Parts of a Barbell

A barbell is a popular piece of equipment used in weightlifting and strength training. It consists of a long metal bar with weights attached to either end. Barbells come in a variety of types and sizes, but they all share common parts, including the shaft, sleeves, collars, and knurling.

The shaft is the long central part of the barbell that is gripped during exercises. It is usually made of steel and can vary in diameter and length depending on the type of barbell. The sleeves are the parts of the barbell where weight plates are loaded.

black barbell on tile flooring

They rotate independently from the shaft to reduce friction and allow for smoother lifting. Collars are used to secure the weight plates to the sleeves and prevent them from sliding off during exercises. Knurling is the textured pattern on the shaft that provides a better grip for the lifter.

The Bar

The bar is the central part of the barbell and is the longest section of the equipment. It is typically made of steel and can range in length from 6 feet to 7 feet and beyond. The diameter of the bar can also vary, with most bars being between 25mm to 32mm in thickness.

Olympic bars, which are used in weightlifting competitions, are typically 2.2 meters long and have a diameter of 28mm.

The bar is where the weights are loaded onto the barbell.

The two sleeves, one on each end of the bar, are where the weights are secured with collars to prevent them from sliding off during use. The sleeves are usually made of steel and rotate independently of the bar, allowing the weights to spin freely during lifts.

This rotation helps to reduce stress on the lifter’s joints and allows for smoother, more efficient lifts.

The knurling on the bar is the textured pattern that provides grip for the lifter’s hands. The knurling is typically located in the center of the bar, where it is used during exercises like squats and deadlifts, as well as on the outer edges of the bar, where it is used during exercises like bench presses and overhead presses.

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The amount of knurling on the bar can vary, with some bars having more aggressive knurling for a better grip, while others have less aggressive knurling for a smoother feel.


The sleeves are the parts of the barbell where you load plates onto. They are attached to the barbell using either bushings or bearings, which enable the sleeves to spin separately from the rest of the barbell. Bushings are lubricated metal rings that are made of brass or bronze. Lifters usually prefer bronze bushings because they’re higher quality.

On the other hand, bearings are small balls that allow the sleeves to spin more freely. They are usually made of steel or ceramic, and are more expensive than bushings. Bearings are commonly found in Olympic barbells, which are designed for competitive weightlifting.

The length of the sleeves can vary depending on the type of barbell. For example, Olympic barbells typically have longer sleeves than standard barbells, which allows for more weight to be added. The diameter of the sleeves can also vary, with some barbells having thicker sleeves than others.


Collars hold the weight plates onto the barbell’s sleeves, preventing them from sliding off during use. There are two main types of collars used: lockjaw slide-on collars and tension spring-style collars. The lockjaw collars are sturdier, faster, and of higher quality from experience.

They are also more expensive than spring-style collars.

Lockjaw collars are designed to slide onto the barbell’s sleeves and lock in place, securing the weight plates. They are easy to use, and some models come with a quick-release feature that allows you to remove them quickly.

The collars’ locking mechanism ensures that the weight plates remain in place during use, preventing them from sliding off the barbell. S

pring-style collars, on the other hand, use tension to hold the weight plates in place. They are less expensive than lockjaw collars and are commonly found in commercial gyms. While they are easy to use, they are not as secure as lockjaw collars, and the weight plates can slide off during use.

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When choosing collars, it is essential to consider the type of exercises you will be performing and the amount of weight you will be lifting.

For heavy lifts, lockjaw collars are recommended as they provide a more secure hold on the weight plates. For lighter lifts, spring-style collars may suffice. In conclusion, collars play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of barbell exercises.

It is important to choose the right type of collar based on your needs and lifting goals. Lockjaw collars offer a more secure hold, while spring-style collars are more affordable and easier to use.


Knurling is the rough, textured part of the barbell that provides grip for the lifter. It is created on the bar by a specialized machine that makes a zigzag pattern. The spacing and depth of the pattern varies and results in the aggressiveness rating of the knurling.

The knurling can be found in different areas of the bar, including the center, outer rings, and between the rings. The center knurling is a knurled area in the middle of the bar spanning 4″-6″ wide.

This can be beneficial in two ways:

First, a center knurl can help the lifter line up consistently in the middle of the bar. Without it, they may line up slightly off-center and create an unbalanced bar.

Second, the center knurl provides additional grip for exercises like squats and bench press where the bar rests on the lifter’s back or chest. In addition to the center knurling, some bars have knurl rings, which are smooth rings that appear on the barbell knurling. They are placed there to aid hand placement for competitive lifting.

These rings ensure that lifters are competing on an even playing field when it comes to where they are allowed to grip the bar. When it comes to choosing the right knurling for a barbell, it’s important to consider personal preference and the type of exercises that will be performed.

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A more aggressive knurling may be preferred for exercises like deadlifts, where a strong grip is necessary, while a less aggressive knurling may be preferred for exercises like overhead press, where the bar rests on the lifter’s shoulders.

Ultimately, the right knurling is the one that feels comfortable and secure for the lifter.


A barbell’s finish is a protective coating applied to the shaft and sleeves to prevent moisture from sitting on the surface of the metal and rusting it over time.

There are several different finishes available in the market, including:

  • Zinc
  • Black oxide
  • Hard chrome
  • Cerakote
  • E-coat

Zinc is a popular choice for barbell finishes because it is affordable and durable. It provides excellent corrosion resistance and is easy to maintain. Black oxide is another popular finish that provides a sleek, matte black appearance. It is also highly resistant to corrosion and can withstand heavy use.

Hard chrome is a highly durable finish that provides excellent corrosion resistance. It is more expensive than other finishes, but it is worth the investment for those who want a barbell that will last a long time.

Cerakote is a ceramic-based finish that provides excellent durability and resistance to wear and tear. It is available in a wide range of colors and is a popular choice for those who want a barbell that looks as good as it performs.

E-coat is a newer finish that is gaining popularity in the fitness industry. It is an electrocoating process that provides excellent corrosion resistance and durability. It is also environmentally friendly and does not contain any hazardous materials.

When choosing a barbell finish, it is important to consider factors such as durability, maintenance, and appearance. The right finish can help protect your investment and ensure that your barbell lasts for years to come.

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