Top 10 Rouge Fitness Bars in 2019

At its core, weightlifting is a very simple sport.  You have a big pole, weights on both ends of it, and you move it off the ground and raise it over your head.  However, when one looks at the science of weightlifting, you get quite a different picture. Weightlifting bars are designed and built to incredibly close tolerances, as the penalty for breakage or damage during a lift is severe.  

Let’s look at a little more detail at how a weightlifting bar, or barbell, is set up.  Here’s an example:

The bar itself, which is the focus of this article, is made of a special grade of steel.  Lengths may vary based on use and purpose. The weights on the bar are called plates, and vary in weight up to 25 kilograms (55 pounds).  The part of the bar where the plates are held is called the sleeve. The apparatus at the end of the bar and toward the center of the bar, holding the plates in place, is called a collar.  We’ll get into the details behind these things in a little bit.

The bars can vary in length, depending on purpose and use.  A standard men’s Olympic bar is 2200 mm long, just over seven feet.  A standard women’s Olympic bar is slightly shorter, at 2010 mm, or about seventy-nine inches.  The distance between the sleeves for both bars is the same, at 1310 mm, or about fifty-one inches.  A men’s bar is typically twenty kilograms, or forty-four pounds, while a women’s bar is fifteen kilograms, or thirty-three pounds.  Bars for juniors are shorter, at about sixty-seven inches, and normally weight ten kilograms, or twenty-two pounds. As one further sub-set, weightlifting bars are also designed for standard use, also referred to as weight training, weightlifting use, and powerlifting use.  More on these applications later.

While they will not be the focus of this article, there are also specialty weightlifting bars available.  These are typically designed for a specific exercise or weight lifting movement, and include curl bars, multi-grip bars, and hexagonal or trap bars.  Dumbbells are basically a very short barbell, designed for use with one hand. They typically are much lighter in weight than regular barbells.

In this article, we will be reviewing ten different bars, all from Rogue Fitness.  Rogue is an American based manufacturer of barbells, plates, weightlifting rigs, and apparel.

Fact Sheet – Product Comparison Table

This section of the article will take a quick, high level look at ten different weightlifting bars manufactured Rogue.  They are presented in no particular order. Further on in the article, we will look into detail at each of the barbells, and make some recommendations on which might be the best fit for the consumer.  Each of the barbells listed below is American made, and comes with a lifetime warranty.

Number Product Best Feature Price Range
1 ROGUE CERAKOTE OHIO BAR – FRASER EDITION Men’s multi-purpose bar, red Cerakote coating with black Cerakote sleeves $
2 ROGUE ATHLETE CERAKOTE BELLA BAR – DAVIDSDOTTIR EDITION Women’s multi-purpose weightlifting bar, blue Cerakote coating, with black Cerakote sleeves $
3 ROGUE CHAN BAR – CERAKOTE Men’s multi-purpose barbell, Cerakote coating, Cerakote or chrome sleeve coating $
4 ROGUE PYRROS BAR – 28MM Olympic weightlifting barbell, sleeves are chrome finish, men’s bar $$$
5 ROGUE FREEDOM BAR – 28.5MM Men’s multi-purpose bar, red, white, and blue colored shaft, Cerakote coating $
6 ROGUE OLYMPIC WL BAR – CERAKOTE Men’s Olympic weightlifting bar, Cerakote shaft $$$
7 ROGUE OLYMPIC WL BAR Olympic weightlifting barbell, men’s, various shaft finishes available $$
8 ROGUE ATHLETE CERAKOTE POWER BAR – THOR EDITION Men’s powerlifting bar, Cerakote coating, Cerakote or chrome sleeve coating $$
9 ROGUE OHIO DEADLIFT BAR – CERAKOTE Men’s powerlifting bar, different colors available, Cerakote coating $
10 SB-1 – ROGUE SAFETY SQUAT BAR Bar is specifically designed for squat lifts, with padded foam to protect the neck and shoulders $

$ – priced $300 – $400

$$ – priced $400 – $500

$$$ – priced over $500

Product-Buying Guide

Any one of these barbells is perfectly suited to help you with your weightlifting endeavors.  As noted earlier, there are three subsets within weightlifting – standard, weightlifting, and power weightlifting.  Some of these bars are specifically designed and manufactured for each of these purposes. Power weightlifting is the most demanding, involving lifting extremely heavy weights, typically in a competition setting.  In general, power weightlifting is centered around two specific movements, the clean and jerk, and the snatch; both of these techniques involve lifting the weight over your head. The snatch begins with lifting the weight to your knee level, bending the knees, moving the weight over your head, and then pushing up with your legs to full extension.  The clean and jerk is similar, initially moving the weight to chest level, then jerking the weight in a fluid motion so it ends up over your head, with extended arms.

