Home Equipment – 3: Barbells

Our last installment discussed dumbbells. Sticking with the weights, it's on to barbells this time. In particular: straight bars.

Barbells are probably what most people think of as "weights." They're used in powerlifting and the Olympics and for all the heaviest lifts. You don't have to go heavy with a barbell but it's nice that you can. And it's so fun!

There are two basic types of (straight) barbells: standard and Olympic. I discussed them in detail in a previous post. In a nutshell, standard bars are cheaper, shorter, lighter, and thinner (diameter) than Olympic bars. Olympic bars also have rotating sleeves which are particularly helpful with the two Olympic lifts: the clean and jerk and the snatch.

My barbells

I have two barbells: one standard and one Olympic. A typical standard bar weighs about 20 pounds unloaded. Despite the name, there's no real "standard" weight for a standard bar. Mine is a special extra-light one weighing only 12 pounds. I got it for use with clients who couldn't handle 20 pounds on some lifts (when first starting out).

I listed the decision points for each bar type in that aforementioned previous post. The summary was:

Generally, I recommend an Olympic bar if you have the space and money, and if it's not too heavy for you. Keep in mind you will get stronger and there's much more upside in an Olympic bar than a standard one.

Barbells are definitely my favourite piece of strength training equipment, mostly because they allow the lifting of the most weight.

One obligatory note especially for women: lifting weights will not make you bulky! At least not without lots of specialized training and diet.

Not bulky

Also from that oft-mentioned previous post comes this note:

Do you need to use a barbell to get stronger? Definitely not! You can use other forms of weights (such as dumbbells or kettlebells), resistance bands, machines, or even your own body weight. But the barbell is a simple, time-tested tool for building strength.

The barbell is your friend! If you can, add one to your home equipment list.

Be seeing you.


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