10% OFF SELECTED ATTACHMENTS FOR CABLE WEIGHT MACHINES

Olympic Bar Comparison

CAP Olympic Bar OB-86B

This is the best all-around bar for the price. It's a big step in quality above an economy bar, and it's a great choice if you want a good bar but have a hard time with a $300 price tag.

Every part of the bar is surprisingly well made. A grippy black oxide shaft, nice spin on the sleeves, and good flex characteristics to handle moderately heavy weight. You can drop it with bumpers or use it for bodybuilding exercises.

Can you find a stronger bar? Sure. But do you really need one? Try this one out and odds are you're going to be glad you did.

You can also just contact us and we'll figure out what you need.

Skip to:

Overview Chart
Types of Bars
Attributes of a Bar
Top Picks



OVERVIEW CHART


Click a column to sort.

ECONOMY BARS

All at a low 60,000 PSI tensile strength. The GOB-72 is the only 6ft bar that will fit an olympic width rack.

Model Finish Thickness Length Center Knurl Price
GOB-86 Chrome 31mm 7ft Yes $115.00
GOB-86B Black Paint 31mm 7ft Yes $115.00
OB-72 Chrome 30mm 6ft No $62.00
OB72B Black Paint 31mm 6ft Yes $75.00
GOB-72 Chrome 28.5mm 6ft No $113.00
GOB-60B Black Paint 28.5mm 5ft Yes $115.00

POWERLIFTING / BODYBUILDING BARS

Model Grade Finish Thickness PSI Center Knurl Price
Troy GOB-1200 Light Comm. Chrome 32mm ? No $155.00
Troy AOB-1200B Light Comm. Black Oxide 28.5mm 125k No $189.00
Troy AOB-1500B Commercial Black Zinc 28.5mm 165k Yes $229.00
Troy AOB-2000B Commercial Black Zinc 28mm 180k Yes $309.00
Body Solid OB86P1000 Light Comm. Chrome 30mm 120k Yes $199.00
Body Solid OB86P1000SS Light Comm. Stainless 30mm 120k Yes $245.00
Body Solid OB86CHICAGO Light Comm. Black Oxide 28.5mm 155k No $405.00
CAP OB-86B Light Comm. Black Oxide 28.5mm 130k No $205.00
CAP OB-86PB Light Comm. Black Oxide 28.5mm 150k No $205.00
CAP OB-86PBCK Light Comm. Black Oxide 28.5mm 150k Yes $219.00
CAP OB-86PBCK2000 Commercial Black Oxide 28.5mm 190k Yes $264.00
CAP OB-86PBSZ Light Comm. Bright Zinc 28.5mm 150k No $228.00
York 32112 Light Comm. Chrome 32mm 150k Yes $259.00
York 32113 Light Comm. Chrome 30mm 150k Yes $249.00
York 32120 Light Comm. Black Oxide 32mm 150k Yes $242.00
York 32121 Light Comm. Black Oxide 30mm 150k Yes $249.00
York 32002 Commercial Chrome 28mm 195k Yes $409.00
York 32004 Commercial Chrome 29mm 185k Yes $362.00

MEN'S WEIGHTLIFTING BARS

(and hybrid bars also listed above)
Model Level Finish Thickness PSI Rotation Center Knurl Price
Troy AOB-1200B Home Black Oxide 28.5mm 125k Bushing No $189.00
Body Solid OB86CHICAGO Training Black Oxide 28.5mm 155k Bushing No $405.00
Rage Phoenix Training Bright Zinc 28.5mm 155k Bushing No $195.00
Rage Elevation Training Bright Zinc 28.5mm 155k Bushing No $289.00
Rage Titan Training Bright Zinc 28.5mm 155k Bearing No $349.00
CAP OB-86B Home Black Oxide 28.5mm 130k Bushing No $205.00
CAP OB-86PB Home Black Oxide 28.5mm 150k Bushing No $205.00
CAP OB-86PBSZ Home Bright Zinc 28.5mm 150k Bushing No $228.00
York 32110 Training Chrome 28mm 150k Bearing Yes $299.00
York 32000 Competition Chrome 28mm 195k Bearing Yes $499.00
York 32002 Training Chrome 28mm 195k Bushing Yes $409.00
York 32010 Training Stainless 28mm 165k Bearing Yes $704.00

