Why is buying a barbell for your gym so complicated? In short, it isn't straightforward because the bar you choose will have a lasting impact on the direction your fitness journey takes. Getting the right bar for your home gym is worthy of a little thought, and if you want to get serious about weightlifting, you'll want an Olympic barbell. So, which Olympic barbell is suitable for you?
Why not save some money and buy a standard barbell? What do the extra hundred-odd dollars get you? Honestly, a lot. The critical difference is the sleeve diameter, where you load the weight. Standard sleeves are 2.5mm wide and Olympic sleeves are twice that. This is a considerable distinction since the weight you use has to match the sleeve diameter. Olympic bars and weights are fantastic because they meet the specifications of competition lifting. They're easier to load and more secure during intense lifts like the clean and jerk. An Olympic bar is worth the investment.
Bar and Sleeve Length
You might see bars referred to as men's and women's barbells. The key distinction here is in the length of the bar. The women's barbell is shorter at 200cm total length compared to the men's barbell, which can be upwards of 7ft (213cm) total length. This reduction in size makes the bar easier to grip and lighter (15kg compared to 20kg for men's bars). The max loading weight is also reduced due to a reduction in sleeve length. On that note, let's talk about collars. Should you get a spring collar or lockjaw collar to hold your weights in place? That's more of a matter of personal preference, and easy enough to change later. Lockjaw collars are typically more expensive, but they're easier to slip on and off and provide fantastic security.
Olympic barbell sleeves are designed to spin freely during your lifts. The spin of the sleeve is critical in redistributing the force created by the weight plates, making exercises like the clean and jerk more accessible and reducing the risk of injury. Either bushings or bearings facilitate the spinning action. Bushings work fine for powerlifting moves like deadlifts, but a set of bearings is significantly better for any fast movements. Higher-end bars use needle and ball bearings with the better bars featuring more bearings in each sleeve, like the four you'll find in the Spartan200, to create a smoother motion. If you're still undecided about the direction, your weightlifting will take you, play it safe and buy a bar with bearings. They're designed for use with quick Olympic competition lifts like clean and jerks, but they're equally as impressive for use with less complex lifts.