Choosing the best deadlift bar is a serious undertaking because the choices are limited.
More so than any other bar type I worked on for as far back as I can remember.
That’s what made this guide a doozy.
But armed with two decades of experience as a personal trainer, I dug in. It took me 8 hours just to unearth twelve bars that are worthy candidates.
I then defined 20 quality criteria including weight capacity, whip, flex, and knurling, and rated the bar in each criterion.
Twenty-five hours and dozens of frustrated sighs later, I have seven clear winners to present.
The best bar for most people is the Texas deadlift bar with a cerakote finish. It’s just as well-made as Rogue Ohio, but a peg ‘whippier’ and more flexible because the collar-to-collar distance is 1.625 greater. It also costs less and is listed at 500 lbs more max weight than Rogue Ohio.
If you’re looking for something cheaper, the Valor Fitness OB-DL and the ISF are both solid bars. Valor has a lower max load (1200 lbs) and ISF is coated with black oxide, which is less than ideal for heavy use. Other than that, both Valor and ISF are great penny-worth.
This is what we’ll cover in the guide:
Texas deadlift bar (Cerakote)
- 7 best deadlift bars
- 1 – Best overall – Texas deadlift bar Cerakote
- 2 – Runner-up – Rogue Ohio deadlift bar (Cerakote)
- 3 – Best budget deadlift bar – Valor Fitness OB-DL
- 4 – Runner-up budget bar – ISF Deadlift Bar
- 5 – Best sumo deadlift bar – Strongarm Sumo
- 6 – Top-rated trap deadlift bar – Bells of Steel 3.0
- 7 – Best multi-purpose bar for deadlifts – Rogue 2.0
- 20 factors of choosing a great deadlift bar
- How we assess and rate deadlift bars
- Other bars we tested
- Deadlift bar FAQs
- Deadlift bar – the bottom line
7 best deadlift bars
|Name||Best in category||Rating (out of 19.5)||Price||Capacity (lbs)||Finish (shaft/sleeves)|
|Texas deadlift bar (Cerakote)||Overall||17.5||$$$$||2000||Hard chrome / Cerakote|
|Rogue Ohio deadlift bar||Runner-up||15||$$$$||1500||Cerakote / Cerakote|
|Valor Fitness OB-DL||Budget||13.125||$$$||1200||Zinc/Zinc|
|ISF Deadlift Bar||Runner-up budget||12.125||$$$||1500||Hard chrome / blck oxide|
|StrongArm Sumo deadlift bar||Sumo||12||$$$||1500||Hard chrome / bare steel|
|Bells of Steel trap bar 3.0||Trap bar||N/A*||$$$||700||Zinc/Zinc|
|Rogue bar 2.0||Multipurpose bar||N/A**||$$$||N/A||Zinc/Zinc|
* Not a deadlift bar (but can be used for deadlifts)- check our trap bar guide for more info on these ratings
** Check our Olympic barbell guide for more info on these ratings.
(rated 17.5 out of 19.5)
Texas deadlift bar is the most well-rounded deadlift bar out there. It scored 17.5 out of the max 19.5.
It comes from a company with a storied 40-year long tradition – Buddy Capps. They don’t make a zillion bars, but the ones they do make dominate their respective categories.
What makes it the best?
Four main reasons:
- It’s 2″ longer than Rogue Ohio
- The knurling is as aggressive and grippy as Rogue’s
- The sleeves are the longest among the top picks (second-longest overall)
- The distance between the weights is 1.625 greater (61.125 vs 59.5 “)
The last point above is crucial because it affects the whip the most. More whip means you’ll cush those PRs more easily.
Is it the whippiest?
There’s one bar with more distance between the weights – Valor Fitness OB-DL (ranked 3rd overall).
In our ratings, Valor is not even close to the Texas bar because the coating and overall quality of the knurling aren’t comparable. And the sleeves are much shorter.
On a more personal note, I love the unique color choices available for the Texas bar. Especially the Bazooka Green!
Bottom line – Texas deadlift bar has more whip than bars of similar quality and it’s better made than those with more whip. You can read that again and I promise it will make sense.
- Longer bar and greater distance between the weight plates – it will be easier to lift with, especially at higher weights.
- Resistant coatings – it won’t chip, flake or rust nearly as bare steel would. It also needs less maintenance.
