Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tools of The Trade

This post is about something near and dear to my heart. It's something that I use everyday and can have a really significant impact on the way my day is going. Today I will be talking about barbells.

This may not seem like such a big deal to you, but a good barbell can make all the difference in the world. What exactly makes a good barbell?

Did you watch the whole thing? I doubt it, and that's ok! There are a few things that really matter when we are talking about barbells. The first, and arguably the most important, is the knurling. The knurling is the grip on the bar; its roughed/imprinted metal and varies widely from bar to bar.

The next most important is the way the bar spins. You may not know this, but the ends of the bar have bearings or bushings in them that makes it spin. This allows you to grip the bar without having it rotate in your hands. You get a really clear idea of this the first time you try to do a clean with an old shitty bar that doesn't spin so well.

The last thing we care about is the flex of the bar. That is, how it bends/reacts when a load is placed upon it. You may have heard the saying "if the bar ain't bending, you're just pretending" before, and if you haven't then you're welcome. Any bar will bend when enough weight is loaded up, but a good bar will bounce right back and straighten out without a problem.

When it really comes down to it, there are 3 types of barbells that you will encounter at a gym. (Note: for the purpose of this discussion we won't be talking about specialty bars.) These are weightlifting bars, powerlifting bars and good ol' fashioned shitty commercial gym bars.

That's a picture of the 3 types of bars we have at the gym where I train. On the left we have a weightlifting bar, in the middle we have a powerlifting bar and on the right we have a run-of-the-mill, nondescript, civilian barbell. You can visibly see the difference between the three bars.

The weightlifting bar on the left has knurling that goes all the way out to the collars, this way someone performing a snatch can grip as wide as possible. See those rings on the bars? Those are to help designate grip width; the middle bar has powerlifting mars and the left has weightlifting marks. The guy on the right has powerlifting marks as well. The bar on the right, though, has a knurling that is smoother than a newborns ass. The bar in the middle, you could grate cheese on. The sleeves (the fat end part) on all three bars actually spins pretty well; but it's the bar on the far left that really spins well for weightlifting movements.

If you're going to be purchasing a bar for your own use at home do your research! Get your hands on a few different types of bars. They can all feel drastically different and can impact the way your lifts feel!

I know this was a totally random topic, but I hope that I was able to enlighten at least one person! Have a great day and go lift some heavy shit!

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