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Written by: Tim Steward
Last Updated:

Your barbell might be the single most important piece of gear you buy for your gym. It’s the point of contact between you and the weight you are lifting. All home gyms should have at least one high-quality barbell.

If you are only looking to buy one barbell for your home gym, this isn’t the right list to pick from. Make sure to check out our listing of the best all-around barbells for your home gym here.

Got barbell questions? We’ve got barbell answers! Check out our barbell hub page where you can find answers to pretty much every barbell question you’ve ever had!

Our Top Rated Garage Gym
Powerlifting Barbells

đź’Ş The Best

American Barbell Chewy Bar endcap

American Barbell
Chewy Bar


This is the single best power bar we’ve ever used. And we’ve used a lot of them!

If budget isn’t an issue, this is the bar you should buy.

GYMCRAFTER
SCORE

95

Read our in-depth review.


MSRP $625.00

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🧠 The Smart Pick

dbl bk diamond endcap

Rep Fitness
Dbl Black Diamond bar


The older version of this bar was our #1 pick for years.

Updated & improved in every way, this is still the bar we recommend most often if $ is a factor.

GYMCRAFTER
SCORE

95 | 88

Read our in-depth review.


MSRP $329.99 – $449.99

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đź’° The Budget Pick

Rep Fitness Delta Bar endcap

Rep Fitness
Delta Basic Bar


Most budget bars are crap. This one is definitely not!

The Delta bar has the best knurl, sleeve spin, and finish of any bar at this price point.

GYMCRAFTER
SCORE

75

Read our in-depth review.


MSRP $179.99

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Why These 3 Bars?

If you were a close friend or family member who asked me what dedicated powerlifting barbell you should buy, these are the bars I would recommend. I’d ask you what you wanted to spend, and based on that answer, I would tell you to buy one of the bars on this page.

I’ve tested almost 50 different power bars in the last 5 years alone. I can have any bar I want, and these are the bars I choose to train with in my garage gym. These are also the bars that the folks I train in my garage gym use and prefer.

Why buy a dedicated powerlifting bar when our best all-around barbell page lists 3 power bars, too? Because to really get the most out of the big three powerlifting movements (bench, squat, deadlift), you’ll eventually want a lot more grip than an all-around power bar.

All of the bars on this page (except the budget choice because there is no aggressively knurled budget option I’m comfortable recommending) have an aggressive knurl pattern.

The American Barbell Chewy bar really is the best barbell I’ve ever used. If I’m deadlifting, this is the bar I grab. I also train two guys that can deadlift more than twice what I can. They both reach for the Chewy bar every deadlift day without exception.

The Rep Black Diamond bar is the newer version of the bar that I trained with before I switched to the Chewy bar. Rep’s new bars are stunningly good, and this one is no exception. This is our “smart pick” because you can’t beat the value for your money here.

The Rep Delta bar is the lowest-price bar I’d recommend buying. And in this price range, it stands out. Most bars at this price have terrible knurl, bar spin, and finish. The Delta delivers in all 3 of those areas.

So, if you are in the market for a barbell, make life easy on yourself. Set your budget and let that guide you to one of these 3 bars.

What GymCrafter Says…

My very first “nice” barbell was the Grizzly power bar from American Barbell. The fit and finish on that bar always blew me away. Still does. I trained with that bar for a couple of years before switching to an end-to-end stainless steel bar by Rep Fitness.

I trained with that Rep Fitness ss power bar for several years as my daily driver (it’s the “smart choice” on this page). It’s an awesome bar, but I developed an itch to try out a new barbell.

Since I’ve never gone for any “premium” options in my garage gym, I decided to treat myself. (I’ve always opted for the least expensive thing that was well-made and fit my needs)

Trust me, I did not want to spend almost $700 on this bar. I put it in my cart at least 5 different times before finally pulling the trigger. But wow, am I glad I did!

From the moment I took it out of its shipping tube to the first time I loaded plates on it and hit that very first lift (a back squat), this bar blew me away.

The best analogy I can give you is with cars. When I was growing up, we had a POS Ford Taurus. It was a terrible car. If you remember American cars in the 80s, you know what I mean. Everything rattled. Nothing was well-made.

In high school (also in the ’80s), I dated a girl that had a BMW. I remember the very first time I got in that car. Just the sound the door made when closing it told me how much better this 3-series was than our crappy Taurus. Everything about the beemer exuded quality.

