The 10 Best Olympic Barbells for Throwing Around Heavy Weight

Man using an Olympic Barbells

A high-quality barbell is a foundational piece of strength-training equipment for any home gym. There are several different types of bars, but Olympic barbells combine versatility with quality and are designed to help you execute everything from deadlifts to snatches. The best Olympic barbells have a standard shaft diameter (28 millimeters for men and 25 millimeters for women), medium to heavy knurling, and a smooth spin that won't trip you up during clean and jerks.

The ACTIVE Reviews Team, which is made up of certified personal trainers and other fitness professionals, has a lot of hands-on experience with home exercise equipment including Olympic barbells. We've personally tested more than 100 of them and narrowed down the options, factoring in our own personal experience as well as customer reviews and brand reputation. From budget barbells to investment pieces, here are 10 of our favorite Olympic barbells.

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The Best Olympic Barbells - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall Olympic Barbell - Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar

Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar


  • Weight: 20 kg (44 lbs.)
  • Diameter: 28.5 mm
  • Knurl: Deep side knurling; no center knurling
  • Finish: Various
  • Warranty: Lifetime


Rogue Fitness specializes in strength and conditioning equipment, so the company knows a thing or two about making quality Olympic barbells. There are several options available from the brand, but the Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar earns the top spot due to its durability, thoughtful design, and generous warranty (Rogue backs it up for life).

The steel bars are made in the USA and come in various finishes, from a 190,000 PSI black oxide to a 200,000 PSI stainless steel. They're designed to have some whip during Olympic weightlifting, while still providing adequate hold for heavier powerlifting. Each bar has a standard 20-kilogram weight with a 16.4-inch loadable sleeve length. There's deep knurling outside of each sleeve, but the bars have a smooth center so it's more comfortable when resting during cleans. Bronze bushings between the bar sleeve and shaft add to the bar's durability, while also ensuring a reliable spin.

What We Like

  • Bronze bushings for a reliable spin
  • No center knurling
  • Lifetime warranty

What We Don't Like

  • Pricy
  • Not all finishes are equally durable

BUY: Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar

Best Budget Olympic Barbell - CAP Barbell The Beast

CAP Barbell The Beast


  • Weight: 20 kg (44 lbs.)
  • Diameter: 30 mm
  • Knurl: Medium; no center knurling
  • Finish: Black phosphate; black oxide
  • Warranty: 5 years


If you don't want to drop $300 on a Rogue barbell, The Beast from CAP Barbell is an excellent budget-friendly option. It's not quite as strong—it's rated 110,000 PSI—but it's made of durable rolled steel and has a 1,200-pound weight limit that will suit most lifters. Each bar has 15-inch loadable sleeves with snap clips that make it easy to load and unload weight plates.

The Beast has medium-depth knurling near the sleeves for a firm grip, but a smooth center for added comfort. There are bushings incorporated into the sleeves to allow for a fluid spin and easy maneuverability. The bars have a standard diameter and weight and are built to accommodate any 2-inch weight plates.

What We Like

  • Black oxide finish for durability
  • Medium knurling is comfortable
  • Budget-friendly price

What We Don't Like

  • Lack of center knurl may limit versatility
  • Lower PSI than others

BUY: CAP Barbell The Beast

Best Safety Squat Bar - Titan Fitness Safety Squat Olympic Bar

Titan Fitness Safety Squat Olympic Bar


  • Weight: 61 lbs.
  • Diameter: 1.5-in. bar; 2-in. sleeve
  • Knurl: None
  • Finish: Chrome
  • Warranty: 1 year


The Titan Fitness Safety Squat Olympic Bar was built specifically for taking the pressure off your shoulders when building up your squat load. As such, it's not as versatile as others on this list, so if you want to do snatches and cleans as part of your training program, you're going to have to add another bar to your collection. That being said, it can't be beat for its purpose.

This barbell has a bent design that helps stabilize your center of gravity when the bar is loaded with heavy weights. There's a built-in padded harness that rests on your shoulders and helps reduce strain, plus wrapped handles that help you get a better grip. While it weighs more than a standard Olympic barbell—it's 60 pounds compared to 44—it has the same 2-inch sleeve length so it works with all standard Olympic plates. And it can hold up to 1,500 pounds.

