How much does a barbell weigh?
While this question may appear straightforward, the answer is actually quite nuanced.
There are many different types of barbell, each with its own specific weight.
Understanding the weight of a barbell is crucial for any weightlifter, as it helps you gauge the total amount you’re lifting and accurately track your progress.
In this article, you’ll learn the various types of barbells, what makes each different, how much each weighs, and more.
Table of Contents
A barbell is a long, cylindrical metal bar, usually 4-to-8 feet long, used in various types of strength training. Basically, it’s a handle onto which you load weight plates while performing bodybuilding, weightlifting, and powerlifting exercises.
The main parts of a barbell are:
- Shaft: The long central section of the bar. The shaft’s diameter can vary, affecting grip strength and comfort and the bar’s overall strength and flexibility.
- Sleeves: The ends of the barbell where you load weights. They often rotate independently of the shaft, which is crucial for certain lifts in Olympic weightlifting as it reduces strain on the wrists and arms.
- Collars: Collars secure the weights in place, preventing them from sliding off during a set.
- Knurling: This crosshatched pattern etched onto the shaft improves grip by increasing friction.
- Knurl Marks: These are rings or marks found in the knurling. They act as guides for your hand placement, helping to ensure your grip width is consistent from set to set.
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There are many types of barbells, each designed for specific exercises and goals. But in most gyms, you’ll usually find just a few main types:
- Standard barbell
- Olympic barbell
- EZ-Curl barbell
- Women’s barbell
- Hex bar (Trap bar)
- Triceps bar
- Safety squat bar
- Swiss bar (Multi-Grip bar)
- Smith machine bar
Most new gym-goers wonder: How much does a bar weigh?
Unfortunately, there’s not one answer—the weight of a barbell can vary depending on its type and purpose.
Let’s take a closer look at the most common types of barbells you’ll encounter at the gym and discuss how much each weighs.
A standard barbell is a straight, 4-to-6-foot long bar with a 1-inch diameter, designed to fit weight plates with a 1-inch hole. Instead of sleeves, it has threaded sections at each end where you secure the weights with a nut.
While they’re adequate for studio gym classes and some home gyms, they’re less suitable for heavy weightlifting since they usually have a lower weight capacity than other types of bars and aren’t long enough to fit in the cups on a bench press station or squat rack.
Standard barbells typically weigh 10-to-15 pounds, but this can vary based on length and material.
For instance, a 6-foot bar made of alloy steel is heavier than a 5-foot cast iron one. However, these bars have no universally fixed weight, so it’s best to check with the manufacturer or gym staff for accurate weight information.
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An Olympic bar is a specialized barbell used in Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and bodybuilding. These bars are usually 7.2 feet long and feature a 2-inch diameter sleeve.
A distinctive feature of Olympic barbells is their rotating sleeves, which reduce torque on the lifter’s wrists and arms during dynamic lifts like snatches or clean and jerks. They’re robust and built to handle heavy loads, which is why they’re the most common type of barbell found in gyms.
Olympic bars weigh 20 kilograms, or roughly 45 pounds. Reputable manufacturers maintain this weight for all Olympic bars to meet the requirements of competitive weightlifting and powerlifting, where equipment uniformity is key.
If you choose to buy a bar from a less well-known company, it’s sensible to check it meets this standard since lower quality control might lead to variances in weight.
An EZ-curl bar is a uniquely designed short barbell, notable for its “W” shaped curve in the middle.
EZ curl bars don’t have a standard weight—they usually range from 15-to-30 pounds. Ask a staff member to learn the exact weight of an EZ curl bar at your gym. If you’re buying one for home use, check the weight with the manufacturer to ensure it suits your needs.
A women’s barbell is designed for female weightlifters and used in women’s Olympic weightlifting. It’s shorter than a standard Olympic barbell, measuring 6.6 feet (2 meters) instead of 7.2 feet (2.2 meters).
Women’s barbells also have a smaller diameter of 25 millimeters rather than 28 millimeters, making them easier to grip for female athletes who typically have smaller hands than men.
