As a person who’s dedicated most of my life to fitness, the gym, nutrition and overall athleticism, I’ve naturally spent countless hours refining my deadlift technique. Gosh, I can’t even begin to think of how many hours I’ve spent. But! With great numbers, usually come great results, as well. So here we have the question - deadlift bar or power bar?
In this article, I’ll talk about the primary differences between a deadlift bar vs the stiff bar; and even though they might look similar, or even the same to the untrained eye - trust me, there’s a huge difference between the two that goes way beyond them being two metal poles for attaching weight plates.
There’s knurling, there’s the whip, there are the materials used and why they behave the way they behave when under stress. I’ll talk about those differences. But I’ll also try answering questions that I often get from friends or colleagues.
How much does a deadlift bar weigh? What is the length of a deadlift bar? Is it better to use a deadlift bar or a power bar? Deadlift bar vs Olympic bar - how do they compare? I’ll address all those questions and more as I go through the article. Probably as I get more hyped and the ideas and experiences start running wild as I talk about them, I’ll surely think of more things to cover.
So, what can I say? Prepare your chalk, secure your belt, and accompany me on this epic journey to answer these queries and demystify the stiff bar vs deadlift bar discussion.
What is the difference between deadlift bar vs stiff bar? The main difference between a deadlift bar and a stiff bar is the amount of flex or "whip" in the bar. A deadlift bar flexes more when under stress. A stiff bar has minimal to no flexibility when under stress- hence the name "stiff bar".
What is a Deadlift Bar?
When discussing strength training equipment, deadlift bars warrant special attention because they're uniquely designed for boosting performance during deadlifting exercises.
One way this is achieved is through enhanced flexibility or 'whip' that other types of weight-bearing bars lack—Deadlift bars can bend continuously throughout the lift movement before returning to a neutral position facilitating reduced pressure on lower back muscles that commonly experience strain during similar lifts executed with other types of bars.
The reason why deadlift bars ‘whip’, and steel bars don’t is because of the material used to create them. The most commonly used materials to create a deadlift bar are molybdenum-alloyed steels (steel alloy 4140/4340, yield strength 655/852 MPa), cold-worked austenitic stainless steels (stainless steel grade 301/304/310, yield strength 470-1310 MPa), and martensitic stainless steels (stainless steel grade 410/420/431, yield strength 415-1895 MPa).
Additionally helpful - ‘How long is a deadlift bar?’ Its slightly longer size at approximately 90 inches compared with regular barbells. ‘How heavy is a deadlift bar?’ — it’s lighter in weight at about 44 pounds which can allow users greater maneuverability that makes it easier for lifters with varying body types to reap the benefits of Deadlift Bar training.
What is a Stiff Bar?
A stiff bar, also referred to as a powerlifting bar or a standard barbell, is frequently employed in strength training and powerlifting routines since it typically measures 86 inches in length, and weighs approximately 45 pounds.
So unlike a standard deadlift bar, the stiff bar doesn't possess the same degree of flexibility, or what some more hardcore gym-goers will call 'whip'.
I remember in my early gym days when I first heard someone saying whip inside a gym - I was like, "What's going on here? Where am I?!".
So, back to the stiff bar. It's engineered to be rigid and robust, offering stability and control during lifts. But as I've mentioned, the lack of flexibility means that if you overload the bar above its maximum weight capacity, the bar will bend beyond repair. Now usually, those weight capacities are so large that you'd need a forklift to lift a bar that heavy. So you probably will never see a stiff bar bend. Unless it is low-quality, or a cheaply made one. So be cautious if that is the case. But all in all, they exhibit more tensile strength than deadlift bars.
When you look at the diameter of a stiff bar, you'll notice that they are quite a bit more thicker than other barbells. This extra diameter allows for a considerably better and firm grip.
Stiff bars are generally used for a variety of exercises. But the main ones would be bench presses, squats, and overhead presses. If you saw someone doing those exercises, they were most likely using a stiff bar.
