Every year more and more Olympic barbells enter the market. And it’s becoming super hard to know what the best powerlifting barbell is today.
So I’ve spent over 60 hours researching, talking to manufacturers and users about over 40 power bars on the market. Then the Strong Home Gym team, including certified personal trainers and gym owners, ran them against twelve criteria. This helped me pick the top options out there for every budget and training level.
If you’re in a hurry, The Rogue Ohio Power bar is the power bar I would recommend for most people. The affordable price, high tensile strength steel, and amazing grip from the unsharp volcano-style knurling make it pretty hard to beat.
But the REP Sabre bar is what I would recommend to people on a budget. The tensile strength isn’t as good and the knurling is much more passive than the OPB. But most people will be able to lift anything they want on here and it has a decent zinc finish.
Here’s what I’ll share with you in this power bar buying guide…
REP Sabre Bar
Rogue Ohio Power Bar
Kabuki Power Bar
7 Best Powerlifting Barbells
Check out this table if you just want a quick overview of all the bars that made our list…
|Name||Best for||Price||Tensile Strength||Finish||Knurl||Sleeves||Diameter||Rating (out of 12)|
|1. Rogue Ohio Power bar||Overall||$$$||205k||E-coat/ Zinc/ Cerakote/ Stainless Steel||Volcano aggressive||Bronze Bushings||29||12|
|2. Kabuki- The Power Bar||Upgrade||$$$$$||258k||Zinc/ Black Oxide/ Electroless Nickel||Volcano aggressive||Self Lubricating Bronze Bushings||29||11|
|3. REP Sabre Bar||Budget||$$||150k||Zinc||Medium||Self Lubricating Bronze Bushings||25 or 28.5||9|
|4. American Barbell Grizzly Power Bar||Runner up||$$$$||190k||Hard Chrome||Volcano medium-aggressive||Composite Bushings||29||12|
|5. American Barbell Mammoth Power Bar||Upgrade runner up||$$$$$||210k||Cerakote||Volcano medium-aggressive||Composite Bushings||29||11|
|6. Buddy Capps The “Original” Texas Power Bar||Popular||$$$||190k||Zinc/ Chrome||Mountain aggressive||“Oil impregnated” Bronze Bushings||28.5||12|
|7. Titan Olympic Power Bar||Cheap||$||165k||Decorative chrome||Medium||Bronze Bushings||30||8|
You can also find our best Olympic barbell recommendations and buyers guide here. We’ve compared over 100 barbells out there on the market in this epic research.
I’ll go into more detail later about how I researched and tested these barbells. For now all you need to know is there was a lot of time spent in excel spreadsheets and using decades of experiences from people using these barbells.
So here’s why these power bars made the cut…
The Rogue Ohio Power Bar (OPB) has become known as the overall best power bar in powerlifting circles. It was also only one of three bars to score a perfect 12 out of 12 against our criteria.
It has a 29mm diameter shaft.
This makes the bar more stiff than 28.5mm bars (like the Texas Power Bar) and more ideal for slow lifts like the squat and presses. It may not seem like much but the diameter of the bar is probably the most important factor in how much “whip” a bar has. And whip is not a good thing for the bench press and squat.
One of the best features of the OPB is the volcano knurling.
It is very aggressive, making it ideal for grip during those heavy deadlifts. But it is not sharp like the mountain design seen on other bars (again like the Texas Power Bar). Each knurl has four contact points with the hands, which makes it a comfortable bar to lift.
The 205k PSI tensile strength allows you to lift any amount of weight possible.
Using the proprietary technology called Rogue Work Hardening (RWH) it supposedly lasts 3 times as long as other bars not using this (according to Rogue). We don’t actually know what happens to bars using RWH (as they won’t tell anyone!)… but we do know this is coming from a company that has spent $2million and 5 years in research and testing. #justsaying
It also means this bar scores higher on the F Scale than any other bar on this list…
However, it’s worth noting that this is a scale created by Rogue themselves! I could also show you another chart created from the same scale…
In reality, all you probably want is a bar that lasts a long time and feels really good to lift. I’m just showing you this to say the F Scale is not the reason it’s our top pick, it’s just a factor to be aware of.
The OPB also comes in a range of finishes, including cheaper (but still resistant) zinc or e-coat and the more pricey (but extremely resistant) cerakote. There is even the premium stainless steel option. Bars made from stainless steel don’t need a “coating” or “finish” as this is regarded as the most corrosion resistant steel to prevent rust.
