The Best Barbells in 2022 – SI Showcase

Andara Puchino

Best barbells

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Even total workout newbies know: A barbell is one of the most classic staples of gym equipment.

But there’s more to barbells than you might expect. There are several types designed for different needs and they are certainly not created equal. Barbells can vary in weight, length, grip (also known as knurl), durability, and more. You’ll also find varying tensile strengths, an indicator of the amount of weight a barbell can hold before it breaks, which is measured in PSI; and yield strengths, which shows how much weight the bar can be loaded with before it deforms, and is measured in pounds.

Standard barbells are designed to work with a variety of weight plates, including bumper plates, Olympic plates and hexagonal plates, so all of these barbells work with nearly any plates you have access to.

When you’re choosing a barbell for your home gym, you’re likely only going to buy one. In this bar review, we’re going to share the 10 best barbells on the market, so you can choose the perfect barbell for your workout.

Our picks for the best barbells:

  1. Best Barbell Overall: Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar
  2. Runner-up: REP Fitness Gladiator MX Barbell
  3. Best Barbell for Beginners: Force USA Ranger Barbell
  4. Best Budget Barbell: REP Basic Barbell
  5. Best Multi-Purpose Barbell: Fringe Sport Hybrid Bar
  6. Best Olympic Barbell: Synergee Games Barbell
  7. Best Power Bar: Rogue Fitness Ohio Power Bar
  8. Best Women’s Barbell: Get RxD Stealth Bar
  9. Best Barbell on Amazon: CAP OB-86B Beast Barbell
  10. Best Safety Squat Bar: Rogue Fitness Safety Squat Bar

Best Overall: Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar 

When it comes to fitness equipment, Rogue Fitness sets a high standard as the classic American barbell. The Ohio Bar is the best choice for nearly any home gym. Available in a variety of finishes and options, including black zinc, oxide or stainless steel, the Ohio Bar has an option for everyone.

With high tensile strength, this barbell is able to withstand pretty much anything, from heavy deadlifts to high-intensity Olympic weightlifting that involves dropping the bar over and over.

This bar is ideal for weightlifting, general strength training or any time you need to move heavy weight. It’s versatile, comfortable and, like all Rogue barbells, comes with a lifetime warranty. .

The bar doesn’t have any center knurling, which means people who focus exclusively on powerlifting might want a more specialized barbell for better grip. But for general use, this is the most well-rounded, high-quality barbell on the market.

Features:

  • Very high tensile strength at 190,000 PSI
  • Rogue’s lifetime warranty
  • Many options for finishes

Buy Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar ($320, RogueFitness.com)

Runner-up: REP Fitness Gladiator MX Barbell

If Rogue isn’t your thing, the Gladiator MX Barbell from REP Fitness is a fantastic second choice.

The features are nearly identical: 190,000 PSI tensile strength, no center knurling and a versatile design suitable for nearly any purpose. The barbell is designed for Olympic weightlifting, so the sleeves (i.e., the ends of the bar, where the plates slide on) allow for easy loading. The plates can also rotate freely as the bar moves.

The knurl marks are enough to help improve your grip, without being so harsh that it tears up your hands with regular use. This barbell is rated for 1,500 pounds, so most people don’t have to worry about bending it with repeated, heavy loading.

REP Fitness doesn’t have quite the same reputation, however; the warranty is only for five years, which is shorter than Rogue’s lifetime warranty. However, you’re still getting a high-quality piece of equipment. And with a $219 price tag, this is an affordable, durable investment.

Features:

  • Very high tensile strength at 190,000 PSI
  • Multi-function use and easy-to-use sleeves

Buy REP Fitness Gladiator MX Barbell ($219, RepFitness.com)

Best Barbell for Beginners: Force USA Ranger Barbell

If you’re new to lifting or investing in your first barbell, the Ranger Barbell from Force USA is a great choice for your home gym.

The sleeves are plated with zinc, which is designed to help reduce corrosion over time. The shaft of the bar is coated in black zinc, for the best possible rust protection and grip.

The Ranger Barbell is rated at 170,000 PSI, so slightly less than the Rogue or REP Fitness options. But for most people, that’s still plenty. Elite lifters may want to go with a stronger option, as lower-quality barbells can bend over time. Still, if you’re just getting started and aren’t lifting hundreds of pounds, this is a great barbell to purchase.

