10 Best Powerlifting Barbells in 2024

Author: Ihor Shymechko (26 years of Oly Lifting & Training experience)

Reviewed by: Oleksiy Torokhtiy (Olympian with 21 years of Oly Lifting experience)

Powerlifting barbells are specialized weightlifting bars designed to handle heavy loads and optimize performance in powerlifting and similar strength workouts.

Powerlifting bars have standardized sizing, and are made of higher quality steel and have superior construction than standard commercial barbells.

Here are my 10 best powerlifting barbell choices to get in 2024.

 In a hurry? 

In a hurry?

In a hurry and can’t keep reading? How about you check out the 

REP Alpine Weightlifting Bar.


It is has excellent build quality, high performance specs, and attractive design.

Best Powerlifting Barbell

Top 10 Best Powerlifting Barbells Reviewed

ProductTotalSteel QualityTensile StrengthKnurlingCrushing ResistanceVersatilityValue For Money
REP Fitness5991010101010
Rogue Ohio (Cerakote)581010910910
Titan Fitness57910910910
Eleiko5610991099
Rogue Ohio (Stainless Steel)5510991098
Bella Bar 2.0551099999
Titan Deadlift Series549109989
BalanceForm538999810
Valor528899810
CAP Barbell51989889

The Alpine Weightlifting bar is the best of the best. It’s designed for weightlifters who want the best performance and it meets the specifications of the International Weightlifting Federation.

REP Alpine Weightlifting Bar

  • Material: Steel or Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 44.1 lbs
  • Length: 86.6’’
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Shaft Length: -
  • Knurling: Yes, medium depth
  • Knurl Marks: IWF standard
  • Weight Limit: 1500 lbs.
  • Tensile Strength: 190ksi
  • Sleeve Length: 16.3’’
  • Finish Type: Hard chrome, stainless steel, black chrome shaft with hard chrome sleeves

The hybrid needle-bearing sleeve construction is what makes this bar stand out. REP did a great job with incorporating standard needle bearings with special inner-race ones, which resulted in an exceptionally smooth and consistent rotation. You don’t need to doubt the performance that this will have during lifts - it’s always going to be impeccable. 

Another fantastic aspect is the knurling, it’s medium-depth and volcano style. This is a perfect balance of comfort and solid grip, since it’s not going to be too aggressive to your hands. 

There are several finishes to choose from - hard chrome, stainless steel and black chrome. You’ll also notice some premium touches, like the laser etchings of the bar’s name and weight on the inside of the sleeves and the metal end caps with unique designs. A lot of attention to detail came into making this bar, and it shows. 

It’s pretty much perfect, other than one tiny thing which, if we’re nitpicking, can be considered a flaw. The grooved sleeves produce a somewhat loud noise during lifts which can be a little distracting, but the noise is still not as loud as what you would usually experience with other grooved sleeves. 

All things considered - this bar absolutely deserves to be in the first place.

59Expert Score

Rep Alpine Weightlifting Bar whis excellent build quality, high performance specs, and attractive design.

Steel Quality:
9
Tensile Strength:
10
Knurling:
10
Crushing Resistance:
10
Versatility:
10
Value for Money:
10
(Show More)

Positives:

  • Fully loadable sleeves

  • IPF standardized knurl markings

  • Medium depth knurl pattern provides stronger grip without damaging your palms

Could be better:

  • No additional shaft coating

My runner-up best barbell for powerlifting is the Rogue 45LB Ohio Power Bar.

The barbell got its name because it’s fully machined and assembled in Columbus, Ohio, USA.

The thing I liked the most about the Ohio Power Bar is that it performed almost as well as my top pick, while having a slight but noticeably lower price on top.

In this case, I picked the one with the Cerakote finish, although the other finishes are certainly worth taking a look at.

Rogue 45LB Ohio Power Bar Cerakote

  • Material: U.S. Grade Steel
  • Weight: 45 pounds
  • Length: 86.52 inches
  • Diameter: 1.14 inches (29 millimeters)
  • Shaft Length: 51.5 inches
  • Knurling: Yes, aggressive knurling
  • Knurl Marks: Powerlifting knurl marks
  • Weight Limit: Tested for over 1,000 Pounds
  • Tensile Strength: 205,000 PSI
  • Sleeve Length: 16.25
  • Finish Type: Cerakote

This version of the Rogue Ohio Power Bar is protected using a Cerakote finish.Cerakote is a ceramic-based coating with excellent abrasion and corrosion resistance, that requires minimal after care to last a long time.It also comes in four color choices - black, blue, red, and OD green (popular in tactical gear). 

