- If you’re in the market for a versatile and durable powerlifting barbell, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar will give you the most value for your money.
- It’s important to consider that type of knurling on your bar before making a purchase. There are three types of knurls: the slippery hill, the sharp mountain, and the grippy volcano.
- Bare steel bars require the most maintenance out of all bar finishes. But they’re also the most popular with traditional and serious lifters. Stainless steel comes at a close second for anyone who wants the feel of bare steel, without the hassle.
- Olympic bars require a decent amount of spin and whip compared to the more rigid powerlifting bars which is why it’s important to consider what kind of lifting and movements you want to perform on your bar.
REP Deep Knurl Power Bar EX
Kabuki Strength Duffalo Bar
CAP-7 Foot Olympic Bar
Women’s Wonder Bar
7 Best Powerlifting Barbell (Guide 2020)
There is no lack of options when it comes to powerlifting barbells. In fact, I’ve been approached by as many as 4 of my clients this month alone, asking for my opinions about choosing the best powerlifting barbell. Like any self-respecting personal trainer, I provided my unbiased opinion and walked through the process of choosing the right one specifically for the need. Below are some of my tips for choosing the right barbell as well as some of my favorite and reliable brands.
1. Rogue Ohio Power Bar - Best All-Around Barbell
The Rogue Ohio power bar features a 29mm shaft diameter for comfortable lifting combined with a refined knurl pattern that gives you just the right blend of grip and comfort. Its design and high-tensile strength allow you to perform every type of bar movement you can think of. If you train the deadlift with a stiff bar such as the Ohio Power Bar for most of your training phase and switching up to a skinnier, whippier (traditional deadlift bar) 7 to 10 weeks out from a competition, you may find yourself being able to generate more force right off the floor.
Here’s why you’ll like it:
Designed for Versatility – the Rogue Ohio power bar is designed for powerlifting, weightlifting, and CrossFit exercises. Its high tensile strength and low whip feature make it ideal for performing a wide range of movements from squats to rows.
Premium Knurls – the Rogue Ohio bar boasts a knurl pattern that is similar to a grippy volcano knurl. This allows you to have just enough grip for high-intensity workouts without worrying about your hands being sore from jagged points digging into your hands.
- The knurls extend up to the collars of the bar, which makes it ideal for taller users
- It is designed for versatility so you can perform weightlifting, powerlifting, and CrossFit movements with it
- The black zinc shaft is low-maintenance and won’t rust
- The knurl pattern is neither too smooth nor too rough
- The bronze bushings are self-oiling, which means less maintenance
- It has a 205,000PSI tensile strength rating
- You can choose between four finishes: baresteel, black zinc, Cerakote, and stainless steel
- It is not ideal if you’re looking for a primarily stiff bar since it does have some flex to it
- It’s also not ideal if you want to perform deadlifts since it’s not whippy enough
Summary: The Rogue Ohio Power Bar is an ideal choice if you’re looking for an all-in-one bar that will serve as your primary bar. You can perform a wide variety of powerlift, weightlift, and CrossFit movements on it. However, it’s not the best in any particular category, like most all-in-one bars.
2. REP Fitness Deep Knurl Power Bar EX - Best Stainless Steel Bar
The REP Deep Knurl Power Bar EX is an ideal option for anyone who is looking for a traditional stainless steel bar. Its aggressive knurl pattern combined with the baresteel shaft makes it a popular choice among serious lifters thanks to its sleek, no-nonsense design and maximum grip capability.
Here’s why you’ll like it:
Stainless Steel from Tip to Tip – one of its most unique defining features is the fact that the power bar is made entirely of stainless steel. This guarantees that you not only get a good grip on your bar but that you also don’t have to worry about rusting and oxidation on any part of your bar.
Deep Knurls – the REP Deep Knurl Power Bar EX features a deep knurl pattern that is designed to give you optimal grip during high-rep workouts. Its lack of unnecessary plating means nothing interferes with the knurls leaving you with the feel of safe and secure grips.
