Guide To Buying A Barbell

You can find many different kinds of barbells. Their function, nonetheless, remains the same; add resistance and lift. They all work different muscles and can be a great tool in building size, strength, and endurance.

What To Look for



Olympic bar vs. Short Olympic bar vs. EZ bar

Olympic bar vs. Short Olympic bar vs. EZ bar
  1. The Olympic Bar is the standard weightlifting barbell used in competitions around the world. It is 7.2 feet in length and has a diameter of 2 inches. It is highly versatile, and the best choice for compound lifts such as bench presses, squats, deadlifts, barbell rows, etc.
  2. The Short Olympic Bar is essentially a shorter version of the Olympic bar and weighs 30lbs. It is more stable than an olympic bar making it useful for exercises, such as upright rows or barbell front raises where you need some extra stability.
  3. The EZ Bar is the shortest in length. It has a zigzag shaft and usually weighs the same as a short Olympic bar. It is best suited to bicep curls and tricep extensions (skullcrushers).

Men’s vs. Women’s barbells

Men’s vs. Women’s barbells

There are different barbells for men, women, and youth athletes. Each of these barbells are constructed differently to be most suitable to the body type to which they cater.

Men’s barbells
Length- 7 feet 2 inches
Weight- 44lbs
Diameter- 28mm – 29mm
In other words, they are the heaviest, stiffest, and longest barbells.

Women’s barbells
Length- 6 feet 5 inches
Weight- 33lbs
Diameter- 25mm

Youth barbells
Length- 5 feet 6 inches
Weight- 22lbs
Diameter- 25mm


Fixed weight barbells are only practical for commercial use.

Fixed weight barbells are only practical for commercial use.
  • If you’re buying EZ or short Olympic barbells, you can get them with free or fixed weights.
  • Fixed weight barbell sets are more stable than free weight barbells and are appropriate for commercial gyms since more people would want to use them simultaneously.
  • One or two free weight barbells are enough for home gyms because there presumably won’t be as many people wanting to use them at one time.

Look for tensile strength, not yield strength.

Look for tensile strength, not yield strength.

There are two ways to measure barbell strength:

  1. Tensile strength tells you how much pressure it would take to snap the barbell. Anything over 180,000 PSI (pounds per square inch) will be adequate for most people.
  2. Yield strength is measured in pounds and tells you how much weight would permanently bend the barbell or cause it to lose shape. This is not an accurate way of measuring barbell strength and is not as relevant as tensile strength.

Get a barbell with bearings instead of bushings for weightlifting.

Get a barbell with bearings instead of bushings for weightlifting.
  1. Manufacturers use bushings or bearings to achieve a rotational spin on the barbell sleeve for smoother movement in weightlifting exercises like clean and jerk or snatch.
  2. Bearings provide a slightly smoother and faster spin than bushings but also cost more. However, the difference between the two is marginal, so bushings will work just as well if you’re buying the barbell for home use. 
  3. For anyone who isn’t a competitive weightlifter, the spin is not a relevant consideration.

Top Picks

Best Olympic Bar For Commercial Use

Best Olympic Bar For Commercial Use

Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Training Bar

For $915.00

  • Highly stable when doing olympic lifts
  • 12 year warranty
  • Needle bearings for extra smooth spin
  • Swedish Steel for well balanced strength and flexibility
  • Hefty price tag makes it impractical for home use
Best Olympic Barbell For Home Use

Best Olympic Barbell For Home Use


For $295.00

  • Competition grade olympic barbell
  • 205,000 PSI tensile strength
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Slightly pricey
Best Olympic Bar On A Budget

Best Olympic Bar On A Budget

XMark Lumberjack 7’

For $202.00

  • Rust-resistant manganese-phosphate coating
  • Reasonable pricing
  • Stainless steel to easily load plates
  • Not suitable for anything over 500 lbs
Best Short Olympic Barbell

Best Short Olympic Barbell

CAP Barbell Olympic 2-Inch Solid Chrome Bar, 6-Foot

For $179.99

  • Considerable stability
  • Durable, can last decades
  • Great for beginners to improve form
Best EZ Barbell

Best EZ Barbell

XMark Fitness 28mm EZ

For $127.00

  • Effective knurling lets you retain a firm grip
  • Great value for money
  • Hands stay in natural position preventing wrist pain

Common Questions

Q:How much does a barbell weigh?


There are different kinds of barbells, each with their own functionality.

