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A budget barbell doesn’t have to feel like a budget barbell. There are plenty of high-quality barbells out there that deliver on quality without requiring you to give up half your paycheck. This is great news, considering that a barbell is the one piece of equipment you need to make some serious gains in your strength training journey. 

We understand it can sometimes be difficult to find gym equipment at your price point, especially as more and more people are building their own home gyms and driving up demand for things like barbells. 

Whether you’re a beginner or lifetime lifter, we’re here to help you with our top picks for the best budget barbells. 

We Know Barbells

Barbells are a piece of equipment that I’ve spent A LOT of time with, and as a result, I’ve tried out my fair share of high-quality barbells and a good amount of poor ones. So I know, regardless of the amount of weight on the bar, how it should feel when you use it for bench presses, clean and jerks, snatches, and squats.

I’m also a jack-of-all-trades (and, I’d like to think, master of quite a few) and have switched workout styles quite a bit for my job as an equipment ‘reviewer.’ I’ve trained for Olympic Weightlifting, powerlifting, CrossFit, and good old-fashioned weightlifting. And I’m always on the hunt for a good deal, which is how I’ve been able to create definitive lists for the best budget home gym equipment, and a guide on how to build the ultimate $1,000 budget home gym.  

We’ve done a lot of the hard work for you and found some of the best Olympic barbells, weightlifting bars, and powerlifting bars at a price range most home gym owners can afford. 

Best Budget Barbells in 2024

Best Budget Barbell Overall: Major Fitness Home Gym Barbell

Good for: People who need a multipurpose Olympic barbell with dynamite value.

Best Budget Barbell Overall

Major Fitness Home Gym Barbell

GGR Score: 4.32 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Multipurpose barbell for home gyms
  • 20 kg barbell
  • 7’ length
  • 750- or 1,000-lb weight tolerance 
  • 6- and 8-bearing options
  • Medium knurling

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No-hassle return policy
  • Free shipping
  • Made from 45-grade or alloy steel
  • Two weight capacity options

Cons

  • Weight capacity under 1,000 lbs
  • Short 1-year warranty

Bottom Line

The Major Fitness Home Gym Barbell has two distinct offerings: The first option features 45-grade steel, 6 bearings, and a 750-pound weight capacity. The second features alloy steel, 8 bearings, and a 1,000-pound weight capacity. Both options come in black or silver.

Our pick for the best budget barbell overall goes to the Major Fitness Home Gym Barbell because of its versatile use at such a low price point—under $270 with free shipping. The bar comes with a 750-pound or 1,000-pound weight capacity (for $10 more), which is lower than some other barbells, but should be able to handle most people’s heavy workouts.

Man setting up for a clean on the Major Fitness Home Gym Barbell

I had senior staff writer and Olympian Caine Wilkes, USAW-L1, try out the bar on a “light” workout, where he did a 400-pound clean and jerk and dropped the weight from overhead. The bar held up fine, not bending or showing any signs of wear or tear. If you’re worried about this budget barbell not lasting, I think this might ease your worries; plus, the bar is backed by a 1-year warranty.

“The spin was a little less than I was expecting—especially since it uses needle bearings for its rotation system,” Caine says on lifting with the bar, “but the barbell still moved fine and had a good whip for dynamic movements like the clean.” The bar also had solid knurling, grippy enough for heavy lifts, but not too aggressive for cycling through reps in a metcon.

The 30-millimeter diameter of the bar is a bit thicker than multipurpose bars, which usually land between 28 and 29 millimeters. It could mess with a lifter’s grip on heavy deadlifts or Olympic lifts, but Caine hardly noticed it, especially with a bit of lifting chalk and the medium knurling allowing for a solid grip. If you’re looking for an inexpensive bar suitable for heavy lifts and light metcons, this is a great option with killer value.

Most Versatile Budget Barbell: REP Fitness Colorado Bar 

Good for: People wanting a versatile Olympic barbell for a variety of training modes.  