- The deep knurls allow for maximum grip
- The stainless steel body requires no maintenance and does not rust
- It is covered by a lifetime warranty
- It has a 200,000 PSI tensile strength rating
- The knurl depth is 75% deeper than standard bars
- The deep knurls are quite uncomfortable after a while
Summary: If you’re adamant about the look and feel of old-school bars but don’t want the hassle of having to maintain them. It’s made of stainless steel from tip to tip so you don’t have to worry about rust on any part of the bar and its knurl pattern is 75% deeper than standard knurls, which allows for better grip.
3. Kabuki Strength Duffalo Bar
The Kabuki Strength Duffalo Bar is designed with a unique curved or bent design that helps you lift with optimal joint centrations in mind to minimize strain while maximizing your workout results. It has a load capacity of 1,500 lbs, which makes it suitable for lifters on any level.
Take a look at its best features:
Sharp Knurls – the Duffalo sports sharp mountain knurls that give you optimal grip with virtually no risk of slippage.
Safety and Security – sharp knurls besides, the Duffalo bar features a proprietary curved bar design that makes it safe and more comfortable to perform squats and bench presses while maintaining proper form.
- It has a 1,500-lb load capacity
- Its bronze bushings are self-oiling
- The total bar weight is only 55lbs
- The curved design centers your joints and reduces the need for your shoulders to rotate alongside your movements
- It improves lat engagement when performing bench presses and squats
- The sharp knurls can get quite painful, especially if you’re a beginner
Summary: The Duffalo’s proprietary curved bar design allows you to perform squats and presses correctly and safely. Compared to the regular straight bars, it reduces shoulder rotation and encourages better joint centering to increase your comfort and maximize your workouts. Unfortunately, the sharp knurls may put you off using it since it tends to dig into your hands.
4. American Barbell - Best Olympic Barbell
The American Stainless Steel Bar is designed for serious Olympic weightlifting trainers. It boasts a 190,000 PSI tensile strength paired with a needle bearing system that can handle as much weight as you need it to.
Here’s what you’ll like about it:
Stainless Steel Shaft – the 29mm shaft has a stainless steel finish resistant to rusting while maintaining the feel of bare steel that most old-school lifters prefer with less maintenance required.
Versatile Design – the American Barbell is designed for Olympic lifting. But that’s not all it’s made for. You can perform a variety of movements on the bar ranging from deadlifts to squats without using specific safety bar equipment.
- The bar weighs only 20kgs
- The knurl pattern is precise and optimized for non-slip gripping
- The stainless steel shaft is resistant to rust and corrosion
- It has a tensile strength of 190,000PSI
- The bushing system can handle as much weight as needed
- The sleeve finish is hard chrome and will wear down over time
- The knurling could be more aggressive for better grip
Summary: The American Olympic Barbell is ideal if you’re looking for a durable and reliable Olympic barbell that can do more than just standard Olympic lifts. Its unique needle-bearing system puts out a smooth rotation that starts and stops exactly when you need it to. However, if you’re used to more aggressive knurls, you might find the knurling patterns on this bar lacking.
5. Barenaked Powerlifting Bar 2.0 - Best for Budget Minded
The Barenaked Powerlifting Bar is designed to meet IPF standards and helps you bench, squat, and deadlift for under $200. Its block is thinner, which means there’s little room for whip while allowing you to load more weight plates.
Here’s why you’ll like it:
Aggressive Knurls – if you’re like me and you like aggressive knurling, this bar will meet your expectations. Its aggressive knurl pattern allows for maximum grip while ideally developing calluses on your hands for better knurl tolerance.
High Tensile Strength and Lift Capacity – despite the bar’s affordability, it boasts a 201,000PSI tensile strength and can handle up to 1,500 lbs of weight easily. This makes it ideal for both seasoned lifters and novices.
