person standing in front of green and gray barbell

How Much Does A Barbell Weigh? (And Types of Barbells)

“How much does a barbell weigh?”

To those of us who are into lifting, the answer to this question might seem like common knowledge.

But to those out there who are brand new to this gym life, this is something that they may not know or have taken into consideration when figuring out how much they are lifting.

A barbell weighs 45 pounds (20 kilos), and is about 7 feet (30.4 cm) long.

Now, when I make this statement, I’m talking about the barbells that you would commonly find in most commercial gyms. These barbells are usually of the Olympic or Powerlifting variety and weigh 45 pounds (20 kilos), or very close to it, and are roughly 7 feet ( 30.4 cm) long.

However, there are many different types of barbells out there that many may not be aware of.

They come in different weights and lengths and can serve different purposes depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.

In this article, we’re going to cover a number of different barbells that are out there. Some are common and some are not so common. Some will be found in most commercial gyms while some will be confined to mainly specialty gyms and personal lifting arsenals of home gyms.

First on our list is:

Olympic Barbell

This style of barbell is one that many of us should be familiar with.

An Olympic barbell weighs in at 45 pounds (20 kilos) and is 7.2 feet (219.5 cm) long.

It may look and feel very similar to a powerlifting bar, and while they can be used interchangeably for certain tasks, some characteristics about the Olympic Barbell make it necessary for the purpose it serves.

The first thing we might notice is the name itself. The term “Olympic” tells us that this barbell is ideal for performing the Olympic lifts of Snatch and Clean and Jerk.

One trait of this style of barbell is the diameter of the shaft. The shaft of an Olympic Barbell should be 28 mm which is what you will find when competing in the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation).

Another characteristic to take notice of is the knurling. The knurling on an Olympic Barbell will have at least a moderately aggressive knurling (volcano style) to aid in grip while a barbell you find in competition may just as well have a super-aggressive knurling (mountain top style).

The sleeves on this type of barbell will typically be 2 inches (5.1 cm) in diameter, to accommodate Olympic plates.

These sleeves should also have a pretty significant spin to them. This spin is achieved by the use of bushings within the construction of the barbell where the shaft meets the sleeves.

There are two different types of mechanisms out there that allow this rotation, and they are bushings and needle bearings.

Olympic style barbells will often feature needle bearings since they will offer the most spin as well as the smoothest spin.

The reason this spinning element is key in Olympic lifting is that there could be significant torque experienced on the wrists of the lifter while performing the lifts otherwise.

An Olympic Barbell will also have more whip to it than other barbells.

If you don’t know what whip is, imagine a barbell bending a bit under very heavy weight or having a bit of bounce to it while a lifter puts it in motion.

One of the ways the whip can be beneficial in Olympic lifting is by aiding in “breaking the bar off the floor” when initiating both the clean and jerk as well as the snatch.

One final detail of note is the placement of the rings on the shaft of the barbell. These rings are used as a guide for finger and hand placement for lifters when they set up.

On an Olympic bar, you will find the rings spaced out closer to the sleeves. Typically, they will be just about 36 inches (91 cm) apart from each other.

Powerlifting Bar

A powerlifting bar looks very similar to an Olympic bar, and could be mistaken for the exact same type of bar if someone doesn’t know some of the nuances between the two.

A Powerlifting bar typically weighs in at 45 lbs (20 kilos) and is a length of 7 feet (2.1 meters).

It usually has a 27 mm shaft to comply with the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) standard.

You might typically find the knurling on the shaft of a Powerlifting bar to be much more aggressive than most barbells (usually a mountain top style knurl), and you will find a strip of knurling in the center of the barbell as well which is something you won’t find on an Olympic barbell.

This center knurl is beneficial when back squatting, which is one of the 3 main lifts of powerlifting since it provides extra grip on your back to help keep the bar from slipping.

You may find that the sleeves of a powerlifting bar do have some spin to them like the Olympic bar does, but the degree of spin can vary. The rate of spin on a powerlifting bar need not be as drastic since the “big 3” movements done in powerlifting don’t create as much torque on the wrists when performed.

For this reason, powerlifting bars may be constructed using bushings rather than needle bearings since the rate of spin doesn’t need to be as great.

Another characteristic that doesn’t need to be as significant for this style of barbell is the whip.

A stiffer bar can be of benefit when squatting and bench pressing due to increased stability during movement.

Lastly, we take a look at the ring placement. Similarly, a powerlifting bar has its own set of rings to guide a lifter’s hand placement.

