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A barbell is a piece of exercise equipment used in weight training, weightlifting and powerlifting. It consists of a steel bar that is 5 to 7 feet (2.1 m). The central portion varies in diameter, but is close to one inch (2.54 cm), and is engraved with a knurled crosshatch pattern to help lifters get a good grip. Disc weights (plates) are slid onto the outer portions of the barbell to obtain the desired total weight. These weights are often secured with collars to prevent them from sliding off during the exercise (which can result in injuries).

Olympic barbellsEdit

An Olympic or weightlifting barbell consists of a standardized bar, plates and collars. In contrast to powerlifting barbells, Olympic barbells must have rotating outer ends to prevent the bar from twisting the lifter's arms and wrists.

Men's barEdit

A men's Olympic bar is a chrome-vanadium steel bar that is 2.2 m (7.22 ft) long and weighs 20 kg (44.1 lbs). The outer ends are 50 mm in diameter, while the grip section is 28 mm. The bars have grip marks spaced 910 mm apart to allow intuitive grip width measurement. It is the standard used in competitive weightlifting where men and women compete at the highest level - the Commonwealth Games, Pan-American Games, World Championships, and the Olympics. The total weight of the barbell varies based on the type and number of plates loaded onto the ends the bar and the lift being performed.

In addition to regular Olympic bars, powerlifting often requires use of sturdier bars to better accommodate the heavier weights being used in the sport. These bars can be longer (to allow loading of more plates) and thicker (to deform less under load). Additionally, powerlifting bars have their grip marks spaced closer, at 810 mm. This closer spacing is used to check legal grip width in the bench press. The International Powerlifting federation does not, however, allow the use of longer or thicker bars.

Women's barEdit

A women's Olympic bar is similar to the men's bar, but is shorter (2.05 m) and lighter (15 kg) with a thinner grip section (25 mm). Also in contrast to the men's bar, the women's bar does not sport a center knurl.


Olympic plates are color coded according to weight, and the plates that are 10 kg or heavier are 450 mm in diameter with a center hole of 51 mm, while those lighter than 10 kg can vary in diameter. Competition plates are milled to strict tolerances, and are made to closely fit onto the large ends of the bar. 10 kg and heavier plates are constructed with a rubber bumper design to allow safe dropping, while the smaller plates are either rubber coated or metal throughout.

The plates are colored as follows:

  • 25 kg: red
  • 20 kg: blue
  • 15 kg: yellow
  • 10 kg: green
  • 5 kg: white
  • 2.5 kg: red
  • 2 kg: blue
  • 1.5 kg: yellow
  • 1 kg: green
  • 0.5 kg: white

Additionally, different plates are used outside of IWF sanctioned competition, most prominently in powerlifting. These include:

  • 50 kg: green
  • 45 kg: gold (fairly rare, typically only used in some powerlifting federations, including the IPA, WDFPF and their affiliates)

Plates used in training need not conform to IWF or powerlifting specifications, and can be of any color. Often they do not have bumpers and are typically cast iron. In training, larger 450 mm versions exist of the lighter 5 kg and 2.5 kg plates to accommodate proper lifting position for young and beginning athletes. These can be aluminum or plastic with bumper edges.


Standard collars can be of any material, usually steel, and they can weigh up to 2.5 kg each for both men and women.

A bar with a pair of collars, the plates not counted, can weigh as much as 25 kg for men and 20 kg for women depending on the collars.

Other typesEdit

Standard BarbellEdit

Standard plates have a central hole that is one inch (25 mm) wide. Standard barbells are one inch wide all the way along. Standard barbells typically weigh 10 kg, roughly equivalent to 22 lb (10.0 kg). In some countries or regions, 30 mm bars are also quite common.

EZ Curl BarEdit

The EZ curl bar is a variant of the barbell that is often used for bicep curls, upright rows, and lying triceps extensions. Its zigzag grips allow the user's wrists and forearms to take a more neutral position. This reduces the risk of repetitive stress injury in these exercises.[citation needed]

In addition to the standard Olympic bar, now an Olympic Curl bar (along with other varieties) also exists. Also referred to as an "EZ Bar," a curl bar is shorter and lighter than an olympic bar at a standardized 48" and 18 lb (8.2 kg) and has two indentations for hand placement while curling. Some believe the curl bar is more efficient to build upper-arm and forearm muscles than the traditional straight bar. It is often used by lifters who experience wrist pain caused by the extreme supination of the forearm using a straight barbell.

See alsoEdit

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