What We Like

  • Design helps stabilize center of gravity
  • Good padding
  • 1,500-pound weight capacity

What We Don't Like

  • Not as versatile as others on the list
  • No knurling

BUY: Titan Fitness Safety Squat Olympic Bar

Best Power Barbell - Rogue Ohio Power Bar

Rogue Ohio Power Bar


  • Weight: 45 lbs.
  • Diameter: 29-mm bar; 2-inch sleeves
  • Knurl: Deep knurl throughout bar
  • Finish: Stainless steel, bare steel, and black zinc
  • Warranty: Lifetime


Power bars are stiffer barbells that have less flex than other types. This makes them more versatile, since they won't bend under the pressure of heavier weights. With a tensile strength of 200,000 to 205,000 PSI (depending on which finish you choose, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar is one of the best on the market. It has the same standard specs as the brand's other Olympic bars—a 45-pound total weight, a 16.25-inch loaded sleeve length, and a 2-inch sleeve diameter—but it's more rigid with more intense knurling.

There's deep powerlifting knurling abutting the sleeve and in the center of the bar so it won't slide on your back when you're squatting with heavier weights. Rogue designed the knurl to enhance grip without being too abrasive. You can choose from three finishes—bare steel, stainless steel, and black zinc—for a slightly different look, feel, and strength. Rogue also backs up its strength with a lifetime warranty—if it bends, you'll get a new one.

What We Like

  • High tensile strength
  • Deep knurl
  • Available in 3 finishes

What We Don't Like

  • Knurling can be too rough for some
  • Some users say it rusts

BUY: Rogue Ohio Power Bar

Best Olympic Barbell for Home Gym - Rogue Pyrros Bar

Rogue Pyrros Bar


  • Weight: 20 kg (44 lbs.)
  • Diameter: 28-mm shaft; 2" sleeves
  • Knurl: Aggressive; center knurling
  • Finish: Chrome or stainless steel (extra charge)
  • Warranty: Lifetime


Most Olympic barbells are pretty easy to incorporate into your home gym, but the Rogue Pyrros Bar is a near-perfect specimen. The bar was designed in collaboration with Pyrros Dimas, a Greek powerlifter who holds three World Weightlifting Championships, in an effort to create the best Olympic barbell out there. The biggest standout features are the customized knurl and more controlled spin.

While there's one Olympic knurl mark closer to the sleeves, most of the knurl is concentrated in the center of the bar. It's more aggressive than other bars, but it's still comfortable on your back and shoulders. There are 10 needle bearings that control the bar's spin, ensuring that it moves smoothly without jerking. Like most quality Olympic barbells, this one is made of steel with a 200,000 PSI and just enough whip to allow some flex without too much bending. It is an investment—it's Rogue's most expensive barbell—but if you're looking for something that's built to last, this is it. It's also backed by the same lifetime warranty as Rogue's other barbells, so it's a fairly risk-free investment.

What We Like

  • Center knurling for more stability
  • More controlled spin
  • High tensile strength

What We Don't Like

  • Knurling may be too aggressive for some
  • Expensive

BUY: Rogue Pyrros Bar

Best Short Barbell - Rep Fitness Technique Barbell

Rep Fitness Technique Barbell


  • Weight: 15 lbs.
  • Diameter: 28 mm
  • Knurl: Light/medium
  • Finish: Bare aluminum
  • Warranty: 1 year


At 72 inches long, the Rep Fitness Technique Barbell is considerably shorter than others on the list. This shorter design cuts down the loadable sleeve length—it's 9 inches compared to the over 16 inches of other bars—as well as the maximum load. This bar has a 2-inch diameter on the sleeves so it's compatible with standard Olympic plates, but it only weighs 15 pounds and holds up to 200 pounds. Rather than heavy lifting, it's meant for technique training with lighter loads.

