Penny Pinchers Pump Iron Too: 7 Best Cheap Barbells For Your Gym

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Affordable barbells for a home gym

Ever been like Goldilocks testing out the bears’ beds? This time we’re finding the barbell that feels just right, without the grizzly price tag.

Truth is, the best barbells made by the best barbell brands cost from several hundred dollars to well over a thousand bucks.

I won’t be talking about those. Taking a more modest approach, I limited my product testing to models that cost under $400.

So in this review article I share my hands-on evaluations of several popular & cheap barbells available at fitness equipment retailers & online stores.

And while my Top Pick, the Rogue Ohio series, has bars ranging in price from $250-$400, the other six Oly bars are currently priced from just $125 or so up to $250.

Below are my seven choices for best cheap barbell that we’ll be looking at. All are Olympic-sized bars (approx. 7′ long with 2″ sleeves), and all weigh 44 lb. (20kg) except for the Rep Sabre, which is a women’s bar weighing 33 lb. (15kg).

 

Top Pick – Rogue Ohio Bar series

Rogue Ohio Bar series of barbells

 

Best Cheap Barbell Honorable Mentions

Last update on 2024-04-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

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Science resources included

As is my custom here on heydayDo, I will provide links to all of the relevant sports science & medical resources, clinical studies, and nutritional data used in this article.

 

The hunt for the best cheap barbell

Given the amount of junk sold at my local sporting goods & big box stores – as well as online – it was easy to distill the original pack of 15 or so barbells I handled down to the seven powerlifting bars highlighted in this article.

Bottom line: Someone on a tight budget (like me for example) or someone looking for a beginner’s powerlifting or Olympic barbell simply does not have to spend a ton of money to get a good bar for their purposes.

My favorites of the bunch — the Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar & the Bells of Steel Power Bar — prove that you can get an excellent barbell at a reasonable price.

(Actually, the Bells of Steel powerlifting bar’s a steal at under $250.)

And to varying degrees, the others bars chosen for this article prove you can still get a ‘very good to decent’ bar for under $250 too.

 

Program notes

You can click on the blue name links or the pics to go read more owner feedback & reviews on Amazon if you want.

Note that Rogue Fitness won’t sell their premium powerlifting equipment on Amazon, so any pics or links of theirs go to their website.

Best Cheap BarBest Cheap Barbell - heydayDo.com image 1

Sneak peek at these cheap Olympic barbells

So what does an owner have to say about the budget-priced barbell they purchased?

Well, every barbell in the group has buyer grades well above average for a piece of home gym equipment, and I’ve tested and researched hundreds of ’em.

I think the lowest rated barbell in this article still has a 4.6 out of 5 stars rating, with nearly 90% of its buyers giving it a 5 or 4-star review.

At the head of the class the Rogue Ohio power bar has an outstanding owner rating — it’s just shy of a perfect 5-star rating with over 3,000 buyers weighing in.

And in close second comes the Bells of Steel Barenaked Powerlifting Bar, also with outstanding customer reviews — 4.8 stars, and a 96% satisfaction rating from 400+ owners.

 

Best cheap barbell customers’ reviews

Rogue Ohio Bar

Bought this Rogue Ohio bar for my home gym, I love it. Better than any bar I’ve used in any commercial gym anywhere. The finish is awesome, feels natural without the hassle of dealing with a bare steel bar. Worth the extra cost IMO. – MI

Rogue Ohio Barbell

 

Bells of Steel Barenaked Powerlifting Bar

“After 35 years of lifting, competing and coaching, this bar meets all the needs for a Home Gym. If you’re training to compete or just wanting to be the Alpha dad in the neighborhood, this bar has the qualities that you need.” – AF

Sale
Powerlifting Bar 2.0 [Bells of Steel] Heavy-Duty Power...
  • 💯 Meets IPF Specs: In powerlifting, training with competition-like...
  • ✊ Cheese-Grater Knurling: There’s not much worse than missing a new...
  • 🚀 Serious Stiffness: With a 210,000 PSI tensile strength and 1,500lb...

