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Fact checked by Tyler DiGiovanni BSBMFACT CHECKED
June 02, 2023
Understanding the importance of bench press bar weight is essential, whether you're gearing up for a major weightlifting competition and aiming to comply with regulations or simply seeking accurately record the weights you're lifting.
Various weight variations exist regarding barbells, ranging from the standard ones (usually weighing around 45lbs) commonly found on local gym weight benches to specialized options like the Swiss bar. In many weightlifting competitions, specific standards are enforced regarding barbell weight, even when excluding the weight plates.
While this may seem like a niche concern relevant only to competitive or professional lifters, it's important to note that the weight of the barbell can significantly impact your exercise performance and affect the targeted muscle groups. Therefore, knowing the barbell weight holds relevance beyond competition scenarios.
This article will cover:
The weight of a bench press bar can differ based on the intended user's gender. For males, the barbell typically weighs around 45 pounds (approximately 20 kilograms).
In contrast, the bench press bar designed for females weighs approximately 33 pounds (15 kilograms).
In most commercial gyms nationwide, you typically encounter a solid barbell measuring approximately 7 feet long, possibly a few inches longer. These bars are commonly crafted from American steel and typically weigh around 45 pounds or roughly 20 kilograms.
When it comes to bench press bars, they play a crucial role in enhancing stability during your workouts. These bars are designed with minimal to no whip, ensuring a more controlled pressing motion.
Additionally, bench press bars often have a thicker diameter, which adds an extra challenge to your grip strength. This feature helps to engage your grip muscles and further intensify your workout.
When examining the anatomy of a bench press bar, several critical components come into play. Each element serves a specific purpose, contributing to the overall functionality and performance of the bar.
Let's explore these components in detail:
The shaft is the bar's central part, running the barbell's length. It is typically made of steel and provides the structural integrity and strength needed to support heavy loads during bench press exercises.
The sleeves are located at each end of the bar and rotate freely. They are designed to accommodate the placement of weight plates and allow for smooth rotation during exercises, reducing stress on the wrists and improving lifting efficiency.
The collar refers to the end portion of the sleeve that secures the weight plates in place. It often features a locking mechanism, such as a spring clip or a collar clamp, to prevent the plates from sliding or shifting during lifting movements.
Knurling is the textured pattern that covers a specific section of the bar's shaft, providing grip and traction for the lifter's hands. The knurling helps to enhance grip strength and prevent the bar from slipping during bench press exercises, ensuring safety and stability.
When comparing a standard bench press bar to a power bar, there are notable distinctions in weight, diameter, and whip. In terms of weight, the standard bench press bar typically weighs around 45 pounds (20 kilograms).
In contrast, a power bar is generally heavier, ranging from 55 to 65 pounds (25 to 29 kilograms). The added weight of the power bar contributes to its stability and makes it suitable for handling heavier loads.
Regarding diameter, the standard bench press bar usually has a diameter of approximately 1.1 to 1.15 inches (28 to 29 millimeters). A power bar typically has a thicker diameter, ranging from 1.25 to 1.38 inches (32 to 35 millimeters).
The increased thickness of the power bar enhances its durability and provides a more substantial grip during lifts. One of the significant differences between these bars is the level of whip or flexibility.
The standard bench press bar has a slight amount of whip, allowing for some flex during exercises. This can be advantageous for specific movements that require speed and fluidity. Conversely, a power bar is stiffer and has less whip.
This feature is beneficial for powerlifting and heavy lifting, as it minimizes bar movement and provides greater stability when lifting heavy weights. These variations cater to different training goals and preferences.
The standard bench press bar is commonly used in general fitness and bodybuilding workouts, accommodating exercises such as bench presses, squats, and overhead presses. With its sturdier construction, the power bar is designed explicitly for powerlifting and strength training, focusing on heavy compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses.
When comparing a standard bench press bar to an Olympic bar, there are notable distinctions in weight, diameter, and whip. In terms of weight, a standard bench press bar typically weighs around 45 pounds (20 kilograms).
In contrast, an Olympic bar has a standard weight of 45 pounds (20 kilograms) for men and 33 pounds (15 kilograms) for women. However, it's worth noting that Olympic bars have various weight options, including lighter training bars or heavier competition bars.
