The sheer weight and look of barbells might make it hard to imagine them in your home, but an advanced home gym isn't complete without one.
"A barbell can facilitate almost any fitness goal, including improving overall strength, putting on muscle mass and bodybuilding," New-York based certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) Kristian Flores tells LIVESTRONG.com.
While barbells are typically more expensive than a set of dumbbells or kettlebells, barbells can be loaded with a heavier weight than other strength equipment, which means they can facilitate strength gains more quickly than any other tool, Flores says.
Although barbells are large and long, "they are one of the most easily storable tools there is," says Oscar Smith, celebrity fitness trainer and owner and founder of O-D Studio, a personal training gym in New York City. You can simply roll them under a bench or bed, stand them up in a closet or lean them against the wall, he says.
To help you figure out which barbell is best for you, we curated a list of the top picks — including the most budget-friendly and space-efficient barbells — plus expert tips on what to look for based on your goals and fitness level.
7 Best Barbells for Your Home Gym
1. Best Barbell Overall: The Rogue Ohio Bar Cerakote
Nobody does fitness equipment better than Rogue — and that includes barbells. While all of their barbells are top-notch, Flores says that the best overall is the Ohio Bar Cerakote because it can be used for powerlifting, Olympic lifting, CrossFit and general barbell training.
"Its flexibility means it can help you reach your fitness goals, even if your fitness goals themselves change over time," Flores says.
The Ohio Bar comes in four different coating options: cerakote, black zinc, black oxide and e-coat. While the cerakote coating will add an extra $30 or $40, it is 100 times more resistant to abrasion than the coating in other barbells, according to Rogue, which is why it has earned the gold standard. Cerakote is a ceramic-based coating that provides a durable finish, shielding the barbell from normal wear and tear.
The bar also comes with a lifetime warranty against bending, which is great for deadlift fans who load the bar up to capacity.
Buy it: Rogue Fitness; Price: $325
2. Best Barbell on a Budget: Rep Basic Barbell
About a fifth the cost of most other barbells, the smaller price tag of the Rep Basic Barbell should be a welcome sight. And the lower price does not mean lower quality. It is still the standard weight (45 pounds), length (7 feet) and can hold up to 700 pounds. It's also coated with rust-resistant zinc so it'll last years.
"When they say 'basic,' it kind of scares you to purchase, but this is a great product," one reviewer on the Rep Fitness website writes.
The one downside of this bar is it doesn't feature the rotating sleeve function, so it's not ideal for Olympic lifting.
If you're looking for a bar to finesse your cleans and snatches, Rep Fitness recommends dishing out an extra $60 for their Sabre Bar, which includes an option with or without center knurling.
During the manufacturing process, the barbell undergoes a process called knurling, which involves texturizing the bar with a series of horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines. Whether you're deadlifting, snatching or front squatting, gripping the bar along these textured stretches will make it easier to hold onto.
Buy it: Rep Fitness; Price: $89
3. Best Women’s Barbell: The Rogue Bella Bar 2.0 Cerakote
"Women's bar" is weight-lifting speak for a barbell that weighs 35 — not 45 — pounds and is slightly thinner in circumference. So-called women's bars are a great option for anyone with small hands, space concerns (the bar is slightly shorter) or new to lifting — regardless of gender, says Mia Nikolajev, CSCS, who competes in powerlifting.
What sets the Bella Bar 2.0 Cerakote apart from the other 35-pound barbells on the market is the same ceramic-based coating that makes the Rogue Ohio Bar (above) so spectacular. It's also a little over six feet long, so it's large enough to add substantial weight.
As one reviewer writes on the Rogue website, "It was my first Rogue purchase, but I've been addicted to the amazing quality ever since! I absolutely love this bar!" It also comes in fun colors like red, pink, orange, green and blue.