Most Versatile Budget Barbell

REP Fitness Colorado Bar, 20 Kg

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 20-kg Olympic barbell for mixed use
  • Hard chrome or cerakote coating with Duracoat sleeves
  • 28.5 mm shaft diameter
  • Dual knurl markings for IPF and IWF
  • 190 KSI tensile strength
  • Composite bushing

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Durable composite bushings reduce noise when dropping
  • Medium volcano knurling
  • Dual knurl markings for IPF and IWF
  • Designed for versatile use
  • Free shipping
  • Different color options
  • 28.5 mm shaft provides great grip

Cons

  • No center knurling, which may be important for some
  • Shaft diameter not to IWF specs

Bottom Line

The 20-kilogram Colorado Bar from REP Fitness is a durable, versatile Olympic barbell made for heavy powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, and cycling weights in CrossFit workouts. The barbell has two knurl markings for IWF and IPF specs. The bar is available with a hard chrome finish or different-colored cerakote finishes with Duracoat on the sleeves. With composite bushings, the barbell provides decent spin and durability that helps dampen noise when dropping weights.

Regardless of what type of workouts you’re looking to do in your home gym, be that Olympic lifts or the big three powerlifting lifts (bench press, deadlift, and squats), the REP Fitness Colorado Bar can do it all. This is their signature flagship barbell, replacing the REP Sabre Bar, a previous contender for best budget barbell. You can check our thoughts on that bar in our REP Fitness Sabre Bar review

The Colorado Bar has everything you need in a barbell: dual knurl markings for both Olympic lifting and powerlifting, no center knurling to stay comfortable with power cleans, and a good spin with composite bushings that quiet the noise during drops. Also, the Colorado outperforms the Sabre with a much higher tensile strength of 190,000 PSI, so it’ll withstand some use in a home gym setting.

Man pressing with the REP Colorado Bar

The knurling is medium, but tends to lean on the aggressive side, which I prefer—although it may not be for everyone. You can get this barbell in a hard chrome finish, or with cerakote, with Duracoat sleeves. The cerakote has different color options (I went with green, one of my favorite colors) and is also more corrosion resistant than the chrome. For only $10 more, it’s worth the upgrade.

When looking for a budget barbell, you want to find something that’s affordable (that goes without saying), but you also don’t want to sacrifice too much quality. The Colorado Bar is a bit more expensive than some of the other budget barbells we’re recommending here, at $320 for the hard chrome barbell, but it definitely is priced well for its quality. Plus, they offer free shipping, so the price you see is the price you pay.

Check out more of our thoughts on this affordable barbell in our REP Fitness Colorado Bar review.

Best Multipurpose Budget Barbell: Fringe Sport Wonder Bar V2 

Good for: Home gym owners looking for an Olympic bar that can also be used for weightlifting and powerlifting.

Best Multipurpose Budget Barbell

Fringe Sport Wonder Bar V2 20KG Barbell

GGR Score: 4.4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Ideal as a multi-purpose bar
  • Dual knurl marks
  • 205,000 PSI
  • Fringe Sport has free shipping
  • Lifetime warranty

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Knurling is somewhat passive
  • Ideal as a multi-purpose bar
  • Dual knurl marks
  • 205,000 PSI
  • Bearings or bushing are available
  • 28MM in diameter
  • Fringe Sport has free shipping
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Black zinc finish will fade over time
  • Sleeves prone to scarring rather quickly
  • Not made in USA

Bottom Line

The Fringe Sport Wonder Bar V2 is one of the best value general training/CrossFit barbells on the market that we've reviewed. For under $200 you get a crazy good spec sheet and a barbell that will perform in any workouts for as long as you keep it. If you're on a budget, but want a great barbell, we suggest this one.

The Fringe Sport Wonder Bar V2 is on the expensive side for some of the other barbells on this list, but at $262 (free shipping included) it’s still more affordable than most high-quality barbells on the market today that I think it competes with. Plus, it has features of bars that are much more expensive than it. With a tensile strength of 205,000 PSI, and an option to have a bushing or bearing rotating system, you won’t find much better at this price range. 

It comes in both 20kg (44 pounds) and 15kg (33 pounds) options, has a 28 mm shaft, and you have the choice to get it with either bushings or bearings. Bushings are typically used by powerlifters and general trainees who train the slower lifts, such as the bench press, deadlift, and squat. They spin, and can be used for Olympic Weightlifting but they’re not the fastest or smoothest. Bearings, on the other hand, provide more spin for superior wrist-turnover in the Olympic lifts often performed by Oly lifters and CrossFit athletes.

