The Best Olympic Barbells Worth Investing In: Bar Options For Pros & Beginners Reviewed
If you have never used an Olympic barbell, you might be wondering why they are so much more expensive than standard barbells.
Well, the much higher weight capacity of Olympic barbells is just one reason for the professional price tag.
Olympic barbells can hold up to 10 times the weight that a standard barbell can. If you are serious about weight lifting, you need to think about investing in serious equipment.
Aside from this...
Olympic barbells are also professional quality and will last you much longer than a standard barbell so I think they’re worth the investment.
Take a look at the Fringe Sport 20kg Men’s Olympic Weightlifting Bar as to why it got to the top of our list and check out the other best Olympic barbells on the market right now.
- Top 6 Olympic Barbells Reviewed
- What Is The Difference Between An Olympic And Standard Barbell?
- What Should I Look For In An Olympic Barbell?
- Which Is The Best Olympic Barbell For Me?
Top 6 Olympic Barbells Reviewed
1. 20kg Men’s Olympic Weightlifting Bar
Our Verdict: Best Overall
Fringe Sport is aiming to cover all the specs for the perfect Olympic lifting bar with this product.
Starting from the basics this barbell conforms to the IWF standards on weight, diameter, and knurl with all the design qualities you are looking for in Olympic lifting. For me, it has to be the best overall Olympic barbell.
The 216,200 PSI tensile strength steel is super strong. Some people worry that very high tensile strength means a very firm bar with no whip, but Fringe Sport aims to make a bar that can take on 2,200 lb weights and still has a decent whip.
The knurl helps the bar to stick to your hands without creating friction so it is still comfortable to handle after multiple lifts. There is also a center knurl which is very helpful and should come as standard for Olympic barbells.
For this new bar, Fringe Sport is also offering a special finish for the launch. The matte chrome is corrosion-resistant and almost has a stainless-steel feel.
What’s more, Fringe Sport has addressed the spin needed for Olympic lifting and the four bearing cartridges provide fast spin for control over your weights. This is certainly an ambitious piece of equipment for a simple Olympic bar and Fringe is really trying to hit all the marks.
The only issue some customers have found is the sleeves aren’t quite even and this creates some resistance when adding the weights and taking them off. I know when I’m performing serious lifts in the gym, the last thing I want to be doing is messing around with the barbell to get them ready so this can be a very frustrating problem.
Fringe Sport is trying to hit all the marks with this impressive piece of equipment. You get your money’s worth with build quality if you are willing to spend a little more on a professional Olympic barbell.
2. Rogue 45lb Ohio Power Bar
Our Verdict: Best for Power Lifting
The exceptional Rogue Ohio Power Bar promises a lifetime guarantee against bending which is a pretty bold statement and means that this bar is designed to take on any weight.
It is the best Olympic bar for powerlifting because of its professional design and quality. With 190,000 PSI steel, manufactured in the US, each barbell shaft is finished to perfection with black oxide or zinc for a smooth bar.
Rogue also spent months working on their knurling to make it the best. Volcano knurling is used to increase grip and reduce the risk of calluses which is just what you’ll need for powerlifting and heavy Olympic lifts.
The black oxide works as a mild oxidization protectant. This means that the bar will need a bit of maintenance but if you take care of it, you’ll keep that smooth knurl feeling.
Zinc is a medium oxidization protectant so if you choose this option it will require less maintenance. This bar is also available in stainless steel with a ceramic-based coating called Cerakote, so you have a few options for the finish.
The 29mm shaft is pretty standard for powerlifting Olympic bars. The thicker shaft creates a stiffer bar which keeps your movements balanced during squats. This also helps you take on heavier weights without feeling excessive whip making this the best Olympic barbell for powerlifting.
This is the best power lifting Olympic bar because of the professional quality and lifetime guarantee against bending which shows it can take on any weight. The only issue is power bars don’t provide the same whip as other Olympic bars because of their thicker shaft.
3. Fringe Sport 20kg Men’s Wonder Bar Olympic Barbell
Our Verdict: Best for Beginners
This is a versatile bar which can be used for training and professional Olympic weight lifting. The 28mm shaft is perfect for Olympic lifts. It also features needle bearing cartridges for great spin. Of course, these might need oiling every now and then to maintain a smooth spin.