All color choices feature the sleek looking matte black sleeves, which I personally find quite visually appealing, especially compared to the usual chrome sleeves of cheaper barbells.The maximum capacity for this barbell is not specified by the manufacturer, which is a bit of a let-down.However, from testing, the bar could easily withstand up to 1,000 pounds of maximal load, so there’s certainly no issues there. 
Rogue Ohio Power Bar
On top of that, the 205,000 PSI rating means this barbell is practically unbendable even under heavy loads during high pressure exercises.The bronze bushing connecting the sleeves and shaft provides a smooth and consistent rotation, adding comfort to your exercises. 

The barbell is backed by Lifetime Warranty against bending, which is not only a great benefit, but also a testament to the Rogue’s commitment to quality.
58Expert Score

Rogue 45LB Ohio Power Bar- the best barbell for powerlifting who got its name because it’s fully machined and assembled in Columbus, Ohio, USA.

Steel Quality:
10
Tensile Strength:
10
Knurling:
9
Crushing Resistance:
10
Versatility:
9
Value for Money:
10
(Show More)

Positives:

  • Made In the U.S.A.

  • Rogue’s Lifetime Warranty against bending

  • Cerakote finish requires minimal care and will last a long time

  • Four optional color choices - black, red, blue, and OD green

Could be better:

  • No official maximum capacity information

  • The middle knurling is unnecessarily broken up by the Rogue logo placement

The Titan Fitness MAXXUM Stainless Steel Bar gives new meaning to the word “power” in powerlifting.This bar is made for pushing athletes to their maximum limits, no questions asked.But the real surprise is, considering its high performance specs, it lands at an otherwise below average price point.This makes it an amazing budget pick for powerlifters, especially those building a home or garage gym.
Titan Fitness MAXXUM Stainless Steel Bar

  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 45 pounds
  • Length: 86.75 inches
  • Diameter: 1.1 inches (28 millimeters)
  • Shaft Length: 51.875 inches
  • Knurling: Yes, medium diamond pattern
  • Knurl Marks: Powerlifting knurl marks
  • Weight Limit: 2,000 pounds
  • Tensile Strength: 230,000 PSI
  • Sleeve Length: 16.25 inches
  • Finish Type: Stainless Steel

The bar is fully made from precision-grade stainless steel, making it practically immune to corrosion and oxidation.

The single material build makes the bar fairly low maintenance, with a simple wipe with a cloth or sponge doing the trick.

Looking at the specs, right off the bat you’ll notice the outstanding 2,000 pound maximum capacity accompanied by the 230,000 PSI rating.

These numbers alone will peak the curiosity of even the strongest competitive powerlifters.
titanfitness
The bar features a single powerlifting mark, center knurling, and medium depth diamond shaped knurling patterns on both sides - fairly standard. Bronze bushing and needle bearings connect the shaft and barbell sleeve. This provides a smooth and consistent roll to the bar, however, powerlifters may find it adds too much spin.
57Expert Score

The Titan Fitness MAXXUM Stainless Steel Bar is made for pushing athletes to their maximum limits, no questions asked.

Steel Quality:
9
Tensile Strength:
10
Knurling:
9
Crushing Resistance:
10
Versatility:
9
Value for Money:
10
(Show More)

Positives:

  • Tensile Strength of 230,000 PSI, highest for this list

  • Medium-depth diamond shaped knurling provides good grip

  • Easy maintenance thanks to single outer material and easy dismantling

Could be better:

  • The needle bearings provide a faster spin than what a powerlifter might prefer

Eleiko is a brand of premium fitness equipment based in Sweden.

The company started off in the 1920 as a family-owned business, and has grown to become a renowned supplier of equipment for global lifting competitions.

Eleiko is now the official sponsor of the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF), and this barbell is part of their official equipment.

Eleiko IPF Powerlifting Competition Bar

  • Material: Swedish Steel
  • Weight: Officially 20 kilograms (44.09 pounds)
  • Length: 86.61 inches
  • Diameter: 1.14 inches (29 millimeters)
  • Shaft Length: Around 51.5 inches
  • Knurling: Yes, 1.5 mm aggressive knurl marks
  • Knurl Marks: IPF knurl marks
  • Weight Limit: 3306.93 pounds (1500 kilograms)
  • Tensile Strength: 215,000 PSI
  • Sleeve Length: 17.05
  • Finish Type: Bare Steel

The bar is made from proprietary Swedish steel, which is easily the highest quality material on this list, as well as in general.

