Which barbell for home gym from Rogue
What is your training style
Before you go for a barbell it is important to know what your training style is. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How often will you use the barbell?
- What kind of exercises do you want to do with the barbell?
- How many people will use the barbell?
- Where will you use the barbell?
- What kind of equipment do you already have?
- How much space do you have?
All of these will influence what kind of training style you are and whether you have enough room for certain bars. In the end, you will most likely be in one of these four categories
- Weightlifting style training
- Powerlifting style training
- Bodybuilding style training
- Crossfit style training
If your style leans more to weightlifting you need a bar with a great whip. You will drop the bar from overhead quite often. Bearing should be preferred over bushing for better spin. This is relevant when you change direction in the Olympic lifts from pulling to pushing. The worse the spin, the more resistance you will experience. Whip helps with keeping kinetic energy in the bar to make the lift easier. A bar with no whip will lose some of this kinetic energy in the way up.
If you do not lift things overhead you are probably more in the powerlifting camp. When you mainly do the bench press, squat and deadlift, spin is not that important. The bar does not transition from a pull to a push movement in these lifts. What you do want to look for is more loadable sleeve length, less whip and higher tensile strength. This goes especially for the squat and bench press. For these lifts, you want as little whip in the bar as possible. As long as you squat and bench press less than 400 pounds this won't make a big difference, above, the whip can get distracting for squats and bench presses. Deadlifts can usually be done with any kind of bar hat withholds the bigger weights. That is why higher tensile strength and long sleeves make sense for deadlifting.
If you are more of a bodybuilder you might want to reconsider getting a barbell for your home gym. A lot more in less space can be achieved for bodybuilding with dumbbells. You can attack your muscles from more directions. You also need less space to store a couple of dumbbells r kettlebells compared to a barbell.
If you are into CrossFit you should look for a balanced bar that is not too expensive. Your training style is high paced, has high repetitions and you will drop the bar a lot. Therefore you need a bar which can do everything, while not being too poorly made. A good whip suffices combined with not too aggressive knurling and bushing. The bar does not have to have very high tensile stats or sleeves as loading it very heavy will be the exception, not the rule.
What is your budget?
Generally speaking, there are four budget categories for barbells. These are:
- Up to 100$
- Up to 300$
- Up to 500$
- Up to 1000$
With 100$ you will either get a poor new barbell or a pretty beaten used one unless you are lucky. Of course, there are always exceptions from the rule because your uncle from Tenessee never used his and gives it to you for a token price. The real world will buy a new, proper barbell for around 200 - 300$ and sell it after 2 - 5 years after various degrees of abuse. I would personally stay away from new barbells which retail below 100$ USD. It is very likely that these are made from poor steel or other material which can bear a security risk. I won't get started on the labour part when you go into this budget bracket.
Up to 300$ will get you a proper bar from a good brand with a warranty. This is a good budget to go for when you buy for your first home gym. You can get the Rogue Ohio Bar at this price, which has a proven track record as an all-purpose barbell. This is the place to be for the weekend warrior.
Up to 500$ will get you a nice or specialised bar for your home gym. Home gym owners probably do not have a need to budget more than that for their purchase. With this budget, you can either customise your own bar, make a statement with one of the branded ones, or branch into speciality bars for weightlifting & deadlifting.
Up to 1000$ will get you any bar under the sun unless it is made of gold and sprinkled with diamonds. This is usually not necessary unless you are a professional athlete or powerlifter. If you have 1000$ to spend on a barbell you others don't care about money or you do not need me to tell you what to look for.
The safe bet: Rogue Ohio bar
The Rogue Ohio bar is the bestseller barbell of Rogue. If you don't know what you want to do in your home gym or constantly change your mind this is the bar for you. This bar has been bought by Crossfit gyms and home gym owners all over the world. It is the perfect balance between price and versatile use. If you want a bar and don't want to think, just grab this one.
The Rogue Ohio bar was one of the earliest lineups sold by Rogue. It builds the base of most bars which you can read about in this article. This means that Rogue really knows how to build this bar. Years of experience and experiment have gone into the production process of this bar and they managed to build a very successful business on top of it.
The Rogue Ohio bar weighs 20kg and comes in at a diameter of 28.5mm. The basic model comes in two variations, Zinc and Black Oxide. It withstands 190K PSI Tensile strength with a loadable sleeve length of 16.40. The sleeves are attached with bushing to the shaft and you will feel a standard knurl when you lift.
Pros of the Rogue Ohio bar
The Rogue Ohio bar strikes the perfect balance between budget, functionality and design. It has developed to the middle of the range product that every use case can rely on. You can purchase this bar without wrecking your head. Even if your training focus changes in the future, you can still make use of the Ohio bar without having to buy a new one. Some of them or six years in action and still going strong.
Cons of the Rogue Ohio bar
Middle of the road means that the Ohio bar is not great at anything specifically. It is neither IPF nor IWF approved. It is not made of the best material available and has no bearing. That doesn't make it a bad bar, just not the greatest you could possibly get for a specific use case. In most scenarios, this won't matter anyway.
