The Best Powerlifting Bars For Deadlifts & Squats Review. Key Features Plus Comprehensive Buying Guide
Looking for the best powerlifting bar?
You're a beast in the gym and want the most durable barbell to push insane bench presses and squat without fear. I'd feel the same if I knew what it's like to have 500 lbs of weight on my back...
You are an amateur trying to break into competitive powerlifting.
Obviously, you'll need to train with a barbell that's competition approved. And you probably don't want to throw out all your cash on an Eleiko barbell just yet.
The thing is, it doesn't matter if you're Eddie Hall or a newbie, you need a super-strong and stiff barbell for powerlifting. Going cheap isn't even an option with essential equipment like the barbell.
That's why I've compiled a list of what I think are the best powerlifting barbells on the market. They aren't the cheapest but offer the best value for the money, just like the Rogue Ohio Power Bar (OPB), which of course, made it to the top of our list.
In fact, if you consider the investment, it'd be the last time you'd spend on a barbell. You'll have a better understanding soon enough.
- Top 5 Barbells For Powerlifting
- Factors To Consider When Shopping For The Best Powerlifting Barbell
Top 5 Barbells For Powerlifting
1. Rogue Ohio Power Bar (OPB)
Our Verdict: Overall Best Powerlifting Barbell
- 205,000 PSI tensile strength
- Bar weight: 45kg
- 29mm shaft diameter
- Bar length: 86.52"
- Black zinc shaft
- Loadable sleeve length: 16.25" with bright zinc coating
- Aggressive knurling with powerlifting knurl marks
- Center knurl
- Made in the USA with a lifetime warranty
The Rogue Ohio Power Bar has been in the powerlifting circle for quite some time now. And it doesn't seem like it’s leaving anytime soon.
It's not so hard to see why it dominates among power bars. Rogue combines their knack for making the highest quality barbell at a super affordable price. If you're used to bars at commercial gyms, you will be anxious to show off your new OPB to friends like it's a precious gem.
Right off the bat, you would bench more, squat heavier, and train better once you lay hands on the OPB. Its steel shaft has a tensile strength of 205,000 PSI that would be more than enough for the strongest athletes. This boosts your confidence to train, knowing fully well that your barbell is immortal.
Speaking of which, its F-8R rating on the F-Scale is the highest durability rating you can get from any bar. The R suffix in the rating means that it has also undergone Rogue Work Hardening – a patent-pending process that makes the steel even tougher.
With this level of durability, the OPB can last a lifetime without bending out of place. Unlike CrossFit where high reps put an insane amount of stress on a barbell, you won't be doing as much with powerlifting. So, it would be more than durable enough to take whatever you throw at it.
The shaft has a 29mm diameter, which has become the go-to among powerlifters for a good reason. This is because a 29mm bar feels more secure and wouldn't whip under a heavy weight. This is perfect for squats and bench presses.
If you are a deadlift freak, you would be better off with a thinner bar that's whippy. It's for this reason that deadlift bars are usually 27mm. Nonetheless, OPB remains a good option for training deadlifts.
The only issue I have with this particular Ohio Power Bar is that the bar is 45lb. That's heavier than the max 44lb for a standard powerlifting bar. Aside from these all its other specifications are in line with IPF standards.
As you'd expect from a powerlifting bar, the OPB has aggressive knurling. It's grippy, but not in a way that it bleeds the palm or pop out calluses after every session. One reason this is possible is that it uses a volcano type of knurling – which has more points to grip.
Rogue spends more on research than almost any other barbell brand, so it's no surprise they've perfected the art and science of crafting knurl patterns and other necessary features.
Not to forget, it has a passive center knurl that's great for any squat variation. Its single powerlifting knurl marks will help you train within the appropriate grip position.
Also, the Rogue OPB uses a bronze bushing that's known for its unmatched durability. The spin on a barbell isn't essential in powerlifting, but it makes the overall experience smooth.
Depending on your preference, the OPB is also available in bare steel, stainless steel, cerakote, and custom coating. I'll recommend going for the cerakote coating if you prefer a more passive knurling.
All in all, the Rogue 45LB Ohio Power Bar is the best barbell for powerlifting I've seen in a long time.
It's not just about its premium knurling and impressive durability, but its unbeatable price. If you are looking for a barbell to train all powerlifting movements, the OPB is the real deal.
P.S.: This barbell has an IPF approved version with the same name. But it weighs 20kg and has a longer loadable sleeve length. And it costs a lot more.
2. Rogue Sport B & R 2.0 Bar
Our Verdict: Best Multipurpose Power Bar
- 205,000 PSI tensile strength
- Bar weight: 20kg
- 29mm shaft diameter
- Bar length: 86.6" bare steel
- Loadable sleeve length: 16.25" bare steel
- Standard knurling with dual knurl marks and center knurl
- Made in the USA with a lifetime warranty
Next on the list is the Rouge Bare Steel and Rippetoe (B & R) bar. It's a multipurpose bar that was designed by strength coaches Mike Burgener and Mark Rippetoe.
