Barbells are a versatile and accessible piece of gym equipment and can be used with plates of different weights to help you adjust training to your personal capabilities and needs. They have a positive influence on your posture and are a great piece of exercise equipment, helping you build strength, develop muscles and lose weight. The benefits working out with barbells are the same as those offered by modern weight machines, making them a perfect choice for anyone seriously thinking about building a strong body at home or at the gym.
What are the benefits of barbells?
As with any piece of weightlifting equipment, the primary function of a barbell is to help you build and tone muscle by training against the various resistances you can add to it with weight plates.
The ability to burn calories while you exercise will be enhanced by the heightened metabolism you will have as a result of your increased muscle mass, making barbells an ideal choice to aid weight loss.
Strength and endurance training
Lifting barbells will help increase the strength of your muscles, providing you use enough weight. Likewise, selecting a weight that’s challenging but doesn’t push you to your limits in just a few reps will help improve endurance. Barbells are an excellent option to help you do both of these things.
Posture is best improved by strengthening your core muscles and those that stabilise the joints. Barbells are well suited to achieve this as the compound exercises you can perform are well suited to this purpose.
The incredible number of exercises you can complete with a barbell makes it a very versatile piece of equipment. All you need is a suitable collection of weight plates and you can construct entire workouts, all using just a single bar.
The ability to carry out multiple exercises and change weights simply by adding or removing a plate makes a barbell an ideal choice to optimise your workouts. It cuts out the time wasted by switching equipment between sets and exercises.
Types of barbell:
An Olympic barbell is the style found in most gyms and recognised competitions. They typically feature a length of 7ft and require weight plates with a 2-inch diameter hole. They are ideal for most gym users but particularly those who are preparing for a competition. Shorter, lighter 6ft Olympic bars are also available but are rarer to find.
Standard barbells are any barbells that don’t meet the criteria above, usually ending up being shorter, lighter and are thinner making them suitable for weight plates with a smaller 1-inch diameter. They are optimal for people who are shopping on a budget, have less space to work out in, or who don’t plan to use as much weight as those needing an Olympic bar.
A barbell pad is an accessory that you wrap around the centre of the bar to create a cushioned area. They help to eliminate any unnecessary pressure when the bar is across the back of your neck, during exercises like squats, lunges or calf raises. Needless to say, these are not vital to being able to use a barbell, but they can help to make lifting more comfortable.
Clips and collars
Another accessory as opposed to an actual barbell; these are what is used to secure the weight plates onto your chosen bar. Clips and collars keep weights locked in place and are essential for all lifters, especially those performing explosive exercises.Make sure for your safety, that you always use collars to prevent the weight plates slipping off the end of your bar during a lift.
Things to consider
Barbells come in a number of different weights. Ensure you know how heavy the one you are looking at is and that you are comfortable with it.
Each bar has a maximum load capacity, which is something that is especially important to know if you plan to lift heavy. Make sure the bar you are looking at is capable of supporting the weight you intend to use.
With choices like EZ bars, straight bars, tricep bars, shrug bars and many others on the market, make sure the type of bar you want is the best one when factoring in what you plan to use it for.
Grip or knurling
There are a number of different options available when it comes to the grip on a bar, with a variety of different depths of knurling, as well as some that have none at all. The level of grip and the feel of the bar can both have a great effect on your workout so make sure to select the one you are happy with.
Whip of the bar
The whip of a bar is the bounce that occurs at the top of a lift when you have stopped moving but momentum allows the bar to continue. Bars with more whip are ideal for explosive movements like a clean and jerk, while ones with less are better for stricter movements.
While many barbells will appear similar, there are differences between them. Some are purely aesthetic, such as colour, and others have markings that lifters use to judge where to put their hands during different exercises. If you are looking for something specific, ensure your bar has that quality before you buy it.
Before you purchase a barbell, you should take into account the space you have to use and store it in. Consider shorter options, such as EZ Bars, if you don’t have room for a full length one.
Outside of cleaning after use and occasionally tightening the bolts that secure the sleeves, barbells require no maintenance. It is, however, a good idea to store them in a location where they are less likely to rust.