  • The Standard Olympic barbell weighs 45 lbs. It’s made of special steel to allow more whip than a standard bar. With a wide grip of 2 inches in diameter, it helps the lifter maintain a steady grip throughout the lift.
  • The Short Olympic barbell is about 5 feet long and can weigh between 25 and 35 lbs. It is easier to balance than the standard 7’ bar and is suitable for exercises such as curls.
  • The EZ barbells are 4 feet long and weigh 25 lbs. They’re suitable for close grip exercises, like lying tricep extensions.

Q:What are some barbell exercises I can do?

  1. Squats: This exercise targets your quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
  2. Deadlift: This is a great strength-building exercise for the entire body. It’s vital to get the technique right to avoid serious injury.
  3. Bench press: This exercise works on your chest, triceps, and deltoids. This compound pushing movement helps you build an impressive torso.
  4. Bent-over row: This exercise targets your back, core, and chest. You can also use reverse-grip to focus more on the outer parts of the back.
  5. Military press: This one is for building shoulder strength. Apart from working on your delts, it also helps increase overhead strength.
  6. Lunge: The barbell lunge targets your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. You can apply heavy loads to a single leg, helping you get the perfect lower body strength.
  7. Barbell curls: The good old bicep curl is an effective exercise to increase bicep strength while allowing heavier loading than other exercises.

Q:How do I do Barbell Rows?


The Olympic barbell is the best choice for barbell rows.

  1. Start with planting your feet slightly wider than hip-width. Grip the bar just outside the width of your knees (a wider grip builds more of your upper back, while a narrow grip focusses on lats and lower back).
  2. Get into the starting position by deadlifting the barbell to the standard position.
  3. Push your hips back, and bend your knees slightly. Lower the barbell down to reach a 15-45-degree angle with the floor while keeping your back straight.
  4. Keeping your core tight, row the barbell by driving your elbows back. Stop the motion when the bar just about touches your torso.
  5. Return to the start and do 8-10 reps.

Q:Which barbell should I use for barbell squats?


You should use an Olympic Barbell for squats. These barbells are wide but use less knurling in the center to help with the grip during squats. You must also use a squat rack that houses the barbell when not in use and safety bars to catch the weights, should you drop them during the exercise. The rack also allows you to set the barbell according to your height and type of exercise.

Q:Which is the best barbell for barbell curls?


You can go for either the Short Olympic barbell or the EZ barbell. Each has its own benefits.

The Short Olympic barbell provides better stability and better bicep activation because your palms are facing up, meaning you can curl up in full supination.

EZ barbell is better for people who lack wrist mobility. The semi-supinated position sacrifices some movement of the biceps but reduces the risk of wrist injuries by providing a more comfortable and natural position.

Q:What muscles do barbell rows work?


Barbell row is a full-body compound exercise that targets both your entire back, particularly the rhomboids, lats, hamstrings, spinal erectors, and lower back muscles. This exercise also helps strengthen your posture and increase back size. It also works your abs, hips, and arms.

Q:Does the barbell whip make a difference?


Short answer, no. A barbell should have enough tensile strength to flex and return to its original form. A barbell that flexes under load easily but can still handle a lot of weight without bending has a lot of whip. Whip doesn’t usually show until you load the bar with over 220 lbs. For most people training at home, this doesn’t matter. Since you will use the barbell for different exercises, a barbell with an average whip should be fine. So, barbell whip only matters to professional powerlifters and Olympic lifters.

Q:Should I go for a single barbell or weight set?


Purchasing a barbell along with the weight set ensures that the weights are compatible with the barbell and fit perfectly. There is also a strong chance that you will get a better deal if you buy them together.

Purchasing just the barbell means you’ll need to search for the most suitable weights for your barbell. However, the top-selling barbells usually come as a single entity and you need to buy the weights separately. It is, thus, a matter of choice. You could either go for one of the best-selling brands that sell the barbell separately, or you could buy a set and get a sweeter deal but compromise on the brand value.

Q:Do I need to buy barbell collars or clamps?


Yes, you should buy barbell collars/clamps. The collars or clamps serve both performance and safety purposes. They keep the weights snug to the shoulder of the bar. This ensures that the weights are at equal distance from both hands. They stop the weights from sliding, which would lead to an uneven load. An uneven load can cause the weights to slide off the bar, which may lead to serious injury. The heavier the load, the more dangerous the situation.

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