When it comes to training for fitness or strength, the barbell may be the most basic tool there is. However, it can also be the most versatile. You can train every part of the body with a barbell weight set. The barbell can be held in your hands while you train, or it can sit on your shoulders. It can be used while standing, seated, or lying on the floor or on a weight bench. Many people associate barbells with powerlifting or bodybuilding, but runners, cyclists, and even people focused on general wellness can benefit from having a barbell in their home gyms.
Unfortunately, there is a misconception that a quality barbell requires a major investment. The fact is there are several quality barbells that can help you maximize your training without sacrificing a big chunk of your paycheck. The ACTIVE Reviews team has done the heavy lifting for you (literally), and they have found the best of the best budget barbells for your consideration.
Why Trust Us?
The ACTIVE Reviews Team is made up of professionals from multiple facets of the fitness industry. Athletes, coaches, trainers, and experts work together with one common interest—find the best quality products. Why? Because, like you, they are fitness enthusiasts, as well. If they wouldn't buy it, they wouldn't expect you to, either. They placed their stamp of approval on these six barbells, so you know that they will hold up in any workout you put them through.
Best Budget Barbells - Our Top Picks
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- Best Overall Budget Barbell: REP Fitness Sabre Barbell
- Best Budget Powerlifting Barbell: Force USA Ranger Barbell
- Best Value Budget Barbell: Titan Fitness Economy Olympic Barbell
- Best Budget EZ-Curl Bar: Life Fitness Curl Bar
- Best Multipurpose Budget Barbell: ProsourceFit Adjustable Dumbbell and Barbell Set
- Best Budget Olympic Barbell: Synergee Games Barbell
Best Overall Budget Barbell - REP Fitness Sabre Barbell
- Available Weight: 15 kg and 20 kg
- Length: (20 kg) 87.4"; (15 kg) 79.13"
- Material: Steel with black zinc finish
- Additional Gear: None
- Grip: Medium knurling
- Warranty: 1 Year
If getting stronger is your passion, then look no further. The Sabre Barbell is designed with the goal of helping the person lifting it improve strength and power. It comes in two weights for those who have a preference of what starting weight they work with. It can be used for any strength sport but is specifically intended for the powerlifting staples: benching, squatting, and deadlifting. The medium knurling will keep your hands on the bar, but chalk can be used with them if desired.
The 15-kilogram bar has a 12-inch loading sleeve while the 20-kilogram version has a more traditional 16-inch sleeve. Whether it's a single rep or a full workout of the day, the Sabre bar has been proven to work under the most intense conditions. The center knurling helps it stay in place during squats, however the 20-kilogram bar can also be ordered without center knurling, if preferred. Either barbell will fit in a squat rack or on squat stands so you can place it where you need to for the next exercise.
- Supports up to 1,000 lbs.
- One-year warranty
- Ball bearings in sleeves for smooth twists during lifts
- The 15-kg bar doesn't have center knurling
- It only comes in the basic chrome color
BUY: REP Fitness Sabre Barbell
Best Budget Powerlifting Barbell - Force USA Ranger Barbell
- Available weight: 44 lbs. (20 kg)
- Length: 86.6"
- Material: Iron, zinc, bronze bushings
- Additional gear: None
- Grip: Standard Knurling
- Warranty: Lifetime structural warranty
This barbell by Force USA is a great choice for both beginners trying to learn the basics or advanced trainees who like to add variety to their training. The bronze bushings allow the bar to spin smoothly so you can perform cleans with no trouble. It's also a very strong barbell that can withstand heavy loads and be used with a lot of force and intensity. Whether it's being used on a platform or in a rack, it will hold up for years to come.
The Ranger Barbell has a standard whip with it, which means that it won't flex or bend while it is on your back while squatting. You also won't have to worry about the sides bouncing when you're working on a heavy bench press. Then there's the black zinc and bright zinc finishes that provide corrosion and rust protection. Not only will this barbell work well, it will look great in your home gym for a long time to come.
- The standard weight rating is 1,500 lbs.
