Best Olympic Barbells

Olympic barbell buyers guide

An Olympic barbell is essential for performing key compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups. You can use a barbell for squats, deadlifts, bench press, military press, bent-over row, curls and much more.

There are so many Olympic barbells to choose from, it may seem confusing at first. That’s why we have created this buyers guide of our best Olympic barbells and what you should look out for before spending your hard-earned cash.

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What are the best Olympic barbells?

Here we will take a look at our best Olympic barbells from the hundreds of Olympic barbell reviews that we have researched and analysed in great detail.

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What are Olympic barbells?

Olympic barbells are heavier, longer and stronger than standard barbells. They are built to withstand heavier weights and designed so that they can flex under greater loads but always return to a straight position.

Olympic Bars are 7 feet long, made with shafts of 52” inches in length and will usually weigh around 45lbs. The ends of an Olympic Bar are 2 inches in diameter (50 mm). The centre portion of an Olympic Bar can range from 28mm to 32mm or one and a quarter inch. There are also specially made one-inch (25mm) bars, made for women.

There are Olympic bars in a variety of different styles, each designed for a specific sport such as power lifting, weight lifting and Olympic lifting. Each bar will have a unique knurling pattern which is what gives the bar its grip and helps to prevent it slipping during lifts.

Olympic Bars have sleeves (revolving ends) to help limit the torque so that the bar rotates quickly when doing explosive power movements such as Cleans, Clean & Jerks, Snatches, etc. This can also be beneficial on exercises where your grip rotates slightly like the Squat or Deadlift.

You need a dependable sleeve rotation from your bearings/bushings with a modest amount of bar whip for most exercises. The rotation on the sleeves provides a more secure grip and reduces stress on your wrists and elbows.

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What are Olympic bars used for?

Barbell exercises are a form of resistance training. Resistance training is using your muscles to move resistance, usually weights. Examples of barbell resistance training exercises are squats, bench press, bent over rows, military press (shoulders), deadlifts and curls to name a few. Barbells allow you to move more weight than you could with a dumbbell because you have two hands on a fixed object. This also makes it safer to learn new exercises.

You can combine an Olympic barbell with a weight bench and squat racks to create your ultimate home gym!

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What is the difference between a standard & Olympic barbell?

The main difference you will notice between a standard barbell and Olympic barbell, is the size. Standard bars are only 5 or 6 feet long and weigh between 15 to 25 lbs. This is compared to 7-foot Olympic bars which weigh around 45lbs.

Another reason many lifters prefer an Olympic bar is because they can rotate whereas a standard bar doesn’t. Olympic barbells have 2-inch, rotating sleeves; regular barbells have 1-inch, non-rotating sleeves. The sleeves are the ends of the bar that hold the weight plates.

Keep in mind that as the diameter of the bars are different, you will not be able to use regular weight plates on an Olympic barbell. You can however use an Olympic sleeve adapter to put Olympic plates on a regular barbell but we would recommend just using an Olympic barbell from the get go.

Due to the fact that Olympic bars are heavier, they are less likely to become unbalanced and tip over if you were to load the weight unevenly. Both types of barbell will have knurling patterns for gripping, although as an Olympic bar is thicker, there is more grip to be had.

Despite the obvious advantages of an Olympic bar, some users amongst you may prefer the lighter standard bars. It really depends on your training routine and goals. Those who are serious about building muscle will probably want an Olympic bar whereas those who are just looking to maintain and tone, may be fine with a standard bar.

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How to choose the best Olympic barbell for you

When looking for the best Olympic bars for your home gym, there are a few key features you will want to look out for.

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Typically, the Olympic bar thickness or diameter can fluctuate depending on the manufacturer or style. You will usually find them between 28mm and 32mm. The difference in diameter will affect the bar’s maximum weight capabilities.

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Weight capacity

The amount of weight an Olympic barbell can hold varies, with many having a weight capacity between 600lbs and 1,500lbs. Compare this to most regular barbells that have a load capacity between 100 to 200 lbs. Check to make sure the bar can hold the weights you plan on lifting now and in the future as your strength improves.

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Check the quality of the materials used to build the bar. It is the quality of the steel used in the bar that determines how well a bar maintains its shape.

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Grip / Knurling

Knurling is the pattern that you see an all bars. The purpose of it is to give the bar grip during different exercises. Some will have centre knurling specifically for keeping the bar in place during squats, others may not have significant knurling as some users find it can be irritating without providing significant benefits.

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You could narrow down your choices according to how much you are willing to spend. Whilst all Olympic bars serve the same purpose, the options available to you will depend on your budget.

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If you have made it this far, you should have a good idea on how to find the best Olympic barbells. Whatever you choose, an Olympic barbell is essential for performing compound exercises that can pack on muscle and strengthen your body.

Happy lifting! 

Rich is an avid bodybuilder who has dedicated over 20 years of his life to the sport. He has a strong passion for health and fitness, living a clean lifestyle with a commitment to helping others educate themselves and fulfil their true potential.

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