- It’s affordable and costs under $200
- Its weight capacity is 1,500 lbs
- It has a bare steel finish that fans of old-school olympic barbells will like
- The bare steel finish also accentuates the aggressive knurling pattern on the bar
- Its hardened chrome sleeves minimize plate shifting while you lift
- The bar is designed to meet IPF standards
- It’s designed to minimize whip, so it’s not ideal for deadlifting
- Its maximum capacity of 1,500 lbs was not actively tested for
- You need to clean it every month to remove rust
Summary: The Barenaked Power Lifting bar is an ideal choice for you if you’re looking for a reliable and durable power bar for under $200. It’s designed to meet IPF standards, which makes it ideal for serious training, and its aggressive knurling combined with the bare steel finish makes it ideal for heavy reps. However, the bare steel finish requires a good amount of maintenance if you don’t want to end up with a significantly rusted bar.
6. CAP 7-Foot Olympic Bar - Good Budget Option
The CAP barbell is made with solid Japanese steel with various coating options. It boasts a 132,000PSI tensile strength and diamond knurling to give you a good amount of grip while maintaining comfort.
Here’s why you’ll like it:
Multiple Coating Options – this 7-foot barbell comes in multiple coating options like black chrome, silver zinc, and chrome. This means there are plenty of choices depending on your preferences, plus you also have the option to choose between bars that have a center knurl and ones that don’t.
Rotating Sleeves and Diamond Knurling – the spinning sleeves reduce strain on your forearms and wrists as well as give you a smooth spinning motion which is ideal for Olympic lifting. The diamond knurling patterns make it comfortable and ideal for beginners who haven’t developed calluses yet but want a good amount of grip to start with.
- Smooth bearing rotation system that reduces wrist and forearm strain
- It is available with or without center knurling
- The diamond knurls are ideal if you’re looking for something that is more beginner-friendly
- You have plenty of coating options to choose from
- It costs under $200
- Its tensile strength is only 132,000PSI. I recommend looking for a barbell that is rated at least 150,000PSI
- The diamond knurls are not ideal for you if you like aggressive knurls
Summary: Although the CAP barbell isn’t as high-value as the American Olympic Barbell, it’s a good beginner option for anyone who wants something under $200. Its diamond knurling makes it a good option over the Barenaked Barbell if you don’t want aggressive knurls that could hurt your hands.
7. FringeSport 15 kg Women's Wonder Bar - Best Women Beginners Bar
The Women’s Wonder Bar by Fringe Sport is designed to feel as natural and comfortable as possible in your hands. Its thinner shaft diameter allows you to have a better, more natural grip on the bar compared to the standard 28 mm shaft most olympic bars are known for.
Take a look at its best qualities:
Better Form – the 25 mm shaft diameter is thinner than the standard Olympic requirement. This helps women—who tend to have smaller hands, get a better grip on the bar and allow for a more seamless transition and better overhead form.
Zinc Finish – the Wonder Bar boasts a smooth, and functional all-black zinc finish. It not only looks sleek, but it also means you have to worry less about keeping your bar in temperature-specific rooms or having to sit down every month to scrape off rust.
- Its weight capacity is 1,000 lbs
- Its rotation system can be switched from moderate to fast
- The thinner shaft allows for better grip comfort
- It is covered by a lifetime warranty for factory defects
- It is stiff, which makes it ideal for bench presses
- It has a tensile strength of 160,000 PSI and a yield strength of 199,000 PSI, which makes it ideal for commercial use
- It is not ideal if you’re training to perform professionally since the shaft diameter does not comply with Olympic standards, which is a 28 mm shaft diameter.
- Does not have center knurling
Summary: The 15kg Women’s Wonder Bar is a commercial-grade beginner bar for women within a home gym price point. It costs less than $300 and is ideal if you’re looking for a reliable barbell to add to your home gym. Its 25mm shaft diameter is 3mm thinner compared to Olympic standards, but it helps you perform Olympic exercises with a better grip and a more seamless form.
Specialty Barbell Types
Specialty barbells are more of a luxury than a necessity. A primary barbell will let you build muscle and target core muscle groups as much as you want. But specialty bars also add a bit more variety for your lift exercises and makes them much more enjoyable as well. The sport is built on just two lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk.
