Dumbbells are pretty cool.
Kettlebells were everybody’s answer to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Barbells laugh at all of these pieces of gym equipment.
Because barbells are the premier “weapons of choice” for CrossFitters.
You want to get really strong? You’re gonna squat, deadlift, and clean…with a barbell.
You want to get really fast at WODs and CrossFit metcons? You’re gonna cycle…a barbell.
You want to take really cool pictures where you pretend to look like a medieval knight with a lance? You’re…actually probably not going to do that….but if you do…you’ll do it with a barbell.
Today, we’re not only looking at the best piece of equipment for CrossFit. We’re looking at the best of the best pieces of equipment for CrossFit.
So without further ado, here are the best barbells for CrossFit:
Table of Contents
The 15 Best Barbells for Crossfit
The Ohio Bar (Rogue) (Best Overall)
Watched any CrossFit on TV sometime in the last 10 or so years (and yes, if you’re reading this, I know you have!)? If so, you’ve almost certainly caught many a glimpse at The Ohio Bar. It has been the barbell of choice for officially licensed CrossFit competitions for quite some time now.
The CrossFit barbell!
And for good reason; it is one of the most versatile barbells on the market today. You’d feel just as comfortable squatting with it, snatching with it, or doing some “curls for girls” with it. For a sport that throws so many different movements at its adherents, The Ohio Bar is able to meet all demands.
Boasting a lifetime warranty and resistance to all types of bending, The Ohio Bar is legendary for its durability. Conversely, the barbell’s bushings make it more than suitable for cleaning and snatching while its dual knurl might trick you into thinking you’re lifting with a competition Olympic weightlifting barbell.
Available in a multitude of colors and sleeve textures (Cerakote, chrome, or stainless steel), there is literally an Ohio Bar out there for all lifters.
Elite powerlifters or those who prefer a bit more “grip” from the barbell while squatting may bemoan the lack of a center knurl. However, the Ohio Bar is going to serve CrossFitters of all experience and ability levels just fine for years to come.
A beloved, “entry-level” CrossFit barbell, Again Faster’s Evolution Olympic Barbell provides a high degree of quality and functionality at a very reasonable price point. The combination of needle and ball bearings with internal bronze bushings ensure that the bar is ideally suited for Olympic lifting. The tough, “grittier” knurling makes it perfect for high-rep, long slog metcons.
Like Rogue’s Ohio Bar, the Evolution Olympic Barbell has IWF standard Olympic barbell knurl marks and 190,000 PSI Tensile Strength. These are signs of a barbell that you’d most likely find on a Weightlifting platform. However, its slightly narrower shaft diameter (28mm) makes it easier to grip during bigger sets and at a significantly lower price point, you probably won’t mind slamming it around a little bit more!
The Evolution Olympic Barbell’s lifetime warranty speaks to its durability, as well as its hard-chrome finish. You’re not going to experience much chipping or rust accumulation with this barbell.
If you’re looking for a bar that can really weather a pounding, the Evolution Olympic Barbell’s sub-200,000 PSI might not be enough for you. Even if this is the case, the Evolution bar is inexpensive enough to designate as your “CrossFit bar” if you decide to purchase a dedicated “Olympic Lifting bar” to complement it.
The XF Bar is the first bar we’ve looked at that would be classified as more of a “premium” barbell (with a premium price tag to boot!) Does the barbell’s performance warrant the higher price? You betcha!
Eleiko has been on top of the barbell game for quite some time now. Its tens of thousands of satisfied customers can attest to the truth of “you get what you pay for” in relation to Eleiko’s products.
And a barbell, particularly one that gets thrown around as much as a CrossFit barbell needs to both hold up over time and enable the best performance possible.
The XF Bar’s combination of needle bearings and brass bushings make it suited for both Olympic movements (requiring more of a spinning bar) and loaded power lifts. In the context of a CrossFit WOD like DT where athletes use the same barbell for deadlifts, hang cleans, and push jerks, the XF bar is exactly the kind of bar you want to be using.
The XF Bar’s chrome sleeve and dustproof seal contribute to its durability and ability to withstand the effects of the elements. The included magnetic brush gives you no excuse not to keep your bar clean and in top condition.
The higher price might turn some off, especially considering that the bar is not a “specialty” barbell. However, the XF Bar’s solid construction, refined knurl grip material, and trusted “Eleiko” name make it a perfect addition to the best barbells for CrossFit list.
