Barbell Buying Guide: Choosing the Right Weight Lifting Bar

Have a Question?


Shopping for barbells can seem like a bit of a mindfield, particularly for those who may be new to weightlifting or are looking to tone up at home with their first bar. Luckily, we sell a range of bars to suit every need and tell you what to look for in choosing your barbell. Knurling, rotation, needle bearing and sleeves, we’ll break it all down so that you can find the correct weightlifting bar that best suits you and your training needs.

RPM Power Olympic bar & plates. Powerlifting bar and Olympic plates

Understanding the Terminology

Knurling: Knurling is a manufacturing term for the surface finish of a bar. This can be horizontal, vertical or crossed lines, our RPM Power Barbells come with a diamond-shaped etching, precision-engineered for maximum grip. This pattern creates a textured surface to indicate where your hand should be positioned on the bar to facilitate all variations on grip including; double overhand and or underhand grip, mixed grip, and hook grip. Dual grip has marks to indicate two positions for powerlifting & weightlifting. No knurling in the centre of the bar is perfect for a comfortable lift for back and front squats, less irritation on the neck. 

understanding barbell terminology
Pictured: RPM Power Olympic Weight Bar Black 8ft 2200mm | 22kg

Sleeve Length: It’s important to consider what plates and weights you intend to purchase and will they fit the bar loading sleeve, prior to purchase. All our plates come with two spring collars to secure the plates in position so consider the space the plates may occupy and ensure there will be a small amount of space remaining for the collars on each side too. If you have an idea of your one rep max for deadlift or squat, the heavier-type lifts will give you a good indication of the plates you need and provide scope for progression.

Olympic Weight Plates Ireland
Pictured: RPM Power Olympic Weight Bumper Plates

Bar Weight: Barbells themselves are weighted, often heavier than you would think. Bear this in mind when you are lifting. You may have two 20’kg plates loaded, but the bar also weighs 15kgs this means your lifting load is 55kg for example. A simple consideration that makes a huge difference to your workout and your weight selection choice.

Needle Bearing: Needle ‘roller’ bearings are special bearings which allow the plate to spin freely on the bar and will reduce the friction on the rotating surface. This is important for lifting, as a smooth plate rotation and minimal play up and down the bar is optimal for proper technique. 

Complimentary Equipment: Squats, deadlift, bench press, power clean, bent over row, the list of exercises is endless for barbells. If you intend to use your bar with other equipment such as a rack or bench there are some considerations to take into account before you buy. Most power racks fit a minimum standard 7ft olympic bar, we recommend the 2200mm bar when using a power rack as the others are too small for you to be able to load safely. For all bars, an adjustable squat rack is ideal for various bar lengths. Just be sure the bar capacity will be sufficient for your combined bar and plate max weight. Similarly for a weight bench, ensure the barbell, plates and your body weight are suitable for the bench, all our benches are adjustable, meaning you can increase or decrease the difficulty of every exercise.

Sample Combos

Beginner Lifter: P1100, P1400 Bench, Adjustable Squat Rack (Pro) and 4ft/5ft/Training Bar with 2 x 5kg plates, Tri-Grip 2.5kg & 1.25kg Fractional Plates

Intermediate Lifting: Benches P2800, U2250. Quarter Rack, R2500, 5ft/6ft bar with 2x5kg, 2x10kg, 2x15kg

Advanced Lifter: Bench U3800, U2250. Racks R4500, Ultra Squat Stand and 7ft/6.5ft bar with full plate set (2x5kg, 2x10kg, 2x15kg, 2x20kg, 2x25kg)


Person weighing 80kg

Bench 1 Rep Max = 45kg (.56 x bodyweight)

Squat 1 Rep Max = 65kg (.81 x bodyweight)

Shoulder Press 1 Rep Max = 35kg (.44 x bodyweight)

Equipment needed:

Bench Press = P2800, Adjustable Squat Rack, 6ft bar (15kg) + 2x15kg’s Plates

Back Squat = Adjustable Squat Rack Pro, 6ft bar (15kg) + 2x25kg’s Plates

Shoulder Press = 6ft bar (15kg’s) + 2x10kgs Plates


Bar Comparison Table

Product Bar Length Shaft Sleeve Length Sleeve Diameter Shaft diameter Needle Bearing Knurl Marks Knurling Weight (KG) Max Loading Coating
Olympic Bar – 1200mm 4ft 10kg 1200mm (4ft) 82cm 17cm 50mm 28mm 4 No Mountain Knurl 10 136kg Silver Zinc
Olympic Bar – 1500mm 5ft 12kg 1500mm (5ft) 100cm 23cm 50mm 28mm 4 IPF Marks Mountain Knurl 12 230kg Silver Zinc
Olympic Bar – 1800mm 6ft 15kg 1800mm (6ft) 128cm 23cm 50mm 28mm 8 IPF Marks Mountain Knurl 15 230kg Silver Zinc
Olympic Bar – 2000mm 6.5ft 15kg 2010mm (6.5ft) 131cm 32.5cm 50mm 25mm 8 IPF & IWF Hill Knurl 15 450kg Black Zinc
Olympic Bar – 2200mm 7ft 20kg 2200mm (7ft) 131cm 41.5cm 50mm 28mm 10 IPF & IWF Hill Knurl 20 450kg Black Zinc
6ft Olympic Bar – (Black & Red) -1800mm 1800mm (6ft) 128 24.5 50mm 28mm 8 IPF Marks Mountain Knurl 15 230kg Black Zinc
6ft Aluminium Technique Bar – (Red/Silver) – 1800mm | 8kg 1800mm (6ft) 128 24.5 50mm 28mm 2 IPF Marks Mountain Knurl 8 136kg Silver Zinc
Aluminium Technique Bar – (Pink/Silver) – 1800mm | 8kg 1800mm (6ft) 128 24.5 50mm 28mm 2 IPF Marks Mountain Knurl 8 136kg Silver Zinc
Aluminium Technique Bar – (Blue/Black) – 1800mm | 8kg 1800mm (6ft) 128 24.5 50mm 28mm 2 IPF Marks Mountain Knurl 8 136kg Black Zinc
EZ Curl Bar – 1200mm | 10kg 1200mm (4ft) 128 17 50mm 28mm 2 None Mountain Knurl 10 136kg Silver Zinc
Table of Contents

If you cannot find what you’re looking for here, please Contact Us.