types of barbells

19 Types of barbells- How to choose best for hypertrophy.

Introduction

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about strength training?  The barbells will always reign supreme to achieve strength and hypertrophy. 

With the increase in people’s inclination towards personal fitness, many gym owners are introducing a variety of barbells to workout with.  

Problem is, most of the people have no clue about the different types of barbells and their right utility. 

Unlike old-school bodybuilding, new-age barbells have become more specialized in their utilities, now you can find different barbells to fulfill different purposes. 

Specialty barbells are coming in all shapes and sizes. Whether you are looking to buy a barbell for a home gym or confused about the utility of oddly shaped barbell at the gym, don’t worry, this article is going to help you. 

Today we are going to educate you about the different types of barbells their right use. Let’s get directly to the different types of barbells available in the market. 


Types Of Barbells

Regular 1” barbell 

It’s a regular barbell that is not soo regular these days. Regular barbells were more common before the 2000s but these barbells are getting obsolete now.  

Regular 1” bar is a solid chromed steel bar with a capacity of about 300lbs. Back in the ’90s these were the most versatile bar for powerlifting movements, bench pressing, and squatting. 

Features

  • Size: Full-size bar is 7 foot long
  • Weight: 12 lbs
  • Price: $25- $40
  • Pros: Light weighted and cheap
  • Cons: Not compatible with the latest weight plates with 2” hole. 

Olympic barbell

An Olympic barbell is a universal standard. 

These are the most common bars you will find at gym, most of the serious lifters prefer these bars because of universal dimensions. 

They are made from special steel to withstand extreme weight load and these bars accommodate more whip than a typical standard bar. 

The majority of Olympic bars do not contain knurling at the center. 

Features

  • Size: 7.2 ft
  • Weight: 45 pounds
  • Pros: Follows universal standards and a high weight capacity
  • Cons: The absence of knurling in that center makes them a bad options for heavy squatting. 

Deadlift bar

A bar that has been specifically designed for deadlifting. These barbells are manufactured with aggressive knurling and whip.

What does a good deadlift require from a barbell? 

  • Knurling: Sharper knurling helps in delivering a monstrous grip that allows improved lifting experience. 
  • Shaft diameter: Yes, it does matter. Deadlift barbells come with slightly smaller shaft diameter, this allows the bar to better fit in hands. 
  • Whip: Whip allows the bar to bend while lifting the weight off the ground. Whip helps in providing better bar speed off the floor. 

Features

  • Size: 7 ft. 
  • Weight: 45 lbs
  • Pros: These bars are made with high quality material with 165k PSI tensile strength. The load capacity of up to 1200lbs makes them perfect for heady deadlifting. 
  • Cons: Not the best choice for heavy benching. 

Trap Bar / Hex bar

Trap bars have given people the ability to deadlift without risking injuries. Trap bar was first invented in the 1980s, since then it has been highly appreciated by lifters. 

Conventional deadlift was difficult for many because they disrupt the body’s natural center of gravity. 

Trap/hex bars allow the lifter to stand inside the bar which helps in maintaining the body’s center of gravity. 

A study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research states that hex barbell helps reduce back strain and maintain a better deadlift form.

Features

  • Size: Available in a variety of shapes and size
  • Weight: 50-70 lbs
  • Pros: Best for deadlifts and farmers walks. This bar surely reduces strain from the back. 
  • Cons: Not very versatile, can be used for a handful of exercises. 

Women’s Olympic bar

Do women need a different barbell to lift the weight? Not really. 

Majority of women has comparatively small hand hands which restricts them to properly grip the shaft. 

Women’s Olympic barbells are designed with smaller shaft diameter, this helps in facilitating improved grip strength.

While the standard Olympic barbell has a diameter of 28mm, the grip section of Women’s barbell is 25 millimeters (1.1 in) in diameter. It is 10% less in diameter.

These bars are also lightweight, they are about 12lbs lighter than standard Olympic barbell

Additionally, women’s Olympic bars do not have “center knurling marks”.

  • Size: 7 ft long
  • Weight: 15kg/ 33lbs
  • Pros: Easier to grip.  
  • Cons: Low weight capacity in comparison to the standard barbell. 

Safety squat bar

Squatting is not uncomfortable anymore if you have access to this bar. 

This barbell contains handle to hold the bar and padding to provide the required support to the neck.  The design of a safety squat bar allows it to sit comfortably on the neck and shoulders. 

This barbell is especially helpful to people who experience shoulder mobility issues. Additionally, it also improves the body’s center of gravity which takes the workout to another level.  

Features

  • Size: Depends on the manufacturer, no standard size
  • Weight: Can weight up to 60 lbs 
  • Pros: Great for beginners to learn to squat, it also relieves neck and shoulder pain compared to standard barbell squatting. Padding allows for more stability and comfort on shoulders
  • Cons: limited to squatting and lunges only. 

Swiss bar

One of the most versatile barbells that help you achieve better muscle isolation. 

Swiss bar is great in pushing and pulling movements, especially effective to isolate the muscle tissues that were left untrained. 

Swiss bar is available in different shapes and sizes, I personally love to incorporate swiss bar in my bench presses, bent-over rowing, and to get target arms. 

Great for people who are have injured wrists or shoulders sensitive to regular curling bars

  • Excellent for rows and arm exercises
  • Less versatile than a standard barbell

Features.

  • Size and weight: Size and weight vary widely, with no industry standards.
  • Pros: Helpful for someone with a wrist injury. Because of the wide range of gripping patterns, it helps in achieving better muscle isolation and activation
  • Cons: Lack of standard size and shape. 

Aluminum bar

If you are looking for a light-weighted bar then this should be your new favorite. 

