We test and review fitness products based on an independent, multi-point methodology. If you use our links to purchase something, we may earn a commission. Read our disclosures.

A barbell is the most versatile tool in any commercial or home gym. However, thanks to the exponential growth in both barbell training and home gyms, there are now hundreds of companies producing thousands of different barbells.

This is both good and bad. It’s good because you have a plethora of options to choose from to improve your squat, deadlift, bench press, as well as Olympic lifts and general training movements. It’s bad because it’s suddenly that much harder to decide what the best Olympic barbell is and which to spend your hard-earned money on.

That’s where we come in. In this guide, we want to help you find the best Olympic bar for 2023.

We Know Barbells

For starters, I’m big into barbells. They’re kinda my thing. I have personally researched more than 150 barbells and used around 85–including specialty bars. Additionally, I have a team of people here at Garage Gym Reviews who regularly use and evaluate barbells according to our multi-point testing methodology.

We squat with the bars, deadlift them, snatch them, turn them into landmines, drop them and load them with tons of weight to see how they perform. Additionally, we look at things like their value for the price, warranty, and customer service.

A few attributes we examine when testing barbells are:

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

Barbells are at the top of my list of the best home gym equipment, and for a good reason: They are king. So, with these attributes defined, let’s dig into my picks for the top barbells:

The Best Olympic Barbells on the Market

Video Review

Best Barbell Overall: Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar

Good for: Anyone who wants to use a barbell for general purpose training.

Best Barbell Overall

Rogue Ohio Bar

GGR Score: 4.6 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4.6 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 190K PSI tensile strength
  • Multipurpose bar with great versatility
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Bushing sleeves
  • Snap ring design

Made in USA Made in USA

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Made in the USA of US-Sourced Steel
  • Somewhat passive knurling
  • Grips with chalk
  • Great for a variety of training styles
  • Dual knurl marks
  • 28.5-mm shaft
  • Bronze bushings
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Coatings include stainless steel, Cerakote, black zinc, and more.
  • 190K tensile strength

Cons

  • Not outstanding for powerlifting or weightlifting in comparison to more specialized bars
  • Expensive

Bottom Line

The Rogue Ohio Bar is one of the most iconic barbells in the world. It's been used at the CrossFit Games by some of the fittest athletes in the world and is just as well suited in your garage gym. The Ohio Bar is priced well despite its features and being made in the USA. Although we prefer the Rogue 2.0 Bar for its price, we don't blame you if you decide to spring for the Ohio Bar, although we'd suggest getting the Stainless Steel or Cerakote version.

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

I used to say that the Rogue 2.0 bar was the best bar available, but I think the Ohio Bar has edged it out not because it’s necessarily a better bar, but because there are so many options. In reality, they are basically the same bar, but the Ohio Bar has bronze bushings which I do prefer. The Ohio Bar also comes in more options for finishes, like the Rogue Ohio Bar – Cerakote and the Rogue Fitness Stainless Steel Ohio Bar (pictured above), both of which offer a little more durability and a higher price tag.

RELATED: Rogue Ohio Bar vs Rogue Power Bar.

The Ohio Bar really just has all the makings of an exceptional barbell: A 190,000 PSI tensile strength (which jumps to 200,000 if you get the stainless steel version), a 28.5mm shaft, dual knurl markings, and a 16.4-in loadable sleeve. You can load it heavily without worrying about bending or warping. You can drop it from overhead repeatedly (which we did), and it performs just as well as it always did.

Really, you can use the Ohio Bar for anything: CrossFit, powerlifting, weightlifting, and general training. There isn’t center knurling, which might annoy some powerlifters, but that’s also what makes it ideal for an all-around barbell. The rest of the knurling, however, is about the medium, or even slightly passive. With chalk, the bar grips great, but it won’t rip your hands to shreds. Also, the knurling goes all the way to the collar, which is ideal for people with long arms/mobility issues or those who otherwise need the full length.

Nearly all Rogue barbells come with lifetime warranties that they stand behind, which is one of the reasons that the brand’s bars usually top my list. Rogue, by and large, makes the best value barbells in the world.

Read my full Rogue Ohio Bar review.

Best Multipurpose Olympic Barbell: REP Fitness Sabre Bar

Good for: People who want a multi-purpose barbell for less.

