’s power bar. AB is always ridiculously quieter, which illustrates well how precisely the components fit together.

Is American Barbell a hint more expensive than the couple other USA-made bars? Yes, but you’ll give an AB to your kid some day in perfect functional condition – and I don’t doubt that he or she will then give it to their kid. Best American bar manufacturer. [view review]


Vulcan Absolute Power Bar

Vulcan Absolute 221k PSI Power Bar

The Vulcan Absolute Power Bar is currently the highest-rated tensile strength power bar on the market under $600, and it will cost you no where near that much cash.  At 221,000 PSI, this 29 mm beast of a bar will handle any amount of weight you can throw at it. The shaft is aggressively knurled and finished in black oxide, and the sleeves are finished in a very nice matte chrome. Veteran lifters will feel right at home with the Absolute.

Vulcan Absolute Power Bar - Knurling close-up

The Absolute is a 20 kg bar with bronze bushings. It sells for $339 including the shipping, it has a perfect 5-star review rating, and it has a lifetime warranty against breaking & bending. This bar is amazing, and I highly recommend it. [Vulcan Absolute Review]

There is also a fully-stainless steel version of the Vulcan Absolute Power Bar as well, and it too is really quite impressive.  Much like the Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar, the SS Absolute is a higher tensile strength bar with a higher price tag.  It’s basically the only way to upgrade a Deep Knurl EX. I dig both versions of the Absolute, but if you can’t (or don’t want to) pay the premium for the SS variant, don’t think for a second that you won’t be just as happy with the black oxide variant. [Vulcan SS Absolute Review]


Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar

The most well known power bar around simply must be the classic Texas Power Bar (TPB) by Capps Welding. The Texas Power Bar is 86″ long with 17″ of loadable sleeve length, has a 28.5 mm shaft, aggressive knurling, and a 4″ center knurling. It’s a 20kg bar rated at 190k PSI, and it has a 1500 lb max capacity.

Authentic Buddy Capps' Texas Power Bar

The Texas Power Bar is a solid powerlifting bar and the price is still very reasonable after all these years (base $269 for totally bare steel). I don’t care for the black zinc shaft option, but chrome is still available if you don’t want a raw or black zinc bar. The most you’ll pay for the fully-chromed TPB is about $315, direct from Capps.

While there are certainly more premium options on the market, you can’t argue with exactly how well this bar has stood the test of time, and no other bar can match the aesthetics of a Texas Power Bar with those recessed end caps and pin holes in the sleeves.


Vulcan Elite Powerlifting Bar

The Vulcan Elite Powerlifting Bar is by and far the most aggressive powerlifting bar I’ve laid my hands on… ever!

The super aggressive, Vulcan Elite Power Bar

The Vulcan Elite is a 29 mm, 196k PSI tensile strength power bar with one of the most rigid shafts in existence. If you can summon some elasticity from this bar then I’ll be pretty damn impressed because it just really, really wants to stay straight.

This bar is finished in a black zinc finish on the shaft, and bright zinc on the sleeves. Those sleeves spin around a pair of Oilite brand, bronze bushings; the best bushing option around for maintenance-free barbells. The Elite is $369 with shipping and it’s made in the USA.

Center knurl of the Vulcan Elite Power Bar

So, I hate black zinc,  but this is one instance where that has to be overlooked because the Vulcan Elite Power Bar is in a class all its own. If you want or need the most aggressive bar you can find, it’s the Elite. The knurl is sharp af (and I’m not too proud of typing those letters together), so if that makes your day then you’ll just have to come to terms with the finish.


CAP OB-86B Power Bar

I’ve been reluctant to include any CAP bars on this site, as I really hate recommending box-store equipment, but the CAP OB-86B is probably the least amount of dough that you could spend on a bar and not have it break or bend within a week, so I have finally decided to talk about it.

CAP-OB-86B "Olympic" Power Bar

Let me just briefly say that the OB-86B is not marketed and labeled as a power bar,  but it is indeed a power bar. It has only IPF markings, crappy steel bushings that don’t spin well and it’s rigid as hell. Even the knurl is very power-bar’ish. Despite the use of the term Olympic in the name of this bar it is absolutely a power bar. The only thing that CAP left off this bar is a center knurl, which is actually another minor reason I hesitated to include it.

The OB-86B has a tensile strength rating of 130k PSI, a price of about $125-150 depending on which way the wind is blowing at Amazon, and no real warranty. This is a beginner’s bar. It will not handle a boatload of weight, but it’ll get you by if you’re flat broke and just need to lift.

While this is indeed the best product that CAP has produced in a long time, that isn’t saying too much, so don’t run out and equip your gym with CAP-branded products.  Nine times out of ten you will be disappointed.

