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Last updated on May 10th, 2021 at 05:16 pm

recommended bar icon

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 your weights. While I don’t think you need a wall full of bars, I do think all home gyms should have at least one well built all-purpose barbell.

If you are a competitive Olympic lifter or hardcore CrossFit athlete, you may need more than one specialized bar. If you are like the other 90% of all home gym owners out there, you’ll need one barbell that’s well suited for most at home lifting.

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What not to buy

The first rule is don’t go cheap. Sure you can go to Dick’s and buy a bar for $75, but don’t. It’s a complete waste of $75. I know because I bought one to test. Worst. Bar. Ever. Thankfully they have a return policy!

I would also stay away from the bars that can only be bought on Amazon. So many of these are the same Chinese bar rebranded under different company names.

Stick with bar manufacturers that have their own sites and sell directly to consumers.

Does this mean you need to buy an expensive bar? No! It just means that you want to get the most you possibly can for your money. If you buy a quality bar, you’ll have it for a lifetime of training.

I recommend that you buy the nicest bar your budget allows (within reason). Below I’ve listed the best bars you can buy at several different price points.

I’ve used and extensively tested all of these bars as well as a host of others. You can buy any of these with confidence knowing that your money will be well spent with no regrets.

Barbell Resources

Recommended Barbells

Remember that we are looking for great all-around bars at the listed budget levels. The goal is to find a bar that can serve as the centerpiece of your gym and be used effectively for almost any type of lifting you’ll be doing.

So what makes a great “all-around” bar? Here’s a quick list of what I look for. Keep in mind that you can’t really find all of this at the lower price points, so I try to come as close as possible while staying within the price category.

  • A 29mm diameter is the best option for an all-around bar.
  • 165-180+ PSI tensile strength will make for a durable bar capable of holding a lot of weight and not bending over time.
  • Medium knurling that’s not too aggressive or too passive. We’re going for a great grip that won’t tear up your hands.
  • A center knurl for grip on your back when squatting.
  • A long-lasting finish that looks good, feels great, and protects from corrosion.
  • Bushings (not bearings) that provide a smooth bar spin that’s not too fast or too slow.
  • Quality construction from a reputable company known for selling great bars.
  • A lifetime warranty

If you don’t want to read through this whole page, here’s a quick reference chart listing all of the recommended bars and how they stack up in each category.

BarPriceDiameterTensile StrengthKnurlCenter knurlFinishSpinWarranty
Basic Bar$8930mm65 PSIpassiveyeschromepoor1 year
Sabre Bar$14928.5mm150 PSIpassiveyeszincokay1 year
Excalibur Bar$29928.5mm215 PSImedium grippyyeshard chromeexcellentlifetime
Power Bar$37929mm200 PSImedium
grippy
yesraw stainlessexcellentlifetime
Power Bar EX$37929mm200 PSIsharp aggressiveyesraw stainlessexcellentlifetime
Elite Power Bar$49529mm190 PSImedium grippyyesstainless shaft w/ hard chrome sleevesexcellentlifetime
For full write ups, see below

Best barbell under $100

The right answer to this question is to buy used. $100 just isn’t enough to get you a great bar if buying new. Look on Facebook Marketplace, LetGo, Craig’s List, or eBay for deals that hit your $100 budget.

I understand that many people simply won’t buy used. If you fall in that category, the only barbell I’d ever buy at this price is the Rep Fitness Basic bar. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • $89.00
  • 30mm
  • 65 PSI tensile strength
  • 700 lb capacity
  • Passive knurl
  • Decorative chrome finish
  • Bolt-on sleeves
  • 1 year warranty

This is definitely better than the bars you’ll find at your local sporting goods stores for comparable prices. But if you can at all fit it into the budget, I’d recommend saving up just a bit more money and going for the next bar on this list.

Where to buy

I’m constantly keeping an eye out for the best place to buy the products I recommend. I take into account who has the lowest pricing, cheapest shipping, fastest delivery, and most current product.

Click here to see the best place to buy the Rep Fitness Basic Bar

Best Barbell under $200

If you are on a tight budget, but can swing $150, there is no better choice out there than the Rep Fitness Sabre bar. You can see by looking at its specs that it’s a huge jump up in quality over the Basic Bar.

It’s miles better than most bars you’ll find at similar price points and is a very solid entry level bar. It’s not going to be your forever bar, but it’ll get you started without killing your wallet.

  • $149.00
  • 28.5mm
  • 150 PSI tensile strength
  • 1000 lb capacity
  • Passive knurl
  • Available with or without a center knurl
  • Dual knurl rings (Olympic and powerlifting)
  • Available in bright or black zinc
  • Bushings provide spin that’s not ideal but gets the job done
  • 1-year warranty

Where to buy

I’m constantly keeping an eye out for the best place to buy the products I recommend. I take into account who has the lowest pricing, cheapest shipping, fastest delivery, and most current product.