Features:

  • High tensile strength at 170,000 PSI

Buy Force USA Ranger Barbell ($239, ForceUSA.com)

Best Affordable Barbell: REP Basic Barbell

REP Basic Barbell

If you’re just getting started with lifting, it’s hard to beat the REP Basic Barbell. While it’s not as sturdy as some of the other options, it’s much more affordable and new lifters likely won’t need anything stronger for years to come.

This barbell features center knurling in addition to the standard grip, which helps the bar stay in place when doing exercises like the back squat. The sleeves don’t spin, so this is mostly designed for strength work—not explosive, CrossFit-style weightlifting.

If you plan on doing Olympic lifting, or are regularly using hundreds of pounds on your barbell lifts, you may want to consider a stronger option. For everyone else, this is a great entry-level barbell and a perfect addition to your home gym.

Features:

  • Lower tensile strength of 100,000 PSI
  • Zinc, anti-corrosion finish
  • Stable sleeves for powerlifting and strength training

Buy REP Basic Barbell ($119, RepFitness.com)

Best Multi-Purpose Barbell: Fringe Sport Hybrid Bar

If you’re a serious lifter who wants a multi-purpose barbell that’s built to last, look no further than the Fringe Sport Hybrid Bar.

This bar has features designed for advanced powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters and CrossFitters—all in one sturdy, sleek package. The steel bar can handle 216,200 PSI of strength, one of the strongest bars on our list. No matter how strong you are, this bar is built to last, without bending or warping.

The Fringe also includes non-traditional knurling, designed for serious weightlifters. The center knurl is designed to work around your shins, and won’t leave them scraped and bloody after deadlifts. It’s a thick knurling, so if you don’t have a calloused grip already, you might find this barbell a bit harsh.

This isn’t a bar for new lifters. But if you’ve got a few years under your belt, this is a quality bar you can’t go wrong with.

Features:

  • Highest tensile strength in our test: 216,200 PSI
  • Unique “shin-friendly” knurling

Buy Fringe Sport Hybrid Bar ($445, FringeSport.com)

Best Olympic Barbell: Synergee Games Barbell

Olympic lifting is a different game than traditional strength training. With fast, snappy movements that often result in the bar being quickly lifted overhead, you need a barbell designed to move with you.

The Synergee Games barbell includes 10 sets of needle bearings, so the sleeves of this bar can easily spin and move as you’re lifting.

Olympic lifting is about mobility, not stability and rigid weights. This bar reflects that. The knurling is also delicate, to help improve your grip without tearing up the skin on your hands.

You’ll also enjoy a 190,000 PSI rating and 1,500 weight capacity, so this bar shouldn’t bend—even if you repeatedly drop it from overhead.

However, if Olympic lifting isn’t your thing, you’ll probably want a different option. Having weights that move too much can be problematic if you’re focusing on traditional lifts like bench press, squats, or deadlifts. This bar is designed specifically for explosive movement.

Features:

  • Very high tensile strength of 190,000 PSI
  • Stylish black and red design
  • 10 needle bearings for maximum mobility

Buy Synergee Games Barbell ($239, SynergeeFitness.com)

Best Power Bar: Rogue Fitness Ohio Power Bar

While Rogue’s standard Ohio bar is a fantastic option that can be used for multiple purposes, the Ohio Power Bar is the best powerlifting barbell on the market.

When performing the squat, bench and deadlift, the most important thing is stability and safety. While Olympic bars are designed to be mobile, and enable the weights to spin and move, powerlifting bars are designed to be more stable. You don’t want the plates moving too much when you’re performing a heavy squat. Similarly, you don’t want a bar with too much flex (lifters call this “whip”), either.

The Rogue Fitness Ohio Power Bar includes powerlifting specific, aggressive knurling as well as thinner collars. This enables you to load even more weight on both ends. It’s a heavy-duty bar designed for the serious strength athlete, backed by Rogue’s lifetime warranty.