Last update on 2024-04-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

XMark Fitness Voodoo Olympic Bar

“Excellent bar for Olympic lifting. After much research, I decided to go with this bar and it has been outstanding. The black finish doesn’t wear off onto my hands. With weight plates on, the sleeve will spin about 3 times, it’s just right for me.” – B

XMark VOODOO Weight Bar OB86, 7’ Olympic bar, Barbell...
  • A 5-STAR STAPLE OF ANY HOME GYM. The XMark VOODOO Olympic bar is over built...
  • The VOODOO weight bar offers a superior tensile strength of 185,000 PSI...
  • Crafted using a heat treated alloy steel and a snap ring lock system, the...

Last update on 2024-04-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

XMark Lumberjack Olympic Bar

“Quality for a great price. The coating is ideal for non-slip grip, no chalk or straps needed. Do not let price fool you, ideal for bench press, deadlifts, and squats. I use for my home gym so the brass bushings work fine for me and wifey. ” – J

XMARK LUMBERJACK OB86 7’ Weight Bar, Olympic Bar, Use...
  • 7’ Olympic bar with moderate flex ideal for snatches, cleans, presses,...
  • Medium depth knurling with IWF & IPF marks for workout diversity.
  • Chrome sleeves, brass bushings, durable 28 mm shaft.

Last update on 2024-04-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

Synergee Rhino PowerBar

“This our second Synergee bar and we like it a lot. I really like the knurling on it and the construction looks very good. We use it in our home gym so I expect this to last a very long time.” – SB

Synergee Open 20kg Men's Black Phosphate Shaft and...
  • The Synergee Open bar has been praised as "great," "solid," and "perfect"...
  • The Open Barbell is made of high-grade steel, giving it a 150K psi tensile...
  • We choose needle bearings over bushings and other bearings because we...

Last update on 2024-04-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

Rep Sabre Women’s Olympic Bar

“Great barbell for small spaces. I went with the Sabre Barbell as space is limited in my basement. Its length works well in my space and its weight capacity is more than I will ever need. The sleeves rotate smooth and quiet and knurl is nice, not too aggressive.” – Andrea

Last update on 2024-04-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

CAP (The Boss) Olympic Bar

“Good value for a a barbell. I was looking for a solid bar that was a step above the poorly made bars that come with weight sets. I can say the quality appears good and it should last me a very long time.” – FC

Sale
CAP Barbell THE BOSS Power Squat Olympic Bar | For...
  • ✔️CONSTRUCTION – Made with solid Japanese steel with a black...
  • ✔️SPECS – 132,000 PSI tensile strength steel; 2185mm in length;...
  • ✔️FEATURES – Medium-depth diamond knurling for secure, non-slip grip;...

Last update on 2024-04-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

Best Cheap Barbell Reviews

Okie dokie, here are my detailed individual product findings. Blue product names & images link to their Amazon product pages, except for Rogue’s as mentioned earlier.

Bells of Steel sells their power bar both on their site & on Amazon, so I have links to both places if you want to compare prices. Both places offer free shipping.

Rogue Ohio Bar

Top Pick – Best barbell under $400

4.9 ⭐   3,000+ online reviews

Rogue Ohio series barbell

Easy choice for the top barbell under $400, the Rogue Ohio series of power bars are simply built better with better materials than any other cheap barbell, and come with a lifetime warranty against bending just to prove it to you.

The only barbell in this review that’s made in the USA, the Rogue Ohio power bar comes in several shaft coatings including cerakote, zinc oxide, black oxide, and in a wide range of colors.

Unmatched durability in this price range and an easy recommendation for home weightlifting enthusiasts, high school & collegiate athletic gyms, CrossFit boxes, and powerlifting competitions…Rogue’s been there and done all that, thousands of times.

The Rogue Ohio power bar stats below are from the Cerakote model, and all of the series under $400 are about the same.

 

Owner satisfaction rating for Rogue Ohio barbells: 99%, 4.9 stars (3,000+ online reviews)

Tech Specs:

Bar use: Multi-purpose

Warranty – Lifetime against bending.

Tensile strength – 190,000

Knurl – standard multi

Center knurling – No

Bearings or bushings – Bronze bushings for reliable mellow spin.

Markings: Dual-marked for Olympic and power lifts.

