Texas Power Bar vs. Ohio Power Bar – The best powerlifting barbell?
Congratulations! By finding this article, I’m going to assume you have reached an important stage in your lifting career: you have discovered that all barbells are not created equally!
I’m also guessing you’ve discovered that two of the very best and most popular powerlifting bars are the Texas and Ohio power bars. Along with buying a power rack, selecting the right barbell for your training is a crucial decision.
Both bars featured here are great but which is best?
This article will take you through what to consider when buying a proper powerlifting barbell as well as pitting the two bars against each other with reviews and side-by-side comparisons.
What is a Power Bar?
As the name suggests, power bars are manufactured with the sport of powerlifting in mind. They are designed to be used for lifting the most amount of weight possible in the squat, bench press and deadlift.
For this reason, they need to be built much differently than weightlifting bars and the standard bars you might find in a commercial gym.
Compared to a weightlifting bar, which is used in for snatches and the clean and jerk, a power bar needs to be much more rigid or “stiff”, as you will hear it referred to.
On top of the extra stiffness, the knurling should be much deeper and sharer on a powerlifting bar. If you like having skin on your palms, you won't want to be cleaning a power bar too often.
Power bars also have no need for the free-pinning needle bearing that weightlifting bars use in the collars. This is good news for the wallet since power bars use bushings, which make the bars cheaper.
A power bar will generally be around 29mm thick, which is a touch thicker than a standard Olympic bar of 28mm.
Power Bar Specifications
Different federations have their own rulings on what bars are acceptable to be used in their competitions.
Certain federations use specialist bars for each of the three lifts. I believe it is important to spend a lot of time training with the bars you will be competing with.
The IPF is the most popular drug-tested powerlifting federation in the world and many other federations follow the same or similar when it comes to legal bar specifications.
Therefore, many power bar manufacturers will aim to create a bar that adheres to the IPF’s rulings.
Here is a diagram of a standard power bar that is legal for use in an IPF competition:
The bar should also weigh 20kg (not 45lbs.), be 2.2m in total length and have a diameter ranging from 28mm – 29mm. View the offical IPF rule book here.
Things to Consider When Buying a Powerlifting Barbell
1. Tensile Strength and capacity
You can fall into a bit of a trap with this one so it is worth knowing what to watch for.
Tensile strength, measured in PSI, is the amount of force it will take for the bar to break. Unfortunately, it is measure by pulling the bar apart length-ways, which is never something you will be doing with the bar.
So, keep an eye on the PSI rating but do not fall into the trap of believing a higher rating means a better bar. Higher tensile strength alone is not an indicator of a better bar.
Yield strength is a much better method of determining how strong your barbell really is.
It rates the point at which a bar will bend and not return back to its’ normal state. Basically, how much you can bend a bar before it is permanently deformed.
Unfortunately, many barbell suppliers do not disclose the yield strength rating.
Some will list their total capacity, which still isn’t the best, but you can combine that with the tensile strength rating to get a rough idea of the bar’s strength.
Luckily, both the Texas power bar and the Ohio power bar are very strong and highly unlikely to break on you.
A lot of people confuse tensile strength with stiffness; they mistakenly believe a higher tensile strength leads to a stiffer barbell.
As mentioned earlier, tensile strength measures the breaking point when a pulling force is applied to each end of the bar. No good for indicating bar stiffness or “whip”.
In this video you can see the difference between a bar with more whip (top) and a stiff Eleiko bar (bottom).
Luckily, stainless steel bars are now becoming more common, which give the same feel without all the maintenance. Stainless bars are going to be more expensive, though.
Bar length, thickness and material density all play a part in the overall stiffness of the bar.
For powerlifting, you will want to find a bar with a similar level of stiffness to the bars used in your federation. This is particularly important for the deadlift since a stiffer bar leads to a harder pull for most people.
By nature, power bars have very aggressive knurling, which makes keeping hold of them easier and stops them sliding down your back but can tear the shit out of your delicate skin until it toughens up.
In truth, if you are locking the bar in your hands or on your back tightly, it shouldn’t really move enough to tear your skin that much.
