How Barbell’s spinning sleeves impact lifter’s performance? Explained

Introduction

While most people don’t really care about the spinning movement of their barbell sleeves, others are just not sure about their utilities. 

In this article, we are going to talk about the main reason why the barbell sleeves spin and when do you really need them. 


Why do barbells spin/rotate?

Rotating sleeves play a very important role in injury prevention and improving the quality of lifts. 

When a lifter practice Olympic lifts (C&J and Snatch) or other CrossFit lifts, this sleeve rotation can help in reducing the amount torque created by the weight plates. 

For example: when you do the Clean and Jerk movement, you start by pulling the weight off from the ground in an upward movement while positioning elbows perpendicular to the barbell. During the transition of the movement, you move your elbows 270 degrees to bring it underneath the barbell to complete the catch. 

The rotating sleeves of the barbell allow the weight plates to rotate as you move the bar which helps in reducing the amount of force produced by the inertia of weight plates. 

Spinning sleeves not just help in providing smoother lifting experiences but also saves the wrist and elbow from injury. 

Understand the mechanism from the video below.


Olympic bar vs power bar: spinning difference

Powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting are two different sports, so do their barbells. 

If you want to read the detailed difference between the Olympic barbell and Powerlifting barbell then we have covered a separate article for that. Read more: Olympic Barbell vs Powerlifting Barbell

What is the spinning difference between both? 

Olympic weightlifting focuses on performing two ballistic lifts (clean and jerk, and the snatch). On the other hand, Powerlifting is a less technical sport that focuses on completing three heavy lifts known as the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

There are two types of spinning mechanisms. 

  • Needle Bearing: Provides the barbell with a smooth, consistent, quieter spin.
  • Bushing: Not as smooth as bearings, used for heavy powerlifting moves. 
types of spinning mechanisms in professional barbells

Olympic barbells are equipped with the superior quality Needle bearing spinning mechanism, that’s what makes them super expensive. 

Standard high quality Powerlifting barbells are equipped with copper-bushing that is optimum for the heavy lifts and does not require needle bearings. 

Power bars also do not require high quality spin because of the nature of the lifts, they are heavy push or pull movements that do not put extreme stress on the wrist. 


Should you be concerned about the spinning sleeve?

In my initial years, I have trained with the non-spinning barbells and never felt the requirement of those expensive Olympic barbells. What quality of barbell you need depends on the workout you are doing. Let’s have a loo:-  

Olympic lifts

If you are into professional Olympic lifts or CrossFit training then you surely require a high quality Olympic barbell that is equipped with a right whip and high quality spinning sleeves. 

Olympic and CrossFit lifts involve push and pull movement in a single movement that challenges the wrist to go through extreme stress. 

These movements are better performed at professional facilities and expert guidance, not at home garage gym. 

Powerlifting

It’s a sport that requires extreme strength but does not drastically challenge the wrist and elbows. 

If you are practicing the powerlifting movement at a moderate resistance then it’s okay to neglect the quality of sleeve rotation. 

Although it’s recommended to use certified power bars only but it’s okay to train with non-certified bars too. 

Regular fitness enthusiast

I see many regular fitness enthusiasts at commercial gyms being concerned about whip or spinning sleeves. 

You should not really be concerned about the sleeves until you are pushing your body to its limits. 

I spent many years working out with the regular barbells, they never caused me any injury. 

Beginner 

Most of the bloggers are affiliates and they make a commission on the sales. That’s the reason they putting soo much emphasis on costly barbells. 

Instead of being concerned about the barbell quality, you should bring your focus back to muscle strengthening by following the right exercise form and techniques. 

Spinning sleeves have nothing to do with lightweight workout and its okay to train with cheap barbells. 


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