Best Affordable Barbells

by | Jan 11, 2022

It seems more and more people have developed a love affair with barbells.

They’ve become more abundant in commercial gyms and you’ve probably noticed the sudden influx of Olympic style lifting tutorials sprouting up on Youtube in recent years.

But with popularity comes demand, and with demand comes higher prices.   Especially with the popular brands.

Truth be told you don’t need to spend several hundred dollars on brands like Eleiko.

There are plenty of affordable barbells that will satisfy most users.   And many of these are capable of withstanding tremendous amounts of weight.

Now, as with most tangible items, there is no “perfect” barbell at any price point. So if you’re looking for perfection in a budget barbell, you’re in for a disappointment.

Most “budget” bars you come across will have some inconsistencies due to its manufacturing. Whether it’s the inconsistent knurling, blemishes, fading in the coating, or the problems with the sleeves, all affordable barbells will require a little compromise.

The term “affordable” is a bit subjective so just know that when we refer to the best affordable barbells, we are referring to those that are under $250.

Factors to Consider When Shopping for a Barbell

As if researching the various brands of barbells weren’t enough, you’ll probably also want to consider their specific uses. (If you’d like to jump to the list of best affordable barbells, you can click here)

Each barbell is designed for a specific use – deadlifts, Olympic lifting, etc..,

Types of Barbells

Olympic Barbells

“Olympic” barbells is a term that generally refers to barbells that are used with Olympic style weights with a 2 inch center hole but the term is also used to refer to barbells used for Olympic style of lifting.

These barbells have a certain amount of flexibility or “whip”.  This gives the athlete the ability to use the bounce for momentum to lift heavy weights.

Olympic barbells are also designed with bearings to allow the weights to spin without the bar.  Certain Olympic style lifts produce rotational inertia and by having rotating sleeves, that helps reduce or eliminate it completely.

Weightlifting/Powerlifting Barbells

Weightlifting barbells are more rigid and don’t spin as much, if at all.

These types of barbells are used specifically for powerlifting.  If your focus is primarily compound lifts, then you’ll want to get yourself a bar designed for powerlifting.

The flex or whip and spin on Olympic bars tend to be more of a hindrance and it can cause an imbalance.  However, some have developed a preference for Olympic bars for compound lifts despite the flex and spin.

To each their own.

Standard 1 inch Barbells

These are your basic barbells used exclusively in home gyms.  These types are rarely found in commercial settings as they don’t have the weight capacity or durability.

Instead of 2 inch Olympic weights, these use 1 inch weights.

You’ll find standard barbells are typically cheaper in cost but are just as effective for those that don’t require heavy weights.

Barbell Specifications

Here are some specifications to consider when you’re shopping.
(If you’d like to jump to the list of best affordable barbells, you can click here)

Weight

Barbell weights vary but for the standard Olympic barbell, the weight is typically 20 kg, or 45 lbs for men and 15 kg or 33 lbs for women.

Tensile Strength

The tensile strength is essentially the amount of stress a barbell can handle before it fails.  The more, the better but that usually comes at a cost.

Weight Capacity

Pretty self explanatory.  The max weight for barbells vary depending on the construction.  The 1 inch barbells have the lowest capacity but there are even some no name Olympic barbells with a low weight capacity as well.

It’s worth noting that despite the indicated low weight capacity of the cheaper Olympic barbells, you’ll find that many are capable of withstanding much more than their max.

Bushings vs Bearings

Barbells are constructed with bushings aka sleeve bearings, or roller bearings which allow for motion or spinning of the sleeves. Roller bearings allow for more spin and are the preferred component in Olympic style barbells.

Olympic lifts produce a significant amount of inertia in the bar so rolling bearings are preferred to allow the weights to spin. This movement prevents the bar from spinning in your hands and enables a firm grip, preventing any potential injury.

Hex bolt vs Pin vs Snap Ring

The sleeves on barbells are secured via three different methods: hex bolt, pin, and snap ring. You’ll find the cheaper barbells secure their sleeves with hex bolts while the more durable barbells are secured with pins or snap rings.

Since many users have adopted an Olympic style of lifting where they frequently drop the bar, barbells with pins or snap rings are going to be the better choice because of their durability.