Weightlifting involves a different set of movements – the squat, the bench press, the dead lift.  None of these moves involve lifting the weight over your head. The squat involves holding a weight at chest height, dropping into a squatting position, then using your legs to drive the weight back up.  The bench press involves lying on a weight bench, and lifting the weight off your chest using arm strength. The dead lift starts with a heavy weight resting on the floor, then raising the weight to waist height.  

Standard weightlifting, also known as weight training or resistance training, is usually done with a goal of increasing strength, endurance and/or muscle mass.  Weight training is often used to supplement performance in other sports, such as football or basketball. While you may use many of the same moves and lifts in weight training as in powerlifting or weightlifting, they are typically done with less weight, and more repetitions.   Weight training may also incorporate the use of dumbbells rather that using a standard barbell configuration. Dumbbells are basically a much shorter barbell designed for use in one hand.

So, now we know about the different types of barbells available, the types of lifting they are used for, and the type of movements that are done as part of lifting.  Given that, let’s look at some of the key performance criteria and product specifications for weightlifting bars.

Loadable sleeve length

This refers to the part of the barbell where the weight plates are held; the distance from the end of the barbell to the collar.  The collar, located on the barbell itself, is typically about two inches in diameter. There is a secondary collar attached to the end of the bar to hold the weight plates in position, so they do not rotate or slide on the bar.  

Collar

As noted, the collar is located on the barbell.  One of its functions is to act as a “stop” for the weight plates; they separate the sleeve and the shaft.  Inside the collar, manufacturers will place either bushings or bearings. Both of them are designed to allow the bar to spin during the lift.  

Diameter at grip

This refers to the diameter of the barbell at the spot where the hands are normally placed during the lift.  This is typically related to hand size. Diameter for youth and women is standard 25mm, and for men the standard ranges from 28mm – 29mm.  

Knurling

Knurling refers to texturizing the bar with a series of grooves at the location where the grip of the bar is normally taken.  The depth and texture of the knurling can vary from model to model. Bars may also be knurled in the center portion to prevent slippage when performing squats.  See below for an example of knurling.

Bar weight and length

Standard weight for men’s barbells is twenty kilograms, and fifteen kilograms for women.  Length for men is eighty-six inches, and seventy-nine inches for women. Weights can vary somewhat based on diameter of the barbell, and some specialty type weightlifting bars, like a squat bar, can weigh near seventy pounds.  Length can also vary, but this is less common.

Tensile and yield strength

These are both measures of the durability of the bar, and the weight load it can take.  Tensile strength is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), and refers to the weight needed to pull the bar apart.  Most standard bars will have a tensile strength of about 180,000 PSI, with Olympic and competition bars usually rated over 200,000 PSI.  While barbells will normally have some bend as they are lifted, you don’t want that bend to become permanent. Yield strength refers to that point where the bar will bend, but not return to its normal shape once the weight has been removed.  Yield strength is measured by adding more and more weight until a permanent bend is noted.

“F” Scale

The “F” scale measures the resistance to stress (and potentially breaking) when dropped from height.  The F scale is a function of tensile strength and yield strength. Low tensile and yield strength will make the bar tend to flex.  If tensile and yield strength are too high, the barbell will be more susceptible to brittleness and breakage. Higher F ratings are desirable; the scale runs from F1 to F8.  

Oxidation rate

This rate measures the likelihood that the bar will rust.  Carbon steel has a high oxidation rate; it is very likely to rust, if unprotected.  Stainless steel has a low oxidation rate. Oxidation rate can be impacted by use of coatings over the steel used.  

Finishes and Coatings

Finished and coatings may range from none (stainless steel), to zinc, chrome, or ceramic.  These coatings are put over the metal of the bar to prevent oxidation. Zinc and chrome have been the more common coatings for weightlifting bars.  Because of the handling of the bar, moving weight plates on and off, and dropping the bar from height, the coatings need to be heavy duty and crack resistant.  One of the new coatings, used on many of the barbells here, is Cerakote. This is a man-made, polymer and ceramic composite coating. It is lightweight, can be applied in a very thin coating, and resists stress cracking, and it therefore durable.  

