I bought the American Barbell Chewy bar, an IPF spec powerlifting bar, the day it was released and have been training with it for the last 7 months (this review is being written in late October 2023). After months of training with this bar, it’s time to write up a review!
The Short Version
This is the best garage gym power bar on the market today. Every aspect of this bar positions it above any of its competition. Strong statements, I know, but true none the less.
From its perfectly smooth hard chrome sleeves to the highest quality stainless steel shaft, the Chewy bar is made from the best possible materials. The way the shoulder is welded to the sleeve not only showcases the bar’s quality but also makes it a bar that will last you for the rest of your life.
And the knurl is awesome! Finally, someone figured out a way to make a bar extremely grippy without tearing up your hands!
Unlike all of the other “aggressive” knurled bars out there that simply cover their bars in needle-sharp mountain-style knurling, American Barbell has developed a unique type of knurl and knurl spacing that provides unmatched grip. In fact, the name “Chewy” refers specifically to this bar having a superior grip without chewing up your hands.
If a friend or family member asked me what barbell they should buy for their garage gym, and budget wasn’t a concern, this is the only bar I’d recommend to them.
Sound good to you? Head over to American Barbell now to pick up your own Chewy bar.
Not sure the Chewy bar is right for you? Check out our recommended barbells page here!
- Application: Weightlifting, Powerlifting
- Bushing System
- Knurl – New Aggressive 20 TPI
- Weight: 20KG
- Diameter: 29MM
- Center knurl: Yes
- Shaft: Stainless Steel
- Sleeve Finish: Hard Chrome
- Tensile Strength: 190K
- Made in the USA
- Patent No: US D795,971 S
- Warranty: Limited Lifetime*
Chewy Bar Pros & Cons
Highest-quality stainless steel
Extremely grippy knurl without sharp points
IPF spec bar
The color of the hard chrome sleeves is a slightly different color than the stainless steel shaft.
What I Like About The American Barbell Chewy Bar
There’s a lot to like about this bar. So much so that I worry people will think I work for American Barbell after reading this review. I don’t.
We’ll start with how it arrived at my home. American Barbell does the best job of packing and shipping barbells of anyone out there. From the very heavy gauge shipping tube to the protective coverings inside, this bar is going to show up at your door in perfect condition.
Of all of the features on this bar that I like, I like the knurl the best. Typically, to make a bar have more grip, manufacturers literally sharpen the knurling to tiny little dagger points across the entire bar. This type of knurl pattern is very uncomfortable to use for most people training at home.
The Rep Fitness power bar EX is a good example of this. With it’s very sharp “mountain-style” knurling, that bar hurt my hands every time I used it. So I stopped using it.
The Chewy bar uses what I’ve seen some people call “smallcano” knurling. It’s traditional volcano-style knurl, but with a much smaller portion of each knurl tip ground off. By grinding off the little dagger point, but not by a lot, they make the bar very comfortable to use without sacrificing grip.
Knurl Type Comparison
Volcano-style knurl is medium aggressive, fairly grippy, and not hard on your hands.
Deep mountain-style knurl is aggressive, very grippy, and very hard on your hands.
Traditional volcano-style knurl with a high TPI which adds grip without being too aggressive.
Here you see just how different the Chewy bar knurling is with a lower TPI and “smallcano” knurl.
They also manipulate the TPI (teeth per inch) so that the knurl points are a bit further apart. This is something very, very few barbell manufacturers do. It’s also yet another thing that sets American Barbell and this bar in particular apart.
American Barbell has always used TPI as a way to increase grip on their barbells instead of a sharper option. This is a much more expensive way to do knurling. It’s also the right way because it gives superior grip without killing your hands in the process.
The Chewy bar will NOT slip out of your hands, even on the heaviest of deadlifts. At the same time it also won’t destroy your hands like most aggressively knurled bars will.
Sleeve Spin & Construction
Butter. That’s the word that comes immediately to mind when I spin the sleeves on the Chewy bar.
The sleeves on this bar are better made than any other bar I’ve used.
This beautiful ring of TIG welds highlights the quality of this bar.l
No one else takes the time to seal their bushings like this.
The composite bushings, which create the smooth spin, will only rarely need lubrication. They are also recessed behind a snap ring and gasket. This prevents dirt from getting in and lubrication from getting out. You don’t see this on other barbells.
The shoulder of the sleeve is reinforced with one of the most beautiful ring of welds you’d ever want to see. This means that even the strongest lifters won’t be able to damage this bar no matter how many times they drop it while deadlifting.
Material Quality & Workmanship
There are different grades of stainless steel (source). Same with hard chrome. If I was to bring in a group of completely uneducated people, show them this bar next to other company’s stainless steel bars, and ask them to tell me which was made better…
They would all immediately point to the Chewy bar.
You don’t need to call American Barbell, ask for an engineer, and then pester them about what grade of metal was used. Partly because I already did that. Partly because you don’t need to.
Simply holding this bar in your hands and looking at it in real life will tell you everything you need to know about the quality of materials and workmanship used.
What I Wish Was Different About The Chewy Bar
I’ve seen some reviews list the price of this bar as a negative. I don’t agree. High-quality gear costs money. With this bar, you get exactly what you pay for. If the price was lower, the bar wouldn’t be as good.