Sure there are arguably “better” bars made by Eleiko, Kabuki or Uesaka. But in all honesty, it really is a coin toss between any of these as the “best of the best”. It’s subjective! The thing the OPB has going for it is the price…
It is about half the price of any of the other bars mentioned above!
The main factor for most people will be the price as long as you can lift the weight you need and it feels good, doesn’t deform or rust! And that is why the OPB is our top pick for most powerlifters.
- Volcano knurling- aggressive and grippy knurling that is comfortable because it isn’t really sharp.
- The price- it’s hard to find any power bar for this quality and this price.
- Range of finishes- you can buy the e-coat or zinc (both with bright zinc sleeves) options if you look after it and want to save a bit of money. Or you can upgrade to the cerakote (with chrome or cerakote sleeves) or stainless steel (with chrome or stainless steel sleeves) options.
- 205k PSI strength- it can cope with any weight you’ll be able to lift and won’t deform unless you mistreat it.
- Rogue Work Hardening & F8-R F Scale rating- proprietary technology used by Rogue to make this bar extremely durable.
- 29mm diameter- more rigid and our preferred diameter for a power bar over the thinner 28.5mm options.
- Not ideal for PB deadlifts- it uses a 29mm diameter, which is harder to grip than 28mm or 28.5mm bars. It may actually help for competitions (depending on the bar used) as you’ll need to train with a more rigid torso!
The Kabuki Power bar is our upgrade pick due to the insane amount of research and intense manufacturing process. It simply has everything you’d want in a power bar… It only drops a point against our criteria due to the price tag (but it’s probably as cheap as it could be for Kabuki to make a small profit and warrant making more!)
It has an incredible 258k PSI tensile strength and uses fine aggressive volcano knurling which is pretty much indestructible.
Chris Duffin, the co-founder of Kabuki, has worked for two decades as an engineer… but he’s also an accomplished powerlifter himself. He simply loves this stuff! The process the bar goes through to be manufactured is like no other bar out there.
Watch 30 seconds of Chris showing you how indestructible the bars knurling is to see what I mean…
The reason no other company produces bars at this strength is because once the PSI rating goes too high they become “more brittle”. Rogue even found in their $2million research that the sweet spot for a bar is 190k-220k PSI tensile strength.
Chris begs to differ!
Kabuki has spent over 1 year of prototyping, engineering, and testing. Some tests include bending the bar with a 40-ton press brake to make sure it wouldn’t just crumble under intense pressure. Again it’s all proprietary tech that they are not willing to share (for obvious reasons!)
This bar is expensive but margins on this bar are minimal compared to many other bars on the market.
Simply put… this bar costs a lot to make!
So when this bar only scores 0.6 on Rogue’s F Scale, you do need to take this with a pinch of salt!
It will last you for decades of powerlifting lifts. But check out our best Olympic barbells here if you intend on doing a ton of clean and jerks or snatches.
The knurl is much finer than the OPB, therefore making the grip even more aggressive for those heavy deadlifts. However, it also uses volcano knurling meaning it’s not really sharp and less likely to rip the skin off your hands if it twists mid-lift.
It comes with 3 types of finishes:
- Zinc (cheapest)
- Black oxide (middle)
- Electroless nickel (more expensive)
Kabuki has stated that they haven’t made a stainless steel version as they believe electroless nickel is superior… and keeps costs lower on an already expensive bar.
For the “feel” there really isn’t much in it between the OPB and Kabuki. The finer knurling is different but it’s personal preference between the two.
To sum it up… If you want to get one of the most fine tuned power bars that exists, this is the one for you.
- 250k PSI strength- the highest tensile strength of any barbell we’ve seen (let alone this list).
- Fine Volcano knurling- aggressive and grippy knurling that is comfortable because it isn’t sharp.
- Proprietary manufacturing process- makes this bar unique compared to anything else that exists and the knurling pretty much indestructible.
- Range of finishes- allows your bar to look the same for years to come without any rust. Choose between zinc, black oxide or electroless nickel.
- 29mm diameter- more rigid and our preferred diameter for a power bar over the thinner 28.5mm options.
- 5 year warranty- for a bar of this price and quality it would be nice to have a lifetime warranty, like Rogue offers.
Our best budget power bar pick is the REP Sabre.
For under $200 you will find it hard to find a power bar that uses anything over 135k PSI tensile strength. The Sabre uses 150k PSI steel.
