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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 planning on buying one barbell for your gym, you are in the right place! Here we list our top picks for folks buying a singular, all-around barbell for their home gym.

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 All Around Garage Gym Barbells

đź’Ş The Best

bk diamond endcap

Stainless Steel
Rep Fitness
Black Diamond
Power Bar


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

This is the bar we train with every day, and we think you should too!

GYMCRAFTER
SCORE

98

Read our in-depth review.


MSRP $449.99

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🧠 The Smart Pick

Rep Fitness Black diamond power bar endcap

Cerakote
Rep Fitness
Black Diamond
Power Bar


Like the idea of the Black Diamond power bar, but it’s a touch outside your budget?

By going with the same bar in Cerakote™, you solve that problem!

GYMCRAFTER
SCORE

88

Read our in-depth review.


MSRP $329.99

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đź’° The Budget Pick

Rep Fitness Delta Bar endcap

Chrome
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 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 barbells 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. Specifically, I train with the SS Black Diamond power bar every day. So do my clients!

Why a power bar for an all-around home gym barbell and not mixed-use bars? One feature: The center knurl. Everyone will back squat with their barbell; the center knurl is critical for this movement. Multi-purpose bars lack a center knurl to better allow for Olympic movements.

If you are training for competitive Olympic lifting, then you’ll want a dedicated Oly lifting bar in addition to your primary bar. But your primary, all-purpose barbell should always be a power bar.

All home gyms should start with a power bar and go from there.

The Rep Fitness SS Black Diamond power bar has the perfect feature set and knurl for an all-around home gym barbell. It’s the bar I train with daily, and of the 16 different bars in my garage gym, it’s the bar that every single person I train reaches for during their sessions. That says a lot!

The Rep Fitness Cerakote™ Black Diamond power bar is the exact same bar as the SS version, just with a less expensive finish. The Cerakote™ looks great and comes in 4 colors. You do lose just a touch of grip from the knurling because of the finish, but the lower price makes this a great solution for those on a budget.

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. It’s the perfect barbell for people on a tight budget.

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

What GymCrafter Says…

I own two Black Diamond bars. My first was an all-black Cerakote™ model. It quickly became my favorite bar to train with.

As a nationally certified personal trainer, I currently train 7 clients in my garage gym. Within 2 weeks of getting the Black Diamond bar, all 7 prefer to train with it over the other 16 choices I have for them.

One person liked it so much that they bought a stainless steel version for themselves. After feeling the knurl on the stainless model vs the Cerkote™, I also bought one.

It’s not a gigantic difference, but I do prefer the increased bite of the stainless steel knurl. That said, if the price difference is meaningful to you, go with the Cerakote™ version. You’ll love it. I still have 3 clients who use the black version instead of the stainless.

That’s exactly why we list the Cerakote™ model as our “smart choice.”

I wrote a very detailed review if you’d like to see all the specific reasons I chose this barbell as our top all-around garage gym barbell pick. But I’m confident that if you go for this bar, it will quickly become your favorite, just as it did for me!

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 Volcano/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 Black Diamond Power Bar is REP’s top-tier powerlifting barbell. This 20kg (44.1lb) barbell features aggressive depth, volcano-pattern knurling for those heavy deadlifts, and center knurling to keep the barbell in place during back squats.

The Black Diamond 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 Black Diamond comes in three options: fully stainless steel; a stainless-steel shaft with hard chrome-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. For a powerlifting bar with an even more aggressive knurling, check out the Double Black Diamond version of this barbell.

See more details and current pricing here.

What GymCrafter Says…

I own two Black Diamond bars. My first was an all-black Cerakote™ model. It quickly became my favorite bar to train with.

As a nationally certified personal trainer, I currently train 7 clients in my garage gym. Within 2 weeks of getting the Black Diamond bar, all 7 prefer to train with it over the other 16 choices I have for them.

One person liked it so much that they bought a stainless steel version for themselves. After feeling the knurl on the stainless model vs the Cerkote™, I also bought one.

It’s not a gigantic difference, but I do prefer the increased bite of the stainless steel knurl. That said, if the price difference is meaningful to you, go with the Cerakote™ version. You’ll love it. I still have 3 clients who use the black version instead of the stainless.

That’s exactly why we list the Cerakote™ model as our “smart choice.”

I wrote a very detailed review if you’d like to see all the specific reasons I chose this barbell as our top all-around garage gym barbell pick. But I’m confident that if you go for this bar, it will quickly become your favorite, just as it did for me!

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 Volcano/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 Black Diamond Power Bar is REP’s top-tier powerlifting barbell. This 20kg (44.1lb) barbell features aggressive depth, volcano-pattern knurling for those heavy deadlifts, and center knurling to keep the barbell in place during back squats.

The Black Diamond 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 Black Diamond comes in three options: fully stainless steel; a stainless-steel shaft with hard chrome-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. For a powerlifting bar with an even more aggressive knurling, check out the Double Black Diamond version of this barbell.

See more details and current pricing here.

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 Black Diamond bar for just over 6 months (I’m writing this in late Feb. 2024). 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 SS Black Diamond bar compares to these in my detailed review here.

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

You can see exactly how the Delta bar 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 Rep Fitness SS Black Diamond Power 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. As the founder of GymCrafter, I also train clients in my garage gym. All of those clients use the barbells you read about in these reviews. 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.