Rep Fitness deep knurl ss power bar EX

Rep Fitness Deep Knurl Stainless Power Bar EX Review

In Equip Your Gym by Tim Steward

This is my review of the Rep Fitness deep knurl stainless steel power bar EX.

As with all the reviews on GymCrafter.com, I only review products I’ve bought and used myself, and I only review gear I’ve owned and used long enough to know how it will hold up over the long haul.

With that in mind, it’s time for me to review the Rep Fitness deep knurl stainless steel power bar EX. I’ve owned and used this barbell since it was released over three years ago.

Stainless Steel Deep Knurl Power Bar EX TLDR Review

The Rep Fitness deep knurl stainless steel power bar EX (say that ten times fast!) is basically the Rep stainless steel power bar V2 with a much more aggressive knurl. This is an excellent bar for very experienced lifters with heavily calloused hands. For everyone else, it’s not a good choice.

The mountain-style knurling on this bar (see my complete guide to barbell knurl here for details) is far too aggressive for most garage, basement, and home gym owners. 

Rep Fitness deep knurl ss power bar EX
My well tested Power Bar EX

I lift six days a week, have somewhat calloused hands, and still find this bar uncomfortable. No, that’s being too nice. It’s downright painful to use. I’ve used this bar many, many times. Each time hoping my hands would adjust to it. But they never have, even over three years of fairly regular testing.

Everything other than the knurl on this bar is fantastic. After all, it’s based on my favorite, most used, and most recommended barbell, the Rep stainless steel power bar V2. But unless you really feel the need for an overly aggressive knurl pattern on your barbell, you are better off going with the V2 over the deep knurl EX.

In this review, I’ll outline the pros and cons I found while using the deep knurl power bar EX. I’ll also give you some alternatives in case this barbell is not ideal for you (which, for most, it won’t be).

Manufacturer’s Specifications

Bar UsePowerlifting
Weight20kg (44.1lbs)
Length87.4″
Loadable Sleeve Length16.9″
Diameter29mm
Bushing/BearingBushing
Sleeves RibbedNo
KnurlAggressive
Center KnurlYes
Knurl MarkingsIPF
Shaft CoatingNone (Stainless Steel Bar)
Static Rating1,500 lbs
Tensile Strength200 KSI
Tolerance1%

Pros and Cons of the Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar

Pros
  • End-to-end stainless steel construction
  • Highly resistant to corrosion
  • 1,500 lb capacity
  • Solid sleeve spin
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Inexpensive when compared to similar bars
  • Excellent all-around barbell
Cons
  • Packaging and shipping could be better
  • Often out of stock
  • Knurling is far too aggressive for most lifters
  • The center knurl is also too aggressive

Things I Like About The Rep Fitness Stainless Steel Deep Knurl Power Bar EX

Outside of the knurling, this is a tremendously good barbell. The end-to-end stainless steel construction looks impressive. The feel of the bar, since it doesn’t have an applied finish, is equally remarkable. The stainless steel construction also makes this one of the most corrosion-resistant barbells you can buy!

The dual metal bushings give the sleeves a smooth spin, perfect for all but the most demanding Olympic-style lifting (you wouldn’t do that type of lifting with this bar anyway). With proper bar maintenance (check out my complete guide with pics and video here), this bar should last you a lifetime.

Bushing on the Rep Fitness Deep Knurl Power Bar
Bushing on the power bar EX

I also like the price point of this bar. Many have compared this barbell to the Kabuki Strength power bar, which is regarded by many as the holy grail of barbells. 

The Rep deep knurl power bar EX usually sells for between $350-$450 (check current pricing on Rep’s site here). The Kabuki bar usually sells for just over $700!!!

I’ve used the Kabuki bar. It’s nice for sure. It has the same knurling as the Rep barbell, but there is definitely no functional difference that warrants double the price!

Don’t get me wrong. These bars are perfect for high-frequency lifters who want a knurl that bites painfully into their hands. For the rest of us, they aren’t.

Things About The Deep Knurl Power Bar EX That I Don’t Like

So I’m guessing I don’t need to beat the dead horse that is the aggressive knurl on this bar. But I want to add some clarity here because I know some people are reading this who like a very aggressive knurl pattern on their barbell.

Typically, those people are seasoned CrossFit athletes and competitive powerlifters. If you fall in one of those two categories, you may very well love the knurling on this bar.

Competitive CrossFitters and powerlifters both typically have heavily calloused hands. Much more so than your average garage gym owner. This makes the aggressive knurl on the power bar EX a good fit.

Calloused hand
My hand is fairly heavily calloused, and I still don’t like the feel of the deep knurl power bar EX!

I’ll also repeat a common complaint I’ve had with Rep barbells. They just aren’t packed or shipped well. Every bar I’ve received from them so far has had significantly damaged packaging, and this bar is no exception. Fortunately, there was no bar damage this time, but I have had that happen before.

That said, Rep has opened two new warehouses and is making serious efforts to improve its shipping and packaging. I just received several new pieces of gear from them, and based on my observations, they are succeeding in this area.

Why an Aggressive Knurl Pattern?

