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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 2022.
Why You Should Trust Us
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 that I think are best for barbell that will be used for CrossFit are:
- High Durability
- Low Maintenance
- Medium Knurl
- Low Whip
- Strong Steel
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 made for CrossFit:
The Best Olympic Barbells on the Market
- Best Multi-Purpose Barbell: Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar
- Best Budget Olympic Barbell: Fringe Sport Wonder Bar
- Best Barbell for Weightlifting: Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar
- Best Safety Squat Bar: Titan Safety Squat Olympic Bar V2
- Best CrossFit Barbell for Women: Rogue Bella Bar 2.0
- Best Value Barbell for Weightlifting: American Barbell Training Bar
- Best Barbell on Amazon: CAP OB-86B Beast Barbell
- Best Power Bar: Rogue Fitness Ohio Power Bar
- Best Hex Bar for the Money: Titan Fitness Olympic Hex Bar
Best Multi-Purpose Barbell: Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar
Best Multi-Purpose Barbell
Each Rogue Ohio Bar is machined and assembled in Columbus, Ohio, and includes a lifetime guarantee against bending.The bushing sleeves on the Ohio Bar promise a reliable spin, and their snap ring design maintains optimal stability throughout any type of weightlifting regimen-- from basic high school or collegiate strength training programs to intense Crossfit workouts. This steel is manufactured in the US and has proven to be one of the best steel variants for a multi-purpose barbell.Each barbell shaft is ground and polished prior to machining which allows the bar to have a very smooth finish post any black oxide, zinc or chrome finish.Every bar shaft is machined in Columbus, Ohio. A great deal of pride is built into each bar as the knurling process is an art. We spent months working on the knurl we believe to be the best for the Ohio Bar.To test the knurl it is more a beer tasting process than exact measurement. There is a look and feel that go into testing every bar. The Ohio Bar is available with 4 different finishes. Each finish offers a different level of oxidization protection and has a direct effect on the feel of the knurl. Black Oxide is a mild oxidization protectant process. This type of steel treatment will still require some maintenance but will give the best knurl feel, more like a naked bar. Zinc is a medium oxidization protectant process. This type of steel treatment requires minimal maintenance and is used on The Rogue and Bella Bars.The Ohio Bar is also available in Stainless Steel & an advanced ceramic-based coating called Cerakote. The Ohio Bar is assembled with bronze bushings which act as bearing surfaces between the bar sleeve and bar shaft. This is a very robust way of building a barbell. Each bar will come with an Ohio Bar card that has the initials of the Rogue team member that built the bar. This bar will have normal “whip” during Olympic weightlifting and enough stiffness to hold for heavy powerlifting. The steel in this bar is proven as an excellent choice for weightlifters.
Good for: Anyone who wants to use a barbell for general purpose training.
My Favorite Things:
- High tensile strength at 190K PSI
- Rogue’s lifetime warranty
- Made in USA
- Many options for finishes
- Great value at around $300
- Knurling can feel a bit light on different finish options
- End caps scratch very easily
- Chrome finish version isn’t ideal for multi-purpose use
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 Budget Olympic Barbell: Fringe Sport Wonder Bar
Best Budget Olympic Barbell
The Wonder Bar reigns as the nucleus of the barbell universe here at Fringe. We set out on a noble quest to design and build the best bar suited for commercial gyms, and make it available to you at a home gym price. We completed our hero's journey and now offering our reward to you delights us. This versatile bar will serve almost everyone well. You can set world records on this bar, and use it for most training. If you're a seasoned athlete or an affiliate owner, consider stepping up to the Bomba Bar V2 (made in America) or even our Fringe Sport Weightlifting Barbell. Here are a couple of Wonder Bar features to be aware of:The 28mm shaft diameter is great for Olympic movements. The needle bearing cartridges provide great spin, but may require oiling in time. If you're new to lifting or building a home gym and need more info to learn what type of barbell works best for you, here's a helpful guide.We have an informal state motto here in Texas- "come and take it." Not only do we want you to do this with the Wonder Bar V2, but we'd like to put our own spin on it. Fringe it, or forget it.WONDER BAR V2 SPECS:The Wonder Bar V2 comes in a bushing version or bearing cartridges version. Except for that, the specs for both are the same.Bushing rotation or bearing collar Killer all-black Zinc finish Tensile strength: 205,000 PSI Yield strength: 160,000 PSI Weight capacity: 1,600 lb Weight: 20kilograms / ~44 pounds Collars: Bushing (Yellow "W") Bronze Oil Lite Bushing Rotation or Bearing (Green "W") 4 Needle Bearing Cartridges Per Collar Whip: Stiff Spin: Moderate (Bushing) or Fast (Bearing) Best Use: Garage Gym or WODing. Read below for Bushing vs. Bearing differences. Material: Alloy Steel, Black ZincPlated Length: 86 inches Sleeve Specs:16 inches Length and 2" diameter Shaft Specs: true28mm diameter Knurl: Dual Knurling - Double Ring IWF + IPF Knurling (No Center Knurl) Smooth knurl depth- neither a cheese grater nor too soft Warranty: Lifetime Warranty against manufacturer's defects.