WOMEN'S 25MM WEIGHTLIFTING BARS

Model Level Finish Thickness PSI Rotation Price
Rage Elevation Womens Training. Bright Zinc 25mm 155k Bushing $269.00
Rage Titan Womens Training Bright Zinc 25mm 155k Bearing $289.00
Troy VTX Womens Training Copper 25mm 266k Bushing $229.00
York 32111 Training Chrome 25mm 150k Bearing $263.00
York 32001 Competition Chrome 25mm 195k Bearing $497.00
York 32003 Training Chrome 25mm 195k Bushing $325.00

LIGHTWEIGHT WEIGHTLIFTING TECHNIQUE BARS

Model Finish Thickness Weight Rotation Center Knurl Price
Rage BAR50 Aluminum 28mm 15 lbs Bushing No $115.00
Troy GOB-300LZ Bright Zinc 28.5mm 18 lbs Bushing No $153.00
CAP OB-73UL Black 30mm 30 lbs Bushing No $129.00
USA Sports GOB-72 Chrome 28.5mm 31 lbs Bushing No $113.00
York 32023 Aluminum 28mm 15 lbs Bushing No $138.00

 



TYPES OF BARS

Any of these 7ft bars can be called an “olympic” bar, as they have 2” diameter sleeves (actually 1 31/32”) to take olympic plates, but there is a difference between an Olympic Weightlifting Bar and a Powerlifting Bar.

Economy Bars The cheap ones. Made in China. Not very strong. Good enough for beginner or casual lifting at home. They may bend or break easily if you drop them hard on the floor or rack. The easy way to tell if it’s a cheap bar is the sleeve is bolted on as shown at right. The allen bolt often loosens and can break or bend from a shock load.

The below two categories are bars are made from higher tensile strength steel. The sleeves are secured with an external pin or internal snap ring (either is good) rather than the bolt of an economy bar that may come loose or break. They are often USA-made.

Powerlifting Bars Also called "power bars," these are good choices for bodybuilding, powerlifting or general weight training. These bars tend to be on the stiffer side to keep the wobble at a minimum during heavy squats and bench presses. The knurling is fairly deep for a solid grip. Center knurling is added to keep the bar from slipping off your back during heavy squats. A 29mm shaft is regulation size, but in casual lifting it varies, and a 28mm bar with deep knurling like the Texas Power Bar is popular for a killer deadlift grip.

  • Stiffer Steel
  • Medium or Deep Knurling
  • Center Knurling
  • 29-32mm Thickness
  • Finger Guide Marks 81cm apart

Men's Weightlifting Bars Weightlifting is the Olympic Games sport and also part of Crossfit. It involves two exercises, the snatch and the clean-and-jerk. These bars are made to be springy at high loads to facilitate explosiveness, prevent a high shock load for the lifter, and absorb the shock of being dropped. The tensile strength (PSI) is lower than powerlifting bars so that it isn't too stiff. They have a 28mm shaft for a good pulling grip. The knurling is soft so you can slide your grip enough during cleans. The IWF spec calls for center knurling as a throwback to when they did one-handed snatches, but many lifters don't like it because it scratches their necks during cleans, so if there is any center knurling it's at least pretty soft such as on York bars. The knurling further down the bar should extend to the end of the shaft to accommodate tall users with the maximum width snatch grip. Competition level bars use needle bearings in the sleeves for ultra-sensitive rotation, but bushings are suitable for most people.

  • Flexible Steel
  • Light Knurling
  • May or May Not Have Center Knurling
  • 28mm Thickness
  • Finger Guide Marks 91cm apart
  • Needle Bearings on Competition Bars

Women's Weightlifting Bars - Similar in some ways to a men's weightlifting bar. The thinner shaft accommodates women's smaller hands, and at 15kg/33lbs it offers a lower starting weight for beginners than the men's 20kg/44lb bars. Because of the thinner steel they have to be made well to hold up to drops.