The thought is that the more aggressive the knurling, the better your grip. And that’s true… To a point

This comes into play most often when deadlifting. Grip is usually the limiting factor when trying to increase your deadlift. But more aggressive knurling isn’t the answer, in my opinion. For most average lifters, the key to better grip is, ironically, strengthening their grip!

sharp knurling on the power bar EX
Sharp knurl on the EX

Want to be able to hold more weight on the bar? Make your hands stronger. I don’t care how aggressive the knurl is. It won’t make your hands stronger. And it won’t keep the bar in your hands if your hands can’t maintain their grip.

But what if your grip issue doesn’t come from a lack of strength? What if you feel like most bars are too slippery, and they slide out of your hand? That’s easy. Get some chalk and learn to use a hook grip.

Between those two solutions, you should rarely need anything more than a medium knurl bar. Or, train your grip strength until it catches up. That’s always been my preference and recommendation!

Who Should Buy the Rep Fitness Deep Knurl SS Power Bar EX?

Looking back at this article, you’d think I don’t ever recommend this bar. That’s not the case. 

Overall, this is a wonderfully constructed all stainless steel barbell, and it certainly has its place in some garage gyms.

If you already have a primary, multi-purpose barbell and are looking for an additional, specialized bar, the power bar EX could be an excellent fit for you. 

This deep knurl power bar is perfect for those looking for a high grip deadlifting bar.

I also love this bar as a secondary powerlifting bar for CrossFit athletes. It won’t work well at all for their Olympic lifts, but it’s a great choice for everything else. I have yet to meet an experienced CrossFitter who doesn’t have a thick layer of callous on their hands. That alone makes this a good bar for them!

Lastly, if you’ve ever drooled over the Kabuki Strength power bar but would never spend the $700+ to buy one, this bar is your next best bet.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Rep Fitness Deep Knurl Power Bar EX?

Honestly, if you don’t fit in one of the above categories, there’s a sizeable chance I wouldn’t recommend this barbell to you. This niche barbell is only suitable for a tiny subsection of lifters.

If you are in that subsection, you’ll love this bar. If not, you won’t. It’s that simple.

Anyone looking for their first barbell should avoid this bar altogether. Instead, check out my most recommended barbell, the Rep SS Power Bar V2. It’s the exact same bar but with a medium knurl pattern (and passive in the center – ideal for multi-purpose use).

Alternatives To The Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar

As I mentioned several times, I prefer the standard Rep stainless steel power bar. It’s the bar I often recommend and always get amazing feedback on.

But what if you want a little more grip than Rep’s medium knurl pattern without going with the deep knurl EX version? That’s where I recommend the American Barbell Elite Power Bar. It’s an incredibly good barbell with a slightly tighter knurl pattern than Rep. This makes the bar feel a little more “sticky” in your hands.

If you need an even more aggressive knurl pattern but still not the skin shredding mountain top knurl of the power bar EX, then check out the Bells of Steel Onyx Cerakote power bar.

Cerakote is the second most corrosion-resistant finish after stainless (although I prefer the feel of stainless a lot more). It also has what Bells of Steel calls “aggressive, cheese grater knurling.” This knurl is not quite as sharp as the Rep EX bar, but it’s close (ish). Personally, I’m not a fan, but if a more aggressive knurl than “medium” is your goal, this Bells of Steel bar is a fantastic choice!

Conclusion

Is the Rep Fitness deep knurl stainless steel power bar EX for everyone? Not even close. It’s not a good fit for 95%+ of the lifters out there.

For that other 5%, though, it’s a tremendous bar you’ll love for years. But outside of that small subset of people, I’d highly recommend looking for a medium knurl bar like one of the barbells recommended above.

FAQ

I saw Coop on Garage Gym Reviews call this one of his favorite, most underrated barbells. Why don’t you feel the same way?

Coop is an experienced CrossFitter. He also has a well know and admitted addiction to knurling (I love this running joke on the GGR YT channel!) As I noted above, this is one of the groups of people who would love this bar. I bought this bar because of his recommendation and did not like it. 

Remember, your garage gym gear must match your individual needs. Most people training at home do not need a knurl pattern this aggressive.

Would adding chalk to my barbell be a better grip solution than a deep knurl bar?

That depends on your current bar. One of the hallmarks of cheap barbells is very passive knurling. This makes those bars almost impossible to grip well regardless of chalk use. In that case, go with a higher quality bar with a “medium” knurl pattern.

If you already have a quality bar, then chalk may help. Remember to clean off ALL the chalk when you are done training. Chalk can cause even a stainless steel bar to rust over time. I love this 360-degree barbell brush for that purpose.

Can I use lifting gloves to protect my hands with this bar?

Yes, you could. But, I think lifting gloves circumvent the connection between your hands and the bar. To me, this is detrimental to your training.

I recommend training with a medium knurl pattern bar and bare hands. Yes, you will develop some callouses over time, but they won’t be too bad. Most experienced lifters prefer lifting without gloves.

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Rep Fitness Stainless Steel Deep Knurl Power Bar EX

If you are looking for an overly aggressive knurl pattern on your bar, one that can shred your hands in one set flat, this is the bar for you. For 95% of the people out there, though, this isn't a suitable barbell.

Product Brand: Rep Fitness

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:
3