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Commercial Barbell – The Definitive FAQ Guide
Gym owners know that barbells are a must for their weight training area. With weight plates attached to each end, barbells are the core of strength training and bodybuilding.
Manufacturers produce different types of commercial barbells, from size and shape to function and general use. Since you may have questions about barbells, we have prepared the following FAQ guide.
If you want to choose the right barbells for your gym, be sure to consult our guide.
Table of Contents
- What is the structure of commercial barbells?
- How many types of commercial barbells are there?
- What is the difference between a deadlift bar and a standard bar?
- What is the difference between a curl and a straight barbell?
- What is the size of commercial barbells?
- How much does an empty barbell weigh?
- What is the diameter of commercial barbells?
- What is the maximum load of barbells?
- What are the features of barbell sleeves?
- Is the collar of the commercial barbell spinning?
- What is the difference between bushing and bearings to a commercial barbell?
- How does knurling indicate the types of barbells?
- Is the depth of the barbell knurling important?
- Is whip important to a barbell?
- What is the material of commercial barbells?
- What is the finish of commercial barbells?
- What is the tensile strength for high-end barbells?
- Is commercial grade barbell rust resistant?
- Is a commercial barbell easy to break?
- Is the barbell’s diameter suitable for all weight plates?
- Is it safe to leave weights on the barbell?
- What to consider when buying commercial barbells from manufacturers?
- Is it possible to customize my barbells?
- Final words
What is the structure of commercial barbells?
The structure of commercial grade barbells consists of four main parts. These may have different dimensions and characteristics, but they will be the same, regardless of the barbell type:
This part is the middle part of the piece and represents most of the length of the barbell.
Sleeves are located at the two ends of the shaft, where the weight plates are loaded.
This is actually integrated in the two sleeves. This part is thick and is used to prevent plates from sliding onto the shaft.
This cross hatch pattern is located on the shaft, so it is not separated. It is important because it helps take a good hold of the bar under any circumstances.
However, some premium or specialty barbells provide additional parts. Some of them are extremely useful in competitions, such as:
- Spinning sleeves
This allows the athlete to go under the axis quickly, without loosening the grip.
The bearings are located between the shaft and the sleeve, so it may not be visible. This supplement is important because it allows the sleeve to rotate independently of the shaft. The bearings help maintain the functionality of barbells, mainly because they fall repeatedly on the floor during training.
The fastener keeps the sleeve tightly attached to the bar.
- End caps
End caps are used to close the sleeves. Usually, it is a plastic cover or metal circle cap at the end of the sleeve to attach it to the bar.
The main structure and extras guarantee a safe and convenient way to use barbells.
Figure 1 The structure of commercial barbell
How many types of commercial barbells are there?
There are many types of barbells depending on size, function, weight, shape and so on. To make it easier to understand, we break it down into three main categories: form, user and function.
Barbells by form:
- Straight bars
- Curl bars
- Trap bars
- Swiss bars
Barbells by user:
Barbells by function:
- Powerlifting bars
- Olympic bars
- Deadlifting bar
- Squat bar
- Multi-purpose bar
Various types of bars provide complex force routines. For gym owners, having more than one type of commercial barbells in their gym is crucial for a full coverage of bodybuilding.
Figure 2 Straight and curl barbell
Figure 3 Swiss bar
Figure 4 Trap bar
What is the difference between a deadlift bar and a standard bar?
The main differences between the two bars are whip, diameter and knurling. While a deadlift bar bends more easily and has outer knurling, a standard bar has less whip and center knurling.
Deadlift bars are slightly longer and thinner than the power bars, with a diameter of 27 mm, which helps with the whippy effect. To increase the whip, the deadlift bar moves the weight further away from the center of the bar. In addition, deadlifts have no center knurling, but aggressive outer knurling for better grip.
Standard bars are more stable and slightly shorter, with a diameter of 29 mm. Certainly, standard bars have less whipping and provide a strong center knurl for good grip.
Figure 5 Deadlift bar vs standard bar
What is the difference between a curl and a straight barbell?
Ergonomics and comfort make the difference. While a straight bar puts more stress on wrists during lifts, the curl bar is easier and allows heavier lifting without causing pain.
A straight bar is heavier and has the positioning of the weights further to the end. This causes a torque to the wrists when making a complete lift. Over time, it can cause larger wrist supination and pain during training.
