You walk up to a barbell, get set, and lift it up.
That’s how simple the deadlift is…right?
Yeah…if that really was the case, we’d all be deadlifting 500+ pounds. To get good at deadlifting, there are a number of small and subtle, but very important set-up and performance cues to keep in mind.
The same is true for the mythical deadlift bar.
On the surface, it looks like any old Olympic-sized barbell you’d lift with at the gym. It’s long, heavy, metal, has some knurling and knurl rings.
A simple barbell…right?
Wrong again. While the deadlift bar weight may be comparable to others lying around the gym, its length, width, material, and “whip” are all pretty different from the others.
Today, we’ll break down the deadlift bar weight and all of these other factors to help you determine whether or not you should look to adding one to your (hopefully growing!) barbell “collection”!
Table of Contents
What is a Deadlift Bar & How Much Does It Weight?
A deadlift bar is a type of barbell made specifically for deadlifting (who woulda thought?!?!).
Compared to a standard barbell, these bars are oftentimes longer and a bit thinner. They are usually about 7 feet long with around 27 millimeters in diameter. The usual deadlift bar weight is 44 lbs (20 kg). This is also an approved bar weight for competing in some weightlifting organizations such as the GPA (Global Powerlifting Alliance).
The main features of the deadlift bar are:
- a thinner bar: allows for better grip (with my child-like hands, I definitely appreciate this attribute!)
- extra length: allows you to add more weight plates (for when 8 plates per side just isn’t enough!)
- more whip: added flexibility that reduces the sticking point at the bottom of the deadlift
- aggressive knurling: for a better grip
- no center knurling: there’s no need for it in a deadlift (the center knurling can actually be more of a hindrance for deadlifting as it can scratch the legs when in close contact)
The two most common deadlift bars are the Ohio and Texas deadlift bars (sorry if your state barbell didn’t make the cut!) These bars are exclusively designed and used for deadlifts.
The Ohio Deadlift Bar is a barbell specially designed for deadlifts. It got its name by being manufactured in Columbus, Ohio, the sacred home of Rogue Fitness (the Ohio Deadlift Bar’s manufacturer). The weight of this bar is the same as a standard Olympic bar at 44 lbs (20 kg). But, the Ohio bar is not the same as the Olympic bar. It has a longer shaft: 56 inches, and a smaller diameter: 27mm.
The Texas Deadlift Bar is another barbell most commonly used for deadlifting. It was designed in 1980 by Buddy Capps, a Texas powerlifter and expert machinist. These bars weigh the same as most Olympic-sized barbells at 44 lbs (20 kg). What makes them different is their overall length: 29 inches, and longer sleeves: 18 inches.
Other Types of Bars for Deadlifts and Their Weight
As you can imagine there are numerous types of barbells that can be used for deadlifting, although most aren’t specifically designed for it. Step into just about any gym (besides a Starting Strength gym) and you’re likely to deadlift with every bar other than a deadlift bar. Consider how much deadlifting goes on in CrossFit and how none of the bars on our best barbells for CrossFit list are dedicated deadlifts bars.
Let’s take a look at some of the other barbells commonly used for deadlifting.
The power bar (short for “powerlifting” bar) is a standard barbell found in most gyms. It can be used for just about any barbell movement, although it doesn’t “excel” in any of them. It usually weighs about 45 lbs (20.45kg) for men and 33 lbs (15kg) for women. It generally has a center knurl, and knurl rings 32 inches apart. These bars are not very flexible and don’t create much whip, making them less than ideal for weightlifting (specifically the clean and snatch) movements. They also rarely have much “spin”, making them feel rather “clunky” when attempting weightlifting exercises.
Olympic weightlifting Bar
Olympic weightlifting bars are commonly used for cleans, jerks, and snatches. This bar usually weighs 44 lbs (20kg) for men and 33 lbs (15kg) for women. They have more whip compared to a power bar and don’t have a center knurl (like the deadlift bar, a center knurl for weightlifting movements, particularly the clean, is likely to scratch the legs and shins). Also, the knurl rings are wider apart than at the power bar – 36 inches. This wider knurling is present to help “guide” the lifter’s snatch grip.
A hex bar, also called a trap bar, is a hexagonal bar designed to allow you to lift more weights while putting less stress on your lower back. There are different types of hex bars, and they all have different average weights:
- Standard hex bar: 45 lbs
- Raised handle hex bar: 50-55 lbs
- Heavy duty hex bar: 60 lbs
- Multi-handle hex bar: 60-65 lbs
- Open back (walkthrough) hex bar: 50-75 lbs
Deadlift Bars vs “Standard” Olympic Bars
The main difference between a deadlift bar and a standard Olympic bar lies in their flexibility.
The deadlift bar has more whip, which means it bends more under heavy weight. This also means you are able to lift more weight than with a stiff bar. Most Olympic-sized barbells are more rigid and have less whip, which makes them suitable for other exercises such as bench presses (where you definitely do not want much whip!) Of course, Olympic weightlifting barbells generally have a lot of whip.
The second difference is in the knurling of the bar. The deadlift bar has more aggressive knurling, which provides better traction and makes it easier to hold in the hands. Also, they don’t have a central knurling. A central knurl is not needed for deadlifts since you don’t need to grip the barbell on your back (like you would while squatting). As previously alluded to, a center knurl can actually make deadlifting less comfortable as the rougher material can scratch up the legs.
Another difference is the length. Deadlift bars are typically a little longer than standard Olympic bars. The average length of a deadlift bar is 90 inches, while a stiff bar is usually 86 inches long.
Deadlift bars have thinner shafts than Olympic bars. The usual shaft thickness of a deadlift bar is 29 mm, while a stiff bar’s shaft is 27 mm thick. This means that a deadlift bar can bend more. Also, a thinner shaft allows you to grip the barbell more easily and therefore makes it easier to lift more weight.
Finally, deadlift bars have less tensile strength. Tensile strength is the maximum load per unit area your bar can withstand before breaking apart. This allows the deadlift bar to bend more than a standard Olympic bar. But it doesn’t mean that the deadlift bar is necessarily “weaker” than a stiff bar. However, it influences the amount of weight you can load on your barbell. Deadlift bars generally have between 165,000-190,000 PSI (pounds of force per square inch), while other bars have 195,000-205,000.
Because they have less tensile strength, deadlift bars also have smaller loadable sleeves than Olympic bars. Loadable sleeves on deadlift bars are usually 15 inches, and on stiff bars, they are 16-17 inches. This means you can add more weight plates on standard Olympic bars than on a deadlift bar. However, you can compensate for this by using thinner plates.
Keep in mind that different competitions use different kinds of bars. Power bars are used in the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) and USA Powerlifting (USAPL) meets while the United States Powerlifting Association (USPA) uses dedicated deadlift bars for deadlift competitions. If you are preparing for a competition, always check the bar requirements beforehand.
Glad we got that all cleared up!
I mean, who wants to be “that guy” who can’t pick a deadlift bar out of a police lineup!
…yeah, you’ll still probably make a mistake or two from time to time!
Anyways, if you have the funds and your deadlift is starting to get into the “ohh crap, the bar is bending in, like, a bad way, oh no, oh no…oh no” territory, you might want to start giving deadlift bars a serious look. Loading up the deadlift bar weights, gripping and ripping just feels better with a dedicated deadlift bar.
Worst case, the next time you see a slightly longer, slightly thinner bar at a USPA powerlifting meet, you’ll know what’s up!
Now that you know all about the deadlift bar weight and its other characteristics, how about you take a look at all things hex bar (if you can’t tell the difference between a hex bar and other barbells, then you really need to check the article out!)