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