Despite its significantly lower load capacity, this bar still has light- to medium-depth, Olympic knurling with dual (IWF and IPF) knurl markings so you can perfect your hand placement before moving on to a heavier bar (and heavier weight load). There's no center knurling, which makes it more comfortable for daily training. This bar also has a bushing system in the sleeves, but it spins slower than others to help you nail your technique without a lot of rotation.

What We Like

  • Light knurling is easier on the hands
  • Slower rotation to help with training
  • Dual knurl markings

What We Don't Like

  • Low-weight load
  • Bare aluminum finish is less durable than steel

BUY: Rep Fitness Technique Barbell

Best Olympic Barbell on Amazon - Bells of Steel The Utility Bar

Bells of Steel The Utility Bar


  • Weight: 20 kg (44 lbs.)
  • Diameter: 28.5 mm
  • Knurl: Medium-light
  • Finish: Zinc shaft; chrome sleeves
  • Warranty: Lifetime


The Utility Bar from Bells of Steel has specs that rival much more expensive bars—and you can conveniently get it on Amazon and have it on your doorstep in two days. This alloy steel bar has a 190,000 PSI tensile strength, medium-light knurling near the sleeves and in the center of the bar, and brass bushings that ensure a fluid rotation when switching positions. It can hold up to 1,000 pounds and has zinc finishing on the shaft with chrome sleeves for added durability. The sleeves are also ribbed to prevent your weight plates from shifting in the middle of your set.

The 28.5-inch diameter is unique; it's thicker than a standard Olympic bar but thinner than a powerlifting bar. The company says this allows for easier grippage and hand positioning, but may take some getting used to if you're coming from one of the other types of bars. The sleeves are the standard 2 inches, though, so you can fit any standard-size Olympic weight plates on it.

What We Like

  • Budget-friendly price
  • Medium-light knurling
  • Ribbed sleeves

What We Don't Like

  • Not as smooth as other bars
  • Diameter isn't standard

BUY: Bells of Steel The Utility Bar

Best Olympic Barbell for Women - Rogue Bella Bar 2.0

Rogue Bella Bar 2.0


  • Weight: 15 kg (33 lbs.)
  • Diameter: 25 mm
  • Knurl: Light
  • Finish: Zinc
  • Warranty: Lifetime


Women's Olympic barbells are lighter and slightly narrower than bars designed for men. The Rogue Bella Bar 2.0 is built to these standards, with a 15-kilogram (or 33-pound) total weight and a 25-millimeter diameter. Other than that, it's on par with the other high-quality barbells from Rogue. It has a 190,000 PSI tensile strength and hybrid knurling pattern that offer a comfortable grip for power lifts and Olympic lifts. Heads up: There's no center knurl and some reviewers say the knurling that's there is almost too light.

The loaded sleeve length is shorter than the men's bars—it's about 13 inches instead of just over 16 inches—but the bar can still accommodate up to 1,000 pounds. Bronze bushings in the sleeves ensure a fluid spin and help keep the bar rigid while allowing for some natural whip. The shaft and sleeves are both coated in zinc for added durability. The only downside is that this bar isn't covered by the same warranty as the other versions; the warranty applies to construction, but not materials and/or functionality.

What We Like

  • Hybrid knurling pattern
  • Zinc coating
  • High tensile strength

What We Don't Like

  • No center knurl
  • Warranty isn't the same as other Rogue bars

BUY: Rogue Bella Bar 2.0

Best Barbell for Weightlifting - Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Training Bar

Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Training Bar


  • Weight: 20 kg (44 lbs.)
  • Diameter: 28 mm
  • Knurl: Medium
  • Finish: Chrome
  • Warranty: 12 years

If you participate in weightlifting competitions, or you just want to invest in a bar that professionals use, the Force USA Gunnar Barbell is the one for you. Yes, this bar is pricey, but it's expertly built and certified by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). It's made of a steel and chrome coating that contributes to the bar's durability while also helping to effectively disperse the load for optimal balance. It has the standard Olympic bar specs—a 28-millimeter diameter, 20-kilogram total weight, and two-inch sleeve diameter—and can hold up to 1,500 pounds.