This bar has virtually identical specifications with the Rogue OPB, except for its dual knurl marks (Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting). Oh, and a less aggressive knurl.
As always, folks always leave a note commending Rogue's fine work in engineering knurl patterns. The knurling on the B & R bar has a nice feel to it but sticks firmly during sets. Although a customer complained about the center knurl being scratchy for Olympic lifts, it wouldn't be much of a bother for squats.
Another noticeable difference I forgot to mention is that the Rouge B & R is only available in bare steel construction. This makes the knurl feel even more natural on the hands, but it also means regular maintenance of this barbell isn't an option.
Unlike the original B&R bar, the 2.0 has an upgraded 29mm shaft, which is good news for powerlifters. The overall length of 86.6" is precisely in line with IPF specifications. And its 16.25" sleeves are not only approved but also give you room for more plates.
A major issue I've seen some folks complain about it that its sleeves are "file to iron plates." In contrast, this only happens after a few months of use, like breaking in with leather. But still not in such an exaggerated manner.
So, as you'd expect from any power bar, it's incredibly durable and would last for decades upon decades.
The B&R bar is a durable multipurpose option for powerlifting and even some weightlifting movements. It's perfect for bench presses, squats, rows, cleans, and deadlifts.
Its price isn't over the top, though expensive compared to our top pick above, the Ohio Power Bar. But it's worth it if you enjoy smooth knurling, old-school look, and would love to support the course of Mike Burgener and Mark Rippetoe.
3. Rogue Squat Bar
Our Verdict: Best Powerlifting Bar For Squatting
- 200,000 PSI tensile strength
- Bar weight: 25kg
- 32mm diameter
- Length: 94.4" stainless steel
- Loadable sleeve length: 16.79" with chrome coating
- Powerlifting knurl and knurl marks
- Made in the USA with a lifetime warranty
The Rogue 32MM Squat Bar is an exclusive barbell for experienced, broad, and heavy lifters. If you are a novice or an intermediate, you most likely won't appreciate it's truly remarkable features.
Here’s the deal:
As its name implies, it's made from an oversized 32mm stainless steel shaft that helps to reduce whip on heavy loads. Its stainless steel not only makes it durable but also limits maintenance and the risk of rust.
The 200,000 tensile strength on its stainless steel seems like a drawback compared to other power bars. Even worse, it has a lowly F2 rating on the F-Scale.
However, this is why it's a specialty bar and not a general-purpose power bar. It's specially designed for squatting, where the bar is rarely dumped. It's the repetitive overhead dumping of weightlifting and CrossFit programs that puts the most stress/bend on a barbell and not a heavy load.
So, if you limit its use to squats alone, it would last a lifetime. And Rogue backs this up with a lifetime warranty against bending, as they do with "stronger" bars.
Another unique feature of this bar is its 94" length and an astounding 56" between sleeves. This helps lifters solve a long time battle with shoulders during squats. The extra room allows you to lift comfortably and never need to put ice packs on a sore shoulder after squatting.
But that's not even the best part:
The Squat Bar has a unique powerlifting knurl across the length of the shaft. It's no doubt aggressive, but still not in a way that it burns the back. In fact, you won't necessarily need to apply chalk during heavy reps.
Also, it has a 16.7" long sleeve, which is considerably longer than that of any bar in this review. It allows you to rack up the bar even more, as long as you are up to the task. As I've said earlier, spin isn't of importance for movements like squats, but it helps that it has a reliable and smooth bronze bushing.
Overall, it's a beast of a squat bar that will take your training to the next level. It's no surprise its sold at a premium price either, but also because it's made of stainless steel – more materials than the average barbell (length and diameter).
If your goal is to squat as heavy as possible, squat more comfortably, and set new squat PRs, the Rogue squat bar is your best bet.
Its stainless steel shaft costs a hefty sum but helps you squat heavy with zero flex, enjoy a natural touch with steel, and excellent protection from corrosion. In no time, its super gummy knurl, and extra width and sleeve length will propel you further in achieving your leg goals.
4. Rogue Ohio Deadlift Bar
Our Verdict: Best Powerlifting Barbell for Deadlifting
- 190,000 PSI tensile strength
- Bar weight: 20kg
- 27mm shaft diameter
- Bar length: 90.50" with black zinc coating
- Loadable sleeve length: 15.50" with bright zinc coating
- Powerlifting knurling and knurl marks
- Made in the USA with a lifetime warranty
The Ohio Deadlift Bar is easily the best deadlift barbell I've ever seen. Its precise construction would help a serious powerlifter see more gains in deadlifts. Even beginner and intermediate lifters who hear of its tales try to get one as a new member to their collection...
