Wondering if you can fit a barbell in the small space you’ve got available for your home gym? Here are the dimensions of common Olympic barbells.
Certified Olympic barbells come in two varieties; Men’s and Women’s. Men’s Olympic barbells are 2200 mm long, have a 28 mm shaft diameter, 50 mm spinning sleeves and weigh 20 kg. Women’s Olympic barbells are 2010 mm long, have a 25 mm shaft diameter, 50 mm diameter spinning sleeves and weigh 15 kg.
If a barbell isn’t certified by the IWF, it doesn’t have to comply with any standards so it can be quite different. A barbell that’s advertised as Olympic but not certified usually only means it has 2” spinning sleeves. Most medium to high quality bars will be very similar to the men’s Olympic bar but manufacturers are free to deviate.
|Barbell Dimensions||Total length||Shaft length||Shaft diameter||Sleeve diameter||Sleeve length||Weight|
|Men's Olympic Barbell||220 cm/ 86.75"||1310 mm||28 mm||50 mm||415 mm||20 kg|
|Women's Olympic Barbell||201 cm/ 79.13"||1310 mm||25 mm||50 mm||320 mm||15 kg|
If you want more information about Olympic barbells, you can find it below.
What is an Olympic barbell?
You might have seen the words “Olympic barbell” thrown around a lot but what does that actually mean?
Olympic obviously refers to the Olympic Games. Weightlifting has been a staple of the games forever and for weightlifting you need a barbell. Everything at the Olympics is tightly regulated and the barbells (and weight plates) are no different.
That means Olympic barbells are the barbells that comply with all the regulations set by the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation). Those regulations set standards for dimensions, weight, knurling, etc. To be certified as a IWF approved barbell, all the dimensions and weight have to be within pretty tight tolerances.
More about those dimensions and tolerances at the bottom of this post.
To produce a barbell within those tolerances and get it certified is actually pretty expensive. That’s why there aren’t actually many ‘real’ Olympic barbells. However, the phrase gets used way more than for just the certified barbells so what’s going on?
If you’re unfamiliar with the names of parts of a barbell, take a look at the picture above or click here to find out more about the anatomy of a barbell.
Like anything else that can be used for marketing, the ‘Olympic’ in ‘Olympic barbell’ is used as a marketing term. 99% of the barbells advertised as Olympic aren’t certified by the IWF. That doesn’t mean they are completely unrelated though.
Because these bars aren’t certified, they don’t necessarily have the exact same features and dimensions as an official barbell. However, most of the bars that are advertised as ‘Olympic’ but not certified will still be quite close to the real thing.
There are roughly three levels of unofficial Olympic bars;
- Complies to all the IWF regulations but isn’t certified
- Is a little off the regulations in some ways but still very close.
- Is quite different but has 2” diameter sleeves.
That basically means that if you see a barbell advertised as ‘Olympic’ you can only expect 2” diameter sleeves and not much else.
As you can imagine the prices of those categories go from high to low. A bar that’s produced within specs but not certified still costs more to produce than a bar that strays a bit further away from the official dimensions.
The last category is quite common. They don’t have much to do with Olympic barbells at all (sure they look similar and have a similar purpose). These bars just have 2” diameter sleeves that fit “Olympic” plates. Olympic plates usually also just means the inner hole is 2” in diameter. The same marketing for barbells applies to weight plates.
So if you see a barbell advertised as ‘Olympic’, the only thing you can really expect is that the sleeves at the ends are 2” in diameter. Everything else is not so clear cut. Since they don’t have to be certified, they can stray from the official dimensions.
Do you need a ‘real’ Olympic barbell?
That raises the question, do you need an Olympic barbell that completely complies with all the regulations? (certified or not).
Having an IWF certified barbell in a home gym is not necessary. 99.99999% of us aren’t training for the Olympics. Maybe a few percent are training for official competitions but it’s pretty rare. And even if you are, getting a certified bar is not necessary for training.
If you’re training for a competition, you might want to train with a bar that’s close to the real thing but it’s not necessary to pay for one with official certification.
