The 20+ Different Types Of Barbells & What They’re Used For

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Choosing the right barbell for your goals matters more than you might think. It’s like picking the right pair of shoes for a marathon; the wrong choice can really throw off your stride. So, let’s get straight to the point and talk about the different types of barbells and what they’re each best for.

Key Takeaways

Barbell TypeKey FeaturesBest For
Olympic Bar2″ rotating sleeves, single or dual knurl marks, designed for Olympic plates, usually a catchall term for any bars that support Olympic platesOlympic weightlifting; clean and jerk, snatch
Power Bar29mm diameter, closer knurl marks, bushings for stability, aggressive knurlingPowerlifting; heavy squats, bench presses
Multipurpose Bar28.5mm shaft for men, 25mm for women, no center knurling, versatile designCrossFit, general fitness; variety of lifts
Weightlifting BarBearings for smooth spin, 28mm shaft for men, 25mm for women, center knurling for gripSerious Olympic lifting; precision and dynamic lifts
Specialty BarsVarious designs like Trap/Hex, Safety Squat, and others for specific training needsTargeting weak points, working around injuries, adding variety to training

What Are The Different Types Of Barbells?

The range of barbells out there might catch you off guard. From your go-to Power and Olympic bars to niche ones like Trap and Safety Squat bars, each has its spot in a workout. I’m diving deep into each type here, so you won’t need to look further. If you’re wondering which barbells fit your routine best, I’ve lined up my favorites for you here.

Straight Bars

Straight bars are essentially the bread and butter of the barbell world. They’re the standard, straightforward bars you’ll see in just about every gym. Simple in design but incredibly versatile, they’re the go-to for a wide range of exercises, from squats to bench presses.

Standard 1” Barbell

standard barbell

Starting with a standard 1” barbell is common for new lifters. It’s simple, with a 1″ diameter and lengths from 4 to 7 feet, weighing less than 45 lbs. Great for basic lifts and beginners. But, as you get more into lifting, you’ll find Olympic bars offer much more.

Olympic Bar

man in red shirt lifting in front of other guys 1

Olympic bars are the most popular type of barbell there is. It’s typically used to refer to any style of barbell with 2″ rotating sleeves, single or dual knurl marks, and loaded using Olympic plates.

The rotating sleeves especially are awesome as they reduce the torque on your wrists and elbows during lifts like the clean and jerk or snatch.

For a deeper dive into how Olympic bars stack up against their standard counterparts, check out the differences here. And if you’re curious about the specifics, I have the typical diameters of these bars available here as well.

Powerlifting Bars

man performing the bench press with a powerlifting barbell

Powerlifting bars, or power bars as they’re often called, might look a lot like Olympic bars at first glance. Yet, it’s the small details that set them apart.

Their knurl marks are set closer for a solid grip on squats and bench presses. They also use bushings for the sleeves, offering the stability needed for powerlifting’s heavy lifts over the quick spin of bearings. At 29mm thick, they’re built to handle more weight and reduce flex, keeping steady during intense lifts. The aggressive knurling, especially the center one, keeps the bar secure on your back as well.

If you’re on the hunt for a powerlifting bar that matches your dedication, take a look at some top picks here.

Deadlift Bar
mark bell deadlifting with deadlift bar

Deadlift bars are built with a specific purpose: to make deadlifting better. They’re thinner at 27mm, which means they whip more, helping you get the bar off the ground. They’re also longer, allowing for a bit more bend when you’re pulling serious weight.

If you’re curious about the different kinds out there, here’s a solid breakdown of different types of deadlift bars. And for comparing them to find what suits you best, check out this comparison guide. As for their weight, deadlift bars usually tip the scales at around 20kg. For the specifics, this piece on how much deadlift bars weigh has all the info you need.

Squat Bar
rogue squat bar with fully knurled shaft

Squat bars are built tough for heavy squats, thicker than most at around 32mm to stay put on your back through those deep, heavy reps. They’re a bit heavier, too – for the specifics, this piece on how much squat bars weigh has all the details.

Also, if you’re wondering how squat bars stack up against deadlift bars, it’s all about their build and purpose. Squat bars are built for stability during squats, while deadlift bars are designed for flexibility and whip to aid in deadlifts. For a closer look at the differences, check out my guide on deadlift bars vs squat bars.

