Weight plates have their weight printed on them but barbells are a bit of a question. Everyone has asked themselves what that bar actually weighs. The answer isn’t as straight forward as you might think. I’ve done some research and put together this post that tells you exactly what a barbell weighs.
How heavy are barbells? The vast majority of barbells you will find in commercial gyms weigh 20kg/44lbs. Official Olympic barbells weigh 20kg for men and 15kg/33lbs. for women. Most powerlifting bars weigh 20kg. Non-certified bars can be any weight the manufacturer likes but most are 20kg.
There are a few details like the diameter and length that are also important to know about barbells. You can find those below. Click here to find out which barbell I recommend for home gyms.
How much does a barbell weigh?
A barbell is a piece of equipment that can come in different lengths and thicknesses. This means that they aren’t all the same weight. Here’s a chart that outlines the weights and dimensions of different types of barbells.
The weights in this chart are the empty barbells without weights and/or collars.
|Type||Weight (kg)||Weight (lbs.)||Length (mm)||Length (in.)||Diameter (mm)|
|Safety Squat bar||20.4-31.7||45-70||2133-2260||84-89|
As you can see there, most barbells weigh 20kg. It’s not a guarantee that the barbell in your hand does though. Even though we’re only talking about full sized barbells and not shortened ones, there is still some variability. Olympic bars for women weigh 15kg for example.
Of course the log bars are quite different than normal barbells; they’re just there for reference. There are tons of other specialty bars like the EZ curl or trap bar as well. There are no standards or regulations for those types of bars. They are just the result of whatever the manufacturer thinks is best. That means with those types of bars it’s pretty much impossible to know how heavy it is. The only way to find out is to weigh your specific one.
How heavy is the barbell in your gym?
Obviously every gym is different and has different barbells. That said, the vast majority of (full sized) barbells in commercial gyms will weigh 20kg/44lbs. It’s the standard for many of the barbells that are not certified by any official organization.
When there is no certification, manufacturers can basically make a barbell that weighs whatever they want. They could make one out of spaghetti if people would buy it. However, if you look around, the average weight of a non-certified barbell is 20kg/44lbs.
Gyms that are geared more towards people that want to compete in official competitions surely have barbells that reflect the regulations of that particular competition. Maybe they aren’t officially certified ones since they are quite a bit more expensive but any gym that cares about training good performers will make sure to have gear that helps with that.
More general gyms might have barbells that vary in weight more. For the majority of gyms the barbells will still be 20kg/44lbs. but there might also be some that are 15kg/33lbs. especially the shorter and thinner ones might be lighter. If you’re in doubt, you can always ask. Most gyms will have a scale as well so if you want to be really sure, just weigh it.
However, if your barbell is “normal” and doesn’t weigh 20kg, the chances are really high it weighs 15kg. Other types of barbells can have different weights.
In the end, if you’re just training for strength but not for a specific competition, it doesn’t really matter. In that case you can just focus on increasing the weight on the bar. The progression is more important than the total weight you’re lifting (except for your ego maybe).
Progression is what will give you the improvements in strength, health and athleticism you’re training for. The total weight is not as important. The difference between barbells is probably only 5kg. In the long run 5kg isn’t going to cause a huge difference in your appearance and strength.
How heavy should a home gym barbell be?
Which weight barbell you should buy for your home gym depends on a few factors;
- Are you training for a specific competition?
- How strong are you now?
If you’re training for a specific competition, try to get a barbell that closely resembles one that you’ll be using during the competition. Training with the equipment you’ll be using is always better since that means it will be very familiar. Competing in a competition is already stressful enough, getting used to different equipment is not an extra stress you need at that moment.
If you’re just training to become stronger, healthier and/or more athletic, it comes down to how strong you are now. For people that are really starting at a very low level, are in bad health or are very young or a bit older, you could start with a lighter barbell (15kg). In my opinion this is only necessary in very extreme cases however. Most people will get stronger very quickly, especially in the beginning. After a month that five extra kilos won’t be any problem anymore.
That means it’s hard to go wrong with a 20kg/44lbs. barbell. The benefit of getting one of those is that there is a lot of choice. 20kg barbells come in many different diameters, lengths, styles and prices. That means you can find something you like for your budget.
What is the diameter of a barbell? The vast majority of barbells has a diameter of 25mm or 28mm. Official Olympic weightlifting bars have a 28mm diameter for men and 25mm diameter for women. Powerlifting bars have a diameter of 29mm for both men and women. There are so called “fat bars” that are thicker with diameters up to 2”.
How much do powerlifting barbell collars weigh? Powerlifting barbell collars weigh 2.5kg each. The IPF regulations state that the combination of barbell and collars has to total 25kg. Since the bar itself weighs 20kg and you need collars on both sides, that means the collars have to weigh 2.5kg. Non-official collars can weigh as little as a few oz.