Best Multipurpose Olympic Barbell

REP Fitness Sabre Bar

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 2.8 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 150k tensile strength
  • 1000-lb rating
  • 28mm (25 mm women's) diameter
  • Zinc coating
  • Bushing design with snap rings
  • Dual knurl markings for Olympic and powerlifting

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Priced around $200
  • Ball bearing
  • Dual knurl marks
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Comes in 20kg and 15kg options
  • Free shipping

Cons

  • Zinc finish isn't the most durable
  • No center knurl available
  • 150 PSI tensile strength isn't the most durable
  • 1-year warranty

Bottom Line

The REP Fitness Sabre Bar is a great multipurpose barbell at an affordable price. It offers versatility in workouts ranging from functional fitness to weightlifting to powerlifting.

Benching? Sabre Bar. Deadlifting? Sabre Bar. Squatting? Sabre Bar. Snatching? Sabre Bar.

Get it? This bar is ideal for just about any activity you do. With a ball bearing, it provides a great spin for those who do the Olympic lifts (the snatch and clean-and-jerk). It also feature dual knurl markings: International Powerlifting Federation marks and International Weightlifting Federation marks.

This is also a barbell where you can get either a 15-kilogram or 20-kilogram bar, which is great for those who like the specs but need a certain weight or shaft diameter. Priced around $100 for the 15-kilo bar and $220 for the 20-kilo bar, the Sabre offers home gym owners significant value.

We have personally used the Sabre Bar. GGR Head of Content Kate Meier owns one and uses it almost every day in her training. She said that after almost a year, the zinc coating is definitely starting to fade, but the bar itself performs well in all movements.

There are a few downsides. The 150K tensile strength is definitely doable for most home gym owners, but it isn’t the highest on the market. Also, there is a shockingly low one-year warranty on the bar. Most good bars come with a lifetime warranty, so it’s odd that REP is only giving you a year here.

Best Barbell for Weightlifting: Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Training Bar

Good for: Competitive weightlifters who have Gucci money.

Best Barbell for Weightlifting

Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Training Bar, NxG 20KG Men

GGR Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4.4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 8 precision needle bearings
  • Dust-proof seal on sleeves
  • IWF-certified
  • 12-year warranty
  • Comes in 20kg and 15kg options

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • IWF certified
  • Great spin
  • Needle bearings
  • 12-year warranty
  • Comes in 20kg and 15kg options

Cons

  • Costs more than $1,000
  • Sharp knurling
  • 20kg version has center knurling

Bottom Line

If you have the money, this Eleiko bar is fantastic for those who perform weightlifting movements, specifically, the clean-and-jerk and the snatch.

If you compete in the sport of weightlifting, you already know the two things Eleiko means: high quality and high price.

Eleiko is pretty much the gold standard for all things weightlifting, even weightlifting belts. And by gold standard, I mean you may need some gold to afford this bar. I’m not saying they are overpriced, but they can be expensive compared to some of their competition.

However, if you have the money and want, arguably, one of the nicest International Weightlifting Federation-certified barbell, then the Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Training Bar is it.

Sure, it has the typical making of a great Olympic barbell: 28mm shaft, IWF markings, 415mm loadable sleeve, and a 12-year warranty.

But what you really need to know is that it’s made of 215,000 PSI Swedish steel. It’s not unbreakable, but you can put some serious weight on it without the bar suffering permanent damage. This barbell also has German needle bearings, which provide increased spin if you compete in the Olympic lifts. Needle bearings are ideal because they provide a smooth spin on the bar–and, if they are packed correctly, they can last a long time.

In addition, Eleiko’s waffle knurl pattern is one of the best in the industry. Most people who lift with an Eleiko end up trying to figure out how they can buy one for themselves.

The biggest issue that I and many other hard working people have with this bar is the cost: it rings up for more than $1,000. That’s a lot of cheddar. But, you get a great bar, and you get to say that you own an Eleiko.

Best Safety Squat Bar: Titan Safety Squat Olympic Bar V2

Good for: An affordable, safe option for those needing this kind of specialty bar.

Best Safety Squat Bar

Titan Safety Squat Olympic Bar V2

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4.8 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Affordably priced bar
  • Performs well at any weight with athletes of any size
  • Great padding and vinyl covering
  • 22-degree camber angle

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Imported, cheaper version of the EliteFTS SS Yoke
  • Thick padding that holds up well
  • Vinyl covering is thick and durable
  • 22-degree camber angle
  • Max capacity of 1,500 lbs
  • Comfortable grips
  • Removable handles
  • Decorative chrome finish looks good
  • Priced affordably

Cons

  • No warranty attached to the Titan SSB
  • Handles tend to spin
  • Decorative chrome gets surface rust rather quickly

Bottom Line

The Titan SSB V2, despite being imported and of slightly lower quality compared to competitors, was chosen as our Top Pick for the Best Safety Squat Bar for most people. And for good reason, its features for the price are outstanding. We love the EliteFTS SS Yoke, but this one gets you 95% of the way there for less than half the price. We have been blown away with just how good this bar is for the price. If you're in the market, we don't see a huge reason to spend more.

