Weightlifting comes with a lot of benefits and personal satisfaction; the biggest one is probably setting the new personal record and all the bragging rights that come with it.
But, there's one problem; most of the time you can't be sure how much exactly weight did you lift.
You can be sure in the weight of the plates, but barbells vary in weight from one gym to another.
So if you are stressed and serious about your PR, you're not alone. So how much does the barbell you are using weigh? Here is the quick answer for those googling this in between sets:
Barbells are divided into two types: standard barbells and olympic barbells.The weight of the barbell depends on its type. Standard barbells weigh approximately 20 lbs (7.5 kg), and Olympic barbells weigh 45 lbs (20 kgs).
However, there are a few caveats, which we will get into below. Let's get started.
What is a barbell?
The barbell is the standard weightlifting bar meant for workouts that include free weights.
Depending on the gym, you can find various barbells on the racks. Along with standard and Olympic barbells, you can find training bars as well.
Training bars are lighter than standard barbells, weighing from 15-30lbs. You will notice that they are a bit shorter than the regular barbells.
The design of the barbell depends on its planned use. That's why training bars are much lighter and shorter than the standard ones; they are not meant for big weights.
Olympic bars, however, are meant for record-setting weights, that's why they are the biggest of the bunch.
They are mostly used for big movements like the snatch, bench press, squats, and deadlifts.
Some people use them for shoulder press and even bicep curls, but they are completely unnecessary for those workouts and serve only the purpose of showing off.
Some of the newer models feature a sticker on each side of the bar, which shows the bar's weight, but most of them don't have any markings, and even those stickers don't stay in their place for long.
Standard vs Olympic Barbells
So what main differences between Olympic and standard barbells? Firstly, they have different sleeves (these "sleeves" are at the ends of the bar and carry the weight plates).
Olympic barbells have 2-inch sleeves which can rotate, and regular barbells have 1-inch, non-rotating sleeves.
This rotating feature is one of the main reasons why lifters prefer the Olympic bar to its standard counterpart; the rotation. The rotation of the sleeves reduces the torque created by the plates, which allows for a more secure grip and reduces the stress on the lifter's elbows and wrists.
Standard barbell weight
Standard barbell weight varies, a lot.
And the problem is that almost every gym owner and gym bro will swear that it weighs 45 pounds. Usually, it doesn't.
The weight may vary even based on the manufacturer. Different brands have different standards.
You will find that standard and universal barbells weigh around 20 pounds.
These bars are named “standard” only to differentiate them from the big Olympic bars. So, you can expect them to vary in weight, a lot. But they won’t be as heavy as Olympic ones.
The girth at the ends of the bar can also differ from the Olympic bar and the plates that go with it.
Plates for standard barbells are lighter and come in various sizes.
Olympic barbell weight
The Olympic barbell is made for bigger plates and for more serious weight records.
They are thicker than standard ones, and they have the ability to flex, so they can be loaded with a lot of weight.
Although even Olympic bars can vary in weight, the standard is 45 pounds.
You will see these bar used in all weightlifting competitions, where it’s required for a bar to support a large amount of weight.
The bar that Eddie Hall used to crush world deadlifting record had to be an Olympic one so he could lift those 1100 pounds safely.
If you take a look at the bar Eddie is holding, you will see how it bends under that amount of weight, and this is what differs the Olympic bar from the standard one the most.
It’s heavier and more resistant, so you can load it with tons of weight. Well, no one was able to lift a ton, yet.
Bonus: Smith machine barbell weight
Now that we established a clear difference between the two barbells let’s see how much do those on smith machines weigh.
It’s no secret that people tend to struggle with exercises with free weights.
Especially when the exercise in question is squats.
This, along with shoulder press, is the reason people use the smith machine a lot. They start squatting on the smith machine, and then they move to free-weight variation.
Keeping track on your squat PR when going from Smith machine to free-weights can be difficult, depending on the brand of the machine.
When you squat under the smith machine, you are not lifting only a bar, but the mechanism that goes with it.
Although most manufacturers tend to keep the weight approximately as the weight of the Olympic barbell of 45 pounds, not all of them do.
The weight of the smith machine bar can vary from 15 to 45 pounds, and you will never know exactly how much you squat until you get under a real Olympic barbell.
Hopefully, now you understand how important the barbell choice is when you want to set a clear PR, and how much a barbell weighs depending on its type.
Although the gym personnel will almost always say that the bar is an Olympic one, your safest bet is to measure it.