When it’s empty…
Here’s all you need to know about the various barbells available for purchase or at your local gym. I break down everything from the common to the uncommon so you can accurately track your progress in the gym. Finally, I’ll give you some recommendations on what to look for if you want to invest in a barbell and weights for your own home gym.
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Table of Contents
- How Much Does the Most Common Barbell in Your Gym Weigh?
- Barbell Terms
- Standard Barbell vs Olympic or Powerlifting Barbells (Commonly Mistaken)
- How Much Does an Olympic Barbell or Powerlifting Barbell Weigh – 45 LB
- How Much Does a Women’s Olympic or Powerlifting Barbell Weigh – 35 LB
- How Much Do Training Barbells Weigh – 15 LB
- How Much Do Safety Barbells Weigh
- EZ Curl Bar – 25 LB
- How Much Does the Smith Machine Bar Weigh
- What If You Don’t Know the Exact Weight of the Barbell?
- Not sure what Progressive Overload is?
- What Barbell Should Buy for Your Home Gym?
- What To Look For In Weight Plates
- How Much Does a Barbell Weigh FAQ
- Conclusion: How Much Does a Barbell Weigh
- Read Next
- Sources Cited
How Much Does the Most Common Barbell in Your Gym Weigh?
Before we go in-depth into all of the barbells, their different styles, lengths, weights, shapes, and everything in between, I’ll answer the question that probably brought you here, and likely the only thing you care about.
The typical barbell you will find in your local, big-box, or CrossFit gym is 7 feet in length and weighs 45 pounds.
This leads us to our most common weight benchmarks…those numbers you get to know so well you can look at any loaded bar and calculate its weight like you’re a mathematician.
|1 x 25-pound plate on each side||95 pounds|
|1 x 35-pound plate on each side||115 pounds|
|1 x 45-pound plate on each side||135 pounds|
|1 x 45 + 1 x 25-pound plate on each side||185 pounds|
|1 x 45 + 1 x 35-pound plate on each side||205 pounds|
|2 x 45-pound plate on each side||225 pounds|
|2 x 45 + 1 x 25-pound plate on each side||275 pounds|
|3 x 45-pound plate on each side||315|
|4 x 45 pound plate on each sdie||405|
You’re also likely to run into a ton of other barbells in your favorite gym. Bars that are designed specifically for Olympic lifting or Powerlifting. Some are designed to help you work around injuries or place your body in mechanical advantage. Or barbells that change the angle of your wrists to give your biceps a slightly different angle of attack.
This article will cover every barbell you may run into. First, let’s cover a couple of terms so that we’re on the same page throughout this article.
Shaft: makes up most of the length of the barbell. It’s the part you grab with your hands.
Sleeves: located on both ends of the shaft. Weight plates are loaded onto the sleeves.
Bearings: sit between the shaft and the sleeves. These allow the sleeves to spin independently from the shaft.
Collar: the thick section that prevents the weight plates from sliding onto the shaft.
Knurling: crosshatch pattern throughout the shaft. This provides grip on the bar.
Knurling marks: small smooth rings located at various points throughout the shaft. These are benchmark locations that help athletes place their hands in the same location each and every time.
Standard Barbell vs Olympic or Powerlifting Barbells (Commonly Mistaken)
The Olympic barbell is what you’re used to seeing in pretty much every local, big-box, and CrossFit gym. Sometimes people call them standard barbells, but this is incorrect. I’ll explain.
The “Standard Barbell” has a 1″ sleeve and uses “standard weight plates” that have a 1″-diameter center hole. The most common of these was the CAP Barbell. Standard barbells typically weigh 20 pounds and have a maximum loading capacity of 250 pounds.
Honestly, I doubt you’ve seen these smaller diameter weight plates. They’re not used or made that often anymore. They are more a relic, or an artifact, of the past. Outside of very old gyms, you won’t find these. For you more experienced lifters out there, these bars are the kind your parents may have bought you when you were 13 from the Sears catalog. Yeah, old school!
Olympic barbells, on the other hand, have a 2″ sleeve and use weight plates that have 2″ diameter center holes. These are what you’ll find pretty much everywhere. This si the barbell you’re used to.
If the Pandemic taught us anything it’s that weightlifting equipment is definitely a luxury item. I started buying weightlifting equipment in 2012, and all of sudden it was impossible to find anything! Even brand new!
