The Best Barbells in 2021

Quads, glutes, biceps, chest, there’s no muscle group that you can’t work with a barbell. For peak muscle growth, barbells movements maximize mechanical tension and will yield more muscle development in a shorter amount of time when compared to dumbbells or bodyweight exercises. This doesn’t mean that you should just use barbells for all exercises since dumbbells are better for a few select exercises and are overall more home-friendly because of their more compact size, but the best barbells will help you maximize your workouts, provided you have the budget and space to incorporate them into your home gym.

In addition to maximizing the mechanical tension during your exercises, using barbells can increase the amount of weight you can press by around 10% due to their design, although it does come at the expense of a more limited range of movements. Now, if you already have a weight bench and are looking to trade up from your dumbbells, let’s go through some of the best barbells we could find. Kick back with a protein shake and enjoy our top barbells roundup.

the ohio bar
  • Multipurpose bar use
  • Dual knurl marks
  • 86.75’’ length
  • 16.40’’ sleeve length
  • 200,000 PSI tensile strength
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Rogue is a fitness equipment manufacturer that constantly manages to strike an amazing ratio of quality and value. The Ohio Bar is one of the most reputable barbells in the world because of its amazing quality and affordable price.

Instead of making three bars (for Crossfit, traditional lifting, and powerlifting), Rogue decided to make a bar with features that can support any kind of lifting style. This makes the bar a very high-value purchase, especially if you were planning on designing intricate workouts.

The bar is built using 190k PSI steel. This is pretty typical for most bars that fall within its price range, but it does perform beautifully, no matter how much weight you stack on it. Other components are made using different alloys. The bushings are crafted using bronze, the collars are made using various blends of zinc.

The Rogue Ohio Bar has been around for a few years and it’s still a very popular choice regardless of its use. The design is solid, the bar holds up well after several years of use, and the price is very affordable, considering what you’re getting in return. Highly recommended.

Pros:
  • Good bang/buck
  • Very durable
  • Multipurpose bar
  • Lifetime warranty
Cons:
  • Doesn’t outperform other barbells in their specific use (won’t be better for powerlifting if you compare it to a powerlifting barbell)

American Barbell The California Bar

Runner-up for the Best Barbell for Functional Workouts

american barbell the california bar
  • IWF size barbell
  • 190,000 PSI tensile strength
  • High-strength composite bushings
  • Chrome-coated sleeves
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If you’re looking for a product that’s built-in line with the International Weightlifting Federation’s specifications, then you’re in the right place. The American Barbell California Bar is made especially for athletes. The 190K PSI steel shaft has a modest whip when compared to powerlifting barbells, but it’s perfect for Olympic-style lifting.

The bar tends to be stiff until you put more than 400 pounds on it, so make sure you take notes before buying. The volcano cut knurl provides a good grip without being too uncomfortable. It’ll help you get through all of your reps without being too taxing, which is especially important if you’re doing high rep workouts.

In terms of finish, you can find a lot of different styles, which is amazing. The bar comes in both men’s and women’s variants (20 and 15-kilogram bars). The smooth sleeve is great for stacking bumper plates without any trouble. The coating holds up pretty good even if you manage to rough it up, and even if it doesn’t the product is covered by a lifetime warranty.

Lastly, the signature American Barbell recessed welding is present in this product, making for a nicer look. The price is a bit higher than the Rogue Ohio bar, but if you can manage to find this on sale, it comes highly recommended. It’s perfect for both weightlifting and functional training, the coating sticks, and the warranty is solid.

Pros:
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Anti-rust and anti-corrosive coating
  • Good value
  • Built to match IWF guidelines
Cons:
  • Not a lot of whip
  • Coating chips a bit faster than we’d like

Rogue Ohio Power Bar

The Best Powerlifting Barbell

rogue ohio power bar
  • 205,000 PSI
  • Stainless steel
  • Bronze bushings
  • Chrome-plated sleeves
CHECK PRICES

If you want to splurge a bit, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar is an amazing powerlifting staple. With tensile strength and whip that is tailored for the needs of a powerlifting champion, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar is one of the best powerlifting bars for general use. The stainless steel shaft ensures the longevity of the product, protecting your investment in the long run.

While the price isn’t what we’d call “affordable” in the general sense, you’re definitely looking at a value-oriented product. The knurl is definitely high-quality, giving you a strong grip to work with through high-rep workouts. It’s pretty aggressive (will definitely generate some discomfort), but it won’t cause any damage to your skin. It’s a great balance of grip and comfort.

The 29mm shaft diameter is standard for most functional workouts. The shaft provides 205,000 PSI tensile strength and has very little flex to it. Moving on to the sleeves, they’re similar to other Rogue Fitness products – chrome plated. The same trend continues with the bronze bushings that are also present in the Ohio Bar.