Whip

Whip refers to the amount of bend in the barbell when lifted with weights on it.  Some whip can be beneficial; as the bar bends downward and then moves upward, that upward momentum can be used to help with the second lifting of the snatch and clean and jerk lifts.  Too much whip, however, can raise issues with the overall balance of the barbell, and prevent the lifter from getting a clean lift.

Bearings vs. Bushings

Bushings tend to be cheaper, and also tend to spin slower.  Bearings may be needle type or ball type, referring to how the inner core is built to allow them to spin.  Bearings are more expensive than bushings, and can be more easily damaged by dropping the weightlifting bar.  Bearings typically allow for a faster spin than bushings. In general terms, bearings are preferred for Olympic and competition lifting, where bushings are generally specified in home gym and powerlifting bars, where spin is not so important.  

Price

As with virtually any other product, price will play into your purchase considerations.  It will factor into your decision on options, features, and specifications. If you are a competition level lifter, buying a low-end barbell from the local big box retailer might not be the best choice for you.  Conversely, if you are a weekend lifter, using lighter weights and more repetitions, you probably do not need an Olympic or competition rated barbell. But if you are planning to more from weight training to weightlifting, perhaps that higher rated bar makes sense.  In any case, your focus should be on the total value of the item, not just the price.

Making your decision

Given this information, you are already aware that there are many variations from unit to unit for product specifications, performance, and features.  So how should you decide which of these weightlifting bars is best for you? Here are a few things you should consider in making your choice:

Think about your usage patterns.  Are you going to be using the barbell multiple times a week?  Or are you typically a weekend warrior, where your equipment might collect dust five days out of seven?

What type of weight will you be lifting?  If you are lifting heavy weights, the cumulative stress from dropping the weighted barbell needs to be considered as you look at things like F rating and tensile and yield strength.  On the other hand, if you will be working from a rack, or using lighter weights and not dropping the bar, you may be able to get away with a bar not rated for Olympic competition.

Where will you be doing your workouts?  Will you be in a temperature-controlled room inside your house, or working out in your garage, with temperature swings from boiling to freezing.  These conditions may impact your choice of finish and coating and the oxidation rates of the materials of construction.

Identify the number and weight of the plates you expect to be using with the bar.  If you plan on using only a 25-kilo plate at each end, loadable sleeve length is probably not a consideration for you.  But if you want to use a combination of plates, graduated with different weights, you may need a larger loadable sleeve length.  

Hopefully, all of this discussion and detail has given you some ideas about what features are most important to you.  The information so far has been at a fairly high level. Let’s drop down one more level of detail, and look at each of our top ten in depth, comparing specifications, features, advantages, and disadvantages of each weightlifting bar.

PRODUCT REVIEW – TEN WEIGHTLIFTING BARS

#1 ROGUE CERAKOTE OHIO BAR – FRASER EDITION

First Impressions:

This bar is a reasonably priced, all-purpose men’s weightlifting bar.  The name is from a member of the Rogue Athlete Group, Mat Fraser. Fraser is a two-time CrossFit Games champion, and worked with Rogue on the features and design of this barbell.  The “Fittest Man on Earth” has his personal motto, “Hard Work Pays Off”, emblazoned on the bar.

Features and Specifications:

  • This is a standard 20-kilogram multi-purpose bar, with a 28.5MM grip diameter.  
  • The 190,000 PSI rating and an F8-R yield strength qualify this bar for anything from weight training through powerlifting.  It comes with a lifetime warranty against bending.
  • The barbell comes with dual knurl marks, and composite bushing construction.
  • The center shaft of the bar is a bright red finish, with black sleeves, all coated with Cerakote for durability.

Pros:

  • Very reasonably priced, this bar would be a good purchase for the beginner or even advanced weight trainer or weightlifter.  It has the capability to handle even heavy weights for powerlifting, and is fully warranted against bending.
  • Designed by someone who weight lifts for a living, you get all the necessary features, in a good looking, customized bar.

Cons:

  • There is no center knurl on the bar, which is often a desirable feature for those who do squats or clean and jerk lifts.  

Final Thoughts:

This is a reasonably priced bar by Rogue standards, even with the professional endorsement and additional color features.  As a multi-purpose bar, supporting all three weight lifting approaches, it gives the lifter a one bar solution to virtually any kind of lift desired.  

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#2 ROGUE ATHLETE CERAKOTE BELLA BAR – DAVIDSDOTTIR EDITION

First Impressions:

This bar is the only one specifically designed for the woman weightlifter.  It’s 79-inch length, 25MM grip, and 15 kilo weight make it a perfect multi-purpose barbell for the female athlete.  It is named after Katrin Davidsdottir, a two-time CrossFit Games champion, from Iceland. The attractive blue and black color design is supplemented with a Cerakote finish for extreme durability.