  • Flexible Steel
  • Light Knurling
  • No Center Knurling
  • 25mm Thickness
  • Finger Guide Marks 91cm apart
  • Needle Bearings on Competition Bars

Lightweight Weightlifting Technique Bars - These 5ft or 6ft weightlifting technique bars are about the same 51" length between the inside collars, or the part you grip, as the above bars. They are meant for learning exercises with a lower starting weight. They are aluminum or hollow steel and won't take a pounding.

To avoid confusion for people who are just skimming this article and aren’t aware that Weightlifting is a technical term, and considering the fact that some people also call Weightlifting bars "olympic bars" to differentiate them from powerlifting bars (even though I say above that you can call all of them olympic bars), much of this article will simply say whether a bar is good for doing cleans.



ATTRIBUTES OF A BAR

Grade - For power bars. This is a rough classification and open to debate, but here's how we define it:

Home grade bars are the cheapest bars available and often come in 300lb weight sets. They are usually constructed with cheap bushings in the sleeves or nothing at all, resulting in a sleeve that rotates anywhere from roughly to sort of smoothly. Fine for bench pressing, even up to 300lbs or more. During some other heavy exercises they may permanently bend, especially if the bar is dropped hard enough. Not suitable for heavy squats due to the potentially high torque as the lifter bounces out of the hole.

Light Commercial grade power bars are made with stronger steel than residential grade and receive more respect from serious lifters. The sleeves are constructed with nylon or brass bushings. They have more finish options such as black oxide and zinc for a better grip. These bars are fine for Crossfit affiliates, corporate gyms, colleges and high schools.

Commercial grade power bars are made with strong steel, often US or Canadian steel that has strict quality standards. They are the only bars that should be used in a large commercial gym that may cater to some serious bodybuilders or powerlifters.

Level - For weightlifting bars.

Home weightlifting bars are better than the home grade powerlifting bars. They can take drops fine, but you don't want really strong athletes loading them up and abusing them. These are hybrid bars that aren't really ideal for weightlifting, such as knurling that's a little deep, or knurling that doesn't extend all the way to the ends for wide snatches, or sleeves that are a little loose or don't spin as well as higher level bars.

Training weightlifting bars are suitable for all home users, Crossfit boxes and other group environments. They can take a pounding all day, every day. Even elite athletes use these. These are the most commonly used bars.

Competition weightlifting bars are made to competition spec, very strong and with bearings in the sleeves. Competitive lifters train with these so that it's the same kind of bar they will compete with.

Finish - The finish applied to a bar makes a difference in the durability of a bar and how tacky/grippy it feels.

Chrome Chrome plating looks nice and wears well from repeated banging on a rack. And it can take a while for chrome to start rusting. But there are downsides. The smoothness of chrome makes it kind of slippery, even over good knurling. That doesn't matter much for people into olympic lifting, as they want the bar to slide in their hands anyway, and York has been making very nice chrome bars forever. Chrome can sort of get a bad rep because most of the economy 300lb weight sets include a cheap chrome bar, and on really cheap bars the chrome plating can start chipping off. That shouldn't happen with a good bar, at least not until plenty of moisture gets under the chrome and starts eating away at the steel.

Black Oxide This is a thin coating that feels almost like bare steel. It's thin enough that it doesn't fill in some of the depth of the knurling like chrome or zinc plating does. It also gives a better grip than slippery chrome. And it helps prevent rust (anti-corrosion), but the anti-corrosion properties of black oxide are activated by oil, so you have to oil it regularly. It scratches more easily than other finishes, so a bar used in a rack will immediately show signs of use from the metal-on-metal contact. It can also wear off simply from the abrasion of your hands and/or shoulders against it.

Bright or Black Zinc Like black oxide, it provides a good grip and is anti-corrosion. Zinc plating has a certain thickness to it, so it does fill in the knurling a tad bit. A little pricier

Black Manganese Phosphate - Rare so far. Nearly as thin a coating as black oxide, and better corrosion resistance without requiring to be oiled.

Copper - Another rare one. Good corrosion resistance, and quite a unique look.

