Product Reviews

Cost Of A Barbell? The Ultimate Barbell Buying Guide

Updated March 3rd 2020; April 3rd 2019

How much does a barbell cost?

The ultimate question.

It can be a small purchase or something that really makes you scratch your head at night.

How much you spend on an Olympic barbell will depend on your training goals.

Cap Olympic Barbell

The Cap Olympic Barbell is one of the most budget-friendly bars you will ever set your eyes on.

However, you do get what you pay for here.

I would only recommend lifters who lift less than 350lbs to purchase this bar.

I have personally bought this bar as part of a starter set with weight.

The barbell is slightly bent over the years I have been squatting between 200-355lbs.

The paint has been worn out but it is still doing its job.

I cannot really complain since it was a steal to get a free barbell with weights.

Specifications

The bar weight is between 16-18kg or 35-40lbs.

This is an important point to realize because most 7’ Olympic barbells should be at 45lbs (20kg) in weight, but this one is not.

Its length is 2180mm or 85.6”.

It has a center knurling.

The bar material is made of cold rolled steel.

The bar and sleeve finish is coated with black oxide.

The PSI Tensile Strength is 54,000.

Titan Fitness Olympic Barbell

The Titan Fitness Olympic Barbell is a budget barbell that will last you a very, very long time.

If you are looking to test your limits up to 1000lbs, this barbell should be in your possession in the future.

I have used these barbells when I was training at my college.

For the first few years, they were excellent.

Over time, you should do some barbell maintenance as the knurlings became less aggressive, in my opinion.

Specifications

The barbell weighs 45lbs and is 86” in length.

The grip diameter is 30mm.

There is no center knurling.

The barbell material is made of steel.

The bar and sleeve finish is coated with chrome finish.

The PSI Tensile Strength is 165,000.

As a side note...

I have seen an "old" Titan Fitness Olympic Barbell and it doesn't look half bad.

By old, I mean over 6+ years of usage.

This is with minimal cleaning if you consider a rare wipedown a clean.

But these barbells should last you a long time even with some reckless behavior.

A good purchase.

But again, the only thing you should be aware about is that it has no center knurling.

The second important thing is that the knurling is not very aggressive after a couple of years.

Cap Power Barbell

The Cap Power Barbell is the barbell I purchased to supplement my cheap barbell because I knew I was going to lift heavier weights.

Overall, I am very satisfied with this higher-quality bar.

So far, I have been usually the barbell to deadlift in the low 400s and there is no bend.

So, for now, I am quite happy with the purchase.

In addition, I have not been the best barbell owner and have been cleaning and maintaining my barbell.

So, in three years, some of the coatings have been chipped away (I was usually metal plates).

There is also some rust specks since my barbell is in a garage gym.

I will do some barbell cleaning very soon to address this problem.

Specifications

The bar weight is 20kg (45lbs) and is 2185mm (86”)in length.

There is a center knurling.

The barbell material is made of Japanese steel.

The bar and sleeve finish is coated with black phosphate.

The PSI Tensile Strength is 132,000.

Update, my Cap Power Barbell bent!

I was doing a 425lbs box squat and I was not able to get out of the box.

I was squatting in an outdoor garage gym in the middle of the winter.

No insulation in my outdoor garage gym.

I was not expecting to fail and I did not have anything to catch the barbell appropriately.

So, when I dumped the barbell, it landed on my weighted flat bench and it bent a little.

I was a bit disappointed but it was a good run with this barbell.

So, any home gym owners or barbell purchasers need to be mindful that this bar may not be as sturdy as intended.

However, this is just my personal example.

Your barbell may withstand some failures but mines did not and I had to retire the damn thing.

This is where you need to look at the PSI tensile strength and get the highest number you can afford.

More than this in the next section.

Good tensile strength for a barbell?

Typically, any barbell above 180,000 PSI will begin to lose its elasticity and will become very stiff.

Nowadays, barbells are made with PSI 200,000, which is very stiff.

Tensile strength is a factor used by manufacturers to maintain a certain level of quality and durability in their barbell products.

For powerlifters, they would desire to use a more stiff bar.

On the other hand, Olympic weightlifters may want to use a bar with a good whip and more elasticity.

Here is a general standard that is useful for you:

  • <150,000 PSI - Okay for beginners and intermediates to use
  • 150,000-180,000 PSI - Decent for a majority advanced and elite lifters
  • >180,000 PSI - This barbell is built to last

In general, tensile strength is a good metric to use if you want a bar that can last through your abuse.

If you are careful and protective of your barbell, you expect your barbell to last a lifetime.

Barbells can go through a lot of abuse - dropping on the floor, dropping on the safeties, which can bend the bar if the stress surpasses the yield point of your barbell.

Best Finishes for Barbells

Hard chrome is usually rated as the best finish for a barbell.

Decorative chrome is the worst finish you can get for a barbell.

Hard chrome

This was a plating process used exclusively for Olympic barbells starting in the late 1990s.

It does not crack or peel compared to the other finishes for barbells.

It is not very corrosive resistant but is still one of the top finishes available on the market.

Barbells with this type of finish will cost extra for its better physical properties.

Zinc

This is a common low-cost finish that many budget barbells can use.

It is moderately corrosive and rust-resistant but does wear away over time more readily, compared to other finishes.

Black Oxide

This is another low-cost finish that cost-friendly barbells can use.

