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Olympic Barbells Vs. Standard Barbells: What Is The Right Barbell For You?

by Ricky Ding 22 Jun 2024
Olympic Barbells Vs. Standard Barbells: What Is The Right Barbell For You?

If you're looking at purchasing a new barbell, you've probably noticed that there are two distinct types of barbells available for purchase. There are Olympic Barbells, and there are Standard Barbells. While they may seem similar at a glance, they are very different and their differences are important, especially if you are planning to lift any heavy weight plates.

At X-Rival Fitness we carry a variety of different barbells and are happy to assist you at one of our many locations in choosing your very own Olympic Barbell or Standard Barbell.

This blog will delve into the differences between Olympic and Standard Barbells, helping you make an informed decision on which one suits your fitness goals.

What Are Olympic Barbells?

Olympic barbells are the standard equipment used in professional and competitive weightlifting. They are engineered to handle heavier loads and feature rotating sleeves, which help reduce stress on the wrists and elbows during dynamic lifts. The design of olympic barbells also includes a slight flex, making them ideal for explosive movements.

Weight and Dimensions

Olympic barbells typically weigh 20 kg (44lbs) for men and 15 kg (33lbs) for women. The bar length is 2.2 meters (7.2 feet) for men and 2.01 meters (6.6 feet) for women. The diameter of the shaft is 28 mm for men and 25 mm for women, ensuring a firm grip during heavy lifts.

Load Capacity

Olympic barbells are designed to handle significantly more weight compared to standard barbells. They can support loads of up to 1500lbs, making them ideal for serious lifters and competitive athletes. The sleeves are also built to accommodate Olympic-sized plates with a 2-inch diameter hole, which allows for smoother, more balanced lifting.

Spin and Flex

A unique feature of Olympic barbells is their ability to spin. The sleeves rotate thanks to bushings or bearings, reducing the stress on your wrists and elbows during dynamic lifts like the snatch or clean and jerk. Additionally, Olympic barbells have a slight flex or "whip," which can be beneficial during explosive movements.

What Are Standard Barbells?

Standard barbells are commonly found in home gyms and are ideal for general fitness and lighter weight training. They are typically shorter and lighter than Olympic barbells, making them easier to handle for beginners. Standard barbells are great for static exercises like bench presses and bicep curls due to their rigid structure and stability.

Weight and Dimensions

Standard barbells typically weigh around 20 lbs (9 kg) and are shorter, usually about 5 to 6 feet in length. The diameter of the shaft is also smaller, generally around 1 inch.

Load Capacity

Standard barbells are built to handle lighter weights, with a typical maximum load capacity of around 200 to 300 lbs. This makes them suitable for beginners and those focusing on lighter weight training routines. The sleeves on standard barbells are designed for plates with a 1-inch diameter hole.

Stability and Use

Unlike Olympic barbells, standard barbells do not have rotating sleeves. This makes them less ideal for dynamic lifts but perfectly adequate for static exercises such as bench presses and bicep curls. Their rigid structure provides a stable platform for controlled movements.

Key Differences Between Olympic and Standard Barbells


Olympic Barbell

Standard Barbell


20 kg (44 lbs) for men, 15 kg (33 lbs) for women

20 lbs (9 kg)


2.2 meters (7.2 feet) for men, 2.01 meters (6.6 feet) for women

5-6 feet

Shaft Diameter

28 mm for men, 25 mm for women

1 inch

Load Capacity

Up to 1,500 lbs

200-300 lbs

Sleeve Diameter

2 inches

1 inch

Sleeve Rotation



Flexibility (Whip)



Choosing the Right Barbell for Your Needs

Goals and Experience Level

  • Beginners and Casual Lifters: If you're new to weightlifting or engage in general fitness, a standard barbell is a great starting point. Its lighter weight and lower cost make it accessible and easy to use.
  • Intermediate to Advanced Lifters: For those looking to lift heavier weights and perform Olympic lifts, investing in an Olympic barbell is beneficial. The higher load capacity and rotating sleeves will enhance your lifting experience and reduce injury risk.

Specific Workouts

  • Strength Training: Olympic barbells are ideal for strength training such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses due to their higher load capacity and durability.
  • Bodybuilding: Standard barbells work well for exercises like bicep curls, tricep extensions, and shoulder presses, where the weights used are typically lighter.


Both Olympic and Standard Barbells have their unique advantages. Your choice should be guided by your fitness goals, experience level, and the types of exercises you plan to perform. At X-Rival Fitness, we have the perfect barbell for every lifter. Shop our barbells today and find the barbell that will help you achieve your strength and fitness objectives.

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Olympic Barbells Vs. Standard Barbells: What Is The Right Barbell For You?

If you're looking at purchasing a new barbell, you've probably noticed that there are two distinct types of barbells available for purchase....

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