For the mountains: Thor Power bar
The Thor bar pays tribute to the seven-time strongest man of Iceland Hafbor Julius Björnsson. He also starred in Game of Thrones as the mountain, helping Cersei to fend off attackers and crush the Vipers skull. The Thor bar uses the cerakote coating to put Hafbor's nickname Thor and an Icelandic flag onto an Ohio Power bar. It comes in a 45lb and 20kg version.
The diameter of this barbell is 29mm. The shaft withstands 205K of tensile strength and has no whip. The knurling is very aggressive to suit the needs of powerlifters. The loadable sleeve length is either 16.25 or 16.88 depending on which version of the Thor bar you will get. The sleeve coating is available in Cerakote or Chrome.
The Rogue Ohio power bar is quite popular and has a good reputation among home gym owners who mainly focus on powerlifting. The Thor and the Ohio power bar are not that far apart in price, so you might as well get the more modern version.
Pros of the Thor bar
The design is innovative and you get a strong powerlifting bar which connects you to one of the greatest strongmen of our time when you train. Especially if you own a home gym and want to give it the extra special touch, this can be a good choice. No whip is a great option for bench presses and squats. You want as little whip as possible on these two movements.
Cons of the Thor bar
As with all the new Rogue bars you have to like the design. If you are a Brian Shaw fan or want to appeal to the masses in your gym you might be better off getting a barbell with fewer design features on it. The Thor power bar is also a focused bar. If you want to keep things flexible you might be better off getting the Chan or Ohio bar for multi-purpose use. The price tag of 450 USD might also be off-putting to some.
For the Elite All-rounder: Matt Chan bar
The Matt Chan bar was the first Rogue barbell to be introduced with an athletes name. Matt Chan and Rogue have been working closely in the last few years. You can see this in the many equipment demos done by Matt. Matt Chan is a former firefighter and finished multiple times in the top ten of the Crossfit games. Since Rogue updated their Cerakote range they had another go at the Chan bar design.
The Chan bar is an Ohio bar on steroids. You get a better design, a centre knurl and a stainless steel shaft for 395$. If you want to spend the extra 100$ USD compared to the Ohio bar this is the all-purpose barbell to get. The design was created to fit Olympic and powerlifting needs alike.
The bar comes in at 20kg of weight, 200K tensile strength and with a good whip. The diameter is 28.5mm and the sleeves spin via bushing. Rogue offers two variations on the sleeves, one being cerakote the other chrome. It seems that cerakote does not respond well to metal to metal contact. If you want to use steel plates with the chan bar maybe opt for the chrome sleéves. The loadable sleeve length is 16.5 which is a bit longer than the other standard bars.
Pros of the Chan bar
This bar has a lot of pros and only a few cons. You get a stainless steel bar for 100$ USD less compared to the Oly options. The bit of extra knurling helps with front squats. This is the best value for money bar you can get above 300 USD from rogue. In addition, you also get a cool design. If you want to do everything in your home gym, this is the one to go for.
Cons of the chan bar
If you have to fit out an entire gym with 10 - 20 barbells 100$ a piece does make a difference. This bar is also too pretty to be used in military installations or with beginners. For these scenarios, you are probably better off buying the Ohio, Castro, C-70 or operator bar.
The training bar might also be a better option if you only want to do Oly lifts, as it has a better whip at a lower price. The bushing might also not be ideal if you are a competitive weightlifter.
For the Ladies: Davidsdottir & Toomey
The Rogue Bella Davidsdottir edition pays tribute to two times female Crossfit champion Katrin Davidsdottir. It comes with her sledge dog logo and has the Rogue logo imprinted. The effects are achieved by Rogue's cerakote finish which they have adjusted from the gun industry.
The bar base is derived from the Bella bar, the "female" version of Rogues flagship Ohio bar. It is made to IWF standards and comes in at 15kg. The diameter is 25mm and the loadable sleeve length comes to 13.00. The sleeves rotate via bushing and the bar withstands 190K tensile strength. The whip is good to accommodate its versatile use.
If you like blue and Iceland this is the bar for you. This is also a bar which will especially tailor to the needs of women, as the international standards differ from the men's bars. If you like blue, you are from Europe and like Crossfit, this is a good bar for a home gym or as a special addition to your commercial gym. The higher price compared to the original Bella bar might make it a bad choice when you want to buy in bulk.
Pros of the Davidsdottir
A nice design which inspires you to think of Katrin Davidsdottir's wins in the Crossfit games. It might be bought in a package with the Thor power bar so that a couple can train at home. It is an all-around bar which is up to the task.
Cons of the Davidsdottir
The Davidsdottir bar is currently only available with Cerakote sleeves. These are more likely to show wear and tear from the plates. If you use it at home and want to keep it crisp consider getting bumper plates instead of steel plates with this bar. You can also wait until Rogue offers it with chrome sleeves like the chan bar. The design might not flow as nicely then.