Bench Press Bar

When it comes to bench pressing, not just any bar will do. There’s a whole range of bench press bars designed to fit different needs and preferences.

For a deep dive into the options available, this guide on different bench press bars is super helpful. It breaks down the types and what makes each one unique.

And if you’re scratching your head over what size barbell is best for the bench press, you’re not alone. It’s a common question, and thankfully, there’s some guidance on that here.

Multipurpose Bar

female crossfitter using a multipurpose bar for the clean and jerk

Multipurpose bars are like the all-in-one tool for your training, great for everything from Olympic lifts to powerlifting. They’re perfect if you want one bar that can do it all.

The men’s version is solid with a 28.5mm shaft and 20kg weight, minus the center knurling. The women’s bar is a bit slimmer at 25mm and lighter at 15kg, designed for easier handling for smaller hands.

If you’re diving into CrossFit or just want a bar that can do it all, check out my top picks for a CrossFit bar, essentially a multipurpose bar that’s built to last.

Olympic Weightlifting Bars

male weightlifter catching a clean with a weightlifting bar

Olympic weightlifting bars are all about precision and strength, crucial for lifts where every detail counts. The men’s bar, with its 28mm shaft and center knurling, gives you the grip you need for heavy lifts.

It, along with the women’s version, which is slimmer at 25mm for a comfortable hold without center knurling, features bearings for a faster and smoother spin, enhancing performance in dynamic lifts.

Technique bars, usually made from aluminum to keep them light and cost-effective, are ideal for form practice, supporting up to 200 lbs.

For a closer look at the best options out there, dive into this guide on the best Olympic weightlifting bars, tailored for both men and women, and including technique bars for those looking to perfect their form.

Specialty Bars

Specialty bars allow you to add a bunch of variety to your training, target weak points, work around injuries, etc. These are by no means necessary but a lot of people will find they’re still worth checking out after you have your straight bar taken care of.

If you’re curious about what’s out there and how these bars can fit into your gym arsenal, take a peek at this collection of the best specialty barbells. You might find something that clicks with your training needs.

Trap/Hex Bar

rogue trap bar on top of deadlift platform

Trap bars, or hex bars as they’re often called, have become a staple in my lifting routine. Their unique design, where you stand in the middle of the hexagonal frame, changes the game for deadlifts and shrugs by aligning the weight more centrally to your body. This alignment not only feels more natural but also helps in reducing strain on your lower back.

One question that comes up a lot is about their weight. Hex bars typically weigh more than your standard barbell, but for the exact numbers, this article on how much a hex bar weighs has all the details. Whether you’re looking to switch up your deadlifts or find a more back-friendly way to load up on shrugs, a hex bar is worth considering.


Safety Squat Bar

rogue fitness safety squat bar

Safety squat bars (SSB) will seriously change how you approach squatting, especially on those days when your shoulders or elbows just aren’t feeling it. Their design, featuring padded shoulder supports and handles that face forward, really eases the pressure on your upper body, allowing you to focus purely on your squat technique.

If you’re wondering about the weight of a safety squat bar, it does vary, but you can find the details through the link. And for those considering adding one to their home gym, I’ve rounded up some of the best safety squat bars out there.

For anyone new to this type of bar and curious about its specifics, this breakdown of what a safety squat bar is and its benefits can be quite enlightening. From reducing joint strain to enhancing squat depth, the SSB has become an indispensable part of my training toolkit for its versatility and the unique advantages it offers.

Football/Swiss Bar

rep fitness cambered swiss bar

Football, Swiss, or Multi-Grip bars as they’re commonly called, are versatile tools for anyone looking to enhance their upper body training. With multiple grip options, these bars allow for targeting muscles from different angles, improving form and focusing on specific muscle groups more effectively.

For those curious about the distinctions and advantages of each type, check out the differences between a Swiss bar and a football bar. For a selection of top-rated options, checking out the best multi-grip barbells can guide you towards finding the perfect bar for your home gym.

Cambered Bar

rogue cambered squat bar

Cambered bars are mainly for intermediate and experienced lifters due to their awkward shape. The bend in a cambered bar changes the load distribution to be much lower than a standard straight bar. If you’re using one for the squat, the weights are going to be located much closer to your waist. This will put even more stress on your posterior chain than even a Safety bar, so it’s a great option for those who want to build up their torso strength while squatting.