When I used the first iteration of the Titan Safety Squat Bar, it was a huge bummer. In fact, I’d call it one of the worst specialty bars I have ever come across.

However, the Titan Safety Squat Bar V2 has totally redeemed the brand, and this solid bar now tops our best safety squat bars list. It has a 22-degree camber angle, thick padding, and thick steel.

Best Safety Squat Bar: Titan Safety Squat Olympic Bar V2

Titan Fitness essentially cloned the EliteFTS Safety Squat Yoke Bar, which I absolutely love. However, it is pricier than the Titan version. And Titan actually has even cheaper safety squat bars, but I’m not a fan of cheap bars because they can whip excessively, or use cheap padding, or have a bad camber angle.

The Titan V2 has thick vinyl padding, which should be more resistant to ripping than the cheap stuff. I love that this bar uses an Olympic sleeve that can take standard collars (not all trap bars are like that).

Also, the bar handles are removable, so you can use this bar for things like presses and curls. You might not end up needing the bar for that, but I think it’s nice to have the option.

Best CrossFit Barbell for Women: Rogue Bella Bar 2.0

Good for: Women and anyone else who need a smaller grip on a great barbell

Best CrossFit Barbell for Women

Rogue Bella Bar 2.0

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • High-performing multipurpose 15KG barbell
  • Versatile; can be used in weightlifting, for CrossFit, and for powerlifts
  • 190K PSI tensile strength
  • 25-mm shaft diameter

Made in USA Made in USA

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Endless options for the finish
  • 190K PSI tensile strength
  • 25mm shaft
  • Dual knurl markings
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Knurling is pretty passive
  • Black zinc coating will fade over time
  • No center knurling

Bottom Line

The Rogue Bella Bar is a top-of-the-line 15-kilogram bar ideal for people who need a multi-purpose barbell.

If you like the Rogue Ohio Bar for a 20kg option, then may I present the 15kg version: The Bella Bar 2.0.

CrossFit gyms around the world have the Bella stocked, and for good reason: It’s one of the best barbells for CrossFit and you can also use it for weightlifting, powerlifting, and more!

Rogue Bella Bar 2.0

I say this bar is the best “for women,” but really, it’s great for youth athletes or men who prefer a smaller grip. Most 15kg bars have a 25mm shaft, which is skinnier than 20kg bars. The smaller design also means less loadable room on the sleeve length, but for most of us, that really isn’t an issue.

The Bella is built specifically as a multipurpose bar, and the specs show that: It has dual knurl marks for Olympic and powerlifting, no center knurl, bronze bushings, and 190,000 PSI tensile strength. You can drop the Bella Bar (with bumper plates) without concern.

I think one of the draws to the Bella is that it comes in so many different finishes: E-coat, black zinc, and stainless steel. The cerakote finish also comes in a bunch of colors, as well as “sponsored” bars that CrossFit superstars Tia Clair-Toomey and Katrin Davidsdottir stand behind.

When it comes to drawbacks, some people might find the knurling to be a little too passive (but it works just fine with chalk). Also, powerlifters may not love that there is no center knurling.

For more on the Bella Bar, check out by Rogue Bella Bar 2.0 review.

Best Value Barbell for Weightlifting: American Barbell Training Bar

Good for: Weightlifters who want an outstanding barbell at an affordable price.

Best Value Barbell for Weightlifting

American Barbell Training Bar

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4.6 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Medium-depth knurling
  • Hard chrome finish
  • Lifetime warranty
  • 20kg and 15kg options
  • 190K PSI tensile strength

Made in USA Made in USA

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Medium-depth knurling
  • Hard chrome finish
  • About one-third the price of the Eleiko
  • Lifetime warranty
  • 20kg and 15kg options
  • 190K PSI tensile strength

Cons

  • Subject to corrosion and chrome plating can cause premature damage
  • Rotation system is known to take a while to break in
  • Knurling will be too passive for some
  • IWF knurl markings only

Bottom Line

The American Barbell Training Bar is an affordably priced piece of equipment useful for Olympic weightlifters thanks to a high PSI tensile strength, great spin, and IWF knurl markings.

American Barbell doesn’t get nearly as much love as we think it should. Their equipment is nearly all made in the USA, and their attention to detail is outstanding. The American Barbell Training Bar is one of the best Olympic barbells for the value in the world.

