How to Choose the Right Type of Barbell for Your Gym

Team Barbell, Olympic Barbell, Again Faster Barbell, 20kg Barbell
/ Jan 30, 2023

There's a lot of high-tech home fitness equipment available these days, yet many fitness enthusiasts still prefer the classic combination of a barbell and weight plates.

However, there are various types of barbells available, and there are far more ways to use them than you'd think. Considering the variety of barbells available in the market today, where should an athlete begin?

Before choosing just any set, there are some factors to consider. Useful features such as the type of barbell, overall weight, and plate composition help you maximize your training and get the best out of your investment.

Keep reading for a comprehensive list of different types of barbells commonly seen in home and commercial gyms.

1. Standard Weightlifting Barbells

A standard barbell is about as basic as it gets when it comes to barbells. Standard bars are constructed to hold plates with a one-inch hole, do not have spinning ends, and come in varying lengths from four to seven feet.

Standard weightlifting barbells are typically inexpensive and frequently seen in big box stores. Still, these types of bars aren't usually strong enough for exercises like heavy deadlifts or squats and will bend if excessively loaded.

A standard bar is suitable for those who are just starting out or don't take their strength training too seriously.

For those looking to lift heavy weights, a standard bar may not suit your training needs.

2. Olympic Barbells

Although Olympic barbells were originally designed for Olympic lifting, they are used to perform squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and power cleans.

Designed to fit two-inch-hole weight plates, these are flexible enough to add a bit of extra "whip" when doing explosive lifts.

Olympic barbells have rotating ends or sleeves, which helps reduce stress on your hands and wrist when you perform cleans and jerks. They are available with a wide range of knurling options.

Men’s Olympic barbells are 7 feet long, weighing 20kg or 44 lbs, while women’s Olympic barbells measure 6.6 feet and weigh 15kg or 33 lbs.

3. Powerlifting Barbells

Powerlifting bars, also known as power bars, are typically the same size and weight as Olympic bars.

Yet, they are usually more rigid, can hold more weight, and have a deeper knurling for a better grip. Power barbells typically have center knurling for squats, although some are available without.

Just like Olympic barbells, power bars have holes for two-inch weight plates.

4. EZ Curl Bars

EZ curl bars differ from regular bars as they contain bends to enable different hand positions.

These bars are typically used for biceps and triceps workouts but can also be used for rows and presses. However, it's less effective for squats and deadlifts.

An EZ curl bar is generally shorter and lighter than a regular barbell and has a design that allows either one-inch or two-inch plates to be used.

The EZ bar should not be seen as a replacement for standard or Olympic barbells but rather as a complement to them.

5. Trap Bars

Al Gerard, a powerlifter, created the trap bar in the early 1980s. The frame of a trap bar is diamond-shaped and consists of two parallel handles for you to stand in the middle.

This hexagonal design centers the weight closer to your body, lightening the load off your back when performing deadlifts.

When deadlifting with a trap bar, however, it resembles more of a squat due to your more upright torso position and increased involvement of the quad muscles than with conventional or sumo deadlifts.

Trap bars, also known as hex bars, shrug bars, and Gerard bars, can be used for upper body exercises such as:

  • Floor presses,
  • Bent-over rows
  • Overhead presses

Similar to EZ bars, trap bars are an excellent addition to any gym, but they can't replace regular barbells.

6. Swiss Bars

A Swiss bar, otherwise known as a football bar, is designed to help with upper-body workouts. It offers many different hand arrangements, with most positions parallel to each other.

A parallel grip is generally more comfortable on the shoulders than an overhand or underhand grip when doing bench presses, overhead presses, and bent-over rows.

Swiss bars can be helpful, but they should be seen as an extension of the barbell if you plan to do exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and lunges for the lower body. Nonetheless, a Swiss bar would be great to add to your exercise regime if you need to relieve some of the tension in your shoulders while working out.

7. Safety Squat Bars

Safety squat bars are mainly used for squats and are not really appropriate for any other exercises. They are pretty similar to a traditional yoke.

You can do good mornings, lunges, and step-up exercises with this type of bar, but you cannot use it for upper body exercises.

Since the ends of the bar hang down and forward when it's draped over your shoulders, you have to work harder to stay upright in your torso. Powerlifters utilize safety bar squats for squat assistance purposes.

The barbell type is beneficial if you experience shoulder pain, making it hard to grip the bar during squats and good mornings.

Unlike a regular straight barbell, this is a very specialized piece of equipment and does not have the same versatility.

8. Log Bars

You are bound to spot a log bar when watching a strongman competition.

Log bars have a parallel grip; as the name suggests, they look like logs. Some of them are even made of wood.

Although you could use log bars for rows, they are primarily utilized for cleans and overhead presses.

Log bars are another extremely specialized barbell, and if you’re not a strongman or strongwoman in training, you probably won’t need one.

9. Multipurpose Barbells

If you wish to perform powerlifting, weightlifting, and bodybuilding workouts, but don't want to buy different barbells for each exercise, then a multipurpose barbell could be an ideal option.

Multipurpose bars are incredibly versatile and can be used for various strength training exercises. Though not as pliable as a deadlift bar or as sprightly as an Olympic bar, they are sufficiently strong for vigorous exercise and will last a long time.

A multipurpose bar can be used for any barbell workout, from cleans, snatches, deadlifts, and squats. They're great for CrossFit workouts and home gyms.

10. Deadlift Bars

Not surprisingly, deadlift bars are explicitly designed for deadlifting.