The shaft features fine 1.5 mm deep aggressive powerlifting knurling that provides an incredibly tight and firm grip.

eleiko bar
photo by @strangnassk

The bar sleeves feature graphite-infused bronze bushing that also self-lubricates, enhancing athletes performance with a controlled spin and prolonging the bar’s lifecycle.

To top things off, the barbell comes with a Lifetime Warranty for indoor use (normal wear and tear does not apply).

56Expert Score

Eleiko IPF Powerlifting Competition Bar is now the official sponsor of the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF), and this barbell is part of their official equipment.

Steel Quality:
10
Tensile Strength:
9
Knurling:
9
Crushing Resistance:
10
Versatility:
9
Value for Money:
9
(Show More)

Positives:

  • Longest loadable sleeves length let’s you put on even more weight plates

  • Self-lubricating graphite-infused bronze bushing provides spin and longevity to the bar

  • Lifetime warranty for indoor use

Could be better:

  • The most expensive among our picks

I’d like to round out the top five powerlifting bars by giving a sort of honorable mention to the Rogue 45LB Ohio Power Bar with the Stainless Steel finish.

As you might have guessed, this power bar has nearly identical performances as the Cerakote version, although it’s slightly more expensive in return for added benefits.

Stainless steel requires less maintenance and will last longer, plus Rogue also made an in-depth tutorial on how to maintain your Ohio Barbell.

Aduro Sport Weighted Vest

  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 45 pounds
  • Length: 86.52 inches
  • Diameter: 1.14 inches (29 millimeters)
  • Shaft Length: 51.5 inches
  • Knurling: Yes, aggressive knurling
  • Knurl Marks: Powerlifting knurl marks
  • Weight Limit: Tested for over 1,000 Pounds
  • Tensile Strength: 200,000 PSI
  • Sleeve Length: 16.25
  • Finish Type: Stainless steel bar, chrome sleeves (optional stainless steel)

The default option for this barbell is the stainless steel shaft and chrome sleeves.However, for a slight increase, you can upgrade the sleeves to be stainless steel as well.At 200,000 PSI, the tensile strength of this version is slightly lower than the cerakote Ohio Bar.
Rogue 45LB
Still, that’s well above average and way more than what the majority of athletes will push the bar to.The quality standard of this product remains the same, as it’s also produced in Columbus, Ohio, and covered with a lifetime warranty against bending.
55Expert Score

Rogue 45LB Ohio Power Bar with the Stainless Steel finish has nearly identical performances as the Cerakote version, although it’s slightly more expensive in return for added benefits.

Steel Quality:
10
Tensile Strength:
9
Knurling:
9
Crushing Resistance:
10
Versatility:
9
Value for Money:
8
(Show More)

Positives:

  • Made In the U.S.A.

  • Highest rated oxidation resistance according to Rogues in-house testing

  • Easy maintenance using Rogue’s own barbell care tutorial

Could be better:

  • The default chrome sleeves chip easier

6. Best For Women: The Bella Bar 2.0 (Cerakote)

For all the female readers out there, The Bella Bar 2.0 is the best barbell choice for you.

Also made by Rogue Fitness, it has the same high-quality build as the Ohio bar and excellent performance specs for its size, easily rivaling men’s barbells.

For this list, I specifically chose the Cerakote finish one, rivaling my runner-up pick.

However, I should mention there are also stainless steel, black zinc, and e-coat finish Bella Bars as well.

Bella Bar 2.0

  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 33 pounds (15 kilograms)
  • Length: 79.13 inches
  • Diameter: 0.98 inches (25 millimeters)
  • Shaft Length: Around 52 inches
  • Knurling: Olympic (no center knurling)
  • Knurl Marks: Dual knurl marks
  • Tensile Strength: 190,000 PSI
  • Sleeve Length: 13 inches
  • Finish Type: Cerakote

Just like all Rogue Fitness barbells, this bar is made with U.S.-grade stainless steel and manufactured in Columbus, Ohio.The Bella Bar 2.0 is made in accordance with official International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) competitive female barbell standardization. 

The bar features dual knurl marks which you can use to easily find your grip position before going into an exercise. 

However, it doesn’t feature a center knurling, so it won’t provide that crucial grip during exercises where the barbell rests on your body, such as front squats.
bella bar
photo by @ggoodmn
Although the weight limit is not officially specified by the manufacturer, with a tensile strength of 190,000 PSI, it’s hard to see this barbell breaking even from heavy powerlifting loads.With 12 different color choices, the Bella Bar 2.0 offers plenty of looks customization.
55Expert Score

The Bella Bar 2.0 is the best barbell, made by Rogue Fitness, it has the same high-quality build as the Ohio bar and excellent performance specs for its size, easily rivaling men’s barbells.