Fringe Sport prides themselves on creating natural feeling Olympic bars that feel almost like an extension of your own body. This is a great way to achieve more reps. The Wonder Bar is also the best Olympic bar for beginners because of the reasonable price.
Despite being slightly cheaper, this Olympic barbell is still made from extremely durable 205,000 PSI steel and has a weight capacity of up to 1,600 lbs which is pretty impressive. The rotation and knurling aren’t anything special but they are fine for beginners.
The black zinc coated sleeves and bronze finishing are reasonably durable but might need a bit of maintenance over time. Black zinc is also more likely to show marks after a lot of use so if appearance is a big selling point for you, you might be better off with a stainless-steel or chrome finished bar.
One issue with that high tensile strength is that it can also be quite stiff so if you want a bit of whip during your Olympic weight lifting, a high PSI isn’t always the best.
Although 28mm is the standard shaft diameter for Olympic barbells, some heavy weight lifters might find this a bit thin. Depending on what you are used to, you might also be thrown off by the thickness of this bar.
For beginners, this is a great starter Olympic barbell and is slightly cheaper than other options. It doesn’t quite hold up to the quality of other Olympic barbells in this review but it is a good starting point in your Olympic weightlifting journey.
4. Fringe Sport Hybrid Bar
Our Verdict: Best for Versatility
If you are also interested in CrossFit, WOD, and powerlifting, this Fringe Sport Hybrid Bar is the best for versatility.
Compared to the Fringe Sports beginner Wonder Bar, this is definitely a more professional option, designed for a range of weight lifting experts. The 20kg bar is still of standard Olympic barbell size and weight but has a few design features which make it suited to other exercises as well.
The 216,000 PSI steel is also the strongest so far so if you want a really stiff bar this is a good choice. It also makes it a very strong piece of equipment.
The shaft is 28.5mm which is only slightly wider than the Wonder Bar but makes a difference to whip. The reduction in whip and stiffness of the bar makes it great for slow lifts like deadlifts and squats which is exactly what you’ll be focusing on during WOD and powerlifting.
The center knurl and crosshatching are ideal for comfort when powerlifting and during Olympic movements. The hand portions of the knurls are blunted to reduce calluses and the positioning of this centre knurl also protects your shins during deadlifts.
It isn’t quite as durable as stainless-steel but the chrome finish still looks professional and is rust-resistant. According to Fringe, this bar has been tested with 2,200 lb weights which makes it pretty unbeatable on weight limits, so you can really put this one to the test.
In terms of spin, the 4 high precision needle bearing cartridges give a decent spin for Olympic lifting and WOD, while the stiffness helps to control whip during slow lifts. This is certainly a standout hybrid bar but sometimes it is better to stick to one type of lifting instead of going for an Olympic bar which tries to take on too much at once.
A hybrid Olympic bar might seem like a good idea if you want to cover a range of different exercises, but it might not be the best Olympic barbell because it is trying to do everything at once.
5. Rogue Bella Bar 2.0
Our Verdict: Best Women's Olympic Barbell
Similar to the men’s version of this Olympic barbell, the Rogue Bar 2.0, Bella is professional Olympic bar with dimensions suited to women. It is the best women’s Olympic barbell across reviews.
Available in black zinc and in a new E-coat which is more corrosion-resistant, you can choose which style you prefer for this Olympic bar. The E-coat option is also more environmentally friendly as it produces little to no hazardous air pollutants or volatile organic compounds.
Just like other Olympic barbells from Rogue, this option has a 190,000 PSI tensile strength, showing that they use the same quality material for their women’s bars even if they don’t necessarily need to take on as much weight during Olympic lifting.
The hybrid knurling is great for Olympic lifts and powerlifts so you can really push your weight limit. The firm and comfortable grip helps you to stay on your game and the bronze bushings aid balance and keep the bar rigid while still allowing for a natural whip, which is exactly what we are looking for in Olympic barbells.