Imagine if every barbell and weight plate had specific dimensions?!! Their own “proprietary blend” if you will. Frustrating! And the Pandemic would have pretty well run those companies out of business.
Standardizing everything means that companies can sell their barbells or plates to anyone or any gym. It just makes sense.
Also, the standard bar’s smaller-sized loading sleeves make this barbell lighter in weight than the Olympic barbells and limit how much weight they can support.
How Much Does an Olympic Barbell or Powerlifting Barbell Weigh – 45 LB
The Olympic bar weighs 20kg, or about 45 pounds. It is 7’2″ long. This is the barbell you’re most likely to see and use at a gym. It’s a versatile, intermediate-to-advanced piece of equipment that may be used for a variety of exercises, including cleans, snatches, squats, presses, the overhead press, and deadlifts.
Powerlifting bars are the other most common barbell you will find at the gym. They are the same weight (45 pounds) and length as Olympic barbells, but they’re designed for squatting, bench pressing, and deadlifting.
They have different knurling distribution and the collars have less spin than with Olympic barbells. They are made to handle much more weight than Olympic barbells because the power lifts, particularly the deadlift, can get extremely heavy during competition.
It’s critical to have a sturdy bar that can support hundreds of pounds when squatting. Even though the average squat barbell weighs 45 pounds like a typical bar, it is built to accommodate considerably more weight. This feature makes it an excellent choice for powerlifters who need to squat several hundred pounds as they increase in weight.
Most people will never know the difference between these two types of bars. Simply put, these are the most common barbells at your gym.
Olympic Barbells vs Powerlifting Barbells
Olympic barbells have a lot more whip, or flex, than powerlifting bars. This helps during the “catch” phase of the clean, jerk, and snatch. Powerlifting barbells have much less whip than Olympic barbells.
And the collars on Olympic bars are designed to have a lot of spin. Walk up to a barbell in a rack and spin the sleeve where the weight plates are placed. Good Olympic barbell collars will spin smoothly, fast, and for quite a while! This helps prevent injury to wrists and elbows during the Olympic lifts.
Powerlifting bars don’t need spinning sleeves, but these are a requirement for the performance and safety of Olympic barbells.
Knurling distribution can make a huge difference! Thicker knurling gives you a better grip but will tear your shins and thighs apart during certain lifts. Some lifts, like back squats, work better with an extra bit of knurling in the very center of the barbell. Other lifts want the center of the barbell to be smooth. Knurl lines may be added to help orient your hand placement for certain lifts, like snatches.
Olympic barbells will not have center knurling in the middle of the barbell and the smooth center portion of the barbell is usually quite a bit wider than on powerlifting barbells. These will also often have one or two knurl lines set wide toward the ends of the barbell, near the sleeves.
Outside of powerlifting competitions, Olympic and Powerlifting barbells have the same diameter of 28 to 28.5mm.
Some barbells, however, are designed to be thicker or thinner, depending on their specific application. Thicker bars may weigh more, sometimes reaching weights of about 55 pounds.
Bench Press Bars
The benchpress bar has little to no whip. This makes them more stable during the pressing motion. These bars commonly have a thicker diameter (30mm) as well, which can raise their weight up to 55 pounds.
You will rarely see these bars outside of Powerlifting competitions.
Squat bars feature knurled centers, a thick diameter, and very little whip. You don’t want the barbell whipping the weight plates back down when you explode out of the hole! The center knurling helps the bar grip the back of your shirt so it doesn’t slide around on your shoulders or down your back. Again, in competition, these will usually have a 30mm thickness.
If you’re back squatting at your gym, try and find a barbell that has center knurling.
Deadlift bars have more whip. This allows for higher speeds when lifted from the floor. These can actually help get you through the common sticking point in a deadlift by whipping the weight plates upward right when you need it. These barbells typically have very thick knurling and a narrower diameter. Both of these are designed to help your grip, which is the limiting factor for most people with a deadlift.
They also have a smaller diameter, usually 27mm, and are a bit longer. The length keeps the weight of the barbell at 45 pounds and allows for loading more weights on the sleeves. The small diameter helps with grip.
Pure deadlift bars are uncommon outside competition. But if you’re going to deadlift at your local gym, try and choose a barbell that doesn’t have center knurling.
But Don’t Worry About These Differences!
