Barbells 101

Barbells 101

Man working out at gymAre you looking to attract new members or retain current ones? The equipment in your facility can have a factor in a member’s decision of where to train. Let’s discuss the barbell.

When deciding on a barbell for your facility you need to factor in a few things as all barbells are not created equal. With the growth in the sports of powerlifting, weightlifting (Olympic lifts such as the snatch and clean and jerk), CrossFit, small group training (SGT) and bodybuilding gym members are using your equipment for different reasons and goals.

Types of Barbells
Powerlifting Bars
These typically have a more aggressive knurling to assist with grip. The markings for the grip are a bit different than the markings on Olympic weightlifting bars. Generally, powerlifting bars are also stiffer than Olympic bars, though there are speciality bars:

Squat Bar
This bar will always have knurling in its center to help grip the back of your shirt to ensure it doesn’t slide on you. Bars without the center knurling aren’t the best for squatting. Squat bars tend to have a thicker diameter and have very little whip to them.

Deadlift Bar 
This bar will have a little more whip to allow it to bend so you can ‘take the slack out’ of the bar before you pull, which gives better bar speed off the floor. The bar itself tends to be slightly narrower in diameter with sharper knurling to give you a monster grip.

Bench Press Bar 
This bar has almost zero whip to prevent the bar from bending at all, allowing for a more stable press. It also has a slightly thicker diameter to help it sit better in your hands.

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Olympic Weightlifting Bars (Snatch and Clean and Jerk)
There are special weightlifting bars designed for the sport of Olympic lifts to enhance performance and reduce injuries. They look just like power bars, but are designed with slight differences due to the dynamic nature of the sport.

They are made from special steel that gives them much more whip than a typical standard bar, which makes them easier to ‘catch.’ They also spin more easily due to precision bearings in the ends that help prevent wrist and arm injuries.

Hybrid Bars
Hybrid Bars attempt to take the best of each type of bar. They often have two set-up markings to line up with Olympic lifting and powerlifting standards. They might have some whip and some spin depending on the bar. These bars are useful for gyms that do both types of lifting in one training session or anyone needing to be economical.

Look for more information from me regarding the design elements of barbells in a future article!

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