This isn’t a case where one is better than the other (though some people are passionate about what side of the fence they stand on). Really, it depends what type of training you’re looking to do. Typically barbells only have one or the other (although not always,) so we appreciate that Fringe Sport truly allows the customer to customize their barbell to their training needs. 

If you don’t have a preference and are looking to save money, bushings are the way to go. Bearings are harder to manufacture, and as a result…more expensive. So the bearings version of the Wonder Bar is closer to $300, and while it’s not as affordable as the bushings, it’s still cheaper than many other barbells on the market. If  it helps, the barbell comes with free shipping and has a lifetime warranty, so even if the price is an “investment” for you you don’t have to worry about giving up more dough.  

Best Budget Olympic Trap Bar: Titan Fitness Olympic Hex Weight Bar

Good for: People looking for a specialty Olympic bar for deadlifts, farmers’ carries, and jump squats. 

Best Budget Olympic Trap Bar

Titan Olympic Hex Weight Bar

GGR Score: 4.4 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Unique dual handle design for targeting and isolating desired muscle groups
  • Fits standard 2" Olympic plates
  • Knurled handles for improved grip
  • Easy "Flip" design– simply turn the bar over to switch grips

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Medium knurl that provides grip, but won’t shred your hands
  • Affordable at just over $125 (with free shipping)
  • Durable, and should last a while in your garage gym

Cons

  • Very short sleeves
  • 500 lb. weight capacity is light, but I’ve seen these handle much more
  • Hard chrome can end up chipping over time

Bottom Line

We like this trap bar because it gets the job done at a low price without looking or feeling like it was built for cheap.

Trap bars, sometimes called hex bars, are used to target different muscle groups than a standard barbell and take some stress off your spine during moves like the deadlift. Because it’s a specialty bar, it can sometimes be a little more expensive than your straightforward barbell. But the Titan Fitness Olympic Hex Weight Bar is actually on the lower side of what we like to spend on our budget barbells (we try not to dip below the $100 mark). 

We like this trap bar because it gets the job done at a low price without looking or feeling like it was built for cheap. The knurling on it is a bit rough, but you want a good grip on a trap bar to ensure you don’t drop it during farmers’ carries. The dual handles also allow you to lift it from different heights, which help to increase its value. Honestly, you won’t find much better at this price range. 

The Titan Fitness Olympic Hex Weight Bar has a 500-pound weight capacity, though the short sleeves means you’ll probably only be able to get 405 pounds on it if you’re using bumper plates (closer to 450 pounds if you use Olympic plates). That’s fine enough for the average home gym lifter who will use it for things like shrugs, carries, and deadlifts, but if you’re on the stronger side, it might not be enough for you. 

The hard chrome coating on the trap bar looks nice, and should offer a few years of weather resistance and durability to ensure you get your money’s worth but it does end up chipping over repeated use.  

Best Budget Powerlifting Barbell: Bells Of Steel Barenaked Powerlifting Bar 2.0

Good for: Powerlifters, or anyone who wants to lift heavy weights on a budget

Best Budget Powerlifting Barbell

Bells of Steel Powerlifting Bar

GGR Score: 4.7 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4.4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Aggressive knurling
  • Affordable at under $200 (free shipping included)
  • Designed to meet International Powerlifting Federation standards
  • 210k PSI tensile strength

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Aggressive knurling
  • Affordable at under $200 (free shipping included)
  • Designed to meet International Powerlifting Federation standards
  • 210k PSI tensile strength

Cons

  • Bare steel bar, so it’s more susceptible to rust and corrosion
  • Knurling can be inconsistent in some areas
  • Multiple complaints of products being damaged during shipping

Bottom Line

The Bells of Steel Barenaked Powerlifting Bar 2.0 is not just one of the most affordable powerlifting bars, but it’s also one of the most affordable barbells on the market today (period).

The Bells of Steel Barenaked Powerlifting Bar 2.0 is not just one of the most affordable powerlifting bars, but it’s also one of the most affordable barbells on the market today (period). That’s one of the major reasons I’d recommend this barbell for anyone’s power rack. It was specifically designed to meet International Powerlifting Federation specs for barbells, meaning it’s best for the squat, bench press, and deadlift. 