Although Bells of Steel is a newer fitness equipment brand, it has certainly taken the barbell world by storm.
With a plethora of quality products offered at a lower price point, it is obvious to see why the company has developed such a following!
The B.O.S. Bar 2.0 is the first “specialty” bar on the list of the best barbells for CrossFit as it is technically branded as an Olympic weightlifting barbell. Unlike most Olympic weightlifting bars, the B.O.S. Bar 2.0 is very reasonably priced, yet with the attributes serious weightlifters look for in their bars.
The 4 needle bearings and stainless steel bushing on each side ensure that the B.O.S. Bar 2.0 has sufficient spin capability. The whopping 240,000 PSI Tensile Strength allows for excellent bar whip during that initial pull.
The hardened chrome finish of the bar’s sleeves, as well as its shaft, results in a product that is decently resistant to typical wear and tear.
Knurl marks are included for both weightlifting and powerlifting movements, although with such high whip and spin, some would find powerlifting movements to be less manageable with the B.O.S. Bar 2.0. However, for those looking for an excellent entry-level dedicated Olympic weightlifting bar, this one deserves a long look.
Now we move from a quality, entry-level Olympic weightlifting barbell to a quality, entry-level powerlifting barbell.
How can you go wrong with a Starting Strength Bar? Designed by the same men who created one of the most (the most?) iconic beginner powerlifting programs of all time, the Starting Strength Bar is an excellent complement to the Starting Strength program.
The aggressive knurling allows for the most secure grip when deadlifting, pressing, or benching. The center knurl ensures that the Starting Strength Bar remains stable and “well-connected” to the body when squatting.
The raw shaft and sleeves enhance the Starting Strength Bar’s durability while cutting down on overall maintenance requirements.
The social proof of these bars (they are the primary pieces of equipment at Starting Strength affiliate gyms across the United States) is unparalleled, increasing confidence in the product itself as well as the lifts performed with them.
CrossFitters looking to do a significant amount of weightlifting might be turned off by the lack of significant bearings in the Starting Strength Bar. The spin is minimal, making it less-than-ideal for snatching and cleaning. However, when reserved solely for powerlifting strength pieces, the Starting Strength Bar is unprecedented, particularly for new and intermediate lifters.
IronBull is one of the most beloved fitness brands at Garage Gym Revisited…and for good reason; they are really good at making a lot of different categories of gym equipment and accessories.
Their simply-titled “Competition Bar” is no exception. It is another quality, entry-level addition to the best barbells for CrossFit list.
Designed mostly to support Olympic movements, the IronBull Competition Bar sports 8 needle bearings and a sufficient 200,000 PSI Tensile Strength. While not top-end specs for weightlifting movements, these are still better than what most “hybrid” barbells provide.
The 28.5mm shaft diameter might be a tad thicker than what most weightlifters are accustomed to and the black chrome finish is more susceptible to environmental wear and tear than stainless steel or raw finishes. However, the IronBull Competition Bar is perfectly suitable for competitive CrossFit or Olympic weightlifting events.
One of the least expensive options on this list, the Synergee Games Barbell combines a functional and durable barbell and a very competitive price point.
The impressive 10 needle bearings give the Games Barbell impressive whip, particularly considering the bar’s price and the 190,000 PSI Tensile Strength is comparable to the more expensive Rogue Ohio Bar.
The Cerakote finish to the Games Barbell’s sleeves is highly-resistant to environmental effects, although some might prefer a stainless steel finish for increased resistance. Also, the more standard knurling and lack of a center knurl make the Games Barbell less ideal for powerlifting movements.
With a number of color options almost matching Rogue’s barbell offerings, you really can’t lose picking up a Games Barbell (or two!) from Synergee to tackle CrossFit metcons with.
You knew that one of Rogue’s women’s barbells would make it onto the list of the best barbells for CrossFit, didn’t you?
The Bella Bar 2.0 is the women’s bar answer to The Ohio Bar, boasting similar qualities and renowned for its multifunctionality. The 200,000 PSI Tensile Strength has more whip-generation potential than many of the men’s bars we have seen on this list. This provides it with excellent Olympic weightlifting functionality for a non-specialty barbell.
The stainless steel option is the most expensive configuration of The Bella Bar 2.0, but it is also the option that is most likely to increase the barbell’s longevity. The stainless steel sleeves are largely immune to the elements and by going with this option, upkeep requirements are minimal.
