Strength: As covered previously, you'll want to look for the tensile and yield strength for your barbells. For barbells to be used by strong lifters, look for a tensile strength above 180k PSI. Generally, you want to see a yield strength 10-20% below that, to ensure good "whip" on the bar.
Whip: If you train olympic weightlifting at a fairly high proficiency level, look for a "whippy" bar. If not, don't worry about whip.
Shaft diameter: For female lifters, look for a 25mm shaft diameter. For dedicated olympic weightlifting (men), look for a 28mm shaft diameter. For everyone else, go with 28mm-29mm shaft diameter.
Weight: For female lifters, look for a 15kg/33-35 pound barbell. For ultra beginner or teenage lifters, look for a 15 pound training bar. For everyone else, look for a 20kg/44-45 pound bar.
Knurl depth/aggressiveness: (The knurl is the grip/crosshatching on a barbell) For most lifters, look for a moderate depth knurl. For a competition bar for high level olympic or power lifters, look for an aggressive knurl. For WODers, look for a soft to moderate knurl.
Knurl marking/center/width: For dedicated Olympic weightlifters. look for single knurl marks at IWF spec. For dedicated powerlifters, look for single knurl marks at IPF spec. For everyone else, don't worry about this so much.
Collar spin: For dedicated Olympic weightlifters, look for fast-spinning collars. For dedicated powerlifters, look for slow-to-moderate-spinning collars. For everyone else, look for a smooth spin, but speed is not so important.
Collar loading space: In general, look for a lot of "loading space" on the collar. Realistically though, this is not an issue (being able to lift more weight than you can put on the bar) for 95% of lifters.
Aesthetics: Find a barbell that you like the looks of. Keep in mind that black finished barbells tend to tarnish a bit more than chrome/silver barbells.
Best use: Most lifters will never outgrow a good, all-around barbell. If you are specializing in a certain style of lifting (e.g., Oly), you might want to get a specialized barbell.
Maintenance: A barbell with oil-light bushings will last virtually a lifetime with little to no maintenance. A needle bearing barbell will require maintenance about annually. Do look for a rust resistant finish, like zinc instead of oxide.
Place of manufacture: Many people want a barbell made in the USA. That's great, and we make our Bomba V2 in the USA. However, don't overlook imported barbells. Taiwan turns out some really great steel, and China is FAST upping its barbell production technology and designs.
Warranty: Most high quality barbells come with a lifetime warranty. However, if a barbell works well for a year, chances are you will never need a warranty longer than that.
Price: Often a hugely overlooked measure. Make sure to look at the total cost including shipping of any barbells.
Did we leave any specifications out? Disagree with any of our assessments? Let us know by replying or leaving us a comment.
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