The Chewy bar is that BMW. Most of the other bars out there are the Taurus (I’m looking directly at you, Rogue, with your noisy bars and rattling sleeves). Just by picking the Chewy bar up, you can tell how much better it is than anything else you’ve used before.

I wrote a very detailed review if you’d like to see all the specific reasons I chose this barbell as our top dedicated power barpick. But I’m confident that if you spring for this premium bar, you’ll have the exact same experience I’ve had.

Get yours now at AmericanBarbell.com.


What American Barbell Says…
American Barbell Logo
  • 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*

From the American Barbell website:

Our IPF Spec, Stainless Steel Chewy Bar is the newest addition to our line of best-in-class Power Lifting Olympic Barbells. Why Chewy? It’s our take on a more aggressive knurl without chewing up your hands. We are paying homage to the powerlifting bars of the past but adding our innovations and wealth of expertise.                                          

This heavy-duty bar is constructed with an American-made stainless-steel shaft that has been precision machined with a 20 Teeth Per Inch (TPI) aggressive knurl. The sleeves are hard chrome plated and machined to our smooth and jewelry-like precision standards.

Of course, the sleeve also features our patented and signature recessed TIG weld to finish the look. We also use stainless steel internal snap rings and composite bushings to keep it quiet, tight, and long-lasting. The bottom line is that just looking at this bar will inspire you to train, and once you feel our level of craftsmanship, you won’t want to stop.

See more details and current pricing here.

What GymCrafter Says…

When Rep introduced their Power Bar V2 in end-to-end stainless steel, I bought two of them. One with the standard knurl and one with their EX aggressive knurl.

I trained with these bars as my primary barbells for almost 3 years. The SS Power Bar V2 was GymCrafter’s #1 barbell recommendation for years. It’s replacement is still the barbell I recommend the most when cost is a consideration.

Earlier this year (2023), Rep discontinued all of their barbells and introduced a completely new lineup of bars (we built you a handy guide to all the Rep bars you can read here).

The new versions of their power bars, now called the Black Diamond and Double Black Diamond, make significant improvements to every aspect of each bar. The knurl is better, the fit and finish are better, the endcaps are better, and the high-end details and laser engraving are awesome.

When I saw their new bars for the first time, I couldn’t believe how nice they were. As much as I liked the old bars, these were even better.

The Double Black Diamond bar is no exception. If I hadn’t broken my budget and bought the American Barbell Chewy bar, this is the bar I’d have in my hands every single powerlifting training session.

And that’s why this bar is our “smart pick”. The value you get for your dollar with this bar is unmatched. You can read my complete review here.

Get yours now at RepFitness.com.


What REp Fitness Says…
Rep Fitness Logo
  • Bar Use – Powerlifting
  • Weight – 20kg (44.1lbs)
  • Length – 86.6″
  • Loadable Sleeve Length – 16.3″
  • Shaft Diameter – 29mm
  • Sleeve Diameter – 50mm
  • Bushing/Bearing – Bronze Bushings
  • Sleeve Style. – Smooth
  • Knurl Style – Deep Mountain/Very Aggressive
  • Center Knurl – Yes
  • Knurl Markings – IPF
  • Material – Steel or Stainless Steel
  • Shaft Coating – Cerakote or None (Stainless Steel)
  • Sleeve Coating – Duracoat™, Hard Chrome, or None (Stainless Steel)
  • Whip – Low
  • Static Rating – 1,500lbs
  • Tensile Strength – 200ksi
  • Tolerance – 1%

From the Rep Fitness website:

The Double Black Diamond Power Bar is REP’s top-tier powerlifting barbell with very aggressive knurling. REP was founded in Colorado, and the Double Black Diamond name references the steepest and hardest runs on the slopes. This 20kg (44.1lb) barbell features deep, mountain-style knurling to provide maximum grip for heavy bench presses and deadlifts and center knurling to keep the barbell in place during back squats.

It also has IPF-standard knurl markings to help you get into the proper position for your lifts, and it features smooth sleeves for easy loading and unloading of the plates.

This power bar has a stiff 29mm diameter, which complies with International Powerlifting Federation standards. Bronze bushings allow for consistent rotation while ensuring incredible strength and stiffness to withstand heavy loads. In fact, this bar can handle up to 1,500lbs.