Regarding diameter, a standard bench press bar generally has a diameter of approximately 1.1-1.15 inches (28-29 millimeters). On the other hand, an Olympic bar has a standard diameter of about 1.1 inches (28 millimeters) for men and 0.98 inches (25 millimeters) for women.
One of the key differences lies in the whip or flexibility of the bars. A standard bench press bar typically has a slight amount of whip, offering some flexibility that can be advantageous for exercises requiring speed and fluidity.
Conversely, an Olympic bar is designed to have more whip, providing greater flexibility and enhancing energy transfer during explosive movements like cleans and snatches. It's important to consider that while a standard bench press bar is primarily used for bench press exercises, an Olympic bar is versatile and caters to a broader range of movements. Bench press with an Olympic bar is not inherently more difficult than using a standard bar.
The difficulty of the exercise primarily depends on factors such as the weight being lifted, technique, and individual strength levels.
In addition to the more standard bench press bars and Olympic bars, various specialty bars cater to specific exercises and training goals. These specialty bars have unique features to enhance performance, target specific muscle groups, or accommodate different lifting styles.
Let's explore a few popular types of specialty bars:
Squat bars are characterized by their knurled centers, substantial diameter, and minimal whip. However, it's important to note that the central knurling on these bars serves a unique purpose.
Instead of providing a better grip for your hands, the knurling is strategically designed to improve the bar's grip on the back of your shirt, preventing it from sliding around on your shoulders during squats.
This feature enhances stability and provides a more secure and comfortable squatting experience.
As the name suggests, the deadlift bar is designed explicitly for deadlifts. It is longer and more flexible than standard bars, allowing for greater whip and increased range of motion during the lift.
The increased whip helps generate more power during the pull, making it popular among powerlifters and strongman athletes.
The Swiss bar, also known as a football bar or multi-grip bar, features multiple neutral grip handles at different angles. This allows for various grip positions, targeting different muscle groups during pressing exercises such as bench presses, overhead presses, and rows. The
Swiss bar is beneficial for individuals with shoulder or wrist issues and provides versatility in training.
The EZ-Curl bar, commonly found in gyms, has a zigzag or wavy design in the center. It is primarily used for bicep curls and other arm exercises, providing a more comfortable grip and reduced strain on the wrists compared to straight bars.
The angled grip also allows for variations in hand positioning, targeting different areas of the arms.
The cambered bar, also known as a buffalo or bow bar, has a slight curve or "camber" in the middle. This design shifts the weight distribution, placing less stress on the shoulders and wrists during squats and bench presses.
It can be helpful for individuals with shoulder or wrist issues or those looking to add variety to their training.
Not all bench press bars weigh exactly 45 pounds (20 kilograms), but the standard weight for most bench press bars used in commercial gyms is around 45 pounds.
Whether a heavier bench press bar is better depends on individual preferences and training goals. Heavier bars, such as powerlifting bars, are typically designed to handle heavier loads and offer increased stability.
They may be preferred by powerlifters and individuals focusing on strength training. However, for general fitness or bodybuilding purposes, a standard bench press bar weighing around 45 pounds is commonly used and is suitable for most lifters.
While there isn't a bar specifically designed exclusively for bench press, the standard bench press bar is commonly utilized for this exercise. It is a versatile bar typically found in commercial gyms and is not limited to bench pressing alone.
It is also commonly used for exercises like squats and overhead presses. In addition to the standard bench press bar, both Olympic and power bars can be used for bench pressing.
When calculating your bench press max, including the bar's weight is common practice.
Bench press bar cost can vary depending on the quality, brand, and where you purchase it from. Prices range from around $100 to over $500 for high-end specialty bars. We have an extensive guide on buying a barbell available if you're thinking of purchasing one.
A basic bench press bar can range from around $50 to $150 on average. Specialty or higher-quality bars may have higher price tags, ranging from $150 to $500 or more.
A clear understanding of the significance of bench press bar weight is crucial, regardless of whether you are preparing for a significant weightlifting competition, striving to adhere to regulations, or simply aiming to keep an accurate record of the weights you lift. By recognizing the impact of bar weight on your performance and tracking progress, you can make informed decisions about your training and ensure that you are working towards your goals effectively.
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