Since it’s built for powerlifting, the knurling on the Bells of Steel lean toward aggressive. That means you’ll be able to hold onto it well as you go for your next deadlift PR. While it’s not much of a functional flaw, the knurling is inconsistent in some areas with a “​​pointy mountain” style in some areas and a volcano style in others. You’ll notice this most in the center knurling, but again it still feels great in the hand and some defects are expected for the price you’re paying. 

The 210,000 PSI tensile strength, and a 1,500 pound weight capacity, is high for any barbell and can withstand even a professional Strongman’s daily workouts. The brass bushings keep the bar from spinning too much during training, and it has a 29mm shaft, both of which are what you want in a powerlifting bar. To top it off, the collars were designed to be extra thin which prevents the bar from hitting the uprights on the squat rack during your walk-out.

Despite its low price, the Bells of Steel Barenaked Powerlifting Bar 2.0 still feels like a much more expensive barbell.  Part of that is due to the lack of coating on the knurl making it a bare steel bar. This isn’t great for corrosion resistance, but is for bar feel.You can mitigate this with regular maintenance, though.    

Best Budget Olympic Barbell: Iron Bull Strength Competition Bar 

Good for: Those who want an affordable, competition-style barbell with good corrosion resistance.

Best Budget Cerakote Barbell

Iron Bull Strength Cerakote Competition Barbell

Product Highlights

  • Dual knurl marks
  • Cerakote coating
  • 200K PSI tensile strength
  • Free shipping
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Competition-style barbell
  • Cerakote coating is durable and will last for years
  • Free shipping
  • Dual knurl marks

Cons

  • No center knurling
  • No information on aggressiveness of knurling

Bottom Line

This barbell can be used to train for weightlifting competitions, and the cerakote coating ensures it will last your entire lifting career.

If snatches and clean and jerks are more your speed, we recommend making a modest investment and getting the Iron Bull Strength Competition Bar. Yes, it’s a little more expensive than some of the budget barbells on this list but it’s still more affordable than other similar barbells. Plus, we think it’s worth it for two big reasons: the cerakote coating and the fact that it’s a competition barbell.

Cerakote is a special type of coating that paints and protects against things like rust, and it’s used by the U.S. Military on their standard-issue firearms. It’s also typically very expensive, but Iron Bull has been able to find a way to get it on this bar while keeping it budget-friendly. 

Secondly, the specs are complaint with the International Weightlifting Federation’s standards for Olympic barbells so it’s very similar to the one you’d be using if you ever signed up for a competition. Speaking as competitive weightlifters, it’s hard to understate how important it is to train with the real deal—and that’s what you get with Iron Bull.

To be completely honest, we haven’t gotten our hands on this Olympic lifting barbell yet but we like what we see. It has dual knurl markings so you know where to put your hands, needle bearings for a good spin, and 16.4 inches of loadable sleeve length so you can stack as many plates as your heart desires.

You also get free shipping and a 30-day money back guarantee, so at the very least you can test drive it before committing.

Best Barbell Under $200: DMoose Regional Barbell 

Good for: People who want a super-affordable barbell that’s still high quality

Best Barbell Under $200

DMoose Regional Barbell

Product Highlights

  • Barbell suitable for all training disciplines
  • Can support up to 1,500 pounds
  • Hard chrome finish
  • 35- and 45-lb versions available

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Moderate diamond knurling
  • Bearings for great spin
  • 16.4-inch sleeve length
  • 190,000 PSI Tensile Strength
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Suitable for all training levels
  • Nice whip
  • Dual grip rings on knurling

Cons

  • No center knurling
  • Extra care needed against oxidation

Bottom Line

The DMoose Regional barbell can be used for bumper or traditional iron Olympic weight plates. It is a very versatile bar because it can be used for Olympic lifts, powerlifting, and it can be beneficial for beginners. Home gym owners can buy this bar and count on it to last from the time they start training until they reach their fitness potential. Whether it’s clean and jerks, deadlfits, curls, or any other barbell movement, it will serve the lifter well.

We usually don’t recommend barbells under $200 because they simply don’t work well most of the time (you get what you pay for), but that’s not the case with the cost-friendly DMoose Regional Barbell. Amateur powerlifter and longtime fitness writer Roger Lockridge tested out this multipurpose barbell in his home gym and said it’s a great option for “beginners, general fitness trainees, and even Olympic lifters.”

