Why do some barbells bend more than others? Barbell bend explained

What’s happening, Fringe Fam? We’ve got Jason Inoue here with us today, and we’re talking all things barbell whip. Behind him, you can see that he’s got a barbell that’s giving a slight bend in the middle: this is the Olympic barbell with 765lbs on it. This bend is actually a good thing!

So, what is “barbell whip”? Do you need it, or can you live without it?


When it comes to having a barbell with whip, typically, Olympic Weightlifters are looking for it because when they’re doing a snatch or clean and jerk, they’re going to want a bit of whip. 

But, what does whip actually do? 

As you can see on the above barbell behind Jason, with weight on it, the barbell bends slightly. That bend, when doing olympic lifts, helps store energy in the bar and helps the athlete get that barbell overhead and into position much easier, as opposed to a stiff bar.

If you’re into powerlifting, and frequently work on squats, bench press, and deadlift, you’ll typically want a stiffer bar with little to no whip.

On the Olympic barbell behind Jason, you can see a decent amount of curve in the barbell as it’s loaded with 765lbs.


Now, the barbell in the photo above, behind Jason is our powerlifting bar also loaded with 765lbs. While there is some bend to this barbell, it’s slightly less than the Olympic bar and noticeably stiffer. It’s designed for big benching, big squatting, and some of you might use a stiff bar like this one for deadlifting, and some of you might use an actual deadlift bar which is going to be a lot different than the powerlifting barbell you see here. A deadlift bar is going to have a smaller diameter, and more width to it so it will bend and the weight can be broken off of the ground a little bit easier.

Powerlifting bar vs. Weightlifting bar

These are really two different ends of the spectrum. In weightlifting, there’s a lot of speed and momentum. If your program is more geared towards Olympic weightlifting, you’re going to want to find a barbell with a little more whip and a little more spin than the average all-purpose bar. In powerlifting, each lift tends to be slower, more static, and heavy, so less whip and bend is needed.

If you’re a general fitness enthusiast, like a CrossFitter, you’ll want a bar with some moderate whip, unlike the weightlifting and powerlifting barbells we’ve shown. You’re going to want to find the sweet spot in between, so that way your barbell can be used for any multitude of lifts and you’re not limited to one end of the spectrum or the other. 

How to Choose a Barbell

It really comes down to what’s best for you. What type of lifting are you doing? What kind of programming are you following? What are the lifts you like to do, or the primary lifts in your program?

We can help you choose wisely. We’re here to help you make this important decision! Let us know if you have any questions or need some assistance finding the right barbell for you and your program, your goals, and your garage gym.

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