Barbells are one of the most frequently used pieces of kit in all forms of weightlifting. They are an essential piece of equipment for anyone who wants to hit the weights and build some muscle. However, if you’re new to the sport you may not know what different barbells are available or what their benefits are. While a lot of them will look remarkably similar, they all have their own unique properties and uses.
Types of weight bars
Dumbbell bars are the shortest type of weight bar available, usually being around 18 inches. They are designed to be used with one in either hand and are ideal for lifters trying to isolate the muscles on a single side of the body.
Barbells are basically the same as a dumbbell bar, only much longer, with a full-sized Olympic bar being around 7ft on average. These are the best choice for performing exercises using great amounts of weight, that require multiple muscles and joints to lift.
EZ-curl bars get their name from their shape, which is a zig-zag pattern. They are considerably shorter than a full-sized bar, usually around 4 feet long, and weighing 10 kilograms – half the weight of an Olympic bar. They provide a more natural position for the hands, which makes them ideal for exercises like barbell curls, hence the name.
Other things to consider
Olympic vs Powerlifting
Powerlifting is a sport purely based on strength in static lifts, while Olympic weightlifting will require a little more agility and explosion to perform some of the exercises. Make sure things like the grip, thickness and weight capacity of your chosen bar are suitable for the sport you plan to use it for.
Barbells can range from incredibly light to upwards of 20 kilograms. When selecting the bar you want, make sure you consider your own strength, as well as the sort of exercises and the weight you plan to be using it for.
Your strength is an important factor to consider when choosing a bar. Different bars have different weight capacities, so you’ll need to assess both your existing strength and your training goals when choosing your weight bar. Make sure you choose one that will stand up to what you plan to put it through.
While most people tend to go for full-sized bars, there are also shorter options available. Bear this in mind if you will be using or storing it in a smaller space.
Barbells will come in a variety of different thicknesses as well. Be sure to find a bar with a diameter that allows you to completely and comfortably wrap your hands around it, to ensure you are secure at all times while using it.
The finish and amount of grip on a bar can vary between brands and models, with some featuring deep knurling, while others have almost none. Make sure the option you settle on is one you will be comfortable using on regular basis.
When looking at the comfort level of a barbell, you need to consider everything we have already looked at so far. The amount of grip it has, its finish, its thickness, its weight; everything plays a part in how comfortable you will be using the bar.
Weigh up your priorities and select a bar that gives you the best balance of all the things you are looking for.
Type of locks/collars
There are different types of locks and collars available, including ones that are sprung loaded, ones that have to be screwed on and off, and even some with a key-like mechanism.
Each style affects the level of security it offers, as well as how quickly and easily you can get it on and off of the bar. Weigh up your priorities and select the lock or collar that best suits your needs.
The durability of a barbell refers to the amount of weight it is capable of holding, as well as how well it will withstand drops or being hit on racks and stands.
While bars with greater durability are usually more expensive, it is something you should consider if your bar is likely to take a lot of abuse, as it will end up saving you money in the long run.
Level of ability
Considering your ability level could potentially save you a lot of money when selecting a barbell. If you are a less experienced lifter, there is no point in buying an expensive bar, designed to hold a substantial amount of weight, when you would likely be able to do everything you need on a cheaper option.
Barbells are an expensive item, that you are supposed to be able to get many years of use out of. Make sure you choose a product that comes with a warranty that won’t leave you out of pocket if something goes wrong.
With barbells costing quite a lot of money, make sure you set yourself a clear budget at the outset. That way, you won’t waste your time analysing a product that you aren’t willing or able to pay for in the first place.