A barbell is the best tool to get in shape at home. But how much will one set you back? I’ve crunched the numbers and here is the answer.
How much does an Olympic barbell cost? Olympic barbells prices range from $80 up to $1200+. The majority of Olympic barbells cost between $150 and $350. Barbells used during official Olympic events cost $1000 or more. The price differences come from differences in;
- Tensile strength
- Quality control
To discover more about those differences and what kind of barbell is right for you, keep reading.
Olympic barbell prices
There is such a wide range of prices, it’s good to have some guidance on what you can expect at a certain price point. There are barbells at every price point that have their purpose. But you have to get the right one for the right application. There’s no point in getting a $1200+ competition bar and then only use it for bicep curls.
Roughly there are four price ranges;
- Entry level
- High end
Of course every barbell is different and these price ranges are just indications of what you can expect. It’s possible you’ll find an amazing bar at $100 or a terrible one at $600.
Entry level Olympic barbell prices
Entry level barbells can be purchased from $80-$150. These barbells will do OK as long as you don’t lift too heavy or quickly. They won’t last forever or stand up to really heavy weights but for people that just want a simple bar that you can use for general lifting.
Personally I’d avoid bars under +-100. The listings don’t really specify the materials and other specifications which probably means they aren’t great.
If you’re looking for a bar you can use a little bit longer but want to spend the least amount of money possible, get a bar around the $150 mark. At that price you’ll get something significantly better than below +- $120 with better corrosion protection and a stronger bar in general. It won’t be amazing but good enough for most purposes.
There is a kind ‘secret’ entry level price for these bars. Sometimes when manufacturers offer a complete set with weight plates and barbells, they add one of these bars. For the manufacturer they are certainly cheaper than the price you’re paying if you’d buy it separately. When you buy a set the total is often already cheaper than buying the parts separately so we can only speculate how much they cost. How good are they? Hard to say and differs per set but they’re likely comparable to the sub $100 bars.
Mid-range Olympic barbell prices
Mid-range barbells cost from $150 – $350. In this price range you can get a significantly better barbell that can last you for a long time. Maybe you don’t get all the possible bells and whistles but this is as much bar as most people are ever going to need.
Stronger and better finished is what you can expect. Both those features will make it last a lot longer than an entry level bar. The finish on the bar and sleeves will be better and stronger which protects it from corrosion and keeps it looking nicer. On the upper end of this range it might even be possible to find a stainless steel bar which will pretty much never corrode.
Besides the corrosion protection, you’ll get better bearings for a freer spinning sleeve and a higher tensile strength. Another benefit over the cheaper ones is that these bars are often from bigger, well known brands. While you pay a little extra for a brand like that, you also get the warranty and support.
High end Olympic barbell prices
High end barbells will set you back $350 – $600. This is where you’ll find the best of the best. Smaller tolerances, the best finish, the best construction techniques, amazing quality control and super smooth spinning sleeves.
This level of barbell is only really appropriate for the top level of lifters. Of course other people can use it but it’ll be a waste of money. The biggest benefit to these types of bars is the ‘feel’. This is something you learn to distinguish with many, many repetitions. How smooth the sleeves spin, the ‘whip’ and the feel in your hands.
Of course if you’re an aspiring top level lifter but not quite there yet, you can get one of these bars in preparation. It’ll be closer to a barbell you’ll use during a real competition. Training with similar equipment to what you’ll use during a competition will probably give you a small benefit.
Competition barbell prices
Competition barbells are bit of a weird subset. These are the bars that are within spec for official Olympic weightlifting competitions. These bars have extremely tight quality control and require expensive techniques to be constructed.
They fall into the higher end of the price range. An official competition bar will cost anything from $600 to 1200+. Although not every bar that costs this much is a competition bar.
The materials are top notch, the knurling has to in exactly the right spots, the bar has to be exactly 2200 millimeter long while also weighing exactly 20 kg. And all of those measurements have to be within +0.1% to -0.05% tolerance.
While most other bars claim those numbers, you’ll often find either the length or weight is actually a bit off. Maybe not much but even a 1% difference in weight is at least 10x the allowable tolerance Does that matter in your home gym or normal training? No, but it certainly matters in an Olympic event where every gram counts.
On top of that the bearings used in the sleeves have to provide the least resistance possible while loaded. That means different bearing types and materials.
To create a bar that’s within such tight tolerances is quite difficult. Because of that special equipment and techniques have to be used. All this adds cost.
And finally everything has to be tested by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) or another federation which isn’t free either.
All of that means these bars are very expensive.
Should you get one for your home gym? No, unless you want to throw money away there is no reason to get an official bar. You can get a bar that’s 99% the same except for the IWF label for less money.
What’s right for you home gym?
Of course it depends on your budget, training level and aspirations what the best bar for you is. Besides that, one $200 bar isn’t the same as another $200 bar. Shopping around a little can help you find a good deal.
There are some guidelines you can follow however;
For people that do general weightlifting or powerlifting but not Olympic style weightlifting it’s not necessary to get a bar that has really free spinning sleeves. Really free spinning sleeves require better bearings and smaller tolerances. That costs money. But for normal weightlifting or powerlifting it isn’t necessary. Sleeves that spin are good but cheaper bearings will work fine for that purpose.
Try to find a bar with a tensile strength of at least 165k. Very simply said the higher that number, the more resistant it is to bending. It’s a bit more complicated than that but it’s an OK proxy to find out how strong a barbell is. Read this article from Ivanko for more information
Most people don’t clean their bar after every time they use it. Cheap bars in general have worse corrosion protection. Not cleaning and drying a bar without corrosion protection means you’ll be greeted with some rust the next time you want to use it. Better bars in general have better coatings or might even be stainless steel so you don’t have to worry about it much.
If you can afford it, go for a mid-range bar from a well-known brand. Rogue and York have some mid-range barbells with great specs. The Rogue Echo 2.0 and York Olympic Chrome training bar for example are really good bars for well under $300. While that’s still a lot of money, those barbells will also last you for a really long time without any issues.
What is an Olympic barbell? An Olympic barbell is a bar that is 220 cm long with 2″ spinning sleeves. These bars could be officially certified to be used during weightlifting competitions but in general, all bars that have the same features and sizes are called Olympic barbells.
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