A women’s barbell weighs 33 pounds (15 kilograms). Similarly to standard Olympic barbells, manufacturers typically stick to this amount of weight to align with the requirements of competitive weightlifting, ensuring fairness in competitions.
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A hex bar, or “trap bar,” is a barbell with a hexagonal or diamond-shaped frame, which you stand inside to perform deadlifts. The design allows for a more upright posture, reducing stress on the lower back and shifting the emphasis to the legs and glutes.
Most feature two sets of handles, allowing you to change the range of motion you use—the high hands shorten the range of motion, whereas the low handles lengthen the range of motion.
Most hex bars weigh 55 pounds (25 kilograms). However, due to variations in design and length, the weight can range between 45 and 60 pounds.
A triceps bar is a specialized barbell designed for arm exercises, particularly triceps exercises.
It’s rectangular and has parallel grips in the center, allowing you to hold the bar with a neutral grip (palms facing each other). The design helps reduce strain on the wrists and elbows when performing exercises like the overhead tricep extension or skullcrusher.
While not as common, you can also use a triceps bar to do a barbell variation of the hammer curl.
Triceps bars typically weigh between 22 and 25 pounds (10-to-11 kilograms), although this can vary depending on the manufacturer’s choice of materials and the bar’s dimensions.
A safety squat bar is a specialized weightlifting bar designed primarily for squats. It features padded shoulder and neck rests and handles extending forward from the bar’s center. Safety squat bars are also cambered, so they hold the plates in a slightly offset position rather than perfectly in line with the center of the bar.
This distinct configuration allows you to squat in a more upright position, which benefits those with lower back issues and reduces strain on the wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
While there’s no standard weight for a safety squat bar, most weigh 60-to-70 pounds (27-to-32 kilograms).
A Swiss bar, also known as a “football bar” or a “multi-grip bar,” is distinguished by its multiple neutral grips, aligned along the length of the bar like steel railings. This design reduces stress on the wrists, elbows, and shoulders, making it ideal for those with upper body niggles and athletes looking to give their joints much-needed respite from using a straight bar.
The weight of a Swiss bar varies by manufacturer, generally ranging from 25-to-45 pounds (about 11-to-20 kilograms).
A Smith machine barbell is a barbell integrated into a Smith machine. Unlike standard barbells, which move freely, the Smith machine barbell is attached to the machine’s guide rails and can only move on a vertical or near-vertical path.
A Smith machine’s bar weight can vary, but it’s generally lighter than a standard Olympic barbell due to the machine’s counterbalance system. The weight of a Smith machine’s bar can be as little as 15 pounds (about 7 kilograms) or as much as a standard Olympic barbell, around 45 pounds (20 kilograms).
The weight of a barbell can vary depending on its type and purpose. Traditional barbells (Olympic barbells) typically weigh about 45 pounds (20 kilograms). However, other types, like the EZ curl bar, women’s bar, and triceps bars, usually weigh significantly less, ranging from 15-to-33 pounds.
The barbell typically used for the bench press is an Olympic barbell, which weighs about 45 pounds (20 kilograms). However, some gyms might use slightly lighter or heavier bars, so it’s always a good idea to check the specific weight of the bar at your gym.
Yes, you should count the weight of the barbell when calculating the total weight you are lifting. Including the weight of the barbell provides a more accurate measure of the load you’re lifting, which is important for tracking progress and ensuring you’re lifting a safe amount of weight.
Not necessarily. Whether a heavier bench press bar is better depends on your training goals. A standard Olympic barbell is generally sufficient for most weightlifters. Heavier bars may be suitable in some scenarios (strongmen practicing pressing with an axle bar, for example). However, for most people, especially those new to weightlifting, a standard Olympic barbell is most appropriate.
A power bar (or “powerlifting bar”) and a regular Olympic barbell differ mainly in design and purpose. Power bars are thicker, often with a diameter of around 29 millimeters, compared to the 28 millimeters of Olympic bars. The difference ensures power bars have less flex or “whip” than Olympic bars, so they’re more stable when lifting heavier loads.
Power bars typically feature more aggressive knurling for improved grip and often have less sleeve rotation, as the smooth spinning of the bar isn’t as essential in powerlifting as it is in Olympic lifting.