Shaft coating – Cerakote

Sleeve coating – Cerakote or chrome

 

Potential issues?

*None with the bar or the company that builds it. The Rogue Ohio power bar may be outside the budget for a beginning lifter.

Check Today's Price

 

 

Bells of Steel Barenaked Powerlifting Bar

Top Pick – Best barbell under $250

Bells of Steel Barbell - Barenaked Powerlifting Bar

(I own this bar, and you can read my full in-depth review of it here: Bells of Steel Power Bar Review.)

The Barenaked powerlifting barbell is made to the strict IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) specifications, and its feel and performance mimic the elite bars used in competition.

That makes it a useful training tool for anyone competing or interested in powerlifting. Or as in my case, simply a home gym buff whose weightlifting programs are built around powerlifting exercises.

This is the strongest bar featured in this review, made from high yield strength steel with a tensile strength of 210,000 PSI and a load capacity of 1,500 lb.

That makes it the stiffest bar in this article as well, with almost no whip at all, so this bar is not made for Olympic lifting exercises (clean & jerk, snatch).

But given its great quality compared to its really low price, it’s near perfect as a pure powerlifting barbell focused specifically on squats, bench press, deadlifts, overhead presses, rows, etc.

Check out my full review if interested.

 

Owner satisfaction rating for the Barenaked Powerlifting Bar: 96%, 4.8 stars (400+ online reviews)

Tech Specs:

Bar use: Powerlifting (Squats, Bench Presses, Deadlifts)

Warranty – Lifetime.

Tensile strength – 210,000

Knurl – aggressive

Center knurling – Yes

Bearings or bushings – Bushings for minimal spin.

Markings: Powerlifting

Shaft coating – none, Bare Steel

Sleeve coating – Ribbed chrome, so plates can’t slide or rattle around.

 

Potential issues?

*A bare steel barbell needs regular maintenance (10 minutes, once every week or two), in order to minimize & clean off its normal production of rust.

It’s real easy to do, but some people who don’t know much about bare steel bars are unaware of this, and may not want to spend the time taking care of their barbell.

 

(“Today’s Price” is on Bells of Steel’s website, where it’s usually cheaper but sometimes out of stock. Amazon’s price varies; lately it’s been around $230.)

Check Today's Price   Check Amazon Price button orange

 

XMark Fitness Voodoo Olympic Bar

XMark VOODOO Weight Bar OB86, 7’ Olympic bar, Barbell...

I think this is one of the best barbells under 200 bucks you’ll be able to find.

The Xmark Voodoo has a static rating of 1500 lb., tensile strength of 185,000, and a finish (manganese phosphate) that’s a definite step up from the decorative chrome found on other cheap barbells in its price range.

 

Owner satisfaction rating: 93%, 4.7 stars (500+ online reviews)

Tech Specs:

Static rating – 1500 lb.

Tensile strength – 185,000

Knurl – medium depth

Center knurling – No

Bearings or bushings – bushings, brass. Good spin for the price

Markings: Dual-marked

Coating – Manganese phosphate. Superior to decorative chrome, and more resistant to oxidation than oxides

Warranty – 90 days against bending

 

Potential issues?

*The warranty seems stingy to me (I’m allergic to short warranties by nature), but I have to remind myself “Dude, it’s under $150. What kind of warranty do you expect?”

Check Today's Price

 

 

XMark Fitness Lumberjack Olympic Bar

XMark Fitness Lumberjack Olympic Bar

Another XMark “best barbell for the money” model, and again the money’s less than 200 bucks.

The Lumberjack is like the junior sibling to the previously-reviewed Voodoo, in fact very similar to the Voodoo except in terms of its strength & load capacity (700 lb. vs. 1500 lb. for the Voodoo).

All of the other build & design characteristics are the same, although subjectively I thought the knurl on the Lumberjack felt a little more aggressive.

However, both bars I had access to were used, and I don’t know by how much.

 

Owner satisfaction rating: 96%, 4.8 stars (700+ online reviews)

Tech Specs:

Static rating – 700 lb. weight capacity.

Tensile strength – none listed (since static rating isn’t high).

