What are bench press bars made of?
This is an overview of barbells which can be used for the bench press. Most of them are made of steel with different finishes. For details and different variations of barbells read on. Hope you enjoy it.
Once you get more into training you will at some stage get more into bars and which one to pick for your training. The material, weight, form and other factors come into play depending on which kind of goals you want to achieve in the gym. Based on what bar you pick they might vary in size and purpose for which they are built.
- Standard Barbell
- Olympic Barbell
- EZ Bar
- Swiss Bar / Multi-grip bar
- Duffalo bar
- Sabertooth bar
- Powerlifting bar
- Technique bar
All the bars are usually made of metal, except the lighter ones which are used in conditioning classes. These are usually made of some kind of carbon. Where they defer are in knurling and coating. Finishes you can find
- Black Oxide
- Stainless steel
For the knurling, a good rule of thumb is that it is more aggressive the more professional the user becomes. Most barbells you will find in commercial gyms are pretty worn down on their knurling because of heavy use. Gym owners usually decide for the less pricey options. This is due to the fact that they have to purchase 4 - 10 in one go. Also most gym members prefer a smoother rather than an aggressive knurl. It is easier on their hands. Of course, there are exceptions from the rule but that is usually how it goes.
Most barbells can take between 600 - 1200 pounds on them depending on their make. You can usually find the number on the inside of the sleeves to know for sure how much your barbell can take. Olympic barbells are designed to have more whip so that the metal bends easier. Powerlifting bars are usually designed a lot stiffer as they are expected to carry more weight. The weight of the standard barbell is 45 pounds.
The standard barbell is actually a misleading title. While this is the most commonly found type of barbell in your local gym they are not standardized. They vary considerably on a dimension perspective in length while mostly weighing 45 pounds. The sleeves of these bars do usually not rotate and they take plates with an inch hole. This is the type of barbell you would get for Christmas as a teenager for your home gym when Mommy and Daddy are on a budget. My first barbell was a standard one. These bars usually start at 50€ and go up to 500€.
Olympic barbells are the most standardized around. Well-known producers are Eleiko, Rogue, and York fitness. A men's Olympic barbell is 2.2meters (7.2ft) long and weighs 20kg (44 lbs). The outer ends are 50 millimeters (2.0in) in diameter, while the grip section is 28 millimeters (1.1 inch) in diameter and 1.31 meters (4.3 ft) in length. The grips marks are spaced 910 millimeters (36 inch) to allow for easier grip orientation. A women's Olympic bar is similar to the men's bar, but is shorter - 2.01 metres (6.6 ft) - and lighter - 15 kilograms (33 lb) - with a smaller grip section diameter (25 millimetres (0.98 in)). The sleeves of these bars rotate and the plates to be used have 2 inch (50mm) holes. From a pricing perspective, Olympic barbells usually come in between 500€ to 1500€ depending on the vendor.
EZ bars have a double swung design and are a lot shorter than standard barbells or Olympic barbells. This makes them better suited for curling movements to be easier on the wrist. They usually weigh in at around 15 pounds and are most commonly used in a preacher curl setup. You might find some people pressing with these.
Swiss Bar / Multi-grip is a bar which allows varying the grip for the bench press. You will seldom find these bars in commercial gyms and more often in establishments which focus more on strength. These bars are especially popular for lifters who make use of the conjugated method as it is very easy with these to continuously vary the grip and set personal records with a multitude of grip variations. If these bars are made of steel they are usually heavier than you usual 20kg as they have more material. If they are made of carbon they are lighter.
The duffalo bar is a variation on the normal barbell which has a curve and weighs in at 57 pounds. The slight curve makes this bar easier on the joints during the squat and the bench press.This is especially a good variation for powerlifters who work with big weights for many repetitions. They can use any kind of ease on their weakest points. The same effect applies to squats. Think of this as an EZ bar on barbell size which waves less aggressively. It comes in at around 600 USD.
The sabertooth bar is specially designed for very heavy bench press attempts above 1000 pounds. This is helped by minimal whip and longer sleeves which can take more plates. This bar comes in at around 600USD and you will seldom find it in your gym around the corner. If you spot one of these you know that the gym you just entered means business.
Powerlifting bars are usually very similar to Olympic weightlifting bars in terms of their dimensions. The main difference is that they are designed to be stiffer and have less whip. This makes them better suited for lifts like the bench press and deadlift where whip with very big weights does more harm than good as it destabilizes the lift. They also weigh 20kg and lighten your purse from around 200€ to 400€ euros.
Technique bars are bars which are lighter and only weigh 10 to 15kg. They are used in Olympic weightlifting training to perfect the complex movement patterns with less weight. You might see some people bench pressing with them, but this is not what they have been built for.
Most bars are made of steel with different finishes depending on the preferred look and feel of the buyer. Lighter bars for conditioning classes are made of carbon. The more advanced you become as an athlete the more specialized the tools you use will become like the Olympic barbell, powerlifting barbells or the Sabertooth. If you have other bars you fancy let me know about them in the comments to be included in this post.
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