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Types of Barbells

author image Brian Wallace
Brian Wallace is currently a Ph.D. student in biomechanics at the University of Kentucky. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and is an expert in health and fitness. He has been writing for six years, and his work has appeared in refereed journals and industry magazines.
Types of Barbells
Not all barbells are created equal. Photo Credit Barbell image by Semfamily from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>


There are a variety of different types of barbells used in weight training. Barbells are designed to handle different amounts of weight, bend differently and allow the weight to move around the barbell differently. Other specialty barbells are designed to make certain exercises safer or easier to perform. Knowing the purpose of specific barbells you might see in the gym can help you pick the right one.

Weightlifting Bar

Weightlifting barbells are a type of specialty bar. These bars are designed to be used in the sport of weightlifting. The exercises that make up the sport of weightlifting are the snatch lift and the clean and jerk lift. These lifts involve bringing the weight from the floor to overhead, in one general motion in the snatch and with two distinct motions in the clean and jerk. These barbells must be very strong because they not only have to handle the weight put on them, but they need to handle the extra force exerted on them because of the barbells moving through the air quickly. Getstrength.com affirms that these barbells are designed to allow the cylinders that hold the weight plates on either end of the barbell to spin freely. Higher quality bars will have ball bearings to enhance their ability to spin. These bars also have the ability to deform a great deal during the lift and return to their original shape.

Power Bar

Power bars are the most common bars you will see in the gym. The quality of this type of bar varies greatly. Some are designed to handle only a few hundred pounds before they will break, while others are designed to handle 1,500 pounds or more. These bars are typically about seven feet in length. They do not allow the weights to spin much as weightlifting bars do. These bars are also more rigid than weightlifting bars, although they do bend some as more weight is added to them. These types of bars are good to use for most barbell weight training exercises, such as back squats, front squats, bench presses, overhead presses and deadlifts.

Trap Bar

Many gyms have trap bars because they are perceived as being a safer alternative than regular barbells for deadlifts and shoulder shrugs, according to trapbartraining.com. The theory behind them being safer is that they reduce the torque on the back because you are not holding the weight out in front of you. Trap bars are shaped like a diamond and have handles on the side to hold onto. You actually stand inside the diamond shape of the bar to use it. You will find that you can lift more weight with a trap bar than with a regular barbell because of where you hold the weight. Do not compromise lifting technique when using a trap bar even though the exercises may seem easier.

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