Aluminum bars are 40% lighter than conventional steel bar which makes them easy to use for newbies, seniors and rehabilitation work. 

despite being lightweight, these are heavy-duty barbells that can withstand the load of up to 300lbs. 

These bars will fit in your power rack perfectly well and will weight around 15 lbs only. 

Features:

  • Size: 5ft- 7 ft
  • Weight: 15 lbs
  • Pros: Super light-weighted, perfect for someone incapable of lifting 45-pounds barbell.  
  • Cons: Comparatively, low workout load capacity. 

EZ curl bar

Best go-to bar to target bicep and tricep. This is definitly the second most common barbell available at every gym. 

This curvy bar helps in accommodating neutral wrist positioning which not only helps in injury prevention but also found effective in lifting heavier weights. 

Whether you ask for preacher curl or skull crusher, no other bar can beat EZ curl barbell. 

Features

  • Size: Size varies from 3 ft to 5 ft. 
  • Weight: 10-20 lbs. 
  • Pros: Easy on the wrist.
  • Cons: Not for compound lifts.

Log bar

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If your gym has this, then you are training at a badass place.

Log bar is commonly used by the powerlifters and its not something for the fitness noobs. 

The design of the log barbell helps powerlifters prepare for log lifting competitions

Features: 

  • Weight: The bar itself can weight more than 100lbs
  • Pros: Helps you train for powerlifting competitions. 
  • Cons: Expensive and takes lot of space. 

Hollow bar

Another light-weighted bar that has been broadly used for rehabilitation purposes and to achieve an improved range of motions. 

These are the lightest barbells you can get your hands on. These are steel tubes fabricated & chrome-plated with knurling. 

Weight of bar can vary from 2-5 pounds only and these bars are not constructed to withstand heavy loads. 

  • Size: 5 ft – 6 ft
  • Weight: 2-4 pounds
  • Pros: Great for body pump and rehabilitation process. 
  • Cons: have a limited purpose and cant withstand heavy loads. 

Axle bar

Another favorite barbell of powerlifters. You would rarely find this barbell in the commercial gym. 

It’s a fat grip barbell that has a diameter of 2 inches and doesn’t have any knurling. 

This is one solid 2” bar with non-rotating collars.  

Depending on your goals, Axle bar may offer many benefits like improves grip strength and better muscle activation. 

Lifters have been using it for deadlifting, benchpresses and other movements. 

Features

  • Size: 7ft
  • Weight: 30lbs -40lbs
  • Pros: being thicker than regular barbell makes them target the muscle in a different way. 
  • Cons: Not for fitness noob. 

Farmer’s walk bar

That’s my personal favorite to develop those cobra traps. 

Although many lifters practice farmers walk with dumbbells or hex bar but these bars are really special. 

Farmer’s walk is a typical workout to develop intense strength and mass. Dumbbells and hex bar are a more stable option but Farmer’s walk bars/ handles require additional stabilization which results in superior strength development. 

Features:

  • Size: these can length around 50 inches
  • Weight: varies from 25lbs to 50lbs/ per handle
  • Pros: Speciality bar farmer’s walk, strengthens the core, legs, and upper body. 
  • Cons: Not the most versatile fitness equipment for the home gym

Cambered Bar

It offers you a comfortable way to squat. 

Also known as the off-set bar, it allows athletes to isolate their leg strength training while recuperating from shoulder injuries. It benefits those with shoulder injuries or rotator conditions by reducing shoulder pain while performing the squat exercise. 

The chamber bar also helps in lifting a heavier weight by regulating the body’s center of mass while squatting. It also protects the lifter from adding excess stress to the back. 

  • Size: 7ft bar designed to fit in the power rack.
  • Weight: 45lbs
  • Pros: For Improved squatting experience.
  • Cons: A specialty bar that is developed only for squatting.

Tsunami Bar

As the name suggests, it’s a weird bar that dramatically helps your chest press. 

Unline other barbells that are built to stay stable and rigid, this Tsunami barbell is created to be as whippy as possible. 

Why would someone like the barbell to be unstable while bench-pressing? The shakiness of this bar helps in assigning more muscle fibers for the stabilization. 

Improved muscle activation leads to better hypertrophy and strength gains. 


Bamboo bar

I was literally freaked out when I witnessed this bar for the first time. 

As the name suggests, this bar is made up of bamboo. The idea behind the creating of the bamboo bar is to improve stability by using  Oscillating Kinetic Energy (OKE). 

Practicing bench presses with bamboo bar will definitly increase the muscle stabilization and improved muscle activation. 

These bamboo bars can hold the weight of up to 300+ lbs.


Kabuki Strength Duffalo Bar

This is much similar to the chambered barbell. 

Kabuki strength duffalo bar was designed by well-known strength coach Chris Duffin. 

This bar is designed with the bend in the middle to support the squatting and pressing movements. 

Just like a chambered bar, Kabuki strength duffalo bar is said to reduce stress on the back and shoulders. 


Freak Bar

Freakiest barbell whose patent is still pending. 

The freak bar is invented by westside barbell, a renowned company known for its world-class powerlifting equipment.  

A Freak bar is the most distinct bar you will ever experience, it contains springs within the shaft area to achieve improved stability. 

I can’t even explain the barbell operation in words, check out the video below for better understanding. 


360 Grip Curl Bar

360 Grip curl bar is a specialty bar to train arms.

A bar that comes with rotating handles for improves range of motion and relieving excess tension from the wrist. 

Fluidic inward and outward rotation of the wrists helps in the transition from one workout to another. 


Thanks for reading. Questions welcomed in the comments as always. 

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