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2016 Olympic Barbell Guide

The almighty Olympic barbell.

For generations, men and women of all ages have stared in bewilderment of this 7-foot long metal pole.

What a novel idea it was to make a metal pole with sleeves on either side that you could place weight on to hoist in all sorts of ways.

Although the majority of barbells may look similar, they certainly are not.

If you’re going to shell out cold hard cash for some cold hard steel than you want to make sure you’re getting your monies worth. Not only that, but you want to make sure it will last through the abuse you inevitably will put it through.

barbell guide

Want to skip to a particular section of the Guide? Click the Category.

2016 CrossFit Barbell Guide

2016 Olympic Weightlifting Barbell Guide

2016 Powerlifting Barbell Guide

What makes a barbell better than others?

This is the first question that needs to be addressed before we delve into the myriad of barbells that plague the market.

There's a few things that come to mind when deciding on which barbell to buy.

1. Steel

Rogue Steel

 

The steel that is used in a barbell is more than just about looks.

It is the essence of the barbell.

Based on various factors of the steel, such as whip and tensile strength, it can be determined what application it is best suited for.

For example, in Olympic Weightlifting it is important to have a bar that is whippy, allowing a true artist of the sport to use the whip to their advantage when cleaning, jerking or snatching. The majority of people do not need a very whippy bar because they will never reach the weight needed where you actually start to feel a difference.

In Powerlifting, a whippy deadlift bar is great, but having a straight as an arrow and stiff as a board barbell is preferred when squatting or benching. Especially when you factor in the amount of weight those who use triple-ply suits in competition.

I will be writing some about the tensile strength of the steel within each barbell review.

The majority of barbells are around 150k-170k tensile strength.

2. Knurling

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Everybody has a preferred knurling. Some want a knurl that feels like a pack of piranha's (is that a real thing?) ripping at your palms when you grip it.

Others like a really light knurl that requires a lot of chalk to get a secure grip.

The determining factor for a certain type of knurl is most often based on it's use vs preference, however.

In the CrossFit world, if you're doing a lot of reps and you go from moving the barbell to doing something on a pull-up bar, your hands are experiencing a lot of friction. Because of this, a barbell with a light knurling pattern would most often be the best for CrossFit to prevent immature rips of the hands.

When attempting any sort of maximum, such as a deadlift. It doesn't matter if the bar leaves spikes in your palms, you want that sucker to stick! Which is why a powerlifting deadlift bar often has the sharpest knurling of all barbells.

3. Spin

The spin of a barbell can be very important depending on it's use.

The majority of barbells use bushings to produce their spin, these are most often referred to as “bushing bars.”

If you're looking for maximum spin, then the barbell that you would look for is a “bearing bar.” These typically use needle bearings inserted into the sleeve that allows it to spin freely from the shaft.

In my opinion, unless you're an elite level Olympic Weightlifter then a needle bearing bar isn't essential. That being said, I have a needle bearing bar and I'm certainly not at an elite level of weightlifting.

But to prove that I know somewhat about how to use a barbell, here's a video of me cleaning 295 lbs./134 kg:

4. Whip

klokov whip

The whip of a bar can greatly change the way it feels with heavy weights.

For Olympic weightlifting and deadlifting, a whippy bar is a very desirable effect.

However, for powerlifting squats, and benching you want a bar that is stiff and you are able to know how it will react.

5. Overall Construction

Barbell manufacturers all have different ways of attaching the sleeves to the shaft.

Many use similar techniques, but the most popular are the one employed by Rogue Fitness and it looks like this:

rogue barbell deconstructed

It uses snap rings to attach the sleeve and shaft and although it's quite reliable, it is somewhat noisy.

For the barbell that is the creme de la creme, it will have very little machining tolerances meaning low noise. The perfect example of this is an Eleiko Weightlifting Barbell that uses needle bearings. The inside of the sleeve looks like this:

Eleiko deconstructed

6. Finish

The finish of the barbell is most times personal preference.

Finishes oxidize at different rates, so for a low maintenance bar, you'll want something that oxidizes slowly to keep you from having to oil it often.

The chart below explains the different oxidation rates of the various finishes most often used:

Oxidation rate

2016 CrossFit Barbell Guide

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A CrossFit Barbell has a few features that separate it from other barbells.