Knurling can be somewhat subjective in terms of preference, so the best idea is to feel a bar in your hands before buying.
I prefer a very aggressive and rough knurling on a bar since it feels almost glued into my hands.
4. Bar finish and feel
Many bars are coated to prevent rusting and keep them functioning at a high level.
Common coatings include chrome and zinc plating. The finish of the bar will affect how it feels in your hands as well as how much maintenance is required on the bar to keep it rust-free.
Without doubt, bare steel bars feel the best during lifts but also require a high amount of upkeep to prevent them rusting.
Texas Power Bar vs Ohio Power Bar – Individual Reviews
Texas Power Bar Review
The good old Texas power bar! Manufactured by Buddy Capps and used in high-level meets for almost 40 years.
It is no fluke this bar has stood the test of time as is regarded by many as the best powerlifting bar for all-round use.
There are so many advantages to this bar:
It is strong, high-quality, features aggressive knurling, has a resistant finish with a good feel to it and the price is incredible.
The bar comes with the option of upgrading the sleeves from raw steel to chrome, which I think is a good move since it will cut down on bar maintenance needs.
However, these sleeves are slightly shorter than many bars, which may be a problem when using those stupidly thick bumper plates or if you’re freakishly strong.
All in all, you can’t go wrong with the Texas Power bar but is it still the best all-round powerlifting bar on the market?
We will discover that later on.
Texas Power Bar Specs:
Length – 84”
Weight – 20 kg
Diameter – 28.5 mm
Capacity – 1500 lbs.
Tensile strength – 186,000 psi
Shaft material – Sprung tempered steel (zinc plated finish)
Ohio Power Bar Review
Whenever I sit down to write one of these reviews lately, I feel like I’m just shilling Rogue products.
They just seem to be absolutely killing it with their equipment and the Ohio power bar is no exception.
As mentioned, this article focuses on the 20kg variation as it is the one with the IPF stamp of approval.
The Ohio bar feature very deep and aggressive knurling, which I am a huge fan of. It is also the stiffest bar I have lifted with.
I have used an Eleiko PL bar, which I believe is stiffer. Unfortunately, with a meagre 260kg deadlift, I’m not yet strong enough to notice a real difference in “whip” between the Ohio bar and the Eleiko.
That last point is exactly why I feel this bar is awesome for most powerlifters, particularly IPF competitors. It provides a very similar lifting experience, in terms of difficulty, to that of the Eleiko bars used in many competitions.
The main difference being the rather large and, in my opinion, unjustifiable price-gap between the two bars when you compare their performance.
The black zinc version is obviously the most comparable to the Texas bar, but the Rogue bar does now come in a stainless steel shaft variation, which is certainly superior and recommended if your budget allows. The stainless steel one is $100 more but feels better and requires much less maintenance.
The 20kg version of the Ohio bar also has a larger loadable area on the collars than the Texas bar and the 45 lbs. versions of the Ohio. This may help you load an extra plate on the bar depending on what kind of plates you are using with it.
As you can see, there are many advantages to the Rogue Ohio Power bar. Read the next section to see exactly how it stacks up to the Texas bar.
Rogue Ohio Power Bar Specs:
Length – 86.52”
Weight – 20 kg
Diameter – 29 mm
Tensile strength – 205,000 psi
Shaft material – Steel with zinc finish or stainless steel shaft option
Texas Bar vs Ohio Bar Comparison
Loadable sleeve length
Conclusion – Which bar is best?
Like I have already said, both are great bars and I don’t think you will be disappointed with either one. If I walked into a gym, I would be pleased to see any of them.
Of course, you probably want some more solid recommendations than that so here they are:
If you have a tighter budget, get the Texas Bar
If you compete in a federation that uses Eleiko bars but don’t want to splurge on an Eleiko Pl bar, get the Ohio Power Bar
If you just want the better bar out of the two, get the Ohio Power Bar. Preferably, the stainless steel version if your budget allows it.
Looking for more home gym equipment? check out my article to make sure you get the best power rack as well.