“I used it for as many exercises as possible, and even hung from it as if I was doing a pull-up,” Roger says in his DMoose Regional Barbell review. It’s a tough barbell to say the least.” In other words, you’re getting a lot of bang for not that much buck.

Picture of the DMoose Regional Barbell loaded in a squat rack

This isn’t one of those cheap barbells that will fall apart in one or two years, either. It has a 190,000 PSI tensile strength and a 1,500-pound weight limit. “The Regional barbell can support your training as you get stronger,” Roger notes, rating it a 4.5 out of 5 for durability. It also comes in 20- and 15-kilogram options.

Although it can be used for all types of training, Roger believes it’s best suited for Olympic lifts or any moves where you need a very spin-y barbell. “I placed the bar in my squat rack, put a DMoose plate on it and spun it lightly to see how it turns,” he says. “It spun for over 20 seconds before coming to a complete stop. Clearly, it spins well. I give it a 5 out of 5 rating.”

Roger’s only major complaints is the lack of center knurling, which powerlifters like him prefer for heavy squats, and the knurling itself is on the passive side.

Best Budget Women’s 15kg Barbell: Nike Strength 15kg Barbell 

Good for: People who prefer lighter barbells, or those with small hands 

Best Budget Women’s 15kg Barbell

Nike Strength 15kg Barbell

Product Highlights

  • Dual knurl marks
  • 190K PSI tensile strength
  • Two finish options
  • Meets competition standards for 15kg barbells

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 190K PSI tensile strength
  • Meets IWF standards
  • Medium knurling
  • Two finish options

Cons

  • No center knurl

Bottom Line

The Nike 15kg barbell is a competition-style barbell that's great for CrossFit, Olympic lifts, or general training.

TheNike Strength 15kg Barbell is great for anyone who needs a 15-kilogram barbell option to use for any type of workout. It has a tensile strength of 190,000 PSI, meets all International Weightlifting Federation standards for 15-kilogram barbells, and its knurling is passive but still rough enough to give you a good grip during training. 

Some people refer to a 15-kilogram bar as a “women’s” barbell. This is due, in part, because these bars are designed for people who have smaller hands. For example, many 15-kilo bars, like the Nike bar, have a 25-millimeter shaft, opposed to the 28-29-ish millimeters on a 20-kilo bar. This makes 15-kilo bars great for people with a smaller grip–including youth athletes. 

Man doin bench press with the Nike barbell and bumper plates

While we haven’t tested the 15-kilogram barbell, we’ve had our hands on the 20-kilogram version and liked it enough to feel confident to recommend its lighter sibling. “We had someone load the bar with 500 pounds and drop it from their shoulders,” says Lindsay Scheele, lead reviewer of Garage Gym Reviews Everything and a passionate CrossFitter.

Nike is new to the strength equipment world, but as we note in our Nike Strength Equipment review they’re off to a pretty good start.

Best Budget Curl Bar: REP Fitness EZ Curl Barbell 

Good for: People looking to grow their biceps 

Best Budget Curl Bar

Rep EZ Curl Barbell

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 1 needle bearing and 1 bushing per sleeve
  • Great combination of spin and stability
  • Affordable at just under $150
  • Medium grip so your hands aren’t shredded during high-rep workouts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Great spin on the bar
  • Affordable at just under $150
  • Medium grip so your hands aren’t shredded during high-rep workouts
  • An affordable specialty bar

Cons

  • Rusts pretty quickly
  • Ultra-budget friendly option isn’t rackable
  • Budget-friendly chrome option has no lifetime warranty

Bottom Line

The REP EZ Curl Barbell is one of my favorite curl bars on the market, not just because it’s affordable but it’s just a good-quality curl bar.

Sure, you can grow your biceps plenty with a pair of adjustable dumbbells these days, but you just can’t beat an EZ curl barbell if you’re looking for mountain-like peaks. The REP EZ Curl Barbell is one of my favorite curl bars on the market, not just because it’s affordable but it’s just a good-quality curl bar. 