Features:

  • Very high tensile strength of 200,000 PSI
  • Center knurling for safer squatting
  • Approved for use by the International Powerlifting Federation

Buy Rogue Fitness Ohio Power Bar ($305, RogueFitness.com)

Best Barbell on Amazon: CAP OB-86B Beast Barbell

If you don’t need a specialty powerlifting or Olympic lifting bar, you’ll want to get something well-rounded and sturdy. “The Beast” by CAP is a multi-use barbell that would fit well in any home or commercial gym.

It’s made from Japanese cold-rolled steel with a black phosphate finish, and it’s designed for strength and longevity.

However, there’s one thing to be aware of: A few Amazon reviewers say the metal chips off, leaving “metal splinters.” However, the company is quick to replace the barbells according to the reviewers that had complaints.

We don’t know if the splintering grip is still an issue, and it’s certainly not a problem on every barbell. But it’s worth noting that CAP has had quality issues in the past.

Features:

  • Lower tensile strength of 110,000 PSI
  • 1,200 lb. weight capacity
  • Possible quality control concerns

Buy CAP OB-86B Beast Barbell ($157, Amazon.com)

Best Women’s Barbell: Get RxD Stealth Bar

Women’s barbells are slightly shorter, narrower, and lighter, according to Olympic weightlifting standards. While a men’s barbell is 45 pounds with a 28mm diameter, a women’s barbell is 33 pounds with a 25mm diameter.

This model offers a rugged build with a high tensile strength, but the slightly smaller dimensions provide better control for those with a smaller build.

Features:

  • High tensile strength of 216,000 PSI
  • Dual knurling marks, for Olympic lifters or powerlifters

Buy Get RxD Stealth Bar ($250, GetRxD.com)

Best Safety Squat Bar: Rogue Fitness Safety Squat Bar

A safety squat bar isn’t a common sight in most commercial gyms. But as anyone who’s ever used one can attest, it can seriously elevate your squatting workouts.

The Rogue Safety Squat bar features a comfortable padding so the barbell can rest on your shoulders. You can comfortably grasp the bar in front of your chest instead of bending and twisting your arms under a standard barbell.

Not only does this bar provide a shoulder-friendly workout, it also changes the weight distribution by shifting more of the load to the front of your body. Your quads and core will do significantly more work.

This bar can only be used for squat variations, so if you’re looking for one bar that suits many purposes, this isn’t a good choice. But if you’re a serious lifter, and don’t mind splurging on something that’ll change up your squat workouts, the Rogue Safety Squat bar is the best on the market.

Features:

  • Comfortable, yet challenging squat workouts
  • Stylish, dark, bold design

Buy Rogue Fitness Safety Squat Bar ($445, RogueFitness.com)

Barbell Basics: Why Are There Different Types?

Most people who train in commercial gyms are only exposed to one type of barbell, so you may be wondering why there are so many different barbell types.

Most barbells look identical, but their function can vary greatly. Let’s take a quick look at some of the different types of lifting and why you may want a different barbell for each style.

Powerlifting

Those who enjoy powerlifting focus on the big three lifts: squat, bench and deadlift. The goal is maximum strength and simply moving as much weight as possible—with proper form, of course.

When powerlifting, you’re looking for stability. You don’t want a bar that bends or moves too much, as the goal is moving a maximum weight, not speed or mobility. The most important thing is a bar you can grip (and a bar that won’t bend or move around too much). For example, the bar bends too much when deadlifting, it can shift the weight around and increase the risk of injury.

If you’re trying to deadlift and the bar is bending, shaking and wobbling in your hands, it can be very difficult to stabilize.

Powerlifting bars often have more knurling or “grip” in the center of the bar. When you’re back squatting, you’re placing a heavy load on your upper shoulders and the center knurling can help dig into your shirt, keeping the bar stable. These bars often use bushings in the sleeves—smooth, one-piece rings that allow the bar to spin slowly—resulting in minimal spin and movement.

If you’re a powerlifter, it’s well worth investing in a power bar, like the Rogue Fitness Ohio Power Bar.

Olympic Lifting

Olympic lifters generally focus on explosive movements like the power clean, snatch, clean and jerk, etc. If you’ve ever seen weightlifting in the Olympics, you’ve seen these classic Olympic lifts, which require a special weightlifting barbell for maximum safety.