[CAP OB-86B Review]


Rogue Ohio Power Bar (OPB)

The Rogue Ohio Power Bar is a 205k PSI power bar with a 29 mm shaft. The OPB is stiff, it is rigid, and it has practically no elasticity whatsoever. The Ohio Power Bar is offered in two styles; both with multiple finish options. There is a 45-lb version that is currently available in five total finish varieties, and a 20 kg, IPF-certified version that is offered in two finishes.

The Rogue Ohio Power Bar, 45-lb variantThe Rogue Ohio Power Bar is probably the nicest power bar at its price point; at least when talking about the bare steel version. The knurl is coarse and very aggressive, the build is as solid as any Rogue bar, and you just can’t beat the feel of raw steel. This is the bar you buy on a budget, not a box-store bar. It starts at only $265 for bare steel.

Ohio Power Bar knurling - raw steel variant

Rogue also released both variants (lbs and kgs) in stainless steel at a more premium price. Stainless is an obvious upgrade if it’s within budget to do so, but there is still nothing wrong with lifting the raw Ohio – they technically feel the same, only the stainless won’t rust.

[Rogue Ohio Power Bar review]


Ivanko OBX-20KG Powerlifting Bar

Bust out the wallet. The Ivanko OBX-20KG Power Bar is 20 kg and has a thin, 28 mm, 200k PSI shaft. This bar has a black oxide coating and the center knurling is 4.75″ rather than 4″. This bar is sweet, IPF approved, and expensive; well over $600! If it helps, each Ivanko bar is mag tested, ultra sonic tested, and x-ray tested for defects in the steel – Ivanko is serious about putting out quality bars.

The Ivanko OBX-20KG Power Bar

There is also a stainless steel version of this power bar that’s rated at 218k PSI. It’s a great bar, but at over $1200 it’s a total rip off. There are way too many good power bars out there for half or a third of that cost to even bother considering spending that kind of money.




 

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Youth/Junior Bars

Junior Bars - Olympic WL Youth Bars

I am blown away by the limited number of youth bars available (quality youth bars, that is). If you know of any that you’d like to recommend for this review, leave a comment.


OSO Mini – Kid’s Technique Bar

Oso Mini - Children's Technique Bar

The OSO Mini is a 5-lb, 48-inch long anodized aluminum bar designed for teaching children proper lifting technique. The shaft is 22 mm thick, the sleeves spin on a unique, low-cost bearing system, and the bar can handle being loaded to up to 50-pounds. The Mini is made in the USA and comes in three different colors; the red being unique to Rogue. $99


American Barbell Junior Gym Bar

American Barbell Junior Gym Bar

The American Barbell Junior Gym Bar is a great choice for a beginning youth lifter. It can be used for a variety of lifts; it features impact resistant composite bushings, it has a normal 28 mm shaft, a chrome finish, and weighs in at just under 30 pounds. The total bar length is 5′, the distance between sleeves is about 38″, and the loadable sleeve length is 9.68″.

It doesn’t specify, but I’m assuming based on the weight that this is a steel bar rather than aluminium. $155


Rogue 10 kg Junior Bar

The Rogue Junior Barbell

The Rogue Junior Bar is a 10 kg bar with a 25 mm black zinc shaft. This 66.75″ long bar is shorter than standard 15 kg and 20 kg bars, but the distance between collars is the same as a competition bar; the difference comes off the sleeves (at only 6.6″ long each.) Rogue’s Junior Bar is a cast bronze bushing bar with snap rings, and it has an impressive 190k PSI tensile strength (same as any Rogue bushing bar).

This junior bar is different from other Junior bars in that it is dual marked for both Olympic and Power lifting. It has no center knurling. USA- made, $175




 

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Olympic Barbell Guide Summary & Recommendations

So the take away is this; there are a lot of solid bars on the market. Just about every barbell manufacturer offers something unique.  Rogue Fitness has what must be the largest variety of bars and finish options, Vulcan has the most unique, high-end barbells, American Barbell makes the highest quality bars in America, and Rep Fitness is stepping in and trying hard to make their mark and steal some of these other manufacturer’s sales.  There’s something for everyone.

So what are my favorites? My recommendations? Let’s see, shall we?


 

My Pick for a WOD / CrossFit Bar

WOD bars like the Rogue Bar 2.0, the Ohio Bars, and all of the other, similar, multi-purpose bars from all the other manufacturers feel very much the same to me. WOD bars have mild knurling with no center, bushings, and more times than not, a 28.5 mm shaft. WOD bars are designed to be middle-of-the-road; they perform well for anything, but excel in nothing.