It has great, medium-depth knurling that grips well with chalk. And, it’s shockingly quiet. When I first used an Eleiko and realized how quiet it was when dropped, I couldn’t believe it. The American Barbell Training Bar is right up there with Eleiko in terms of noise reduction which shows great attention to detail.

I found this bar does well for weightlifting, barbell cycling if you’re a CrossFit athlete, and is also fine for max effort lifts for powerlifters. It’s also completely made in the U.S. with a lifetime warranty.

We’ve tested and reviewed the AB Training Bar for over three years now and still like it as much as we did on day one. This is an outstanding do-it-all barbell. I will say, however, that the bar did develop some surface rust (which can happen to bars that aren’t kept in climate-controlled environments). However, if you want better corrosion resistance, then we suggest getting the American Barbell Cerakote Mammoth bar version for $25 more.

See my full American Barbell Training Bar review to learn more.

Best Budget Barbell: CAP OB-86B Beast Barbell

Good for: A cheap barbell you can order with prime benefits.

Best Budget Barbell

CAP OB-86B Barbell

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4.1 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Priced under $200
  • Works well as a multipurpose bar
  • Comes in proprietary coatings

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Priced under $150
  • Ships free with Prime
  • Free returns
  • Fits Olympic weight plates

Cons

  • 30mm grip
  • 110KPSI tensile strength
  • Black phosphate finish

Bottom Line

The CAP Barbell is not the highest quality bar you can find, but it is one of the most affordable that we would still recommend for those who do not need a specialty bar or anything fancy.

If you just want a barbell and you want it now, then heading to Amazon and ordering the Cap Barbell OB-86B might be the way to go. It’s nicknamed The Beast, and rightfully so because it can withstand a lot.

I own this bar, and it’s what I typically use if I’m working out of a power rack. I have used it for other movements, but this definitely isn’t my go-to barbell. That’s partly because I have specialty bars for when I’m squatting or snatching or deadlift.

I think that this Cap bar is the best barbell on Amazon that’s under $150. It has medium knurling to it and the rotation system is the bushing. The finish is black oxide, which isn’t the highest quality, but it also does offer some protection against corrosion. Sure, it has some dings and a little surface rust, but that’s to be expected at this price range.

Honestly, it’s an average barbell, but the price is what makes it the best one on Amazon. You also get the benefit of free shipping and free returns, and that’s pretty great when it comes to a bar. Also, there are more than 3,000 reviews on Amazon, and it still holds 4.7/5 stars. That says something.

Best Power Bar: Rogue Fitness Ohio Power Bar

Good for: Powerlifters at any fitness level.

Best Power Bar

Rogue Ohio Power Bar

GGR Score: 4.7 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4.4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Volcano knurl provides a great grip
  • IPF-approved
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Four coating options: bare steel, black zinc, Cerakote, and stainless steel
  • 205K PSI tensile strength

Made in USA Made in USA

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Great value
  • Volcano knurl
  • Fantastic grip
  • IPF-approved
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Four coating options: bare steel, black zinc, Cerakote, and stainless steel
  • Made in the USA
  • 205K PSI tensile strength
  • F-8R rating
  • Self-oiling bronze bushings

Cons

  • 205K PSI tensile strength is not the strongest on the market
  • Some may feel the knurling is too passive
  • Bare steel Version rusts quickly

Bottom Line

The Rogue Ohio Power Bar is the power bar we recommend most often. You cannot spend less and get a better bar. You can spend more, and depending on your preferences get something maybe better, but even then, it's debatable. We've used pretty much every power bar on the market, and there's a reason this is one of the most popular in the world. From the knurling to the warranty, the Rogue OPB is the king of power bars in our opinion.

We’ve been through our share of power bars, but the instant we grabbed onto the Ohio Power Bar, we knew it would make the top of our list for the best powerlifting barbells. This barbell has become somewhat legendary in powerlifting circles in the short time it has been on the scene since its introduction in 2014. This bar will quickly give you an experience of value and a feeling that you will be able to squat more, bench smoother, and train your deadlift stronger.

Rogue has combined its large manufacturing power, attention to detail, and ability to create industry-leading products at great prices to create, in our opinion, the best power bar for any strength level. Whether you’re a beginner learning the squat, deadlift, and bench, or you’re an experienced lifter, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar can handle whatever you throw at it.

The part of a power bar that should have the most attention applied to it is its knurling, and in our opinion and many we’ve polled, the Ohio Power Bar has some of the best feeling knurlings on the market. It’s aggressive, but not sharp thanks to its volcanic design.