The absence of flex in the bar enables lifters to concentrate on developing strength and power without the additional energy storage and release that a deadlift bar provides.
The Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar: Comparison
Back when I was an inexperienced lifter, I remember thinking that there was not so much difference between the squat bar or deadlift bar. But I couldn’t be more wrong. Let’s put them side by side and compare their differences in detail so you don’t make the same mistake I did.
I can recall when I was starting my weightlifting journey confusedly believing that it doesn’t matter whether I’m using a squat bar or deadlift bar. Well. to make a long story short - I was wrong. And to avoid any confusion regarding specific benefits underlined by these two tools’ distinct features in various lifting movements I’ll take the extra time here to analyze their differences.
One notable distinction between Deadlift Bars and Stiff Barbell lies in their flexibility levels. The former has more give which translates into a movement better suited for posterior chain muscle engagement - while stiffer Barbells are designed particularly with stability in mind rather than movement or increased range of motion.
2. Weight and Length
4. Training Focus
Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar: Summary
- Flexibility for better lifts
- Enhanced grip and whip
- Targeting posterior chain strength
- Maximum stability for heavy loads
- Ideal for powerlifting competitions
- Versatile for various exercises
Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar: Pros and Cons
Pros and Cons of Deadlift Bars
Enhanced flexibility for better range of motion during deadlifts
Specialty knurling provides superior grip, reducing the chance of slipping
Increased whip allows for more explosive lifts and potential for higher PRs
Helps target and develop the posterior chain muscles effectively
Ideal for athletes focused on powerlifting and deadlift-specific training
Could be better:
May feel too flexible or unstable for individuals accustomed to stiffer bars
Less optimal for exercises that require maximum stability, such as heavy squats
Specialty design may limit its versatility for other exercises or training variations
The extra whip can be challenging to control for beginners or those with less experience
The specific knurling pattern may not be suitable for everyone's grip preferences
Pros and Cons of Stiff Bars
Maximum stability and rigidity, ideal for heavy compound lifts
Offers consistent and predictable bar movement, allowing for precise technique
Suitable for various powerlifting exercises, including squats, bench presses, and deadlifts
Provides a reliable grip without excessive whip, beneficial for controlled lifting
Versatile for both beginner and advanced lifters seeking overall strength development
Could be better:
Limited flexibility may restrict natural movement patterns for certain individuals
Less whip may result in reduced potential for explosive lifting or dynamic movements
Knurling may vary across brands, and finding the right grip may require experimentation
Less specialized for deadlift-specific training compared to a dedicated Deadlift Bar
May feel overly rigid or uncomfortable for those who prefer a more forgiving bar
Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar: When to Use Each
When should you use a:
- When you prioritize flexibility and enhanced range of motion during deadlifts
- When you want to target and develop your posterior chain muscles effectively
- If you are focused on powerlifting and deadlift-specific training
- If you require superior grip with specialty knurling to reduce the chance of slipping
- When you aim for explosive lifts and potential for higher personal records (PRs)
- When maximum stability and rigidity are crucial, particularly for heavy compound lifts
- If you seek consistent and predictable bar movement, allowing for precise technique
- When performing various powerlifting exercises such as squats, bench presses, and deadlifts
- If you prefer a bar with a reliable grip and controlled lifting without excessive whip
- Whether you are a beginner or an advanced lifter looking for overall strength development
The first question that came to mind when writing this section was, "Can I use a stiff bar for deadlift?"
The answer is yes, of course you can! Deadlift bars are specially designed for that particular exercise because with deadlifting you usually lift heavier weights, and the extra flexibility helps reduce some of the strain on your body.
Rogue Ohio Deadlift Bar Review
Durable steel construction
Could be better:
Sleeve is too short for rubber bumper plates
Rogue Ohio Power Bar Review
Smooth movements thanks to the bronze bushing and snap-ring design
Could be better:
Zinc coating is less grippy than bare steel
Can I replace the Deadlift With a Stiff Bar?