All of that is just for informational purposes. Your typical gym is just going to have 45 -pound, 7-foot barbells with 2″ diameter sleeves. You don’t need to worry about anything I just went into unless you are getting very competitive with one of the three power lifts or the two Olympic lifts.
How Much Does a Women’s Olympic or Powerlifting Barbell Weigh – 35 LB
The women’s barbell is also known as a 15kg barbell, for obvious reasons. They weigh 15kg, or about 33 to 35 pounds, are about 6’5″ long, and have a 25mm diameter.
The light weight is due to a shorter length and smaller diameter. The smaller diameter makes it easier to hold, especially for people with smaller hands. Women’s barbells are an excellent way for novices to improve their grip strength and perfect their form.
These are also used in many powerlifting, CrossFit, and GRID during women’s competitions. These are much less common in your local big-box gym but are usually found in abundance in CrossFit gyms.
Women’s barbells are great for any and all barbell exercises, including squats, deadlifts, rows, and presses. They typically can’t support as much weight as Olympic or powerlifting bars due to their smaller diameter, but this isn’t a concern for anyone outside of professional powerlifting.
How Much Do Training Barbells Weigh – 15 LB
Training bars weigh about 15 pounds. They’re typically used for learning complicated Olympic movements like the barbell clean, snatch, or overhead squat. Most people start learning these complex lifts with PVC pipes, but these training bars are much better for learning how to effectively use the barbell.
The weight plates that come with training bars are weight-matched stoppers, which help prevent overloading them and potentially causing damage. These fit on standard Olympic barbells so they can be used in place of standard plates during your learning curve without having to purchase additional equipment.
How Much Do Safety Barbells Weigh
This is a broad category of barbells that includes the following bars:
- Safety Squat Barbell
- Trap Barbell or Hex Barbell
- Swiss/multi-grip barbell
- Cambered Bar
All of these are designed with various grip positions to help to prevent injury when performing standard barbell movements like squats, deadlifts, and various presses. These come in handy both for working around injuries or just for varying your workouts and stimulus.
Safety Squat Bars – 70 LB
Safety squat bars, also known as yoke bars, can weigh as much as 70 pounds, like this one from Rogue Fitness. The thickly padded center arms and angled shape of the safety squat bar are its most prominent features. The arms wrap around your neck and allow you to grab the handles in front of your body in a very strong position.
These cut down on shoulder strain because your hands hold the bar comfortably in front of your body, even though the barbell is on your back.
And the angled ends of the bar cause the weight on the barbell to be distributed somewhere between the front squat and the high-bar back squat, making this a squat unique to itself.
Trap Bars or Hex Bars – 60 LB
The Trap bar, or Hex bar, is named for its hexagonal or trapezoidal form, which creates a huge open area in the middle of the bar. These are great for deadlifts since the middle handles give you a solid grip while the wide shape puts you right in the center of the weight. This setup also allows you to stand straight up, instead of being pulled forward like in a deadlift with a typical barbell.
Not only do Trap Bars put you in a safer position for deadlifts, but you can also lift more weight! When compared to a regular barbell, using a hexagonal bar to lift heavier loads can generally be completed in the same range of motion faster, according to a December 2017 study published in the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute’s journal Sports. (1)
Hex bars, like this one from Rogue, typically weigh 60 pounds. But there are heavier variations out there. Again, if you don’t know, just focus on how much weight you’re adding to the bar.
Cambered Bars (45LB) and Camber Bars (85LB)
Cambered bars have a small arch in the middle of the barbell and usually weigh 45-pounds. The low-hanging weight of this barbell makes it harder to maintain stability and keep the bar upright. These are often used for bench pressing. The arch allows you to get a deeper stretch at the bottom of the lift than with a traditional straight barbell.
Camber bars are similar to cambered bars but are more like two barbells connected together with a dramatic distance between them. These are more often used for squats, but give you the same benefits as cambered bars. These also weigh quite a bit more than cambered bars, coming in around 85-pounds.
Rogue Camber Bar
Swiss Bars and Multi-Grip Bars – 45 LB
The Swiss barbell or multi-grip safety bar is designed with multiple handles, providing a variety of grip placements. These help to prevent or work around injuries while performing overhead presses and bench presses. They usually weigh the standard 45 pounds.
