Vulcan Strength Training Systems is a well-established, veteran-owned training company that manufactures all manner of bars, plates, racks, dumbbells, and conditioning equipment. While not a "budget" company, Vulcan often offers both performance-grade equipment at prices below elite international brands, as well as higher-end options with features for advanced athletes. For this reason, Vulcan is a popular choice for both home gyms and commercial training centers.
The Vulcan Absolute Power Bar 2.0 is a stiff, strong, and bombproof bar, designed specifically for performance in the Big 3 barbell lifts: squat, bench, and deadlift. Sure, you can curl in the squat rack with it, as well, but if you're doing high-velocity training like Olympic lifts or CrossFit workouts, this bar probably shouldn't be the only one in your arsenal. But if you're getting serious about your totals or training for a powerlifting meet, it checks all the big boxes for the big lifts, and at a price that might surprise you.
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A Quick Look at the Vulcan Absolute Power Bar 2.0
- Weight: 20 kg (44 lbs.)
- Diameter: 29mm shaft, 30mm (1.18") sleeves
- Length: 2200mm (85.61") bar, 415mm (16.33") sleeves
- Strength: 221k PSI
- Stiffness: Very stiff
- Knurling: Aggressive outer knurling, 4.7" medium/passive center knurling
- Finish: Black oxide shaft, matte chrome sleeves, polished chrome collars
- Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty
What We Like
- Strong, stiff, well-made bar at a reasonable price
- More than up to the challenge of powerlifting or heavy "Big 3" lifting
- Looks, feels and spins like more elite and expensive bars
- Free shipping and quick turnaround time
What We Don't Like
- Black oxide finish means it will need to be cleaned and maintained
- Not an ideal "one-bar quiver" for general lifting
- Knurling might be too aggressive for some delicate hands, not aggressive enough for others
A Closer Look at Vulcan Absolute Power Bar
Weight and Dimensions
If you went into the nearest commercial gym and weighed all the barbells stacked in the corner, you might be surprised at how much variance you'd find. This is a top-shelf powerlifting bar, so you can trust that your lifts are what you think they are (if you're using high-quality plates, anyway!). If you're training within specific percentage ranges while trying to peak for maximum strength, every pound matters!
Power bars have slightly thicker shafts than bars that are designed for Olympic lifting, CrossFit, or deadlift-specific bars. True to form, the Vulcan Absolute Power Bar 2.0 comes in at 29 mm, right in the established sweet spot. At just over 7 feet total and with 16.33-inch (415 mm) sleeves, the dimensions of the bar are on par with other popular power bars from Rogue, Eleiko, and others. Even if you prefer to use thick bumper plates for all of your lifts, you're in no danger of running out of room on the sleeves and will have space for a bar clamp or collar.
Strength and Stiffness
At 221K PSI, the tensile strength of the bar is also near the top of the market, so if you're worried about it being up to the challenge of your biggest lifts, don't be. Only a small number of bars on the market are stronger than this one, and those are in a whole other price class than the Absolute Power Bar as well.
Partially because they are thicker than Olympic or deadlift bars, power bars tend to be stiffer, and this bar is no exception; it's seriously stiff, and the risk of you feeling the bar whip or flex during even the heaviest lifts is highly unlikely.
Like most powerlifting-focused bars, the Absolute Power Bar has a center knurled section in addition to knurling closer to the collars. The outer sections help you hold onto the bar during deadlifts and bench presses, while the center section is meant to help keep the bar from slipping on your back during heavy squats. However, unlike some bars, the Vulcan Absolute's center section is lighter, somewhere around a medium sharpness or slightly less, so you don't have to worry about it tearing your shirt or your skin.
However, the outer knurling is definitely aggressive. If you've struggled with shared gym bars that felt slick or that demanded chalking and re-chalking, this is what you're paying for by buying your own barbell. The sharpness of the Absolute Power Bar's knurl might make chalk a thing of the past on your deadlifts, but it's not so sharp that you go into every single one expecting to see blood on your hands.
The Absolute Power Bar contains three different finishes: a black oxide shaft with a matte appearance, polished chrome on the collars, and matte chrome sleeves with smooth, flat-fin grooves. Aside from looking cool, the flat-fin grooves also help keep weights from sliding or moving around on the sleeve (especially if you don't like to use clamps or collars).
Yes, the black oxide looks cool, but it has a downside: it's more likely that rust or oxidation can develop on the bar, especially if you live in a humid climate. Some lifters just embrace this appearance. If you don't want to, you'll need to maintain the barbell regularly. Or you could buy the Absolute Stainless version of the barbell, but be warned: this finish costs nearly twice the oxide version of the bar.
Vulcan Absolute Power Bar V2 Construction
This bar looks, feels, and spins like a piece of elite-strength equipment, which it absolutely is. It is a bushing barbell rather than a bearing one, meaning it doesn't spin nearly as freely as, say, an Olympic barbell. Along with the thickness and sleeve grooves, this contributes to weights staying stable, with as little extraneous movement as possible.
Vulcan Absolute Power Bar V2 Performance
Every detail of the Vulcan Absolute Power Bar is clearly designed, and executed, with strong, stable, and safe heavy lifts in mind. I hesitate to reuse the old coffee advertisement adage and say that "4 out of 5 lifters couldn't tell the difference" between this and a bar that costs far more, but I'm tempted. Let's just say that unless you have a very specific reason to go more expensive, this bar is more than likely up to your powerlifting needs.
Who Should Consider the Vulcan Absolute Power Bar
If you're looking for a one-bar quiver for all manner of strength-focused lifts, this power bar is a great choice. It's also a great "second bar" alongside a slightly more flexible, free-spinning bar, allowing you to use each bar for their strengths and the lifts they excel at. Or, if your training is focused on muscle, it could be a great "big lift" bar alongside dumbbells and other tools.
Yes, this and some plates and a rack could be the only strength tools in your gym, but if so, buy it knowing what it is and isn't. It's a stiff, thick bar that prioritizes strength and stability, and makes the most sense if that's where your training priorities lie.
This is a high-quality bar that is far more than enough for most people's strength and size needs and features high-end construction without a high-end price. Free shipping and a limited lifetime warranty make it an even better value.
Other Power Bar Options We Recommend
- REP Fitness Stainless Steel Deep Knurl Power Bar
- Rogue Cerakote Ohio Power Bar
- Titan Series Power Bar
FAQs About Power Bars
What is the difference between a power bar and a deadlift bar?
In general, deadlift bars have a narrower shaft diameter (around 27 mm) than power bars (around 29 mm). They also can have more aggressive knurling and more flex. While a deadlift bar is designed with one lift in mind, a power bar is designed to excel in all three of the big lifts. For the vast majority of lifters, a power bar is still a good enough deadlift bar to get seriously strong.
Can you use a power bar to squat?
Yes, you can use a power bar to squat. In fact, if you've only used general lifting bars, you might enjoy a power bar more! The stiffness means less bouncing and instability under heavy weight, while the center knurling will help the bar to stay in place on your back.
Can you bench press with a power bar?
Bench pressing with a power bar can make your lifts both more comfortable and stronger. Power bars have a slightly wider diameter and are stiffer than other barbells, which many heavy pressers find leads to bigger lifts that also simply feel better in the hands. But don't worry, that extra width doesn't mean that your max-out bench is more likely to feel like it's going to fall out of your hands. If anything, the beefier knurling of a power bar will help the bar stay more secure in your mitts.
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