Standard Vs Olympic Weights and Bars

Standard Vs Olympic Weights and Bars

Barbells are an essential piece of equipment for home training, used for squats, deadlifts, curls and much more.  But what is the difference between a standard barbell and an Olympic one?  And which should you choose?

Technically the difference is that the Olympic bars have a 2” diameter and shaft whereas standard is 1”.  This means the standard bars have a smaller weight capacity, and are usually cheaper.  Olympic bars also usually have rotating ends making for a smoother lift and less strain when lifting heavy.

Always remember weight plates are made to fit one or the other - they won’t fit both.  So make sure you make a decision before buying and then definitely make sure you get the right sized weights!!

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Standard Barbell

  • Are usually cheaper 
  • Are usually lighter than Olympic Bars
  • Can’t take as much weight as an Olympic bar.  (Although most will take over 100kg)

Olympic Bars

  • Usually cost more to start with but are more durable
  • Can hold heavier weights
  • Are often more stable when loading weights
  • Usually have rotating ends which reduces strain and injury as it can allow a smoother lift

Which should I choose?

If you are a beginner, a standard bar is absolutely fine.  They are cheap, will get you started and can be used for everything.  Although they don’t take as much weight as an Olympic bar, they will still hold 100-125kg which is plenty for most of us.  You can always progress to an Olympic bar as you get stronger and more into lifting.

If you are a seasoned lifter, or want to become one, an Olympic bar may be the better choice.

The only thing to remember is, standard weights won’t fit an Olympic bar.  So if you start with a standard and want to upgrade, you will also have to buy new weight plates.  If this is the case, you may be best to invest in an Olympic bar to start with.

You can see our range of standard and Olympic barbells and plates here



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