For the vast majority of home gym owners, a simple barbell that has 2” spinning sleeves is good enough. Of course you do want a bar with a decent level of quality. A good quality barbell can last for decades so it’s worth spending a little bit extra than the bare minimum.
Types of Olympic Barbells
The first thing to understand is that there actually are two main types of real Olympic barbells. As described above, a bar that is advertised as Olympic doesn’t necessarily mean it complies with all the standards set by the IWF.
The dimensions and weights quoted here below are for officially certified bars but since most bars aren’t certified, they could be a little different. That said, most higher quality barbells will be very close to these dimensions.
With that out of the way let’s look at the official dimensions and weights of Olympic barbells.
There are actually two types of Olympic barbells;
The different classes of weightlifting actually use slightly different sized and weighted barbells. Here are the specifications for both.
Men’s Olympic barbell
Let’s first look at the men’s Olympic barbell and the specific dimensions
- Total length: 2200 mm/ 86.75”
- Shaft length: 1310 mm
- Shaft diameter: 28 mm
- Sleeve diameter: 50 mm
- Sleeve length: 415 mm
- Weight: 20 kg
All those dimension and weight has to stay within a +0.1% to -0.05% tolerance to be certified. You can probably understand it’s quite difficult to get within such small tolerances and that’s why officially certified bars are so expensive.
If you buy a non-certified barbell and they quote the same dimensions and weights, the chances are that the tolerances are quite a bit larger than that. As said above, for a home gym that’s not a big issue.
Women’s Olympic barbell
Now let’s look at the women’s Olympic barbell. There are some similarities but also some differences.
- Total length: 2010 mm/ 79.13”
- Shaft length: 1310 mm
- Shaft diameter: 25 mm
- Sleeve diameter: 50 mm
- Sleeve length: 415 mm
- Weight: 15 kg
As you can see, the biggest differences between this and the men’s bar is that it’s 5 kg. lighter, is 19 cm shorter and the shaft has a 3 mm smaller diameter.
The shaft length (part you grip with your hands) is the same between both bars. So to make the total length shorter, the sleeves are cut a little.
Another difference you can’t see from the numbers above is the knurling (the cross hatch pattern in the shaft). The men’s bar has a knurling patch in the middle of the barbell while the women’s bar doesn’t.
The center knurl was originally for the single handed lift but in modern days provides some grip for front or back squats.
So what about the barbells that aren’t certified?
Most of the higher quality bars that aren’t certified are going to be very similar to the specs quoted above. If there is any difference, it’s not big enough to make any practical difference in training.
Some cheap bars throw all the guidelines out of the window and just have 2” diameter sleeves to be able to call them ‘Olympic’. Most of these bars will be similar to the official barbells but they can also be quite different in dimensions and weight.
To know how close they are, you have to carefully compare the dimensions of the bar you want to buy to the official dimensions.
However, for most people the length isn’t super important for training in a home gym. It should be short enough to fit in your gym but long enough to fit on your power cage. (longer than 6’ will generally fit on any power rack.) The important things to look out for when buying a barbell for your home gym are the sleeve diameter (do your weight plates fit?) and the diameter of the shaft.
The length and diameter of the shaft are things that are often different. For a home gym setting, that’s not necessarily good of bad. Maybe you prefer a thicker/ thinner bar or a slightly shorter one. Shorter bars are often more practical in a home gym setting, especially if you don’t have too much space.
Favorite Barbell Accessories
Your barbell workouts will be made better by these accessories:
- Barbell collars: Keep the plates securely in place with these barbell collars (Amazon link)
- Micro plates: This set of micro plates (Amazon link) allows you to add small amounts of weight to the bar so you can keep making progress.
- Squat pad: Need a little padding between your back and the barbell? This Profitness squat pad (Amazon) is both high quality and affordable.
- Deadlift pads: Dramatically reduce the noise and impact on the floor when deadlifting with these Yes4All pads (Amazon).
Find my favorite barbell and weight plates by clicking here.