To be honest, deadlifting is more enjoyable with this barbell, mainly because of its flex.
The bar weighs 20kg and has a relatively longer overall length of 90.50." All of these, coupled with its 27mm shaft diameter, give it a good whip during lifts. Because the bar bends before the plates entirely leave the floor, you can gather momentum to lift much more than on a regular barbell.
It gets better:
Also, its thinner shaft gives you a better grip, which is a feature you can't help but love during deadlifts. Many lifters would notice a boost for this reason alone.
The real deal about the grip of this bar is its knurling. It has an aggressive type of knurling that's sharp, but in a way that you won't complain. Honestly, there's almost no way the bar can fall off in between a set unless some skin goes with it.
The only thing is, you may develop calluses if you perform high rep sets. Still, it's a pure work of art to have such aggressive knurling that doesn't bleed the palms. As always, kudos to Rogue’s research and engineering team!
Although its 190,000 tensile strength may be weaker than most of the barbells in this review, it's more than strong enough for whatever you throw at it. Just recently, Hafthor "Thor" Bjornsson broke the World Deadlift Record with a 501kg lift on it.
And if it helps, it has a lifetime warranty just in case it bends. Well, I doubt that would ever happen, unless you lift a ton regularly.
Like with other barbells listed above, it utilizes a snap ring construction with bronze busing inside the sleeves. It's the most durable type of bushing and also lubricates itself, so you don't have to worry much about maintenance.
All in all, the Rogue Ohio barbell is pricey, but a worthy buy for serious powerlifters. It's available in black zinc, E-coat, and bare steel coatings, with bare steel being the most affordable option.
Again, unless you're serious about deadlifting and want to achieve amazing PRs. Or simply want to add a dedicated deadlift bar to your collection of barbells…you may not appreciate the benefits of the Rogue Ohio Deadlift Bar.
It offers all you need to lift as heavy as possible with its insane whip, extra gummy grip, and a handy bar.
5. Fringe Sport Power Bar
Our Verdict: Budget Pick
- 216,000 PSI tensile strength
- Bar weight: 20kg
- 29mm diameter
- Bar length: 86.6" chrome
- Loadable sleeve length: 16.3" chrome coating
- Deep outer and a center knurl
- Made in Taiwan with a lifetime warranty
The Fringe Sports Power Bar is a great powerlifting barbell for the money. It's quite similar to the top pick barbell, Rogue OPB, in terms of features and even has better tensile strength.
Fringe Sports is relatively new to the scene and was founded by Peter Keller, a goofy guy, about 10 years ago. His jovial personality reflects in the running of the company, as you'd see in their "donut" and "pizza" themed bumper plates.
The Fringe Sports Power Bar surprisingly has the highest tensile strength rating in this review despite its price. The bar is made with chrome steel from the shaft to sleeves and weighs 20kg.
However, its chrome steel construction puts it at the bottom of the F-Scale, even though it isn't rated. This shows that tensile strength doesn't necessarily correlate with F-Scale rating because it's a strong bar regardless.
Nonetheless, you're better off using the Fringe Sports power bar for strictly powerlifting movements, like squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. Else, it may wear or bend when you use it for Olympic movements where a lot of stress is placed on the bar.
I'll reiterate Fringe Sports warning:
"Want to snatch? This is not a great barbell for that. Want to jerk? This is not a great barbell for that. Want to thruster? This is not a great barbell for that. Want to clean? This is not a great barbell for that."
That said, the Power Bar has a robust 29mm diameter shaft that has become the go-to for powerlifting. It reduces flex during heavy lifts to the barest minimum.
However, another area where it doesn't catch up with the premium barbells in this review is its knurling. Don't get me wrong. It has a not-too aggressive knurl that gives a firm grip during lifts. In fact, I'll recommend this bar to folks who don't fancy the aggressive knurling of the Rogue Ohio Power Bar.
The deal-breaker for me was that the machining of the knurl patterns was inconsistent. But then again, the standard set by Rogue is phenomenal. And it may take some time for budding brands to meet up with their quality and price!
The Power Bar uses the same bronze bushing sleeves you'll find in the best powerlifting barbells. Its longevity and predictable rotation make it the right choice for slow lifts like squats and bench presses.
However, I'm not a fan of the grooves all over the sleeves. Iron plates may peel off during loading and unloading.
All in all, this is a great barbell for anyone on a budget. And folks who aren't looking forward to joining the Rogue bandwagon just yet.
Finally, it's covered by a lifetime warranty. Not only is this impressive considering its price, but also because it's made in Taiwan.
Fringe Sports Power Bar is one of the few quality barbells you can find within its price range. Although it's not the cheapest, you won't find many better bars at that price.
