T Nation

Best Bar Types?


I have been powerlifting for a couple years now(non competitive thus far so I’m not a “power lifter” but working on it) and I have worked out at a plethora of gyms with a wide variety of bars. I understand the difference between power bars, DL bars and OLY bars, etc. My question is regarding the DL and the ideal bars to use for different types of training. An example of what I’m trying to say is- stiffer bars can help strength by minimizing whip and getting accustomed to heavier weight through the full ROM. What I would like to know is if people DL with the OLY bar, if so, why and what benefits do you receive? Same thing with a power bar with moderate whip? Also, potential brands to look for at commercial gyms? This is kind of a hard question to put into words, but I appreciate any help!!

Oly bars whip a more than power bars but not as much as DL bars. Oly bars IIRC are also midway in terms of diameter with deadlift bar < oly < power < squat.

Plenty of lifters train on stiff bars even if they compete with a deadlift bar. It is probably beneficial to be familiar with a deadlift bar though and these same lifters might do a training cycle with stiff bar farther out from a meet and get more specific closer to a meet. Not a bad strategy at all if off the floor is your weakness as long as you build familiarity with the noodle bar by the time the meet comes around.

Personally I pull a bit more on a noodle bar than a stiff bar but the carryover strong and the transition straightforward. I know some guys who are thrown off by a deadlift bar even if they’ve trained on it and pull the same as they do on a stiff.

Oly bars have less aggressive knurl than a power bar. Could be good or bad depending on what you prefer. Like if you front squat with an oly bar it won’t take a chunk out of your neck.

Just for deadlifting though I probably wouldn’t Use the oly bar it serves no purpose better than a stiff bar and/or deadlift. If it’s all you have though it’ll do well enough.

Rogue, Eleiko, Buddy Capps/Texas Bars etc. are the big name brands but plenty of other decent bars out there. Most one will find the gym will be good enough though just make sure no one has bent it or something

Awesome information, I love it. Thank you! I just wanted to clarify 1 thing. Are you using stiff bars and power bars interchangeably; or do you just mean stiffer bars in general such as the squat or power bar? I actually noticed myself that I hate deadlifting with OLY bars, I assumed it was due to the bearings allowing more spin and what feels like displacing my CG. I’m glad you mentioned it though so I know that it’s not just me who doesn’t prefer them for Dead’s.

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Yeah stiff bar = power bar as far as I’m concerned. Squat bars are also stiff and for power lol but they thicc.

Is not that I don’t like oly bars just that there’s no reason to use em for that. If it was literally the only bar left free in the gym I would. Itd so the job aight. My hook grip sets nice on it and one can always strap up but the less aggressive knurling could be annoying for someone with grip issues already.

Given that oly bars are a bit thinner than powers technically the centre of gravity does change a tiny tiny bit. Dunno if it would be enough to be perceivable though. By that reasoning deadlift bar would be worse being even thinner


I prefer training on a deadlift bar as it means my back gets less beat up from training, so I can train more.


Thinner means closer to the body. Meaning it should be easier, not worse.

I really like the Texas DL bar. It has the most whip of the DL bars I have tried. Knurl is real nice too.

I have heard people say that they train with a power bar up until the meet, then pull on a DL bar at the meet. I don’t think this is a good strategy. The whip is something you need to get used to.


If you are training for a meet where you will use DL bar then use a DL bar in training. Otherwise don’t.

Some people like to use a stiff bar and then switch to a DL bar when they get closer to the meet, Pete Rubish even uses a squat bar. When I first used a DL bar it was way harder than puling on the stiff bar so for me that strategy probably wouldn’t help, but for some there could be some benefit in terms of making the lift harder without actually adding more weight.

Maybe if you don’t have access to a DL bar, it would be the next closest thing.

I once met a guy at a meet who tried that and was laughing about how ridiculous it was to pull on a bar that bends and how it was going to be so easy. I remember watching him grind out his last warmup, then lowering his opener and failing his 2nd attempt.


Alright, I’m going to give a scenario since there is a lot of back and forth and I really am enjoying everyone’s point of view. First- thank you all. At my gym, there are a good amount of power bars, 1 squat bar, and 2-3 OLY bars. Powerlifting comp coming up requiring me to lift with DL bar, but there are none at my gym. Personally I dislike the bearings and rotation on the ends of the OLY bar, so I was going to train with a power bar(also based on general consensus). In this circumstance, what would you guys do?

As a strongman, I have to deadlift with a whole bunch of different implements, and often they will change on the day of the comp, so if you were training for 1 implement, you have to use another instead.

The strongest guy still wins. Pick a bar and get strong and you will be good. Or rotate the bars between workouts, or have 1 for main and 1 for supplemental work. They all work.


If you don’t have a DL bar, and plan on a comp that uses a DL bar, I would try to mimic a DL bar the best I could. DL bars are thin (27 mm). A power bar is likely at least 28.5, or likely 29 mm. A weightlifting bar is about 28 mm I think. I would use that.

Another attribute of the DL bar is that they are longer, and the inside measurement of the plates is farther apart than with a standard bar. The farther out the weight is the more flex the bar will have before leaving the floor. I would put a collar clip (or 2.5 / 5 lb plates, or whatever you can use as a spacer) on each of the sleeves of the barbell before adding weight to mimic the DL bar. I would use a bit extra distance to compensate for the thicker shaft.

This is what I would do if I were you.

Awesome reply! Thank you for the tips, gave me some new really good insight on how to proceed!

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One word of caution, the DL bar that you use in competition will likely have a sharp knurl. If you use hook grip, it might be painful, and off putting. If over under grip, it probably will not be much of an issue. Just be aware of it.

Alright, thankfully I do “over, under” so I’m hopefully good. Hook grip is excruciating for me anywhere past like 405.

It hurts initially and took me 3 separate training blocks to learn it (gave up twice).

I do think long term it makes sense to learn the hook grip. I have noticed for me at least, my back isn’t as sore (I helicopter the bar doing sumo DLs if over under). Additionally, one shoulder was lower than the other.

I have seen two ripped biceps in the 5 or so powerlifting meets I have been in or attended.

If your meet is soon, stick with over under. I think if you want to do this for the next 10 years, it would be worth taking the time to learn it. I promise it does not hurt nearly as bad after a while.

Hook grip is much easier with sumo if you can get your thumbs on the smooth part. For conventional that isn’t an option and DL bar knurling hurts your thumbs so bad that you might rather just tear a bicep instead.

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@Vincepac1500 hook grip the smooth master race

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I have tried to use it in programming, but like you said, I did not stick with it because it was painful. I guess I’ll just keep trying it because I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon! Thank you.

Right now I’m training with Conventional just to see how far I can take that and see some carry over to Sumo(my stronger lift). So when I switch back I’ll try to teach myself on sumo.

I have switched to actually using some of the knurling. I’m hitting weights I used to pull for 2-3 reps for like 6-8 and thumbs were slipping mid set.

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