Knurl – medium/aggressive

Center knurling – No

Bearings/bushings – bushings, brass. Good spin for the price.

Sleeve length: 16 1/2″

Markings: Dual-marked

Coating – Manganese phosphate. Superior to decorative chrome, and more resistant to oxidation than oxides.

Warranty – same as Voodoo’s, that 90 days against bending protection.

 

Potential issues?

*Well, there’s that same skimpy warranty that bugged me a little with the Voodoo. But look at the low price. Decent quality in a cheap barbell is very tempting, especially if we’re on a tight budget.

Check Today's Price

 

 

Synergee Open Olympic Barbell Review

Synergee Open Black Phosphate PowerBar

The Open is designed as a multi-purpose bar, and does a good job of meeting the ‘all-round everything bar’ specifications given its low price-tag. It’s about as good as you can get without splurging on a premium Olympic barbell.

The Open is a black phosphate Olympic bar with chrome sleeves and has a 1 year warranty — nice for a cheap bar — that’s nine months longer than either of the two Xmark Olympic barbells in this review.

It features 2 needle bearings per sleeve, has a medium flex feel with good whip and a smooth, active spin.

Excellent customer rating too.

 

Owner satisfaction rating:  96%, 4.8 stars, based on 600+ reviews.

Tech Specs:

Static rating – 1000 lb.

Tensile strength – 150,000

Knurl – standard knurling

Center knurling – No

Bearings or bushings – Needle bearings.

Sleeve length: 16.4″

Markings: Dual-knurl marks

Coating – Black phosphate coated shaft and chrome sleeves

Warranty – 1 year. If there is any issue, there are free replacements. 100% satisfaction guarantee.

 

Potential issues?

Not really, it’s a dirt cheap bar that has 96% of its many customers giving it 5 or 4 stars…so there aren’t many complaints. It does have some spin, but it is a multi-purpose bar — not a pure powerlifter — with needle bearings.

Check Today's Price

 

 

Rep Fitness Sabre Women’s Olympic Bar

Rep Sabre Women's Olympic Bar

This 33 lb./25mm diameter Sabre felt solid when I tried it; no cheap-y knockoff feel at all. I think it could be a great fit for different bar workouts with its non-aggressive knurling & smooth spin, no center knurl, double knurl markings, etc.

It fits fine on an Oly bench, no pinched fingers by the J-cups. The only thing is that the sleeves are about 3 1/2″ shorter than standard size (and the center section of the bar is 2″ or so shorter too).

This barbell is marketed for women due to its slightly smaller build, but lots of guys own one, & I’ve seen it in use by all kinds in Crossbox HIIT classes.

Finally, it performs well. The sleeves rotate smoothly and it can support up to 1,000 lb., more than you & I’ll need combined. Its other strength stats are plenty too.

All in all, a reliable workout tool at a good price.

 

Owner satisfaction rating for the Rep Sabre: 91%, 4.7 stars (250+ online reviews)

Tech Specs:

Bar weight: 33 lb. (15kg)

Length: 79.1″

Diameter: 25mm (3mm narrower than standard)

Bar use: Multi-purpose

Static rating: 1000 lb.

Tensile strength – 150,000

Knurl – medium

Center knurling – No

Bearings or bushings – Ball bearings.

Sleeve length: 12.6″

Markings: Dual-marked for Olympic and power lifts.

Shaft coating – Zinc

Sleeve coating – Smooth chrome

Warranty – one year

 

Potential issues?

*A tiny handful of ‘right out of the box’ complaints about a packaging or manufacturing flaw. But these few are compared to a couple hundred 5-star verified buyers on the Rep Fitness site, & dozens of happy customers on Amazon too.

*One minor quibble of mine has nothing to do with the feel or performance of the bar; it’s with Amazon’s product page info.

Amazon is currently selling just the “women’s” version — 33 lb. (15kg), which has a bar diameter of 25mm. I know it does, because I’ve handled the 15kg Sabre & it is indeed a little thinner than the standard 28mm used for 44 lb. Olympic bars.