First off, the most important feature is durability.

Thousands and thousands of reps will be done on these barbells, AND they will be dropped OFTEN. Seriously, CrossFitters put more abuse on their equipment than any other athlete.

Many bars made for CrossFit are going to be used in an affiliate setting, not just a garage gym. This means many people are going to be using the bars and not necessarily taking the same care of them that the owner would.

This is a big reason you need increased durability.

With a barbell that is going to be used for CrossFit, it needs to be able to do all the Olympic lifts, power lifts, and more. I’ve seen some weird things done with barbells at affiliates not limited to using one a barbell as if it was a shovel, or trying to see how far you could throw the bar, etc. (not recommended)

With the growth of CrossFit, now everyone and their brother want to sell you a bar, and to be honest, there’s a lot of low quality, made in china bars out there. ALOT of them.

A few attributes that I think are best for barbell that will be used for CrossFit are:

  • Price
  • High Durability
  • Low Maintenance
  • Medium Knurl
  • Low Whip
  • Strong Steel
  • Bushings

So, with these attributes defined, let's dig into my picks for the top barbells made for CrossFit in 2016…

editors choice

1. Editor's Choice: Rogue Fitness The Ohio Bar

ohio-bar_header-updated_2_1

Rogue Fitness has grown into the premiere fitness equipment manufacturer in the world and a majority of their equipment is still made right here in the USA.

They way they've been able to accomplish can be summed up in one word, QUALITY.

Everything from the customer service to the overbuilt nature of their equipment speaks to this word and it's why so many including myself have jumped on the Bandwagon.

Are some of their products more expensive than other companies, yes. But you get what you paid for. Nobody compares a Honda Accord to a Mercedes-Benz. They're completely different categories. The difference however is, the premium you pay for a Rogue Bar is a small difference.

You can read my more in-depth review here.

Here are the Specs on why it's the 2016 Editor's Choice Barbell for CrossFit:

  • Lifetime Warranty – Some companies offer lifetime warranties, but really all they're offering is a warranty until their company folds (such as MD-USA cough, cough.) The lifetime warranty is only limited to the lifetime of the company. I'm hedging my bets that Rogue will be around longer than everybody else.
  • 190k Tensile Strength Steel – Some of Rogue's competitors tout stronger steel, but in reality, the majority of people don't need stronger steel. This really only comes into play if you're lifting insane amounts of weight for a long time in a careless manner. I have an early generation Ohio Bar with 150k tensile steel that is still straight as an arrow. And here's the deal, should it ever bend, I'll call up Rogue and I'll get a replacement within a couple weeks.
  • Bronze Bushings – Composite bushings are fine, such as the ones in the Rogue Bar 2.0, but nothing beats the tried and true bronze bushings. They're low maintenance and virtually indestructible.
  • Medium, Tight Knurling – Rogue uses top of the line machinery to provide some of the best knurling available, (outside of Eleiko.) The knurling on the Rogue Ohio Bar takes chalk well and is sharp enough for a good grip, but light enough to cycle the bar without ripping.
  • Price – The Ohio Bar is currently just under $300. This is a whole lot of bar for that kind of money. Especially when you consider it will be the last bar you have to buy.
  • Whip – Medium whip makes it perfect for both Olympic and Power lifts. (don't neglect those hammies!)

Where to Purchase: Rogue Fitness

Rogue Ohio Bar Picture Gallery:

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best-value orange

2. Best Value: Fringe Sport: One Fit Wonder Bar

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Fringe Sport has continued to increase the features and quality of their barbells while keeping the price low. In the past, I didn't take much of Fringe Sports offerings seriously.

They had good prices, but their quality varied as they were imported from China, and although this is still the case, the quality control has improved as well as just about everything else.

With the newest One Fit Wonder Bar, Fringe Sport has brought their best to the table.

