Pick up a proper barbell to excel in your weight-lifting technique. Think well about bushing vs bearing barbell will fit your workout regime. Choose the first option if you want to have a wider range of exercises to perform with the barbell. Or switch to another one if you’re a pro weightlifter who needs a greater barbell spin. It's up to you to decide what bearing or bushing style is better for you.
What Is a Bushing Barbell?
A seasoned lifter knows that a barbell spin plays an essential role while training with weights, which is as important as picking up a high-quality barbell. Let's imagine an Olympic barbell design: here's a shaft with two sleeves holding plates on the sides and making them rotate freely. This spinning prevents the barbell rotation in your hands and warns you from injury.
You should consider what type of lifts you prefer to perform when selecting the bushing or bearing spin of the barbell. Here we start with barbell bushing which is usually applied for slow and heavy lifts like in powerlifting exercises, i.e. squat, bench press, and deadlift. What are the peculiarities of this rotation system?
- Gives a slower and steady spin.
- Is cheaper than a bearing system.
- Has one bushing near the collar and the second one at the barbell end.
- Can be multi-purpose and be used for the training bars.
- Bronze is the most common one thanks to its durability and affordable price. Its pores are infused with oil that vouches for longer serving.
- Composite bushing aims to prolong a barbell service life and reduce the noise level. The material guarantees quiet spinning and the system's long life expectancy. But, it's a bit pricey.
- Stainless steel barbell bushing isn't so popular. It's hard and durable, but it can cause shaft damage.
- The brass system isn't very common because it's too soft and can be deformed over time.
Our Recommended Bearing Barbell: Rogue Ohio Power Bar
We want to present to you one of the best bushing barbells from the leading American sports equipment company, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar with a 45 lb weight. It comes with black e-coating that guarantees long-lasting due to its anti-corrosion and resistance rate. The loadable sleeve length is 16.25". Speaking about the tensile strength the bar can withstand 205 000 PSI, vouching for superb rigidity and stability.
Being a powerlifting barbell, it's equipped with zinc sleeves, top-notch bronze bushing, and aggressive knurling of the 29mm shaft. The knurled design is deep enough while staying moderately mild to your palms. The center knurling adds more friction for you to be able to hold the loaded weights. So, you'll succeed in performing the powerlifting exercises, i.e. squats, bench, deadlift, without a hitch due to the smooth spin and comfortable feel of the bar.
What Is a Bearing Barbell?
Compared to the bushing, a bearing barbell comes with a lighter and faster spinning system that is designed just for Olympic lifts. It provides a more rapid movement performance that is perfect for such Olympic exercises as snatch, clean & jerk.
This spinning system is popular among Olympic lifting athletes and brings a better spin rate. Such bars include 2-5 cartridges in the sleeves: the more cartridges you have, the smoother spin you'll get. A cartridge itself has a range of metal needles in the inside edge which can rotate around the shaft.
The barbell bearing’s spin system is more expensive, the tighter the needle bearing fits, the better its quality is. The peculiarity of a tightly-fitting bearing is that it spins slower when it's out of weight and spins well when loaded.
There are three types of bearing spin systems that are placed between the bar and sleeve aiming to reduce friction:
- Ball bearing is the cheapest option.
- Thrust bearing.
- Needle bearing combines bearing with bushing.
Our Recommended Bearing Barbell: Eleiko IWF Bar
A top pick model of barbell bearings is the Eleiko IWF Competition bar which is designed specifically for serious Olympic lifters. The barbell is approved by the International Weightlifting Federation and is designed from prime-quality steel with Swedish precision.
It has sturdy and aggressive knurling and is designed to be used for a short time to lift the maximum possible weight. Eleiko barbell has the following characteristics:
- 16.34" loadable sleeves
- Needle bearing
- Barbell length: 86.6"
- Barbell weight: 44 lb
Bushing vs Bearing Barbell: Key Differences of Spin Systems
When it comes to buying a barbell, an athlete should be abreast of what spinning system it should be equipped with considering their workout intentions. It’s important to make the right choice to enhance weight lifting training and mitigate injuries. Let’s outline the main points that make these rotation systems differ one from another.
