The most common thing when going to a commercial gym is that a disproportionate percentage of its space is dedicated to ‘cardio’ machines. Its staff will not hesitate to tell you about the infinite benefits of its rooms, but if you feel like saying “excuse me, do you have a free weight area with Olympic bars?” it is unlikely that the answer is yes, it may even happen that they do not know what you are talking about. If it seems too geeky to you, try to find a single trainer who despises this material. Of course they are not essential, but they are loved so much that they must have something. Let’s take a look at the features of these bars and why they are for you too.
What is and how is an Olympic bar different?
They are all those weight bars that share a common characteristic: the diameter from the outer ends where the discs are inserted measured from 50mm. For this reason there are people who call them 50 mm bars and it is quite common to refer to them as weightlifting bars, although being strict that is to confuse the part with the whole, because there are different types of Olympic bars. Its mission is intrinsically linked to free weight training, which has advantages and disadvantages compared to exercise with machines that we have already analyzed in its day. Let’s see what Olympic bars exist:
Olympic weightlifting bars
Being strict, the weightlifting bars are the only Olympic ones, since only this discipline uses this material in the Olympic Games. They are used for two lifts, the snatch and the two-stroke. They are bars that must meet the requirements of a sports competition regulated by official bodies, so they have standardized characteristics and regulations.
Weightlifting men’s bars weigh 20kg and they measure 220 cm. Its grip section is 28mm in diameter and 131cm long with two small notches 91cm apart for easy grip point references. The female bars have a weight of 15kg and its length is 201 cm. Its grip section is in this case 25 mm thick and 131 cm long, with a separation between its grip marks of 91 cm.
Olympic bars for powerlifting
powerlifting or ‘powerlifting’ It is the discipline in which you compete in three lifts: the bench press, the squat and the deadlift. Its technical specifications are determined by the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF). As in the previous case, only the equipment approved by the federative organism of the discipline will be valid in official competitions. In powerlifting there is no difference between men and women. According to its technical regulation, the length of the bar cannot exceed 220 cm; its grip section must measure between 131 and 132 cm and will have a diameter between 28 and 29 mm. The total weight of the bar with closures will be 25 kg (20 kg of the bar + 2.5 kg for each closure).
Mixed or multipurpose Olympic bars
This group is formed by the bars that combine characteristics of weightlifting and powerlifting. Its specifications are not regulated by any official federation. They are cheaper and more versatile, which is why they are the easiest to see in any gym and essential in the pits of CrossFit. At first glance they can be confused with weightlifting bars, but there is a very simple trick to identify them and that is that they have four notches in the grip section: the two typical of weightlifting bars (separated by 91 cm) and the two those for powerlifting (separated by 81 cm).
The fact that you do not practice weightlifting, powerlifting or CrossFit does not imply that it is a type of material that may not interest you. In addition to its enormous resistance, it is a bar that provides you with greater balance and stability in your training, it supports a lot of load and, by keeping measurements and proportions, if it is used properly it avoids some injuries that can be produced with inappropriate material. If you have done a squat or a deadlift with one of these bars you will know what we are talking about, although at first it seems more uncomfortable, as soon as you get used to it you will no longer want to change.