Like the Ohio Bar, the Ohio Power Bar is backed by a limited lifetime warranty. Personally, I can’t think of anything that you can do to render the bar unusable, but if you sport Hulk-like strength, it’s great to know that the manufacturer provides a generous backup plan. Overall, this is a great product and it gets two thumbs up from us. The product can also be found in different finishes, but we focused on the stainless steel shaft for our review.

Pros:
  • Amazing value for powerlifting
  • Great quality knurl
  • Amazing grip
  • Covered by a limited lifetime warranty
Cons:
  • Not great for general use

Rogue Ohio Deadlift Bar

The Best Deadlifting Bar

rogue ohio deadlift bar
  • 27mm diameter
  • 90.5-inch length
  • Black zinc finish
  • 190,000 PSI tensile strength
  • Very flexible
CHECK PRICES

By now, you should’ve figured out that we’re big, big Rogue Fitness fanboys. I think that it’s because Rogue invested a lot in quality manufacturing equipment, giving them the ability to produce top-tier products at affordable prices.

The Ohio Deadlift Bar is another great product from Rogue Fitness, and I’m definitely not stanning them when I say that. The 27mm shaft diameter and 90.5’’ length result in a 20kg men’s deadlift bar. The zinc finish ensures longevity, protecting the product from too much wear and tear. The 190,000 PSI and slender diameter result in a very whippy bar, ideal for deadlifting.

The knurl is the same found in the standard and Power bars. It’s very aggressive, in the shape of 4-corner diamonds, and provides amazing grip for intense lifts. Other than the features that are exclusive to the deadlift bar (the black zinc finish, 27mm diameter, and the 190K PSI shaft), the product is made using the same design as the Power and classic bars.

Pros:
  • Specifically designed for deadlift
  • Great quality knurl
  • Great whip
Cons:
  • Not versatile
  • Zinc finish doesn’t hold up amazingly well

CAP Beast 7-Foot Olympic Bar

Good Value

cap beast 7-foot olympic bar
  • 44 lbs weight
  • 110,000 PSI
  • 51.5’’ shaft length
  • 28.5 mm diameter
  • Phosphate finish
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CAP has managed to manufacture weightlifting equipment and year for the better half of the last 50 years and has done so successfully. This product comes in five different variants, all with different tensile strength and maximum weight-bearing capacity. Long story short, you can find between 110,000 – 230,000 PSI bars that can hold between 1000 and 1800 pounds of weight. The review will focus on the Best 7-foot Olympic bar, but keep in mind that the quality of the product applies to all other variants.

The whole point of the CAP Beast Olympic bar is to bring regulation-size shafts in the homes of weightlifting enthusiasts. The overall quality is decent and it comes with a reasonable price tag.

Let’s start with the knurling. The knurling isn’t that amazing for a bar that’s rated for 1000lbs lifts, believe me. It’s not very aggressive, which makes it comfortable, but the abrasion is lacking if you want to put some serious weight on this thing. Because the etchings are so fine, you might also experience some injuries similar to carpet burns.

The sleeves on this bar have a decent spin, something that will ease off the tension that you feel in your joints. The sleeves are also grooved, something that will keep the plates locked nicely in place.

In terms of finish, it’s a little above average. The black phosphate finish chips easier than we’d like to see. The chippings don’t occur very often, but when they do, you can dig them into your skin and experience some serious discomfort.

Overall, the product isn’t getting a glowing recommendation, but it’s a very solid pick for people who want to start weightlifting on a tighter budget. While the rated 1000 lbs of weight capacity seems a bit bogus, you should be able to stack at least 400 pounds on this baby without seeing extreme whip. The price does help to make up for the less than perfect design, so make sure to add it to your cart if you’re looking for maximal value.

Pros:
  • Great value
  • Good for beginner and intermediate weightlifters
  • Designed for Olympic weightlifting
Cons:
  • Not the best in terms of quality
  • Coating could be better

Fringe Sport 20kg Men’s Wonder Bar Olympic Barbell

The Best Budget Barbell

fringe sport 20kg men's wonder bar olympic barbell
  • 205,000 PSI
  • Black zinc coating
  • 86’’ length
  • 16’’ sleeves
  • 28mm diameter
CHECK PRICES

The Fringe Sport 20kg Men’s Wonder Bar comes with a refined design and a lower price point, ideal for people who want to build a home gym on a tighter budget. Fringe Sport push a lot for this bar, the company featuring a lengthy description on its webpage.

With a 28mm diameter shaft, the Fringe Sport stays versatile, although it tends to perform better in Olympic-type lifts, so make sure to take note if that’s something you’re interested in. The tensile strength you’re getting, which is 205,000 PSI, is pretty incredible for the price, making this one of the best barbells you can buy on a tighter budget.

The passive knurl makes the Fringe Sport Wonder Bar a perfect choice for Crossfit, but somewhat lacking for powerlifting. Other specs are similar to the industry standard in terms of value-oriented barbells. The black zinc finish is good, but it will fade, especially on the sleeves, where it will chip rather easily.