I like the knurling, I like how it spins, I like how it feels in the hand, and I like that, if you’re willing to spend just a little more, you can get it in a rackable version for $269. That’s quite a bit more than the non-rackable one, and that feature isn’t a necessity. That said, it’s nice to have and it’s only $5 more expensive than Rogue’s rackable version. 

Honestly, I’d say REP has Rogue beat here when you compare the two EZ curl bars side-by-side. For one, REP offers more options (you can also get this in a non-budget-friendly stainless steel version) and they had a rackable version before Rogue. The chrome coating, which you want if you’re shopping on a budget, does a fine job of protecting it from corrosion and doesn’t dull the knurling as much as the e-coat Rogue uses on its curl bar. 

On top of that, REP utilizes a combo needle bearings-bushing system, whereas Rogue uses a bushings on its curl bar. That means REP’s has a better spin, though not too much, making it a better value curl bar for the average home gym owner. 

Best Budget Rogue Fitness Barbell: Rogue Fitness Echo Bar 2.0 

Good for: Anyone looking for affordable Rogue Fitness equipment 

Best Budget Rogue Fitness Barbell

Rogue Echo Bar 2.0

GGR Score: 4.8 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 190k PSI tensile strength
  • Rogue’s most affordable 20kg barbell at under $275
  • Highly durable barbell
  • Uses the same bronze bushings as the Rogue Ohio Power Bar

Made in USA Made in USA

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Features everything that the more expensive Rogue 2.0 Bar has
  • 190K PSI Tensile Strength
  • No center knurl
  • 28.5MM shaft
  • F-8R Rating
  • Designed and built in the USA of US-sourced steel
  • Standard knurl
  • One of Rogue’s least-expensive barbells
  • Bright zinc coating on the shaft and sleeve
  • Uses bronze bushings

Cons

  • 1-year warranty
  • Knurling is a bit passive
  • Bar lacks a center knurl
  • Features single IWF standard knurl marks

Bottom Line

The Rogue Echo Bar 2.0 is the most budget-friendly barbell Rogue offers. For most people, we'd suggest going with the Ohio Bar or Rogue Bar 2.0 over the Echo Bar due to the longer warranty and not much higher price. However, if you don't care for a longer warranty or just don't want to spend more, the Echo Bar 2.0 is a great option for those on a budget or just starting into working out at home.

Rogue does strength training equipment very well, and as a result can get away with charging a bit for their products for two reasons: people are going to buy it because it’s Rogue (they’re an industry leader), and their products are worth it most days of the week. If you need the Rogue logo on your barbell, the Rogue Echo Bar is the best budget pick. 

The Rogue Echo Bar 2.0 has all the features of the Rogue Bar 2.0 without being as expensive, has a 190,000 PSI tensile strength and the highest durability rating a barbell can get, and has a knurl that’s similar to what’s on the Rogue Ohio Bar. 

Best Budget Rogue Fitness Barbell

In other words, you’re getting the same quality as some of Rogue’s flagship barbells without paying the same price. Unlike those bars, this one only comes with a one-year warranty, rather than the lifetime coverage offered on the more expensive ones. That’s not going to change how this feels during bench presses and squats, and really it’s durable enough that we don’t anticipate any major problems popping up with it. 

You can surely use this for any type of training, but it leans more toward being a weightlifting or CrossFit bar since it only comes with weightlifting knurl marks, and the knurling itself is a little more passive than what a powerlifter would want. Also, there’s no center knurling.  

Shopping on a budget with Rogue Fitness is tough at times, and they only do major sales around Black Friday. If you can’t wait that long, I’d recommend this bar in a heartbeat. 

For more, check out my full Rogue Echo Bar 2.0 review.

Other Budget Barbells We Have Tested

There are countless budget barbells out there, and we took the time to test out and research quite a few of them while coming up with this list. Here are a few that didn’t make the mark. 

CAP OB-86B: This barbell, available on Amazon, was a great budget pick, but CAP Barbell recently lowered the tensile strength of the bar (it stands at 110,000 PSI), so we wouldn’t recommend it for most home gym owners.  

PRx Men’s Olympic Elite Bar: This is just under $300, which is great for a bar with 190K PSI. While we found this multipurpose barbell to be great for most exercises and thought the knurling was just fine, we noticed right away that the powder coat on the sleeves scratches very easily.

