After 30 hours of research and testing 40 multi-grip barbells, I’d recommend the Bells of Steel Arch Nemesis as the top value best multi-grip barbell for most people.
The operating terms here are “most people” and “top value.” There are better bars that cost more and there are decent bars that cost less.
I’ll pinpoint all of those that are worth your buck and offer actionable advice on how to decide what’s right for you.
Who am I to talk?
I’ve been a personal trainer for over two decades now. In that time, I used multi-grip bars on a daily basis. More importantly, I know that this industry has an ugly underbelly and I know how to spot a dud.
It might sound cocky, but it’s true.
The guide below is unlike anything that’s out there – it is based on a massive database and objective ratings in 24 quality categories, including capacity, handle angles, and compatibility with Olympic plates and standard racks.
Valor Fitness OB-Multi Swiss Bar
Bells of Steel Arch Nemesis
Kabuki Strength Kadillac Bar
- 5 best multi-grip barbells
- Honorable mentions
- Multi-grip barbell – a conservative buyer’s guide
- How we analyze and rate multi-grip bars
- Close-but-no-cigar bars
- Multi-grip barbell – resume and key takeaways
5 best multi-grip barbells
|Name||Best in category||Rating (out of 31.625)||Price||Loadable sleeves length (inches)|
|1. Bells of Steel Arch Nemesis||Overall||23.5||$$||13.7|
|2. Kabuki Strength Kadillac Bar||Premium||23.25||$$$$$||16.75|
|3. Valor Fitness OB-MULTI Swiss Bar||Budget||22.5||$$||10|
|4. Titan Multi-Grip Camber Bar||Runner-up budget||22.25||$$||13.75|
|5. Rogue MG-3 Multi-Grip Bar||From Rogue||22||$$$||14|
1 – Best multi-grip barbell overall – Bells of Steel Arch Nemesis
(rated 23.5 out of the max 31.625)
Arch Nemesis is EXACTLY the kind of value find I’m looking for when putting together a guide like this.
Arch Nemesis picks its battles wisely and wins most of them. And it does in a way that makes you forget the battles it can’t win.
Let me clarify that tongue-twister.
Geometry-wise, it walks the path macheted by the Kabuki Kadillac. The camber is arched, which is more stable than a classic camber, and the angles of the handles increase with the grip width (more on why that’s crucial in a minute).
It costs much less (think 2-3 times less) than similar high-end bars.
And it’s the only one on the list that can be used as a lat pull-down extension. By the way, this is an AWESOME feature and I can’t believe it hasn’t been thought of before. It’s a game-changer for the home gym user – two functions in one!
On the other hand, it’s not perfect – it’s smaller, lighter (only 24 lbs), and not as robust (or well crafted) as Kabuki. But, again, those are not its battles. It’s a cheaper bar, so there’s your trade off.
It also has 1.9″ sleeves which can mean standard collars don’t fit on quite right. But I’d recommend getting these affordable collars to make sure the plates fit tightly…
The latest batch of the Nemesis bar improves on the one area where the bar was lacking – the knurling. The handles are now fully knurled to what Bells of Steel (BOS in the rest of the text) describes as medium grit. Still, I feel that the knurling is on the passive side, especially for a bar that you’re supposed to use for lat pulldowns.
It’s one of the two bars here where the handle angles increase with the width grip – and that’s a biomechanically correct design for angled grips.
Let me explain what I mean by “biomechanically correct” in a simple way…
Think about it like this – if you did a dumbbell bench press and changed the width of the motion, the angle between your natural grip and your body axis would increase as you move outwards (see image below).
Since we’ll be talking about multi-grip bar geometry in-depth (both in terms of biomechanics and practicality) let’s look at an illustration of what’s what.
Bottom line – as long as you understand what to expect from it, the Arch Nemesis bar will not disappoint.
- Great value for money – you’ll pay less for a product of similar quality
- Versatile – you can comfortably use it for presses, hammer grip curls, and lat pulldowns.
- Arched design means an extra range of motion – this adds intensity to your workouts because the bar needs to “travel” extra inches during a lift.
- Progressively increasing angles – the hand placement will feel natural – similar to using a dumbbell.
- Narrow ‘cage’ (5.4 inches)- more comfortable for an overhead press and triceps extensions because there’s less chance of clipping your chin or head.
- Shorter cage (40.5 inches) – second shortest cage (second only to Valor) means it will be easier to rack on standard power racks, even those on the narrower side.