For weightlifting and functional training, the Fringe Sport 20kg Men’s Wonder Bar is a steal. It’s great both in terms of utility and quality, the only real downside being the rather unreliable coating. The price is more than appealing and the lifetime warranty is a great bonus.

Pros:
  • Versatile, good for weightlifting and Crossfit
  • Amazing value
  • Good grip despite the lower price point
Cons:
  • Zinc coating not amazing

Rogue 15KG Women’s Bella Bar

The Best Women’s Weightlifting Bar

rogue 15kg women’s bella bar
  • 79.13’’ length
  • Black composite bushings
  • Chrome-plated sleeves
  • 25mm diameter
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If you’ve read the review up until this point, then it should come as no surprise that we’re pushing for a lot of Rogue Fitness products for this specific category. Their barbells are an amazing blend of quality and value. The Rogue 15KG Women’s Bella Bar is, in essence, the same Ohio Bar tailored to a female audience.

The stainless steel finish, in my opinion, is probably the best choice for weightlifting bars. It’s innate longevity, paired with the amazing knurl, makes it versatile in terms of use, and dependable for the most intense applications.

For the price (which is a bit higher but not as high to be considered premium), you’re getting 200,000 PSI tensile strength, good whip for powerlifting, and a standard knurl that enables a firm grip for all types of lifting without causing too much discomfort.

The loadable sleeve length is 13’’, and the sleeves themselves are chrome-plated to ensure optimal loading and that minimal stripping would occur. Overall, it’s a great product, built to match IWF standards, all at an affordable price and with unmatched quality.

Pros:
  • Designed for general weightlifting (Olympic, powerlifting, CrossFit)
  • Lifetime construction warranty
  • Amazing quality
  • Good value
Cons:
  • Whip not suited for extreme powerlifting
  • Knurl not very aggressive

Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar 20 Kg

Premium Quality, Premium Price

eleiko iwf weightlifting competition bar 20 kg
  • Swedish Steel
  • 205,000 PSI
  • Lifetime warranty
  • 86.61-inch length
  • 28mm diameter
CHECK PRICES

Still haven’t found a product that’s good enough for you? Well, meet the Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Competition bar. This 20kg built to meet all IWF standards is made in Sweden and the quality is, honestly, pretty high up there.

The aggressive knurling is perfect for competitive weightlifting, giving you enough grip to do max reps. The 215,000 PSI provides users with enough tensile strength to engage in high-intensity training without worrying about a sub-par bar. Built using Swedish steel, this product provides athletes with adequate flex for Olympic weightlifting.

Each bar is built by hand, so you’re getting amazing quality, but it’s pretty expensive. If you want the best of the best, then this is it. They’re all backed by a lifetime guarantee and are designed to meet anything you throw at them.

Pros:
  • Amazing quality
  • IWF-compliant design
  • Aggressive knurl
  • Handcrafted
Cons:
  • Very expensive

How to Choose the Best Barbell

If you want to find the best barbell, you need to find the right dimensions for the type of workout you’re looking to engage in. Apart from that, there are a few guidelines that you should consider following before committing to a purchase.

Different bar designs are suitable for different styles of training. You can also find jack of all trades-type products if you want something that can be used for different types of training styles. Let’s get to it!

Tensile Strength

The tensile strength determines the maximum weight that your barbell can handle without breaking. It’s measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), and usually, barbells that exceed 180,000 PSI are considered to be durable.

Knurling

The knurling has to be somewhat aggressive if you plan on lifting a lot of weight. If you don’t have a firm grip on the bar, then you won’t be able to find stable footing and a good posture. Diamond-shaped, aggressive knurls like the ones made by Rogue Fitness are amazing because they’re not too uncomfortable and they provide amazing grip.

Additionally, you can use chalk for the more intense reps, so make sure you keep a bag handy. Also, if you want to do squats, make sure that your bar doesn’t have a center knurl because it will dig into your neck and will become very unpleasant in a matter of seconds.

Everything Else

All other features that you’re going to find are subject to change. Each specific bar is built for a specific use. Powerlifting bars have different lengths, loadable sleeve lengths, than say, Olympic bars.

If you don’t know what kind of training you want to take on, then go for a product that’s flexible. If you want to go into powerlifting, then don’t worry, powerlifting bars are specifically designed to fall in line with the Federation’s regulations. Just focus on getting a quality product from a reputable brand in your available budget, and everything should be fine.

About The Author

Catalin Tabacu

Living in a small mountain town, Catalin likes to spend his free time on the trails or at the lake. Big fan of the occasional morning jog (emphasis on occasional) and constantly trying out different diets, he likes to keep an eye out on current dieting trends and fitness influencers. Being a scrappy guy, he also likes to take things into his own hands when possible, so when the time comes to retouch the hardwood floors or to give the furniture a new finish, he doesn't shy away from getting his hands dirty.

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