Women's Olympic Bar, WTF?

So I’m looking at investing in a Pendlay Olympic bumper set, because I want to do Oly lifts and there’s nothing but pussy gyms around here that don’t want you dropping weights. Since I already have a power rack of my own, I figured I may as well look at getting my own Oly set as well!

Here’s what’s baffling me: they have a 33lb “women’s” bar. WTF is the purpose of this? Is it standard in competitions or something? I thought all “real” Oly bars were 45lbs! I guess my main concern is if I’m used to the 45lb bar and then want to go compete (hey, I can dream), I’d be handed a 33lb bar and be all thrown off.


I think the bar is a little thinner to accomodate our small girlish hands. But Alexus will know - she used to use one.

If you want to compete, you want to use the 15kg women’s bar because that is what is used in competition. It is narrower, like Cal says and it has a bit more flex in the bar.

I wondered about that myself the first time. Especially since I really don’t have girly hands, I mean they are not huge but I do have rather long fingers. Anyway Lexy explained to me that the real advantage (as debraD did as well), is that the bar is a bit more flexible and more ‘whippier’ in our hands.

Agreed with all posters.

I personally like the women’s bar for Oly lifts since I don’t have big hands and to use the hook grip, the thinner bar is better for me. But I can and have used a standard Oly bar for practicing O lifts and its been fine, but not as comfortable.

I would recommend that you get the women’s bar for Oly since you have aspirations to compete (DO IT!!) like Deb said, and presumably you already have a standard bar for your current rack.


I’m like Masch in the fact that I hook grip when I perform Oly lifts. I find it lets my arms hang a little looser because I don’t have to worry about holding onto the bar. I have hook gripped a regular bar but it’s definitely not as comfortable.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the women’s bar for Olympic Lifting. First off I was kinda like… Feeling that it was second rate or something… But I’ve come to love it. Mostly because the guys I was training with were super jealous that I got to use it legitimately because they totally would have loved to use it themselves mwah haha.

It is competition standard. Like with shot put the women’s shot put is different from the mens shot put. I think the women’s one weighs a bit less and might be a bit smaller as well.

The women’s bar is narrower. That makes it easier to grip. The idea being that women tend to (but don’t always) have smaller hands. The narrower nature of it makes it easier for ANYONE to grip, though.

Because the women’s bar is narrower it is whippier. If you imagine loading up different bars for the deadlift then the bar will typically ‘give’ or bend a bit before the weight leaves the ground when the weight is heavy. A powerlifting bar is designed to be stff so a deadlift if a true ‘dead’ lift. It doesn’t give much at all. The men’s oly bar has more give - the bar will bend more before the weights leave the floor. The women’s bar has even more give. What that means…

If you are fast and accurate in hauling your butt under the bar for snatches and cleans… You can beat the bar and it will come down on you just a little… When it comes down on you the weights will come down a little further as the bar will bend. The weights will then catapult themselves up a little and you use that momentum to help catapult you out the hole. Oh so much fun when you time this correctly!

I thought all… Perhaps all COMPETITION standard (but not TRAINING standard) women’s oly bars also don’t have a center knurl. What that means… Apparently it is because women’s skin tends to be more delecate and a number of women complained about their necks getting all scraped up from the center knurling when they trained cleans often. So… They got rid of the center knurl. It sounds a bit … wussy or something… but i surely appreciated it when I was doing a lot of cleaning and front squatting. Would look like I had neck rope burn or something if I trained without the women’s bar. The women’s bar I’m training with now does have a center knurl, though. It is a buffalo bar apparently. I think it might be a training quality bar rather than a competition quality bar, though… Still… I LOVE it compared to the mens Eleiko, even.

Sorry for the rant. One of my favourite topics.

Upshot: If you want to train Oly Lifting seriously do yourself a favor and get a women’s bar. It is much much much more rewarding of speed and accuracy than a guys bar. And it is the competition standard. Not a stupid concession to women. If that makes sense.

you can always add more wt on the bar too! :slight_smile: I’m all for it!

How on earth can you hook grip to do Oly? It has to slide in your hands during the clean/snatch. What am I missing here?

Also, I have a woman’s Pendlay bar and it’s awesome. Especially compared to the shitty bars I’ve used at different gyms, clubs and crossfits.