One of the distinct advantages of using this finish is the feel on the knurling - it gives you that “bare-steel” feeling, which is perfect for lifters who want to get a grip with the bar.

This finish also has moderate protection from corrosion and rust.

Stainless Steel

One of the best finishes for corrosion and rust resistance.

At the same time, this type of finish will cost the most money.

In addition to that, depending on the environmental conditions, such as extreme humidity, a stainless steel finish can rust and would need to be maintained.

Cerakote

This is a ceramic finish that has unpenetrable rust resistance as long as the surface is not broken.

Common ways to scratch this finish are a result of the bar coming in contact with another metal surface, such as power racks, j-hooks, and other metals.

Decorative Chrome

This was a popular finish in the past. However, with stronger lifters on the rise, this type of finish cracks and peels easily, which is hazardous for everyone.

How often should you oil your barbells?

This depends on the environment you store your barbells in and how well maintain your equipment.

If you store your barbell outdoors and it gets humid outside, your barbell can develop rust.

However, if you store your barbell indoors where humidity is always kept low, you may never need to maintain and reoil your barbell.

Some lifters may oil their barbells ever two weeks.

Some lifters oil their barbell every couple of months.

Some just do not realize they need to take care of their barbell!

Opinions and solutions range all over but one thing is for certain - if you take care of your barbell, you will appreciate it that much more.

How much weight can a cheap barbell hold?

With the cheapest barbell, it can hold up to around 300-350lbs.

However, there is a little bend with prolong usage.

How much do weight bars weigh?

Weight bars, which are usually Olympic barbells, weigh 20kg or 45lbs.

The typical bar you see at a commercial gym should weigh around 20kg.

However, varying from manufacturer to manufacturer, you could see a difference in barbell weight.

Where can I find barbells above 180,000 PSI?

Many places! One example is Rogue.

Rogue is a fantastic company and makes a lot of high-quality bars.

You can also get a barbell at American Barbell that meets all our specification on what makes the perfect barbell:

  • 190,000 PSI tensile strength
  • Barshaft made of stainless steel
  • Stated to have superior corrosion resistance (great for outdoor storage)
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Made in the USA with great customer service

Or you could get a power bar from FringeSport that also meets and exceeds our specifications for an ideal barbell for squats, deadlifts, bench press, and overhead press:

  • 216,200 PSI tensile strength
  • Bar made with Chrome
  • Deep IPF knurlings
  • Stiff whip with moderate collar spin
  • Lifetime warranty against manufacturer errors
  • 2,200 lbs weight limit

Or even this power barbell from Rep Fitness.

Again, this is a power bar geared towards the squat, deadlift, bench press and overhead press:

  • 200k PSI tensile strength
  • Sleeves and shaft made of stainless steel
  • 29mm diameter
  • Has a center knurling with moderate knurling, aggressive but it won't destroy your hands
  • Stiff bar
  • Lifetime warranty (under certain conditions)

Really, what more could you ask for in these few selections?

And you will also find that barbells made to last will also have Olympic weightlifting barbells where the specs may be slightly different to suit the sport.

For instance, weightlifting with the clean and jerk and snatch needs a more whippy barbell with more spin compared to a power barbell that has more benefits to be stiff and not so spinny.

What I noticed

There are a ton of barbells out there but you should look out for these specs usually:

  • tensile strength will always be important

And the stronger you are, the more it will become a factor.

You do not want to have to destroy your barbell every two weeks because you or one of your training partners bailed on a squat.

So, look for at least 180k PSI. Minimum.

Shoot for 200k PSI if you can.

  • Stainless steel is commonly used for strength

At least for barbells for powerlifting movements.

If you want your barbell to be stiff, you need to get materials that mimic exactly that.

And stainless steel delivers stiffness in the barbell with minimal whippiness.

Whereas an Olympic barbell may use a different material like Chrome.

However, I found that these two are the most popular materials to use in order to have good longevity in your barbell health.

5ft or 6ft barbells, are they any good?

5ft or 6ft barbells can be used for squats, bench press, deadlifts, presses, lunges, and many other different exercises.

While they might not hold as much weight, they can still be used for isolation work or even accessory movements.

Smaller barbells may have smaller sleeves, where are the attachments on the ends of regular barbells.

Typical 7’ Olympic barbells have a 2” diameter for their barbell sleeves, a 5ft or 6ft barbell may have a 1” diameter.

This means you would need to get another set of weights if you intend on using a smaller barbell for a long time.

Typical squat racks and power cages accommodate for the industry standard of a 7’ Olympic barbell.

If you do opt for a 5ft barbell, you cannot even rack it in some equipment. 6ft barbells may cut it close but it depends highly on your equipment setup.

Do 5ft or 6ft barbells hold less weight?

Yes, 5ft and 6ft barbells will hold less weight than the conventional 7’ Olympic barbell.

The barbells should weigh 25lbs and 28lbs, respectively.

Depending on your barbell manufacturer, the strength of your barbell should be around 63,000 PSI.

From doing my research, I would not put anything above 200lbs on these barbells but this is a must-ask question for your manufacturer.

From my conducted research, lifters can get away with lifting 100-150lbs with these smaller barbells.

Then, more questions can come up - what happens if you drop the weight?

Dynamic strength and static strength do vary especially if you have hundreds of pounds on both sides of the barbell.

Dropping it from 3 feet in the air onto a power rack safeties will be very different from dropping the barbell 5 feet in the air onto the ground.

Many circumstances and forces will stress the bar at different angles.


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