Barbell Loading: How Much is Too Much?

Barbell Loading: How Much is Too Much?

If you’re new to the gym scene, then you might look at a barbell and immediately think, it’s a metal stick! And you’re not exactly wrong. That’s what they are: a long metal bar(bell). However, when you start using them, start loading heavier and heavier weights on them, it’s important to understand that a barbell isn’t infallible. If you load a barbell beyond its capacity, you’ll quickly find that your barbell won’t last very long – or you’ll just have a bent one very soon.

Of course, barbells are meant to take a lot of weight, but if its beyond your budget, it is a necessary question to weigh up. Pun intended. So, in this article, we will explain why some barbells can load a whole lot more than others, and why you’d choose them.

TL;DR: Olympic barbells are pricier but will last longer and can load much more weight.

First, we can disambiguate between your ‘standard barbell’ and ‘Olympic barbell’. There’s actually quite a big difference between them. Standard barbells range around 150 CM long and weigh around 8 KG. Their load capacity, depending on the make and model, goes up to 100 KG in plates. Meanwhile, your Olympic barbells are 200 CM long, and will usually weigh 20 KG. Their load capacity can be over 10 times a standard barbell.

Why is there such a difference, you ask?

Standard barbells are, in a nutshell, smaller and cheaper. If you’re space-conscious or money-conscious, then these are probably the better choice. If you don’t overload them and take care of them, they should still last quite some time. And if you don’t, well, you might be shelling out $60 - $100 bucks for a new one each year.

Then you have the Olympic barbells. These were created with some of the heaviest lifters in mind. This means that they need to be more stable, and be able to comfortably take 500 KG and higher. Of course, your average home-gym owner or fitness-enthusiast doesn’t need to be getting the best $1000 barbell for their workout-of-the-day, but Olympic barbells are essentially better in every way. It’s simply a question of getting the right value for the right buck.

However, assuming that you, dear reader, are still getting your bearings in the home-gym space, and eyeing your budget closely, you can get great quality Olympic barbells online at much more affordable prices if you know where to look. Barbells with lower loading capacity are naturally cheaper, so that’s something to keep in mind.

However, when buying barbells, you also need to consider the plates. Olympic barbells are actually thicker than your standard barbell. You would not be able to use the same plates between Olympic and standard barbells. This means that you would need matching Olympic bumper plates to go with it.

Understanding this dilemma, a lot of premium fitness brands will sell a barbell and plates online as a bar and plate equipment bundle. We suggest that you evaluate just how much you lift, and what you might be using the barbell for before making the decision. 


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