Steel Quality:
10
Tensile Strength:
9
Knurling:
9
Crushing Resistance:
9
Versatility:
9
Value for Money:
9
(Show More)

Positives:

  • Despite the smaller size, it still has an impressive 190,000 PSI

  • 12 color choices offer lots of look variety

  • Lifetime warranty on the barbell construction

Could be better:

  • No center knurling

The Titan Series Deadlift Bar was my favorite for using in - you guessed it - deadlift exercises.

The barbell was designed and manufactured in the U.S.A. using quality stainless steel, and comes at a moderate price that won’t break the budget for this style of product.

At surface level, this bar has specs and features mostly resembling an Olympic barbell.

Titan Series Deadlift Bar

  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 45 pounds
  • Length: 90.5 inches
  • Diameter: 1.12 inches (28.5 mm)
  • Shaft Length: 55.5 inches
  • Knurling: Yes, aggressive diamond pattern
  • Knurl Marks: Single knurl marks
  • Weight Limit: 2,000 pounds
  • Tensile Strength: 200,000 PSI
  • Sleeve Length: 16.25 inches
  • Finish Type: Bright zinc

According to Titan Fitness, the barbell was specifically designed for use in three main exercises - the standard deadlift, Sumo deadlift, and Romanian deadlift.

Both sides of the shaft feature an aggressive diamond knurling texture, which provides a secure grip through the heaviest of movements.

It doesn’t feature center knurl markings found on typical powerlifting barbells.

This helps to avoid abrasions in your neck area in case you decide to do squats.

That said, this also stops the bar from catching onto and tearing your workout clothes while sliding along your body during your maximum capacity deadlifts.

The bar shaft is covered in a bright zinc coating that provides a clean finish and protects it from scratches and corrosion.

The sleeves are covered in hard chrome which helps you slide weight plates on and off, although it can chip over time.

The bar features bronze bushings placed between the sleeves and shafts, giving it a clean and consistent roll without too much rotation.

54Expert Score

The Titan Series Deadlift Bar has specs and features mostly resembling an Olympic barbell.

Steel Quality:
9
Tensile Strength:
10
Knurling:
9
Crushing Resistance:
9
Versatility:
8
Value for Money:
9
(Show More)

Positives:

  • Made in the U.S.A.

  • Bright zinc shaft finish prevents corrosion and abrasion

  • Explicitly built for the three main deadlift movements - regular, Sumo, and Romanian Deadlift

Could be better:

  • Noticeably longer, which can make it a bit more difficult to balance with 

  • The aggressive knurling can cut deep, better to use hand protection like chalk or gloves

8. BalanceFrom 2" Olympic Barbell Set - Best Barbell Set

If you’re in the market for both a lifting barbell and weight plates, save yourself some money by buying a barbell and weights set.

My recommended choice is the BalanceFrom 2" Olympic Barbell Set.

Novice powerlifters want both a strong barbell and durable dumper plates, which is exactly what you’ll get.

BalanceFrom 2" Olympic Barbell Set

  • Material: Solid steel
  • Weight: Around 45 pounds (20 kilograms)
  • Length: 86.6
  • Diameter: Roughly 1.1 inches
  • Shaft Length: 51.6
  • Knurling: Yes, fine diamond knurling
  • Knurl Marks: Single 
  • Weight Limit: 700 pounds
  • Tensile Strength: Not specified by manufacturer
  • Sleeve Length: 15.3 inches
  • Finish Type: Bright zinc

The barbell included in the set is made in a standardized Olympic-size.

This means roughly 7.2 feet in length, around 1.1 inches in shaft diameter, and fitting standard 2-inch diameter inner ring weight plates.

It has both the center and side knurling, with single knurl marks for easily finding your hand grip position.

On its own, the knurling is surprisingly good, considering this is otherwise an affordable barbell.

The weight set includes two 25lb, two 35lb, and two 45lb plates.

Together with the barbell, they reach a maximum capacity of 255 pounds.

The plates are Olympic-sized and colored in accordance with competitive color coding, making them easily visually identifiable and more appealing than the standard black ones.

The package also includes two collar snap clamps to keep the plates in place once they’re loaded on the barbell.

53Expert Score

BalanceFrom 2" Olympic Barbell Set- novice powerlifters want both a strong barbell and durable dumper plates, which is exactly what you’ll get.