Buy it: Rogue Fitness; Price: $275
4. Best for Small Spaces: Synergee Pre-Weighted Straight Steel Barbell
At just 42 inches long, the Synergee Pre-Weighted Straight Steel Barbell is half as long as a traditional barbell, making it a great option for folks who live in tight spaces (looking at you, apartment renters). Moreover, the plates that are permanently attached to the bar are only 7.7 inches tall.
The main drawback of the bar, however, is that the plates are permanently attached — once you make your selection between a 10-, 30-, 50-, 100- or 110-pound bar, that's how heavy your bar is... forever. The flipside is that it means less time spent thinking about what weight you are going to lift and more time actually lifting!
And at $79.95 to $269.95, the bars are on the low end of cost as far as barbells go. You may even be able to get one bar for accessory work — like shoulder to overhead presses, biceps curls and skullcrushers — and a second bar for lower-body work, like sumo deadlifts, front squats and back squats.
5. Best Olympic Lifting Barbell: The Rogue Olympic Weight-lifting Bar
Barbells are generally classified into two categories: Olympic lifting focuses on two explosive, high-technique movements, the clean and jerk and snatch. And powerlifting focuses on three classic movements: the squat, deadlift and bench.
While the two are typically identical in dimension (45 pounds heavy and 7 feet long), Olympic weight-lifting bars have something powerlifting bars don't: 'rotating sleeves', which allow the athlete to get under the bar quickly and without removing their hands. This bar's sleeves are smooth and consistent, which makes them ideal for explosive movements.
Buy it: Rogue Fitness; Price: $495
6. Best Powerlifting Bar: Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar
The Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar is the most popular powerlifting bar in the world, thanks to its long history: It's been used in National and World Championship powerlifting meets since 1980, according to the Texas Power Bars website.
Powerlifting bars don't have the rotational sleeves you'd want for cleans and snatches, but they more than hold up for its intended design: deadlifts, squats and presses. Plus, this pick has knurling — or textured stretches — in the right places to enhance your grip, and its extensive strength makes it extra durable for the heaviest lifts.
The one downside is that this bar's warranty is only 10 years.
Buy it: Texas Power Bars; Price: $269
7. Best Barbell for Accessory Work: Synergee Fixed Easy Curl Bar
If bulking biceps, boulder shoulders or toned triceps are your goals, Flores recommends opting for an EZ bar instead of an Olympic or powerlifting bar. Named after its zig-zag shape, the EZ bar is gentler on your wrists when doing curls and extensions than other barbells would be.
"EZ bars are shorter in length than standard barbells," Flores says. You can buy empty EZ bars that typically weigh 25 or 35 pounds, he says. Or, you can buy fixed-weight easy bars, like this Synergee Fixed Easy Curl Bar, which is available in 10-pound increments from 10 to 40 pounds and then 100 to 110 pounds.
He recommends buying a fixed-weight bar because they're typically less expensive than the cost of an EZ bar and weight plates.
What to Know Before You Buy
1. Pick a Bar That Fits Your Goals
When you're shopping for a barbell, you'll need to figure out what activities you'll be using it for first. "The best barbell really comes down to what movements you want to do with it and what your fitness goals are," Smith says.
If you have goals of becoming a snatch pro, then avoid bars marketed as powerlifting bars. They won't have the rotating sleeve feature that's needed for these types of movements.
Just looking to pull, push or squat? There's no need to drop the extra dough on an Olympic weight-lifting bar. A basic barbell or EZ bar will do.
2. Consider Your Budget for Your Barbell — and Accessories
The second most important factor to consider is your budget. Whether you're purchasing a 35- or 45-pound bar, barbells alone can be pricey, ranging from $80 to $300. And assuming you'll be moving more than 35 pounds, you'll also need plates, which cost anywhere from $40 to $125 per pair.
Remember to also check whether the barbell has a warranty and how long it lasts.
3. Assess Your Space
Consider how much space you actually have in your home to move the bar and store it, along with its plates. If you do front or back squats and bench presses, you will need a squat rack and a bench. Setting up your home gym in your garage or basement might give you more leeway.