- Higher weight capacity – you can confidently pack on weight.
- Multiple color choices for the shaft – you can choose your favorite color or one that works with your home gym.
- Other coatings available – you have the option to go for something cheaper like bare steel.
- Comes from a reputable company and it’s US-made – Buddy Capps
- On the pricy side – will make a 10-30% bigger dent in your budget than most other deadlift bars.
(rated 15 out of 19.5)
Rogue Ohio power bar is probably the most popular bar on the market and with many a good reason.
This bar is a version of the Ohio bar designed specifically for deadlifts. It’s longer and the knurling is more aggressive.
In our ratings, it scored 15 points.
The three main areas where it dropped points are the price, collar-to-collar distance, and sleeve length.
It’s important to understand that we’re talking nuanced differences here. At this quality level, you have to go into the nitty-gritty to separate the truly great bars from the good and the average.
With that said, Rogue fans will find all other bars inferior in terms of precision finish and the knurling. Do bear in mind, though, the knurling of the Rogue Ohio deadlift bar is noticeably more aggressive than that of the power bar.
NOTE: There are other versions of this deadlift barbell with different coatings. I decided against including these as separate bars so I’ll just mention them here.
The e-coat version scored a high 13.875 and it would be in the top 5 on its own if I included it as a separate bar. The black zinc and e-coat are fairly new to the market and we need more data for accurate ratings.
- Knurled in Rogue’s signature pattern – if you’re used to the Ohio bar, the knurling will feel better.
- Superior finish and attention to detail – a Rogue bar just looks better on the rack and feels better in hands than most bars.
- Three color choices – you can choose which of these combos works best for you: all-black, red-black, and green-black.
- Knurling is very aggressive – it might take getting used to.
- Expensive – typically, you’d spend more on a Rogue bar than similar bars from other brands.
- Less whip than Texas bar – it won’t “help” you as much when it comes to lifting heavier.
(rated 13.125 out of 19.5)
Valor OB-DL is not a great bar. It is a good bar that costs less than most. It’s here because we made a special effort to diversify our picks and find something affordable.
Apart from the low price, it found its way to the top for one main reason – it has the greatest collar-to-collar distance of any bar we looked at.
That means that the weights sit further apart.
Compared to Texas, that distance is a slight 0.375 “, which most people won’t notice, but compared to Rogue the difference is full 2 inches.
This might be the bar for you if…
…you’re looking to save money and you won’t be using it daily.
It’s not for you if…
…you’re looking for a robust bar for daily use, especially if we’re talking commercial gyms.
It’s also not for you if you’re lifting heavy and prefer an aggressive knurl.
- Budget-friendly – will make less of a dent in your budget.
- Highest collar-to-collar distance (61.5 “) – this means more whip, and more whip means easier lifts.
- Not the most durable finish – the sleeves might start to chip with long-term daily use. This makes it a non-starter for commercial use.
- Knurling is not as aggressive as rogue or Texas – the grip won’t feel as secure.
(scored 12.125 out of 19.5 in our ratings)
Based on everything I found about them, ISF likely imports Chinese stuff but we don’t disqualify any bar just based on where it’s made. Long gone are the days when all Chinese-made stuff was created equal.
We take a more serious approach and dig deeper because.
And when you do that, you see a deadlift bar that’s longer than most, has high tensile strength, offers a range of finishes, and costs much less than competing bars.
Out of the finishes they carry, we rated the bare-steel + hard chrome combo.
Bare steel is ‘grippier’
Bare steel might be inferior in terms of corrosion resistance, but it’s superior in terms of ‘grippiness.’
Since that was one of our rating categories (whether the coating dulls the knurl) and since we have no stainless steel bars in the mix, a few bare steel units rose up.
In that group of bars, this one stands out.
- Solid bare steel grip – less slippery than coated bars.
- Various coating and finish colors – you can choose one that suits your taste or space.
- Value for money – you’ll pay less than you would for bars of comparable quality.
- Less resistant to corrosion compared to ther bars on the list – more likely to rust and will need more maintenance than coated bars.
(scored 12 out of 19.5 in our ratings)
With hard chrome sleeves and a bare steel shaft, this old-school bar is the only sumo deadlift bar we’re comfortable with recommending.