Steel Quality:
8
Tensile Strength:
9
Knurling:
9
Crushing Resistance:
9
Versatility:
8
Value for Money:
10
(Show More)

Positives:

  • A barbell and weightlifting set is guaranteed to be compatible

  • Competitive color-coded weight set

  • Two snap clamps included in the package

Could be better:

  • Low maximum capacity on barbell

Another affordable barbell good for powerlifting that’s worth the mention is the Valor Fitness OB-DL Deadlift Bar.

As the name suggests, the manufacturer intends for this barbell to be used specifically for deadlift exercises.

Valor Fitness OB-DL Deadlift Bar

  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Weight: 45 pounds
  • Length: 90.5 inches
  • Diameter: 1.05 inches (27 millimeters)
  • Shaft Length: 60 inches
  • Knurling: aggressive knurling, no center knurl
  • Knurl Marks: Single knurl marks
  • Weight Limit: 1,200 Pounds
  • Tensile strength: 165,000 PSI
  • Sleeve Length: 14.5 inches
  • Finish Type: Black zinc

Valor Fitness made some intentional design choices when making this barbell.

Whether these choices are good or bad will depend on how you intend to use the bar.

For example, the bar is intentionally longer, the sleeves are further apart, and it’s slightly thinner than usual barbells.

Combined with a 165,000 PSI tensile strength, this means the bar has an intentional bend and whip to it.

This can make engaging in some exercises such as deadlifts easier, since the bar will start bending before the plates lift from the ground, making your grip tighten before you feel the force of the weight.

However, this also means the barbell is more prone to snapping under heavier weight.

Valor Fitness

Luckily, the maximum capacity is fairly high, meaning this is hardly going to occur, but it’s still something to keep in mind.

The shaft is covered in a black zinc coat.

The coating provides good protection against corrosion and rusting, and the black color gives the bar a nice looking finish.

The sleeves on this barbell are etched with fine grooves, which prevents weight plates from sliding around.

52Expert Score

Valor Fitness OB-DL Deadlift Bar - is the affordable barbell good for powerlifting that’s worth the mention.

Steel Quality:
8
Tensile Strength:
8
Knurling:
9
Crushing Resistance:
9
Versatility:
8
Value for Money:
10
(Show More)

Positives:

  • Black zinc coat finish protects the barbell and looks nice as well

  • The bar bend making initiating deadlifts easier, as you’ll start from a higher position before the weights lift off the ground

  • The etched sleeves keep the weight plates from sliding

Could be better:

  • Alloy steel won’t last nearly as long as the other options on this list

  • Strictly deadlift bar - according to the manufacturer, the bar is not designed for squats, bench presses, and Olympic lifts

Last, but not least, we have CAP Barbell’s The Beast.

Just because it’s technically the last, I’d still value it higher than the thousands of other bars that haven’t made the list.

Cap Barbell is a global pioneer in the fitness industry with over 30 years of experience, and this barbell is just one of their line of quality products.

CAP Barbell’s The Beast

  • Material: Alloy steel
  • Weight: 44 pounds
  • Length: 86 inches
  • Diameter: 1.12 inches (28.5 mm)
  • Shaft Length: 51.5 inches 
  • Knurling: Yes, medium-depth
  • Knurl Marks: Single marks
  • Weight Limit: 1,200 pounds
  • Tensile Strength: 110,000 PSI
  • Sleeve Length: 15 inches
  • Finish Type: Black Phosphate

The newest version of The Beast by Cap Barbell is a male Olympic bar with solid specs at an average to below average price point, depending on where you shop.

It is built from cold-rolled Japanese alloy steel, which gives it an impressive 1200-pound maximum capacity, and a slightly lower but satisfactory 110,000 PSI.

The standard version shaft is coated with a slick black phosphate finish which looks smooth and protects the barbell from corrosion, scratches, and other types of wear and tear that can occur from use.

The polished chrome sleeves allow you to smoothly add or remove weights plates.

The bar features diamond-shaped medium-depth knurling that provides a tight grip and prevents it from slipping out of your hand during high-intensity exercises.

51Expert Score

CAP Barbell’s The Beast is a global pioneer in the fitness industry with over 30 years of experience, and this barbell is just one of their line of quality products.

Steel Quality:
9
Tensile Strength:
8
Knurling:
9
Crushing Resistance:
8
Versatility:
8
Value for Money:
9
(Show More)

Positives:

  • Most affordable (lowest-priced) product on the list

  • Black phosphate finish gives a protective layer and looks slick

  • Cold-rolled Japanese alloy steel is decent quality

  • Medium-depth diamond-shaped knurling feels nice and sturdy

Could be better:

  • Only 110,000 PSI, lowest on this list

What Is a Powerlifting Barbell?