Features and Specifications:

  • With a tensile strength of F6-R and a 190,000 PSI rating, this barbell will stand up to powerlifting, and still offer excellent performance in weightlifting and weight training.
  • The Cerakote finish is highly durable, and compliments the Davidsdottir edition finish of a blue shaft, white lettering, and a black sleeve.  The Sled Dog/Wolf Logo, symbolic of her edition, is featured at the center of the shaft.
  • The bushing construction gives a slow but smooth and controlled spin for multi-use applications.

Pros:

  • The bar is specifically designed for the female lifter; it is not a modified version of a male lifter’s barbell.  
  • The weightlifting bar is finished with dual knurl marks to support both powerlifting and Olympic competition lifting.  
  • This is a high performance, multi-purpose bar, enhanced by excellent styling and colors.

Cons:

  • This barbell does not have a center knurl, which is often a desired feature to support squats.

Final Thoughts:

This bar is specifically designed for the female lifter, with application and design input from an Icelandic lifting champion.  While many other bars had different versions of a male’s bar for the female athlete, this one is for her and her alone. It has excellent specifications and features, and is built to stand up to the demands of powerlifting, yet suitable for weightlifting applications too.  Definitely the right Rogue bar for any female weightlifter.

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#3 ROGUE CHAN BAR – CERAKOTE

First Impressions:

This is a men’s multi-purpose bar, designed in coordination with Matt Chan, a four-time Top Ten finisher in the CrossFit Games.  This bar is an upgraded version of one also designed by Chan several years prior. It also features a 28.5MM grip, and a 200,000 PSI tensile strength rating on the stainless-steel shaft.  It has a Cerakote finish, and is available with either Cerakote or chrome sleeves.

Features and Specifications:

  • This is a standard 20-kilogram bar, featuring a 28.5MM grip diameter.  
  • It has dual knurl markings on either end, and also features a center knurl.
  • The bar can be customized with Cerakote sleeves, which are also available with a chrome coating.  
  • The barbell has black composite bushings, with a 16.5” loadable sleeve length.  

Pros:

  • This weightlifting bar comes with dual knurling to support both powerlifting and Olympic lifting, and also comes with a center knurl for a better adherence when doing squats or the clean and jerk lift.
  • The 28.5MM grip is designed to stress the hands somewhat, and ultimately increase grip strength on s standard diameter Olympic bar.
  • Many of the features of this barbell are designed by a champion user, with the credentials to know what really matters in the specifications of a weightlifting bar.  

Cons:

  • An F2 rating implies that the bar will not be exceptionally durable, given the rigors of being repeatedly dropped for height.  This might keep it at the weight training or lower weight weightlifting arenas, even though it is listed as suitable for powerlifting.  
  • Bushing construction will likely lead to slower spin, but this should not be a primary concern for weight training or powerlifting.

Final Thoughts:

This weightlifting bar was designed by someone who has lived the life, so the features incorporated into it should bring optimal value for the cost of the barbell.  The center knurl will appeal to squatters, and the 28.5 mm diameter may help lifters develop additional grip strength. This is the lowest F rating on any of the bars reviewed so far, but just indicates it might be less durable, while still exhibiting all the strength needed to carry heavy plates.  

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#4 ROGUE PYRROS BAR – 28MM

First Impressions:

This is a high performance, all purpose, Olympic competition level bar.  It’s also on the high end of the price scale, and may be a bit much for the casual user; it is definitely designed for the powerlifters and weightlifters out there.  The bar itself is named after a three-time Olympic champion – Pyrros Dimas. He was also involved during the design phase of the barbell.

Features and Specifications:

  • The bar has a stainless-steel shaft, with chrome plated sleeves for excellent oxidation resistance.
  • Two hundred thousand PSI tensile strength gives extreme strength for loads as high as 1200 pounds.  
  • The barbell has a 28MM grip diameter, loadable sleeve length of 16.3 inches
  • Bar weight is 20 kilograms, meeting all International Weightlifting Federation standards

Pros:

  • The barbell was designed with an aggressive knurl pattern for better grip during the lift.
  • It has high-quality, needle type bearings for a controlled spin during the lift.  
  • A center knurl helps the bar grip for greater control during moves like the clean and jerk or squat.  

Cons:

  • This bar would definitely be overkill unless you are a competition level lifter, or a powerlifter.  The entire design and features are specific to these high-end lifters.
  • The pricing most likely takes this bar out of the hands of the majority of lifters.  