The Curl Bar
The curl bar—also known as the EZ-bar, has a prominent and distinct shape to them. They have a zig-zagging bar instead of a straight bar you’re used to seeing. Curl bars are mainly used to perform barbell curls.
The unique shape of the bar puts less strain on your elbows. The zig-zag pattern mainly allows you to hold the bar at various degrees, depending on what exercise you’re trying to perform.
- Barbell curls
- Reverse curls
- Overhead extensions
- Skull crushers
- Barbell pullovers
- Underhand rows
Although this won’t necessarily be better for developing muscle, it helps ease some of the strain on your joints which could help you perform better.
Deadlift barbells are designed specifically for performing deadlifts. Compared to traditional barbells, deadlift bars are designed to be thinner, and have more flex and whip to them. Deadlift barbells are only necessary if you want to be able to mimic the feel of deadlifting competition equipment.
Despite the fact that deadlift barbells are designed specifically for deadlifts, you could also opt for a trap bar if you want better versatility.
Trap bars— also known as hex bars, have a hexagonal bar shape and are ideal for hypertrophy training. The reason why they’re ideal for deadlifts is because they allow you to have free knee and ankle movements.
This leads to a position not unlike a squat. And depending on what you’re trying to achieve, you may consider it a good or a bad thing.
Trap bars are also designed to let you have a better grip and have a neutral grip in your bar without needing to rotate your shoulders.
Power Bar Characteristics
If you’re out shopping for a power bar, there are four basic things you need to consider: the type of steel, knurling, spin system, and the coating. Characteristics like knurling and the bar coating are a personal choice and would depend on your preferences and requirements for your bar.
One thing you need to keep an eye on before you take a closer look at any bar is the steel rating of the power bar.
There are three ratings you need to keep in mind: tensile strength, yield strength, and the F-scale rating for the power bar.
Some bars will be marked with a specification that says something along the lines of “tested for 1,500 lbs”. Do not buy that bar.
These types of gimmicks are applied by companies that want to trick inexperienced buyers into purchasing their sub-par power bars.
Instead, focus on how high the F-rating of a bar is. This usually means it’s stood up to more tests and passed them.
There are three types of knurling you should be aware of: slippery hill, sharp mountain, and grippy volcano knurls.
While more serious powerlifters will tell you sharp mountain knurling is the best choice, I’m not a big fan of the sharp points digging into my hands.
Despite the callouses I’ve collected from lifting over the years, it does get uncomfortable still. That’s why I recommend choosing a power bar with grippy volcano knurls.
They’re similar to sharp mountain knurling. However, their points are cut off, so you’re left with a better, more comfortable grip.
On the other hand, slippery hill knurls are popular in most beginner gyms. They’re more comfortable but are a pain when you’re trying to keep a grip on your bar during heavy lifts.
While the spin system isn’t really something you need to put much thought into, it’s important to choose a power bar with at least a basic spin system in place. You may not need your weight spinning for slow lifting or bench presses, but you should also consider a bar with at least bronze bushings in case you need it in the future.
Last but not least, you also need to consider the bar coating.
What most hardcore lifters will tell you is that you need to invest in a bare steel finish. This is mainly because there are no coatings to interfere with the knurling.
However, it require a good amount of attention and maintenance. Unless you’re fine lifting a rusty bar —which isn’t sanitary by any means.
Another coating type you should look into is a bright zinc coating. Bright zinc coating is plated on top of steel, so it lessens the feel of the actual steel. But it still gives you a decent amount of grip. It requires less maintenance, and it doesn’t wear down like black oxide coating does.
What to Look for in a Barbell. Things to Consider When Buying
My clients tend to ask me what I think the best barbell is before they go out and buy them. Now, there’s nothing wrong with asking for an opinion, but I try to sit them down and tell them that it’s more important to make sure you know what kind of barbell you need.