The Double Black Diamond comes in six styles: fully stainless steel; a stainless-steel shaft with hard chrome sleeves; or a black, blue, green, or red Cerakote shaft with Duracoat™ sleeves. Duracoat™ is a chemical process that hardens the outside of the steel, making it more wear-resistant than other finishes while also adding a high degree of corrosion resistance.

The bar is topped off with premium metal endcaps with unique designs. This is a powerlifting barbell that stands out from the rest.

See more details and current pricing here.
See our guide to every single Rep Fitness barbell.

What GymCrafter Says…

Almost all basic barbells stink for three basic reasons…

Typically, the knurling is either non-existent or so sharp it cuts your hands. The sleeves are either bolted on so they can’t spin, or are mounted on the worst bushings ever made (and thus still don’t spin). The finish is already coming off before you even get it out of the shipping tube.

One or more of those three issues seem to pop up on every barbell I test under $200.

There are two exceptions. The CAP OB86 Beast is a pretty solid bar and was my recommendation in this category for years.

Then they raised the price and traded quality for fancy colors and finishes. No colored finish ever made a basic bar better. If you’re spending under $200, it’s important that ALL of your dollars go to quality construction, not aesthetic details.

That’s where the Delta bar comes in. Reliably solid finish, knurl, and bar spin make this sub-$ $200 bar the best in its class. It also makes a great “beater” bar for use in landmines and other attachments. You can read a lot more about this bar in my review here.

Get yours now at RepFitness.com.


What Rep Fitness Says…
Rep Fitness Logo
  • Bar Use – Mixed-Use; Powerlifting
  • Weight – 20kg (44.1lbs)
  • Length – 86.6″
  • Loadable Sleeve Length – 16.3”
  • Shaft Diameter – 29mm
  • Sleeve Diameter – 50mm
  • Bushing/Bearing – Brass Bushings
  • Sleeve Style – Smooth
  • Knurl Style – Volcano/Medium
  • Center Knurl – Yes
  • Knurl Markings – Dual (IPF and IWF)
  • Material – Steel
  • Shaft Coating – Bright Chrome
  • Sleeve Coating – Bright Chrome
  • WhipMedium
  • Static Rating700lbs
  • Tensile Strength135ksi
  • Tolerance1%

From the Rep Fitness website:

The Delta Basic Bar is a high-quality, powerlifting/mixed-use barbell for lifters looking for great value and versatility.

With slower-rotating, strength-focused brass bushing sleeves, the Delta bar is perfect for powerlifting. But dual knurl markings (both International Powerlifting Federation and International Weightlifting Federation) make the bar versatile enough for whatever kind of lifting you’re doing.

This bar is 20kg (44.1lbs) with a 29mm diameter shaft, which also complies with IPF standards. Medium-depth, volcano-style knurling helps enhance your grip on the barbell for heavy lifts, but it won’t tear up your hands during higher-rep workouts.

Center knurling helps keep the bar safely in place on your back during squats.  It’s made from steel with a bright chrome coating on both the shaft and sleeves, and the sleeves are smooth for the easy loading and unloading of weight plates. The Delta Basic Bar is compatible with all standard, 2”-diameter plates and can handle 700lbs of them.

See more details and current pricing here.
See our guide to every single Rep Fitness barbell.

How We Selected Our Recommended Barbells

You can see our complete editorial and review process here.

I bought every bar on this page with my own money. I bought them the same way you would. I did my research, looked for places to try them in real life, and then made my purchase decision.

I then trained with each of these bars in my own garage gym. I’ve been using the Chewy bar for almost 7 months (I’m writing this in late Oct. 2023). I used the previous version of the Black Diamond bar for over three years. I tested the Delta bar for about 45 days (for a basic barbell, I thought this was enough).

I then compared each to quite a few other comparable barbells. Here are the barbells I tested in comparison to each of my recommended bars above. Each of these groups of bars, in my opinion, represents the best barbells at each price level.

You can see exactly how the Chewy bar compares to these in my detailed review here.

You can see exactly how the Double Black Diamond compares to these in my detailed review here.

What We Look For In A Recommended Barbell

So how do we rate one barbell better than another?

First of all, we train with them. In the end, that’s the best way to know what’s good and what’s not. But we also look closely at several key areas of each barbell. It’s in those areas where our 3 recommended barbells shine brighter than their competition.

