Whether you're new to lifting or an experienced athlete, sometimes you'll run across a term you've never heard before. That's why we've put together the Barbell Dictionary, featuring all the terms you'll hear when shopping for and using a barbell.
A long, metal bar that is straight. It’s typically 20kg/45lbs, 4-7' long, has some kind of knurling on the shaft to help with grip, knurl marks to help with hand placement, and slightly thicker sleeves, where you load the weight plates.SHOP NOW
A barbell with specific features for different functions or fitness goals. This is a tool typically only used to select exercises, whereas a straight barbell is extremely versatile.SHOP NOW
The main part of the barbell that you grip onto. Shafts can be different diameters and have varying knurling and markings.
The ends of a barbell where you load the weights. Sleeves may rotate or not.
The type of sleeve on a barbell (smooth or ribbed).
Bearings are typically used for faster sleeve turnover. Bearings essentially roll around the sleeve. There are different types of bearings. Read about them here.
A bushing is a metal sleeve with no moving parts inside. Think of it as one solid piece. Whereas bearing sleeves have inner workings to them, the bushing is typically pressed into the sleeve, and it’s the bushing surface itself that rotates around the shaft. There is friction between the surface of the bushing and the surface of the shaft, so it doesn’t rotate as freely as a bearing. There are different kinds of bushings. Read about them here.
A combination of different sleeve constructions. For example, you can combine both ball bearings and bushings, or needle and inner race needles.
Small, smooth marks in the knurling on a barbell to help lifters set up properly for the lift and provide a visual for even hand placement on the barbell. Read about them here.
A patch of knurling in the center of a barbell used to help the barbell stick on your back during back squats. Read about it here.
There are three types of knurl styles: hill, volcano, and mountain. Hill-style knurling is the most passive and won’t dig into your hands. It is good for training bars. Mountain is the most aggressive knurl style. You’ll see this style with powerlifting barbells to provide the best grip for your one-rep maxes. The most common knurl style you’ll see on a lot of REP’s weightlifting and mixed-use bars is volcano. Volcano knurling has a good amount of grip without tearing up your hands. Read about it here.
The bend or oscillation in a barbell that occurs when the bar changes direction quickly, more noticeable when the load is heavy. Whip can create momentum in a lift.
The rotation of the sleeves on a barbell that can reduce the centrifugal force of the plates rotating on the bar during a lift. Some lifts, like Olympic weightlifting lifts, benefit from a smoother, quicker spin.
In lifting, the tensile strength is the breaking point of a barbell. It’s rated in pounds per square inch (PSI). A higher PSI is stronger.
The maximum amount of weight a piece of equipment can safely withstand.
The measurement of accuracy of a weight. The lower the tolerance, the more accurate the actual weight is to the stated weight.
The finish that covers a barbell that can enhance its durability, reduce rust and scratches, improve feel, and add style/aesthetics. There are a variety of different barbell finishes. Read about them here.
A highly durable barbell finish. Instead of applying a thin coating on top of the steel, the steel is treated through a multi-stage, chemical process that improves both the steel’s wear resistance and corrosion resistance. The process hardens the outside of the steel, making it extra tough. It leaves a nice, smooth, matte black finish after it’s polished.
The curve or bend in the bar that offsets the weight, creating an unstable, pendulum effect.