The traditional Swiss bar usually has one set of angles handles in the middle of a rectangular box, centered between the collars of the bar (shown in the video below). Multi-grip bars have the same two angles handles, along with several other options.
Both the Swiss bar and the multi-grip bar are appropriate for all kinds of lifts, including presses, rows, and curls, and it requires a neutral grip. They are known for being comfortable on your shoulders, and weigh in at 45 pounds on average.
EZ Curl Bar – 25 LB
These specialty barbells are used to isolate specific muscle groups.
EZ Curl bars are shorter than typical barbells and are designed with a W shape in the middle of the bar. These are typically used for biceps curls or skull crushers, but sometimes you’ll see people using them for other exercises as well.
The EZ bars weigh between 25 to 40 pounds, with the most common weight being 25 pounds.
How Much Does the Smith Machine Bar Weigh
These generally range from 15 to 25 pounds.
But in some cases, the machine actually counterweights the barbell. So they effectively weigh nothing. The easiest way to test this is to raise the bar halfway and see whether it stays in place. If you’re working with a machine that counterweights the barbell, then you’re on the right track.
Honestly, I never count the weight of the barbell in a Smith Machine. Just count how much weight you put on the barbell, and track it in your training journal so you know how much to use next time.
This brings me to my next point.
What If You Don’t Know the Exact Weight of the Barbell?
Don’t stress! This is where a workout journal comes in handy. Keep track of how much weight you’re putting on the barbell instead of what the total weight with the barbell would be.
Then follow the principles of Progressive Overload to keep chasing your goals.
Not sure what Progressive Overload is?
Progressive Overload is the principle of gradually adding weight to the barbell over time to keep pushing your muscles and challenge yourself. This is done by the following methods:
Increase how much weight is on the barbell for the same amount of reps as the last time you trained
Increase the number of reps you perform for an exercise with the same weight as the last time
Complete the same number of reps with the same amount of weight as the last time you trained, but with shorter rest periods between sets
Basically, increasing how much you lift, how many reps you perform, how long you rest, or how often you train, along with other more advanced methods.
This is a fundamental concept that all lifters should familiarize themselves with, especially beginners.
What Barbell Should Buy for Your Home Gym?
If you are building your own home gym, you want a good, all-purpose barbell. Nothing too crazy one way or the other. Just a good barbell that is going to allow you to do any lift you want.
Collars should have a good amount of spin, but not expert Olympic lifting level.
No center knurling. It’s only helpful for squats, and really only if you can squat A LOT of weight. If you’re squatting less than 600 pounds, don’t worry about it.
Medium knurling. Good enough for grip, but not so much that you’re going to absolutely shred your shins and thighs during lifts from the floor.
28mm diameter bar for men, 25mm for women, and 2″diameter sleeves. These are the standard sizes used for pretty much every bar and weight plate. Choosing the most common diameters will give you access to more options. Even on FaceBook Marketplace and Craigslist.
My first barbell was a generic, rusted-out, old deadlift barbell. The collars had no spin (mostly due to rust), the knurling was worn almost completely smooth…it was beautiful! I loved it! Truth be told, it was more of a piece of steel that held weights more than anything else, but it worked and I was happy to have it!
Then I got an old York Olympic Lifting barbell. Old, smooth knurling, decent collar spin…beautiful! I still have this barbell and I use it often! Especially in the winter. My garage is not insulated or heated, so I bring my good bar inside and use this old one when it’s cold.
The first new barbell I bought was the Again Faster Team Barbell 2.0.
I love this barbell! Great knurl depth, no center knurling, great collar spin for an all-around barbell, wide knurl marks for snatching, and it can handle over 1,000 pounds. And you can get it in both 20kg or 15kg weights (typical men’s weight and typical women’s weight).
Along with the Rogue Bar 2.0 and the Bella Bar, these three are the best all-purpose barbells I’ve used, and they are all less than $300. If you have the money to buy a new barbell, choose one of these. They’ll last a lifetime and will do everything you ask of them.
I have prepared for both powerlifting and CrossFit competitions with this barbell. I’ve bailed out of squats, dropped heavy deadlifts, slammed overhead Olympic lifts to the floor in my garage…no problem!
What To Look For In Weight Plates
Steel for strength, rubber for speed!
Now that you know a little more about what sort of barbell might be ideal for you, it’s time to get into decision fatigue by considering weight plate types as well.