But Amazon is listing the diameter as 28mm for the 15kg bar, which is impossible because Rep only makes the 15kg Sabre bar with a 25 mm diameter. No biggie, but just sayin’…

Check Today's Price

 

 

CAP Barbell “The Boss” Olympic Bar Review

CAP The Boss Olympic Bar

This very popular cheap barbell comes in several different versions, and it’s 2 biggest selling versions are The Beast & The Boss.

I’m reviewing the Boss here because it’s the superior bar in terms of static rating (1500 lb. vs. 1000 lb. for The Beast) and tensile strength (132,000 vs. 110,000 for The Beast).

This is a good beginner barbell that is kinda-sorta similar to as the XMark Voodoo, so I thought I’d put the two barbells head-to-head.

 

CAP The Boss vs. XMark Voodoo

Comparing the two, I found the XMark Voodoo scored better in a few areas that are important to me. Your criteria may be different, so here’s what I found:

 

Price: currently CAP costs $70 more, after a recent jump in price

Rating: same (1,500 lb.)

Tensile strength: advantage Voodoo (185,000 vs. 132,000)

Bushings: advantage Voodoo (brass vs. plastic)

Spin: same (they’re both good considering the price)

Coating: same (if you order the CAP barbell with the manganese phosphate)

Knurl: same (medium depth)

Markings: advantage Voodoo (no powerlifting marks on the CAP bar)

Warranty: advantage Voodoo (90 days vs. 30 days)

 

Non-deal breakers for me, but maybe for someone else:

Bar diameter: advantage Voodoo (28mm vs. 28.5)

Sleeve length: advantage Voodoo (16.5” vs. 15.5”)

 

Cap’s The Boss owner satisfaction rating: 93%, 4.7 stars (4,500+ online reviews)

Tech Specs:

Static rating – 1,500 lb.

Tensile strength – 132,000

Knurl – medium depth

Center knurling – with or without, your call

Bearings/bushings – Bushings, plastic. Good spin for the price

Markings: single, and they’re the wide Oly lifter marks

Coating – manganese phosphate or zinc oxide, your choice

Warranty – 30 days for home use

Other/Notes – As mentioned earlier, note that the sleeve lengths are 1” shorter than standard, 15.5” vs. 16.5”. Also note that the CAP bars in this series have a diameter of 28.5mm vs. the standard 28mm.

 

Potential issues?

*Here I go again, but the 30-day warranty on this CAP barbell is even shorter than the meager warranties offered on XMark’s 2 models.

* A few recent buyers have bars with defects right out of the box.

Check Today's Price

 

 

Best Cheap Barbell - heydaydo.com image2

Powerlifting bars and bars for Olympic lifts

If you’re new to weightlifting you might not know that the best barbell brands manufacture 2 types of barbells: one for powerlifting and one for Olympic lifting.

Olympic lifting competitions – at the Olympics & wherever else – consist of only 2 exercises, the clean & jerk and the snatch.

These links below connect to a brief description and 10 second video of each exercise, courtesy of a site I like called ExRx.net. They open in a separate tab.

Clean & Jerk

Snatch

The Olympic bars designed specifically for these exercises have slightly different characteristics than the powerlifting bar, which is made for our Big 3:

  • deadlift
  • squat
  • bench press

Yet in most instances the term Olympic bar is loosely used to describe the bars used for both lifting styles.

 

Broad-brush use of the term ‘olympic bar’

You can see that the product names for many of the barbells in this review contain the words “Olympic bar”.

Note though, that these bars are technically general purpose (or multi-purpose) barbells capable of being used for both Olympic lifts and powerlifting, as well as all of the other barbell-friendly lifts too.

Sometimes you’ll see manufacturers of cheap barbells & top-notch barbells alike use the word Olympic in a generic, descriptive fashion like this to simply indicate that the bar has 2” sleeves built to accommodate Olympic plates and 2″ bumper plates.

 

Olympic bars vs. the standard barbell

This is just a quick overview in case you heard the term standard barbells at the gym but wasn’t sure what that meant.

Simply put, all of the bars in this review article are Olympic bars as far as their size goes:

  • weighs 44.1 – 45 lb.,
  • is seven feet long,
  • has a bar diameter between 28 mm – 30 mm,
  • has 2″ rotating sleeves built for their respective weight plates and bumper plates, etc.

