What is the best Olympic Bar?
This is both an easy and tough questions to answer. The easy answer is “Probably an Eleiko or Ivanko bar and it will run you more then a small car.” This, however, typically is not the answer most people are looking for. What we have to really determine is what the person is asking so I have to answer the question with a question. What are you going to do with the bar? We carry a wide range of Olympic bars, each with a specific purpose.
Most of the people who ask that question are looking for a general purpose bar. They want to do mostly static type movements. Static movements are things like the Presses and the Squats and usually the Dead lift falls into this category as well. This trend has been slightly skewed recently with recent surge of sport specific and high intensity styles of training such as CrossFit. This style of training not only does the static lifts but the dynamic lifts also known as the Olympic lifts. These consist of the Clean and Snatch lifts.
For the power lifter the static movements are usually the focus. The weights on these lifts can be extremely high, into the several hundreds of pounds. You want a stiff bar without a great deal of whip (or flex). These bars are typically called power bars, and are sometimes referred to as a Texas Power Bar. They often are rated at 1500 or 2000 lb capacity. Some will have a 28mm grip some will have a 30mm grip and all will have medium to heavy knurling and center knurling. When it comes to power bars we recommend the Troy Texas Power Bar. It really does not have a comparison in the price range. With a great knurling, a 1 1/8″ (29mm) grip, and power markings, if you are looking to do power lifting you can not beat Troy in this department.
The Olympic lifts require a bar with more whip and collars that spin very freely and the good bars have needle bearings in the collar. The whip is to help absorb some of the weight as it is slung rapidly from the ground to the rack position or to the overhead position. It also will act somewhat like a spring in the pull part of the movement helping to get the weight moving rapidly upward. While this is important in the O-lift movements, you can see why this might be bad if you are doing dead lifts. You are pulling slow and hard with a great deal of weight, a whippy bar will sort of pull in the middle and then the weight will follow. You want whip for speed you want stiffness for slow. Typically a good O-lifting bar will have needle bearing or very free collars. This is important so you do not hurt your wrist as the bar turns under the weight to get in the rack or overhead position. If the collars do not spin free the person will not only be moving the weight up but around, but when the collars turn free it allows the bar to turn when pulling the wrist around and the weight stays stationary. York makes 3 great bars for Olympic lifting. On the inexpensive end is the Standard Needle Bearing Olympic Training bars. Really for the price you can not beat them. For serious training though we would recommend the USA Made Olympic Training Bars or the USA Made Elite Competition Olympic Bars.
The real issue comes when you have to combine the movements into one bar. Lets face it most people do not have $2000.00 to spend on two really good bars, one for the power lifts and one for the O-lifts. In fact most people do not want to spend $300.00 on one good bar! We always try to convince people that the money should be spent on the bar and buy inexpensive weight (note I did not say cheap weights). The bar is the connector and should be purchased well.
We feel that we carry two good all purpose bars that are affordable. While we carry two we only will sell one. Unfortunately in this department the one company had some issues with this style bar and while we sell all kinds of their products we just can not stand behind a bar that we felt had flaws and would not be covered by the companies warranty. So we recommend the Cap OB-86B bar.
The OB-86B is a 1200 lb capacity bar. It has enough whip and spin in the collars that you can do the O-lifts but is stiff enough to do the power lifts without noticeable lag. There are two other reasons we like this bar for mixed lifting. The first is that the bar itself if 28mm. There is another excellent bar that is on the market today that is specifically marketed as a mixed lifting bar that has a 30mm grip. While 30mm is OK for power lifts it is not good for doing a hook grip which is important for safe O-lifts. In fact women Olympic lifting bars are typically 25mm and weigh 15k (33lbs) for this very reason. The second is that it has no center knurling. There is nothing worse then catching center knurling on your throat or nose when trying to do an Olympic lift.
The CAP OB-86B is the bar that we regularly use ourselves and we have hundreds and hundreds of these bars being used across the country. While they are not the perfect bar, we feel that for the price you are getting more then what you have paid for.
So if you are looking for the best Olympic bar the answer is: “We have several. How are you planning on using it?”