Here are Specs on why the Fringe Sport One Fit Wonder Bar is the 2016 Best Value Barbell of 2016:

  • Price – The One Fit Wonder Bar is a good bar, but what makes it a great bar is the price. Sitting at $200 with FREE SHIPPING (I love those words) for a bar with these Specs is a killer deal.
  • 205k Tensile Strength Steel – The steel used in this bar is some of the strongest around. It should be known that strongest doesn't equal best, but having a strong steel can equate to durability.
  • Bronze Bushings – Nothing beats the tried and true bronze bushings for durability. Bearing bars spin better, but can't hold up like bushings. They're low maintenance and virtually indestructible.
  • Lifetime Warranty – The Fringe Sport warranty isn't as reputable in my opinion as the one from Fringe Sport due to Fringe being a smaller company. But, in personal talks with Peter Keller the owner, I can tell he's a stand-up business man who doesn't look to be slowing down anytime soon.
  • Whip/Knurl – Medium knurl that has a good feel, but not as tight tolerance wise as Rogue. Less whip than many other bars made for the CrossFit market. Also, only has a single knurl mark.

Where to Purchase: Fringe Sport

Fringe Sport One Fit Wonder Bar Picture Gallery:

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honorable mention

3. Honorable Mention: American Barbell Training Bar

OB7-CH-IM-4_1024x1024

I reviewed American Barbell extensively in the past and even claimed that it was better than the Rogue 2.0 Bar. Looking back, this was a somewhat premature decision.

I figured the bar would begin to spin better with time, but in reality, it hasn't got much better at all.

It has also begun rusting quicker than expected.

Despite these problems, it's overall still a very good bar. Just not as good as I initially thought.

You can read my more in-depth review here.

Here are Specs on why the American Barbell Training Bar is an Honorable Mention for 2016 CrossFit Barbell of the year:

  • Finish – American Barbell is using a chrome finish with this bar, which I think is awesome. It not only looks good, but it is very durable as well. That being said, it has rusted some, so you still need to take care of it.Price
  • Price – < $300 is a decent price for this bar. But, when you see that it comes with Free Shipping like is plastered all over their website, it becomes a pretty good deal.
  • Made in the USA – I love USA made products. American Barbell is clearly going after Rogue Fitness with these specs, warranties, and being made in the US. This is my personal favorite bar that I’ve used for CrossFit. Interesting to see how it catches on with others.
  • Lifetime Warranty – LIFETIME WARRANTY. Nothing makes me happier than this combination of words. But, it only matters if American Barbell stays around.
  • Whip – Has a great whip, but not too much. Perfect for general lifting.
  • Tensile Strength – 190k tensile strength steel is a steal at this price.

Where to Purchase: American Barbell

American Barbell Training Bar Gallery:

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2016 Olympic Weightlifting Barbell Guide

pyrros

A Weightlifting Barbell has a few features that separate it from other barbells.

First off, the barbell needs to spin well.

Because we want the bar to spin well, it's very important that the bar is a bearing bar. In the past, it would have been hard to find a bar with a decent price that had bearings. However, today we have bars that blow previous generation bars out of the water and for half the cost.

A weightlifting barbell also needs to have a good amount of whip and a somewhat aggressive knurling.

When you're going for a PR on the Clean and Jerk or Snatch, you want the knurl to dig into your skin, somewhat like a powerlifting bar but a little less aggressive.

A few attributes that I think are best for barbells that will be used for Olympic Weightlifting are:

  • Bearings
  • Good Whip
  • Somewhat Aggressive Knurling
  • Warranty
  • Cost

So, with these attributes defined, let's dig into my picks for the top barbells made for Olympic Weightlifting in 2016…

editors choice

1. Editor's Choice: Eleiko Olympic Weightlifting Training Bar

eleiko

I have a love/hate relationship with Eleiko.

Their equipment is some of the best available, but their customer service and warranties are awful.

I have this bar and LOVE it. You can see more about my love for it here in this review.

There truly is something special about this bar. Everything from the knurling to the spin and whip is just spot on. Not to mention the fact that its the bar used in the Olympics.

All this being said,

Here are Specs on why the Eleiko Olympic Weightlifting Training Bar is the Editor's Choice Olympic Weightlifting Bar for 2016:

  • Whip – This bar has some of the best whip around. If you're a higher level weightlifter, this is something important for you. For the rest of us mere mortals, we won't experience it too greatly.
  • Finish – The Chrome finish is gorgeous and resists rust better than any bar I've used. This alone is a huge reason to have an Eleiko.
  • 215k Tensile Strength – This is some of the highest strength tensile strength available and is Swedish steel. This sounds like a gimmick but there's just something about the bar retaining its rigidity.
  • 10 Needle Bearings – A good weightlifting barbell will have needle bearings. No question. This being said, the Eleiko spins better than any other bearing bars I've used, except for maybe Werksan bars.
  • Warranty – The warranty is pretty lame. It's Lifetime (which actually only means 10 years in Eleiko world) and only lasts if you use the bar exclusively on an Eleiko platform with Eleiko discs. Lame.

