The standard bar is different because it weighs less, has a smaller diameter and has 1” sleeves for the 1” hole in standard plates.
An Olympic bar is commonly considered to be the best bar for big weights, but trust me, you can use some big plates on a standard bar, such as 50’s or even 100’s.
As noted above, a good standard bar weighs about 20lbs, less than half of what an Olympic bar weighs.
They are commonly sold as part of 110lb starter sets for bodybuilders and other athletes.
That’s compared to the more expensive 310lb. Olympic sets that are commonly sold. Many standard bars are 5’ long but also are available in 6’ and 7’ lengths.
This type of bar is not meant for specific sports like Powerlifting or Olympic lifting.
A standard bar is a better budget choice and a good choice if you are not training specifically for ultimate strength.
It is a good choice for home use, whether that’s bodybuilding, fitness and general sports conditioning.
With that being said, if you perform exercises like squats, deadlifts and bench presses, and are training to get as strong as possible, you can start on a standard bar; but you’ll want to make the move to an Olympic bar once you start reaching some serious numbers in your big lifts.
Price – Depending on the type of bar, you can find reasonably priced options. The best Olympic bars can be costly, and typically cost more than a comparable standard bar.
Bar Diameter – On an Olympic bar, this should be 28mm to allow for the best grip.
Cheaper bars may be thicker to compensate for lower grade steel, anything beyond a 28mm diameter will be difficult for all but the biggest hands.
The diameter on a standard bar is 1”, that doesn’t usually change.
It is possible to get a “fat”bar designed to improve grip strength but that’s more of a specialty item than a common choice.
Tensile Strength – This refers to the amount of weight a bar can take before it breaks.
This rating is typically applied to Olympic bars because that’s the type of bar used in Powerlifting and Olympic weight-lifting competitions.
In competitions like this, you can see some insane weight on the bar, such as 1,000lbs. and up for lifts like the squat or deadlift.
You can also see some big weight in the bench press. Let’s put that in perspective.
At the time of this writing, world powerlifting records include an 1,157lb. squat, a 744lb. bench press and a 1,015lb. deadlift.
That’s why you need a bar that can hold up to 1,500lbs.
The tensile strength is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI) or sometimes thousands of pounds per square inch (KPI).
A rating of at least 155,000 PSI is a good starting point, and the highest quality bars rate at 185,000 PSI and up.
Knurling – This refers to the grip markings on the bar.
If there’s heavy knurling, then there’s plenty of grip.
If the knurling is really heavy, you may want to consider weight-lifting gloves so you don’t tear up your hands.
The knurling is also important for some athletes because it shows you where to keep your hands for certain competition lifts.
Yield – This is how much weight a bar can handle before bending irreversibly.
Whip – This term refers to how much the barbell flexes during lifts.
High whip means it will be flexible, low whip means it will be solid.
A certain amount of whip is important for Olympic style lifting, if you’re a powerlifter or bodybuilder, you’ll want a bar with low whip.
Spin – Like whip, this applies more to Olympic style lifts (think clean and press or snatch). For athletes, powerlifters and bodybuilders that don’t do Olympic lifts, spin is not necessary.
Coatings – The coating of the barbell matters because it helps keep the bar rust and corrosion free. In some cases, the coating can support your grip. The most common coatings are:
Bare steel – Unless the steel is high quality, this coating offers poor corrosion protection.
Black Oxide – This type of bar is coated in chemicals that darken the bar and is then finished with an oil. Black oxide coating contributes to a good grip, but it will need regular maintenance.
Chrome – Even though chrome can flake, chip, and rust, it provides good corrosion protection for as long as it stays on the bar.
It goes without saying that the best barbell for your home gym is the bar that’s best suited to the style of lifting you plan to do.
If you plan to lift heavy, you’ll want a bar that can handle the load, such as the Synergee Regional, our top pick for an all-around bar designed for women and men, or the XMark Voodoo Olympic Bar, our top choice in a bar for strength training, and our all-around pick for best bar overall.
If you’re specifically Powerlifting, you’ll want a bar that stays straight, so that means minimal whip. In contrast, Olympic style lifting requires some flexibility. Again, the best choice is the XMark Voodoo Bar.
If you’re training for Bodybuilding or general fitness, you can certainly use an Olympic bar but you can also use a standard bar, like the CAP Standard Solid Bar.
This is as much a cost decision as anything, as you’ll pay less for a standard bar.
You’ll have to decide if you think you’ll outgrow a bar like that quickly, or if your training style is well-suited to a standard bar.
Length depends on your home gym, if you have a power rack, get a bar that fits. That means a 7’ bar.
Otherwise, you can use a 5’ or 6’ foot bar if you use a bench with stands off the back, or safety stands that adjust.
Of course, if you always train with a partner, you won’t have to worry about that. Safety is always important and a partner can spot you on any exercise you want to do.
Beyond choosing a bar designed for your lifting style, remember that ultimately a bar is what connects you to the weights.
That means that you want a bar that feels good in your hands and that you enjoy using.
This guide gives you our picks for the best barbell for your home gym.
Our top choice for strength training is the XMark Voodoo Bar.
For specific needs, we recommend the economical CAP Standard Solid Bar.
For the best all-around Olympic bar for women as well as men, we recommend the Synergee Regional.
And for an all-around barbell for home use, we choose the Titan Fitness Olympic Bar.
The choice is up to you!