Women’s Olympic barbells have a narrower shaft and this 25mm bar conforms to that. The bar is also slightly shorter to accommodate narrower shoulders and make your lifts feel as natural as possible.
Some people might think that you don’t need a separate male and female bar but once you’ve tried one specifically made for women, you’ll notice the difference.
One added bonus is that the slightly lighter and shorter bar is also slightly cheaper and you can trust Rogue not to cut costs on quality.
The only issue customers have found is that, much like the men’s version of this bar, it is missing a bit of spin for Olympic lifts, but the rigidity and strong grip will help you push the limits on slower reps and powerlifting.
This is the best women’s Olympic barbell that we’ve seen across reviews. Don’t think that a women’s barbell is any less hardcore than any other Olympic barbell – the only difference is the measurements which will make your lifts way more comfortable.
6. The Rogue Bar 2.0
Our Verdict: Great for Crossfit
This is one of the best barbells we’ve reviewed, but how does it stand up as an Olympic barbell? At 28.5mm and 20kg it has the right specifications. It is also made from 190,000 PSI steel making it durable, strong, and flexible for Olympic lifting.
The dual knurl marks are designed for comfort in Olympic lifting and powerlifting and the black zinc coated shaft gives it a professional look while the bright zinc sleeves make it more durable and less prone to scratches.
Composite bushings are used to keep the bar lubricated so you don’t have to keep oiling the zinc sleeves. They also minimize friction during repeated reps and create a decent spin. What’s more, you can personalize this bar with a choice of custom-colored rubber bands.
This is a mid-range priced bar which suggests that it isn’t quite the same quality as the heavy Olympic weight lifting bars, but it can still take on enough weight to make it a contender. It is also a great option for CrossFit so if you want a bar that you can use for both Olympic weightlifting and CrossFit, this is our best barbell for CrossFit.
Despite being cheaper than other options, you can see that Rogue doesn’t cut costs in terms of quality when you feel the knurling.
It provides a decent grip without causing friction both when performing Olympic lifts and dynamic CrossFit movements which shows that Rogue is taking the needs of different athletes into account with this design.
Extending the knurling to the sleeves also means that no matter how long your arms are, you can get a comfortable grip on this bar making it a great option for taller users who might need to spread out their hands.
The only thing this bar is missing as an Olympic barbell is spin, which might be because it is also designed for CrossFit where you will need more control of the bar for dynamic movements.
This is a great mid-range barbell that is designed for CrossFit but works as a decent Olympic barbell thanks to the tensile strength and diameter. The only issue we can see is the lack of spin.
What Is The Difference Between An Olympic And Standard Barbell?
Barbells can come in many shapes and sizes which is why there is a standard size and weight for the Olympic barbell. Training with an Olympic barbell means you will be used to working with competition-style weight and size.
There are Olympic barbells for both men and women with different dimensions.
Men’s Olympic Barbell Measurements
Men’s Olympic barbells measure 28-32mm in diameter and 2.2 meters in length. They weigh 20kg or 44-45lbs. Their maximum weight limit will depend on the diameter of the bar but we’ve featured Olympic bars in this review that can take on as much as 2,200lbs.
Women’s Olympic Barbell Measurements
Women’s Olympic barbells are around 25mm in diameter and 15kg or 333lbs in weight which makes them slightly easier to manage. They are also shorter at 2 meters to cater to narrower shoulders and provide the most natural feel possible.
The sleeves on Olympic barbells are also different from your standard barbell. Olympic barbells have 2-inch rotating sleeves whereas standard barbells have 1 inch non rotating sleeves. The rotation increases the security of your grip without putting too much stress on your wrists and elbows.
It might not be necessary for a standard barbell which you can only use for lower weight ranges but with the weights you’ll be hitting with an Olympic bar, you need to think about the stress on your joints.
Standard barbells are a decent amount shorter at 1.5m and most have a weight capacity of 100-200lbs. When you consider the maximum weight capacity of some of these Olympic barbells, you understand why any standard barbell just doesn’t cut it.
If you are serious about getting your weight range up to a competing level, only an Olympic barbell will do.
What Should I Look For In An Olympic Barbell?