[quote]kpsnap wrote:
How on earth can you hook grip to do Oly? It has to slide in your hands during the clean/snatch. What am I missing here?[/quote]

For example when you are cleaning, you let up your grip so whip your arms around. It sounds weird but it feels pretty natural when you get used to it. Hook grip for the win! And it really is a must when you start pulling heavy weights.

I use a hook grip for cleans, snatches, and jerks.
You can keep the hook grip (so long as your wrists / fingers are flexible enough) because Olympic Bars are designed so the collars and weights spin independently from the bar. That means that you can keep a tight grip on the bar and the bar will rotate with you as you whip your elbows around to rack the bar (for instance) without the momentum of the spinning weights wrenching the bar around in your hands.

Bearing bars spin bestest. Bearing bars are also most expensive. Competition quality bars have bearings.
Bushing bars spin not quite as well - but still pretty good. They are often quite a bit cheaper.

If the bar jams instead of spinning freely you risk injury to your wrist as the spinning weights wrench the bar in your hand.

see it spin??


Oly Lifting bars are designed to be bendier and to have freely rotating collars compared to powerlifting bars which are designed to be stiffer and where it doesn’t matter at all whether the collars rotate or not.

Which is why it is so horrifying to me to see good Oly bars being used for deadlifts. Because if you try… Well… It isn’t a deadlift at all when you get to lift the plates 2 at a time instead of the whole weight / bar system either moving or not moving as a simple unit. And because it involves a lot of wear and tear on the bar in ways which make no difference at all for powerlifting but make all the difference in the world for Oly Lifting (e.g., because the bar will start to jam when the bearings need servicing).

I must admit that the time or two I’ve tried a hook grip (for DLs) I’ve found it to be too painful. I’ve never failed a pull because of my grip. Grip is just not weakest link. Probably because I have relatively long fingers.

It takes a couple of weeks to adapt but then you’ll never want to go back! If you don’t need for deadlifts then you don’t need it but it is necessary for Oly. Also, I believe the hook grip allows a quicker release for when you turnover a clean. Grip can be a challenge with a snatch grip once it gets heavy.

It really sucks to get used to though! But I’m really glad I did.

yeah, some people relase the hook grip when they transition from pull to catch for the clean - but others don’t.

i don’t know that a hook grip is the way to go for deadlifting… i think people are stronger with the reverse grip. learning a hook grip for deadlifting would be painful, i’d imagine, because of the load lifted. i guess it would take some working up to that.

the hook grip is safer for overhead stuff, though. in snatches you want to grip it as securely as possible and not let your grip shift at all throughout the whole lift. people often shift their grip out wider in the standing up a clean to jerk transition, though. but you want a secure hook grip for the jerk, too. helps the bar stay stable really low down your hand so you aren’t likely to tweak your wrist.

i hook grip chin-ups, i’ve noticed. not dumbbells, though. don’t hook the trap bar, either (have learned trap bar deadlifts are good for me since they are very gentle on my lower back)

[quote]alexus wrote:

i hook grip chin-ups, i’ve noticed. [/quote]

Egads. I’m actually more a thumbless-grip type.

Can I just say, I’m learning so much from this thread!! Thanks ladies!

Debra and Alexus thanks so much for the in depth explanations on the bars. That was really fascinating. I have a building interest in Olympic lifting and have dabbled a teeny bit but just with my regular bar.

Man, now I want a set of Olympic plates and bar in addition to the Eleiko competition set I’d like to own one day.

[quote]debraD wrote:
It takes a couple of weeks to adapt but then you’ll never want to go back! If you don’t need for deadlifts then you don’t need it but it is necessary for Oly. Also, I believe the hook grip allows a quicker release for when you turnover a clean. Grip can be a challenge with a snatch grip once it gets heavy.

It really sucks to get used to though! But I’m really glad I did. [/quote]

Do you find it tougher to hook a regular PL bar than an Olympic bar? I’ve played with hook grip when I do snatch grip deads and, of course, it hurts like a bitch.

Do you ever wrap your thumbs? Last week I was reffing a meet and one of the guys was hook gripping his deads and wrapped his thumbs with medical tape. Our rules allow it for two layers around and I was wondering if it helped.