It’s still about lifting weights, but it’s much faster than powerlifting. For example, with a snatch movement, you’re lifting a bar from the ground and trying to move it over your head as fast as possible. This is a fast, high-velocity movement and it helps to have a bar that “whips” or bends.

Olympic lifters often drop or throw the barbell after the lift is completed, so the whip acts like a shock absorber, preventing the barbell from permanently bending when it hits the ground. These bars usually have bearings in them, so the sleeves can spin and move independently as you lift. A flexible bar with whip and more spin in the sleeves will quickly enable the weight to balance itself as you’re completing the movement, making an Olympic bar the safest choice for pure Olympic lifters. A rigid powerlifting bar won’t have the same kind of give, and could make stabilizing the weight more difficult.

CrossFit/General Lifting

Finally, for those who enjoy Crossfit WODS, or general fitness enthusiasts who use a barbell for a variety of options, a multi-purpose training bar is likely your best choice.

Many people do a variety of movements—some powerlifting, some Olympic lifting, some regular strength training. And if you aren’t a specialist in one area, a multi-purpose bar will work well for any type of lift.

If you’re purchasing a barbell for your home gym or a commercial gym with members, multi-purpose bars will offer the most flexibility for all of your needs.

What to Look for in a Barbell

Tensile strength vs yield strength

Tensile strength, listed in pounds per square inch, measures how much weight a barbell can withstand before it breaks. Generally speaking, a higher tensile strength means a barbell can hold more weight, and these numbers are usually well over 100,000 PSI.

You also want to look at yield strength, which measures how much weight a barbell can withstand before it’s permanently bent. You’ll often see barbells at gyms that are slightly bent in the middle–this is likely to due to heavy use, and low yield strength.

Typically, a high tensile strength means the yield strength is also high. Not all companies disclose the yield strength, but you may see the yield strength listed as weight capacity. For example, the CAP Beast Barbell has a weight capacity of up to 1,200 pounds.

Knurling

You know that rough part of the bar? It’s called knurling, and it’s designed to help you hang on to even the heaviest weights. That textured surface creates traction and gives you a better grip, even if you’re sweating and slippery.

Some bars intentionally have lighter knurling, as rough knurling can really dig into your hands until you build calluses. For those who are veteran lifters, heavier knurling can provide a stronger grip, offering an additional safety benefit.

Most people will likely prefer a light to medium knurling. But if you’re an elite lifter, heavy knurling is available.

Other Factors to Consider

Once you’ve established whether you need a specialty bar, it’s wise to consider a few other factors that should impact your decision.

Budget

How much are you willing to spend? If money is no issue, we suggest choosing a higher-end option like the Rogue Ohio bar. This is versatile, high-quality and backed by a lifetime warranty.

If you’re buying this for a gym, especially if you cater to more serious lifters, it may be worth investing in multiple different models of barbell. Most gyms only have one type of barbell. Serious lifters will likely seek you out if they know you have different options, such as power bars and safety squat bars.

Space

Assuming you’re building a home gym or space is limited, you’ll likely only have room for one bar. They aren’t “big,” but they are long, and you need to put them somewhere.

Gyms often have specialty barbell racks. But in a home gym, you may have to lean your barbell against a wall to get it out of the way. This can be tricky if you have more than one.

Weight

There are two things to consider here: The bar’s weight and how much you normally lift.

First, while the standard barbell is 20 kilograms (approximately 44 pounds), some manufacturers also sell a women’s weight, which is only 15 kilograms (33 pounds). If you’re a woman training at home and don’t need to share the bar, that may be a great option for you. It’ll be easier to use on more lifts.

Second, you need to consider how strong you are. If you’re a powerlifter regularly putting more than 500 pounds on the bar, lower-end, weaker bars can bend and warp over time. The same can happen if you’re regularly dropping or slamming your weights; stiff bars can become damaged and bend.

Anyone who’s lifting more than 250 pounds on any lift should consider investing in a higher-quality, stronger bar, which will last significantly longer.

The Takeaway

It’s impossible to choose one barbell that will be perfect for everyone. There’s a wide variety of styles, weights and knurling options to meet anyone’s needs.

Whether you’re building a home gym or buying new equipment for a commercial gym, this list will point you in the right direction.

Prices are accurate and items in stock at time of publishing.

https://www.si.com/showcase/fitness/best-barbells

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