A powerlifting barbell is a specialized type of barbell designed specifically for powerlifting workouts.

The three main exercises in powerlifting include the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

Powerlifting barbells are easy to identify based on some key specs.

For starters, they’re noticeably longer than standard barbells - usually around 7 feet in length. 

A powerlifting or bench press bar has a thicker shaft diameter, typically around 1.1 inch (29-32mm).

This increased thickness reduces the chance of the bar bending or warping during heavy lifts, and is excellent for developing grip strength.

The best barbell for powerlifting is designed to handle much heavier loads than standard barbells.

Typically it has a weight capacity of around 1,500 pounds, which is necessary for lifters who are attempting record setting or compete at the highest levels of powerlifting.

Powerlifting barbells also have more aggressive knurling than standard barbells.

Apart from the standard Olympic knurling spots on the left and right side of the shaft, they have a middle knurl as well.

This middle knurl can help with some narrow grip exercises, but it’s most important for keeping the barbell from slipping off your body during squats.

On average, a powerlifting barbell is higher quality than commercial barbells, however, it’s often more expensive as a result.

Powerlifting Barbell

Barbell Types

Versatility 

A standard barbell is a common type of barbell found in commercial gyms and public exercise centers, used for general weighted exercises.

In terms of specs, it’s typically shorter, lighter, and has less maximum capacity than barbells used in competitions.

However, it’s also much cheaper too.

The specs of standard barbells can vary, since they’re not subjected to any sort of standardization for dimensions or material quality, unlike bars used in competitions which have strict sizing rules.

The usual maximum weight capacity of a standard barbell can differ depending on the quality.

The average is usually around 200-300 pounds, with higher-end ones going for 600 pounds.

A standard bar is sometimes referred to as a one-inch or 1-inch bar due to it having a shaft and sleeve diameter of one inch.

Standard barbells typically have threaded sleeves that fit screw-on weight plates with a 1.1 inch inner diameter.

Olympic Barbells

As the name suggests, an Olympic barbell is designed for competitive weightlifting and is primarily used in the Olympic Games.

Olympic bars are made in accordance with the International Weightlifting Federation rulebook, so they have to follow strict dimensions and quality standards.

There are two recognized versions - the “male” and “female” Olympic barbells.

The male version is slightly longer, heavier, and thicker, and has a higher weight capacity than the female barbell

Their measurements are as follows:

  • Male barbell - 7.2 feet (2.2 meters) long, weighing 44 pounds (20 kilograms), shaft diameter typically 1.1 inches (28 mm)
  • Female barbell - 6.9 feet (2.1 meters) long, weighing 33 pounds (15 kilograms), shaft diameter typically 1 inch (25 mm)

The main feature of Olympic barbells is the mandatory rotating (aka Olympic) sleeves, to provide the athlete with a smoother exercise motion and reduce the risk of injury.
Olympic barbells feature knurling on both sides, with each side having an additional break in the middle for easy visual grip measurement.

The primary exercises Olympic barbells are designed for are the two Olympic competitive lifts - the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk.

Powerlifting Barbells

At first glance, it’s easy to mistake a powerlifting barbell or barbell for bench press for an Olympic barbell and vice versa.

Indeed, both visually and in terms of specs they’re very similar, with only slight differences in the powerlifting bar.

As mentioned above, powerlifting bars have sets of knurling on the sides and in the middle, which are mandatory in competitive powerlifting according to the IPF rulebook.

Specialized Barbells

Specialized barbells are a broad term encompassing all kinds of barbells that have special designs or features that make them great for specific exercises.

The most common specialized barbell you might have run into at the gym or recreational center is the curl bar or EZ bar.

Curl bars are designed primarily for use in arm exercises, such as biceps curls, skull crushers, triceps presses, and others. 

This shaft of this bar is designed in a “W” or zig-zag shape, which is meant to provide a better angled grip for the palms, resulting in less stress on the wrists and a more precise muscle hit.

Another specialized bar worth noting is the Trap bar or Hex Bar.

It has a hexagonal shape with a large opening in the middle, as the lifter is meant to stand in the center of it.

The Hex bar lets the arms stand naturally to the side of the body, putting the weight in line with the athlete’s center of gravity.

This noticeably puts less stress on the lower back and allows the user to reach higher weight maximums.

It can be used in various exercises, including deadlifts, farmer walks, squats, etc.

Specialized Barbells

What Are Benefits of Using Powerlifting Barbells?