Learn more about the specs of the Rogue Davidsdottir barbell and purchase on the Rogue website
The Toomey Edition pays its respect to the 2017 Crossfit champion Tia Clair Toomey. Its basis also comes from the Bella bar and the Cerakote finish is applied to get an arrow design on the shaft. The blue used for this bar is slightly darker than the one for the Davidsdottir bar.
This bar weighs 15kg and has a diameter of 25mm. The sleeves have bushing to make them spin. It has a good whip and is built to IWF specifications for women. It withstands 190K PSI tensile strength and has a loadable sleeve length of 13.00. The knurling is standard. All of these specs make this bar an all-around bar with a nice design.
This bar is good for anyone who wants to add a special bar to their commercial line up or weekend warriors who want to have something special in their home gym. Tia Clair Toomey is from Australia, so if you want to show some flag down under, this is the bar to get.
Pros of the Toomey Bar
With the darker blue, the Toomey bar might be a better fit for certain colored power racks of Rogue than the Davidsdottir bar. Some also might prefer an arrow on their bar compared to a dog. The design is pretty and well executed. As with all of the branded bars Rogue makes good use of the Cerakote finish and is willing to experiment for best results.
Cons of the Toomey Bar
If you do not like the design this bar is not for you. As with other high gloss bars, it might not be the right choice when you want to buy in bulk for commercial or educational purposes. For this use case the Bella bar, Ohio bar or training bar might be better suited. If you are really hard pressed for the budget when buying in bulk have a look at the Castro and C-70 bar.
Learn more about the specs of the Rogue Toomey barbell and purchase on the Rogue website
The upgrades: Safety squat bar & Multi-grip bar
This is a bar out of the speciality bar selection of Rogue. Safety bar squats are especially popular among powerlifters. The idea is that the squats become less taxing on your body while still being able to train your posterior chain longer and harder. A very popular combination is to do safety bar squats to a box. You might want to consider to pick up one of Rogue boxes to be able to perform the movement.
The Rogue safety bar is tested at 1000lbs and weighs in at 70lb/35kg. It has a frame and padding attached so that you can fully focus on your legs. There will be less balancing needed as with a normal barbell. Also, your elbows will not suffer as much with extensive heavy squatting.
Safety bar squats are not ideal for beginners. You need to build basic strength first to be able to progress to this beast. Do not think that 140kg of a back squat with a barbell is the same as with the safety bar. The name can be a little misleading.
Pros of the safety bar
The safety bar is very popular with seasoned powerlifters. The older you get the more wear and tear your body shows. Especially when you have been lifting heavy for decades. The safety bar addresses these issues. You can lift heavy weights without taxing your ligaments and shoulders as much.
Cons of the safety bar
This bar can only be used for squats. If you only have a budget of 400 USD for the bar in your home gym do not get this bar. The same goes for gyms. Most of your clients will be intimated by the size of this beast and not know how to use it. You probably will only need one unless you are specialized in powerlifting. It is also huge and awkward to store. Know exactly why you want this bar before purchasing it.
Otherwise, you have 395USD gathering dust in your basement. If the price tag is too high you can also opt for the camber bar. The camber bar comes in at a lower price and has a similar effect to the safety bar with less material protecting the lifter.
Learn more about the specs of the Rogue Safety barbell and purchase on the Rogue website
Multi grip bar
The Rogue multi-grip bar is a great tool for anyone who wants to break through their bench press plateaus. The handles are spaced out at different intervals to enable variations on the bench press. This will help to attack your muscles from different angles while being easy on the wrists. This training can also be done with an ordinary barbell but this will put more stress on your ligaments and joints.
The Multi-grip bar weighs around 40LB depending on the configuration. Together with the camber bar and safety bar it is part of Rogue's speciality bar line up. The multi-grip bar is available in three configurations. The MG1 has only straight handles, the MG2 only tilted handles and the MG3 has a mix of both.
The handles are knurled. The sleeves come in at 1.91 diameter which means that your Olympic plates will fit. As with any speciality, bar pays special attention to the welding. You can rest assured that Rogue will do a proper job. If you get a low price alternative it might not fit the plates and collars which are standard or break just at the wrong moment.
Pros of the Multi-grip bar
The multi-grip bar is a great tool to mix things up and build a stronger bench press. It will also help your athletes to give their wrists and shoulders a break while still going heavy on bench presses. The different angles also avoid that you have to get a whole set of dumbbells for your home gym to attack your chest from different angles.
Cons of the multi-grip bar
Not a lot of people will use it and it takes up a lot of space. Unless you are sure that you or your members will take bench pressing serious think twice before getting the multi-grip bar. You might want to get some dumbbells instead if you have space.
Start with one core barbell which best fits your needs, most like the Ohio bar or the Ohio power bar. Once you have figured out what style of lifting you like most, move on to a specialised bar like a safety bar or westside deadlift bar. It all depends on your personal preferences and budget for your home gym.