Barbell lengths & why they might matter to you

At Fringe Sport, there are three popular questions we get about our barbells:

  1. What is the length collar to collar?
  2. What is the loadable length of the sleeve? (We mean the length of the part where you slide plates on)
  3. How long is the total length of the collar and sleeve, including the shoulder?

Let’s cover the first question: What is the length between the sleeves, from collar to collar?

Here’s our answer, and it’s great news: this isn’t something you have to worry about much. All normal Olympic bars, (20kg & 15kg) including powerlifting bars and bars of that sort, have the exact same distance sleeve to sleeve: 51.5 inches.

Why do a 20kg and a 15kg standard bar (“men’s” and “women’s” bar) have the same distance sleeve to sleeve, you might ask? This is so that when you rack it on a standard squat rack for squatting, benching, pressing, rack pulls, etc, that both bars will fit cleanly between the uprights.

Let’s talk about number two: sleeve loadable length. Unlike the distance sleeve to sleeve for both men’s and women’s bars, this length is going to differ. The 15kg bar has about 12.5 inches of loadable length, and the 20kg bar has about 16.5 inches of loadable length. However, on the other 20kg bar in PK’s garage gym, there’s 16 inches of loadable length. There’s not a ton of difference between the two 20kg bars, but sometimes, that can differ even more, like when a bar has a wider shoulder between the shaft and the sleeve. 

Normally, the loadable length comes into play when you’ve got very thick bumpers, a very strong athlete, and they’re deadlifting. If you’ve got extra thick bumper plates (thicker than normal bumpers) and a super strong, macho athlete, that might cause a problem with their loadable amount of weight.

However, the good news is that even with the thickest bumper plates, and the smallest loadable length, you can still load the bar up to above 400lbs. If you can deadlift less than 400lbs, you don’t really need to worry about the loadable length on your barbell.

We totally understand that you don’t want to be limited in gainz by your equipment. That said, all of the 20kg barbells we have right now are not going to pose that problem for you: all of them can be loaded to between 500 and 600lbs, even if you’re just using bumper plates. 

Now comes number three: what is the total length of the collar and the sleeve, including the shoulder?

The 15kg bar has about 14 inches, and both 20kg bars in the video show about 17.5 inches. This doesn’t vary too much between bars whether 15kg or 20kg. This matters most when you’re trying to put a squat rack into a corner, or are trying to work out a bar storage situation. Otherwise, this isn’t something to worry about too much.

Of course, we do get other questions about our barbells. If you’ve got more questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by phone, chat, or email. We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have and to chat with our Fringe Fam!

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