However, the measurements are a bit different when compared to an Olympic bar.

The rings on a powerlifting bar are spaced out at 32 inches (81 cm) apart. These rings also act as a marker for the max grip width when competition benching.

EZ Curl Bar

This is a bar that many people should be familiar with.

You can find it in a majority of commercial gyms, as well as many home gyms. The EZ curl bar may be even more common in home gyms than traditional barbells due to its smaller size, cheaper price, and everyone’s love for training the guns.

EZ Bars can come in a variety of weights and sizes and can range anywhere between 15-30 pounds (6.8 – 13.6 kilos) and 45 – 55 inches (114 – 140 cm ) long.

The sleeves on an EZ curl bar are typically 2 inches (5.1 cm) in diameter and usually offer a level of spin.

You will commonly find a 28 mm shaft on most EZ bars with various degrees of knurling.

The most notable trait of this type of bar is the multiple grip and hand positions on the bar.

To describe it simply, it’s a shorter barbell with a bunch of different bends along the shaft.

The main benefit of these grips is that they allow your wrists to stay in a more comfortable position when curling when compared to a straight-wrist grip when using a barbell for exercises like curls and skull crushers.

There is a style of EZ bar that many people may not be aware of as it it less commonly seen, and that is the rackable EZ curl bar.

It is essentially a regular barbell with the tell-tale EZ bar grip variations.

These weigh in at roughly 30-35 pounds (13.6- 15.9 kilos) and are just about 71 inches (180.4 cm) long, which is just about the same as powerlifting and Olympic barbells.

Hex Bar (Trap Bar)

The Hex Bar is another bar that is fairly common and may be found in your commercial gym.

This bar is characterized by its diamond-style shape that you stand inside of, with handles on each side to grip and lift in a deadlift fashion.

A Hex bar usually weighs about 45-50 pounds (20-22.7 kilos) but can vary based on the manufacturer.

The dimensions can vary greatly, especially since this bar is more “3-D” when compared to other barbell styles. You can typically find ones that are 70 or so inches (178 or so cm) in length though it will vary, as with the width and different types of knurling between manufacturers.

The sleeves on this bar are typically 2 inches (5.1 cm) and fit Olympic plates.

I feel that this bar sometimes doesn’t get the love it deserves.

Using this bar has many benefits, and some even go as far as to say that if you aren’t focused on powerlifting, it may be even better than the standard deadlift.

The main benefit of this bar is your body position when using it.

Unlike the traditional deadlift which puts the load in front of your center of mass, the Hex bar places your center of mass in line with the load allowing for better leverages, a better line of pull and less demand on the hams, glutes, and low back with a bit more quad.

Gripping the handles at your side instead of gripping a bar in front of you allows for a neutral grip position which can be more comfortable as well.

Another benefit of using a Hex bar is that deadlifting with this piece of equipment can take less technical skill than a traditional deadlift which makes it ideal for those with movement restrictions as well as those just learning the movement and can serve as an “on-ramp” to traditional deadlifting if that is the direction the lifter wants to eventually go.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Hex bar can be a great tool for Farmer’s carries since you can really load it up heavy and get moving.

Swiss Bar (Football Bar)

I like to think of the Swiss bar as the Hex bar equivalent for pressing.

Ok, maybe not exactly but it does share a couple of qualities with the hex bar in that they both have a 3-dimensional shape as well as the benefit of allowing for neutral grip hand positioning.

In the same way the hex bar allows a neutral grip to deadlift with, the Swiss bar allows a neutral grip to bench press with. (We could use dumbbells to allow us to use a neutral grip but we are talking strictly about bars.)

A neutral grip on the bench can be a good way to comfortably target your triceps while keeping your shoulder in a more comfortable position as opposed to something like a close-grip bench press for example which may put more strain on your wrists and shoulders.

A Swiss bar will have a variety of different grip widths to take advantage of as well.

Swiss bars come in many different weights, from 24 pounds (10.9 kilos) – 55 pounds (25 kilos) just as a reference range.

The lengths can once again vary as well based on the manufacturer, and the sleeve diameter is typically 2 inches (5.1 cm) and fit Olympic plates.

Safety Squat Bar

The safety squat bar definitely stands out and is something you probably won’t find in a lot of commercial gyms.

The main characteristic of the safety squat bar is the thick padding around the shoulders and traps where the barbell rests, as well as two post-like handles to hold onto.

Unlike a traditional barbell back squat where you reach your arms out and a bit behind you to grab the bar, the SS bar has you simply reach up and grab onto the two bars located on either side of your neck.