Final Thoughts:

This is probably the top of the line model in the Rogue catalog, and, as such, is geared toward top of the line lifters.  Unless you fall into that group, I would save some money and buy a bar more geared to the general public.

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#5 ROGUE FREEDOM BAR – 28.5MM

First Impressions:

The Rogue Freedom Bar, as the name suggests, is a special edition or their Ohio Cerakote bar (to be reviewed here later), with a stars and stripes pattern on a red, white and blue background.  This particular model is only available with chrome sleeves, but it features the same high impact steel, with 190,000 PSI tensile strength. While the extra .5MM diameter may not seem like much, lifters feel that using a wider grip bar occasionally can help with overall grip strength.  This barbell is categorized as a men’s multi-purpose bar.

Features and Specifications:

  • While you get the good old red, white, and blue here, this barbell also comes with the Cerakote coating over the special design.
  • The 28.5MM grip is designed to stress the hands somewhat, and ultimately increase grip strength on s standard diameter Olympic bar.
  • The bar has dual knurl markings, set appropriately for Olympic style lifting and for powerlifting.  It has an impressive F8-R rating, designed to give some whip for Olympic-style lifting, but stiff enough for the heavier weights of powerlifting.
  • The bar features a bushing construction, rather that bearings, as in the others reviewed previously.  

Pros:

  • This weightlifting bar has dual knurl marks on the shaft, for improved grip in various weightlifting moves.
  • The barbell, like other Rogue bars, has a lifetime warranty against bending.  
  • While it does not impact performance, this is a really nice-looking weightlifting bar.  

Cons:

  • There is no center knurl on this bar, which is a desirable feature during specific weightlifting moves, as noted above.  
  • The bar is available with only chrome plated sleeves.  These do not protect against oxidation as well as Cerakote, in the even they become chipped while adding or removing plates.  

Final Thoughts:

This bar is a good value, and you get a great looking appearance with it.  There does not seem to be consensus among lifters on whether or not the extra .5MM diameter really brings any significant advantage.  The barbell itself would be a good transition bar for someone moving from weight training into weight lifting. It has sufficient design strength even for powerlifting.  

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#6 ROGUE OLYMPIC WL BAR – CERAKOTE

First Impressions:

This Olympic-level weightlifting bar features a Cerakote coating.  Cerakote is a polymer-ceramic composite coating, which offers excellent oxidation-proof coating, second only to stainless steel.  This bar is available in multiple color combinations, and a 215,000 PSI rating to support the heaviest weights. Like all Rogue bars, it is American made and has a lifetime warranty.

Features and Specifications:

  • This 20- kilogram bar comes with a standard 28mm grip for men, and is also available in a 25mm grip for women.  It has a loadable sleeve length of 16.25 inches.
  • It has a balanced blend of knurling; etched deeply enough to afford a good grip without being so aggressive as to cut or irritate the hands.  
  • The barbell goes through a special hardening process to increase the tensile strength and F scale rating for better heavy weight support.  The F6-R rating indicates the hardening process has been used on the steel.
  • This bar is manufactured with five needle bearings per sleeve for a smooth, controlled spin.  

Pros:

  • This is another example of a high-quality, high end barbell, designed with the competition and power lifter in mind.
  • The high tensile strength rating will support even the heaviest of weights.  
  • The barbell advertises strong whip, so the lifter can take advantage of that momentum during the upward lift.

Cons:

  • There is no center knurling on the bar, so the extra grip potential during squats and some other lifts is lost.  
  • This bar is also at the upper end of the price scale, and most likely out of range for all but the most serious lifters.  

Final Thoughts:

This is another example of Rogue focusing a part of their product line on the power and competition lifting segments of the market.  Logically, the skill and expertise they have serving those segments can pass down the learnings to less demanding market segments, like the home gym or commercial establishments.  While this model might make sense for a serious lifter moving up to weightlifting or powerlifting, it is more bar than needed for most.

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#7 ROGUE OLYMPIC WL BAR

First Impressions:

This is another Olympic weightlifting bar, offering many of the same features as the other weightlifting bars, but moving down a little in the price scale.  The bar still has the impressive 215K PSI tensile strength, and features a standard 28MM grip. This bar comes in a bright zinc finish, but variations are available in different finishes and coatings, as well as a 15-kilogram weight version for women.  This bar meets all International Weightlifting Federation standards.