Straight bars are preferred by most athletes when building the biceps. As a precautionary measure, during lifts, many athletes wear wristbands for protection.
The curl bar is shorter, lighter and allows more weight loading than a straight bar. During the training, a curl bar feels better to grip. This tight grip is less likely to hurt your wrists.
However, both bars are effective and offer good muscle training. It is a matter of personal comfort which bar to use at the gym.
Figure 6 Straight vs curl bar
What is the size of commercial barbells?
Depending on its purpose, the size of the bars varies from 1200 mm to 2400 mm of straight bars.
The standard commercial barbell size worldwide is 2200 mm and is used for general training purposes. But EZ curl bars or specialty barbells may have different lengths.
The most important thing about the size of the bar is the proportion. A well-sized barbell shall ensure sufficient length to take all hand positions while loading the plates.
Figure 7 Size of commercial barbells
How much does an empty barbell weigh?
Empty commercial barbells weight is determined by its purpose:
- barbells for men weight 20 kg
- barbells for women weight 15 kg
- barbells for children/youth weigh from 2,5 kg to maximum 10 kg
What is the diameter of commercial barbells?
Generally, the diameter of the bars ranges from 22 to 29 mm.
Figure 8 Diameter of barbells
What is the maximum load of barbells?
The standard commercial bar can withstand a load of up to 100 kg (about 200 lbs). By going over this weight, it may damage your barbell.
Olympic barbells, however, can take up to 500 kg (1200 lb) without suffering permanent damages.
What are the features of barbell sleeves?
The most important features of the barbell sleeve are length, diameter and finish.
Diameter. The diameter of the sleeves is usually 50 mm. This is because most of the weight plates on the sleeves also have a central hole of 50 mm too.
Length. The length of the sleeve determines how many plates to load, and thus how much weight to lift. In general, the length of the sleeves varies from 100 mm to 445 mm.
A shorter sleeve can be good for beginner athletes, but will not meet the requirements of an athlete ready to make full lifts.
Finish. The sleeves are delivered in different finishes like white zinc, black zinc, chrome or cerakote, with decorative motifs or not. This has aesthetic and protective purposes, against oxidation.
Figure 9 Finish types with decorative motifs for barbell sleeves
Is the collar of the commercial barbell spinning?
Yes. For the Olympic barbells, the collar rotates as the bar is moving up through the lift. This spin is designed to help the lifter in his lifting exercise.
What is the difference between bushing and bearings to a commercial barbell?
The main difference between the two is the method of construction. While bushing is simpler, the bearings come in different forms.
Both bushing and bearing are indispensable for the bar. It assists in the lifting process and prevents damage to the bar through friction.
Bushing is simply full of brass or bronze rings. This element lies between the inner and outer sleeves, helping to smooth the rotation.
The bearings allow a smooth and silent rotation and are also mounted between the bar and the sleeve. Bearings are available in three types:
- needle bearings
- ball bearings
- thrust bearings
The amount of bearings often reflects the quality of commercial barbells. The optimal lifting experience is provided by barbells with needle bearings combined with bushing.
Figure 10 The differences between bushing and bearings
How does knurling indicate the types of barbells?
The location and markings of the knurling can indicate the different types of barbells.
Knurling is a cross pattern made on the shaft to provide good grip. The pattern is delivered in different types to ensure different grip levels:
- straight design
- angular design
- diamond design
Olympic bars have centered knurling and have small rings where hands usually grip. The ring knurls are 36 inches apart and indicate the position of the same grip each time.
Powerlifting bars have center knurling which grip on the back during squat. The rings here are 32 inches away.
For fitness centers and commercial gyms, the markings are useful to indicate where to take the same grip each time. This tool will help the athlete to be consistent in his lifts and workouts.
Figure 11 Knurling on barbell
Is the depth of the barbell knurling important?
Yes. The depth of the knurling guarantees a firm hold of the shaft. Having more positive knurling than necessary can cause cuts on the skin, not having enough knurling can cause early cessation of the grip.
For optimal performance, commercial quality bars achieve a balance between positive and negative knurling. Commercial gym owners normally opt for neutral knurling, rather than special use knurls. The aim is to provide a broad range of weight exercises without causing any inconvenience.
Nevertheless, a complete gym center will provide at least one or two aggressive knurl barbells for their hardcore powerlifters as well.