Where to Purchase: Eleiko USA

Eleiko Olympic Weightlifting Training Bar Gallery:

eleiko-Group-of-bars 2128b0ae-614f-42ca-82ad-4049cd3a3a42 1024x1024
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best-value orange

2. Best Value: Rogue Fitness Euro 28mm Olympic WL Bar

euro-olympic-bar-header-11_9_1

In my opinion, the Rogue Olympic Bar with European Steel is essentially a cheaper Eleiko with a better warranty.

Although it's not said, it's somewhat implied that the steel being used is the same that's used by Eleiko in their above mentioned Training Bar. If that is the case, boy, oh boy, this is the best deal available for a high-end weightlifting bar in my opinion.

I cannot stress enough the importance of buying from reputable companies who can actually service the “lifetime” warranties they claim.

Here are Specs on why the Rogue Fitness Euro 28mm Olympic WL Bar is the Best Value Olympic Weightlifting Bar for 2016:

  • Price – Sitting around $700 for a bar with these specs from a company like Rogue Fitness is a pretty good value considering it will be the last bar you buy.
  • Whip/Finish/Spin – All equal to the much more expensive IWF barbells. The whip is the same as Eleiko, the chrome finish is beautiful, and the spin is out of this world.
  • 10 Needle Bearings – 5 per sleeve provide a silky smooth spin.
  • 215k Tensile Strength – Some of the highest strength steel available and the absolute strongest Rogue offers.
  • Knurling – Great knurl that is tight and built on the best machinery available.
  • Lifetime Warranty – Rogue's warranty can't be beaten. Simple as that.
  • American-Made – Don't ship your hard earned dollars off to the Euro's, let's keep it stateside.

Where to Purchase: Rogue Fitness

Rogue Fitness Euro 28mm Olympic WL Bar Gallery:

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honorable mention

3. Honorable Mention: Uesaka Training Bar

xx12499-lg

Uesaka outfitted the Olympics from 1992-2004 and makes a great bar.

Although there bars are great, they're expensive, and in my opinion just don't have the aura or specs as an Eleiko.

The bars are handmade and many countries use them for their Olympic training teams.

Here are Specs on why the Uesaka Training Bar is an Honorable Mention for 2016 Olympic Weightlifting Bar of the Year:

  • History – The bar has been around the block. They have great durability and are from a long standing company.
  • Spin/Finish/Knurl – All great, although the finish is Nickel and not Chrome which is not as good as Chrome in my opinion.
  • Lifetime Warranty – I have no experience with Uesaka and their warranties but they claim to have a Limited Lifetime Warranty.
  • Strong Steel – Steel that is as strong as an Eleiko, but not quite as whippy.

Where to Purchase: Rogue Fitness

Uesaka Training Bar Gallery:

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2016 Powerlifting Barbell Guide

Ed coan

A Powerlifting Barbell has a few features that separate it from other barbells.

First off, the barbell needs to be able to handle a lot of weight.

Because of this, we want high tensile strength steel. No less than 200k. You may be thinking, “I can only squat 200 lbs.” well then you need to start squatting more and you need a bar that will help when you do.

A powerlifting barbell also needs to have an aggressive knurling.

When you're going for a PR on any of the Big 3, you do not want the bar to slip out of your hands. In the same sense, a powerlifting bar should have a center knurl to stick during squats.

A few attributes that I think are best for barbells that will be used for Olympic Weightlifting are:

  • Aggressive Knurl
  • Minimum 200k PSI Steel
  • Warranty
  • Bushings
  • Cost

So, with these attributes defined, let's dig into my picks for the top barbells made for Olympic Weightlifting in 2016…

editors choice

1. Editor's Choice: Rogue Westside Power Bar 2.0

westside-bar-2.0-header-11_9

Muahahaha, this is one of the coolest barbells on the market.

Everything from it's bad to the bone black zinc finish to it's lime green composite bushings, this thing just absolutely screams tough.

