Choosing a Weighlifting Bar – Part 2

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From Bar Review

Left to Right: B&R, Rogue, York NA, Pendlay Econ, PowerMax 28MM, PowerMax 700LB

Here is the first part of the bar review if you missed it: Bar Review 1.0 & 2.0

This bar selection guide is meant to be simple, we have spent countless hours working on bar specs and understanding the many features of the different brands.

3.0 Bar Diameter, Coating & Knurling – “The Feel”

The bars in the picture above are of varying diameters from 28MM to 30MM.  The Pendlay bars to include the Rogue bar all have 28.5MM bar diameters.  Once you pass the Rogue bar or the Pendlay HD bar and move onto the Men’s 20KG bar they go to 28MM and that is the Olympic lifting standard.  The question is does that matter enough to you to purchase a more expensive bar?  If you are competing or very serious about weightlifting then you should train with the same bar that you use in competition.  If you are a CrossFit athtlete with special interest in the Olympic lifts the 28.5MM bar will be fine.

Women’s bars are all 25MM diameter bars and are only 15KG in weight.  Most women feel much more comfortable with the 25MM bar, that has been my experience in our facility.

The B&R bar is 29MM and that coupled with the fact that it is made with 205K PSI steel the bar is beyond strong.  The overwhelming majority of people that use the bar don’t mind the 29MM vs 28MM diameter bar.  It is a multi-purpose bar just like the Rogue bar with two sets of knurling marks seen here:

From Bar Review

You can see the bars with one set of knurling marks vs two.  Traditionally you would have one bar for Olifts and one for power lifts.  Now you can do heavy deads and snatches with the same bar.  The B&R bar has less whip than the Rogue and HD bar.  This is because it is a stronger steel but unless you are snatching 100KG + it shouldn’t be an issue.

The goal is to get a bar that will last and take a serious beating and the Rogue, HD & Burg bars are all very well suited for that task.  The other bars are meant to get destroyed and to simply fill a void, these are cheap bars.  Remember if your bar says 700,1000,1500LB bar that does not mean you can put 1000lbs on it and drop it from the high hang or set it on a rack.  Those bars will bend to include the Men’s Econ bar that does a nice job at lower weights but is not well suited for someone doing heavy push presses and dropping it back into the rack.  It has a ton of whip but that is because it is bending and then snapping back.

The knurling on all Pendlay bars and the B&R bar is not aggressive and that is the way to go.  Super aggressive knurl normally means that the bar is cheap.  Knurling is an art form and the York bars are done by hand and by one guy!  Olympic knurl and a strong grip is the goal.

I read where someone has a replica of a Pendlay Econ bar and it made me think of the scene from Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

The Pendlay line  has Black Zinc coating seen in the pic above, this keeps it from rusting and has a great feel.  The York NA bar has a hard chrome coating and I am not a fan but many are.  The Burg bar has no coating at all because it is meant to feel like the workhorse bars seen in old school gyms.  The feel of a bare piece of steel in your hands can add at least 10KG to your lift haha The other PowerMax bars are black oxide coated entirely and just look cheap. It does oxidize and requires some minimal maintenance.  If taken care of the Burg bar will be around forever.  I would not recommend this bar if you live in a very humid climate, so if you live in the bayou you may want to choose another bar.

Glenn did a great job capturing the attributes that draw lifters to certain bars and putting them all in one bar.  There is something about an uncoated bar that many like, this is all personal preference.

One thing you may notice is the collar on the York bar which looks like two pieces.  York used to make split sleeve collars where one piece was part of the shaft and the other was the collar.  It is a signature look for York but they don’t make them that way anymore, hence the runner in the collar of some of their bars.

More to follow – stay tuned

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