Features and Specifications:

  • This is a standard Olympic size bar, weighing in at 20 kilograms, with a 28MM grip diameter.  
  • It has a single Olympic knurl, which is a narrow width knurl, centered in the locations where the hands would normally grip.  Other knurls may cover the entire with of the hand in the expected grip area of the barbell.
  • A needle bearing sleeve makes for a quiet, smooth spin while lifting.
  • The 215K PSI tensile strength and F6-R yield strength make this a durable bar that should last the user a long time.  

Pros:

  • While this bar places a little bit lower on the price scale, it has many of the same features as the higher priced bars featured above.  
  • The knurl is aggressive enough to improve grip, but not so much so to irritate the skin or catch on clothing during squats or a clean and jerk lift.  

Cons:

  • There is no central knurling on the bar, which may be a desirable feature for lifters doing squats and clean and jerk lifts regularly.
  • While an overall good value, the price may be a bit much for the person interested solely in weight training.  

Final Thoughts:

While this bar is still at the upper end of the $$ range, it probably makes sense for the semi-serious lifter.  This would be someone trying to build some serious muscle by lifting relatively heavy weights for limited repetitions, as opposed to the weight training doing multiple repetitions with lighter weights.  It might also be a good bar for a commercial establishment. While most people would not be using it with heavier weights, the owner could expect a good useful life even with repetitive day-to-day use.

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#8 ROGUE ATHLETE CERAKOTE POWER BAR – THOR EDITION

First Impressions:

This is a bar truly worthy of the God of Thunder, Thor.  In this case, however, the bar is named after Hafpor Julius Bjornnson, who won Iceland’s Strongest Man competition seven consecutive years, truly earning his nickname “Thor”.  This is a true powerlifting bar, with an overall length of over 86 inches, and a 29MM grip diameter. It comes in either a 20-kilogram or 45-pound configuration, with both sizes coming with Cerakote coating.  

Features and Specifications:

  • The bar has a 205,000 PSI rating, complimented with an F8-R, giving it the stiffness needed in a powerlifting competition.  
  • Both versions have over a 16” loadable sleeve dimension, leaving a lot of room for numerous weight plates.  
  • The bushing construction on this barbell will have limited spin, for a smooth, consistent feel during the lift.  
  • Single powerlifting knurls and a center knurl, both with a deep, aggressive pattern offer additional grip control on this 29MM diameter bar.  

Pros:

  • The F8-R rating gives this bar virtually no whip, making it a fine choice for the powerlifter.  
  • The black Cerakote coating on the shaft and sleeves on the 45-pound version, or chrome sleeves for the 20-kilogram version, emblazoned with the Icelandic flag, make this an attractive and functional weightlifting bar.  
  • The bronze bushings reduce spin, which is not a needed specification in the powerlifting arena.  

Cons:

  • While you could use this bar for any application, it is specifically built for powerlifting, and prices itself out of the weight training applications.  The lack of whip decreases the suitability for weightlifting applications.

Final Thoughts:

You’ll feel like Thor throwing this monster around.  It’s the ultimate powerlifting bar in the Rogue line, and is built strictly for that application.  The finishing, including the Iceland flag, are a nice crowning touch added to the functionality of this barbell.  This bar is quite high up in the price range, but, given the specific nature of its purpose for use, represents a solid value for the powerlifter.  

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#9 ROGUE OHIO DEADLIFT BAR – CERAKOTE

First Impressions:

This bar is designed with the powerlifter in mind, and, more specifically, for the dead lift.  Its 90-inch length combines with a 27MM diameter to give the weightlifter good control during his lift. The loadable sleeve length is only 15.5 inches, but, given the larger plates used in powerlifting, this should not be an issue in attaining maximum weight load.  The bar is available in four different color combinations.

Features and Specifications:

  • The 90-inch length is just within powerlifting federation standards, and, coupled with the smaller diameter grip, helps the powerlifter get maximum flex during the lift.  
  • The bar has two powerlifting knurls, with a slightly deeper etching than normal, to provide for an aggressive, non-slip grip of the barbell.
  • The Cerakote coating on shaft and sleeves gives excellent durability to this bar.
  • The bushing construction reduces spin, which is unnecessary in a deadlift.  

Pros:

  • The thinner diameter and longer bar length are specifically designed for the powerlifter. The increased flex in the bar will increase the whip, in principle increasing the upward momentum of the plates, and allowing the powerlifter to move more weight.  
  • The bar has a 190,000 PSI rated shaft, with a lifetime warranty against bending.
  • It has four different color combinations available, matching good looks with excellent performance.