Figure 12 Depth of barbell knurling
Is whip important to a barbell?
Yes. Whip, or the ability to bend under tension, is an important feature of barbells. Whip is particularly relevant for athletes and lifters who have specific force approaches.
The material of the bar is an essential factor in determining the amount of whip will have.
Figure 13 Barbell whip
What is the material of commercial barbells?
A commercial barbell is normally made of steel. The specific type of steel determines the durability and strength of the bar. The best barbells are made from stainless steel.
Yanre Fitness is a top commercial quality barbell supplier that provides high-end bars, suitable to the vast majority of gyms and fitness centers.
Figure 14 Stainless steel commercial barbell
What is the finish of commercial barbells?
The finish of the barbell means the treatment of the shaft and the sleeves, which will give rise to different looks. The most common finish of the barbells are:
- bare steel
- black oxidation
- black zinc
- hard chrome
- decorative chrome
- bright zinc
Yanre Fitness provides superior finish treatment to its barbells, so that all the bars meet the competition standards. With Yanre, you make sure of the best barbells for your commercial gyms.
Figure 15 Barbell and sleeve finish
What is the tensile strength for high-end barbells?
Tensile strength, or the breaking point of the barbell, is rated in pounds per square inch (PSI). High-end barbell manufacturers produce the bar with at least 180.000 PSI rating.
Is commercial grade barbell rust resistant?
Yes. In order to prevent oxidation and rust of the bars, commercial grade barbell manufacturers treat the surface with coating substances or sprays.
While bare steel is less resistant to oxidation, other paints such as chrome or cerakote have more resistance.
When buying your commercial barbell, be sure to ask the supplier about surface coating and rust resistance.
Figure 16 Rusted barbell
Is a commercial barbell easy to break?
No. In practice, all barbells can warp, bend and break. It is more common that commercial barbells bend under tension or snap to one of the ends rather than break.
At about 120 kg (250 lbs) there will be a hint of a bend on your barbell. Once the weights reach 300kg (700lbs) or higher, those bars will bend considerably and can be broken.
To avoid damage, choose the bars with a little whip. To increase security and avoid the risks of snapping, you can choose to add snap collars to the bar.
However, low-quality barbells can cause a lot of damage. Be sure to buy high end commercial barbells to avoid damages of your gym equipment.
Figure 17 Snap locking
Is the barbell’s diameter suitable for all weight plates?
No. The diameter of the barbell sleeve shall correspond to the diameter of the central hole of the weight plates. The most common sleeves and plates have diameters of 25 mm (1”) and 50 mm (2”).
High quality bars and plates have lower tolerances than the cheaper versions. For example, superior bars have a sleeve diameter of 49.5 to 50 mm, which corresponds perfectly to the plates between 50.2 and 50.8 mm in diameter.
Quality bars and plates are made to go together. But if the high mix with low quality bars and weight plates, you should consider problems and possible damage to the bar.
Figure 18 Standard barbell and weights
Is it safe to leave weights on the barbell?
Yes. Barbell manufacturers mention that it’s safe to leave a barbell loaded in a rack.
However, keep in mind that leaving heavy weights on the bar, over time, it can cause the bar to bend.
Figure 19 Loaded barbells on a rack
What to consider when buying commercial barbells from manufacturers?
For gym owners, dealers and distributors of gym equipment, buying from manufacturers is the best option. But when you select the equipment, you have to consider some important features for barbells: diameter, knurling, whip and tensile strength.
- Diameter: determines the types of exercise of the bar
- Knurling: indicates differences in the approach of lifts
- Whip: indicates the level of flexibility
- Tensile strength: breaking point rated at 190.000 PSI or above
For more detailed information on commercial barbells and buying tips for gym owners, please read the following article by Yanre Fitness:
Is it possible to customize my barbells?
Yes. Custom barbells make a good impression on clients. Yanre Fitness is your expert in custom made barbells or any other gym equipment.
Your logo can be placed in different locations on the sleeve and on the shaft, such as the tail or the collar. It can be done with a laser, easy, non-damaging and attractive.
Figure 20 Logo placement
I hope that the previous guide has answered all the important questions about commercial barbells.
If anything remains questionable about barbells or manufacturers, please contact our sales team now.
Need to import high-end bars? Yanre Fitness will prepare your order now!