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In the world of lifting weights, the barbell is king. If the gym were a jungle, the barbell would be the lion, and all the other equipment would bow to it. While that might sound intimidating, the truth is that anyone, even beginners, can pick up a barbell and reap the benefits.
Just like with any other kind of home gym equipment, there are countless options for barbells. Knowing what to look for is paramount before investing in one. Our ACTIVE product reviewers have personally used and tested more than 100 barbells to bring you the scoop on the very best barbells on the market.
Best Barbell - Our Top Picks:
- Best Barbell Overall - Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar
- Best Barbell for Beginners - Force USA Ranger Barbell
- Best Multi-Purpose Barbell - Fringe Sport Hybrid Bar
- Best Barbell for Women - Rogue Fitness Bella Bar 2.0
- Best Power Bar - Rogue Fitness Ohio Power Bar
- Best Olympic Barbell on a Budget - Fringe Sport Wonder Bar
- Best Value Barbell - REP Fitness Excalibur Bar
- Best Barbell on Amazon - CAP OB-86B Beast Barbell
- Best Barbell Under $150 - Titan Fitness Economy Olympic Bar
- Best Safety Squat Bar - Rogue Fitness Safety Squat Bar
Best Barbell Overall - Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar
The Ohio Bar from Rogue Fitness offers more versatility, optionality and straight up quality than any other barbell on the market. Bronze bushings and dual knurl markings make it great for the power lifts, Olympic lifts and functional fitness. Plus, this bad boy touts 190K PSI (190,000 pounds of force per square inch) in terms of tensile strength, so you can drop it with significant weight and not think twice.
One thing we really like about the Ohio Bar is that you have a variety of options for finish: chrome, stainless steel, cerakote and black oxide. Each has its own benefits contributing to the barbell's overall durability. One thing to note: The knurling on the Ohio Bar is pretty passive, which is ideal for most people, but powerlifters might prefer something a bit more intense.
- Key Feature: Lifetime warranty on a multi-purpose barbell
Tensile Strength: 190,000 PSI
- Finish: Options for chrome, black oxide, cerakote and stainless steel
Best Barbell for Beginners - Force USA Ranger Barbell
If you're just getting started with lifting weights, it can be understandably intimidating to shop around for barbells. We confidently recommend the Force USA Ranger Barbell for beginners because it's high quality enough that you won't get frustrated with poor craftsmanship, but reasonably priced so your wallet won't suffer.
This barbell was designed with a home gym athlete in mind. Its dual knurl markings identify both powerlifting and weightlifting standards, and a 170,000 PSI tensile strength means it can withstand being dropped with heavy weight bumpers. A black zinc finish protects it against the elements that come with home training. This particular bar is 20 kg, but there is a 15 kg option as well.
Key Feature: Reasonably priced, well-made barbell
Tensile Strength: 170,000 PSI
- Finish: Black zinc
Best Multi-Purpose Barbell - Fringe Sport Hybrid Bar
Most people working out at home turn to a barbell for multiple purposes: power lifts, CrossFit-style workouts, weightlifting movements and accessory work. The Fringe Sport Hybrid Bar delivers on its ability to handle anything you throw at it. Thanks to a 216,200 PSI tensile strength, this bar is tough as nails, and an aggressive, deep knurl means you'll be able to hang on for rep after rep.
It doesn't stop there. This is a needle bearing barbell, which makes it fantastic for the Olympic lifts. Many barbells you'll find on the market don't do well for power lifts--squat, bench press and deadlift--as well as the snatch and clean and jerk. The Fringe Sport Hybrid Bar really can do it all.
- Key Feature: Deep knurl and needling bearing for a great hybrid bar
Tensile Strength: 216,200 PSI
- Finish: Matte chrome
Best Barbell for Women - Rogue Fitness Bella Bar 2.0
The Rogue Fitness Bella Bar is easily the best barbell on the market for women. This is the 15 kg version of the Rogue Ohio Bar, which we already dubbed the best barbell overall. There are a few reasons it's great specifically for women: a 25 mm shaft is better for smaller hands, and the 15 kg weight is standard for women in CrossFit and weightlifting.
On top of that, this is a really good barbell. There are several options for coating to protect the steel bar, ranging from E-coat and cerakote to sleek (and more expensive) stainless steel. Not to mention our reviewers used it for all matters of fitness and loved the experience. Lastly, the bar was named after Bella, a dog who belonged to the owners of Rogue, and her likeness is on the barbell end cap.
Key Feature: Smaller grip for smaller hands on a 15 kg barbell
Tensile Strength: 190,000 PSI
- Finish: Options for cerakote, chrome, black zinc, stainless steel and E-coat
Best Power Bar - Rogue Fitness Ohio Power Bar
Rogue Fitness simply makes quality barbells. It's what it does. And if you need a powerlifting barbell, the Ohio Power Bar is it. Perhaps our favorite feature--and the most important for you, the lifter--is the volcanic knurling. This bar features an aggressive knurling that gives you an amazing grip but isn't too sharp.
The high tensile strength of 205,000 PSI is well above the industry standard. Load the Ohio Power Bar up with a large amount of weight and deadlift it: You won't see any damage. Shaft coatings include bare steel, which is great for feel as long as you can keep the rust at bay. If corrosion is a concern, you can choose from chrome, cerakote, black zinc or upgrade to stainless steel.
Key Feature: The best volcanic knurling out there
Tensile Strength: 205,000 PSI
- Finish: Options for chrome, bare steel, black zinc, cerakote and stainless steel
Best Olympic Barbell on a Budget - Fringe Sport Wonder Bar
If you hit the bar every day (the barbell, that is), then you need something that's built to last. The Fringe Sport Wonder Bar is a solid pick. Nicknamed "Black Magic," this black zinc-plated alloy steel barbell features 205,000 PSI with bronze bushings and needle bearings. If you don't know what that means, allow us to translate: It's strong, it spins and it works just as hard as you do.
