Barbell collars are a small piece of equipment that any gym should have. It keeps the barbell user safe and it’s small and cheap so there is no reason not to get a set. But there are so many different ones, which ones are best?
Barbell collars are a necessary accessory to make your gym safer. Barbell collars are made to keep the weight plates safely on the barbell. Plates falling off can be dangerous. Quick release collars are the best choice for most people since they are easy to use and have good clamping force.
Let’s take a look at the different types and the best barbell collars and clips to choose.
Types Of Barbell Collars
There are a few types of barbell collars to be aware of. They mostly do the same thing (keeping the plates on the bar) but how easy they are to use can be different.
Spring clip: The most common barbell collars you will find. They’re a round spring you slide over the sleeves of the barbell. You open up the spring by squeezing the handles that stick out. When you let go, the spring tightens. They’re cheap and super simple but the clamping force isn’t always good and/or consistent. They tend to wear out over time.
Quick release: These collars are a bit bulkier and heavier but actually easier to use. The spring clips can be a bit hard to squeeze if your grip strength isn’t super strong. Quick release barbell collars are easier to put on the bar and easier to lock. You’re just flipping the lever and it’s done. These collars also tend to have a bit more clamping strength so they’re safer.
Screw: There are two types of screw collar. One goes on the ends of a threaded bar. Almost all bars with treaded ends come with a set of collars. The other type is a bit of tube with a screw perpendicular to the bar sleeve. Tightening the screw locks it in place. This type is quite rare.
Competition: Competition collars are ones that are certified for use in official weightlifting competitions. The IWF sets the following standards for collars;
- 2.5 kg per side with a max tolerance of +10 grams
- Made from chromed steel
- 5 cm diameter hole
So you can see there is no rule that states exactly what type of collar it has to be but in practice, all of them are quick release collars.
Best Barbell Collars And Safety Clips
Here are the 4 best barbell safety collars and clips.
The 4 best barbell collars;
- Lock Jaw Pro 2
- ProSourceFit Spring Clip
- Rogue Aluminum
- Gorilla Strength Chain collars
Lock Jaw Pro 2
The original quick release collars. Often faked, never improved.
Yes, there are cheaper versions available that look similar. Let’s call them ‘replicas’ to be nice. Most of those work well when they’re new but they don’t last as long as the real thing. At some point they start losing grip and can start sliding.
The original Lock Jaw quick release collars cost a bit more but are very durable. They won’t damage your barbell but still clamp onto the bar tightly, securing your plates.
The Pro 2 has improved in strength over the previous model and claims to hold 50% more weight. They also feature a magnet so you can easily stick them to the power rack or other metal to get them out of the way.
ProSourceFit 2” Spring Clip
It’s the classic barbell collar. Almost every gym in the world will have these clips laying around. They’re cheap, don’t break and last forever. Sure, they’re not the most comfortable to use but people have been using them for many decades with success.
There are many brands who provide these clips but they’re all pretty similar. Some have plastic handles like the ProSourceFit ones. That makes them a bit more comfortable to use.
If you want something really nice, these Rogue collars might be what you’re looking for.
Unlike most other clamps, they’re made from aluminum. The biggest part of the collar is CNC cut from a single piece of aluminum which makes it very strong but also very pretty. It’s available in different color finishes and has a quick release mechanism. The quick release lever is made from nylon. Inside the collar is a rubber lining so you don’t damage your barbell or collars.
Gorilla Strength Chain Collars
Maybe you want your collars to do something more than just keep the weight plates on. Some training methods involve hanging heavy chains from the bar. Just like weight plates, you don’t want one chain to slide off and cause an imbalance.
The Gorilla strength collars have extra loops you can attach your chains to. This way the chains are secured to the barbell and can’t slide off. Besides that, these collars are completely made from steel. They’re made in Kentucky, U.S.A., are made for 2” barbells and can support up to 500 lbs.
Why You Need Barbell Collars
Do you really need these clips? Doesn’t a barbell work perfectly fine without them? Sure, lifting weights without using the barbell clips will be perfectly fine in most situations. However, the potential danger is in some situations is worth using the clips.
Barbell clips are meant to keep the weight plates on the barbell and prevent them from sliding off. A few are also used to attach chains but that’s a small minority.
Especially if you’re lifting heavy, it’s possible you will fail a repetition at some point. Usually when you fail, you don’t fail ‘symmetrically’. Usually one muscle on one side will fail and cause a chain reaction that makes you go down. That means one side of the barbell starts pointing to the floor.
When that happens without a collar, the plates will start sliding off. When that happens there are two dangers;
- The load suddenly becomes very uneven. Since you’re already failing a lift, your body is not in a position to compensate for that. This can cause injury since your body will be subjected to an uneven weight, suddenly.
- When plates slide off, one side is suddenly very heavy and the other side very light. If the bar is still on your body, the light side will suddenly whip up. That end of the bar can build a significant speed in very little time and when it hits something, it can do some real damage. The heavy side will fall down and do some damage on the other side.
So when things go wrong without collars, they can go very wrong very quickly. Adding them is a small insurance that doesn’t cost much time or money but could prevent some damage or injury.
Another reason to use barbell clamps is bar bend. The bar will bend a little under very heavy loads. That means both ends point down which means the plates can slide off. So if you’re lifting heavy, barbell collars are an absolute necessity.
Does having collars on the bar complicate changing the weight on the barbell? Yes, it requires an extra step. However, there are different types of collars that add different levels of complication.
Also, barbell collars aren’t necessary on every exercise. In some cases you might even want to avoid them.