How Much Does a Barbell Weigh?
Asking how much does a barbell weigh seems to be a simple straightforward question that requires just one archetype answer. But the truth is there are some variables that need to be considered to come up with an absolute single answer.
For instance, there are at least two most exemplary types widely accepted in the sports and fitness circuit, the Standard and the Olympic. And you would think that each one has an absolute standard poundage, especially the latter.
But if you observe closely in various international weightlifting events, there is a clear disparity in the length of the bar used in men’s competition (7.2 ft.) to that used in the women’s division (6.6 ft.), and from that scrutinization alone you can conclude that they don’t weigh the same. In fact, there is an almost 5-kilo difference between them.
While the most common and quick answer to the question “how much does a barbell weight” is 45 lbs or 20 kg (without the extra weight plates), we still need to examine the most commonly used barbell types in order to have a definitive answer.
After all, there are several kinds you will see out there. However, we will exclude all the improvised types in our discussion to avoid complicating the subject. And with that said, here are the most common types of barbells:
#1. Standard Barbell
This terminology actually refers to that equipment commonly found in gyms. The use of the word “standard”, however, is somewhat arbitrary as you would often find some dissimilarities when you compare each one side by side in terms of length, diameter, and material composition.
These bars are typically rigid and may be sub-classified into “non-competition” class (rated to carry up to 600 lbs extra weights), and ‘competition class” (rated to carry up to 1200 lbs extra weights).
Typically, a standard bar is about 7 feet long and weigh about 45 lbs. However, this may vary from 35 to 45 lbs, depending on the make and actual dimension. One notable variable to its actual weight is the type of collars used on both ends to hold the weight plates in place. The common rotatable-type metal collars usually add up to 5 kilos to the barbell’s total weight.
#2. Olympic Barbell
This is obviously named after the quadrennial international sporting events. And since this barbell is used for competition, its weight and dimension are highly standardized. Every specification of this equipment should conform to the standards set by the International Weightlifting Federation or IWF.
Unlike the standard bar, an Olympic barbell usually has a certain ability to store elastic energy, commonly called a “whip” in the weightlifting circuit. It is also highly durable to withstand getting dropped from overhead multiple times.
As previously mentioned, there is a respective standard bar for men’s and women’s competition. The “men’s” bar is 7.2 feet long, with 28mm-diameter grip section and 50mm-diameter ends and weighs 20 kgs sans the collars and bumper plates.
The “women’s” bar, on the other hand, is 6.6 feet long, has a 25mm-diameter grip section, and weighs 15 kgs without the collars and bumper plates. Another difference with the former is that it doesn’t have a center knurl, perhaps for quick identification.
NOTE: Bumper plate is the term given to rubber-coated weight plates used in competitions. It is designed in such a way that it can be safely dropped to the floor from an overhead height. They are usually color-coded according to weight (e.g. Red is 25kgs, Blue is 20kgs, Yellow is 15kgs, green is 10kgs, and White is 5kgs).
#3. Other Barbell Types
EZ Curl Bar - Designed for doing biceps curls with ease as it puts your hands in a more natural position, this barbell has an intentionally curved profile. It is also great for lying triceps extension and upright rows. The most common weight for this type is 25 lbs sans the weight plates, although you can also find lighter or heavier variants.
Trap Bar - Also called a “hex” because it is hexagonally-shaped to enable the user to place himself or herself inside the shape. It makes doing deadlifts easier as it puts your body in a more natural center-of-gravity position. This bar usually weighs about 35 - 45 lbs.
Swiss Bar - This is a multi-grip barbell that is designed to enable users to perform various lifting exercises in the most neutral and safe hands’ position. It is great for doing rows, presses, curls, and more. It usually weighs from 35 lbs to 45 lbs without the weight plates.
There are many other specially configured barbell bars that we failed to discuss here. Each one with specifically designed features that make some of the most difficult exercises such as weighted squats and other compounds easier and with better results.
However, we are already deviating away from the main gist of this article, which is to answer the question “how much does a barbell weigh”. Based then, on the information given above, we can conclude that the most common weight for most barbell still conforms to the Olympic standard, which is 45 lbs (20 kgs), plus or minus 10 lbs.