The Wonder Bar comes in both 20 kg and 15 kg options, and it features dual knurl marks, which is an added bonus for weightlifters and powerlifters. The knurling itself isn't cheese-grater tough, but also isn't so passive that it has an effect on high-rep workouts. At just over $250, this is a sound investment if you plan on using a barbell frequently.
Key Feature: All-black barbell with zinc-plated coating
Tensile Strength: 205,000 PSI
- Finish: Black zinc
Best Value Barbell - REP Excalibur Bar
If you're a weightlifter, the REP Excalibur Bar should catch your eye. Our reviewers likened it to an Eleiko (the crème de la crème of all weightlifting bars), but it comes in at about a third of the cost. That's why it's our pick for the best value barbell: You get a lot of quality for a much more affordable price.
Some things we love: 190,000 PSI, hard chrome shaft coating, a medium/deep knurl ideal for snatching or the clean and jerk and a lifetime warranty. Also, the REP Excalibur Bar comes in both 20 kg and 15 kg options, and we love the inclusivity. But perhaps what makes it shine like an Eleiko is that the training bar is shockingly quiet. Yes, your neighbors will still hear the weight plates drop, but you might be surprised at the noise reduction.
Key Feature: Built like an Eleiko but at a fraction of the cost
Tensile Strength: 190,000 PSI
- Finish: Hard chrome
Best Barbell on Amazon - CAP OB-86B Beast Barbell
Typically, you wouldn't go to Amazon for a barbell, but the CAP OB-86B Beast Barbell begs to differ. Its price falls under $150, which instantly makes it attractive to the budget-conscious athlete. You also get free shipping and Prime delivery benefits, a big bonus compared to brands that charge for shipping by the pound.
Some highly affordable barbells sacrifice quality, but not the Beast. Our testers liked it best for rack work, like squats or presses, because it can take a beating from the J-cups. If you just want an affordable bar--and you want it quickly--this is it.
Key Feature: Highly affordable with Prime benefits
Tensile Strength: 110,000 PSI
- Finish: Black phosphate
Best Barbell Under $150 - Titan Fitness Economy Olympic Bar
If you're pinching pennies or simply looking for a good deal, the Titan Fitness Economy Olympic Bar is your best bet. This is by far the most affordable barbell on our list at $119. Also, Titan Fitness always offers free shipping, so you don't have to worry about a surprise cost at checkout. The bar comes with a one-year warranty as well as a bronze bushing system.
You will sacrifice some quality at this price point, such as with the chrome finish, which could be subject to corrosion. Also, Titan doesn't list a tensile strength but does note that the bar has a 700-pound weight capacity, which is plenty high enough for most everyday athletes.
Key Feature: Priced under $150
Tensile Strength: Unlisted, 700 lb. weight capacity
- Finish: Chrome
Best Safety Squat Bar - Rogue Safety Squat Bar
The Rogue Safety Squat Bar is one of the best on the market. A safety squat bar doesn't necessarily make squatting easier or even safer. However, it can be great for people with shoulder injuries who have trouble holding a standard barbell. Safety squat bars also help some athletes keep a more upright torso.
It's important to note that unlike other types of barbells that come in 20 kg and 15 kg weight options, this bar weighs an even 70 pounds. And although it doesn't have a listed tensile strength (because you won't be dropping this from overhead), it does have a tested 1,000-pound weight capacity.
- Key Feature: Ideal for people with shoulder injuries
Tensile Strength: N/A, but it has a 1,000 lb. capacity
- Finish: Black cerakote
What to Look for in a Barbell
You know you want a barbell for strength training, but now what? Now, you trust us, the experts, to guide you through what to look for in a bar, so your investment is a sound one.
In short, what do you plan to do with it? Though barbells look the same, their inner workings set them apart for different types of training. For example, powerlifters like a center knurl and aggressive steel. A weightlifting barbell would have a decent spin and medium knurling. For most people, a general-purpose bar suffices. These bars are great for a little bit of everything: CrossFit, accessory work, deadlifting, snatches, etc. However, if you are sport-specific, make sure your bar meets those needs.
One of the most important factors is knowing that the barbell will fit your plates. If you own Olympic plates, you need an Olympic barbell (which all the ones on this list happen to be).
There are a few different ways to measure the durability of a barbell, and tensile strength is one of them. This number indicates how much tension you can put on the bar before it suffers irreversible damage. A great barbell should have a listed tensile strength of at least 170,000 PSI, or pounds per square inch. If you buy a bar with less than that, be careful not to drop it, even with bumper plates.
The knurling on a bar is the grippy part or the texture in the steel. Every barbell has it because it helps you grip. However, the type of knurling varies from bar to bar. Some bars have a super aggressive, cut-up-your-hands knurl while others are pretty passive. The best kind of knurling comes down to personal preference.
Another important aspect of the knurling is where it is and where the marks are. Center knurling appears on powerlifting bars because it helps hold the bar in place during squats. Often, you'll find there are also notches in the knurling for Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting standards. These help most of us know where to put our hands during some lifts.
The finish or the coating on the shaft of the barbell really does matter. A bare steel barbell might feel good in your hands, but it can quickly fall subject to moisture and rust. A finish like cerakote, E-coat or stainless steel will greatly protect the bar from those kinds of elements. A quality bar should come with some kind of coating. If it doesn't, be sure to store it in a climate-controlled area.
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