- Extra range of movement – the extra depth of the movement means each rep will take more out of you and you can target more muscle groups.
- No neutral grip – although gentler on the joints and better for incline press, angled grips don’t offer as much isolation as neutral grips, especially for triceps extensions.
- The sleeves are 1.9 ” thick – you might need specialized collars.
2 – Best premium Swiss bar – Kabuki Strength Kadillac bar
(rated 23.25 out of the max 31.625)
If money is no object, there’s little doubt about what’s best for you – it’s the Kabuki Kadillac.
What’s better about it?
First of all, all Kabuki products carry a premium aura that can be rivaled only by Eleiko and the Swedes don’t have a multi-grip barbell in their portfolio.
Coolness aside, where the Kadillac bar blows the competition away is the sleeves.
And it’s more ways than one.
Kabuki uses precisely machined sleeves whereas most of the competition uses Schedule 80 pipe, which is thinner. That’s why Olympic plates stay put on the Kaddilac while they rattle on cheaper bars with thinner sleeves. It’s also why you won’t need extra collars for the Kabuki.
Kabuki uses zinc instead of powder coat to coat the sleeves, which means the bar will not chip. This is an added benefit if you live in a coastal or humid area, where steel is at a higher risk of rust.
The sleeves are also lightly ribbed, which means less friction between the plates and the sleeves. When the fit is tight, the ribbing makes all the difference because it makes sliding the plates on and off easier.
The sleeves are longer than any multi-grip bar in our database. Only three bars in our top 40 (7.5%) are longer than 16 inches (EliteFTS neutral Grip bar at 16.35 and Body-Solid OMG86 at 16.5). With a hefty 16.75, Kabuki is also the only bar in the top 5 with sleeves over 14 inches long.
You can see the graph with the sleeve lengths of the top 5 multi-grip barbells below.
This is NOT the bar for you if you’ll be doing a lot of pulling.
The absence of knurling on the sleeves makes this primarily a pressing bar.
And while the textured coating has enough grip for pull-ups and inverted rows, it’s not ideal for lifting heavy in movements with significant angular momentum (like bicep curls or triceps extension). It’s an odd omission, but they’re obviously happy with it as a design feature otherwise it would have been added subsequently.
- High-end craftsmanship – as most of their bars, this Kabuki looks and feels cooler.
- Zinc sleeves – more resistant to chopping than the powder coat used in most similar bars.
- Precisely machines sleeves – the sleeves are exactly 1.96 inches, which means Olympic plates will fit perfectly and you won’t need additional collars.
- Removable sleeves – initially a plus because it means lower shipping cost, but it also means it’s easier to pack down and transport if the need arises.
- Longest sleeves of any multi-grip barbell we looked at (16.75) – you can pack on more weight, even if you’re using smaller or thicker plates.
- The handles are not knurled – the textured powder coat is grippier than a regular powder coat, but still not close to knurled handles and will slip when you combine sweat and pulling motion.
- Pricy – will knock more money out of your pocket than any multi-grip barbell we looked at.
3 – Best multi-grip barbell for beginners – Valor Fitness OB
(rated 22.5 out of the max 31.625)
Getting a specialty bar if you’re a beginner might not make much sense, but if a shoulder injury is keeping you from starting out, a medium-level bar like Valor is a good investment.
It won’t turn any heads and the build is nothing to write home about but it ticks the basic boxes at a decent price.
One thing that stands out about this bar is the rounded cage. If your power rack is on the narrower side, the unique rounded design will be the most racking-friendly bar here.
It features four pairs of angled and neutral knurled grips and the sleeves are chrome-coated, which is not something you commonly see in this price range.
- Budget-friendly (second cheapest multi-grip bar on the list) – you’ll spend much less compared to getting the Kabuki Kadillac or Rogue MG-3.
- Rounded cage – it’s easier to slide into a rack, especially if there’s not much space.
- Straight design – straight bars have a shorter range of motion compared to cambered bars, which is more comfortable for those with lowered shoulder mobility.
- Chrome-coated sleeves – will be less prone to wear and chipping than a powder coat.
- Features both Olympic and standard sleeves – you can use it with both Olympic and bumper plates.
- Low max load (only 300 lbs) – not as rugged as the other bars on the list. You’ll see some bending even at lower loads, as early as 200 lbs.
- Short sleeves – at only 10 inches, Valor has the shorter sleeves here, which limits its use with smaller and bumper plates.
