Finding the best barbell for your home or garage gym can be a little tricky at times, especially since they can seem nearly identical at first glance.
However, the devil is in the details, and there are some barbells that we think really stand out from the crowd for all of your core lifts.
In addition to compound movements like squats and deadlifts, a barbell can be used for some great accessory exercises as well, including what we believe are some of the best shoulder exercises for mass.
An overhead press, for instance, is great for pushing yourself to your absolute weight limit, but for loading up the plates and going heavy, you're going to need a good barbell to accompany your best squat rack.
So, if this kind of sounds like something you need to complete your setup, then our list of top picks has you covered.
We've used price, reviews, and any standout features to inform our selection here to ensure we've picked out only the best to kick off your search.
Whether you're after something built for powerlifting, like this Synergee Rhino Bar, or you're after something designed for beginners, like this Rage Fitness Olympic Training Barbell, then we've got you covered.
We've also answered some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding barbells to help you decide which bit of kit is right for you. Before that though, let's get into our list of the best barbells...
- Best 7ft barbell - 'The Beast' CAP 7-Foot Olympic Bar
- Best barbell for beginners - Rage Fitness Olympic Training Barbell
- Best barbell for home gyms - BodyRip Weight Lifting Barbell
- Best budget barbell - Sporzon! Olympic Barbell
- Best Olympic barbell - Rogue Ohio Bar
- Best threaded barbell - Sunny Health & Fitness 60" Chrome Barbell
- Best barbell for powerlifting - Synergee Rhino Power Bar
Best 7ft barbell - 'The Beast' CAP 7-Foot Olympic Bar
'The Beast' looks to be one of the best Olympic-sized barbells due to the engineering skills of CAP, a company that has been manufacturing weightlifting equipment for more than 30 years.
The bar boasts an impressive 1000lbs weight capacity, which is a huge amount of weight that even professional strong men and women would struggle to lift off the ground or up from one of the best power cages around.
The bar has also been designed to spin smoothly to minimise wrist tension and, in turn, reduce the risk of injury.
One of the main upsides to 'The Beast' though is that it is relatively inexpensive as far as 7ft Olympic bars go, yet it doesn't appear to compromise in terms of quality.
Therefore, we feel like this incredible barbell can massively upgrade almost any home or garage gym, so is definitely one we'd recommend checking out.
Best barbell for beginners - Rage Fitness Olympic Training Barbell
The Rage Fitness Olympic Training Barbell has been designed to be a sturdy yet comfortable bar thanks to its medium knurling, suitable primarily for beginners.
The reason for this is sometimes beginners struggle to lift a 45lbs bar by itself, so this barbell might be the perfect alternative as it weighs just 15lbs.
Also, the bar is just 6ft long rather than the standard 7ft, meaning it saves space and will likely be slightly easier to move whilst working out using your best weight bench, for example.
If you are worried about the bar fitting on a power rack then fear not. The space between the collars is 52-inches meaning the bar should fit perfectly.
Ultimately, if you're looking to progress from just using a top resistance band, then we'd recommend checking out this barbell to help get you started.
Best barbell for home gyms - BodyRip Weight Lifting Barbell
BodyRip boasts its bar spins without friction, and the knurling is not overly harsh either, although has been designed to deliver enough grip to keep you firmly in control.
It's also made of steel, so should withstand a fair amount of wear and tear, which can be particularly useful when training in a tight garage or compact home gym.
Ultimately, this bar provides a great option for everyday use as it caters to a number of different lifts without being designed to prioritise just one.
Best budget barbell - Sporzon! Olympic Barbell
This Sporzon! Olympic Barbell looks to be an excellent bit of kit if you're after a full-size, 7ft and 2" barbell on a budget.
It comes with a maximum weight capacity of 700lbs, which should be more than suitable for heavy squats and deadlifts.
Additionally, the barbell has a stylish and durable black zinc plating finish, which will likely help prolong its lifespan to keep you training for years to come.
All in all, we feel this budget barbell is well worth considering if you're after a relatively inexpensive bit of kit to complete your home gym setup.
Best Olympic barbell - Rogue Ohio Bar
Rogue is one of the leading brands in weightlifting equipment, something we feel is easy to see why through its Olympic barbell.
Although Rogue doesn't confirm the bar's capacity, it will likely remain as straight as an arrow when loaded thanks to its 200K PSI tensile strength shaft, so make sure you have your best pre-workout to hand to lift some serious weight.
Rogue also boasts a 100% original knurl pattern formed via a machine with grip in mind as its main priority.
This is definitely a premium barbell but Rogue is a popular brand among athletes so has a reputation for producing high-quality products.
Best threaded barbell - Sunny Health & Fitness 60" Chrome Barbell
If you're looking for something versatile and highly adjustable, then we think this Sunny Health & Fitness barbell could be for you.
It's 60" in length, meaning it should fit into your home gym with ease, and comes with ring collars so you can quickly adjust the weight on the threaded bar.