The sleeves are constructed with needle bearings and are designed to deliver a smooth, but more controlled rotation. They also minimize friction so the weights move freely, making injury less likely. This bar has dual knurling, but it's not too aggressive; there's enough for a solid grip, but not so much that it feels uncomfortable in your hands. Because of the price, we wish this bar came with a lifetime warranty like Rogue's models, but it does have 12-year coverage, which is still pretty impressive.

What We Like

  • Durable construction
  • Just-right knurling
  • Fast, smooth rotation

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn't have a lifetime warranty
  • Very expensive

Best Multipurpose Olympic Barbell - Force USA Gunnar Barbell Allrounder

Force USA Gunnar Barbell (Allrounder)


  • Weight: 20 kg (44 lbs.)
  • Diameter: 28 mm
  • Knurl: Dual knurling; no center knurl
  • Finish: Black zinc
  • Warranty: Lifetime


If you like to switch between Olympic lifting and powerlifting, you need a bar that can transition with you. The Force USA Gunnar Barbell Allrounder is a multipurpose weightlifting bar that works well for beginners to experienced lifters. It has a standard Olympic construction (28-millimeter diameter and 20-kilogram total weight), dual knurling on the ends but no center knurl, and a generous 16-inch loadable sleeve length. At 230,000 PSI, it has the highest tensile strength on the list and can hold up to 1,500 pounds.

It has five needle bearings in each sleeve, combined with stainless steel bushings. This rotation system ensures a faster spin that can keep up with your movements during heavier lifts, while the zinc finish keeps it from breaking down prematurely. It comes in two color options: all black (with black zinc sleeves) and a black shaft with bright zinc (silver) sleeves.

What We Like

  • High tensile strength
  • Bearing and bushing rotation system
  • Comes in 2 color options

What We Don't Like

  • Lack of center knurling may limit usage
  • Stainless steel bushings require more maintenance

BUY: Force USA Gunnar Barbell (Allrounder)

Benefits of Barbell Lifting

If you're new to strength training, a barbell can be pretty intimidating, but one of the biggest benefits is that it's really easy to use—and it's versatile, too. You can use a barbell for squats, deadlifts, jerks, bench presses, hip thrusts, and bent-over rows (really, the list goes on and on). You can also really customize the weights to use them for different purposes. If you're an Olympic powerlifter, you can load your barbell up with 1,000 pounds and bust out some deadlifts. If you want to incorporate strength training into your HIIT program, you can throw 30 pounds on the bar and do that instead.

Barbells are pretty accessible, too. Compared to cardio machines and other strength-training equipment, like squat racks, barbells are fairly budget-friendly. While we wouldn't recommend getting the cheapest barbell you can find as it's likely to break down faster, you can get a high-quality option for around $200.

They're also easy to store. You can slide them under your bed or stash them in a closet when you're not using them. Eventually, if you get a hefty collection of weight plates going you may want to invest in a better weight storage solution, but for a basic setup, this does the trick.

Of course, barbell lifting comes with all the benefits of strength training: muscle gains, more strength and power, stronger bones, and improved body composition (more lean muscle and less body fat).

Barbell Types

While there are many barbells out there, including safety squat bars and trap bars, there are three main types: standard, Olympic, and power bars.


Standard barbells are what you find in most gyms. They typically have a 1-inch diameter, 7-foot length, and 44- to the 45-pound total weight. Most standard barbells have some knurling as well as bearings in the sleeves that allow for some rotation, albeit not as fast as Olympic barbells. They also have a medium whip to allow for some give.


Olympic barbells look similar to standard bars, but there are some notable differences. First, Olympic barbells are thicker—they have a 2-inch diameter instead of one. They're designed to hold more weight than standard barbells, but they have more whip, which means they're less rigid, and have faster rotation. They also typically have more knurling for enhanced grip, which is important when you're lifting heavier weights.


Power barbells are the most rigid of them all. They have almost no whip and are designed for lifting really heavy weights. Because of this, they also have the most aggressive knurling, which helps enhance grip but can be too much for daily use.

What to Look for in an Olympic Barbell

Tensile Strength

The tensile strength measures how much weight a barbell can hold before it breaks. This is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI) and most Olympic barbells have been 150,000 PSI and 200,000 PSI. If you're just starting out, or you don't plan to lift really heavy, a lower PSI will likely be enough for you. However, if you're planning on loading up your bar, you'll want to go for the higher numbers.

