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What Is a Powerlifting Barbell: Everything You Need to Know

what is a powerlifting barbell

If you're a home gym owner who's serious about pumping iron, you've probably heard about powerlifting barbells. They sound like something Thor himself would bench press while sipping on a protein shake.

But what exactly is a power barbell, and how does it differ from those fancy Olympic barbells? Fear not, my swole friends, because we’re to flex our knowledge and unravel the mysteries of the almighty power bar.

When it comes to barbells, you might think they're all the same—just long, heavy sticks with some knurling for grip. But hold your horses, Hercules, because there are some key differences between a power barbell and an Olympic barbell. A power barbell is like the Hulk of barbells—it's built to handle some serious punishment. These bad boys are designed to withstand the heavy loads and intense stress that powerlifting movements dish out. They have a thicker shaft diameter, usually around 29mm, which adds extra rigidity and prevents the barbell from bending or flexing too much under heavy weights.

On the other hand, Olympic barbells are more like the nimble ninjas of the lifting world. They're built for the finesse and technical movements of Olympic weightlifting. Olympic bars typically have a slightly thinner shaft diameter, around 28mm, to provide a bit of flex that helps with dynamic movements like cleans and snatches.No, we're not talking about cracking a whip at the gym (although that would certainly spice things up). "Whip" refers to the barbell's ability to store and release energy during a lift. And this is where the power barbell and the Olympic barbell part ways.

A powerlifting bar is stiffer than your gym partner’s resistance to doing leg day. This stiffness reduces the barbell's whip, making it ideal for heavy squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. It allows you to lift massive weights with confidence, knowing that the bar won't wobble like a Jell-O mold at a kid's birthday party.

Meanwhile, the Olympic barbell has a bit more flex or whip to help athletes in explosive movements. This characteristic enables the lifter to transfer power more efficiently from the body to the barbell during movements like the clean and jerk or the snatch.

Now that you know what a power barbell brings to the gym, you might be wondering if it's the right fit for your iron-pumping needs. Well, friend, it depends on your goals and lifting preferences.

If you're all about the three sacred lifts—squat, bench press, and deadlift—a power barbell is your ticket to gainzville. Powerlifters need a stiff bar that can handle astronomical weights and provide stability during those heavy lifts. A power barbell is like having a steadfast spotter that won't let you down when the weights get serious. Now, don't despair if you're not a powerlifting enthusiast. For most folks, a general-use Olympic bar will do just fine. These bars offer a versatile and balanced option for a wide range of exercises, from bench pressing to curls.

When it comes to choosing between a power barbell and a general-use Olympic bar, there are a few factors to keep in mind. Let's break it down, shall we?

If you're all about the big three lifts and want to push your limits, a power barbell is the way to go. If you prefer a more varied workout routine or enjoy Olympic weightlifting movements, an Olympic barbell will be your partner in gains. Power barbells often come with a higher price tag due to their specialized construction. If budget is a concern, a general-use utility bar can be a more wallet-friendly option that still gets the job done.

It’s worth noting, however, that the Barenaked Powerlifting Bar 2.0 was voted the Best Budget Barbell of 2022, so write that down.

Consider the size of your home gym and the available space. Some specialty power barbells (squat bars, for example) tend to be longer and heavier than Olympic bars, so make sure you have enough room to swing those iron cannons around without smashing your vintage action figure collection. Remember, my iron-loving amigos, the right barbell is like a trusty sidekick—always there to support your lifting adventures and help you conquer new personal records. So choose wisely, embrace the barbell that speaks to your lifting goals, and get ready to unleash your inner beast!