EZ Curl Bars

man performing ez bar curls

The EZ curl bar is a great option for anyone looking to train their arms without the added strain on wrists and elbows that a straight bar can sometimes cause. Its zigzag shape is specifically designed to offer a more natural grip position, allowing for effective isolation of the biceps and triceps.

If you’re curious about what makes an EZ bar stand out, it’s all about the ergonomic benefits and the versatility it brings to your workouts.

The weight of an EZ curl bar also plays a role in how you plan your sets and reps. Most curl bars weigh enough to challenge you without overwhelming your form, making them suitable for lifters at any level.

Choosing between an EZ bar and a straight bar depends on your goals and any pre-existing conditions you might be working around. Plus, for those in search of the best options to add to their home gym, exploring the best curl bars can guide you to the right choice, ensuring you get quality equipment that meets your training needs.

Tricep/Hammer Curl Bar

tricep/hammer curl bar next to a weight bench

The tricep/hammer curl bar is great for training your triceps and improving your grip. It’s not your usual bar; it has parallel grips that let you hit hammer curls and tricep extensions just right, keeping your wrists and elbows happy. If you’re weighing it against a regular curl bar, this breakdown on curl bar vs tricep bars lays out the differences clearly, helping you pick the right tool for your arm workouts.

RELATED – Rackable VS Non-Rackable Curl Bar – Which One Is Right For You?

Axle/Fat Bar

rogue axle/fat bar on a rack with bumper plates loaded

Axle or fat bars are a hit in the strongman scene because of their thick diameter, making them perfect for building grip strength, crucial in strongman competitions. While not necessary for everyone, they’re worth exploring for strongman training.

Log Bar

log barbell in a rack with weight plates loaded

Log bars, with their unique design featuring neutral grip handles, are also commonly used in strongman training. They’re not versatile but essential for specific strongman exercises. If traditional lifts are your focus, a Swiss bar might be more up your alley for its versatility.

Elephant Bar

zach hadge performing a strongman style deadlift with the rogue elephant bar

The Elephant bar is a beast, designed to handle massive weights, thanks to its length and whip. It’s a specialty deadlift bar used in Strongman for lifting as much weight as possible, but it’s not something you’ll likely use unless competing at that level.

Buffalo Bar

chris duffin about to squat using his trademark duffalo bar

Buffalo bars, with their curved shaft, offer a more comfortable squatting position, reducing strain on your shoulders and wrists. They’re great for long-term training by minimizing injury risks and can also be used for bench presses, offering a slightly increased range of motion.

Earthquake/Bamboo Bar

bamboo and earthquake bars racked in squat rack

Earthquake or bamboo bars, known for their flexibility, offer a unique lifting experience that demands stability. They’re not as sturdy as standard bars but provide a unique challenge, especially with weights dangling from bands.

Tsunami Bar

Tsunami bars, as their name suggests, are all about movement and chaos, offering advanced lifters a way to build stabilization during various lifts.

Freak Bar

Freak Bar - Bench Press

Lastly, the Freak Bar by Westside Barbell introduces an innovative design with adjustable grips, ideal for pressing movements and mimicking the natural arc of dumbbells or cables.

Each of these specialty bars has its place, depending on your training focus and level of expertise. While not all are necessary for everyone, they can add valuable variety and challenge to your training.

Does The Type Of Bar Matter?

Absolutely, especially when it comes down to the lifts you’re focusing on. For your everyday gym lifts like squats and presses, a traditional Olympic bar does the job just fine. It’s versatile enough for getting stronger across a wide range of exercises.

However, if Olympic lifting is your jam, you’ll want a bar designed for that. Olympic weightlifting bars come with more whip and sleeves that spin smoothly, crucial for executing clean jerks and snatches without a hitch. Ever wonder why Olympic barbells spin? It’s all about protecting your wrists and elbows during those dynamic lifts.

Powerlifters, on the other hand, lean towards stiffer bars. Whether it’s a power bar, squat bar, or other specialty bars like trap bars and safety squat bars, these are designed for the heavy, slower lifts typical in powerlifting. Knowing how to use a safety squat bar especially can be an incredible upgrade for your training.

Competing in powerlifting? Then you might be eyeing a thinner, whippier deadlift bar, which can give you an edge in training for competitions. The differences between a deadlift bar and a stiff bar are subtle but significant when you’re aiming for that personal best. And for a deeper dive into deadlift bars, check out what a deadlift bar actually is.