4 – Best multi-grip bar with a classic, cambered design – Titan Camber Bar
(rated 22.25 out of 31.625)
If you’re looking for a classic cambered design (as an alternative to curved), this Titan is the king of the hill with very little competition.
In fact, the only other bar that I can think of that compares to this Titan is the EliteFTS cambered bar, which only features angled grips (four of them) and costs significantly more.
This Titan is the better value of the two bars.
Head-to-head comparison to other bars on the list doesn’t make much sense because the geometry is different.
You can incorporate the camber into your bench press in two ways – lengthen the range of motion or shorten it if you flip the bar.
The former will put more intensity and stretch onto the anterior rib muscles (serratus anterior). In the long run, this will decrease the risk of injury to your pectorals and shoulders. In the short run, it means that you’ll need to approach bench pressing with this kind of bar carefully and make mental notes on how the rib muscles feel – the cambered bar is a new level of intensity and puts extra stress on the serratus.
If you flip the bar to shorten the motion, it will mimic a board press if you want to work a targeted range of motion.
If your primary reason for getting a football bar is to bench press around a shoulder injury, I’d say avoid a cambered bar altogether and go with either a classic design (like the Rogue MG-3 below) or arched (Kabuki or Bells of Steel above). Either will be more stable.
- Cambered design – you can do a ‘deeper’ or shallower bench press compared to classic Swiss bars.
- Solid knurling and finish – the powder-coat is better than most of the competing bars in the price range, which means you can load the bar heavy and still get a good grip.
- Value for money – you’ll spend much less than you would on bars with similar specs.
- Wide medium section (cage) – at ~42 inches, it will be a tight fit for narrower racks, meaning you’ll have to be more careful racking it.
- Welds and finishes could be cleaner – while the welds are better than those in Titan’s angled bar, they’re not as clean-looking and precise as Rogue or Kabuki.
5 – Top pick from Rogue – the MG-3 bar
(rated 22 out of 31.625)
Rogue MG-3 is the best classic multi-grip bar with a flat design.
It’s a versatile cross of Rogue’s MG-1 (only straight handles) and MG-2 (only angled handles) that features one angled and two neutral grips.
There is no single thing about this bar that stands out geometry-wise. This type is the most common among Swiss bars, which makes it hard for any one bar to rise above the crowd. What you’re getting is what you always get from Rogue – a well designed, well made bar at an upper mid-range price point.
As we’ve come to expect from Rogue, you won’t see imperfections and the knurling doubling over as you might in cheaper bars. Those imperfect bars go to their Boneyard Collection which is something I always respected.
- Quality construction and finish – everything is perfectly centered and the bar looks awesome and feels premium.
- The welds and knurling are precise and uniform – no slags that would catch your asking or clothes during workouts.
- The sleeves are 1.9 thick – this is thinner than standard Olympic collars and you’ll need specialty collars.
- Pricy – costs 50-100% compared to similar bars from other brands like Titan.
I’d like to use this section to mention a few bars that I feel you need to know about but they didn’t find their way into the Top 5.
The most versatile football bar is the Edge Fitness Slim Combo bar. The unique double-handle design allows you to choose between the angled and neutral grip at any width.
Titan V2 is the less expensive alternative to the Rogue MG-3. Geometry-wise, it’s pretty much the same bar, with the close grip being angled and middle and outer straight. The build and finishes are not as fine as Rogue, but it costs much less. If you’re not precious about brands, the Titan is a superb choice.
Multi-grip barbell – a conservative buyer’s guide
For the sake of clarity, I’ve split all the factors of choosing a good Swiss bar into two groups – primary and secondary factors.
I’ll go through the main ones below and try to be concise and offer actionable advice on each.
6 primary factors of choosing a Swiss bar
These six make-or-break factors are:
- Number, type, and geometry of the handles
- Loadable sleeve length and the max capacity
- Compatibility with Olympic weight plates
- Compatibility with standard power racks
- Finish of the shaft and sleeves
- Price and warranty
1 – Handles/grip of a football bar
This is perhaps the most confusing aspect of choosing a good Swiss barbell. That’s why I’ll make an extra effort to simplify it and boil it down to four simple rules and the reasoning behind them.
RULE 1: If you’re buying the bar because you’ve got wrist/shoulder/elbow issues, I’d suggest you go with a bar that features at least one pair of angled handles.
These are significantly less stressful on the joints because it’s a more natural position. The more serious the injury the less useful straight grip handles will be.
RULE 2: Go for a bar with an angled close grip.