The term standard bar refers to the skinnier bar you’ll see at the gym that is:

  • usually between five and six feet long,
  • has sleeves that don’t rotate, and are
  • smaller than those on the Olympic,
  • and weighs less than half what an Olympic bar does, around twenty pounds.

Given the standard bar is only five to six feet long, it won’t fit on a typical powerlifting bench press or squat rack. Nor do you want to put typical 2″ plates on it either, since they’ll be loose and slide on you.

 

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Barbell Buying Guide

Here are several possible points of consideration for you when buying a barbell, but not all of them are mandatory by any means.

Advanced lifters are usually very attentive to all these details, just like anyone who deep dives into a hobby, sport, or career.

Depending on your intended use and how much weight you’ll be lifting, some of these factors may be more important to you than others or not even a factor at all.

I think it’s up to you, your current budget, and your weightlifting goals at this point.

 

Barbell Strength

A barbell’s tensile strength is a spec you’ll see listed in its product description.

The definition of tensile strength is “the resistance of a material to breaking under tension” (Oxford).

And as it pertains to barbells, the tensile strength number represents the amount of force it can handle without breaking, so it’s not exactly how much weight it can hold.

It’s measured in PSI (lb. per square inch).

 

Higher tensile strength isn’t always better: for example, someone performing Olympic style lifts needs more bar whip in order to perform snatches & cleans compared to typical power bars.

Higher tensile strength implies stiffness, so a stiff bar is reserved for powerlifting.

And with cheap barbells, sometimes any tensile strength reported in their manual is better than coming across a bar where the manufacturer won’t disclose it because it’s so poor.

 

Tensile strength limitations

Rogue Fitness (who make their own Olympic barbells in Ohio, in case you didn’t know) doesn’t think getting hung up on static rating vs. tensile strength is a good use of one’s time.

In this article here, they go into great detail about F Rating and how it measures the true strength of a barbell under pressure; check it out if interested. I’m kind of dense when it comes to math science, so I didn’t absorb it all that well.

 

Needle bearings & Bushings

These are what allow the sleeve to move friction-free around the shaft.

Needle bearings are what people into Olympic lifts want, because they provide the most spin and are less likely to deform than ball bearings when they drop their bars loaded up with bumper plates.

Bushings are preferred for powerlifting because spin isn’t as important while benching, squatting, etc.

With bushings, bronze is better than brass which is better than plastic composite material.

In a cheap barbell, an undisclosed bushing material can be assumed to be plastic or brass.

Bronze costs more than those 2 materials, and so manufacturers will usually talk their bronze up.

 

Price

Not to be cliché, but “you get what you pay for” when it comes to home gym equipment in most cases, especially cardio machines.

For example: A cheap treadmill costs so much less than a heavy duty model because the manufacturer of the cheap one skimped on materials, cut corners during manufacturing, & sells it with a very short warranty.

But how about barbells, do we have to splurge?

Not necessarily. Top quality will cost you, but most of us do not have to throw down gobs of cash to get a decent barbell for our home gym.

 

There are a lot of good reasons you might not want to go for a top-quality Olympic barbell:

* they cost way more than you ought to spend on a barbell at this point in your life, or want to spend;

* if you’re just starting out and not positive you’re going to even want to keep weightlifting, you might be be better off with a decent beginner’s cheap barbell.

* you’re nowhere near banging out 400 lb. for reps on any weightlifting exercise, nor are you dropping a loaded bar to the floor all the time doing super heavy powerlifting moves.

* & so on.

So may I gently suggest first determining what it is you can and want to spend, then dial in the best bar for your weightlifting plan within that budget.

 

Knurl & Center Knurl

New to barbell anatomy? Here’s a quick overview for ya.

Knurling is the the machine-ground pattern on the barbell. It provides your hands with a better grip than smooth steel would.

It’s oft-discussed and oft-described…

 

No shortage of person-knurl opinion

How much knurling has been machined onto the bar is one thing.

What 10 dudes in a room say about how passive, medium, or aggressive it is…well, that’s likely 10 things.