In addition to the great knurling, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar features a 205K PSI Tensile Strength shaft, bronze bushings, and enough shaft coatings to satisfy anyone’s interests. Whether you choose bare steel, zinc, cerakote, or our favorite, stainless steel version, you’ll be satisfied.

Also, if you need a bar for a powerlifting meet, the KG version is IPF-approved.

The Rogue OPB is so well-liked, it won a recent bracket we held on Instagram that had over 100,000 entries. Not only is it us that love this bar, but it’s generally regarded as the best powerlifting barbell by the home gym community.
The shaft of the Ohio Power Bar is 29mm, which has become the standard when it comes to power bars, and for good reason. A thicker shaft creates a stiffer bar. A 29mm shaft will cause much less whip than at heavier weights when compared to a 28mm or 28.5mm barbell (it’s why squat bars are 32mm). Although a 0.5mm larger diameter seems small, it’s not insignificant.

For more, check out my Rogue Ohio Power Bar review.

(If you have the money and want an even fancier power bar, we did an in-depth Kabuki Strength New Generation Power Bar review. It has an insanely high tensile strength, outstanding knurling, and price.)

best power bar

Best Hex Bar for the Money: Titan Fitness Olympic Hex Bar

Good for: The budget-minded deadlifter looking for a good trap bar.

Best Hex Bar for the Money

Titan Hex Trap Bar

GGR Score: 5 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Rackable
  • Matte black finish
  • Priced well for those on a budget

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Priced affordably
  • Matte black powder coating
  • Good knurling
  • Heavy duty
  • Rackable

Cons

  • 1-year warranty
  • No knurling on the bottom handle
  • Some reviewers say it isn’t rackable

Bottom Line

If you're on a budget and looking for a hex trap bar, this one from Titan is hard to beat.

The Titan Fitness Olympic Hex Bar is on our best trap bars list because it’s affordable and a quality bar. We’ve used it for a few years – used and abused it, I should say – and I would still recommend it for most people. This trap bar looks a lot like the higher-end bars, but the Titan model is a lot more affordable at less than $270. With a matte black powder coating, it should withstand some wear and tear as well as premature rusting.

Titan Fitness Olympic Hex Bar

Unfortunately, the sleeves are also powder-coated, which means they will get pretty dinged up from loading Olympic plates. I would say that the knurling on the high handle is slightly aggressive. Other people who have used it have commented that they like the knurling. Unfortunately, the lower handle is not knurled, which is a little odd considering that it will get used often. Another small gripe is that this isn’t a trap bar that is rackable in a majority of squat racks. But, you could use it with safety straps or safety bars.

Other Barbells We Have Tested

best olympic barbell

Vulcan Strength Standard Bushing Barbell: Vulcan is producing some outstanding equipment, but the Standard Bushing barbell that we tested features a bright zinc finish that hasn’t fared too well against the elements. It spins decently and isn’t overpriced, but its lack of corrosion resistance kept it from being in our top picks.

Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar: The Texas Power Bar was, in our minds, the best barbell until Rogue came out with the Ohio Power Bar. If you want to learn the differences between the two, check out our comparison between the Rogue Ohio Power Bar vs. Texas Power Bar.

Fringe Sport Wonder Bar: The Wonder Bar used to be priced under $200, but now sits north of $260. We had it as our best budget pick but had to give it the boot when the cost increased. It’s a good bar, but there are other better bars in this price range.

Fringe Sport Hybrid Barbell: We’re actually big fans of this bar. It’s very similar to the Chan Bar from Rogue, although it’s imported. For the price though, we prefer the Rogue Bar 2.0 and Fringe Sport’s more budget-friendly Wonder Bar.

Fringe Sport Bomba Barbell: Although Fringe Sport’s lower-priced barbell made it into our top picks, the Bomba Barbell has similar features but with a higher price tag. It’s a great bar, just not worth the extra cost in our opinion.

Fringe Sport CeraColt Cerakote Olympic Barbell: A great bar at a great price, but still more expensive than our other picks.

Rogue B&R Bar 2.0: The B&R 2.0 Bar from Rogue Fitness came very close to being in our top picks, but due to the slightly thicker shaft, cost, and more of a powerlifting focus, it did not make it. That said, if you don’t really desire whip, enjoy a thicker barbell, and don’t mind providing extra maintenance to a raw steel bar, then the B&R 2.0 is a great choice.

Rogue Chan Bar: The Chan Bar by Rogue Fitness was another bar that barely made it off the list of our top picks. Featuring some innovative ideas like a light center knurl and an increased distance between the outer knurling, the Chan Bar is pretty unique. Unfortunately, Rogue no longer offers the bar in different finishes and charges extra for nothing that really costs them extra; the Chan Bar will have to remain an honorable mention (we still love you, Matt!)