I can’t argue that two of the better deals on WOD bars are the Rogue Bar 2.0 and the 15 kg women’s Bella Bar. Both of these bars fill CrossFit affiliates and garage gyms all around the world because they are reliable, perform well, and are affordable. Many of you will default to one of these Rogue bars simply because of how popular they are, and that’s okay.

That said, the 28 mm Vulcan One Basic does give the Rogue Bar a run for its money.  They are about the same price, but the hard chrome finish, 28 mm shaft, and included shipping is hard to ignore. I mean, you can’t personalize the Vulcan One with colored rubber bands, but do you care?

If you’re more of an elite-level CrossFitter putting up some respectable numbers in both the Olympic lifts, or you are likely to participate in the Games, it probably wouldn’t hurt to grab a Rogue Olympic WL Bar. It’s a higher performance bar for the clean and snatch, and it’s also a bearing bar. More importantly, it’s commonly used in the CrossFit Games.


My Pick for a Professional 28 mm Olympic WL Bar

With no consideration to price, I’d have to say the American Barbell SS Pro. It’s the ultimate high-end training bar, because it has a medium-depth knurl that is far more accommodating to long training sessions than the IWF cheese graters, but because of the use of a stainless steel shaft there is no sacrifice to grip security. Matter of fact, even with less coarseness the American Barbell SS Pro offers a comparable grip to the IWF trainers.

In addition to the quality and feel of the knurl, the bearings of the SS Pro are simply insane; they are unstoppable. No amount of weight that you could load onto this bar will slow down or seize the bearings. The bar is a champ, and it’s original $799 is now only $675 making it even more competitive with the European and Asian IWF bars.

For something more traditional (and less expensive),  the Vulcan Professional would be my next choice. The specs are off the charts and the price is reasonable. It’s basically a comp-level Olympic WL bar without the cost of IWF-certification added into the price. Don’t buy a DHS, ZKC or even an Eleiko without trying a Vulcan Pro first. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.


My Pick for an 28 mm Olympic Trainer (bushing)

Hands down the Vulcan Elite 3.0. It’s a self-lubricating bar that’s stronger and whippier than any bar you’ve lifted on; bushing, bearing, or otherwise. The Elite is a beautiful bar, and it is also unbelievable affordable when you consider what you’re getting.

I like the Vulcan Elite more than the American Barbell Precision Bar despite the fact that the AB is a stainless steel bar simply because the Elite is $100 less and whippier. I like the Elite a lot more than the Rogue 28 mm Trainer because the Rogue doesn’t offer anything special for that $325 price tag.  The Vulcan Elite Trainer simply has no real competition in this niche category of barbells. It’s worth every penny, and it’s worth waiting for if out of stock.


My Pick for a General Strength and Conditioning Bar

By general strength and conditioning, I’m thinking of your standard gym workout… presses, rows, squats, deadlifts, power cleans, and pretty much anything you can imagine doing in a gym environment while not specializing in anything in particular.

I’m a huge fan of the Fringe Sport Hybrid Bar. It’s a little on the expensive side when talking about multi-purpose bars, but it’s an extremely feature-rich piece of equipment.  It has knurl that offers more bite than almost all other multi-purpose bars, that shin-friendly knurl pattern like the Matt Chan Bar, bearings and bushings for reliable sleeve rotation, two great finishes and beautiful aesthetics. It’s the ultimate bar for going from the rack to the platform to where ever else you’d take your barbell.

The Stainless Steel Ohio Bar is another solid option for general strength training. At $350, it has a stronger than average shaft, super grippy knurling (especially for Rogue dual-marked bar), and of course, the best feeling shaft material possible to go with that knurl; stainless. I still like the Hybrid more, but the SS Ohio is arguably Rogue’s best multi-purpose barbell so it should at least be considered (well, maybe it’s tied with the Matt Chan Bar.)


My Pick for a Powerlifting Bar

The best power bar for the money right now is the Rep Fitness Deep Knurl EX. At just $379 for a fully-stainless steel power bar with what happens to be the best, aggressive knurling in the industry is just really, really hard to beat. The Deep Knurl EX feels so good in the hands. It won’t chip, rust, bend, or break.  It’ll last forever, look beautiful forever, and it’s not even all that expensive.

There are other stainless steel bars worth considering; like the Vulcan Absolute SS, and the SS Elite from American Barbell; but they both cost significantly more cash.  I can see those who like a more moderate knurling going with the SS Elite and being willing to pay more but the Absolute is a harder sell at nearly $600.

Finally, for those on a super strict budget, the bare steel Rogue Ohio Power Bar is about as good as you can get for the money. $265 still gets you a whole lot of bar if you’re willing and able to maintain an unfinished, alloy steel implement.




 

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Olympic Barbell Review and Shopping Guide