Not all barbells are built the same and there can actually be some significant differences between different barbells.
15 kilogram barbells are also known as women’s Olympic barbells. They are shorter, lighter and thinner than standard men’s Olympic barbells. The 15 kilogram barbells are better for people who need a lighter barbell and/or have small hands. They also work well in small gyms because they are shorter.
If you want to know the exact differences between the types of barbells and who is best served by them, keep reading.
What makes Women’s Olympic Barbells Different?
Women’s and men’s olympic barbells are a little bit different. The International Weightlifting Committee (IWF) sets different standards for the equipment used for the women’s and men’s competitions. While most barbells people buy for their home gym are not officially certified Olympic barbells, most manufacturers model their barbells closely after the official standards.
The standards set for barbells by the IWF are pretty strict and all the dimensions and weights have to be very close to the set standard. The non-certified (cheaper) barbells most people buy are modeled closely after those certified ones but there can be small differences. However, for all practical purposes those differences are small enough that it doesn’t matter.
So what are the actual differences? Keep in mind a random barbell can differ slightly.
|Men's Olympic Barbell||Women's Olympic Barbell|
|Weight||20 kg/ 44lbs.||15 kg/ 33lbs.|
|Total Length||2200 mm/ 86.6"||2010 mm/ 79.14"|
|Shaft length||1310 mm||1310 mm|
|Sleeve Length||16.25"/ 415 mm||12.5"/ 320 mm|
|Shaft Diameter||28 mm||25 mm|
|Knurling||Center Knurling||No Center Knurling|
|Load Capacity (Bumper Plates)||540 lbs./ 245 kg||360 lbs./ 163 kg|
So women’s Olympic barbells are about 5 kilos lighter and a few millimeters thinner than the men’s barbell. They’re also slightly shorter because the sleeves at the end are shorter.
Why Use A Women’s Olympic Barbell?
So why would you want to buy a women’s Olympic barbell? Does it matter?
There are four reasons why you would want the different barbell:
- Hand size: Women’s (15 kg) barbells have a thinner shaft. So the part you grab with your hands is actually thinner. This makes it easier to grip for people with smaller hands. Women have smaller hands on average which is why the barbells are a little thinner. The smaller diameter makes it easier to wrap your fingers around it and get a good grip. Especially if you lift heavy this makes a difference. The flip side of that is that the thinner bar cuts into your hands more.
- Strength: The women’s barbell is 25% lighter (20 vs 15 kg). For beginners that want to do exercises with an empty bar, this can be a significant difference. You can always load up more weight plates to make a bar heavier, making a barbell lighter is impossible.
- Gym size: 15 kg. Barbells are a little shorter than 20 kg. bars. It’s a difference of about 7”. In some spaces there is just not enough space to space and maneuver a longer barbell, a 15 kg bar can mean the difference between using a barbell and not.
- Price: In some cases the 15 kg version of a barbell is a bit cheaper than the 20 kg one. In my opinion that price difference is not enough to warrant the choice of one over another. Think about the other factors mentioned above to make the right decision for you.
While some people might not like it, the different types are called men’s and women’s barbells for a reason. Most men are better off with the 20 kg version and most women with the 15 kg version. However, just get the one you think works best for you.
Recommended 15 Kg Barbell
It can be difficult to choose a barbell. But in the end, they are pretty simple pieces of equipment. You just want something that works and lasts a long time without too many issues.
If you’re looking for a good 20 kg barbell, click here.
Synergee 15 Kg Regional Barbell
The best choice in this category is from Synergee. It’s affordable but sports some pretty impressive specs.
- 25 mm shaft diameter
- 15 kg weight
- 79.1” total length
- Rated for 1500 lbs. of load.
- 190k PSI tensile strength
- Needle bearings for smoothly rotating sleeves
- Hard chrome coating for great corrosion resistance
- Durable construction
- 1.2 mm deep knurling
There are way fewer choices for 15 kg barbells than 20 kg barbells. But that doesn’t really matter if the choices you have are good to begin with. And Synergee is a brand that produces high quality workout equipment for very reasonable prices. The barbell above has great specs and doesn’t cost the world.
The 1500 lbs. rating means it is more than strong enough for pretty much anything a human can lift. The chrome coating is a nice touch that is uncommon at this price point. Chrome is a great and durable anti-corrosion coating.
Why Is It Called An Olympic Barbell?
You might be wondering why these barbells are called Olympic. It’s not because you can only use them for Olympic style lifts and not for anything else. You can use these barbells for any type of exercise you like.
To be an official Olympic barbell, it has to be tested and certified by the IWF. Most barbells including the one recommended above is not certified.
The reason they’re still called Olympic barbells is because the layout is the same. It’s become kind of a marketing term that now only means one thing for sure: An Olympic barbell has 2”/50mm diameter sleeves (part you put the weight plates on) that can rotate independently from the shaft (part you grab). If a barbell is called Olympic, that’s about the only thing you can take for granted.
A large amount of barbells will also roughly adhere to the other lengths and diameters set by the IWF but there are no rules whatsoever so it’s completely up to the manufacturer.
For most people, an “Olympic” barbell is the best choice. Because 2” sleeves need weight plates with a 2” hole and those are the most common nowadays, that’s the best choice. Also, spinning sleeves reduce stress on your wrists on exercises where the bar rotates which reduces injury risk. There are also more choices and most higher quality barbells have 2” sleeves. So if you’re buying new, go for an “Olympic” one.