Serious Olympic weightlifters would probably decry the lack of bearings and the associated reduced barbell spin. If this is you, you might opt for a different barbell option, particularly one with needle bearings. However, the whip this bar provides does a good job of making up for the limited spin.
Fringe Sports is a less well-known fitness equipment brand, but their Wonder Bar is a favorite among lifters. If “versatility” is the main criterion for each of the best barbells for CrossFit, then this favoritism is definitely warranted.
Most barbell options we have seen so far allow for modification and customization based on areas like sleeve material and/or finish. The Wonder Bar actually allows athletes to select from bushing or bearing options. These are rather significant selection options for the same marketed barbell.
With that being said, the bearing option is only nominally more expensive than the bushing option. For a few dollars more, you have a more multi-functional bar.
The zinc-plated Wonder Bar sleeves are sufficiently resistant to the elements, but expect to invest some degree of maintenance into your bar’s “health”. Also, the Wonder Bar’s whip is somewhat minimal. However, in the context of a CrossFit WOD or metcon, where the weights are only moderately heavy and are usually lifted for reps, the Wonder Bar is an excellent option.
Another less well-known, but stalwart fitness equipment brand, Rep Fitness offers a versatile and durable bar in the form of the Gladiator MX Barbell.
The needle bearings alone make it ideal for cleaning, snatching, and related movements. The knurling is aggressive enough so that the grip is not compromised during high-rep CrossFit sets, but not so aggressive that the hands are ripped.
So, in layman’s terms…it’s a good CrossFit barbell!
The Gladiator MX Barbell boasts a 190,000 PSI Tensile Strength which is pretty standard for a non-specialty barbell. Also standard is the 28mm diameter, making the bar easy to grip and maintain for just about all male lifters’’ hands (my own tiny hands, included!)
The hard chrome coating looks nice enough, but will likely ensure that you will need to spend a bit of time on barbell upkeep. Rep Fitness has a rather detailed barbell maintenance video, though, so even when barbell weathering inevitably takes place, it should be easy to address.
The last of the less-popular barbell brands on this list, Lionscool’s entry on the list might be an answer to the prayers of new, garage gym CrossFitters on a budget!
I would suggest opting for the 1000-pound capacity barbell over the 500-pound capacity barbell (you’re going to be really strong soon…and it only costs $25 more!) and the added versatility it brings. This versatility is augmented by the inclusion of both needle bearings and bushings. You’ll be ready to hit the ground running CrossFitting or powerlifting with this bar!
The hard chrome finish will require a bit of maintenance and the lack of any type of warranty can be off-putting to some. However, among even the less-costly barbells, the Lionscool barbell’s price is unmatched. If you’ve been putting off starting your home gym because barbell prices are a bit too high, Lionscool might be the brand that helps you get your start!
A comparable alternative to Rogue’s The Bella Bar 2.0, Titan Fitness’ women’s barbell entry can do it all…in a number of different colors, at that!
The Cerakote shaft option is the way to go with this barbell as this option will require less maintenance than the hard chrome option. In the meantime, the moderately-textured shaft knurling and impressive 190,000 PSI Tensile Strength will ensure comfortable lifting and maximized performance.
The bronze bushings are sufficient for any type of powerlifting movement as well as for the vast majority of CrossFit WODs and metcons. To elite Olympic weightlifters, the lack of bearings might be concerning, although Titan Fitness’ women’s bar has sufficient spin to get you through a quick run through Isabel or Grace just fine.
The Titan Fitness barbell’s warranty does not extend through the lifetime of the bar, but it does cover up to a year’s worth of defects and related problems. After a year in, you’ll certainly know how well your bar is holding up; for just about all lifters, this warranty is more than sufficient.
The last of Rogue’s entries on this list, The Castro Bar can be likened to a “companion” of The Ohio Bar. Renowned for its resiliency and durability, The Castro Bar is the answer for CrossFitters looking for a more “classic”, bare-steeled look from their barbells.
Although The Castro Bar does not have a center knurl, its relatively stiff nature makes it ideal for powerlifting. Its signature bare steel is highly resistant to accumulated sweat, ensuring that it will not slip in the lifter’s hands during critical moments.
What makes The Castro Bar really special is its relationship with the U.S. Navy SEALs. A portion of all proceeds from the barbell’s sales goes to support the families of two fallen Navy SEALs.
For high-level Olympic lifters, the lack of bearings might be cause to look at one of the “specialty”, Olympic weightlifting barbells instead. Additionally, the bare steel construction, while beautiful to look at when new, requires the most upkeep of any barbell material.
