Even the best barbells are undoubtedly more hassle than the best dumbbells or even the best kettlebells; barbells are comparatively massive. Nonetheless, they are essential pieces of kit you should include in your home gym. Yes, a standard Olympic barbell is 7 feet long and you will probably have to store it against the wall, but add a weight bench, and the aforementioned home weights and you have the basics of a gym's weight-lifting area in your home.
Barbells are extremely versatile and you can perform a full body workout just by using a barbell. Deadlifts will work all your muscles intensely apart form your lats and arms. To work those, do bent over rows and military presses. Want to work your glutes a bit more? Do squats. All these exercises can be performed with a barbell and some plates.
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How to choose the right barbell?
Before you run to the nearest Tesco and buy the cheapest barbell, there are a few things you should consider.
A standard Olympic barbell is 7 feet long and weighs 20 kilos. A proper barbell should also have bearings, so when you lift it, the sleeves rotate and the knurled handles won't sand away your skin.
Another thing to keep an eye out is the maximum weight capacity and tensile strength. A barbell with a tensile strength of 130,000 psi won't be able to handle more than 200 kg of added weight without bending. Those videos on the internet you can see with bars bending on people's shoulders as they squat, they are all sub-par quality (not the people, the bars).
The best barbell below, the Jordan Fitness Ultimate Bar, has the tensile strength of 200,000 psi and a maximum load capacity of 750 kg. It might not even be the most it can lift, it only has been tested for up to that amount, so it's definitely safe to use for anything below 300 kg.
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The best barbells, in order
1. Jordan Fitness Ultimate Bar
Best barbell: gym-grade Olympic barbell, cheap too
Reasons to buy
The Jordan Fitness Ultimate Bar is the standard Olympic bar you should get if you have the room at home to house such an equipment. Yes, you can go for Eleiko or Rouge barbell and they are top quality too, but they are also priced accordingly.
Jordan Fitness is a UK based company and has been operating in the business for over 30 years, so they have the knowledge and expertise to manufacture high-grade gym equipment.
This standard sized Olympic barbell is 7 feet (that's 220 cm for all you metric people) long and was tested for 750 kg. Not like anyone is ever going to lift that much, but even if you stack 200 kg-worth of plates on it, it most definitely won't bend, given the 200,000 psi tensile strength.
The grip-areas on the bar are knurled, unlike the centre, so you can pop it on your shoulder for squats and it won't rub the back of your neck. This barbell also sports an 8-needle bearing for a smooth rotation.
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2. Bodymax Pro Olympic Black Oxide E-Z Curl Bar
Best E-Z Curl Bar: Comes with T-screw collars, too
Reasons to buy
You won't be ashamed getting those guns out after you've been exercising with the Bodymax Pro OIympic E-Z curl bar. Perfect for working out your biceps and triceps, this bar's maximum load is 150 kg.
If I ever see anyone curling 150 kg with an E-Z bar, I will surely be impressed. But if you are anything like a normal human being, you will most likely be doing this exercise with anything between 30-60 kg and that amount can be easily handled by the Bodymax Pro OIympic E-Z curl bar.
It weighs around 8 kg and has a standard E-Z bar length of 47" (120 cm). To make the deal even sweeter, the Bodymax Pro OIympic E-Z curl bar comes with a pair of T-screw collars too, so you don't have to purchase them separately.
Not to mention Bodymax's great customer service, so even if you have an issue with the bar, they will sort it out ASAP.
3. Mirafit Olympic Shrug Bar
Best Shrug or Trap Bar: Work those traps like you mean it
Reasons to buy
Trap bars are famous for being huge and mysterious, them leaning against the wall in the gym most of the time. Then you see someone in the gym doing deadlifts with them and you go: 'Of course!'
You can use a trap bar for a lot of different exercises. They are probably not as versatile as a pair of dumbbells, but still, you can perform shoulder exercises and leg exercises with them, like shrugs and deadlifts.
The Mirafit Olympic shrug bar is made out of solid steel and weighs 27 kg as is. You can also load 300 kgs of plates on it which is plenty, even for deadlifts.
The handles are knurled and will provide a better grip, especially working with bigger weights. The Mirafit Olympic shrug bar uses standard Olympic weights (to be purchased separately) so if you already have a standard Olympic barbell, you can use the same weights with the Mirafit shrug bar.