Training

Pros And Cons of Using A Deadlift Bar

March 21st 2019

Should I use a deadlift bar? Does it actually make a difference?

Your goals and training needs should determine whether or not you should use a deadlift bar. In general, a deadlift bar is longer and has more bend to it. As a result, lifters will usually deadlift more using a deadlift bar rather than a conventional Olympic barbell.

If you search on google for anything about a deadlift bar now (It is March 2019), chances are you will not find any information about it. You will see articles talking about a “trap bar” which have nothing to do with what you searched. It is frustrating, I know.

Luckily, we are here to address. We will go over the pros and cons of using a deadlift bar and whether or not you should get one for yourself.

What is a deadlift bar?

A deadlift bar is a specialty bar designed for deadlifting higher amounts of weight. Equipped with a longer overall length and a thinner diameter, this creates the ultimate bar that helps the lifter both grip easier and increased the whip when pulling. This increase in flexibility means that lifters and athletes are able to pull from a higher point before the weights break off the ground, which can increase the amount of weight the person can lift.

Specifications of a deadlift bar

The deadlift bar usually has close to the following specifications:

  • Made of Steel, 190,000 PSI Tensile Strength Steel
  • Diameter - ~27MM
  • Overall Length - ~90 Inches
  • Aggressive Knurling
  • No center Knurl
  • Has multiple finishes, available with in bare steel or black zinc

The Pros Of Using A Deadlift Bar

1. You are pulling less range of motion

Because there is some bend in the bar, you are technically pulling for less distance. This helps since you will need every bit of help on a max effort pull.

2. There is some bend in the bar

When you deadlift on a deadlift bar, you will notice that there is a lot more whip. It was designed that way. The more weight you deadlift, the more it will bend. This is simple physics since the deadlift bar is longer than a standard Olympic barbell.

A deadlift bar will typically be around 90 inches in length, whereas a standard Olympic barbell would be around 86 inches in length. When it comes to deadlifting huge weights, these inches matter greatly.

3. Weight is easier to come off from the floor.

Part of the reason why it “feels” easier to deadlift weight off the floor is because of the whipiness of the bar.

4. Deadlift bars are a bit thinner, so your grip is better

The deadlift bar is around 27-28mm diameter, depending on the brand. A standard Olympic barbell is around 29mm diameter, depending on the brand. As a result, your hands have more surface area to grip the deadlift barbell which makes it a more comfortable lift, from a grip standpoint.

5. Knurling on the deadlift bars are aggressive

The knurlings on a deadlift barbell are aggressive and rightfully so. They will dig into your skin as designed in order for you to “get a grip.”

The Cons Of Using A Deadlift Bar

1. Lack of proper training for a powerlifting competition

Your training should be sport specific. With that said, you probably will not train with a deadlift bar if you compete in certain powerlifting federations that utilize a stiffer bar.

2. Sometimes, harder training might benefit you

Many lifters who have used the deadlift bar have noticed that deadlifting became “easier” and maybe even “more fun.” While that is the case, let us be real with you. You will need to train with more difficult training experience to really make a difference.

Doing my research online, I have noticed many lifters who trained with either a stiff bar or a thicker bar in their facility and within a few months, they were able to crush their old PRs. Training with the deadlift bar only and constantly crushing new PRs? Not so much.

Deadlift bars may be fun to use. They are an excellent tool to use for overloading your deadlift stimulus but sticking to the basics will always work.

Is a deadlift bar worth it?

Ding, ding. Ding! The million dollar question!

To decide what the answer to this question, let us analyze what we know. There are several factors that all lifters must consider before deciding to purchase or even invest in a facility that has a deadlift bar. Some of these factors include cost, training experience, progression, competition conditions, and training history.

Cost

If you have a home gym, purchasing your own equipment is what you may be thinking about. After all, we want the flexibility of having a gym close to home. So, how much does a deadlift bar cost? And what are the best brands to purchase from?

The deadlift bar itself costs over 300 US dollars. So, it is not your random piece of equipment. In addition to that, I found that Rogue Fitness has some of the highest quality machinery available. On a separate topic, I have purchased a Rogue Fitness Ohio Power Barbell. It has been over 4 years since that purchase and I am absolutely loving that bar.

If you are a gym membership kind of person, finding a gym facility that has a deadlift bar may be tough. A lot of commercial gyms will not have any specialty bars so always make sure to get a tour of the facility and ask them about their equipment. You need to know this crucial information.

What you may end up doing is having to sign up for one of the more elite level gyms or fancier gyms with a lot more modern equipment. Membership prices for these gyms are not cheap so expect to shell out at least 100 dollars a month. For the sake of research, I was looking at gym memberships around me in New York City. There was an elite gym that appeared to have a deadlift bar but the membership price was at 200 dollars a month.

So, the final verdict? Cost is a very important aspect to consider. While some casual lifters can easily not justify the price for using a deadlift bar, some lifters who compete in competitions with a deadlift bar will find it 100% worth it.

Training Experience

I had the opportunity to train with a deadlift bar in college. I was fortunate enough to have an athletic director, who was an ex-powerlifter that listened to the students in ordering new equipment. Even with that, I remembered using the deadlift bar once. At the time, I was barely deadlifting over 300lbs so I did not feel much of an effect with it.

However, after doing some research about other lifters’ training experiences with the deadlift, I have noticed lots of approval for training with the deadlift bar. Ranging from 400lbs to 700+lbs, lifters already noticed the subtle pros of using a deadlift bar.

How will your training experience be? If you deadlift anything less than 405lbs, you probably will not notice a difference. However, if you are deadlifting 405lbs+, you may have an enjoyable experience with how “easy” the weight can feel.

Progression

With a deadlift bar, elite level lifters are able to overload with their training. The whipiness of the bar allows the lifter to have an easier time to break the weight off the floor and to move less range of motion.

However, if you are looking for serious training, most lifters would recommend using a stiff bar since it is harder to deadlift.

If you are trying to improve your deadlift, a deadlift bar is nice to have but not mandatory.

Competition Conditions

If you are an athlete that competes in a competition that uses deadlift bar, training with a deadlift bar will only help you, not harm you. While it is important for you to still train with a stiff barbell, training for your competition should be your top priority.

So, if you have a competition that requires you to use a deadlift bar, it is 100% worth it to start using one.

Training History

If you are a beginner, you have no business using a deadlift bar. Stick with getting the basics right. Make it a short term goal to at least get a 405lbs deadlift. If you are an elite level lifter, you have options as you will know your strengths and weaknesses better than a novice lifter.

The deadlift bar should be used an extra benefit for your training, something extra that you could not normally do on a stiff barbell. For lifters that need extra work on the top portion of the deadlift or just need to overload their deadlift training, doing some deadlifts on the deadlift bar may be beneficial for you.

As lifters gain training experience, it is up to their best judgment whether or not using a deadlift bar will help them increase their max. For all beginners and intermediate level lifters, it is best if they stick with the basics and learn how to deadlift using a stiff barbell.

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