Synergee Regional Olympic Bar: The Synergee Games Bar has a cerakote finish, and that’s the only real difference between the two. The Regional Bar comes with a 190,000 PSI tensile strength as well as needle bearings, which make the bar spin really fast.

How We Picked and Tested the Barbells

best olympic barbell for home gym

To compile our list for the best Olympic barbells for 2023, we researched all of the major manufacturers as well as reaching out to industry experts and various forums such asr/homegym (quick plug: I’m a mod of this subreddit, so I suggest you subscribe.)

In addition to this, we went to Garage Gym Reviews HQ to rank and test what we have on hand (around 20 bars currently). After researching around 55 barbells worth your time and money, we narrowed it down to our top picks, all of which we acquired to test out in the house.

There is an overwhelmingly large amount of barbells available for purchase today. Due to the various specializations of training, each category will have barbells that hit every price point from $100 all the way up to $1,000 plus.

Due to this, we stuck mainly to barbells that were more situated toward general training. If you want to use these bars for powerlifting, they’re stiff enough to do so. If you want to use many of these for Olympic weightlifting or add them to your CrossFit equipment, go for it. The spin, knurl, and whip will work for the movements within those sports.

olympic barbell size

Most of the bars we picked to test could all be considered great for general-purpose training and at prices worth considering and to be included in some of the best home gyms. Ultimately, after some deliberation, we narrowed down our specifications to the following list of features ordered in no particular order.

  • Overall Construction: Although the barbells we recommend are not the most expensive you can find, they need to be constructed well to provide a reliable experience over its lifetime. A barbell should last a LONG time; attention to detail provided by the manufacturer will aid in reliability and consistency.
  • Tensile Strength of Steel: The tensile strength of the steel used should be a minimum of 130K PSI and preferably much higher (around 190K). A barbell with 130K PSI should only be used if you don’t plan on using over 500 lbs on the bar. This is much higher than the average lifted by most people.
  • Knurling: The knurling should be consistent and not overly aggressive. A medium knurl will grip well when chalk is used. A center knurl, although great for powerlifting, is not needed for the majority of people. The reason is due to how it will rough up the neck and chin area of the body when used for power cleans and front squats.
  • Spin: The rotation system should be a bushing system due to cost and for use on lifts like the squat and bench where excess spin isn’t always desired. The spin should be consistent and slow to a stop, not an abrupt halt.
  • Finish: The barbell should have some sort of finish to prevent against oxidation such as surface rust.
  • Price: The price should be in accordance with the features offered. Value is more important than a low sticker price, and what we’ve found is that for general purpose barbells, there isn’t a reason to spend over $400 on a barbell. If you want a specialized Olympic weightlifting barbell or powerlifting barbell, then spending above $400 may provide a better value, but not for the general purpose category.
  • Warranty: A lifetime warranty has come to be the standard offered by barbell manufacturers. The company servicing the warranty must be considered, however; a lifetime warranty is of little use if the company offering it is no longer around to service it.

During testing, we performed all of the major barbell movements including squat, deadlift, bench, overhead press, clean and jerk, and snatch. We blind tested the feel of the knurling, observed the spin of the sleeves using a 25 lb bumper plate, weighed and measured the diameter of the shafts for accuracy, and tested the oxidation of the bars over 3 weeks while left in an often opened garage in the midwest. Finally, we asked for the opinion of others on what barbell they view to be the best value for the majority of trainees.

olympic barbell knurl

Benefits of Barbell Lifting

First of all, lifting with a barbell makes you look totally badass. There’s nothing like throwing some bumper plates on a bar and pushing it overhead. It’s such a Hulk-ed out feeling.

Superhero fantasies aside, however, there are actual, tangible benefits to putting a barbell into your training:

Build Muscle

It goes without saying that lifting weights builds muscle. Working out with a standard barbell a few times a week can target several types of muscle gains, like muscle endurance, muscle size, and muscle power. It just depends on what type of workouts you do.

If you want to develop and grow muscle, then the barbell is king. You can hit just about every muscle group with compound movements: squats, deadlifts, presses. Unlike machines in a commercial gym, which often isolate just one muscle group, the barbell can be used to hit many at once.

Protect Bones and Joints

When you build muscle, you protect your bones and joints. Muscles give you a stronger body that is less likely to fall, and less susceptible to damage. Not only that, but according to the National Institute of Health, weight training is best for your bones and can actually decrease the risk of bone loss.