Moreover, it has a maximum capacity of 250lbs so could suit beginners just starting their fitness journey who might not necessarily be loading up on plates just yet.
On the whole, we feel this Sunny Health & Fitness barbell is hard to look past if you're after a threaded bit of kit.
Best barbell for powerlifting - Synergee Rhino Power Bar
The Rhino Power Bar looks to be a serious bit of kit that's definitely more suited to more experienced lifters, especially those who do powerlifting due to Synergee's claim the bar can hold 1500lbs.
Synergee also claims this bar is stiffer and less flexible than its other products and is made without bearings, again suiting the powerlifting style.
Another defining feature of this bar is its aggressive knurling, which is designed to increase grip - ideal for accompanying your top weightlifting belt for longer deadlifting sessions.
It also provides a great option for powerlifting for a reasonable price and we think it looks fantastic with its black and red design.
Frequently asked questions about barbells
There are a lot of questions and things to look out for when purchasing a barbell, but we're here to clear up some of the more frequently asked queries.
What is a barbell used for?
A barbell is arguably one of the most versatile pieces of gym equipment because it allows you to complete a wide variety of exercises for a comprehensive full-body workout.
Firstly, it's the key ingredient for completing some of the core lifts most people incorporate into their workout routines. These lifts may include squats, deadlifts, chest presses, shoulder presses, and rows.
On top of that, you can use a barbell for some of the more unique, accessory exercises like barbell curls, hip thrusts, or even full-body movements like an Olympic-style clean and jerk.
All in all, a barbell offers a range of new exercises for you to complete, which is why we'd recommend one for your home or garage gym.
How much does a barbell weigh?
Barbells can vary in size and length and, therefore, don't come with a set weight.
For example, a standard Olympic barbell, something you'll typically find in most gyms, measures 7ft long and weighs 44/45lbs.
However, you also get shorter, lighter barbells that hold smaller plates, like the Rage Fitness Olympic Training Barbell, to accommodate less experienced lifters. This particular bit of kit weighs just 15lbs, under half of what an Olympic bar weighs.
In terms of how heavy your own barbell should be, well it will all come down to your available space, equipment, and experience level.
An Olympic barbell is a great choice if you have room for it since it will be able to hold a substantial amount of weight which, in turn, can help you maintain progress and avoid reaching a plateau like you sometimes can with lighter, thinner barbells.
How much should you spend on a barbell?
This really depends on your budget and what kind of bar you're looking for.
If you're new to weightlifting, it may be more beneficial to pick up a relatively inexpensive barbell to act as a starting point which you can then build on and upgrade further down the line.
Can you build muscle with just a barbell?
Barbells are key to weight training and can be great for building muscle when accompanied by weight plates. However, using just a barbell has its muscle-building limitations.
For example, the 44lbs weight of an Olympic barbell may be heavy enough for a beginner at first, but you should soon outgrow the 44lbs for most core lifts if you train regularly.
With that being said, if the question you're asking is whether you need any accessories to accompany your barbell like dumbbells for instance, then we'd say you can complete an extremely effective full-body workout using only a barbell and weight plates.
Is a barbell easier than dumbbells?
Barbells typically allow you to lift heavier weights so, in that sense, barbell exercises are harder as you're lifting more.
However, dumbbell exercises require you to use more muscle fibres in order to stabilise each arm individually. In turn, this can actually cause your body to work harder using lighter weights.
In fact, research by Saeterbakken et al. found participants could load up 17% more weight on a barbell during one rep max. chest press compared to dumbbells, thus demonstrating that dumbbells are harder to go heavy on.
It all depends on what you define as hard though. That said, we'd argue that because you can lift heavier weights with a barbell, this bit of equipment might be slightly easier to use out of the two.
Should you clean a barbell?
A good gym barbell should be able to withstand a lot of punishment which, in turn, means it should have a long lifespan.
However, a barbell will develop some rust and corrosion over time that will need to be removed in order to maintain its grip and spin.
To ensure you get the most out of your barbell, we'd recommend using a plastic bristle brush to clean the knurling from time to time, plus wiping away any excess dirt as well.
Moreover, you will need to clean the loading sleeves as chalk, dirt, and dust can cause the spin rate to decrease, and the bearings to feel sticky.
We'd also recommend lubricating the sleeves from time to maintain the spin. Simply apply to where the bearings come into contact with the bar.
How do you use a barbell safely?
The key to using a barbell safely is not actually related to the barbell itself but the equipment you have around it.
Firstly, make sure you have enough space to perform the lifts through a full range of motion. As Olympic barbells can measure 7ft long, you may need a little more space than you might think for this.
Then, if you're using a squat rack or power cage, make sure you have safety arms set to provide a little extra protection if you're not able to successfully complete a lift.
For bench press, set the arms slightly lower than your chest so you can leave your bar to rest and roll it off you if you don't finish the rep.
Our final recommendation on using a barbell safety is to simply ensure you've nailed your form. Injuries are most likely to occur through bad form when weightlifting, so keep this in mind when training with a barbell at home.
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