It’s a hefty piece of gear that easily ‘eats up’ to 1500 lbs of weight.
Standard vs. sumo deadlift bars
Ultimately, the choice of this vs. other bars on the list will be the choice of a classic vs. sumo deadlift. Unless you want both in your arsenal.
The mechanics of the two movements are very different and, with regular bars, most people will lift a bit more from a sumo stance. That’s because of the shorter range of motion (you can see it measured and explained well in the video below).
There are two main differences between a conventional and a sumo deadlift bar – the knurling and the length.
Knurling placement of the two bar types is common sense.
The center of a conventional deadlift bar is smooth and the sides are knurled. It sumo bars, it’s the other way around.
Shorter and less whip
If you’re using a deadlift bar, however, the lower range of motion will be offset by less whip. The Strongarm Sumo bar is 4-6 shorter than standard deadlift bars.
Lower tensile strength
Because the momentum is not as great, the tensile strength of a sumo bar will be lower compared to a standard deadlift bar of the same capacity.
This bar is rated for the same weight as Rogue Ohio (1,500 lbs) but has a much lower tensile strength (190K vs. 110K PSI).
- Less force exerted on the lumbar spine – lower chances of lower back injury than a conventional deadlift.
- Shorter range of motion – more comfortable for people with shorter arms.
- Doesn’t rub against your shins – you won’t need high deadlift socks.
- Allow you to change up the deadlift angles – a more intense workout for the quads, inner thigh, and gluteus.
- Less activation of some main deadlift muscles – the different angles and the shorter range of motion mean you won’t hit your hamstrings and back as intensely.
- Shorter than a conventional deadlift bar – less whip will lend less help at higher weights.
- The shaft is bare steel – it’s more likely to corrode.
The best deadlift bar in the trap (hex) category is the Bells of Steel 3.0. More accurately, it’s the top value out of the 50 trap bars we looked at. It scored an 18 out of the max 23.75 in the hex bar category.
It’s all that and a bag of chips – open-ended, conservatively priced, finished with resistant black zinc, and features rotating sleeves.
In fact, it’s the ONLY trap bar out there with rotating sleeves.
Is it the absolute best?
If the price wasn’t an issue, you could argue that Kabuki and similar adjustable bars are more diverse and that premium bars like Eleiko are more robust.
In the day-to-day, Bells of Steel does it all at a much lower price point.
This trap bar is not for you if you’re deadlifting over 700 lbs because the sleeves are too short for that (9.7 inches).
Short sleeves are not a design blunder
The dimensions were planned so that the bar can be shipped for less. As Andrew Ponsler (the owner of Bells of Steel) explains, if the bar was any longer, it would be shipped as an oversized item. That alone would add about $100 to the price.
In the 4.0, I do expect to see longer sleeves because that would round the Bells of Steel offer nicely – the 3.0 for most people and the 4.0 for heavy lifters who need the extra sleeve space.
- Budget-friendly – you’ll spend less than you would on most trap bars.
- Open-ended – it’s the more versatile design- you can use it for more exercic3es than if it were enclosed.
- The sleeves rotate – this makes the movement smoother and puts less stress on your joints.
- Relatively short sleeves – you can’t lift over 700 because it only fits 5-7 plates per sleeve, depending on the thickness.
- The built-in jack isn’t as stable as those of Eleiko and Kabuki – you’ll need to be cautious when loading the bar.
The best deadlift bar out of the multi-purpose bars is the Rogue 2.0. It’s the only bar that scored the perfect 12/12 among the 100 Olympic bars we rated.
It’s the embodiment of everything people love about Rogue – high tensile strength, smooth rotation of the sleeves, and their proprietary Rogue Work Hardening (RWH).
RWH has been proven to extend the lifespan of a bar by a factor of 3 and make them more resistant to ‘abuse’, like throwing the bar with weights on.
The science behind the RWH and the F scale ratings is impressive and goes beyond this guide. By “goes beyond” I mean it would bore you to tears. If you have the time, you can read more on their website here.
Durability and longevity is the name of the game when it comes to multi-purpose bars.
Finally, this bar costs less than you’d expect. If you asked me to guess, I’d probably guess 35-45% higher than the actual price, and I’ve been working with bars for the better part of my life.
