Best barbell 2021: for home gyms, the best Olympic bar, E-Z curl bar and trap bar

Let's get serious with the best barbells for home gyms

best barbell
(Image credit: Getty Images)

After a year of not being able to the gym, even those who never thought they might get the best barbells are now considering purchasing one. Admittedly, even the best barbells are more hassle to store and workout with than the best dumbbells or even the best kettlebells; barbells are comparatively massive, especially the Olympic bar variety. Nonetheless, they are essential pieces of kit you should include in your best home gym setup.

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 from 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. 

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).

It is also worth noting that both the grip and collar size can vary between barbells, meaning not all weight plates will fit. Most Olympic plates and barbells will use a 2-inch (or 50.6mm) diameter, while standard - or home gym - bars often feature a smaller, 1-inch diameter. This is typically because the disc itself is more compact.

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.

The best barbells, in order

Best barbells: Jordan Fitness Ultimate Bar

(Image credit: Jordan Fitness)

Jordan Fitness Ultimate Bar

Best barbell: gym-grade Olympic barbell, cheap too

Weight: 20 kg
Bearing: 8-needle bearings
Length: 7 feet/220 cm
Grip: 28 mm
Tensile strength: 200,000 psi
Max load: 750 kg
Reasons to buy
+Great tensile strength+High max load capacity

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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Best barbells: Bodymax Pro OIympic Black Oxide E-Z Curl Bar

(Image credit: Bodymax)

Bodymax Pro Olympic Black Oxide E-Z Curl Bar

Best E-Z Curl Bar: Comes with T-screw collars, too

Weight: 8 kg
Length: 47"/120 cm
Grip: 28 mm
Max load: 150 kg
Reasons to buy
+Decent load capacity

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.

Best barbells: Mirafit 2" Olympic Trap Bar

(Image credit: Mirafit)

Mirafit 2" Olympic Trap Bar

Work those traps like you mean it

Weight: 27 kg
Length: 5 feet/147.5 cm
Sleeve Length: 12 inches/29.5 cm
Max load: 300 kg
Reasons to buy
+Solid steel+Uses standard Olympic weights

• Buy the Mirafit 2" Olympic Trap Bar for £119.95 directly from Mirafit

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.

Best barbell

(Image credit: Wolverson Fitness)

Wolverson Fitness Infinity Bar

Pro specs for serious lifters

Weight: 20kg
Length: 7ft/213.36cm
Sleeve Length: 16in/40.64cm
Max load: 680kg
Reasons to buy
+Serious build quality+Olympic standard weight discs+Lab tested 
Reasons to avoid
-Iridescent colouring not to all tastes

Buy direct from Wolverson Fitness

Wolverson Fitness supplies some of the biggest gyms in the country, as well as kitting out professional athletes from all over the world. Its barbells are tested for competition and this number is no different.

At £299, it might seem steep to those just starting out, but it represents excellent value for money when you consider some of the competition out there charge up to the £1k mark for a bar. 

With tough knurling (for added grip) and four needle bearings for smooth whipping action when carrying out presses and curls. It's a solid bar for perfecting technique and improving traditional lifting manoeuvres. 

Eleiko Technique Bar

(Image credit: Eleiko)

Eleiko Weightlifting Technique Bar

The best bar for refining workout technique

Weight: 5kg or 10kg
Length: 7ft2in/220cm
Sleeve length: 16in/41.5cm
Max load: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Great for beginners+Lighter knurling for comfort+Perfect technique
Reasons to avoid
-Might be too light for some-Not right for more advanced lifters

Buy direct from Eleiko

Working your way up the weight scale shouldn't be rushed. In fact, it can take years to perfect proper lifting technique but this bar aims to speed up that process by replicating the larger bars Eleiko offers but reducing the overall weight and reducing the aggressiveness of the knurling to be kinder on the hands.

Available in either 5kg or 10kg weights, the bar is great for those just starting out, as it performs like the professional units found in commercial gyms but it's much easier to lift and handle. Great for gradually increasing the weight over time. 

Wolverson Fitness Open Trap Bar

(Image credit: Wolverson Fitness)

Wolverson Fitness Open Trap Bar

A brilliantly versatile bar for upper and lower body building

Weight: 35kg
Length: 1.8m
Sleeve length: N/A
Max load: 400kg
Reasons to buy
+Safer on lower back+Great for beginners+Versatile 
Reasons to avoid
-Hefty piece of kit

Buy direct from Wolverson Fitness

It might look like a piece of farm machinery, but this heavy duty bar is actually designed to make the classic deadlift easier, taking the strain off the lower back by offering a neutral grip.

With both high and low barbell handles, as well as an open rear for easy enter and exit, it is supremely versatile, with users able to lunge walk, press and even curl the contraption.

The only downside is the bar itself weighs 35kg without a single weight plate added, making it quite heavy for upper body workouts and beginners. That said, if you've only got room for one bar, this is the one to plump for. It's possible to work almost every muscle in your body if you know your onions.