While you can use them for exercises like squats, bench presses, overhead presses, and power cleans, they are specially designed to optimize your deadlift performance.

Some deadlift bars shouldn't be placed in squat or power racks, as it could damage them.

Deadlift bars are stronger than other power bars and flex a bit more, so the first pull off the ground is simpler. They are also typically thinner to enable better gripping.

You can undoubtedly squat with a deadlift bar, but it's worth mentioning that they usually lack the middle knurling found on other types of barbells.

11. Cambered Barbell

Cambered bars, similar to the safety squat bar, are meant for squats and are not adequate for other barbell exercises.

Cambered bars hang down by your hips, giving you a lower center of gravity that helps activate your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.

In addition, keeping the bar low by your sides reduces the stress on your shoulders. To improve their squat performance, powerlifters make use of cambered bar squats as supplementary exercise.

Unless you have bad shoulders that prevent you from doing regular squats, purchasing this specialized barbell won't be a huge advantage.

12. Axle Barbells

Most barbells are designed to be held firmly. They're not too thick or thin and have knurling to prevent your hands from slipping.

Axle bars are completely different.

Axle bars, also known as thick or fat bars, are usually smooth and have a bigger diameter. In contrast to other bars, axle bars don't feature rotating collars and aren't as flexible. This makes them more challenging to raise and hold, which leads to improved forearm strength and size. An axle bar is great for strength training exercises like curls, rows, and presses, but it can also be used for other types of exercises.

While you can deadlift an axle bar, your grip may become an obstacle, thus reducing the efficacy of your workout.

Axle bars provide an extra challenge but aren't meant to be used as everyday training tools. An axle bar would be a great way to diversify your workouts by adding it to your collection of barbells.

The Best Barbells for Your Gym

Now that you're familiar with the types of barbells out there, which will you choose for your gym?

These Again Faster barbells are worth considering for general usage, powerlifting, and Olympic training and are available at a range of prices.

Team Olympic Barbell 2.0

The Again Faster Team Barbell 2.0 is designed to be an everyday barbell for any athlete or gym.

Available in 15 kg and 20 kg, the Team Barbell 2.0 features a hybrid bearing-bushing design. The bearings enhance spin, while the bronze bearings stabilize the barbell's collars for durability.

This barbell's black, hard-chrome finish is more affordable than stainless steel but rust-resistant and tough as nails with 209,000 PSI tensile strength.

Evolution Olympic Barbell

For high-intensity training without breaking the bank, the Again Faster Evolution Olympic Barbell is an ideal choice.

Whether starting a gym in your garage or stocking a professional space, the Evo bar has the perfect balance between durability and cost. As is the case with all Again Faster Olympic barbells, there's a lifetime warranty covering it.

The bar's bronze bearings self-lubricate, creating an outstanding balance of spin and durability. The bright hard-chrome finish shields the barbell from your sweat and the environment while providing a similar feel to an unfinished barbell but at a more affordable price than stainless steel. 190,000 PSI tensile strength alloy steel supplies the ideal level of flex for Olympic lifts.

Power Barbell

The 20kg Again Faster Power Barbell is excellent for heavy weightlifting routines like bench pressing, deadlifting, and squatting.

Thanks to its extra-stiff 29mm shaft and volcano-pattern knurling, powerlifters can grip their barbell firmly while lifting the heaviest weights with complete confidence.

The Power Bar is ideal for heavy lifting sessions, featuring a center knurl, single IPF marks, and extended sleeves, so there's plenty of room to accommodate the extra weight.

Barbell Buying FAQs

What Features Should I Look for When Purchasing a Barbell?

Look for a barbell that has great tensile strength and an extended warranty. If you are training outdoors or in a room without air-conditioning, you should carefully consider the type of finish on the barbell.

If you participate in sports like Olympic lifting or CrossFit, the spin of the barbell is also a vital factor.

What Size Barbell Do I Need?

An Olympic barbell is 20 kg or 44 lb, which is what most strength sports use. For those who don't plan to lift heavy or are just starting out, a 15 kg/33 lb barbell might be better suited. Remember that this barbell is not only lighter, but it will also be able to support less weight than the 20 kg version.

Which Barbell Plates Should I Buy?

Barbell weights are meant to be added or removed like building blocks.

A good place to start weight training is purchasing a set of 10s, 25s, and maybe even 45s. As you build more strength, you can slowly add more plates to your collection.

Aside from physical capabilities, experience, and commitment, always start with lighter weights to focus on technique and evaluate soreness following each workout. Following this prevents injuries, and rather than trying to recover from a mistake caused by ego or inexperience, you can simply buy heavier equipment.

Additionally, starting out with lighter weights allows you to do more repetitions and develop experience until you can move up to heavier plates.

How Much Does a Good Barbell Cost?

Remember, you get what you pay for. A less expensive barbell won't have the same longevity or weight rating as a higher quality, more costly one. A barbell that can handle frequent and intense workouts may cost between $200 and $500.

When choosing a barbell, check if it has an extended warranty, rust resistance, and the ability to handle heavy weights.

Start Shopping Barbells for Your Gym

It may come as a surprise just how many factors come into play when buying a simple barbell, but a barbell is vital to establishing a home gym. Being cautious when making your choice is key.

Consider the type of training you'll be doing, the surroundings in which you'll be training, and your fitness objectives (both short-term and long-term) when you're looking for the right barbell.

Still trying to decide which barbell you should buy? Try our barbell selection guide to discover the perfect barbell for your training style and fitness level.