How it compared to the Rogue Ohio power bar
I decided to go with Rogue 2.0 in spite of the more aggressive knurling in the power bar. It’s because power bars are specifically designed to minimize whip. The 205,000 of tensile strength is too rigid to make a good deadlift barbell.
- Longevity – it will last longer than similar bars…we’re talking decades.
- Tensile strength of 190K PSI – won’t deform, even under extreme weight.
- Dual knurl markings – helps with proper hand positioning.
- The coating is black zinc – not as durable as stainless steel and less resistant to wear and tear.
20 factors of choosing a great deadlift bar
To be concise and make the guide easier to read, I’ll group all the factors into four clusters: crucial, primary, secondary, and minor.
Six crucial factors
1 – Weight capacity of the bar
(zero to two points in our ratings)
This one is pretty straightforward and ties in with the tensile strength.
It describes how much weight you can load onto the bar without the risk of it permanently bending. The best deadlift bars have a weight capacity of 1200-2000 lbs.
Our top-rated bar, the Texas Cerakote is the only bar on the list with a listed capacity of 2,000 lbs.
2 – Tensile strength of the bar (TSI)
(zero to two point in our ratings)
Tensile strength describes the maximum load a deadlift bar can take without breaking. For a deadlift bar, this analysis should be approached differently than for a conventional bar.
I’ve seen way too many guides and reviews where “experts” insist on high TS without putting it into context.
So, let’s do that. Put it into context, that is…
Strictly speaking, tensile strength describes how well a material handles a pulling force. In a deadlift bar, you’ll want as much whip as possible and whippier materials are more flexible.
That sometimes means a lower tensile strength.
Long story short – the threshold for acceptable TS of a deadlift bar is lower than in conventional bars. I’d put it at 110K PSI.
3 – Whip of a deadlift bar
(zero to two points in our ratings)
The more whip and flex a deadlift bar has, the better.
Up to a point of course…
With the bars we analyzed, the amount of whip comes down to where the weight sits and the overall length.
We defined that as collar-to-collar distance and had to either measure it (or calculate it based on other dimensions) because it’s not a common spec.
The best deadlift bar overall (Texas) is also the whippiest because of the distance between the collars and the overall length. Compared to the Rogue Ohio deadlift bar, it’s two inches longer and has a 1.625 grater collar-to-collar distance.
Flex of the bar
Based on everything we’ve seen, there was no need to separate whip and flex into separate quality categories.
It’s almost a rule that the whippier the bar, the more it will deflect (flex) before leaving the ground.
Finally, the heavier the lift the more difference whip and flex will make.
4 – Knurling of a deadlift bar
(zero to two points in our ratings)
You want aggressive knurling in a deadlift bar.
Crushing personal records with a deadlift bar is all about grip and whip, and the former comes down to the diameter and the knurling.
The brands recognize it and I’ve seen no deadlift bar with passive knurling.
There are slight differences among the bars we looked at. Rogue Ohio is on the more aggressive side (yes, even for a deadlift bar), and Valor OB-DL has the least aggressive knurling on our list.
Knurling placement should be such that it doesn’t rub against your shins. For standard bars that means a knurl-free center and for sumo bars it means no knurling on the side of the bar’s shaft.
None of the top-rated bars had placement issues.
5 – Finish of the shaft and sleeves
(-1 to 2 points for sleeve finish, -1 to 1.25 for shaft finish, and 0.125 for dulling of the knurl)
The finish is another quality aspect that’s more nuanced with a deadlift barbell than with other bars.
Because you want a resistant bar but, to make the most out of the extra whip, you want a grippy shaft. And nothing is as grippy as bare steel.
This means that you can’t dismiss bare steel deadlift bars because some of the most popular products (like the Okkie deadlift bar) are (intentionally) bare steel.
How we handled it
So, we did make an effort to balance the two finish aspects by adding a quality category – whether the coating dulls the knurling.
Ultimately, all the good deadlift bars are knurled so aggressively that coating won’t make a huge difference. At least not the kind of difference that would offset high resistance and low maintenance requirements of superior coatings like Cerakote.
Below is an overview of corrosion resistance and maintenance requirements of different finishes.
6 – Price of the bar
(zero to three points in our ratings)
I say ‘price’ but what I really mean is ‘value for money.’