Pride

Lifting a barbell over your head with huge plates on the chrome sleeves just looks awesome. But also, it’s motivating to literally see yourself get stronger as you are able to load more weight (over time and with good form) on the barbell.

Accessible and Affordable Equipment

Relative to other strength training tools, like large machines, a barbell is pretty accessible. It, and the plates that go with it, don’t take up too much space. I have people on my team who live in apartments and they still have a barbell, portable squat rack, and Olympic plates.

Also, and again relative to the equipment you’d see in a gym, a barbell is fairly affordable. Many of the ones on this list are priced under $400. You can essentially get a bar, some plates, and a rack for under $1,000, and that’s just about all you need to get a full-body workout.

Versatile Training Options

Barbells are much more than simply strength training. You can use a barbell for:

  • Building explosive strength in Olympic movements
  • Building power through lifts like squats and deadlifts
  • Building endurance in volume training
  • Building capacity in HIIT workouts

You can also use your barbell to roll out sore muscles. I’ve done it. It hurts. But it hurts so well.

What to Look for in a Barbell

olympic barbells

There are five physical characteristics of an Olympic barbell that will cause distinctions between the wide array of bars available today. Those are:

  • Steel
  • Knurling
  • Spin
  • Whip
  • Finish

Steel

The steel is the most important part of the bar and is more than just looks; it is the essence of the barbell. To determine the quality of steel used, two of the most telling specifications are the tensile strength and yield strength.

Do not listen to anyone who tries to tell you that a bar is 1,000-pound tested or 1,500-pound tested. This is a made-up fantasy designed to take advantage of buyers’ limited amount of knowledge and is more often than not seen on very cheap bars.

Companies assess the tensile and yield strength of the barbell steel through static and dynamic testing. To give a simple example, a static test would load an enormous amount of weight (upwards of a ton) on each side of the bar and then slowly take the weight off to see if the bar returns back to being straight.

A dynamic test is much more telling and involves tracking how the bar bends when dropped with a certain amount of weight. There is much more variance in this sort of test than the static test between manufacturers.

All that being said, every bar will bend if handled improperly. I don’t care if you’re using a $1,000 Eleiko, if you drop it on a pin with 400 pounds, it’s going to bend.

The general rule of thumb is that a high-quality barbell has a tensile strength upward of 180,000 PSI (pounds per square inch) or higher. You can certainly get by with less, but the best durability in the business will be around there. When it comes to yield strength, most companies don’t list a number (this is how much the bar can be loaded with before it can bend). You can use the tensile strength number as a good idea of weight capacity.

best olympic barbell

Knurling

The next characteristic of a bar is knurling. Knurling is what allows your hands to grip the bar, especially when combined with chalk. For most people, medium knurling is best due to it being sticky enough to grip, yet smooth enough for comfort. Although there are great bars with more aggressive knurling, for the majority of training purposes, it’s less than desired.

RELATED: Best CrossFit Grips

If you have yet to experience what a volcano knurl feels like, you’re missing out. The reason a volcano knurl is superior (in our opinion, again, the feel of knurling is subjective) to the traditional “peaky mountain” knurling that dominated the industry for so long is that it gives you more contact surface area with the epidermal layering of your hands or with the various fibers on the back of your favorite squat shirt.

Essentially, because there are more peaks to grip your hand (four times as many as would be if the tops of the peaks weren’t chopped off) you don’t need as “sharp” of a knurl. This leads to a greater grip and less ripped calluses and blood on the platform. This is why we feel, for a power bar, this is the best type of knurling. 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.

Also, consider where the knurling is. Powerlifting bars come with center knurling so you feel the bar better as it rests on your back. However, center knurling can annoy and bother people who are using the bar for more of a general-purpose.

Lastly, there are often notches in the knurling. These are either IWF or IPF markings for competition reasons (though I just use them so I know where to put my hands when I snatch).

Spin

The spin is determined by the rotation system used in the barbell. There are two main types of rotation systems used in barbells today – a bushing system or a needle-bearing system. Bearings will spin quicker overall, but they also cost more and will likely not stand up to abuse as well as bushings.

For this reason, we recommend most people purchase a barbell with a bushing system that either uses brass or nylon bushings. A bushing rotation system will provide a smooth and consistent spin that will require little maintenance and should last for many decades.

Whip

Whip is determined by the load on the bar, the materials used, the method of steel processing and the diameter of the shaft. For most people, some whip is desired for the occasional Olympic lifts, but overall the bar should be relatively stiff. And even on those Olympic lifts, if you aren’t lifting really heavy weights, odds are you won’t feel the whip anyway. Due to this, the bars we recommend are going to be made of carbon steels and not molybdenum alloys.

