Choosing the right barbell is very important to get your lifts right, target specific muscle groups, and if needed, work hard and safely despite injuries or limitations. Whether you are creating a home gym or want to know which barbell to use to up your powerlifting game, this article is the one for you.
What is a barbell?
The barbell, for a quick review, is a piece of exercise equipment used for weightlifting, powerlifting, and bodybuilding. Weights can be loaded onto the ends of the barbell, or some barbells come with weights already attached. Barbells can range anywhere from 4 ft to 8 ft long and typically weighs around 45 pounds.
Barbells can also come in women’s sizes which are shorter, and lighter.
Barbells have different features and characteristics that make them one of the best pieces of exercise equipment in the gym.
First, the sleeves. The sleeve is at the end of the barbell where you place the weight. Most of the time the sleeves can spin and rotate, and that can be really helpful in getting under the bar quickly, without changing the position of your hands.
The second feature of a barbell is knurling. Knurling is the diamond-shaped pattern etched into the barbell in certain areas of the shaft of the bar. Knurling helps your hands grip the bar easier.
Lots of times the barbell will switch off between knurling spots then smooth spots, but some barbells have a center knurling area in the middle of the bar. A center knurling area can help the bar to stay put on your back while squatting. For some workouts, you may want a center-knurling area, and for others, you may not.
Another feature of a barbell is the load capacity. When the load capacity is stated for a specific barbell, it is referring to the number of weights, rather than the weight amount that the barbell can hold. The number of weights a bar can hold is determined by the length of the sleeve on a barbell or the width of each weight. Sometimes sleeves on barbells will be extra long, or wights extra thin to accommodate more weights on the bar.
A couple of other things to keep in mind when choosing a barbell are the whip and strength of the bar. “Whip,” refers to the bounce of a bar, and strength refers to the bending/ breaking point of a bar. How much weight can you put on the bar without it snapping? The strength of a barbell is told in PSI, or pounds per square inch. The higher the PSI is the more weight the bar can hold without permanently bending or breaking.
Different barbells can help with different workouts, and paying attention to their different features can help you decide which one is right for you. Here is a list of the top 5 best barbells to choose from:
5 Best types of barbells
The Olympic bar is one of the classic must-have barbells. Specifically designed for Olympic athletes, this bar can hold a lot of weight, prevent injury, and enhance performance. The Olympic Bar has smoother knurling than other bars to help with quick movements, and usually a greater whip.
Olympic bars have a 2” sleeve and can hold more weight than your standard barbell.
Safety Squat bar:
The safety squat bar is one of the best barbells. With padded handles in the middle of the bar, it puts less strain on your shoulders and lower back, helps train your lower traps and core, and, as its name implies, is a very safe bar to use. It is increasing in popularity because of the many uses it has (not just for squats,) its ease and comfort to use, and its help with limited shoulder mobility and injury.
The EZ curl bar is a shorter bar that has an angled grip. It isn’t super great for squats but is awesome for an arm workout, and bicep curling. It is called a curl bar because of how much it helps specifically with bicep curls- such as the Preacher curl, or the reverse grip curl. Its angled grip helps relieve stress on the wrists and hands.
This bar is pretty specific to arms, however, it is very versatile in the arm workouts you can do with it. Varying your curl workouts will help muscle gain, and strength training. If you like bicep curls this bar is the one for you.
Here is a highly recommended curl bar.
The Hex bar, sometimes known as the Trap bar, is a great bar that is easier to grip and helps your legs, joints, and traps. It is a four-sided barbell in a trapezoid or hexagon shape, that you stand inside while using. This relieves stress on your back that bars you stand behind can create.
It is really great for squats and deadlifts, and it has a nice neutral grip. You can add a lot of weight to it, and the handles are close to each other which is nice for your arms. The Hex bar helps you maintain a better form during exercise, distributes the weight more evenly, and prevents spinal injury.
The multi-grip barbell is a really good versatile barbell, because of its many handles to grip. You can get ones with angled or straight handles, and because there are different areas to hold, it is really easy to mix up your training and target specific muscle groups. You can go from a narrow grip to a wide grip or somewhere in between, and switching things up can help you never get bored with this barbell.
This bar reduced the strain on your shoulders and wrists and can help with all kinds of workouts.
Click here for a good multi-grip barbell.
Owning multiple barbells
Different barbells have different purposes, and so if you are creating a home gym and choosing which barbells to use it may be beneficial to purchase multiple different types. It is important to work out all your muscles, and train in the right way. Whether you have a home gym, or you are going to a local one, choosing the right barbell for your work out needs is very important.