But let’s take a step back and talk in absolute terms for a moment.
You can expect to pay anywhere between $250 and $450 for a good deadlift bar.
There are cheaper bars, but they’re not worth mentioning. There are also more expensive ones (like the Cerberus) but they will probably only interest you if you’re competing.
Check out the video below for a visual explanation of deadlift bar basics:
Other quality factors of a deadlift bar
The difference between crucial and primary factors is that crucial factors are deal-breakers and the primary aren’t.
Loadable sleeve length of the bar
Do the math when choosing the sleeve length that works for you, especially if you’re using bumper plates.
An example of the math
Let’s say that you’re using 3-inch thick bumper plates, which is about right for 45s.
If the sleeves are 15 inches long, you can comfortably fit four on each side. That brings you to 360 lbs (4 x 45 x 2).
On the other hand, if you’re using cast iron Olympic plates, you can pack on 8-10.
Bottom line – the loadable sleeve length is much more of an ‘issue’ if you’re using bumper plates and lifting heavy. The weight capacity of the deadlift bars is calculated with Olympic plates in mind.
(zero or one point in our ratings)
All the best deadlift bars fit Olympic plates and collars, meaning the sleeves are 1.96-2″ thick.
Weight of a deadlift bar
Weight is not a massive factor because all of the top bars are in the 40-45 lbs, barring one.
The one secondary aspects of the weight to consider is whether it’s a quintuple (a multiple of 5). That will make planning your workout easier because of the clean round numbers.
Again, that’s only a minor factor for some and moot for others.
Rotation of the sleeves in a deadlift bar
(0 or 0.25 points in our ratings)
Rotation of the sleeves is not as much of a factor as with power bars bar because there’s little to no sudden acceleration and the bar will never be subjected to snatching, cleaning, or jerking.
Some of the most popular bars (like the Okie deadlift bar) have fixed sleeves.
Still, I firmly believe that sleeves should rotate because the bar doesn’t only ‘travel’ in the frontal plane, especially in those with imperfect deadlifting techniques.
For the angular momentum, bushings provide just enough rotation.
With the Texas deadlift bar, we’ve seen a few cases of the bushings developing cracks with prolonged heavy use. That’s a material defect and should be covered by the warranty. However, it’s not likely to compromise the integrity of the bar as long as the cracks don’t propagate beyond bushings and onto the cylinder.
This is not common, but we did see it happen in units where the bushings extend past the cylinder or start to ‘slide out’ with use.
Brand reputation, consumer opinion, and delivery practices
You want to get a deadlift bar from a reputable brand with solid customer service.
Here’s what that means exactly:
- They send their bars well-packed
- They respond to questions within 24 or 48 hours max
- They honor the warranty terms without runarounds
In our ratings, we rated this crucial part of the customer journey in three aspects: 0-2 points for consumer opinion and 0-0.15 points for both brand’s prior reputation and packaging/delivery practices.
For you, that means that deadlift bars from brands that ticked those boxes had s significant boost. Both the Rogue Ohio deadlift bar and the Texas deadlift bar are prime examples of great customer service.
Where is the deadlift bar made?
(zero to 0.5 points in our ratings)
We’re aiming for a balanced approach here but US-made bars still adhere to stricter quality control standards than the Chinese stuff.
We often see bars with no origin information. Most of the time, no information means made in China.
Warranty of a deadlift bar
(zero to 1.25 points in our ratings)
Most of the top-rated bars come with a Lifetime warranty limited to the structural integrity of the bar or as Rogue puts it “defects in material, functionality, and workmanship.”
That means that you can claim the warranty only if the cause of the problem is a defect with the bar. It sounds like it leaves room for interpretation.
In reality, all of the top deadlift bar brands are solid when it comes to honoring their warranty. That especially goes for the Rogue Ohio deadlift bar.
How we assess and rate deadlift bars
This might sound cocky, but we believe that our rating process is THE MOST accurate out there.
It’s based on data and takes time but, once done, it yields results that we’re proud of because they stand out in the swamp of commonplace ‘expert opinions.’
Here’s an overview of our 3-step process of finding the best deadlift bars:
- I made a list of all the deadlift bars out there. We can confidently say “all” because we look ed at every nook and cranny or the market. The number is lower than we typically go for (50) but that’s because the market is much slower compared to more popular bars.