Stainless - Not a finish, but a type of steel. Stainless steel is easily the most resistant to rust, and you get a good grip on the steel bar without a slippery finish. If price isn't much of an issue and you want a very nice bar, you won't go wrong with stainless steel.

All finishes will eventually start rusting with exposure to enough moisture (sweat) and no preventive oiling. See Olympic Bar Maintenance.

Diameter – Not to be confused with the size of the sleeve where the weights go, which is always about 50mm (2") on a high quality bar. We're talking about the shaft that you grip. A shaft diameter of 28-28.5mm (1 1/16”) is perfect for pulling motions like cleans or deadlifts, especially to get a hook grip for cleans. 29mm (1 1/8”) or thicker is good for bench presses, and 30-32mm ( 1 1/4”) for squats. 28-29mm is a common size for a general purpose bar. A larger diameter also means less spring, so anything over 28mm diameter isn't as good for cleans. Women and people with smaller hands will want a smaller diameter bar, 25mm or 28mm.

PSI / Tensile Strength The strength of the steel, measured in PSI, pounds per square inch. With a given bar diameter, this serves as a comparison of how much force can be applied before a bar breaks or bends permanently. The higher the number, the stronger it is. Another factor, yield strength, helps determine how much a bar can flex without suffering a permanent bend, but not all manufacturers have those numbers available, and some of them confuse the two terms, so we just give one number.

Static Test - The static test strength is what you see sometimes advertised as the “capacity” or "weight limit" of a bar, such as 1200lb, 1500lb, etc. What, you don't see this in the chart above? That's right, we removed them. They don't mean anything. The numbers are determined different ways by different manufacturers. It doesn’t mean it will hold up to anyone loading 1500lbs on it and dropping it badly (if they were theoretically even able to lift such a weight). It's a static rating. The manufacturer determines it by perhaps loading the bar to 1500 lbs and seeing if it has a permanent bend in a few hours, or using a machine to press on the center of the bar with 1500 lbs of force, or who knows. They all may do it differently. Remember that the dynamic force is much greater during heavy cleans or heavy squats due to the high torque from momentum reversal. And when a bar is dropped on a rack or the floor it can incur quite a shock load that is very difficult to estimate, depending on how evenly it ws dropped. So even though I know you're looking for this number to compare the strength of bars, don't fall for it. It's a number used by companies who are trying to mislead you. If you want to know the strength of the bar, take a look at the PSI and the diameter. The thicker it is and the denser it is, the stronger it is. If you want a relatively strong bar, get one that we rate as Commercial quality.

But how much weight can it take? - This is what you really want to know. We understand that. Think of it this way. Virtually any bar is likely to bend if you load it up for heavy squats and drop it violently on the safety bars of a power rack. A really high-end bar might take such a crash without bending, but most likely you got lucky, and I wouldn't put my money on it holding up to repeated drops this way. On the other hand, if you drop a high quality bar (with bumper plates) on the floor, or only set it down only sort of hard on a rack, it should not bend.

Spring Also called whip or flex. This is highly desirable for cleans. You can roughly determine this from the PSI and bar diameter, but the carbon content of the steel also makes a difference, so there's no formula you can nail it down with. But generally speaking, a 28mm or 28.5mm bar between 120,000 and 170,000 PSI will have some good spring. A PSI under that range is pretty weak steel prone to bending permanently rather than flexing, and a PSI above that range may or may not start to get a little stiff. At light weights when you're learning the movement, the shock absorption of the spring is only noticeable when you do a power clean and do a bad high-impact catch on your shoulders. For slow power lifts, the spring is noticeable when the bar is loaded maybe over 300 lbs. Powerlifting bars are usually thicker than 28mm, so they have less spring. But again an exception is the Texas Power Bar, which is 28.5mm but is pretty stiff.

Rotation - Bushings or bearings inside of the sleeves serve to reduce friction and make the sleeves spin freely. Bushings are the most common and are appropriate for the most majority of poeple and even professional powerlifters. Bearings allow for an even smoother and sensitive spin (it will start spinning easier), but they are more expensive and are usually only desired by elite olympic weightlifters. We don't recommend you get a bearing bar unless you know that's what you want or you're really curious. Bearings in the past tended to not last as many years as bushings, or they would need more frequent oiling to keep the spin smooth. Nowadays many are sealed in and shouldn't ever require extra oil. One consideration is if you slam the bar down into a vertical bar rack (used for storage), you may damage bearings, whereas bushings can take the impact.