Purpose of the Usage
Sometimes athletes use these two spinning systems vice versa: bearings for slow lifts and bushings for fast ones. Both of them can bring good spinning, but if using a bearing spin system for slow lifts, a lifter may feel an imbalance when performing the SBD exercises. On the contrary, if you try to perform powerlifting movements with the help of a bearing barbell, a loaded barbell will wobble in your hands.
Bearing barbells have a smooth rotation that makes them a better option for Olympic lifts. But, they will be pricier. Barbells with bushings are more budget-friendly, however, they won't give you enough spin, but friction.
Type of Lifting Workouts
Bushing barbells are considered more universal than bearing ones. They can suit most athletes, no matter whether they're pros or starters. Although, bearing spinning suits just proficient Olympic lifters who already tuned up their lifting technique to perfection. Sometimes, Olympic lifters use bushing for training purposes because this spinning system is cheaper, while having a long time service life, and performs well.
Speed of the Spin
Olympic lifting movements are rapid and dynamic dominantly. Imagine that you perform a snatch with a barbell with no rotation. In this case, the inertia will cause the bar to spin in your hands. If so, the knurling can damage your palms. If you want to prevent it, you're likely to get odd tension on your wrists. Thus, the bushing is perfect for powerlifting slow lifting motions, the bearing is for dynamic and explosive Olympic lifts.
What Bearing Better Fits Which Types of Workout?
As we already mentioned the bushing barbell will fit perfectly for powerlifting exercises and general weight lifting workouts. It provides a slow spin, so it won't rotate while you lift a loaded barbell. Being high-versatile and comparatively affordable, you can apply a bushing barbell for a greater range of training.
The bearing bar is designed specifically for Olympic weightlifting by providing a smooth spin and is targeted just for performing snatch, clean, and jerk workouts to enhance the vertical velocity and power distribution. In theory, you can use this bearing for other training, but it won’t be as effective as it could be. Overally, you'd better apply the fitting bearing to the corresponding training type to prevent occasional strains, pains, or acute injuries in knees, shoulders, and ligaments.
Are Bushings Better Than Bearings?
Do I Need Bearings on My Barbell?
Bearing vs Bushing Barbell Final Word
Which barbell spin system is better for you? Generally, the choice of bushing vs bearing barbell depends on your training intentions and what lifting type you plan to incorporate mostly. If you're strictly an Olympic weightlifter, a bearing system will come in handy for you. If you plan to perform slower liftings like SBD in powerlifting, then don't hesitate and select bushings instead.
Although, don't tighten your purse on buying a high-quality bar with a proper bearing system. The right choice can simplify your training and reduce the friction between the bar and sleeves, which also will prolong the tool's life expectancy. Entrust our bearing vs bushing barbell overview and choose the option to excel at weight training.
- Training Strategies to Improve Muscle Power Is Olympic-style Weightlifting Relevant? // Journals: https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2017/04000/Training_Strategies_to_Improve_Muscle_Power__Is.15.aspx
- Estimation of peak vertical velocity and relative load changes by subjective measures in weightlifting movements // Ncbi: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9331341/
- Injuries among weightlifters and powerlifters: a systematic review // Bjsm: https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/51/4/211.long
- Narrative review of injuries in powerlifting with special reference to their association to the squat, bench press and deadlift // Ncbi: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6059276/
My name is Ihor and I have been a professional weightlifter since 1996. With over 20 years of competition experience, my resume includes European Champion in 2009 and the silver medalist at 2011's Senior World Championships – 105kg division.
I competed at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.
After hanging up my own competitive lifting shoes, I decided to share my huge background as a coach. I am currently coaching multiple athletes who are competing at national and international competiti