Synergee Regional Bar: Honestly, this is a great barbell but there’s options that are more affordable with the same exact features. 

REP Fitness Rackable EZ Curl Bar: This is the same exact EZ Curl Bar as the one featured on our list, but in a rackable version. It’s an amazing curl bar, but if you’re on a budget it’s simply unnecessary. 

CAP Barbell Olympic Trap Bar: It’s just about the same bar as the Titan Fitness Olympic Hex Bar, but it’s about $20 more expensive. 

Vulcan Strength Standard Bushing Barbell: This barbell performs well, is priced pretty fairly, and has a decent spin, but it lacks weather resistance.   

How We Picked and Tested

When looking for budget gym equipment, it’s important to balance price with quality. Meaning, it’s true you get what you pay for and more expensive barbells, for the most part, are going to be of higher quality than most budget barbells you can get your hands on. Yet there are some affordable options that are surprisingly high-performing for their price range. 

So first, we set a general price limit of around $250. Some may be more expensive than that, but not by much and unless you have a really strict budget they’re worth the extra $20. 

After that, we tested these barbells the same way we would one that cost twice as much. We did bench presses, deadlifts, squats, clean and jerks, snatches, curls, overhead presses, and rows, just to name a few. In some cases, we conducted blind studies to see if people could tell they were working out with a budget bar. (Spoiler alert: A lot of the time they couldn’t.) 

We also wanted to test the value of these budget barbells. It’s great to find one for less than $200, but if it’s of such low quality that you’re going to have to replace it after a year or two, you might as well just go for the more expensive options (you’ll end up spending that much replacing the bad stuff anyway). So we wanted to only recommend bars you could keep in your garage gym for a few years. 

Here are some of the criteria we used, in no specific order, to determine which budget barbell was best: 

  • Price (including shipping and handling) 
  • Tensile strength and weight capacity 
  • Knurling 
  • Weather resistance 
  • Warranty 
  • Construction 
  • Spin 

Benefits of Lifting with a Budget Barbell   

Dumbbells and kettlebells might be the more portable options, but the barbell has them beat on versatility. Here are just some of the reasons why you should invest in a quality budget barbell.  

Build Muscle and Save Time 

You lift heavy weights to get strong and muscular. This sounds obvious but there’s a reason why the barbell is the best choice for accomplishing this, compared to something like dumbbells or kettlebells. For one, barbells recruit a larger group of muscles during the bench press or deadlift. A dumbbell chest press, for comparison, doesn’t hit as many muscles so you’ll need to do other moves to cover the ones missed by that move.   

And machines, such as the type you find in commercial gyms, typically only hit one muscle group. So you’re saving time by investing in a high-quality barbell and some weight plates.  

Reduce Injury Risk 

For one, building muscle has been shown to protect your bones and joints and slow down signs of aging (which is why it’s recommended seniors do resistance training). Beyond that, barbell training reduces your injury risk compared to dumbbell training. 

Let’s say you want to press 200 pounds. Doing this with a barbell is not the same as doing it with a dumbbell. A barbell is a more stable load because you’re not recruiting smaller stabilizing muscles like you would be if you tried to press two 100-pound dumbbells. Try to do that and you might injure something. You do still have to workout your stabilizing muscles, which is why dumbbell training is a great supplement to barbell weightlifting.  

Versatile Functional Training 

Being muscular and strong can have great benefits outside of the gym (i.e. you can lift more boxes for your friend who’s moving this weekend), but barbell training can help you in other ways, too. Building explosive power with Olympic lifts can help you perform better during pick-up sports games; building endurance with volume training can help you stay more active; and building capacity with HIIT workouts can help you adapt to life stressors. 

Save Money 

Obviously, this is the purpose of buying budget gym equipment. At the end of the day, a budget barbell won’t be as good as a more expensive one, but it still provides all the benefits of a standard barbell. Similarly, power racks, Olympic plates, and other home gym equipment can be found at any price point–meaning you have no excuse for not building a home gym that fits your training needs. 

How to Find the Best Budget Barbell for Your Home Gym 

When it comes to finding the best barbell, you want to prioritize finding one that feels secure in your hands at all times. There’s no one that’s better than all the rest, it just comes down to what works for you. That said, it helps to have a good idea of what to look for so you don’t end up with a hunk of steel that’s not suited for your workouts. Here are a few general guidelines on what to look for when shopping around for a barbell.  