Sleeve Tolerances

The sleeves of your barbell (where you load the weight plates) are a barbell’s only moving part. If something is going to fail, this is most likely where it will happen. So, it’s critical that the sleeves are assembled and attached to the barbell in a way that prevents excess wear and tear.

This is where “sleeve play” comes in. If you go up to a cheap barbell and try to wiggle the sleeve, you’ll notice it has a ton of play in it. It will move side to side and sometimes even rattle up and down. The more play there is, the more unwanted movement and wear.

Sleeve play is why some barbells rattle when dropped.

Our #1 rated barbell, the American Barbell Chewy bar, has almost no play in the sleeves. That’s part of why it’s our #1 pick.

Sleeve Spin

Depending on the type of barbell you buy, the sleeves will spin at different rates. The sleeves of an Olympic lifting bar are mounted on bearings and spin freely. Power bars typically use bushings so that the bar spin is smooth, but a lot slower.

When we load a plate on the sleeve and spin it, we are looking for a smooth and consistent spin with an even deceleration as it slows and stops.

If we see it catching, making noises, spinning at uneven rates, or if one sleeve spins differently than the other, those are all hallmarks of poor build quality in a barbell.

Here you can see an example of what we don’t want when you spin the sleeves.

Knurl Terminations

All barbells have knurling to aid in grip. How that knurling is applied can give you some deep insight into the overall approach to quality that a manufacturer has. Knurl terminations are where the knurled portion of the bar meets the smooth area.

Poor-quality bars have sloppy knurl terminations. High-quality bars have precise, crisp terminations.

Knurl Quality

Most companies use the sharpness of their knurling to control grip. Typically, the sharper the knurl, the more grip. That’s one way to do things and it works okay.

Another way is to vary the “TPI” (teeth per inch) of the knurl along with the sharpness. This is a much more difficult, but more effective way to enhance the grip without ending up with sharp knurling that’s uncomfortable to use.

worn finish and sloppy knurl termination

Poor knurl quality and terminations tell you a lot about this barbell.

Rep Fitness black canyon bar knurl and knurl rings

Here you see a higher TPI, better knurl quality, and perfect terminations.

We also look at how evenly the knurling is applied. The knurling should be consistent across the entire bar, but some lower-quality bars have obvious variations in different areas of the barbell.

Finish Quality

Is the finish evenly applied? If it’s a bare steel or stainless steel bar are there any blemishes? How about rust?

closeup of cerakote on bells of steel barbell

A poorly applied Cerakote finish.

I’m a big believer that “how you do one thing is how you do everything”. If a bar manufacturer can’t even apply their bar finish well, what other shortcuts have they taken?

What About Specs?

This might sound weird, but we really don’t look at them much as long as they hit some minimums we like. Here’s why…

First, specs can be and are often inflated. Very few people in the world possess the ability to test a bar’s tensile strength or load capacity. So we have to take the manufacturer’s word for things.

Second, most average garage gym owners will never be able to load 700, 1000, or 1500 pounds on a bar. I always kind of laugh when people turn their noses up at a bar with a 1,000 lb static rating because they are looking for one that supports 1,500 lbs. Coming from people whose max deadlift is less than 350 lbs, this doesn’t make a ton of sense.

Third, more is absolutely NOT better! In fact, more is sometimes worse. Let’s look at a bar’s tensile strength as an example.

You want your bar to be able to flex without bending. That’s important. So some tensile strength is important. But if you make it too high, then the bar stops flexing at all and instead risks breaking.

So just because someone advertises their bars as having “the highest tensile strength on the market”, that doesn’t mean those bars are good.

Fourth, if you stick with a good company, the specs will all be there. without us having to check up on them. Whether it’s Rep, Rogue, Eleiko, American Barbell, or one of the other reputable companies out there, specs won’t be an issue.

Lastly, we’ve all experienced when a product looks amazing on paper but doesn’t deliver in real life. Far too many home gym websites write their barbell reviews and roundups using specs alone. This is a disservice to you, the person looking for real-world advice on what to buy.

That’s why we always test every product ourselves, usually for at least 6 months, in our own home gyms before we ever review or recommend anything. I can’t tell you how many times that real-world use doesn’t agree with the specs!

You can see our complete editorial and review process here.