Weight Capacity

Similar to tensile strength is weight capacity. While some companies only list tensile strength, others provide an actual weight capacity that usually ranges from around 700 pounds to 1,500 pounds. When narrowing down your choices, consider how much weight you're planning to lift and work that into your decision. Make sure you give yourself some room to grow if you want to build up your strength and/or plan to transition from Olympic lifting to powerlifting.


True Olympic barbells have a standard diameter of 28 to 29 millimeters for men, depending on whether they're designed for Olympic lifting or powerlifting, and 25 millimeters for women. The sleeve diameter is also standardized at two inches to accommodate all Olympic weight plates. When purchasing an Olympic barbell, make sure they have these specs.


Most Olympic barbells have some degree of knurling, which is an etched pattern in the shaft that makes it easier to grip the bar. When deciding on an Olympic bar, you want to consider the degree of the knurling as well as the positioning.

Knurling can be light to aggressive. Lighter knurling feels more comfortable in the hands but may translate to a slippery bar. Aggressive knurling is easy to hold on to, but can wear your hands down, especially if you're using your bar daily. If you're a recreational lifter, you can get away with light to medium knurling. However, powerlifters should opt for more aggressive knurling.

Positioning is important, too. Some bars have what's called "Olympic knurling," which means it has a rough pattern near the sleeves, but not in the center of the bar. This works well for weightlifters who do a lot of clean and jerks, but may result in a bar that's too slippery for powerlifters. While the center knurling can feel uncomfortable on your neck, it's important to prevent slipping when doing heavy-loaded squats. As such, recreational users do well with a bar with a smooth center, while powerlifters may need that center knurling.


In an Olympic barbell, the shaft and sleeves (or ends of the bar) are two separate pieces. They're connected by a rotation system that allows the sleeves to spin. This reduces the centrifugal force on your wrists and allows you to rotate your grip more easily.

There are two main types of rotation systems in an Olympic barbell—bushings or bearings. Bushings offer a smooth, but slower, rotation, while bearings spin more quickly. There are pros and cons to each type, but typically bushings are better for recreational and powerlifters, while bearings are better for faster weightlifting movements, like snatches and clean and jerks.


The finish is also important. A bare steel bar generally feels more comfortable in your hands, but it can oxidize (read: rust) faster than bars that are coated in chrome or black oxide. You can certainly get bare steel if you want, but you'll typically get more for your money if you opt for a protective coating.

FAQs About Olympic Barbells

Are Olympic barbells better than standard barbells?

Olympic barbells aren't necessarily better than standard barbells; whether or not they're better for you specifically depends on your goals. Olympic barbells are typically made with stronger, higher-end materials and can hold more weight. If you lift heavy and often, an Olympic barbell will likely last longer than a standard barbell made with lower-quality material.

What kind of barbell should I buy?

There are so many kinds of barbells out there, so it's hard to make a blanket statement about which one you should buy. When in doubt, an Olympic barbell with medium knurling, 2-inch-diameter sleeves, and a high-quality stainless steel finish will do the trick for most people.

How much should I pay for an Olympic barbell?

There's no standard rule for how much you should pay for an Olympic barbell. That being said, the full-size Olympic barbells on our list range from about $200 to just over $1,000, so you can expect to pay somewhere within that range for a high-quality piece of equipment.

Why are Olympic bars 45 pounds?

The Olympic bar standard is actually 20 kilograms, which converts to 44 pounds. Some companies make 45-pound bars because that's the closest rounded imperial weight.

About the Author

Lindsay Boyers

Lindsay Boyers

Lindsay is a functional nutritionist, writer, and editor. She has written 15 books and numerous articles on fitness, wellness, and nutrition. Her work appears on,,,,, mindbodygreen,com, and, among others.

See More from Lindsay

Lindsay is a functional nutritionist, writer, and editor. She has written 15 books and numerous articles on fitness, wellness, and nutrition. Her work appears on,,,,, mindbodygreen,com, and, among others.

See More from Lindsay

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