The only real reason why you’d need a straight close grip is to closely mimic lying dumbbell tricep extensions – a movement you can replicate in so many other ways, like holding a weight plate or kettlebell instead of dumbbells.
Furthermore, most of the modern bars are pressing-oriented and too bulky for mimicking lying dumbbell extensions.
A good example of a bar that doesn’t meet this “rule” is the Gronk Fitness football bar. Its closest and outer-most handles are neutral, with two pairs of angled handles in-between.
Rule 3: If you’re buying the bar for the isolation benefits and you have no joint issues, go with neutral grips throughout or a combo bar.
The highest-rated multi-grip bar with neutral grips only is the Rogue MG-1 2.0. in our ratings, it scored 19 out of 3.625.
Rule 4: The longer the handles, the less stable the bar will feel.
This is probably the single most overlooked aspect of choosing well and most bars don’t even list it as a spec.
Notice that I said “will feel” and not “will be.”
That’s because the inherent instability of a Swiss barbell directly depends on your grip.
Think of it like a seesaw and your grip as the fulcrum.
If you could grab the bar off the rack and have your grip perfectly aligned down the middle, the bar would be stable.
The perfect grip is only a theoretical term and it never happens, which also goes for the perfectly balanced Swiss barbell.
Long story short – the shorter the handles, the easier it will be to get that grip just right and stabilize the bar. Stability-wise, the sweet spot for the handle length is 5.5-6.5 inches (97 if you have bigger hands).
For example, at the low-end of that range, we have the Slim bar by Edge Fitness. We measured its handles to be just over 5.2 inches long. And then you have your Rogue MG-3 with handles at about 7 inches.
BONUS TIP: Find your perfect grip and mark it with a sharpie – it will make all the difference. Yyou can thank me later.
2 – Maximum capacity and loadable sleeve length of multi-grip barbells
(two and four points in our ratings, respectively)
In our ratings, we awarded points to any bar with a max load capacity of 500+ lbs.
We typically go more granular and precise than that, but many of the bars we looked at don’t list capacity as a spec, so we had to assess it based on experience.
On the high end, you have Rogue, Titan, and Gronk that can easily hold 1,000 lbs (although Rogue doesn’t officially list the max load).
The loadable sleeve length doesn’t directly correlate to the capacity. The sleeves of the Kabuki Kadillac are 21.8% longer than Titan’s yet it still has a lower recommended capacity (850 vs 1,000 lbs).
Bottom line – anything over 500 is enough, even for the jacked “freaks” among you. Once you’re over that number, the capacity is more of an indicator of the bar’s potential durability and longevity than anything else.
3 – Compatibility with Olympic weight plates/sleeve diameter
(three points in our ratings)
The differences here are subtle – 38 out of the 40 bars we analyzed are listed as compatible with Olympic sleeves.
In reality, these listings are stretching the definition of compatibility because the tubing of the sleeves is smaller than 2 inches. So, you can fit on the Oly plates but not snugly and not without using specialty collars.
That’s what separates the high-end bars like Kabuki Kadillac (precisely machined to fit regular Olympic collars) from the budget options like Arch Nemesis that will require a clamp, lock, or screw collars.
You can watch Andrew from Bells of Steel explain some of his tips and tricks below:
Here are the collars we’d recommend getting for this bar…
4 – Compatibility with standard power racks
(three points in our ratings)
For the purposes of this guide, let’s conservatively assume that you have a narrow 42-inch rack. At that width, all except one bar we reviewed will be rackable. Some of them barely, but still rackable.
But, racking is not about if the bar fits when you’re done with it. It’s about how easy it is to slide when your whole body is shaking as you’re trying to push yourself to failure.
If this is your scenario – the Valor OB might be the bar for you…for two reasons:
- It’s the only bar in the top 5 for which the rackable range starts under 40 inches (the central cage is 39.25 ” wide)
- The central part is curved which means it will slide into the rack without catching on the sides
5 – Finish/coating of the shaft and sleeves
(two and 1.5 points in our ratings, respectively)
A vast majority of the bars are powder-coated – 35 out of 40 entirely, and three have a powder-coated shaft and zinc or chrome sleeves.
It’s less than ideal because the powder WILL chip, the only question is how fast.
The critical parts are the contact surfaces, meaning the sleeve and the racking section. Granted, not all powder coats are created equal, and Rogue or Kabuki will be much more resistant. But, again, they will chip – especially if they are used regularly and left in the rack with weights on them.
There are exceptions like HulkFit (zinc on both the sleeve and shaft) that will be more resistant to wear and tear. I found that most of those, however, are subpar in other categories like overall build and warranty.