Good for: People who want a multi-purpose barbell for less.
My Favorite Things:
- Priced under $200
- Bronze bushings
- Lifetime warranty
- 205K PSI tensile strength
- Comes in 20kg and 15kg options
- Black zinc coating on sleeves
- 28mm shaft
- A notably “stiff” bar
Fringe Sport is one of the best companies for sourcing high-quality budget home gym equipment—they have continued to increase the features and quality of their barbells while keeping the price low. In the past, I didn’t take many of Fringe Sport’s offerings seriously. If you want something more affordable than the Rogue Ohio Bar, we like the Fringe Sport Wonder Bar. It comes with black zinc coated sleeves, a slightly smaller 28mm shaft listed at 205,000 PSI tensile strength, and bronze bushings. The Wonder Bar also features one of my favorite end caps out of any barbell we tested (this isn’t a very high bar considering nearly most companies at this price point use stickers.)
Overall, the Wonder Bar is a well-constructed bar from a company with a reputation for making excellent equipment at great prices. Fringe Sport also has a Wonder Bar Stainless Steel Barbell that is priced around $300.
One of the standout features of the Wonder Bar is its tensile strength of 205,000 PSI. The fact that you can purchase a barbell for $200 with a tensile strength of over 200,000 PSI reflects the current state of the barbell industry: an arms race to have the cheapest bar with the highest tensile strength. Let me remind you that a higher tensile strength does not equate to a “better” barbell. Although a bar with higher tensile strength will often be stronger, it’s also often stiffer.
I will say that the smaller 28mm shaft and black zinc coating on the sleeves are less than optimal for the majority of trainees. The Wonder Bar does feature a lifetime warranty and although we don’t believe Fringe Sport is as capable of servicing warranties as Rogue Fitness, they are a company we trust.
The Wonder Bar is rated as being “stiff” while the Rogue 2.0 is said to have a “good whip.” This isn’t definitive and most people will never experience a whip that is advantageous due to not being strong enough. No matter what, neither I nor anyone else has really been able to quantify whip, and until that time, perceived whip shouldn’t play a huge factor in deciding what barbell to purchase.
One feature of the Wonder Bar that is a drawback is the black zinc coating on the sleeves. Although black zinc is a fine coating for the shaft of a bar, the sleeves experience much more abuse, and after only a few sessions you’ll start to notice ugly marks on the sleeves.
Best Barbell for Weightlifting: Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar
Best Barbell for Weightlifting
This is the bar competitive athletes dream about. Our IWF certified competition bar has the distinct honor of being used to set 1,000+ world records over the years. Made of ultra-clean Swedish steel, this bar features a re-engineered, dustproof sleeve for greater longevity and optimized rotation for superior performance at all loads. The spin in our bar offers more control and the rotation is more stable, giving you a more complete and precise lifting experience.We have improved the bearing construction, modified our greasing processes, and incorporated a dustproof seal making our sleeves more durable. These enhancements positively impact bar performance and your experience as a lifter and bar owner. Our new design minimizes wear on crucial parts, ensures sleeves remain clean for longer, and that greased components stay well lubricated for years with minimal maintenance.We combine the finest materials, precision needle bearings and extremely tight tolerances, along with 60 years of barbell manufacturing expertise to create this outstanding bar. Holding Eleiko's finest bar in your hands, you can step onto the competition platform with confidence, focus on your performance and make every lift count.
Good for: Competitive weightlifters who have Gucci money.
My Favorite Things:
- IWF certified
- Great spin
- Needle bearings
- Lifetime warranty
- Comes in 20kg and 15kg options
- Costs more than $1,000
- Sharp knurling
- Has center knurling
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, the nicest International Weightlifting Federation-certified barbell, then the Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar is it.
Sure, it has the typical making of a great Olympic barbell: 28mm shaft, IWF markings, 415mm loadable sleeve, and a lifetime 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
Best Safety Squat Bar
The Titan Safety Squat Olympic Bar is the safe way to max out your squats and progress your workout to more weight. The padded shoulder and arm pads increase your comfort level at higher weights. In addition, the bent bar lowers the weight plates to stabilize your center of gravity. Hand grips allow you to control the bar during the lift and keeps you in control. Fits 2" Olympic Plates.Features: - Shoulder and arm pads for a comfortable lift. - 5" drop keeps the weight plates lower for a stabilized center of gravity and better balance. - 6" hand grips for control when needed. - Extra thick pad comes in one piece to prevent sliding on the bar while squatting.Specifications: - Capacity: 1500 LB - Weight: 61 LB - Overall length: 90.5" - Handle Spacing: 12.75" - Bar Diameter: 1.5" - Loadable Sleeve Length: 16" - Camber Drop: 5" - Handle Angle: 22 Degrees
Good for: An affordable, safe option for those needing this kind of specialty bar.