When choosing your own Olympic barbell, you’ll want to check for all the specifications that barbells in this review feature.
Tensile strength is basically how much power is needed to pull the bar apart and it is measured in PSI (pounds per square inch). All the Olympic bars in this review have a tensile strength of at least 190,000 PSI and go all the way up to 216,000 PSI.
You might think that the higher the tensile strength the better and this is true to an extent. A high tensile strength means the bar can take on more weight without bending but this also means that the bar can be stiffer.
This is ideal for powerlifting where you’ll be performing stationary repetitive movements with a high weight but for Olympic lifting you might want a bit more whip to accelerate your movements.
Knurling affects grip and can be categorized as light or aggressive. If you are lifting heavy weights, the grip is very important for safety and control but very aggressive knurling can leave your hands feeling sore and even cause calluses. Your preferred knurling will depend on how sensitive your hands are to friction when weightlifting.
Most Olympic barbells feature a center knurling but it is not a requirement for women’s bars so manufacturers can differ on whether they include it or not. Centre knurling can be great for a wider variety of exercises and different activities like CrossFit.
If you want a more versatile barbell, central knurling is a great addition. It can also work to protect your shins during deadlifts. However, some people find that it can rub or be irritating on the neck during shoulder presses so whether you find it useful or not will depend on the exercises you are focusing on.
Bushings or bearings are used to allow the shaft of the bar to spin within the sleeves. So, the type of sleeve you have can affect spin. Bushings are low friction material placed between the shaft and the sleeve. For a smoother spin, needle bearings are used which allow the shaft to roll.
Bushings are cheaper and don’t require any maintenance whereas bearings are usually more expensive and require oiling to maintain that smooth spin. For your extra cash and hard work, you’ll notice a difference in spin with bearings.
There are a number of coating options and some of them improve durability but the main difference is that the coating will affect how easily the bar gets scuffed and scratched when dropped.
Black oxide is a common material and relatively cheap but it can scuff quite easily. Zinc is the next step up and is slightly more corrosion resistant. Chrome and stainless steel, on the other hand, are the most expensive coats and are usually the most durable.
Which Is The Best Olympic Barbell For Me?
There are a lot of specs to think about when buying an Olympic barbell and once you’ve got your head around them all, you still need to pick the best Olympic barbell for you. We’ve selected the best barbells for each category in this review to make the decision a little easier.
Best Olympic Barbell for Powerlifting
If pushing your weight limit is your goal, you’ll need a strong bar with less whip than other Olympic barbells to keep your movements steady.
The Rogue 45lb Ohio Power Bar is one of the strongest barbells out there and if you are a heavy weight, you’ll be the envy of your competition with this powerful Olympic lifting barbell.
Although this one has the same dimensions as an Olympic barbell, remember that power bars aren’t always the best for Olympic lifting because of the lack of whip.
Best for Beginners
If you are just starting out on your Olympic lifting journey, the Fringe Sport 20kg Men’s Wonder Bar Olympic Barbell is a decent all-round Olympic barbell that is reasonably priced.
It might not last forever but it is still a high-quality piece of equipment which you can try out for your first few weight ranges.
Best for Versatility
Alternatively, if you are not completely set on Olympic lifting and still want to try out different exercises, a versatile barbell like the Fringe Sport Hybrid Bar, which you can use as a crossfit barbell and even for powerlifting; could be the best option for you.
The high tensile strength and stiffness of the bar make it great for slower movements. The needle bearings on the other hand are designed for WOD and Olympic lifting so you get the best of both worlds.
All of these Olympic barbells offer something a bit different, but for me, the best overall Olympic barbell has to be one that focuses entirely on what makes Olympic barbells great.
The Fringe Sports 20kg Men’s Olympic Weightlifting Bar is a classic Olympic bar that hits all the marks for IWF standards and pushes the limits in terms of strength and weight capacity.
Whereas other Olympic barbells with such high tensile strength sacrifice whip, this bar still has decent movement and flexibility making it one of the best Olympic barbells out there.
If you are looking for the best Olympic barbell available and are happy to invest in professional quality equipment, give this bar from Fringe Sport a go.
Last Updated on July 12, 2020