Barbells Are Versatile

This goes as a general benefit for barbells, but they’re quite versatile as a general exercise tool.

The three primary exercises a bar for powerlifting is used in are the deadlift, squat, and bench press.

That said, a powerlifting bar can be used in place of any barbell for all kinds of lifting exercises.

Use your powerlifting barbell for rowing, overhead lifts, lunges, and more - you’re only really limited by your creativity.

The only exercises where I would not recommend it, and this is specifically if your sleeves don’t rotate, are the two primary Olympic lifts - the Snatch and Clean & Jerk.

Barbell Quality

Powerlifting barbells are designed for heavy lifting exercises.

For this reason, they’re guaranteed to have a higher quality build, maximum capacity, and tensile strength than the majority of commercial barbells.

Barbells Are Versatile

Standardized Shape and Size

Powerlifting barbells follow strict standards when it comes to the shape and size of the barbell.

This means that, whichever powerlifting/barbell for bench press you pick up, you can expect to have the same performance.

This is especially beneficial if you practice for the sake of competing, as you’ll always know your results and limits.

What to Look For in Powerlifting Barbells?

Steel Quality

The quality of steel used in powerlifting barbells is an important factor in determining the barbell's overall performance and durability.

High-quality steel can make the barbell stronger, more durable, and more resistant to bending and breaking.

While most commercial barbells are made from alloy steel, which is good enough for most people but not the highest quality, powerlifting barbells are made from high-strength steel - most commonly stainless steel.

Stainless steel and similar higher quality steel types are known for their high durability, tensile strength, and resistance to corrosion.

A well-made powerlifting barbell made from high-quality steel can last for many years and withstand heavy use without bending or breaking.

Tensile Strength

Tensile strength is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI).

It can be found on any barbell specification sheet and is often one of the things pointed out by manufacturers, as PSI is quite high in powerlifting barbells.

Typically what you’ll see on the best power bar is anywhere from 150,000 to 250,000.

The higher the number, the higher the quality of the barbell will be.

That said, high tensile strength can be an unnecessary budget trap, as most people won’t push the highest-end barbells to their limits.

For the majority of people, 80,000-210,000 PS is a good range, and those numbers are quite common.

For example, my favorite bar for powerlifting is the Rep Alpine Weightlifting Bar, which has 200,000 PSI.

Tensile Strength

Knurling

Barbell knurling is the pattern carved onto the metal in places where you’re meant to hold the bar in most exercises.

Knurling can come in a variety of patterns and sizes, which determines the quality and grip of the bar.

Generally, the finer the knurling pattern, the easier it will be on the hands, but also raises the cost of the barbell.

If you find your barbell knurling causes abrasions, consider using powerlifting gloves or hands grips.

Tips From the Champ

Powerlifting barbells feature similar dimensions as the male Olympic barbell - usually slightly shorter at 7 feet in length and roughly the same diameter (1.1 inches), with high maximum capacity and tensile strength.
The main powerlifting exercises, and those found in competitive powerlifting, are the squat, deadlift, and bench press. For this reason, you may hear some athletes refer to it as a bench press bar, too.

Olympic Weightlifting Champion

Spin

Powerlifting barbells use an Olympic sleeve that can “spin” around the shaft.

This reduces the centrifugal force during lifting exercises, which allows the athlete to perform cleaner movement.

As a result, athletes are able to lift more and they’re also safer, as the bar will put less strain on pressure points such as the joints.

Different types of bars will feature different spin levels, however, neither too much nor too little spin is necessarily good.

Most experienced athletes prefer a healthy middleground where they can feel the bar spin adapting to their movement without rotating on its own when the athlete is still.

If you don’t have the experience to tell what would be the best spin level for you, look for bars that have “Olympic sleeve” markings on them.

Crushing Resistance

Crushing resistance refers to the barbell's maximal total carry load before getting damaged from the excess weight.

In simple terms, it measures how much weight you can add to the sleeves before the bar starts to bend, crack, or break.

Compared to the various other barbell styles, powerlifting/bench press barbells are made to carry the most maximum weight.

Most commonly, the best bench press barbell can carry anywhere from 1000 to 1500 pounds.

We’ve listed the maximal manufacturer specified load for each barbell and rated its crushing resistance based on it.

That said, it’s always a good idea to look at the user manual and check if there are any recommendations from the manufacturer, before loading the bar with its maximum capacity.

Versatility

Powerlifting barbells are primarily designed specifically for powerlifting competitions, which typically include three lifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

While powerlifting barbells are excellent for these three lifts, they can be used in various other workouts and lifting styles.