Cons:

  • Like the squat bar, this is a specialized bar, not really designed for other weight training or weight lifting applications.
  • This powerlifting bar is also pretty far up the $ price scale, most likely relegating it to the professional lifters or to commercial establishments.

Final Thoughts:

A well-built powerlifting bar, but, unless you are into competition powerlifting, a fairly pricey addition to your arsenal.  You would be better off investing the money into a gym membership where powerlifting bars might be available.

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#10 SB-1 – ROGUE SAFETY SQUAT BAR

First Impressions:

This is the only true specialty bar on our list for reviews.  This bar is designed to rest on the shoulders, with two hand holds surrounding the neck, to give you improved control when doing squats.

After loading the bar with weight plates, the user steps between the hand holds, rests the bar on the neck behind the head, and lifts the bar by driving the legs to a locked position.  The move is then reversed to lower the barbell. Note that the rack is not included, only the barbell.

Features and Specifications:

  • This bar is a hefty seventy pounds, and 89” in length.  The shafts are 1-1/2” diameter, and the grip area is 1”.  One inch converts to 25MM, so the grip diameter is fairly consistent with standard barbells.
  • The pads are heavy duty vinyl, with foam stuffing.  The handles give additional control while doing squats, compared to using a standard bar.
  • The bar has a black Cerakote coating, and has been tested with 1000 pounds of weight on the sleeves.

Pros:

  • This bar is specifically designed for one weight lifting movement, and offers additional stability and safety while doing squats.
  • Given the banging and clanging adding and removing plates, and racking and re-racking this bar, the Cerakote coating should add to the durability of the bar without oxidation risk.

Cons:

  • Well up the $ price scale, this is probably too hefty an investment for the weight trainer or casual lifter.  For a powerlifter or even heavy weightlifter, it can give you additional muscle strength by working different muscle groups.  
  • For best effectiveness of this specialty bar, a rack is needed.  This probably relegates the bar to professionals or commercial establishments.

Final Thoughts:

A pretty pricey addition to your weight room, considering it only supports a single movement.  You would get more bang for your buck using a similar bar at a local gym.

Check Price


Spotlights — Weightlifting Bars – History, How and Why of Usage

Weight training, as we know it today, goes back to ancient Greece, where warriors lifted weights to improve their overall strength and conditioning.  They did stone lifting and throwing, and body weight exercises such as rope climbing. However, thousands of years earlier than that, during the Zhou Dynasty in the 10th Century BC, the Chinese used weightlifting tests as a qualification for those in military service.  Overall strength has always been a beneficial characteristic, and people have used weight lifting, either as a formal training program or just part of their daily lives, to gain that strength.

In more modern times, weight lifting competitions evolved in Europe in the late 1800s.  Weight lifting made its first appearance in the modern Olympics in 1896, but was dropped out of the next competition in 1900.  It reappeared in 1904, disappeared in 1908 and 1912, and reappeared permanently in 1920. The Olympic sport was fine tuned in the 1932 games, with five different weight divisions established, and three different lifting movements specified for the competition.  Women were not officially allowed to compete in weightlifting in the Olympic Games until 2000, but there were several organizations and competitions outside the Olympic venue well prior to that.

So how did weightlifting equipment evolve from the ancient days to the engineering driven science it has become today?  The ancient civilizations typically did body weight exercises for strength building, or used things like stones for lifting and throwing.  Ancient Greek pictorials show them using the earliest hand-held weights, with a hole drilled into stones and other implements for holding them, rather than a handle.  

While the technology has improved dramatically, the weightlifting bar has not changed very much since a 1928 revolving sleeve known as the Berg design became the standard.  This same design is used today, but it is engineered to micro-tolerances, the steel quality has improved immensely, and high-quality bushings and bearings to improve the spin of the sleeve.  Weightlifting rules were changed in 1972 to require collars to hold the weight plates in place while lifting.

The two greatest enemies of the weightlifting bar are warping and rust.  Improvements in the quality of steel used, and extremely tight milling and manufacturing specifications have virtually eliminated warping.  Measures such as tensile strength (as pounds per square inch, or PSI) and yield strength (measured as “F” value) give ratings to the bars so the lifter can judge the stress each bar must bear within his lifting ranges.  Chrome and zinc coatings were prevalent in the past, covering the steel to prevent rust. They could suffer chips and other damage from dropping the weights and removing and adding plates, however. Recently, combination ceramic and polymer coatings have been developed to replace the chrome and zinc coatings.  They offer improved resistance to chipping and scratches, and can be applied in a very thin coat.

