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Here’s Why Olympic Bars Aren’t Just for Gold Medal Weightlifters

It’s a rite of passage for fitness enthusiasts — gradually, you upgrade your starter equipment to higher quality gear that can keep up with your improved abilities. If you’re into weightlifting, upgrading your gear obviously entails investing in heavier weights. But the accessories are just as important, too. Whether that’s tape, belts, or even shoes, the details can go a long way in keeping you safe and helping you lift more. One upgrade worth considering for serious weightlifters is switching to an Olympic bar to use as your everyday barbell.

Olympic bars have a few design features that make them an improvement over standard bars. For one thing, Olympic bars are heavier and more durable than a standard bar. That means that they can better accommodate higher weight loads. Another major benefit is that Olympic bars are standardized, whereas standard bars are not. All true Olympic bars have the same diameter, length and weight. Some Olympic bars are made to be slightly shorter and lighter while still retaining the quality standard. The shorter bars are typically 5′ long. Every Olympic bar has 2″ ends, which makes it easy to swap out weights as needed. As long as you’re using Olympic plates, they’ll fit.

One of the most important details of an Olympic bar is the rotating ends. The sleeves of the bar rotate with you as you’re lifting, which helps reduce strain and torque on your wrists and joints. This is especially important at higher weight loads.

The two major drawback of Olympic bars are cost and size. They’re more expensive than standard bars, and Olympic bars are typically 7′ long. That length is helpful when you’re lifting, but can be cumbersome if your home gym is your bedroom. That said, if you have the space for it, an Olympic bar is a worthwhile investment. Even if you’re only at the beginning of your weightlifting journey, an Olympic bar can still be a great choice for you.

1. CAP 7-Foot Olympic Bar for Weightlifting

If you’re looking for a heavy-duty, high-quality option, then this pick from CAP Barbell is a solid place to start. It comes in a variety of finishes and some of the options don’t have center knurling. This option is made from sturdy Japanese steel and is coated with a black phosphate finish. This particular bar does not have center knurling, although other bars on this listing do.

Pros: Heavy-duty option made from high-quality steel. Powder coated to resist rusting. Available in different tensile strengths for various stages of weightlifting.

Cons: More expensive than some other options on this list. The finish can occasionally flake.

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2. Synergee Regional Olympic Barbell

This heavy-duty pick from Synergee is rated for a 1,500-pound capacity, making it capable of handling even the heaviest loads. It’s available in two sizes and two finishes — the price shown is for the 20-kilogram black phosphate bar. You can also get the bars in a lighter 15-kilogram bar. The other available finish is hard chrome. The sleeves are a generous 16.4″, giving you ample space to load multiple plates.

Pros: Heavy-duty bars with a 1,500-pound capacity. Available in multiple weights that are suitable for men or women.

Cons: Knurling may be too rough for some.

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3. Titan Fitness 5′ Olympic Weightlifting Bar

This bar fits with Olympic plates, but is lighter and shorter than a “true” Olympic bar. It’s 5′ long and weighs 25 pounds, making it substantially smaller and lighter than a professional Olympic bar. That makes it a great option for a home gym. However, this shorter length means you can’t rack it on a standard power rack.

Pros: Good compact option for a home gym, works with Olympic plates. Supports 500-pound capacity.

Cons: Since it’s not a “true” Olympic bar, you cannot rack it on a standard gym rack.

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4. Body-Solid Tools Olympic Straight Bar

This bar from Body-Solid is available in a black powder-coated finish or a chrome finish. The knurling is a fine gauge, offering a secure grip without it digging into the skin too much. The triple-plated chrome finish reduces rusting and chipping. The total capacity of this bar is 600 pounds.

Pros: Reasonably priced 7′ bar. Triple plated chrome finish that resists rusting and chipping.

Cons: Some may prefer thicker, more “grippy” knurling.

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5. CAP Barbell 5-Foot Solid Olympic Bar

Another compact option is this Olympic bar from CAP Barbell. It’s 5′ long, making it better suited for a small home gym than a 7′ bar. Like full-sized Olympic bars, this bar rotates to reduce strain on wrists and forearms. It also accommodates Olympic plates.

Pros: Reasonably priced option for those looking for a more compact Olympic bar.

Cons: Since it’s not a full-sized bar, it may not work with standard racks.

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