Knurl Marks: Explained

What’s happening, strong brothers and sisters? We’ve got PK at our Fringe Sport gym in Austin, Texas talking all things knurling and barbell rings. Why do some bars have one ring, while some have two? Should you care? What kind and how many rings in a barbell is right for you?

Before we get into it, don’t forget to join us in Facebook group, Garage Gym Revolution. You’ll find PK and tons of other strong people looking to improve their lives through strength in an environment of positivity where you can make positive changes in your life, and your muscles. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for more awesome content!

Alright, let’s do this. Let’s talk about what are often called “barbell rings,” but are more commonly known as knurl marks.

What are knurl marks?

Knurl marks are little spaces on your barbell where there is no cross hatching on the bar. Knurling, or the cross hatching on a barbell, is designed to help you hang on to your barbell easier and avoid a slip out of your hands when lifting.

The knurl marks, or rings, are placed on the barbell so that when you’re setting up for a lift, you have a visual as to where to place your hands for an even grip on both ends and not lifting more or less on either side.

Why are there one set or two sets of rings on a barbell?

rings on a barbell

The reason there might be one or two sets of rings on a barbell is because there are two major standards for where to put those rings in terms of where they’ll sit on the shaft of the barbell. One of those standards is put out by the IWF, or International Weightlifting Federation. The other is put out by IPF, or International Powerlifting Federation.

These two federations have different standards for where those rings, or the knurl marks, are put on approved barbells.

For example, the bottom barbell shown above is a Fringe Sport Olympic Weightlifting Bar. The ring on this barbell is set by the IWF standard, and this placement allows for athletes of all kinds to set up properly for the clean and jerk, or separately, for the snatch where the barbell will be pulled overhead.

Now, for the IPF, the ring standards are set a little bit closer together and to the center of the bar. This is because powerlifting is the bench, squat, and deadlift, and unlike the snatch where you need your grip very wide, for most of the powerlifting movements, you’ll want a tighter, more narrow grip.

You might be wondering why the Fringe Sport Bomba Bar V3 (shown as the top barbell above) has two separate rings. We’ve included both the IPF and the IWF standards on this barbell because you’re usually not going to grip the barbell right over the rings. Your grip might sit a little bit more narrow, or wider, depending on your grip needs for each movement. Not only does this help with grip alignment every time you touch the Bomba V3, but it makes our ‘Murica Bar more useful in your garage gym for a variety of different styles of lifting.

For a better visual to see the different knurl marks and rings among the different barbell types, please scan through our barbell collection. The barbell category page will help show the difference.

What does it matter to me?

If you’re an all-around athlete, and you’ll be doing deadlifts, squats, and bench press along with clean and jerks and snatches and more, the best barbell for you is going to be one that features a few knurl marks, like the Bomba Bar V3.

However, if you’re a hardcore weightlifter, and you don’t plan on using your barbell for any kind of powerlift, it’s a safe bet to stick with the Olympic Weightlifting Bar with one set of wide rings.

On the other hand, if you’re a strict powerlifter, you’ll want to look for a powerlifting-specific bar with a nice, thick knurl, like the Lonestar Power Bar, so the barbell never even thinks about coming out of your hands during your heaviest lifts.

What did we miss? What do you look for in a barbell for your sport? Have more questions about barbells, knurling, and knurl marks? Let us know in the comments below!

Go out and lift something heavy today 💥

What other barbells should I consider?

  1. The 20kg barbells are great for all kinds of lifting. It's a standard weight across all types of competitive, olympic and traditional weighlitng. If you would like to see the product assortment, please check out the 20kg barbell product list here.
  2. If you have smaller hands, are a yong teenager, or just need a different grip feel because the traditional barbells feel different than what you would like, then you should check out the 15kg barbell product list here. The reason: Generally, women tend to have smaller hands, and the 15kg barbell has a smaller diameter for a better grip. Trust us, the grip and feel makes a huge different during a lift.

1 comment

  • Twineham, John C.

    Great explanation. Just started back to working out 10 weeks ago after almost 40 years with little to no lifting. 75 years old and 196 lbs. Primarily do 37.5% incline dumbell presses; still find flat bench barbell a little uncomfortable. Present best is 65 lb dumbells x 10 reps on incline, as part of 3rd 4 set superset. However, my dumbell form is atypical. At the top, I rotate the dumbells 90 degrees and touch the sides of both ends together. Seems to give my inner pecs a nice crunch. Anyway, your explanation may help me with a more comfortable barbell lift. Thank You!

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