So, here we’ve outlined a little bit about the history of weight lifting, and some details on the basic equipment of bar, sleeves, and collars.  We know that there are Olympic level competitions, and also the evolution of powerlifting contests outside the Olympic venue such as the World’s Strongest Man.  But these competitions only involve a few elite athletes; let’s take a look at how the average man and woman are involved in weightlifting.

We talked earlier in this article about the differences between weight lifting and weight training.  To recap, weight lifting is typically about building serious muscle, by lifting heavy weights just a few times.  Weight training, on the other hand, is all about lifting lighter weight quantities multiple times. The objective here is fitness improvement and body toning.

Health benefits of weight training include building and toning muscle structure, and improving bone density.  Weight training also speeds your metabolism, which stimulates your body to burn more calories and help in weight loss efforts.  It has also been proven to improve one’s cholesterol profile, and reduce the risk of future heart disease. All in all, weight training has many health benefits, and should be in everyone’s health regimen in one form or another.

Final Verdict

This article has recapped weight training and weight lifting history, and discussed the origins of it in sport, such as the Olympics.  We’ve looked at key product features and specifications, and defined the terms used in weightlifting bars. Given a selection of ten different bars, the advantages and disadvantages of each were discussed, and an overall impression of the barbell given.

So, having done all that, it’s time to go ahead and make a final recommendation on the best overall weightlifting bar from the list of ten.  There were some bars here for specific applications, such as the squat bar, and others that could be used in different applications, but were still primarily designed for one major application.  There were a few multi-purpose bars and one built specifically for women lifters.

To get down to the best bars, we will look at these from the perspective of someone already into weight training, looking to move up from the department store special to a higher quality bar.  Key considerations for this fictional person will be cost and value, within the framework of the overall features and specifications,

From the perspective of the female weight trainer, this is a simple proposition – our #2 bar, the ROGUE ATHLETE CERAKOTE BELLA BAR – DAVIDSDOTTIR EDITION is the clear winner.  While there are several bars on the list that have a woman’s version available, this is the only barbell we looked at that was specifically designed for a woman lifter.  It comes at a reasonable price, has a fine list of features, a lifetime warranty, and has a special design to add attractiveness to its full multi-purpose functionality.

The decision was a little more complicated for our fictional male resistance trainer.  Our guy will primarily be using this bar for weight training, but may occasionally delve into weight lifting.  For the sake of argument, we will assume that powerlifting is not in his immediate future. Given this profile, I eliminated the specialty type bars – the squat bar, Olympic lifting bars, and powerlifting bars.  That leaves three multi-purpose men’s weightlifting barbells:

#5 – ROGUE FREEDOM BAR – 28.5MM

#3 – ROGUE CHAN BAR – CERAKOTE

#2 – ROGUE ATHLETE CERAKOTE OHIO BAR – FRASER EDITION  

Looking at these with an eye toward specifications, they are all virtually identical.  All can be used for weight training, weightlifting, or powerlifting, but they are truly multi-purpose, not earmarked for one specific application.  All have design contributions from noted lifters, and go beyond the standard black finish with some nice-looking graphics. The prices are very similar for all three, and really do not enter into the decision.  All three have Cerakote coating for extra durability.

So, getting down to the process of elimination.  The first one I dropped out of the competition is #5, the Freedom Bar.  While I love the coloring and the overall value and performance, it does not have a center knurl.  This is a desirable characteristic for many lifters, especially those doing squats and the clean and jerk movements.  

The other two are really a toss-up, and I would recommend purchasing either of them.  If the center knurl is important to you, go with #3, the Chan bar. It is the only one of the three with this feature, and compares virtually one to one with the others for the rest of the feature menu.  If you are a price buyer, the #2 Ohio bar is the one for you. While you don’t get the center knurl on this bar, it is the lowest price of the three finalists, but not significantly so (think three or four specialty coffees).  So, even though I am waffling a little bit, here are your co-winners in the men’s division:

The bottom line here is that these are all top-quality bars, and you really can not go wrong with any of them.   Any of these multi-purpose bars will meet your need, unless you have serious aims at becoming a powerlifter, qualifying for the Olympics, or want a specialty bar for doing squats. They all have a lifetime warranty, so Rogue obviously believes in and stands by their product.  

Happy lifting!

Biddrup Mallick
 

Biddrup has built 5 gyms from scratch. He's a fitness enthusiast and spends a lot of his free time at the gym. He has competed in power lifting events in his local city.

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