Actually, weight plates are simple. Plates are typically found in 5 and 10-pound increments, beginning at 5 pounds and going up to 55. You can even find 2.5-pound plates and 100-pound monster plates if you’d like!
The most common types of plates you will find are iron or steel, rubber-coated, or Olympic plates [bumper plates].
Iron or Steel Plates
These plates vary in diameter according to their weight. 45-pound plates have the largest diameter and 2.5 pounders are the smallest.
These are common and are typically used for powerlifting. But DO NOT drop these! You’ll destroy your floor or barbell!
Rubber Coated Plates
Typically, chain gyms choose rubber-coated weights instead of non-coated ones. They are quieter and more durable than their non-coated counterparts. They often have handles cut into them as well, which makes them easy to pick up and move. And they don’t tear things apart if gym members accidentally drop them.
But, just like steel plates, DO NOT drop these like bumper plates!
Olympic Plates or Bumper Plates
However, at CrossFit gyms and other serious weightlifting facilities, you may find Olympic plates. These are also known as bumper plates because of their resemblance to automobile bumpers.
They vary in thickness, however, they are all the same diameter. This way the barbell is always the same distance from the floor for the Olympic lifts, no matter how much weight you have on the bar.
Standard Olympic plates have the advantage of protecting bars if you drop them from overhead.
Which Type of Plates Should You Buy?
Start with what you can find. Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are great for piecemealing together your home gym. That’s how I started back in 2012.
But if you have the money to buy new, here’s what you need.
- 1 pair of 2.5-pound plates (2 plates) – not required, but nice to have
- 1 pair of 5-pound plates (2 plates) – not required, but nice to have
- 2 pairs of 10-pound plates (4 total plates)
- 1 pair of 25-pound plates (2 plates)
- 1 pair of 35-pound plates (2 plates) – not required, but nice to have
- 2 pair of 45-pound plates (4 plates) – 1 required, but nice to have 4 plates or more depending on how strong you are
The 2.5 and 5-pound plates will be either steel, iron, or rubber-coated. These are not made in the bumper plate format.
You can purchase sets, like the following:
Rogue Crumb Bumper Plates – Crumb bumpers are amazing for home gyms! They are incredibly durable and are much quieter than typical bumper plates. And, if you plan on training outside at any point, these are the plates you need.
230 Pound Bumper Plate Set – This will come with a pair each of 10’s, 25’s, 35’s, and 45’s. I have the 260 pound set of these from Titan Fitness, which comes with a set of 15s as well.
Personally, I recommend bumper plates for home gyms. They are easy on your floors and walls, you can drop them without damaging your barbell, and they are all the same diameter. This makes them ideal for picking up off the floor. Unlike steel plates, which all have different diameters.
Bumper plates are just more versatile. And then you can buy a pair each of 2.5-pound and/or 5-pound change plates so that you can make smaller jumps.
People underestimate the value of 2.5-pound change plates! A 5 pound total increase can be huge when you are working at near maximum percentages and with Olympic lifts. Even Jim Wendler, with his famous 5/3/1 program, talks about how exact he is with his weights. If his percentage calls for 240 pounds, that’s what he puts on the bar. NOT 245.
How Much Does a Barbell Weigh FAQ
How much does a standard Olympic or powerlifting barbell weigh?
The typical straight Olympic or powerlifting barbell you find at most gyms weighs 45 pounds.
How much do the collars that secure weights to the bar weight?
Typical spring collars weigh around 1/4 pounds. Do not worry about factoring these into the weight on the barbell. However, locks that are used in powerlifting competitions typically weigh 2.5 pounds. If you use these locks, account for the additional 5 pounds they add to the bar.
Conclusion: How Much Does a Barbell Weigh
It’s important to know how much the barbell you are purchasing will weigh. The standard weight of a barbell is 45 pounds, which can be used for powerlifting and Olympic lifting purposes. To make it easier on your floors and walls, as well as provide an even surface when picking up off the ground, bumper plates are recommended over steel or iron weights. But buy based on your training style! Hopefully, this article answered all of your questions and then some!
What is your favorite barbell?
- Lake, Jason et al. “Effect of a Hexagonal Barbell on the Mechanical Demand of Deadlift Performance.” Sports (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 5,4 82. 24 Oct. 2017, doi:10.3390/sports5040082