T Nation

Does a Good Olympic Bar Matter?


How important is it to use a highly reputable Olympic bar when performing the lifts (clean & jerk and snatch)? Do you think it makes a big difference with the amount of weight that can be lifted with a pretty novice Olympic lifter. Somebody lets say that can clean and jerk 320 and snatch 240 (lbs) weighing 235lbs.

Does it really only make a difference when the weights get a lot higher. This is in comparison to just a decent general commercial gym bar with not really any spin but good amount knurling.

If there is one thing that makes a difference equipment-wise it’s a good bar versus performance in the competition lifts.

It’s not just a matter of knurling (that is actually the least important element).

A good Olympic lifting bar has…

  1. A lot more spin (bearing vs. bushing) which makes a HUGE difference in racking your cleans (much easier to do the turnaround to rack the bar on your shoulders) and also in getting under a snatch. On the other hand, a lot of spin can hurt on the bench.

  2. A 28mm thickness while regular gym bars are normally 29 or 30mm. This makes a big difference especially in the snatch if you have small hands.

  3. A lot more whip than a regular bar. A skilled lifter who produces a lot of acceleration can use that whip to create more upward momentum and lift more weight. At first it can hurt your performance on the squat because it “bounces” more (flexes more) and if you don’t time your movement with the upward swing of the bar it can be harder to lift.

  4. It’s built tougher and can withstand the abuse of being dropped a lot better.

That having been said you don’t necessarily need an Eleiko (top of the line). Thanks to the popularity of Crossfit there are now more and more decent bars that come at a decent price. Just make sure it’s an Olympic/weightlifting bar (normally the 28mm and bearing and a high pounds per square inch is what you are looking for).

I have 6 bars in my garage:

Pendlay bearing bar (they also have a bushing one)
Rogue weightlifting bearing bar
Vaughn bar (bushing)
A generic bar (that I use for squats and bench)
Tonic performance bar (bearing)
Old York competition bar (back when York had good bars)

And also lift regularily with a Pendlay bushing bar and Again Faster weightlifting bar.

And it makes a difference which bar I use. The Pendlay bearing bar is a decent option for those not wanting to pay too much. Again Faster has the Klokov bar out that looks promising since they used it for the Klokov power weekend so you know it “works”.

How is the tonic performance bearing bar?
How does it compare to the more well known brands?
Interested in how it holds up as well.

It’s a Crossfit bar… which is better than a regular gym bar but not as good as a Rogue weightlifting bar or a weightlifting bar from another brand. I personally bought a Rogue olympic lifting bar for my home gym, it is approved by the IWF and is not super expensive

Thanks for the reply.
So comparable to a rogue 2.0 bar or a rogue “crossfit” bar?

Sorry to hijack, but I have several kind of bars at my gyms and never which one to use. So for o-lifts I should use the bar with the most whip. Stiffer for bench and squat? And which one for deadlift?

Lower quality… Rogue is now among the highest quality when it comes to equipment.

For olympic lifts . you want more whip and more sleeve rotation. Ideally no middle knurling or a weak one. And also, ideally a 28mm diameter.

For the squat it depends on your squatting style. I personally like to squat with the same bar as I do olympic lifting because I’m a fast squatter and I use the rebound in the bottom. A bar with more whip can help, if you time it right. But a slower speed squatter are someone who doesn’t know how to time the rebound is better off with a more rigid bar.

For the bench press you want a more rigid bar, ideally with less sleeve rotation and a 29mm diameter

For the deadlift people tend to go with a more rigid bar, especially if you are weaker off of the floor.

1 Like