A new and incredibly promising gym equipment manufacturer, Force USA, and its Pro Series Barbell, are all that is required for your CrossFit barbell needs!
The Pro Series Barbell is a truly multi-functional barbell, with sufficient, but not aggressive knurling, decent whip, and sufficient PSI Tensile Strength (190,000). Its 28.5mm shaft lends itself to those with slightly larger hands, but just about any CrossFitter would feel just fine lifting with this bad boy.
In true “jack of all trades” fashion, the Pro Series Barbell doesn’t really “excel” at anything. Olympic lifters won’t appreciate the lack of bearings and powerlifters will lament the lack of center knurl. The black zinc finish is also more likely to show signs of wear faster than stainless steel, Cerakote, or E-coat bars.
For CrossFit “purists”, though, Force USA’s Pro Series Barbell is one of the best barbells for CrossFit WODs and metcons
If CrossFit has kindled a love of Olympic weightlifting within you, Eleiko’s IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar may be just what you’re looking for. Engineered specifically to enhance and maximize the Olympic lifts, this is the bar to have in your hands when you’re finding your max clean and jerk, snatch, or even thruster.
If you’ve ever watched an Olympic weightlifting competition, this is the barbell you’ve seen the female lifters use.
It is easy to notice the care and detail that has been put into Eleiko’s Competition Bar by the perfectly-tailored knurling, optimized, yet controlled rotation/spin, and redesigned needle bearings. The dual feeling of stiff durability and flexibility is ideal for high-poundage lifting.
Dust-proof seals and chrome sleeves make for minimal wear and minimal maintenance. If larger problems do happen to occur, Eleiko’s lifetime warranty ensures you’ll be lifting a high-quality barbell again in no time.
Eleiko’s IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar is significantly more expensive than the other barbells on this list and may not be classified as a “true” CrossFit barbell. However, if you are serious about cleaning or snatching some seriously heavy weight, this is the barbell to do it with.
Best Barbells for CrossFit Buyer’s Guide
A lot of the barbells on this list look pretty similar and they all weigh pretty much the same. Why the variance in pricing and intended use, then? This question will be answered as we go over the key criteria to look at with each of the best barbells for CrossFit.
Size & Weight
Contrary to popular belief, not every Olympic-sized barbell is the same size and weight. In fact, it only takes a quick, but focused glance and a second to hold a couple of different bars to instantly notice the difference.
In the context of “normal” lifting barbells only (not intentionally shortened barbells, training barbells, curl bars, or Strongman “log” barbells) men’s Olympic bars are always roughly 20 kilograms or roughly 45 pounds. Additionally, they are all roughly 2200 millimeters in length or roughly 86.6 inches. The shaft diameter (where you actually grip the barbell) generally varies between 28 and 28.5 millimeters.
In the same context as the men’s bars discussed above, women’s Olympic bars are always roughly 15 kilograms or roughly 35 pounds (there is a little bit more differentiation here as the kilogram-denominated bars end up weighing about 2 pounds less than the pound-denominated bars). Additionally, they are all roughly 2010 millimeters in length or roughly 79.1 inches. The shaft diameter is generally right at 25 millimeters.
As you can discern, men’s bars are significantly heavier, longer, and with thicker shafts than women’s barbells. These different proportions best support the unique body structures that men and women possess, better enabling them to maximize their lifts.
Take a close look at any barbell and you’ll notice two very distinct deviations in the bar’s material: a relatively “smooth” portion and a “rough” portion. That rough, almost patterned-looking portion is the knurling.
The knurling is present in the portions of the barbell where you actually grip the barbell. This includes areas where you grip with your hands as well as areas where you “grip” with your upper back or shoulder (in the case of the center knurl, usually found on powerlifting/”power” bars).
Generally speaking, the more “aggressive” this textured metal is, the easier the barbell is to grip. However, if the knurl is overly aggressive, it can be uncomfortable to grasp and can even cut the lifter’s hands.
The knurl rings are the smooth, circular-shaped areas in the middle of the knurl. These are built into most barbells in order to “guide” lifters’ hand placements. While hand placement and grip width are very personal things, when competing in sanctioned powerlifting meets, lifters must be mindful of the knurl rings. The index finger of each hand may touch the knurl rings, but the grip cannot be any wider.
