The Rogue Ohio Power Bar is our pick for the best powerlifting barbell for most people. Rogue has taken this already outstanding bar and exchanged the zinc coated shaft with stainless steel creating a barbell that could only be improved a couple of ways as detailed in our review.
Table of contents
- Why stainless steel is superior to zinc or chrome coated barbells
- Rogue Ohio Power Bar Stainless Steel review
- Suggested improvements
- Full rating
- Where to purchase
Why stainless steel is superior to zinc or chrome coated barbells
Not too long ago, when it came time to purchase a barbell for powerlifting type training, you had one option–raw steel. In fact, step into any commercial training facility, and you'll likely find quite a few raw steel bars still being used. These bars are characterized by their dull brown coating (as well as their lack of spin and bent shaft.)
Now, although raw steel bars are still popular among many in the powerlifting community thanks to the feeling of the knurl, we have a whole plethora of options all the way from chrome to Cerakote that was first designed for firearms.
The reason barbells have a coating is not so they look pretty or create a better feeling; the reason they're coated is to provide better resistance to oxidation. Oxidation essentially means how quickly a barbell will begin to rust, and if you've ever had a piece of raw steel in a non-climate controlled environment (like a garage gym), then you've probably noticed how quickly it develops surface rust.
Despite raw steel bars rusting, many people still prefer to use them due to the feeling of the knurl. What must be understood is that anytime a plating/coating like zinc or chrome is applied to a barbell, it makes the knurling more shallow. The thicker the coating, the less likely to wear and rust, but also the more passive the knurl will become.
Stainless steel is the gold-standard for barbells because it combines the rust-resistant properties of a coating with the feeling of a bare steel bar, thus making the knurl feel like the creator of the bar designed it to.
Stainless steel is in our opinion, the best option for people who want a barbell that will resist corrosion and feel outstanding. There indeed is no better option for garage gym owners than stainless steel.
Rogue Ohio Power Bar Stainless Steel review
The Rogue Ohio Power Bar (OPB) has become somewhat of a legendary barbell among the powerlifting community in a very short period of time. With its introduction in 2014, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar has quickly become the best value power bar on the market.
I say value because sure, you could spend three times as much and get a “better” bar, but then again, that's a difficult comparison to judge. Does an Eleiko have a better knurl than the Rogue OPB? Not in my experience (they're also much more inconsistent.) The difference between the Rogue OPB and a more expensive power bar will likely come down to the tensile strength of the steel stock. However, for 99.9% of people, the Ohio Power Bar will be strong enough to take anything you can throw at it.
Now, although the Rogue Ohio Power Bar has become the most popular power bar in the world, there was still a variation that people had been asking ever since it's introduction. That variation is the one I'm reviewing today…stainless steel.
As discussed above, stainless steel is in all reality the ultimate steel available for a barbell in terms of knurling feel and oxidation resistance. If you train in a garage gym, then you know all too well the difficulty of having to maintain barbells and keep them from developing surface rust. Outside of Cerakote (in my experience), nothing will defend against oxidation like stainless steel.
Although the stainless steel used for the Ohio Power Bar is excellent, the standout feature of all OPB is the knurling. Out of all the power bars I've used (yes, even the overrated Texas Power Bar) the OPB has my favorite knurl. It's aggressive enough dig into the hand, but it's not going to shred them like the cheese grater known as the Okie Deadlift Bar.
More than any other company, Rogue has invested in the tooling, machinery, and research to develop the best knurling possible. Knurling is a very subjective thing as everyone has different preferences, but there has not been a bar with as much universal acceptance as the Rogue OPB.
The knurling on the OPB features four diamond points where ordinarily there would be only one. The way this is likely achieved is by taking two more passes over the knurl that cuts off the top diamond knurl and therefore increasing the surface area and points of contact. This knurl is also used on the center of the bar for adding extra “stick” of the barbell to your back during squats.
Knurling is a hard thing to judge over the internet and really does require the user to actually hold the bar before deciding if they'll like it. That said, I highly recommend this bar, and that's largely due to the outstanding knurl.
The Ohio Power Bar features a 29mm diameter steel shaft that has become the standard for power bars designed to be used for all of the big three power lifts (squat, bench, and deadlift.) If you're used the using the typical 28.5mm diameter shafts, then this will feel better on both the squat and bench. In my training, I do a lot of overhead press, as it's the manliest exercise (don't @ me) and the 29mm diameter shaft is much more comfortable than any of the 28mm Olympic bars I used to use.
The tensile strength of the OPB is 205,000 PSI and has hardly any flex. Yes, this isn't the highest tensile strength of any power bar available, but there are many people much stronger than you or I that use the OPB on a daily basis without any issues. Thanks to the tensile strength as well as the diameter of the shaft, the OPB is very stiff with little flex.
I loaded up over 650 lbs on the bar and raised it out of the rack to test its flex, and there was much less than I expected. For the squat and bench this is great, but for the deadlift, not so much. Then again, that's why many federations utilize a 27mm slinky deadlift bar.
The sleeves of the Stainless Steel Ohio Power Bar are chrome plated. Personally, I'd like to see a slightly more expensive bar that included stainless steel sleeves in addition to the shaft. Ivanko has been making power bars for years that feature both SS shaft and sleeves, and although it would add to the cost, it would make it an even better bar.
The OPB features the same bronze bushings used on many of Rogue's flagship bars that provide a reliable spin, but not too much to impact the path of the bar during use.
Finally, one of the best features of the OPB and one reason I don't suggest purchasing boneyard bars is that the OPB comes with a lifetime warranty from a company that should be around for our lifetimes.
Obviously, this warranty doesn't extend to using the bar in a negligent manner, but Rogue has some of the best customer service in the industry and works until the customer is satisfied.
All in all, I'm a huge fan of the Rogue Ohio Power Bar and the addition of a stainless steel version makes it that much better. If you're looking for the last bar you need to buy and plan to focus on the squat, bench, and deadlift with the occasional power clean, then we HIGHLY recommend the Rogue Ohio Power Bar. If you want oxidation resistance and the best feeling knurl money can buy, grab the stainless steel version.
The Rogue Ohio Power Bar is one of our favorite bars, but there is an improvement we'd like to see, and that is with the sleeves.
As we previously discussed, the bar currently comes with chrome sleeves that is obviously better than say a black zinc, but we'd really like to see the bar include stainless steel sleeves as an extra expense option.
The last improvement we'd like to see is an increase in the tensile strength of the bar stock that's used. Yes, 205k PSI is enough for most people, but if you're striving to make the world's best power bar, you might as well go all out.