This, along with the slight camber of the bar which puts the load a bit in front of you, mimics more of a front squat style of squat.

However, this position demands less mobility compared to both a back squat as well as a front rack position, making this bar’s main benefit the comfort and ease of positioning for those who lack mobility or deal with discomfort in certain positions.

As with most specialty bars, the weight and length can vary between manufacturers.

You should be able to find many that range between 7 feet -8 feet (213 cm – 244 cm) in length and anywhere between 50 pounds – 80 pounds (22.7 kilos – 36.3 kilos) in weight.

The typical sleeve diameter should be 2 inches (5.1 cm) and fit Olympic plates.

The handles on a safety squat bar can also vary and some will even allow you to swap the handles out for a different type.

Deadlift Bar

This bar is a specialty bar made for ..*drum roll*…Deadlifts!

A couple of traits about this barbell that set it apart from others and make it ideal for deadlifting are the thinner shaft, longer overall length of the bar which gives it extra whip, and aggressive knurling.

A deadlift bar will typically weigh 45 pounds (20 kg), which is the same as both Olympic bars and Powerlifting bars that we went over earlier.

Lengths of deadlift bars can vary a bit based on the manufacturer, but you can expect them to be a bit longer than a standard barbell at around 7.5 feet (229 cm), this added length contributes to the extra whip that a deadlift bar provides which can aid a lifter in breaking the bar off of the floor to start the movement.

The shaft diameter is commonly 27 mm, which is thinner than both Olympic and Powerlifting bars. This thinner shaft allows for better grip on the bar which is crucial when moving big weight.

The shaft usually has a very aggressive knurling to further assist with grip, with no center knurling present.

Cambered Bars

A cambered bar can be any type of bar that has a bend, offset or drop from the shaft to the sleeves.

The safety squat bar that was discussed earlier is a type of cambered bar, for example.

You can also find Swiss bars in a cambered variation as well.

In this section though, we will talk about 2 popular cambered bars, the Cambered Squat Bar and the Buffalo Bar.

The Cambered Squat Bar, not to be confused with the safety squat bar (though there is a type of hybrid bar called The Spider Bar, which is a combination of the two), has a significant drop between the shaft and the sleeves.

The length of camber (drop) can vary between manufacturers, but you can expect to find bars with drops between 14 inches -18 inches (35.6 cm – 45.8 cm).

This drop from shaft to sleeve places the load lower on our bodies in relation to where the bar sits on our backs. This will cause the load to want to sway back and forth in a pendulum-like fashion, thus increasing the demand on our core to stay tight and keep form solid.

This is one of the key benefits of using this bar, with the increased core strengthening and stability demands possibly carrying over to standard barbell squats.

As with many specialty bars, the weight and length will vary between companies and brands.

You can find some bars between 6.8 feet – 7.6 feet (207 cm – 232 cm) in length and 38 pounds – 85 pounds (17 kilos – 39 kilos) in weight.

As always keep in mind the length of the bar to ensure it will fit on your rack as well as the weight of the bar as well as max weight capacity when doing your plate math.

The Buffalo Bar is the other cambered bar we will talk a bit about.

The Buffalo Bar typically has a slight curve that peaks in the center, allowing it to sit comfortably on your shoulders when squatting.

It can help those who have limited shoulder mobility and aid them in comfortably gripping the bar.

Another way to take advantage of the curvature of this style of bar is to allow a greater range of motion when flat bench pressing. This greater ROM can put a greater stretch on the pecs.

The camber can vary between manufacturers but you can expect to find a drop from the center of the barbell to the sleeves range between 2.5 inches – 3 inches (6.4 cm – 7.6 cm).

The weight, length and knurling can vary as well, with weights ranging from 45 pounds – 50 pounds (20.5 kilos – 22.7 kilos) and lengths between 7 feet – 8 feet (213.3 cm – (244 cm).

Sleeves will typically be 2 inches (5.1 cm) and accommodate Olympic Plates.

A Barbell For Every Occasion

As you can see there are many different barbells available that go beyond the most common ones we think of when it comes to training.

Whether you want to train a specific lift, a specific purpose or weak point, or just want to add some variety and fun to your training, there is likely a barbell for you.

While it might be tempting to load up on some new toys for our home gyms, most of us will most likely do just fine with either a Powerlifting or Olympic Bar based on the type of training we are focused on.

But as our training evolves and our experience grows, adding one (or a few) of these to our home gyms if possible can be a good way to enhance our training environment.

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