Click here to see the best place to buy the Rep Fitness Sabre

Best Barbell Under $300

Excalibur barbell

This is the price point where you can buy a bar that will last and grow with you over a lifetime of training. The $200-$300 price range is where you start to find great knurling, durable finishes, and outstanding construction. If your budget allows, sticking to this price category and above will get you a barbell you’ll love for a very long time.

My favorite barbell in this category is the Rep Fitness Excalibur bar. It checks all the boxes I look for when buying an all-around bar.

  • $299.00
  • 28.5mm diameter
  • 215 PSI tensile strength
  • Medium knurl provides great grip without being overly aggressive
  • Center knurl
  • Beautiful and durable hard chrome finish
  • Bushings provide smooth spin that’s not too fast and perfect for an all-around bar
  • Lifetime warranty

Where to buy

With Rep, you are always better off going directly through them.

Click here to see more specs, images, and availability on the Rep Fitness Excalibur bar.

Best Barbell Under $400

In my opinion, the best barbell finish you can buy is stainless steel. It has fast become my favorite bar finish for two very important reasons.

First is feel. Bare steel and stainless steel are the only two bar finishes with no finish material between your hands and the bar. There is an intangible difference in feel when using this type of bar. It just makes me feel more connected somehow. I love it.

Second is durability. Bare steel will corrode quickly and for me isn’t a viable choice in bar material. Stainless steel doesn’t have this problem. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. High-quality stainless is considered by many to be the most corrosion-resistant bar you can buy.

The main drawback of stainless steel bars is the price. Many of them are crazy expensive. That’s why when I saw the Rep Fitness stainless steel power bar listed for under $400, I had to try it. I was skeptical and thought for sure I would be disappointed, but I ordered anyway.

I was wrong! It is a truly great bar. It’s also made end to end from stainless steel. Most stainless steel bars are stainless shafts only. The rep bar has both a stainless shaft and sleeves. It’s one of the only bars made like this and for sure the lowest priced of the bars that are.

It’s also available with two types of knurl. The standard version is a medium knurl with a great grip that’s not too aggressive. For those that want an aggressive knurl, they offer the Power Bar EX. With a mountain style knurl, it’s one of the most aggressively knurled bars I’ve used.

The power bar EX knurl.

I don’t think the EX makes a great every day bar unless you really like a sharp knurl on your bar. I’m currently testing this bar and I can tell you that I prefer the standard version. The knurl is a bit too much for me to have as my only bar. It’s more suited to be a secondary bar used for deadlifts and squats only.

Check out my unboxing video for the EX version:

Here’s my review of the standard Rep SS Power Bar V2:

Overall, if you are looking to be in the sub $400 price category, either version is a great bar to buy. Here’s why:

  • $379.00
  • 29mm diameter
  • 200 PSI tensile strength
  • 1500 lb capacity
  • The standard version has a nice, grippy medium knurl
  • The EX version has a sharp, aggressive knurl
  • Center knurl
  • End to end stainless steel
  • Dual material bushing system gives the perfect spin
  • Lifetime warranty

Where to buy

I’m constantly keeping an eye out for the best place to buy the products I recommend. I take into account who has the lowest pricing, cheapest shipping, fastest delivery, and most current product.

Click here for the best place to buy the Rep Fitness stainless steel power bar V2

Click here for the best place to buy the Rep Fitness stainless steel power bar EX

Best Barbell Under $500

This will be the last price category I cover. There are some great bars out there above this price point (the Kabuki Strength power bar comes to mind), but I don’t think you need to spend any more than this to get a great bar.

At this price point I’d highly recommend the American Barbell Elite Power Bar. Here we have a stainless steel shaft, hard chrome sleeves, and a simply beautiful bar overall.

The fit and finish is a touch above the Rep bar. The terminations of the knurling are just about perfect and the knurl itself is in a perfect spot right between the two Rep options above. I love this bar and if my budget afforded it, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. I’ve trained with it several times and I can’t wait to do so again.

  • $495.00
  • 29mm shaft
  • 190 PSI tensile strength
  • The medium knurl that is nicely grippy without being sharp
  • Center knurl
  • Stainless shaft
  • Hard chrome sleeves
  • Bushings with a perfect spin for a multi-purpose bar
  • Made in the USA
  • Lifetime warranty

Where to buy

I’m constantly keeping an eye out for the best place to buy the products I recommend. I take into account who has the lowest pricing, cheapest shipping, fastest delivery, and most current product.

Click here to see the best place to buy the American Barbell Elite power bar

What I own

As I’ve noted on all of my recommended gear pages, in the interest of transparency, I always want to share what I currently own.

Right now, I regularly use 2 of the bars pictured above. The Rep Fitness stainless steel power bar v2, and a beater bar that I bought as a factory second (see my video below). If I was starting from scratch tomorrow, these are the two bars I’d buy without hesitation.

As I test and change bars, I’ll keep this section updated.

A great barbell is the centerpiece of your gym. You can’t really appreciate how important they are until you’ve used or owned a nice one. I’m excited that hopefully I’ve helped at least some of you experience this. Enjoy your new bar and your home gym!!!

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