Unlike the similarly priced Rogue 45lb OPB, its specifications meet up with the standards of the International Powerlifting Federation. This means you'll be getting a decent competition barbell for almost half its usual price.
Factors To Consider When Shopping For The Best Powerlifting Barbell
To help you take the guesswork out when shopping, I'll explain some key features that'll help you make an informed decision.
But other than what's mentioned below, just don't forget the space you have available. Keep that in mind, most of all when it's your home gym barbell that we're trying to consider here.
In the end, you'll be able to see barbells in a new light and pick a product that suits you best.
It's not rocket science. Without steel, you'll have no barbell. And if you buy a power bar made from low-quality steel, it won't be long before you need to buy a new one.
In short, the steel of a barbell is its most crucial component. Many companies rate the strength of their barbell by testing the tensile strength, yield strength, and F-rating of the steel.
Before going any further, I'll point out that only substandard companies will throw out figures like "1,000 pounds capacity" at customers. Most times, its nothing but a sham to whitewash the actual strength of a weak bar.
That said, the conventional way to test the strength of a bar is through its tensile and yield strength. The bar undergoes static and dynamic tests when it's loaded to see how much pressure will make it bend without straightening. For powerlifting, a bar should have no less than 190,000 PSI tensile strength.
A relatively new testing method is the F-Rating developed by Rogue Fitness. It mainly tests how far a bar can go before bending when it's dropped from an overhead position. The higher the score of a barbell on the F-Scale, the more durable it is.
But I wouldn't recommend paying much attention to it for powerlifting and even for deadlifting. It's more felt in high-rep and intense programs like CrossFit, where the most stress is placed on a bar.
The knurling or a bar is almost as important as the strength of its steel.
During a heavy lift, you need all the support you can get from the barbell, not just for safety but also for completing reps. And having a firm grip on the bar is one of the little things that help.
For the most part, powerlifting barbells should have aggressive-type knurling. But the thing is, knurling is subjective. Some folks may like a bar that has pointy and sharp knurling, but others may prefer more passive knurling.
So, I tried to discuss the feeling of each bar to be as specific as possible. But most, if not all, power bars would have an aggressive knurl.
It's more telling to judge a barbell based on the engineering or consistency of its knurl patterns. Fortunately, all the bars in this review, especially the Rogue bars, have some of the best precision engineered knurling.
Also, a power bar should have a center to keep the weight from slipping off during squats.
You don't want a bar that's going to flex if you're lifting 300 pounds in the bench press. Not only is it scary, but it makes the movement tough as hell. The same thing goes for other powerlifting movements, except for the deadlift.
Typically, a power bar should have a shaft that's between 28-29mm in diameter. This helps to reduce whip or flex on the bar during lifts.
Another largely subjective factor is the finish of a barbell. But, I'll recommend choosing one that you can maintain, and that's compatible with your environment.
For instance, if you like the natural feel of bare steel, you should be ready to wipe it down with oil every other day. Or else, it'll corrode badly.
Barbells come in a bunch of coating or finish options. From zinc, cerakote, to E-coat, it depends on your taste and budget. Stainless steel is another type of bare steel but has the best corrosion resistance, and equally the most expensive.
Plus, uncoated barbells or the ones with only a thin line of coating have a more aggressive grip.
As I said earlier, you should consider your environment or gym before making a decision. If you use bumper plates or unprotected J-Cups, an E-coat finish would peel faster and also damage the knurling.
So, try to pick a coating that suits not just you, but also your home gym.
For a power bar, not much attention should be paid to the rotation system unlike for crossfit bars. Power lifts are slow movements that don't require any quick jerk or overhead lifting, so you don't want the bar spinning out of control.
Regardless, it's nice to have a durable and predictable rotation system on a power bar. Preferably a bronze or composite bushing. Don't buy a bar with a brass bushing or bearing system for powerlifting.
Lastly, as a friendly advice, let me just say that it is always best to protect yourself from hurting your skin and getting the pain of muscle soreness. Wearing compression sleeves when powerlifting diminishes the risk of having those unwanted pains.
So let's see what's thrusters are all about in this short clip below before we call this a wrap:
So, that's a wrap!
Now, you know the best powerlifting barbells for the money. Not just that, you can decipher the code to find the perfect barbell for you out of the many options available.
If you forgot, it's simple:
Find a barbell that's made of durable steel and has a knurling texture that's close to what you like. Don't forget to go for a finish that you can maintain and afford.
Our best powerlifting barbell remains the Rogue Ohio Power Bar. It has an unmatched value for the features and quality it brings to a gym for its price.
The OPB offers an impressive tensile strength, precision-engineered knurl, and a great feel.
It's also available in multiple finish options, like E-Coat, stainless steel, bare steel, ZEUS custom, and cerakote.
Last Updated on July 20, 2020