Finish

Finally, the finish of the bar comes down to personal preference and the environment it will be used in. Although a bare steel bar is generally regarded as the best ‘feeling’ barbell, it will oxidize quicker than if a finish was applied. For the price range we recommend, more often than not, the bar will feature a black oxide as it is middle of the road in terms of oxidation and is cheaper to apply than hard chrome.

How to Take Care of a Barbell

While a barbell can be a relatively low-maintenance piece of gym equipment, it still needs some love in order to stay in good condition (i.e. looking and performing the way you want it to).

Whenever you use chalk, BRUSH the chalk off. Don’t use a wet cloth, because that will just ingrain the chalk into the knurling even more. Use a brush and move in a circular motion around the bar until the chalk is off. The Hybrid Athletics steel barbell brush is one of the best around. Eleiko makes a great brush, but you can’t buy it separately. In order to get it, you have to buy an Eleiko barbell. Go figure.

On a much less regular basis, you should oil your barbell. After you brush off the bar, use a 3-in-1 oil or WD-40 to lightly coat the bar. Then, use your brush to lightly brush the oil into the bar. That’s it. There is no need to wipe off the oil, you can simply let it dry.

The type of finish on your barbell determines how often you should oil it. A bare steel bar may need oiling every few months. A higher-grade finish, like stainless steel, may do well with getting oiled just twice a year.

Best Olympic Barbells FAQs

What does tensile strength mean in barbells?

In short, tensile strength refers to how much weight you can load onto a barbell before the steel suffers a permanent deformation. The higher the tensile strength (measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI), the more a barbell can withstand. If you don’t lift heavyweight, you can get by with a barbell that has 100-130K PSI. But if you lift heavy, you really want something in the 190K+ range.

Does whip matter in a barbell?

This really just depends on how you plan to use your barbell. If you’re a recreational lifter who just likes to squat and press with light to moderate weight once in a while, then the whip of the bar doesn’t really matter.

However, if you are serious about your lifting, you may want to consider the whip. I will say that you won’t really feel the whip of the bar unless you can lift heavy weights.

What is a good Olympic barbell?

Generally speaking, a good barbell is one that meets your needs in terms of tensile strength, knurling, whip, and spin. For most people, I like the Rogue Ohio Bar the best for a 20kg option and the Rogue Bella Bar for a 15kg option.

What is a good price for an Olympic barbell?

Most of us shouldn’t have to pay more than $400 for a barbell. The Rogue options I like are between $200-$300, just depending on the type of finish you want. There are very few barbells I would recommend that are less than $150, simply because at that point, you start sacrificing the quality of steel, bearings, and construction.

Further reading

10 Leg Extension Alternatives That Will Crush Your Quads Cover Image
10 Leg Extension Alternatives That Will Crush Your Quads

Looking for some killer moves to spice up your next leg day? Try our quad-crushing leg extension alternatives and feel the burn! Read more

NordicTrack X32i Review (2023): The Big Kahuna Cover Image
NordicTrack X32i Review (2023): The Big Kahuna

A barbell is the most versatile tool in any commercial or home gym. However, thanks to the exponential growth in both barbell training and home gyms, there are now hundreds of companies producing thousands of different barbells.This is both good and bad. It’s good because you have a plethora of options to choose from to improve your squat, deadlift, bench press, as well as Olympic lifts and general training movements. It’s bad because it’s suddenly that much harder to decide what the best Olympic barbell is and which to spend your hard-earned money on.  » Read more about: The Best Olympic Barbells for 2023  » Read more

The 6 Best Trap Bars for 2023 Cover Image
The 6 Best Trap Bars for 2023

After researching and using nearly 30 trap bars, we've determined that there is still much to be desired in a trap bar we'd recommend for most people. Despite this, currently, for 2021, our Top Pick for the best trap/hex bar is the Rogue TB-1 Trap Bar. It offers the best value among the trap bars currently on the market, although there's still much room for improvement. This said, many would be just fine choosing one of our more budget-friendly recommendations. Read more

Best Exercise Equipment Memorial Day Sales 2023 Cover Image
Best Exercise Equipment Memorial Day Sales 2023

On Memorial Day, we honor those who have given the greatest sacrifice for our country. In the fitness world, many gyms, like CrossFit boxes, do workouts specifically commemorating fallen men and women. Over the weekend, several companies, like Fringe Sport, Titan and Fitbit, will offer some of the best exercise equipment Memorial Day sales. Read more