So I’m in the camp that feels that “great knurl” is a personal preference, though I don’t think that anyone likes a slippery bar on one hand, or a bar that makes your palms bleed either.

I like to feel a connected grip without getting chewed hands, but I’ll take raked callouses over a slippery bar.

 

To center knurl or not to center knurl, that is the a question

Same thing for center knurl.

Back when I went to gyms before I went Full Home Gym, I’d often be at the mercy of whatever bar was available.

Sometimes I didn’t notice it squatting or military pressing, but other times the bars with aggro knurling scraped my neck & bugged me.

Obviously, these are only my personal preferences.

And we’ll all have our own preferences about things, like how much knurling is ideal for our weightlifting purposes.

Somewhere between a slippery bar and chewed skin probably… 😄, though I bet most recreational lifters are just fine without any center knurling.

 

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Coatings

Since the focus of this article is on the bargain bin side of the barbell aisle, we won’t be offered the same full range of coatings available on the top-quality barbells…although the Rogue bar has a few nice choices: cerakote, zinc oxide, & black oxide.

Bottom line is if we have a choice, we ought to steer clear of junky stuff whenever we can.

“Junky” will show itself in several buyer reviews that complain about premature rusting or flaking, such as is the case with the Black model Body-Solid barbell reviewed in this article.

 

Our bar’s durability doesn’t critically hang in the balance with our choice of coating, but a barbell’s usefulness to us will sharply decline if it starts to corrode on us prematurely.

 

So here are the coatings typically found on barbells, in order from worst to first:

Low-budget plain steel: Avoid.

Decorative chrome: Boo, it’ll rain on you at some point.

Black oxide: Possibly OK if it’s the best/only option, but can flake &/or rust early (like the black Body-Solid in this review).

Zincs: OK.

Manganese phosphate: Movin’ on up, and some esteem it better than zinc (XMARKs, CAP), but to many it’s a wash.

Hard chrome: Good for powerlifting bars (Rep Gladiator).

 

…And here are the coatings currently above our pay grade:

Cerakote: Space-age ceramic coating used on gun metal & other things. Now used on barbells like some of Rogue’s and others, and it’s durable.

High grade stainless steel: The top of the line best barbells are often made with this.

 

Warranty

The best barbells made by the best barbell brands will have the best warranties, and that’s no surprise.

Their warranties are usually lifetime warranties.

Cheap barbells are not accorded the same degree of protection by any means.

That’s hopefully not a surprise to anyone either.

 

Reality of cheap barbell warranties

I harp on stingy warranties here on heydayDo a lot.

But that is when I’m evaluating fitness equipment that has a number of moving parts under the hood, so to speak. Like a treadmill or elliptical machine with motors, belt drives, gears, etc.

Those problems can take awhile to show, so I expect the manufacturer to back the product accordingly.

In the case of a cheap barbell though, I’m not sure the same rule applies.

(However, I really like the fact that the Rogue Ohio Bar has a lifetime warranty.)

Since a barbell is a simple piece of equipment, I think any blatant manufacturing defect would show up soon after regular use began.

So with an expensive top-shelf barbell, an excellent warranty is definitely expected, since its price tag is high because you’re paying for its years’ worth of durability.

But with the budget barbell I don’t think it’s as important, especially if you’re not lifting heavy or dropping every one of your standing lifts all the time.

Like I said, I think a serious defect in a cheap barbell will show itself soon during regular use.

Muscle Feast Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

Benefits of weight training…

(…besides getting stronger & building bigger muscles.)

Here are a few positive things that sports science & medical research have shown that strength training provides us when we make it a part of our lifestyle.

The links go to the clinical research studies I’ve read that pertain to each of  their topics.

 

Weightlifting helps develop strong bones

Mayo Clinic (& many others) have determined we start losing more bone mass than we produce once we hit 30.

A great thing about weightlifting is that its been shown to rebuild lost bone density, preserve what you have, and increase your bone cell production.

 

Increases endurance

You might only associate cardio with endurance and stamina benefits. But, in fact, weight lifting will develop the muscles that are crucial to endurance, resulting in great performance during endurance activities.

 

Increase calorie burn & burn more fat

Muscle burns more calories than fat tissue, Mayo Clinic says quite plainly.

