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August 23, 2022

Oympic Barbell Comparison - Find the right bar for you

Hey guys, Peter Day here at CORTEX. Today we are going to have a look at our Olympic barbell range and help break down the components to help set you up with the right barbell for your weightlifting journey. Barbells are a great way to elevate your strength routine, build muscle and improve your athletic performance. With Olympic barbells there is more than meets the eye, these weightlifting tools can vary in length, weight, steel, and coating.

Size/ Weight   

Olympic barbells will vary in size and weight with women's barbells being slightly shorter and lighter in comparison to men's barbells. Barbells will vary in length to accommodate the difference in shoulder width between men and women. Our female barbell range, the ATHENA, comes in at 15kg and 200cm long with a slightly smaller grip diameter of 25mm so women can maintain a firm grip while performing lifts. The SPARTAN series and ZEUS series make up our men's barbells weighing in at 20kg with a length of 220cm. Although these barbells are designed proportionate to the male and female body this does not mean a female cannot opt for a men's barbell and vice versa. 


Let's talk about barbell strength. Entry level barbells will have a lower tensile strength which is great for beginners and for functional fitness but not so great for powerlifting. Tensile strength is the max load a barbell can hold before it breaks or fractures, a high-quality barbell will have a higher tensile rating. Lifters with more experience and confidence will need a barbell with a higher tensile rating, we suggest between 150,000 to 230,000 PSI. The ZEUS series is our barbell range with the highest tensile strength at a whooping 230,000 PSI. 


All our barbells are constructed with a steel. The strength and price of each bar will vary depending on the quality and type of steel. Carbon steel which is here on the ATHENA, SPARTAN100 and SPARTAN200 is a great option for those after a low-cost barbell that will also offer a good amount of strength. A stronger option would be chromoly steel on the SPARTAN205, this type of low-alloy steel has increased hardenability and resistance to corrosion. For competition use, a spring-tempered stainless-steel barbell has a great whip, meaning the bar whips and bends back into shape when put under heavy load. Our ZEUS series barbell is constructed with this steel. 


Next thing to consider, is the barbell finish. A coating is applied to the steel for protection and to reduce oxidation. Our entry models have a chrome plated finish, although this option has great shine and is a good option for beginners, over time and excessive use this bar could crack and chip. For a natural feel, the black oxide finish available with our SPARTAN range is a great mid-range option for hardness and durability. Hard chrome tends to be the preferred finish and for good reason, hard chrome retains it shine, doesn’t chip or rust and is the strongest finish. Hard chrome finish is available on our SPARTAN205 and ZEUS100.  


Having the right amount of grip on your bar will help to perform lifts without the bar slipping ensuring your form is correct within every rep. If you have a look here can see this cross-hatch pattern along the sleeve... this is the knurling. Knurling can be rougher or smoother depending on the bar. For compound lifts, CrossFit and functional training a barbell with a medium nonabrasive knurling will be best. For competition and powerlifting a more abrasive knurling will be a more trustworthy option for maintaining your grip during heavy lifts. Our bars have knurling along the entire sleeve to accommodate all kinds of lifts where you would need to maintain grip on your hands, back or shoulders.  


Now you may wonder how your barbell spins during lifts and the answer is inside the barbell. Although you can't see them, bearing or bushing mechanisms sit inside the barbell to reduce friction during spinning. The spin from your barbell will reduce torque during lifts making it safer for the user. When preforming weightlifting exercises a spinning barbell sleeve will work best to minimise injury and increase comfort. Cheaper barbells will be equipped with bushings, these are metal rings that work well for functional training and basic lifts. Our ATHENA100 contains 2 bushings, one on either side. Our ATHENA200 and SPARTAN100 includes 4 needles bearings, 2 on each side. Whereas, the SPARTAN200 and the ZEUS100 will have 8 needle bearings giving you with an even smoother and cleaner lift. 


Some maintenance and care will be required to keep your barbell in tip top shape. We suggest wiping down your bar with a fitness wipe or microfibre cloth after every workout. Cleaning the knurling of any dirt and debris with a bristle brush is required every now and then to avoid build up. Applying a protective coating by lubricating the bar with a 3-in-1 oil will also help avoid any future problems. We recommend a food grade mineral oil. 

Whether you're beginning your weightlifting journey, upgrading your bar or training for your next competition you’re going to find that one of our CORTEX barbells are going to suit your needs. If you have a question or need more information please don't hesistate to reach out to our friendly team.  

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