Knurling 

Knurling is the crosshatch pattern on the shaft of the barbell, and it helps to increase the friction between your hands on the bar. In other words, it helps ensure you won’t drop the bar as you go for that next PR. Knurling can be passive, meaning you can barely feel it, or aggressive, meaning it shreds your fingers like their Parmasean. 

How much knurling you want on your barbell depends on how you train. If you’re a powerlifter, you’ll want to go on the more aggressive side to keep your grip tight. If you’re a weightlifter who does high-rep workouts, you’ll want something on the lighter side to protect your hands. 

Some bars come with center knurling, while others omit it. Again, this comes down to training preferences. Are you squatting often? A center knurl could benefit you by ensuring the bar stays gripped to your back. On the other hand, if you’re doing high-rep cleans then a center knurl will just scratch you on its way up. 

Finish 

The barbell finish refers to the coating applied to the barbell – both its shaft and sleeves. This not only affects how the bar looks, but also how it feels in your hands and how well it’s protected against rust and corrosion. Here, we’ll give a quick rundown on some of the more popular barbell finishes. 

Bare steel: Let’s actually start with something that’s not a finish at all: bare steel. As the name implies, this is just raw steel with no protective element at all. The one upside of bare steel barbells is the knurling tends to stay more aggressive, and they look nice for a short time but the bar will quickly rust. 

Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is considered the most rust-proof coating, and it should extend the life of your barbell, but it’s not going to keep it 100 percent rust-free. Stainless steel is also generally more expensive than other material, which means you’ll pay more for a barbell with this type of finish. In other words, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a true budget stainless steel barbell.  

Hard Chrome: Hard chrome is when an object, in this case a barbell, has been submerged in a chrome solution to increase its durability, and corrosion resistance. Regular chrome is much thinner than hard chrome and doesn’t offer the same protection, and as a result is much cheaper than hard chrome. The chrome coating does impact the knurling slightly. 

Cerakote: Cerakote is a ceramic coating that acts like a combination paint-and-sealant, and it’s the same finish used on U.S. military-grade weapons (so you know this stuff works). It’s been proven to be more weather resistant than stainless steel, so it’s great for anyone who exercises in a home or garage gym that’s not climate controlled. 

Zinc: There are different types of zinc coatings, such as black zinc and bright zinc. They generally offer good corrosion resistance, have an average price point, and feel good in the hand. 

Black Oxide: Black oxide is an inexpensive finish applied to bare steel that, as you might guess, turns the bar black. It will oxidize quite quickly, especially in humid environments. 

Tensile Strength 

Tensile strength refers to how much tension you can put on a barbell before it permanently bends and loses its shape, so it’s a good way to determine the durability of your barbell. A bar with low tensile strength can break if you put too much weight on it or drop it too much. Most home gym athletes looking for a budget barbell will find something 170,000 PSI, or pounds per square inch, but technology has evolved to allow some affordable ones to have high tensile strength, sometimes upwards of 200,000 PSI. 

Spin: Bushings vs. Bearings 

Barbell sleeves, the part where you load the Olympic or bumper plates, are constructed with either bushings or needle bearings. Needle bearings are best for someone who needs their bar to have some spin on it, so anyone who favors Olympic lifts or dedicated weightlifters. 

Powerlifters, though, want to go for bushings because they don’t spin as much. Bushings are typically more durable as well. 

When looking for the best budget barbell, you should know bushings are typically more affordable than bearing-style rotating barbells. 

Best Budget Barbells FAQs

What is a good price for a barbell? 

Like anything else, you get what you pay for with barbells. But you can find a quality bar for around $250 (shipping and handling included). There are some good ones that cost less than $200, but we’d suggest not going below $100 since there’s no way you can build a good bar for that cheap. 

What is a good barbell? 

A good barbell is one that feels good in your hands, can withstand the weight you put on it, and stays durable for at least a few years. It should also have some rust resistance, good tensile strength, and knurling that matches your needs. 

Are barbells worth it? 

Without a doubt, yes. They recruit multiple major muscles, can be used for a large array of exercises, and are generally safer than dumbbells for strength training. 

Further reading

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