There are many things you have to consider before buying a bar. For example, you need to take into consideration what you’ll mainly be using your barbell for. To help you make a better, more informed choice, I’ve compiled a list of things you need to consider when choosing a barbell below.
Although most serious trainers will tell you to pick bare stainless steel and move on, there are actually many coating choices out there. While bare steel has a beautiful finish and minimizes any interference with the knurling, it’s certainly a pain to maintain. Plus, it tends to wear down with all the maintenance.
Bare Steel – perhaps the most popular choice for no-fuss hardcore lifters, it is as traditional as it gets when choosing a finish for your bar. The problem is, it’s also unprotected and it tends to rust quite badly within a month’s time. This means you need to set aside time each month to clean and scrape away the rust to keep your barbell clean and shiny. Keep in mind that all that maintenance also means you’ll end up wearing down the knurls.
Black Oxide – black oxide coating is used to stave off the patina and rust that comes with a baresteel bar. This means you aren’t obligated to set aside time for monthly rust-removal sessions. But it won’t stay shiny and new forever. The coating will wear off in the parts that you frequently come in contact with.
Bright Zinc – bright zinc barbells are ideal for home gyms because they’re more resilient to corrosion, wear, and tear compared to black oxide and bare steel bars. However, the big issue that most serious lifters have with them is that the bright zinc coating tends to interfere with the feel of steel. Although you’ll still have a decent grip, it won’t feel like a bare steel barbell.
Grip and Knurling
There are three types of grip and knurling that you’ll see on any bar you encounter: slippery hill, sharp mountain, and grippy volcano. If you’re a beginner, you’re much more likely to have encountered the slippery hill knurls in at least half of the gyms you’ve been to. On the other hand, the sharp mountain and grippy volcano knurls are a bit less likely unless you happen to find a gym with a dedicated power lift and deadlifting station for serious trainers.
Slippery Hill – slippery hill knurling is the most common type of knurling found in most beginner bars. They’re smoother, offer a decent amount of grip for less extreme exercises, and are more comfortable for users who haven’t developed their calluses yet. But it comes with a major drawback: it’s not ideal for deadlifting because it tends to slip right out of your hands.
Sharp Mountain – sharp mountain knurling is characterized by their sharper, jagged patterns that tend to dig into your skin as you attempt to lift heavyweights. Yes, it makes for a good grip, but if you’re just starting out and aren’t used to it, you’re likely to be more than just uncomfortable because of the sharp points.
Grippy Volcano – grippy volcano knurling is my favorite and is a variation of the sharp mountain knurling. Although I’m far from having smooth hands, I still like to maintain a decent amount of comfort when lifting. These knurls are similar to sharp mountain knurls, except their points are cut off. The final product is an ideal compromise between great grip and comfort.
It’s important to know exactly what you need your bars for. For example, if you’re training for competitions, you want to invest in a bar that complies with Olympic standards. This will let you get a feel for your equipment and maximize the efficiency of your training sessions.
On the other hand, a trap bar is a good investment if you want to perform deadlifts. It may sound silly, but trap bars limit the stress on your spine. This is ideal if you want the benefits of deadlifting without the usual pains that come after.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many bar types to choose from when it comes to your equipment. I often get asked which bar is best for performing certain types of exercise. Below, I answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding bars, barbells, and what you can do with them.
Final Words. What is the Best Powerlifting Barbell?
If you’re looking for an all-around barbell that can perform a good variety of powerlifting and weightlifting movements, then the Power Bar Rogue is an ideal choice for you. Its grippy volcano knurls make it ideal for both beginners and seasoned lifters because it provides you with enough grip without digging into your hands, causing discomfort.
On the other hand, the Barenaked Steel Barbell is a good choice if you want to invest in a heavy-duty Olympic bar for under $200. It boasts aggressive knurling and a weight capacity of 1,500 lbs. The bar itself is also made of stainless steel, so you don’t have to worry about setting aside time each month to clean or maintain it.
#1 Best Choice