- The sleeves offer 16" of space for loading plates
- The knurling is approved by both the International Powerlifting Federation and International Weightlifting Federation
- The knurling is standard, which may not suit some athletes
- Collars are sold separately
Best Value Budget Barbell - Titan Fitness Economy Olympic Barbell
- Available weight: 45 lbs. (20.4 kg)
- Length: 86.75"
- Material: Cold-rolled steel
- Additional gear: None
- Grip: Medium Knurling
- Warranty: 1 year
People who are working with a limited budget and focusing on something simple should consider the Economy Olympic Barbell by Titan Fitness. There is nothing fancy about this barbell, but it is very durable and well worth the investment. The grip on the bar is comfortable on the hands, which can help beginners while they are mastering their form. The plates slide on and off very easily and they will also support any two-inch collars that you place on them.
The barbell is made of cold-rolled steel, has a chrome finish on top of that steel, and has a standard whip to it. There are multiple ring marks on both sides that allow you more options where you can comfortably grip the barbell. At 86.75 inches long, you can load more plates on the sleeves, and it will fit on any bench or rack. It will work well with traditional iron plates or rubber bumper plates. Don't be afraid to work hard with this one because it will serve you well from the first rep to the last despite its budget price.
- The sleeves are 16.25" long
- The shaft diameter is 30mm
- Chrome finish is easy to clean
- The max weight is only 700 lbs.
- Not approved for competitions
BUY: Titan Fitness Economy Olympic Barbell
Best Budget EZ-Curl Bar - Life Fitness Curl Bar
- Available weight: 25 lbs.
- Length: 5'
- Material: Steel with hard chrome plating
- Additional gear: None
- Grip: Light Knurling
- Warranty: 1 year
An EZ-curl bar, also known as a cambered bar, has angled handles that allow you to train the biceps and triceps with a more natural hand position, which can take pressure off of the wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Most EZ-curl bars are shorter than traditional barbells because having the weight closer to your body also minimizes unneeded stress on the tendons and joints. This means it's not ideal for some moves, like the bench press or back squat, however it can work great for shoulder exercises such as front raises or back movements such as the bent-over row.
The Life Fitness Curl Bar has the perfect angle on the handles that allow you to train the biceps and triceps more effectively. Beginners or people training for general fitness will find that this bar is very comfortable to hold because of the light knurling on the angled handles. The bushings offer a more natural motion when curling, pressing, or extending the weight. If bigger, stronger, or better developed arms are a priority of yours, then this barbell needs to be high on the shopping list.
- A straight barbell is available in the same size
- Has a one-year warranty
- The sleeves have a smooth finish
- The weight limit of this bar is unknown
- The sleeves are shorter than traditional barbells
Best Multipurpose Budget Barbell - ProsourceFit Adjustable Dumbbell and Barbell Set
- Available weight: Up to 55 lbs.
- Length: 39.7"
- Material: Steel bar, sand weights with rubber coating
- Additional gear: 2 barbell collars
- Grip: Neoprene on barbell, rubber on plates
- Warranty: 30-Day Money Back Guarantee, Lifetime warranty
This set is ideal for those looking for a multipurpose piece of equipment because it can be used as both a barbell and dumbbells. Beginners or people who are just looking for a basic weight set will be very satisfied with this choice, as well. The handles of the dumbbells can be connected to a rod and secured by simply twisting. Transitioning from a barbell to dumbbells or vice versa can be done in a few seconds. This allows you to move seamlessly from one exercise to the next.
The weights are filled with sand and covered with a rubber coating to protect your floors from potential damage. Each weight is clearly labeled so you know what you're working with. This set can be ordered in weights ranging from 22 to 55 pounds. The spin-lock collars are easy to apply and will stay in place until you're ready to take them off. They don't take up much space when they aren't used, either, making this set a great choice for people with limited space.
- Up to 22 different weight combinations
- The barbell has a cushioned grip for easier holding
- More versatile than most barbells
- No other weights will work with the handles
- Harder to keep clean than plain metal
BUY: ProsourceFit Adjustable Dumbbell and Barbell Set
Best Budget Olympic Barbell - Synergee Games Barbell
- Available weight: 15 kg to 20 kg
- Length: (20 kg) 86.3"; (15 kg) 79.13"
- Material: Steel with Cerakote coating
- Additional gear: None
- Grip: Standard Knurling
- Warranty: Lifetime warranty
This barbell by Synergee looks great and works great for all forms of lifting, but Olympic weightlifters will be extra pleased with this one. Whether you choose the standard 20 kilogram version or the lighter 15 kilogram bar, you're going to have a barbell that can be used in all types of training. Each sleeve has 16.4 inches of space for plates. Even if you have thicker rubber plates, you can pile them on.
