T Nation

Oly Bar vs. Regular

After about a 7 day layoff due to a bad cold and the LA rains flooding my garage, I had a spectacularly bad night lifting last night, and I’m trying to figure out if I’m still under the weather from the cold or if a recent change in equipment has messed me up.

The equipment change- the olympic bar (i.e. for olympic lifting, nicely machined) got reclaimed and I was using my regular bar (takes olympic plates, same size and weight, just not a springy shiny oly bar). I was doing some power cleans at my present working weight of 80kg- an easy 5 reps for the pull normally, with the catch being what I’m working on. First set after warmup was the ugliest 4 reps I’ve done since learning the power clean almost a year ago, followed by total failure on the fifth rep, couldn’t get the bar high enough. Somehow the new bar had completely messed up my timing and pull, and I had to cut my weight way back. Does this make sense? Can you lose 10kg off your pull just by switching bars?

After that disaster, I tried some snatch squat presses with a weight I could handle easily 2 weeks ago- after dropping the bar on my neck twice, cutting my weight, then dropping the bar again, I decided it was time to call it a night. I’m figuring my abysmal performance on the snatch squat press was, in part, because I was mentally off following the power cleans, and in part, 'cos of the residual effects of the cold, but the drop in my pull on the power clean is disturbing.

Any ideas?

I’m planning on going back to do my 10x3 on the snatch squat press tommorrow morning in hopes of a fresh start producing better results.


Bars do make a difference for the o-lifts, the greater the weight, the bigger the difference. Although at 80 kg the difference would probably not be all that great – unless the bar in question is that bad.

I take it your first bar was a real, true olympic bar; i.e. made for olympic lifting and not just for taking olympic plates.

Do the collars on your current, regular bar spin, and how easily? That most likely is the source of the difference. If they don’t spin or spin badly, that makes it tougher.

At higher weights, the spring of the bar can become a factor, especially for jerks. If you are jerking a heavy weight with a springy bar, you need to pause and time the jerk to coincide with the upward rebound of the bar after you dip. That way you don’t fight the weight as it is coming down and you can take advantage of the spring as the weights rebound up.

Man, I feel for you: a good bar is a beautiful thing. Any way you can get it back?

Doesn’t sound unreasonable.

I’m not experienced enough in the olympic lifts to have a feel for bar whip and timing, but I believe its importance is well established. There’s an article at dynamic-eleiko that discusses how elite athletes can generate 30% of the height needed in the jerk just by taking advantage of the bar’s oscillation. Basically they dip, and then start the jerk while the plates are still descending, so the center of the bar is moving up while the plates are moving down, which creates a slingshot effect whipping the bar overhead.

It could also be that the olympic bar flexes a bit off the floor, essentially allowing you to start your pull from a slightly higher, more advantageous position.


Hey Ajax,

Yeah, the first bar was a for-real olympic bar. It got snagged for someone who needed it prior to competing in Vegas this weekend. It should come home next week, but I’m still in shock over the difference in feel, and one of my worst lifting nights in months.

I’ll check to see how the collars spin on my other bar. I’ll bet poorly if at all.



Well, as long as the good bar is coming back soon. Now you’ll really appreciate it!

I’ve used regular power bars for o-lifts. They are thicker, the collars don’t spin well, and they are super stiff. But I’ve found them serviceable, at least for weights up to about 245 lbs. Not pleasant, but serviceable nonetheless for snatches and clean and jerks.

Well, I figured out my problem this morning after work- I’ve clearly taken too many shots to the head, and completely brain-cramped converting metric to english measurements while using a mix of metric and english plates. Ergo, my 45kg snatch squat press, which equals 99lbs, should probably NOT have been done using 115 lbs (er, I did get a couple of doubles in before I nearly decapitated myself with the bar), and my 80kg power clean (176 lbs) should probably NOT have been attempted with 183 lbs.

I didn’t get weaker, I got dumber.


I’m not quite sure how to feel about that. . .