About the Program
Our Deadlift 2.0 program is a 12-week strength plan designed to boost your Deadlift PR.
The program follows a schedule of THREE 60-90 minutes training sessions per week. The training is scheduled for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but you can adjust the days to fit your weekly routine, as long as you follow the pattern of one training day followed by one cooldown day, with two days of rest after every third session.
The training is structured into 3 main blocks, with each block lasting for 4 weeks:
Who Is the Program For?
The plan is fit for both male and female athletes and is especially good for Powerlifters and Olympic lifters, but also for fans of deadlifting and strength training. All training requires access to basic equipment.
- Split into 3 block of 4 weeks (12 weeks total)
- 40 unique exercises, with video tutorials
- Pre and post-workout stretch and special warmups
- Mobile friendly PDF version
- LIFETIME access
What bar is best for deadlifting?
When it comes to deadlifting the specialized deadlift bar reigns supreme. Thanks to its flexibility and whip, this type of bar enables a deeper stretch, greater power generation, and engagement of more muscles - all of which work together to boost your overall deadlift performance.
How much can you deadlift with a deadlift bar vs. a stiff bar?
If you use a deadlift bar you would be able to hoist heavier weights thanks to its high flexibility and whipping effect that contributes towards ramping up power output. Yet, selecting a rigid bar might offer improved steadiness but may limit your potential for lifting heavy weights as compared with a deadlift bar.
Can you use a deadlift bar in competition?
It definitely is! Powerlifting competitors often choose to employ these types of bars, specifically during the deadlifting segment. Their distinct characteristics offer possible advantages that can contribute to improved performances.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this article. I hope that it has answered the main questions, "What is a Deadlift Bar?", and “What is a stiff bar?” and I hope that it left you more wiser than when you came here.
If the gym is part of your daily routine, and you like doing various barbell exercises then I don't have to tell you that a huge deadlift bar vs squat bar debate exists among athletes. So you’ll often heal polarizing sides of the argument where they defend one and muck the other. Thankfully I’m neither. I use both in my lifting program, and it’s going to stay that way. This is why I think I was able to give you a concise and clear explanation for both barbell types, and also provide you with a real-world viewpoint on both. The good and the ugly. The pros and the cons.
So, have you previously experimented with both types of bars? Which side do you take in the ongoing deadlift bar vs squat bar debate? Do you have any inquiries about effectively integrating these specialty bars into your workout routine? Feel free to share your feedback or experiences in the comments section below.
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- Tensile strength // Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/science/tensile-strength
- Effect of a Hexagonal Barbell on the Mechanical Demand of Deadlift Performance // MDPI: https://www.mdpi.com/2075-4663/5/4/82
- A systematic review on the muscular activation on the lower limbs with five different variations of the deadlift exercise // RUA: https://rua.ua.es/dspace/bitstream/10045/110830/1/JHSE_2020_15_Proc4_27.pdf
- The Effects of Barbell Placement on Kinematics and Muscle Activation Around the Sticking Region in Squats // Frontiersin: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fspor.2020.604177/full
- Sumo deadlift // BodyBuilding: https://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/sumo-deadlift
- Deadlift vs. Romanian Deadlift: Benefits of Each and How to Do // HealthLine: https://www.healthline.com/health/romanian-deadlift-vs-deadlift
- Exploring the Deadlift // Journals: https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Fulltext/2010/04000/Exploring_the_Deadlift.4.aspx
Sergii is a professional weightlifter and National team member in the past. Competed in 94 kg w/c, won multiple medals on national competitions.
Nowadays Sergii is responsible for designing training programs, writing blog articles, doing live commentary of international weightlifting competitions, running different sport & fitness educational seminars, including Olympic weightlifting together with Oleksiy Torokhtiy all around the globe.