If you are new to the weightlifting world you may not know that there are many variations in barbells and differences in weight. It’s essential to incorporate the weight of the bar correctly to make sure you are lifting the weight you think you are.
Knowing the weights will help avoid the heartbreaking moment when you think you’ve been benching a new PB only to realize the bar wasn’t what you thought it was.
In this article, we will look at the different variations of barbells and what they weigh.
Before we dig into the specifics of weights and different barbells, it will help to know some basic terminology first.
When you’re in the gym you’ll hear these words being thrown around and it pays to know what they mean. Here’s a quick run down to get you up to speed.
- Whip - This is a reference to the bar's ability to bend under the load of weights and how much it rebounds the weight. When you are lifting small weights, whip doesn’t come into play much but it becomes a large factor when you start lifting serious weights. The whip of a barbell depends on the quality of steel used to make it.
- Knurl - The knurled part of the bar is the part with the bumpy rough section that you grip with your hands. It also helps you with the alignment of the hands for an equal grip.
- Power Bar - This is used as standard gym slang for a standard-sized barbell.
Standard Size Barbell
In most gyms around the country, you will see a standard steel bar used for the bench press. This is usually a standard barbell. This bar is around 7 feet in length, made from American Steel and weighs 45lbs (20.5 kg)
These bars tend to have a little bit of whip and are standard for things like the bench press, overhead press, squats and deadlifts. Most standard consumer-grade barbells can take 600lbs of weight, whereas a competition bar can take up to 1200lbs.
Standard bars can come in a few variations in knurling and thickness. It’s important to remember that the thicker bars may weigh more, up to 55lbs (25kgs).
Standard Barbell Varieties
- Bench Press Bar - Bench bars have a very little whip to accommodate stability when pressing. Commonly these bars are thicker to work your grip as well.
- Squat Bar - Squat bars feature knurled center parts, a thick diameter with little to no whip. With this bar the knurling is not for your hands, it’s to help the bar grip the back of your shirt or back so it doesn’t slide off your shoulders.
- Deadlift Bar - Deadlift bars tend to have a lot more whip, allowing for higher speeds when lifting from the floor. These bars tend to be narrower and highly textured.
Next Level - Olympic Bar
This bar has a few variations that set it apart from the standard barbell you will find in most gyms. One of the most important differences is the difference in the whip.
Olympic bars have a lot more whip than standard bars. This feature helps common motions in competition such as the ‘catch’.
Another interesting feature is the bearings on either end of the bar. These allow the weights to spin more easily to prevent wrist damage. A standard Olympic bar weighs 45lbs (20.5kg).
Small Barbell - Curl Bar
This bar is also known as the EZ bar. This bar is predominantly designed for bicep curls, and designed to take lower weight than a standard barbell.
These bars are shorter in length and as a result, they weigh significantly less, around 15lbs (7kg). This bar can be seen as a viable alternative to dumbbells.
Standard Hexagonal Bar
This bar is easily distinguished by its name. This bar is hexagonal shaped, which creates large open spaces in the middle of the bar. This shape is great for deadlifts as it allows the bar to fall perfectly with your centre of gravity with your knees getting in the way.
This bar puts less stress on the joints as a result. Generally, these bars weigh 45lbs (20.5kg), but there are heavier variations out there.
The United States Army Centre for Initial Military Training does a three repetition deadlift challenge, for this, they use chrome plated hexagonal bar that weighs 60lbs (27kg).
This bar comes with some viable perks. The research found that heavier loads can be lifted through the same range of motion at a faster speed compared to using a standard bar when performing a deadlift.
Other Bar Types
Other bars to look out for include:
- Cambered Bar - These are arched in appearance and usually weigh 45lbs (20.5kg). The unique thing about this bar is the low hanging weight which presents a difficult lift for advanced lifters, this is because it makes it difficult to maintain stability as the bar puts focus on the posterior muscles.
- Safety Squat Bar - The easiest way to spot this bar is by the thickly padded arms in the centre. These arms go around the lifter's neck allowing the lifter to grip the handles sticking out from them.
Due to the comfort of this bar, it's very good for activating the glutes, back and hamstrings. These bars usually weigh about 60-65lbs (27-29.5kg).
- Swiss Bar - This bar has an open rectangle shape in the centre with a series of small vertical bars. The Swiss bar is very versatile for all kinds of lifts as it offers a neutral grip. The Swiss bar is great if you want to take pressure off the shoulders. This bar is usually a little lighter at 35lbs (16kg). Check out our total guide to swiss bar bench presses to learn everything you need to know about this equipment and how to use it in your exercises for maximum benefits.
As we have discussed above, there are a wide variety of barbells to look out for in the gym. Each bar tends to have a purpose whether it's for comfort, performance or strength.
Standard sized barbells tend to weigh 45lbs (20.5kg). These are the most common type of bars and one you will see littered throughout most gyms.
This is the bar you will see setup by the bench press and the squat rack in most cases. As your weightlifting level increases you may end up using a bar that withstands more weight and has more whip to help with explosive movements.
As always, safety comes first when lifting. Make sure you are within your level and maintain good form through all lifts to prevent injury.
Now when you’re lifting with your mates you’ll be the most clued up person in the gym, knowing all the bars weights and capabilities! Happy lifting!
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