My Favorite Things:
- Valued well at around $300
- Great thick padding
- 22-degree camber angle
- Good thick steel
- Removable handles
- Titan Fitness sometimes has customer service issues
- 1-year warranty
- Basically a clone of the EliteFTS bar
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.
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
Best CrossFit Barbell for Women
The Bella Bar is Rogue's go-to multipurpose 15KG barbell for female athletes. Fully machined and assembled in Columbus, Ohio, this versatile ladies bar is uniquely optitmized for Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and/or a CrossFit WOD.A staple of women's CrossFit competitions-- including events at the CrossFit Games-- the 25MM Bella Bar has no center knurl and features the same Rogue signature Dual Knurl Marks and 190 PSI tensile strength as our flagship 20KG Ohio Bar. The hybrid knurling pattern itself offers a firm but comfortable grip on both Powerlifts and Oly lifts, while quality U.S. steel and snap-ring bronze bushings produce the perfect balance of rigidity and natural whip.Built with as much attention to detail as any bar in the Rogue family, the Bella Bar is a women's weightlifting bar forged on equal ground.Specifications:Made in Columbus, OH, USA Weight: 15KG (33LB) Diameter: 25MM (0.98 inches) Bar Length: 79.13", Loadable Sleeve Length: 13.00" Tensile Strength: 190,000 PSI Black Zinc Coated Shaft Bright Zinc Coated Sleeves Dual Knurl Marks: Both Powerlift and Olympic Knurling No Center Knurl
Good for: Women and anyone else who need a smaller grip on a great barbell
My Favorite Things:
- Endless options for the finish
- 190K PSI tensile strength
- 25mm shaft
- Dual knurl markings
- Made in the USA
- Knurling is pretty passive
- Black zinc coating will fade over time
- No center knurling
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!
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
Best Value Barbell for Weightlifting
The American Barbell Training Bar is a solid, versatile barbell for just about any application. We've tested it against the day-to-day abuse of heavy training and it's proven to last.The bar shaft is made from precision ground alloy steel and the strength of the shaft is tested with every shipment of raw material to ensure we have a consistent 190,000 PSI tensile strength. This attention to detail also allows for excellent whip and long-term performance of our bars. The shaft and sleeves are finished in hard chrome for added durability and corrosion resistance, and the knurl pattern is crisp with just the right amount of tack.The bar sleeves are precision machined and each one is coated with hard chrome for protection against dropping and impact. Sleeves rotate around high strength composite bushings used in aircraft and automotive industries for smooth rotation.Application: Olympic Weightlifting, Weightlifting, Competition Bushing System Center knurl: No Shaft: Hard Chrome Coating Sleeve: Precision Ground Steel with a Hard Chrome Coating IWF Specification Made in USA Warranty: Limited Warranty*
Good for: Weightlifters who want an outstanding barbell at an affordable price.
My Favorite Things:
- Medium-depth knurling
- Hard chrome finish
- About one-third the price of the Eleiko
- Lifetime warranty
- 20kg and 15kg options
- 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 (I personally like it.)
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 Barbell on Amazon: CAP OB-86B Beast Barbell
Best Barbell on Amazon
CAP Barbell is pleased to offer a series of special custom coated colored weightlifting bars in anticipation of its 30th year in business. We have taken one of the best selling bars available and added unique/ proprietary coatings to create a one of a kind product available exclusively from CAP Barbell. As the world's largest provider of weightlifting products and accessories, CAP works diligently toward offering new quality products that can withstand any environment in which they are used. CAP's Customized Beast Bar utilizes the same specs as the standard Beast bar, but goes one step further by adding Accu-Coat specialty coatings. Make no mistake, this is not just a painted bar. Each of CAP's Customized Beast Bars is coated in the USA by Accu-Coat, Inc. utilizing their proprietary coating processes and specialty finishes. These coatings are high performance, exceptionally durable and rust resistant with proper use and care. They are easy to clean and manufactured to last for years. Feel confident in using these bars in your box, home gym or any institutional/professional setting.Accomodates 2-Inch Olympic plates1000-Pound weight capacityBlack oxide finish with polished steel sleevesMedium-depth diamond knurl
Good for: A cheap barbell you can order with prime benefits.