- I collected all the raw data I could find into a massive spreadsheet. It contains everything from bar length and weight, tensile strength, knurling to coating – everything and anything that defines a quality deadlift bar.
- Based on my 2-decades of experience as PT, I came up with a list of twenty criteria. Not all of these carry the same gravitas. I’ll list them all along with the points they carry in a minute.
- I rated all the deadlift bars and chose the five highest-rated to present here.
- To make the guide more complete, I included one trap bar and one multipurpose bar (place 6 and 7).
List of the twenty quality factors with points awarded
I mentioned some of these in the buying guide, but not all. I’ll take a moment to do that here just so that you can get a well-rounded impression of the math behind the picks.
- Weight capacity – 0-2 points
- Whip/flex – 0-2 points
- Sleeve finish – 0-2 points
- Consumer Opinion – 0-2 points
- Price – 0-2 points
- Tensile strength – 0-2 points
- Aggressive knurling – 0-1 point
- Distance between weights (collar to collar) – 0-1 point
- If the sleeves fit Olympic plates and collars – 0-1 point
- Knurling spaced well for a comfortable grip/shin protection – 0-1 point
- Loadable sleeve length – 0-0.5 points
- Shaft finish – 0-1 point
- Maintenance requirements/frequency – 0-0.5 points
- Where the bar is made – 0-0.5 points
- Sleeve rotation (bushings or bearings) – 0-0.25 points
- Weight is a quintuple (a multiple of 5) – 0-.125 points
- If the finish dulls the knurling – 0-0.125 point
- Warranty terms – 0-1.25 points
- Packaging and delivery practices – 0-1.25 points
- If the brand has a proven customer service track record – 0-1.25 points
The maximum number of points is 19.5.
Some factors can carry negative points (like consumer opinion), which makes the total score range 23.5.
Other bars we tested
- Conventional Deadlift Bar By Strongarm – same specs and ratings (12) as the top-rated sumo bar. I decided to include the sumo bar to make the list better-rounded.
- CERBERUS Deadlift Bar (11.75 in our ratings) – a great bar from the UK used in competitions, like the Official Strongman Games of 2019. Too expensive, though, especially for a bar without a lifetime warranty (3 Year Functional Warranty).
- ROGUE 25MM WOMEN’S B&R BAR 2.0 (10.75 in our ratings) – not a deadlift bar in the strictest sense of the word. The shaft diameter is there (25 mm) but it’s short (79.13 inches). Read our article on best women’s olympic barbell and learn more about it.
- Okie Deadlift Bar – along with the Texas, probably the most well-known deadlift bar. It’s a classic, with fixed sleeves and bare steel as the only option. Lack of other finish options cost it dearly in our ratings.
- Other versions of Rogue Ohio – we’re talking the same bar as the runner-up with different coatings. The best among those is the e-coat, which is also the most popular and highest rated (13.75). The new additions to the line (black zinc and bare steel) are just gaining momentum ad we’ll need more data for accurate ratings. As is, they’re rated 10.25 and 6.5 respectively.
Deadlift bar FAQs
What kind of bar is best for deadlifts?
A specialized deadlift bar, such as the Rogue Ohio deadlift bar, is best for deadlifts.
Compared to conventional bars it lends a better grip and has more whip/flex because it’s thinner and longer.
Compared to hex bars, it works the back muscles better because there’s less leg activation.
Is a deadlift bar easier to lift with?
Yes, a deadlift bar is easier to lift with.
It’s because it’s easier to grip and has more whip and flex. There’s a learning curve to using a deadlift bar effectively, but once you get that down, I estimate you’ll lift 5-10% more than with a traditional power bar.
How much is a deadlift bar?
A deadlift bar costs $280-350 on average.
The main difference between the bars in that range is the finish. It ranges from bare steel to highly resistant cerakote.
Deadlift bar – the bottom line
I spent over 23 hours on this guide, but it was worth it because you should know more about choosing a deadlift bar than 99% of people out there.
To summarize – for most people, I’d recommend the Texas Deadlift Bar (with the Cerakote finish). It’s just as good as Rogue, has a higher weight capacity and longer sleeves
Finally, it costs less.
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Stay strong and smart.