The Cerakote finish on this bar will protect the bar from damage and will make your home gym look good. It comes in three colors, as well: red, pink, or black. It has a total of 10 needle bearings inside the sleeves so you can easily slide your elbows under when performing the clean and jerk. The duel marks on the knurling will help you find the best grip for the two main movements or assistance exercises. The bar will even be wrapped in an anti-corrosion bag so it is protected from potential damage while it's being shipped to you.
- Tensile strength of 190,000 PSI
- Has a good whip to help with form
- Cerakote coating for extra durability
- No knurling on the center of the barbell
- There is no warranty for rusting
What to Look for When Buying a Barbell
A quality barbell will be able to hold substantial weight, have bearings in the sleeves that spin smoothly, have knurling that can help you maintain a solid grip, and be solid enough to withstand being dropped, racked, or pulled on.
Also, make sure it will match up with the plates you have or plan to buy. Olympic plates have a two-inch hole in the middle, so an Olympic barbell would serve you best. Standard plates have a one-inch hole in the center, therefore you should find a standard barbell so you can use those plates effectively. Here are a few other things to consider when buying a barbell:
What type of lifting will you be doing?
Lifting may appear to be a simple task, but there are different forms that can help you reach certain goals. Olympic lifting or powerlifting are specific sports that have requirements for their lifts. Bodybuilding training focuses on moderate to higher reps with an emphasis on quality form. Higher rep training (20 reps or more) can have some muscular benefits, but they are mostly for endurance athletes who want to improve for sports or overall wellness. Regardless of what type of training you do, there is a quality barbell for you.
Do you meet the space requirements?
You want to make sure that the ceiling is high enough that you can press a barbell with 45-pound plates over your head. For most people, that is around eight and a half feet. Most barbells range from 86 to 89 inches in length, and you need room so you can unload or reload plates on each side of the barbell, so 10 feet in width would be the minimum, but more is better. As for plates, make sure you have enough space to safely store them when they aren't in use, as well.
What type of flooring will you use?
The best flooring for training with a barbell is rubber mats. Horse mats that can be purchased at local farming stores are usually the most popular option. They will protect both the floor and your weights at an affordable price. Many people opt to use the puzzled mats, but they can be damaged easily and you have to frequently replace them. Using weights and barbells on concrete or carpet without some form of mat is not recommended.
Is buying a barbell really worth it?
Absolutely! A barbell can help you improve strength, muscularity, endurance, and overall fitness development. It is a simple yet versatile piece of equipment; you can press it up, curl it, place it on your back for squats or good mornings, or simply pick it up and put it down.
What type of grip should the barbell have?
If you are training for general fitness, then a moderate knurling on the barbell would work well. If you're training for strength, power, or for a fitness competition, then you want more aggressive knurling on the barbell to support your grip. There should also be rings on both sides of the barbell to help you determine where you place your hands when lifting the bar.
Are there different types of barbells?
The standard barbell is the one that most people are aware of, but there are others. The EZ-curl bar helps you train the biceps and triceps with a more natural grip that is easier on the wrists and elbows. A multi-grip barbell has different neutral grips to help you train the upper body in different ways. A trap bar is in the shape of a hexagon or octagon. You can stand in the middle and lift it with the handles on the sides. This is primarily used for lower-body training, but you can perform some upper-body movements, as well.
What size barbells do gyms use?
Almost all health clubs and gyms use Olympic barbells because they are built to withstand heavier loads and you can add more weight to them than you can a standard barbell. They also fit on the bench and squat racks better. Some gyms have standard barbells, as well, but the standard in almost all fitness settings is the Olympic barbell.
Should I buy weights or join a gym?
That depends on what your goals are and what equipment you feel you need. If you want access to a wide variety of machines and enjoy being in a public setting for motivation, then joining a gym would most likely be best. If you prefer to train privately or like to train at odd hours, then it's probably a good idea to invest in a home gym so you can train whenever you like.
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