My Favorite Things:
- Priced under $150
- Ships free with Prime
- Free returns
- 30mm grip
- 110KPSI tensile strength
- Black phosphate finish
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 one of the best options out there 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
Best Power Bar
Fully machined and assembled in Columbus, OH, the 29MM Rogue Ohio Power Bar features a 205,000 PSI steel shaft (200,000 PSI for Stainless), single powerlifting knurl marks, and center knurling. The bar’s knurl pattern is deep and coarse without being sharp or abrasive, and the 29MM shaft diameter and high tensile strength result in little to no flex or whip. This makes the Ohio Power Bar a perfectly honed workhorse for the bench, squat, and deadlift.The 45LB Ohio Power Bar includes bronze bushings, a snap ring design, and 16.25" of loadable sleeve length.When ordering, you can select from three finish options:Black Zinc shaft with Bright Zinc sleeves Stainless Steel shaft with Chrome sleeves Bare SteelRogue also manufactures a 20KG Ohio Power Bar, with friction-welded sleeves and 16.25" loadable sleeve space.The Ohio Power Bar’s 29MM diameter steel shaft boasts a tensile strength of 205,000 PSI (200,000 PSI for Stainless), delivering superior rigidity and virtually zero whip/flex. Machined and assembled in Columbus, Ohio, the bar also features a snap-ring design and quality bronze bushings for a smooth, consistent feel.The bar includes single powerlifting marks and a center knurl, each featuring a deep, coarse pattern that produces a reliable grip / stick without being sharp or abrasive. Perfecting this knurl pattern is both a science and an art. Every bar shaft is machined in Columbus on new Haas machines (built in the USA) and fine-tuned and personally tested by the Rogue team.Depending on the look and feel you prefer, there is a version of the Ohio Power Bar right in your wheelhouse. The Zinc option (black shaft, bright sleeves) provides excellent corrosion resistance, the Bare Steel creates a classic look and natural feel, and the new Stainless Steel variation (with Chrome sleeves) strikes a balance between the two.The Ohio Power Bar’s quality construction is backed by Rogue’s Lifetime Warranty against bending. This is a barbell equipped for high intensity, everyday use. Please Note: The warranty does not cover damage due to negligent or faulty use, alteration, maintenance, storage or handling by the user, i.e., dropping the bar on a box, bench, spotter arms or pins in a power rack, excessive dropping with insufficient or damaged bumpers, or excessive dropping with iron plates, and similar usage. Any specific issues regarding a Rogue product with which a customer is not satisfied will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Good for: Powerlifters at any fitness level.
My Favorite Things:
- Some of the best volcanic knurling out there
- Bronze bushings and snap ring design
- Multiple shaft coatings to choose from
- 29mm shaft
- 205K PSI tensile strength (not the highest, but still good)
- Chrome plated sleeves
- Prefer stainless steel to black zinc and raw steel versions
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 Hex Bar for the Money: Titan Fitness Olympic Hex Bar
Best Hex Bar for the Money
This heavy duty Hex Trap Bar from Titan Fitness was designed to be able to be used inside your rack on pin and pipe safety bars, flip down safety bars, or your strap safety system.The hexagon frame measures 49" across, so you can easily rack the bar on your power rack safety system for easy plate loading and a lifted starting position for deadlifts and shrugs. The 1.5" square frame tubing, double gusseted corners, and solid 48mm weight post with 15.75" of loadable space per side give the Hex Trap Bar a stout construction designed to withstand heavy lifting for years to come.The Hex Trap Bar features a dual handle design with a 25" spread for a comfortable lift. The raised set stands 7.5" from the floor for a raised position when lifting.Features: - Heavy duty construction for a stout and durable design for years of heavy lifting. - Dual handle design to add more versatility to your workout. - Raised set of handles stands 7.5" from floor for a raised starting position when lifting. - Frame measure 49" across so you can easily rack the bar on your power rack safety system. - Solid 48mm weight posts for maximum capacity and long term durability.Specifications: - Overall Length: 87.5" - Hexagon Frame Length: 49" - Handle Spread: 25" - Handle Diameter: 1.25" - Handle Length: 24.5" - Weight Post Length: 15.75" - Weight Post Diameter: 48 mm | 1.89" - Weight: 60 LB
Good for: The budget-minded deadlifter looking for a good trap bar.My Favorite Things:
- Priced affordablyMatte black powder coatingGood knurling
- 1-year warrantyNo knurling on the bottom handleSome reviewers say it isn’t rackable
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.
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.
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 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
To compile our list for the best Olympic barbells for 2022, 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.
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.
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:
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.
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
There are five physical characteristics of an Olympic barbell that will cause distinctions between the wide array of bars available today. Those are:
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.
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).
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 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.
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.
FAQs About the Best Olympic Barbells
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.
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