Knurling - All bars have knurling over most of the length of the shaft. Some bars have a section of about six to nine inches of knurling in the center of the bar, while others are smooth in that area. Center knurling is primarily for heavy squats, to keep the bar from slipping down your back, but it's also useful for some other exercises. Center knurling is usually undesirable for cleans because it can scratch your neck during the catch if the knurling is too deep or your form isn't good. But it doesn't matter for snatches, and the IWF specifications for men's bars have center knurling, so that's why York's men's bars all have center knurling. There's also the issue of how deep the knurling is. Deep knurling is sometimes preferred for deadlifts due to the superior grip. For anything else a medium knurl is best. The Troy AOB-2000B Texas Power Bar is currently our only bar with very deep knurling.



TOP PICKS


General / Beginners

For bench pressing or deadlifting up to 500lbs or squatting up to 300lbs, you may be satisfied with an economy bar.

For a better quality bar, the CAP OB-86B is the best value for the money right now for the average person.

Women or some teenage boys who need a lower starting weight than 45 lbs would get good use out of the Troy GOB-300LZ 18 lb bar. or the much cheaper USA Sports GOB-72 30lb bar.

CrossFit / Olympic Weightlifting

Beginner Crossfitters will have the easiest time with a lightweight bar to learn good form with before progressing to a normal weight bar. The Troy GOB-300LZ is a good pick.

For male Crossfitters, the Rage Phoenix is popular. The knurling is soft enough for olympic lifts, it's strong enough for dropping with bumpers, it's strong/stiff enough for squats, flexible enough for olympic lifts, and the zinc finish doesn't get too slippery when wet. It also resists corrosion well without maintenance.

If you really want the best for olympic lifts, the Rage Titan is a top quality bearing bar.

Female Crossfitters can use the same bars as men, but they will usually prefer a 25mm bar instead for their smaller hands to get a hook grip. See the Rage Elevation Women's, or for a bearing bar see the Rage Titan Women's.

Commercial Gyms

You want the strongest, stiffest, most durable bars you can get, with medium knurling and probably center knurling. They will keep most everyone happy and stay in good shape through many years of daily abuse. The Troy AOB-1500B is a great choice.

Deadlift

A specialty deadlift bar is 28-29mm, because thicker bars are slightly harder to grip securely for pulling movements, and grip is one of the first things to fail for many people doing deadlifts. Any finish but chrome is fine because chrome is slippery. The deadlift is one exercise where many lifters want deep knurling for a killer grip. Nothing rivals the Troy AOB-2000B Texas Power Bar's grip, but its knurling is so deep it may be uncomfortable. The Troy AOB-1500B is great too.

Squat

A specialty squat bar should be a strong, thick 32mm bar. A thick bar like that doesn't have any whip to it, so it doesn't get wobbly on you when you come out of the hole on a heavy squat. You also want center knurling to keep the bar from sliding off your back. Squats are what center knurling was designed for. The York 32112 (chrome) or 32120 (black oxide) are great choices.

Bench Press

A specialty bench press press bar is a stiff bar with a 30-32mm diameter for the best grip for pressing movements like this. A lot of bars would work just fine here. It doesn't even need to be a really strong bar, because most heavy lifter's bench press max is way below their squat and deadlift, and the bar isn't subjected to much torque during a bench press or being racked, and the thick 30-32mm diameter helps make up for weaker steel. But if you want an awesome bar, the above 32mm squat bars would work, and as far as 30mm bars, the York 32113 is a solid pick.

 









 


Your Account
About Us
Contact Us
Blog
Newsletter
Privacy Policy
Shipping Rates & Times
Returns and Exchanges
Manufacturer's Warranties
Payment Methods
Receive our weekly specials and product tips




Copyright © 2007-2014 Adamant Barbell / Design by: IDEAS