The only real thing I wish was different on this bar is for it to be end-to-end stainless steel. Not for durability reasons, but for aesthetic ones.
Here you can see the slight color difference between the hard chrome sleeve and stainless steel shaft on the Chewy bar.
Here you can see the consistent color of an end-to-end stainless steel bar. The shoulder, sleeve, and shaft are all the same color.
Hard chrome is an excellent sleeve finish and it will last a very, very long time. But it’s a slightly different color than the stainless steel the shaft is made from. The one thing I like better about the Rep Fitness barbells (I used a Rep stainless steel power bar for years before I bought the Chewy bar) is the look of end-to-end stainless steel construction.
Does that have anything at all to do with the quality of this bar? Nope. It’s just the only thing I can think of after using it for 7 months that I ever thought should be different.
The Chewy Bar vs. The Competition
We always evaluate all gear that we review against other comparable items. In the case of the Chewy bar, we looked at 4 other bars specifically.
The first comparison we made with this bar was to the American Barbell Mammoth Power Bar. This is a discontinued bar, but one we have a lot of experience with and was sold for about the same price.
The knurl is what set the Chewy bar well above the Mammoth in our comparison. The Mammoth bar had a bit finer knurl to it. It was grippy, but not to the level of the Chewy bar.
More than once we’ve heard people call the Kabuki 250k power bar “the best power bar money can buy”. While we don’t agree with that, it certainly is an amazingly good bar, and one worth considering. The Kabuki bar is on many a gym rat’s wish list for sure.
Again, the Chewy bar’s knurl is just better. Kabuki uses a very sharp mountain style knurling that is simply too much for average lifters.
I’d also point out that the Kabuki bar does not come in stainless steel (our preferred bar finish by a mile). Whether you go with zinc, black oxide, or Cerakote™, the Kabuki bar will show a good bit of wear eventually. Stainless steel will not.
Oh, and the Kabuki bar is more expensive too. So there’s that.
You won’t find Eleiko bars in many garage gyms. Eleiko is an extremely well-respected manufacturer of competitive lifting gear. It’s usually way too much for a garage gym owner. But, we compared one anyway!
Our big issue with this (and all) Eleiko bars is the very slim shoulder. They do this to allow more weight to be loaded on the sleeves. While that’s great for competitive lifters, it presents two problems for the average garage gym owner.
First, you and I will never need that extra room on the sleeves, let’s be honest.
Second, narrower shoulders place the plates closer to your rack when loaded on the bar. This makes it challenging to unrack the bar and step back when doing a squat. When I use a bar with this shoulder design, I find myself constantly hitting the rack with the plates during my walkout.
On heavy squats, that can be dangerous.
Hansu is a name many people will not know as they specialize in bars for competition. If you don’t compete in IPF sanctioned competitions, you probably have never seen or heard of them.
Hansu makes great bars. And this one is stainless steel! It’s even roughly the same price as the Chewy bar (also an IPF spec bar).
But it’s got the same slim shoulders that the Eleiko has, making the walk-out on squats more challenging than it should be for average lifters.
If I had to pick a second place on this list, though, the Hansu would be it. I like this bar a lot and if you need the narrower shoulders, it would be a great choice.
Alternatives To The Chewy Bar
If the Chewy bar fits your budget, that’s your bar. In my opinion, there’s no other way to go. But if it doesn’t (and honestly, almost $700 is going to price this bar well out of many people’s budgets), I have two other options for you.
The first would be the Rep Fitness Double Black Diamond bar. At over $200 less and available in end-to-end stainless steel, this is a great bar. It has a an aggressive knurl and uses that sharp moutain-style knurling I’ve referenced several times in this review, but Rep uses less depth to reduce discomfort (and it works pretty well!)
If the aggressive knurl is too much, wait for the Black Diamond bar to be released. It should be out soon (currently it’s Oct 2023). It’s the exact same stainless steel bar, but with a less aggressive volcano-style knurl to it.
If you need to step down in price one more step, then go with the Double Black Diamond (or single black diamond when released) in a finish other than stainless. You can get Cerakote™ models for as low as $329.99.
Usually, I write a little summary at the end of these reviews, but I’m not going to do that this time. I’ll simply repeat what I’ve said several times already…
If this bar fits in your budget. Buy it. You can thank me later.
Does The Chewy Bar Come In Any Other Finishes?
No, it does not. If you asked that because you would like the same bar in a lower price, you are out of luck, unfortunately. If you’d rather have a colored finish, then look at the Rep bars mentioned above. Great bars and several color options.
Does The Chewy Bar Ever Go On Sale?
American Barbell rarely runs sales. I don’t even remember them doing anything with their barbells for Black Friday last year. Lucky for you, you are here on GymCrafter where we have a 5% coupon code for you: “ALMOSTFORGOT”
Do You Really Need A $700 Barbell?
Nope! This is a want it, not need it item. You can lift very effectively with even the most basic barbell.
But if you spend a lot of time in your gym and you enjoy lifting, sometimes it’s enjoyable to spring for a few nicer things. It was really hard for me to spend my money on this bar when I have a wall full of barbells that I already own and work great.
btw… I’m selling all of those other bars now that I own the Chewy bar.
American Barbell Chewy Bar
Quite possibly the absolute best option for a power bar for your garage gym, The Chewy bar has set the standard for a grippy power bar that won't destroy your hands.