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The Beginner’s Guide to Choosing the Right Barbell

The Beginner’s Guide to Choosing the Right Barbell

The Beginner’s Guide to Choosing the Right Barbell

Whether you want to have a small garage set-up for your workouts, or you’re looking to put together a comprehensive gym; having good barbells is essential. Barbells are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment and are necessary for all of the major lifts which should be incorporated into all lifters’ workout regimens in one way or another.

But in the age of targeted ads, sophisticated scams, and dishonest salespeople; it can be a nightmare trying to sift through all of the choices and find the right barbell to fit your needs.

In this guide, we will discuss the different types of barbells in terms of what they are best suited for and highlight one of our favorite barbells from Iron Crush.

What are You Training For?

Depending on if you’re training for a Ninja Warrior competition, a powerlifting meet, a specific sport, or just for your health; your barbell needs will differ drastically.

Before we dive into the different types of bars and the nuances that come with each, it will be helpful to define some terms:

  • Knurling/Knurl. The area of the bar that has some texture to it is the knurled portion. The more intense the knurling is, the “easier” it is to grip the bar. By “easier”, we mean that you will be able to maintain your grip more easily with a more aggressive knurl, but you may rip the skin off of your hands at the same time. Conversely, a very passive knurl will cause very little discomfort to your hands, but it may be more difficult to grip the bar during your lifts. Therefore, for all but the most specialized lifters, a medium knurl is usually the ideal choice.
  •  Sleeves and Spin. The thicker ends of the bar where the plates are loaded are known as the sleeves. The way these sleeves are applied to the bar allows the weight to spin as the lifter performs the movement in question. Without getting too bogged down in the physics of spin, suffice it to say that some lifters, such as Olympic lifters, may prefer to have more spin in order to better complete their lifts. At the same time, powerlifters generally prefer much less spin, as it can be a detriment to their lifts.
  • Load Capacity. How much weight the bar can actually hold before it fails is referred to as the load capacity. 
  • Whip. For all intents and purposes, whip refers to the bar’s “flexibility”. 
  • Finishes. The finish on your barbell factors into both the price and the durability of the equipment. While there are quite a few options for finishes out on the market, you’ll find bars of all types with different finishes that add a unique look and have varying levels of durability. Some of the common finishes are: chrome, zinc (black or bright), and stainless steel. Next let’s break down some of the common barbells and discuss why you might consider purchasing one kind over another: 
  • Powerlifting bars. Those who are training for powerlifting are generally only focused on one thing: lifting massive amounts of weight. Therefore, their bars need to be up to the task of holding heavy weight and should be able to take a beating. These bars tend to be more expensive than the average barbell for this increased need for durability. Powerlifters will also look for bars with very little spin, very strong knurling, and center knurling for better grip and improved stability during lifts such as squats.
  • CrossFit bars. CrossFit bars, just like powerlifting bars, need to be able to take a pounding as well. In fact, because CrossFit bars are often used for “Olympic” style lifts where the bar is dropped to the ground after the lift instead of being set down, these bars actually require more durability than even powerlifting bars do. The specific elements of a CrossFit bar that appeal to these lifters are: a smooth spin and whip for explosive lifts such as a clean and jerk, a medium knurling to protect the hands but still provide some grip, and no center knurl to protect the lifter’s back during squat workouts (as most workouts are completed shirtless). 
  • All-Purpose bars. All-purpose bars, such as the 7ft Olympic barbell from Iron Crush, are the ideal choice for the average lifter. These bars are the most versatile and the most middle-of-the-road in terms of price, sleeves, spin, and knurling. In the next section, we will break down the aforementioned barbell from Iron Crush and show you why it is the ideal choice for all but the very specific subset of lifters who are training for a different purpose than the average person.

Iron Crush’s Barbell

  • While Iron Crush offers a variety of barbell options, by far our most compelling model is the 7ft Olympic bar. This is the ideal bar for most lifters for the following reasons:
  • Price. This bar will run you about $200.00. With no frame of reference, the triple digit price may sound like a lot of money. However, after comparing prices on barbells for a few minutes, one can quickly see that $200.00 is a very reasonable price for a functional barbell that will last for a long time. 
  • Durability. Iron Crush’s bar is made with No. 45 steel which is way stronger then the Q235 steel used on most bars below $175, chrome plating which is one of the most durable finishes available for bars. This type of finish will keep your bar in good condition for years to come. 
  • Knurling. While there is no center knurling on this bar, there are Olympic and powerlifting knurl rings included. The knurling is rated at medium, so it won’t hurt your hands too much, but will still allow for a strong grip. 
  • Load Capacity. With a 750 lb load capacity, this bar can hold more than most lifters will ever need. Additionally, it has a tensile strength of 170k PSI, meaning that 170,000 lbs of force per square inch would be required to break the bar.
  • Spin. The spin is rated as average.
  • Whip. Just like with the spin, the whip is rated as average.
  • Dimensions. Weighing in at 45lbs, as is standard for the average Olympic barbells, It measures 28mm in diameter and total length is 2.2 meters (7.2 ft)

Bottom Line

If you are searching for your next barbell (or your first barbell), it is important to ask yourself what you will be using it for. Your training needs may necessitate that you pay a little extra and purchase a powerlifting bar or another very specific type of bar.

However, if you consider yourself to be an average lifter who is training mainly for your health and well-being, you should strongly consider the 7ft Olympic barbell from Iron Crush.

Next article What are you Training For?