Not to mention the man himself, Louie Simmons teamed up with Rogue to design the bar to make sure everything was up to spec. Including the stiffness and knurling were on par with the best bars available.

If you're looking for a bar that looks as good as it performs, this is the one for you.

Here are Specs on why the Rogue Westside Power Bar is the Editor's Choice Powerlifting Bar for 2016:

  • Aggressive Knurling – The knurling on this bar is intense, which is exactly what you want when you're trying to PR any one of the BIG 3. Seriously, the knurling on this thing is sharp! (in a good way)
  • 205,000 PSI Steel – A high-quality bar needs high-quality steel. 205k PSI steel is more than enough for whatever you can put on the bar.
  • Lifetime Warranty – Rogue offers the best warranty in the industry and stands behind it (the reason Eleiko's Power Bar didn't make the cut) A powerlifting bar is going to be used with ungodly amounts of weight and will be smashed against pins and j-cups inside the rack. Because of this, you'll want something to protect your investment.
  • Composite Bushings – Not only do the lime green bushings look bad to the bone, they also perform well. You shouldn't have to worry about them breaking down and in my experience, they spin less than bronze bushings which are a positive for powerlifting.
  • Center Knurling – This is very important for a powerlifting bar. If you're going to be squatting low bar, you want something that sticks.
  • 29 mm Diameter – Thick enough for squats, thin enough for deads.

Where to Purchase: Rogue Fitness

Rogue Westside Power Bar Gallery:

westside-power-bar-2.0-7
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best-value orange

2. Best Value: Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar

TEXAS-powerbar-4

Buddy Capps has been making the Texas Power Bar for years!

In fact, the Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar (the only real Texas power bar) is probably the most popular Powerlifting Bar on the market. It's a strong bar, with a lot of history.

Is it better than others out there? Ahhh, I think companies have begun catching up and have now passed the Buddy Capps, but I still think it's a great value of a barbell.

Here are Specs on why the Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar is the Best Value Powerlifting Bar for 2016:

  • History – This bar has helped many a man lift a world record in the Big 3. Everyone from Eddie Coan to Andrey Malanichev has used the Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar so if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for you.
  • 1500 lb Rated – Strong steel for a strong dead, squat, and bench.
  • Price – Currently sits around $250, which is a great price for this quality of a bar.
  • Knurling – The knurling on the Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar is MADE for powerlifting. It's sharp but not quite as sharp as the Westside bar or some others that are available, so be aware.
  • Center Knurl – A power bar needs center knurling to keep it from slipping during squats.

Where to Purchase: Texas Strength Systems

Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar Gallery:

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honorable mention

3. Honorable Mention: American Barbell Super Power Bar

5_OB20-SS-IPFCB_800x800_large

American Barbell is producing some seriously great, Made in the USA equipment.

I reviewed the American Barbell Training Bar extensively in the past and even claimed that it was better than the Rogue 2.0 Bar. Looking back, this was a somewhat premature decision.

I figured the bar would begin to spin better with time, but in reality, it hasn't got much better at all.

It has also begun rusting quicker than expected.

That being said, it was a great bar, and I think these stainless steel barbells are even better. Because of that, the Super Power Bar (it's SUUUUPER) is an honorable mention for 2016.

Here are Specs on why the American Barbell Super Power Bar is an Honorable Mention Powerlifting Bar for 2016:

  • 210K Tensile Strength Steel – This is some strong steel! 210K is some of the strongest steel available on a barbell
  • Stainless Steel – Stainless steel isn't seen all that often on barbells but is a great choice for the durability alone.
  • Bushings – Bushings are exactly what you want for a powerlifting bar.
  • Center Knurl – A center knurl is without a doubt something that a power bar has to have. When you're attempting to PR a squat, you don't want any worry of slippage
  • Lifetime Warranty – I think American Barbell will be around for a while, however, I have not heard of anybody's experience using their warranty so I can't comment on that. However, just offering a lifetime warranty is better than not.

Where to Purchase: American Barbell

American Barbell Super Power Bar Gallery:

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Stay Strong, Live Long,

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About Coop

Hello fellow fitness fanatics and equipment fueled fiends. I'm Coop and when not training I can be found mostly operating other entrepreneurial ventures, spending time with my Wife and family, and worshipping my risen Savior. You can find more about me on my personal blog CooperDane.Com

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