Hex bolts simply secure the sleeves by screwing in through the ends of the sleeves but they do tend to come loose on occasion.

If you’re a basic lifter who focuses on compound lifts and have a very limited budget then those constructed with hex bolts will suffice. Just don’t drop them and exceed the weight capacity too much.

Knurling

The knurling is the pattern(s) on the bar that provide the grip.

Barbells generally have one specific type of knurling pattern: diamond. And they can be fine, medium, or coarse.

The fine knurling provides little to no grip when your hands are covered in sweat but will suffice for the most part. The coarse grip is really for those where grip is essential.

Best Affordable Barbells

Make
Weight Capacity
Tensile Strength (PSI)
Grip (mm)
1500 lbs
185000
28.5
1000 lbs
165000
30
1500 lbs
210000
29
1000 lbs
150000
28.5

Titan Regular

When you factor all of its comparable features and price tag, Titan’s Regular Barbell has positioned itself to be one of the top if not the best affordable choice for barbells.

At 30mm, the Titan Regular Barbell is a bit on the thicker side and very stiff. There is a slight bend at 495 lbs but don’t expect a lot of whip with this bar (sorry Olympic lifters).

It has a weight capacity of 1000 lbs and with a tensile strength rated for 165K, this barbell can handle the abuse from even the most experienced lifters whether it’s powerlifting or Olympic style.

The medium knurling provides enough grip for most lifts even with the sweatiest of hands and especially if you have small hands.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Weight: 45 lbs.
Weight Capacity: 1000 lbs.
Tensile: 165K
Knurling: Med with center knurling.
Dimension: Length – 86”, Sleeve – 16”
Grip: 30mm
Bushing/Bearings: Bronze bushings
Whip: Little to none.

PROS:
No other company provides a bar of this quality at this ridiculously low price.
An extremely durable and stiff bar constructed to last.

CONS:
There have been some complaints about the packaging and oil on the bar (the oil is typically used to prevent rust).
You may end up with slightly uneven knurling.
If the rotation in the sleeves are minimal, you may have to grease the bushings.

XMark Crowbar

The XMark Crowbar is a solid barbell that can probably function as an all purpose bar if you don’t mind the stiffness.

Its minimal spin and mild knurling makes it suitable for most lifts.

It’s a durable bar with a stylish design (if that sort of thing matters to you). The black manganese phosphate coated on the shaft along with red accents on the caps and collars just makes the bar pop.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Weight: 44 lbs.
Weight Capacity: 1500 lbs.
Tensile: 185K
Knurling: Light/med with center knurling.
Dimension: Length – 87”, Sleeve – 16.25”
Grip: 28.5 mm
Bushing/Bearings: Bronze bushings
Whip: Little to none.

Bells of Steel Bare Naked Powerlifting Bar

Bells of Steel is a relatively new name in the industry. But don’t let the lack of brand awareness fool you.

They’re strong and durable and great for the average user looking to hit PRs.

The bar is stiff with little flex and the sleeves on the Powerlifting Bar are ribbed for that added protection preventing the weights from sliding off.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Weight: 44 lbs.
Weight Capacity: 1500 lbs.
Tensile: 210K
Knurling: Aggressive with center knurling.
Dimension: Length – 86.6”, Sleeve – 17.5”
Grip: 29 mm
Bushing/Bearings: Bushings

Rep Fitness Sabre

Rep Fitness produces quite a bit of quality and surprisingly affordable fitness equipment. But despite it’s affordability and positive reviews, some are still hesitant simply because they’re made in China.

We’re here to tell you that irrespective of its source of manufacturing, Rep Fitness appears to maintain high QC standards as the equipment they sell are of very good quality.

For a price under $200, you’re not going to find a bar with comparable durability.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Weight: 44 lbs.
Weight Capacity: 1000 lbs.
Tensile: 150K
Knurling: Med with optional center knurling.
Dimension: Length – 87”, Sleeve – 16″
Grip: 28.55 mm
Bushing/Bearings: Bearings

There are several others that may be worth mentioning but overall these are the best affordable barbells in our opinion. Especially for the average fitness buff.

They’ll provide you with years, if not decades worth of consistent use so don’t bother spending hundreds on a barbell.

And unless you plan on doing cleans for squats, you’ll want to consider a rack of sorts to use with your barbell.