And as we increase our muscle mass thanks to lifting, we increase our body’s ability to burn more calories while we’re at rest; that is, when we’re not working out

Weight lifting also takes aim at fat directly, both the ugly (belly fat) and the mortally dangerous (visceral fat).

Both of these two clinical research studies here & here had their weight training participants lose “significant” percentages of both visceral & belly fat over the course of their studies, which ran for 25 & 16 weeks, respectively.

 

Weight training makes our brains stronger too

There are a bunch of ways that lifting is good for our minds and good for our souls. Below are some bullet points with links to their relevant clinical research studies.

Strength training can:

*Improve our thinking ability

significant improvements in cognitive function

*Help our memory

strength training can benefit memory

*Reduce anxiety

resistance training group significantly reduced trait anxiety

*Boost self-esteem & mood

weight training subjects showed significant gains in self-esteem” 

resistance exercise had positive effects on mental health and well-being

 

To check out more of the medical & sports science communities’ work on this topic, here’s an article I wrote: Enjoy The Amazing Benefits of Strength Training.

 

Fitness training myth-busting

 

FAQ

Here are answers to some of the most common questions beginners ask about barbells.

What are the names of the different types of barbells at gyms?

At the gym, you'll find standard, Olympic, and powerlifting barbells. There's also EZ curl bars, trap bars, Swiss bars, and safety squat bars, each serving unique workout purposes.

Can a specific barbell be used for multiple training styles?

Yes, certain barbells can be adapted for multiple training styles. However, each type has been designed for optimal performance in specific activities, so it's beneficial to use the right one for your workout.

What is the difference between powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting barbells?

When it comes to powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting barbells, the main difference lies in their dimensions, weight distribution, and flexibility.

Powerlifting barbells are generally stiffer with less whip or flex, while Olympic bars have more elasticity to accommodate the quick lifts associated with the sport.

How do specialty bars differ from standard barbells?

Specialty bars are unique, differing from standard barbells due to their specific purposes.

These include bars like trap bars, Swiss bars, and EZ curl bars, each providing different grips or positions to target specific muscle groups or alleviate strain.

Are there weight variations in barbells for men and women?

Regarding weight variations, yes, barbells do come in different weights for men and women. Men's bars are typically heavier (44 lb.) and have a larger diameter (28mm), while women's bars are slightly lighter (33 lb.) and thinner (25mm).

How does tensile strength affect the quality of a barbell?

Tensile strength plays a crucial role in determining the quality of a barbell. Higher tensile strength indicates the bar's durability and its ability to withstand heavy loads without bending or breaking.

What is the significance of knurling on a barbell?

Knurling on a barbell is significant as it provides grip. Different knurling patterns can be found based on the type of lifting the bar is designed for, ensuring secure and safe workouts.

What is the difference between barbells with bushings and bearings?

The difference between barbells with bushings and bearings lies in their rotation mechanism.

Bushing barbells are often used for slow lifts, while bearing barbells, offering smoother rotation, are preferred for fast, explosive lifts like in Olympic lifting.

How does the shaft diameter of a barbell impact training?

The shaft diameter of a barbell impacts your grip, and therefore, your training.

A larger diameter can be challenging to hold but may strengthen your grip, while a smaller one may be easier to handle, yet less effective for grip training.

 

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Wrapping Up

I hope my product-testing & research info about these affordable Olympic barbells is useful to you, and that the health benefits of weight lifting is a boost for you too.

I wish you well on your fitness journey.

– greg

About The Author

heydayDo author Greg Simon

Hi, I’m Greg Simon. Fitness training & nutrition researching since 1982. ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) Pro Member. MBA, B.Sc.

Author. Surfer. Organic food grower. Congenital heart disease survivor (so far).

heydayDo.com is my wellness blog that’s about encouraging a healthy lifestyle as we age. 

I share my fitness training experience as well as the sports science research I’ve done on the many benefits strength building, exercise, & good eating habits offer us. 

I also write review articles after product testing and evaluating home gym equipment & fitness supplements.

My hope is that you’ll find useful or encouraging information here on my website that will benefit your unique fitness journey.

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