You can use a powerlifting bar to do exercises like overhead presses, rows, hip thrusts, and similar exercises in place of specialized equipment.

Keep in mind though that powerlifting barbells are typically longer and thicker than standard barbells, so they’re not a perfect substitute for all exercises.

Powerlifting barbells

Value for Money

Note that the most expensive barbell, while often the highest quality, does not always mean the best value for money.

To help you make the best purchase for yourself, I listed 10 different bars for you, described them in detail, and gave their pros and cons.

The best “value for money” Safety Squat Bar in my opinion is the 1# pick - the Rep Alpine Weightlifting Bar.

If you’re on a budget, the Titan MAXXUM and CAP Barbell are good choices.

If you want to focus more on deadlifts, the Titan Series Deadlift Bar and Valor Fitness OB-DL are great choices.

If you want the best of the best without caring about price, the Eleiko IPF Powerlifting Competition Bar is the way to go.

A barbell set is almost always going to be better value than buying individual barbells

FAQ

What Type of Bar Is Best for Deadlift?

Overall, a standard 7-foot Olympic powerlifting barbell with a diameter of 28 mm is a great choice for deadlift exercises.

This type of barbell is typically used in powerlifting competitions and has the proper knurling, which will improve your grip during deadlifts.

That said, some athletes may prefer a specialized bar, such as a Hex Bar, depending on their circumstances such as body shape, potential injuries, and athletic level.

Is a Thicker Bar Better for Deadlift?

In general, the standard diameter of the bar for powerlifting is 28 mm.

This size is what’s most common in competitions and is a good starting point for most beginner lifters.

However, once you get comfortable with the deadlift exercise, you can also experiment with different barbell shaft thickness to find what works best for you.

Using a thicker bar can improve your grip strength and overall muscle activation in the forearms, biceps, and upper back, but it will also be more difficult to hold on to.

Is It Ok to Deadlift With a Hex Bar?

A Hex Bar, also known as a Trap Bar, can be a good option for doing deadlift exercises.

However, it’s not necessarily better or worse than using a bar for powerlifting.

The main difference you’ll notice is the Hex Bar puts less strain on your lower back.

For athletes recovering from injuries or with other back issues, this can be very beneficial.

But experienced, healthy athletes may argue this defeats a big purpose of the deadlift exercise - developing back strength.

Conclusion

Powerlifting barbells are a versatile workout tool that can be used in various strength exercises.

The primary exercises you should use them for are the deadlift, squat, and bench press, however, the sky's the limit in terms of their versatility.

These were my 10 recommended powerlifting bar choices for 2024, with the award for best powerlifting barbell going to the REP ALPINE WEIGHTLIFTING BAR.

Do you use barbells in your regular workout routine?

What are your favorite barbell exercises?

Let me know in the comments and remember to follow me on social media for similar fitness content.

Also read:

References:

  • BARBELL CARE & MAINTENANCE // Roguefitness: https://www.roguefitness.com/weightlifting-bar-care
  • Technical and Competition Rules & Regulations // Iwf: https://iwf.sport/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2020/01/IWF_TCRR_2020.pdf
  • Technical Rules Book // Powerlifting: https://www.powerlifting.sport/fileadmin/ipf/data/rules/technical-rules/english/IPF_Technical_Rules_Book_2019.pdf
  • The Basics of Knurling // Practicalmachinist: https://www.practicalmachinist.com/tips-and-tricks/the-basics-of-knurling/

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Ihor Shymechko

Coach, PRO Olympic Weightlifter

Experience: 26 years

Best Results: Snatch - 208 kg,

C&J - 240 kg

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 competitions.


If you have any questions/suggestions/any other inquiry, you can reach out to us via email - reviews@torokhtiy.com

Oleksiy Torokhtiy

Olympic Weightlifting Champion

Experience: 21 years

Best Results: Snatch – 200 kg,

C&J - 240 kg

My name is Oleksiy Torokhtiy. I am a professional athlete with 20 years of experience in Olympic weightlifting. I have won multiple European, and World titles and have taken part in two Olympic Games (Beijing 2008, London 2012).

After finishing my career, I have committed myself to coach, and as of 2022, I’ve hosted 200+ weightlifting seminars all over the globe. I’m the founder of an international sportswear and accessories brand, Warm Body Cold Mind (my motto), author, and creator of a series of training programs and eBooks.


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This article was written by our qualified author and proofread by an expert with proven experience. When writing the article we've used our expertise and data from authoritative, scientific, and evidence-based sources. The list of references is provided at the end of the article.


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