Olympic weightlifting movements (the clean and jerk and the snatch) and other, closely-aligned movements (ex. The hang power clean, the cluster) involve very fast transitions of the barbell within the lifter’s wrists. The faster these transitions take place, the more easily the lifter is able to execute each lift and maintain control of the barbell.
Barbells that “spin” faster accelerate these transitions and are universally preferred by those executing these movements. Barbell bearings and, more specifically, needle bearings, facilitate this and the top precision bearings can spin the barbell at speeds up to 15,000 revolutions per minute.
Of the best barbells for CrossFit, the included “hybrid” bars and Olympic weightlifting specialty bars have all been screened for sufficient spin. The included power bars generally do not include bearings due to much-reduced need for spin that the power lifts (bench press, squat, deadlift) necessitate (the bar is never transitioning in the hand during these movements).
The “finish” of the barbell is the “coating” that you find along the bar’s shaft and/or sleeves. The coating contributes to the overall “feel” of the barbell in your hands as well as the barbell’s resistance to the elements and wear (such as rusting and cracking).
On a scale from least resistant to most resistant:
- Bare steel
- Black oxide
- Stainless steel
Price is normally closely correlated with barbell coating.
Barbell durability has a slight relationship with barbell finish as the wear and maintenance requirements of the barbell contribute to its lifespan. However, barbells can also be ranked on how much “abuse” (mainly from being dropped or thrown around) they can withstand over time.
If you’re lifting in your own home or garage gym, official barbell durability ratings (such as Rogue’s F-Scale) are not very important. You are pretty much the only one using your barbell and are probably treating it better than random people in a CrossFit box or globo gym. You can expect at least 15 years of service from a CrossFit barbell from our list.
To be honest, barbell prices are all over the place.
And I mean all over the place!
As you have probably noticed by reading our list of the best barbells for CrossFit, a good, quality barbell can cost you less than $200 while the top, expert-quality specialty barbells will set you back well over $1000.
Be sure not to conflate durability or overall quality with the price of a barbell, though.
Sure, there are plenty of cheap, low-quality barbells on the market (although none made our list) that will be chipping away and falling apart within months, or are simply “bad” for lifting.
However, where reputable brands and manufacturers are involved, the main determinants of barbell pricing are the “features” that each bar possesses. Like high-priced automobiles, you can save a lot of money by opting for a barbell that only has the features you need.
If you want to do a CrossFit metcon here and there, but don’t see yourself getting too interested in mastering the Olympic lifts, buying a bushing-only barbell will save you a bit of money.
Want to put your bar’s maintenance on auto-pilot and do little regarding upkeep? That stainless steel finish is probably best for you…but it’ll cost you!
Before balking at a seemingly high-priced barbell or hitting the “buy” button on a “bargain” bar, consider your needs and preferences. Once you have done so, you’ll have much better context for evaluating barbell prices!
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have some questions that weren’t covered in the buyer’s guide? We’ve got answers…and we’ll be here all night!
Step into 5 random Crossfit boxes and you’ll likely find 15 different barbells being used. If these CrossFit boxes happen to host Olympic weightlifting or powerlifting classes, expect to find even more!
In the CrossFit Games and other major CrossFit competitions, Rogue’s Ohio Bar (the CrossFit barbell) has made a number of appearances. However, different events oftentimes call for a different type of barbell (the snatch ladders and “CrossFit Total” workouts certainly used different barbells).
You certainly can, especially for workouts that involve no Olympic weightlifting movements or light weightlifting movements. The knurling might be a little more aggressive and slightly more uncomfortable than hybrid or Olympic weightlifting barbells, but you should be able to execute the movements with little trouble.
The vast majority of barbells used in CrossFit workouts are either ~45 pounds for men or ~35 pounds for women. However, on occasion, “niche” bars are used to increase the challenge or to create a special stimulus.
Your First Barbell…
Picking out your first barbell is one of life’s great pleasures. The day it shows up in that long, rectangular box (sorry Mr. Mail Man!) and you slowly unpack it…it’s like being a 5-year-old on Christmas morning again!
Depending on your goals, price range, and willingness to do maintenance, some of the items on our list of the best barbells for CrossFit will make more sense than others.
No matter which bar you go with, though, you’re going to experience that magical, Christmas morning feeling.
Go ahead and pick your CrossFit barbell out and maybe even invite Santa over for a lifting session!
Want more of a deep dive into barbells? Check out our discussion of Olympic weightlifting barbells vs. powerlifting barbells. After reading that article and this one, you’ll probably know more about barbells than anyone you know #winning!