Do you need center knurling or not? Different types of barbells explained

What’s up Fringe Fam? For our latest installment on our YouTube and blog, we’re going to be talking about center knurling, or center cross-hatching, and why someone might need it on their barbell (or not). We've got the inside scoop into all things center knurling.

Before we get into it, we want to extend an personal invitation to our private Facebook group, The Garage Gym Revolution. What you’ll find there is a community of people just like you, looking to improve their lives through strength. It’s positivity only, and a great place to ask and have your questions answered. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for our latest product releases, fun content, and more. Tag us to get your stories featured!

Cross-hatching. Center knurling. What about it? Below, you can see PK standing behind the beautiful Bomba Bar V3, which does not have a center knurl.

Why do some bars have center knurling and some don’t?

If you look toward the sleeves of the barbell, you can see cross-hatching along the shaft of the Bomba V3, and that’s to ensure that the bar doesn’t slip out of your hands as you’re movin’ and groovin’. There are two smooth rings toward the center where there is no knurling. Those rings are for lining up your hands for squatting when underneath the bar, or even further when the bar is on the ground and you’re prepping for a snatch or a clean and jerk. As for the center, it’s smooth on the Bomba V3.

A lot of powerlifters prefer the center knurl, and that’s because what they do requires extra traction between themselves and the barbell. When they line the barbell up on their backs to squat, they’re looking for an extra bind and no slippage.

However, most of the bars we do at Fringe Sport do not have a center knurl because we come out of a CrossFit and Olympic Weightlifting tradition. When you’re doing the movements within those sports, and you’ve got a center knurl, when you catch the barbell, it tends to tear up the skin across your collarbones and across your neck because it has cross-hatching for more traction. That’s not what we’re looking for in a clean and jerk.

A lot of CrossFitters are also prone to lifting with their shirts off, and if they’re using a center-knurled barbell for a WOD that requires catching in the front rack position or back racking for squats, their back is going to be torn up as well. That’s why a lot of the bars we do at Fringe Sport don’t have the center knurl.

If you are a powerlifter who’s lifting with a shirt on, you might want a barbell with a center knurl. The center knurl is going to grab onto your shirt, create more stability, and keep that barbell from slipping out of place.

If you’re a CrossFitter, a WOD-er, or something similar, you probably don’t want a center knurl for the sake of your collarbones and upper shoulder blades.

In the grand scheme of things, center knurling is not going to make or break a barbell for a Powerlifter or a CrossFitter. A barbell is going to either help you lift the weight you’re going for or not. If you’re a CrossFitter and you have a barbell with center knurling, you just might want to keep your shirt on.

Some of the bars we offer have a very, very light center knurling (like the Hybrid Bar) to offer you the best of both worlds, but most of the bars we carry don’t have the center knurling due to the nature of our background.

Here’s a little hack for you: if you’re someone with a barbell without center knurling and you’re really wishing you’d gone for a bar with the knurling in the center, you can wrap some athletic tape around the center to create a faux-knurling and get the job done. That way, you’re saving your original bar from any damage and you’re getting the best of both worlds because you won’t get torn up during cleans or back squatting.

Do you have a different reason you think center knurling is important? Let us know below!

No matter what kind of barbell you have or prefer, get out and lift something heavy 💪

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