In functional fitness, every day brings new challenges. Sometimes the WOD calls for deadlifts and squats. Sometimes it calls for a clean and jerk. And other times, you’re doing high-volume, cycling or circuit-style workouts while balancing on one leg (not really, but actually maybe really).
If you do functional fitness, you need a bar that can do everything. A jack of all trainings. A mixed-use barbell.
What is a Mixed-Use Barbell?
A mixed-use barbell is also called a multi-purpose or general purpose/general use bar. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a barbell designed to be used for a wide variety of exercises. This comes down to a few different features in the bar, but two things that matter the most are the knurling and the sleeve construction.
Knurling: A mixed-use bar is most useful when it has medium-depth knurling – enough for good grip, without tearing up your hands during high-volume training. A mixed-use bar also doesn’t typically have the center knurling you find on other bars. This protects your chest during high-volume training where the bar rubs against your body.
Sleeves: Whereas a power bar typically has bushing sleeves for slower, strength-focused lifts and a weightlifting bar typically has needle bearing sleeves for that quick, smooth spin you want with an Oly lift, a mixed-use bar falls somewhere in the middle. Look for high-performance, ball-bearing sleeves or composite bushings for a consistent, smooth rotation. Bonus: Composite bushings add durability and a dampening effect that reduces noise when the barbell is dropped.
REP offers several different mixed-used barbells to choose from. Note: The Excalibur, Sabre, and Gladiator barbells have been discontinued and are no longer available. REP’s mixed-use bars are:
How to Pick a Mixed-Use Bar
Your goals, budget, and personal preferences will play into which mixed-use barbell is the best fit for you. Here’s a quick look at the options.
Beginner mixed-use bar: Delta Basic Bar
The Delta Basic Bar is a high-quality, mixed-use barbell with slower-rotating, strength-focused, brass bushing sleeves. Dual knurl markings make the bar versatile enough for whatever kind of lifting you’re doing. It has 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 features medium-depth knurl, including center knurling, and is rated for 700lbs.
Intermediate mixed-use bar: Black Canyon Bar
The Black Canyon Bar is a high-value, mixed-use bar for all kinds of training. The 20kg bar comes with a bright zinc shaft and sleeves, or a black chrome shaft with black chrome sleeves. The 15kg bar is fully coated in bright zinc and features a 25mm diameter shaft per specifications for female competitors. Dual knurl markings, medium-depth knurling, and hybrid sleeves (ball bearing with slower-rotating bushings) add tons of versatility. This bar has no center knurl, medium-depth knurling, and is rated for 1,500lbs.
High-end mixed-use bar: Colorado Bar
If you want the best mixed-use bar possible, the Colorado Bar is your bestie. This bar has high-end composite bushing sleeves that reduce the noise when you drop the bar. It also has a premium finish with customization options. The Colorado Bar’s shaft is Cerakote, and it comes in a variety of different colors, depending on the size of bar you choose. You can also get this bar in a hard chrome finish for both shaft and sleeves. The sleeves for the Cerakote shaft are Duracoat™.
As a mixed-use bar, it has medium knurling with no center knurl and dual IWF and IPF markings.
15kg Mixed-Use Bar: Colorado Bar
The Colorado Bar has a 15kg option, great for lifters who want a lighter, shorter, thinner bar or female lifters who want to train within IWF specifications. The 15kg Colorado Bar has all the same premium features as the 20kg option, plus it comes in black or pink Cerakote.
How to Build a Functional Fitness At-Home Gym
Pro functional fitness athlete Taylor Sykes squatting.
Photo by Whitney Way Collective
Now that you’ve got the perfect bar, build out your dream functional fitness gym. Here’s how one pro functional fitness athlete recommends building your own box.