For those dealing with mobility issues or injuries, the bar you choose can make a big difference in training comfortably and effectively. While a straight multipurpose bar will cover most bases for the majority, exploring different types can help you train smarter, not harder.

Anatomy Of A Barbell

Understanding the anatomy of a barbell can really change how you approach lifting. At its core, a barbell consists of a few key components. The sleeves are where you load the plates, held in place by collars to prevent any sliding during your lifts.

The shaft, the part you hold onto, often features knurling to enhance your grip. Some bars include center knurling, a necessity for heavy squats as it helps keep the bar stable on your back.

Hand placement is guided by knurl marks on the bar, essential for getting your grip right whether you’re powerlifting, weightlifting, or doing a little of both. Then there’s the inner workings of the sleeves – bushings or bearings play a crucial role in how smoothly the bar spins, a detail that can impact your performance in lifts like the clean and jerk or snatch.

Knowing these details not only helps in selecting the right bar for your needs but also in understanding how to best use it during your workouts.

How To Choose The Right Type Of Bar

Picking the right barbell boils down to what you’re aiming to achieve in your training. It’s not just about what works for others but what’s going to work best for you, whether that’s powerlifting, Olympic lifting, or just general fitness. With so many options out there, it helps to have a guide that lays it all out clearly. If you’re looking to find that perfect bar, this barbell buying guide is a great place to start. If you just need some quick tips, then read on.


When it comes to barbells, price can vary a lot, but I’ve found the sweet spot is usually between $200 and $300. That range tends to offer the best value for quality. If you’re curious about what goes into the cost of a barbell, this article on barbell costs breaks it down nicely. It’s a good read to help you understand what you’re paying for.


The space you’ve got plays a big role in deciding which barbell you can bring home. Not all of us have the luxury of a spacious gym, so knowing the different barbell sizes helps in picking one that fits both your workout needs and your space.

And if you’re tight on space, considering wall-mounted or vertical storage options can be super helpful. It opens up the possibility of going for a longer bar without cramping your style. For tips on storing your barbells smartly, check out these ideas on how to store barbells.

Type Of Training You Do

The type of training you’re into really dictates the kind of barbell you should consider. Powerlifters, you’re going to want power bars because they’re built for the kind of heavy lifting you do. Olympic lifters, grab a weightlifting bar; it’s designed for the precision and dynamics of your sport. Deadlift specialists, there’s a bar for you too – deadlift bars, made to support the grip and whip you need. And if you’re just starting out, into CrossFit, or like mixing up your workouts, a multipurpose bar is your best bet. It’s versatile enough to support a wide range of exercises.

Barbell Training Benefits

Barbell training packs a punch that machines and dumbbells just can’t match. Barbell exercises demand more from your muscles, coordination, and balance, pushing your body to adapt and grow stronger in a way that targeted machine exercises or the isolated lift of dumbbells don’t.

Get Stronger

Barbells are the ultimate tool for strength training. They allow you to load up more weight than any other piece of equipment, challenging your entire body to grow stronger. Whether it’s squats, deadlifts, or presses, the weight you can add to a barbell pushes your limits and drives significant strength gains. Wondering how much weight a barbell can actually take? This breakdown of the weight capacity of barbells shows there’s a lot of room to ramp up your strength.

Build Muscle

Machines might have the edge for stability, but don’t underestimate the muscle-building power of barbells. Pushing yourself to failure with barbell exercises can seriously bulk up your strength and size. For a closer look at how barbells stack up against machines in the muscle department, this comparison of barbells vs machines lays it all out.

Sports Performance

Training for sports isn’t just about focusing on one area; it’s about making sure your whole body is strong and versatile. That’s where barbell training comes into play, alongside weighted bodyweight exercises and dumbbell movements. This combo ensures you’re solid in every position you might find yourself in on the field or court. Excelling in barbell lifts, in particular, not only boosts your performance but also shields you from injuries better than other forms of training.

Frequently Asked Questions


There are tons of barbells available and choosing the right one can significantly impact your training. From the versatile Olympic and power bars to specialized options like trap and safety squat bars, each type has its unique benefits tailored to different lifting styles.

So, which type of barbell resonates with your training needs? Let me know in the comment section below, right now!

Until next time,


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