Bottom line – for most people, good powder coating will do the job. If you’re looking for extra resistance, choose Kabuki and its zinc-coated sleeves.
6 Price and warranty of a multi-grip barbell
(Price carries negative two to five points in our ratings, and warranty terms carry a maximum of three points)
You can get a good multi-grip bar for as little as $130. The premium bars start at $300 and go up to $500.
*for the purposes of this illustration “Lifetime warranty” is represented as 10 years
If you’re looking for durability and you’re lifting over 250, I’d stay away from the Valor OB. The rackable portion just seems too thin not to bend over time. Under their warranty terms, you’d have to prove “proper use” and that’s a tricky conversation.
Rule of thumb – if you’re spending $200+ on a multi-grip barbell, look for a Lifetime Warranty.
Secondary factors of choosing a multi-grip bar
This section of the guide is home to all the factors that are important but not deal-breakers.
Knurling of the handles
(zero to two points in our ratings)
This might raise some eyebrows but I don’t think the knurling is a primary factor or a deal-breaker, especially for pressing movements.
Kabuki seems to agree with me since their Kadillac bar uses a textured powder coat for the handles, which is plenty grippy.
Still, if you plan on using the bar for pulls and curls, you’ll probably feel better with something with more grit to it – like the Rogue MG-3. Its flush design is way more suitable for stuff like that anyway.
Total number of grip pairs
(zero to two points in our ratings)
Out of the 40 bars we looked at, twenty-five bars have three pairs of handles, and eight have 4.
I think that three is the sweet spot., provided that they get the spacing right. At 4 pairs, the handle space gets too crowded for comfort.
If you’re getting a specialty bar only because you want to mimic a dumbbell bench press or a floor press, you can save a pretty penny by going with something simple like the classic Titan Swiss bar. This one only has one pair of handles, but the angle is closer to a dumbbell bench press than in any other bar here.
Other (minor) factors we considered are:
- Detachable sleeves – lower the shipping rates and easier to transport
- The weight of the bar is a quintuple (a multiple of five) – makes it easier to plan and track your workouts
- Brand’s reputation
- Popularity and owner satisfaction
- Where is it made?
How we analyze and rate multi-grip bars
Below is an overview of how I compiled the database and made my picks.
- I made a list of 40 bars to consider.
- I gathered every single piece of information on the bars that exist – starting with the basic specs to the owner’s experiences.
- I combined my two-decade-long experience with what I found in the research and defined the rating categories.
- I awarded each quality category a gravity – the number of points it carries – anywhere from 0.125 to 5 points.
- I summed it all up and chose the Top 5 picks to present ( and two honorable mentions)
Below is a list of a few of the multi-grip barbells that didn’t make it into the Top 5 but deserve a mention.
- Titan Angled – (22 points out of 31.625) Titan’s response to the Rogue MG-2
- Rogue MG-1 2.0 – (20 points) a good bar that only features straight handles
- Rogue MG-2 – (19.5 points) same as above, only with angled handles
- Titan Hybrid V2– (21.375 points) a very popular combo bar – short sleeves, though (9.4 inches)
- Gronk Fitness bar – (21 points) great bar, pricey but built like a tank. Still, no warranty is unacceptable in this price range.
- HulkFit – (20.5 points) a cheap zinc-coated bar. Just like with Gronk, a warranty would make a huge difference.
- Fringe Sport – (19.25 points) similar to Rogue MG-3 and Titan V2 – not as good as Rogue and more expensive than Titan.
- Yes4All – (19.75 points) an exceptionally popular cheap/generic bar of average quality.
- Xtreme Monkey – (16.625 points) a basic bar with no angled handles.
- Archon – (17.875 points) I had high hope for the Arcon bar, but it dropped points in some key aspects like capacity and warranty.
- Synergee – (16.75 points) very popular, costs more than it should.
Multi-grip barbell – resume and key takeaways
The Bells of Steel (BOS) Arch Nemesis is the best multi-grip barbell for most people who don’t want to break the bank. It’s also the bar with the coolest name!
If we exclude money as a factor, the Kabuki Strength Kadillac Bar is the absolute top dog.
Both Kabuki and BOS only have angled handles and they are both cambered/arched. If you’re looking for something classic go with Rogue MG-3 if you can afford it and Valor OB or Titan if the money is tight you’re a conservative buyer.
If you’re still not sure, use this link to skip back to the table listing the key features of the top five picks.