Technically, this isn’t made to be a power bar. It can be used for Olympic lifts or CrossFit workouts if you want. But I’d recommend you check out our best CrossFit barbells if this is what you’re looking for.
This means the knurling on this bar is quite passive compared to most other options on this page.
However, it does provide a decent amount of grip.
As it only has a 28.5mm diameter it helps with the grip for heavier deadlifts. Use a bit of chalk on your hands and most people will find the grip of this barbell more than enough.
The zinc finish helps to keep the costs down. But it also provides a decent amount of resistance to rust compared to bare steel, black phosphate or decorative chrome finishes.
There are other bars on the market, which are affordable with higher tensile strength, such as the Bells of Steel power bar. However, the price has gone up in recent times and put them more in the range of bars like the OPB, which I would recommend before this bar.
Other popular cheap options, such as CAP’s “The Boss” have too many complaints around metal shavings coming off the sleeves or the black oxide finish scratching easily.
REP Fitness has great customer service, fast delivery and has produced a very decent affordable barbell. That’s why I would recommend anyone on a budget buy this for a power bar.
If you want to read more about some of their other barbell options, check out our Best REP Fitness Barbell article and read all about them.
Without further ado, let’s look at the pros and cons of the Sabre…
- The price- it’s hard to find a power bar with these specs for under $200.
- Zinc finish- more durable than other cheap bars using black oxide or bare steel.
- 28.5mm diameter- better for grip on deadlifts (the knurling is not as strong but the thinner diameter balances this out).
- REP Fitness- a very reputable company with great customer service.
- Volcano knurling- helps to provide good sticking grip, but it’s not as sharp as the mountain style knurling.
- Medium knurling- not as easy to grip for heavy deadlifts.
- 150k PSI- whilst lower than other options on this list, it’s stronger than many other budget bars.
The Grizzly is bar number two that scores a perfect 12 out of 12 against our criteria.
It’s another affordable bar that ticks all the boxes for a powerlifting barbell. The knurling is the thing that makes this bar different from the others on this list.
Like the OPB and Kabuki, it has volcano style knurling which makes it less sharp than the mountain style knurling.
But it’s much more passive than the OPB and Kabuki bar.
Many people prefer an aggressive knurl for a power bar as it helps for those 1 rep maxes, especially when deadlifting. However, if you are buying this for general powerlifting training, the Grizzly may be ideal for you.
The less aggressive knurling feels much more comfortable than most power bars. But due to the volcano style knurling it still sticks to your hands. It’s ideal for day to day training, and you can add some chalk to your hands when you’re aiming for a PB deadlift.
The hard chrome finish (not to get mistaken for decorative chrome) is a very easy type of finish to maintain. It makes it look very clean and the bar will look brand new for years with no rust.
190k PSI tensile strength hits that sweet spot that Rogue found for durability. But this is lower than our top pick, the OPB… and it’s slightly more expensive!
Overall, American Barbell pay attention to all the little details with their barbells. This may be perfect for you if you’d like a bar that you will use for day to day training that has good grip but is still comfortable.
- 190k PSI tensile strength- can handle any weight you will lift on it.
- Hard chrome finish- easy to maintain and prevents rust or scratches.
- Precision grade alloy steel- AB’s attention to detail & made in the USA.
- Comfortable volcano style knurling- ideal if you want a bar with good grip that feels comfortably in your hands.
- Medium knurling- not as aggressive as the OPB or Kabuki bar, which makes heavy 1RM deadlifts harder to grip.
Similarly to the Kabuki bar, this scores 11 out of 12 against our criteria. It also only misses out on the pricing… hence the upgrade option!
If you like the sound of the Grizzly, but you’d like a better finish and stronger tensile strength, then this may be ideal for you.
The bar is made from stainless steel, which is regarded as the most corrosion resistant type of metal barbells are made from. But it doesn’t end there… American Barbell decided to apply cerakote, which is usually used by major firearm manufacturers to cope with some of the most corrosive environments.
This means that even in a humid, cold or clammy garage gym this bar would last a very long time without rusting.
The 210k PSI tensile strength makes the bar stronger than the Grizzly. But it’s not like the Kabuki’s 258k PSI (nothing else is like that though).
Like the Grizzly, the volcano style knurling is quite passive compared to most other bars on this list. However, the attention to detail and precise cutting of the bar is incredible. With cheaper bars you can often see the difference in spacing between knurls.
American Barbell always takes so much care and pride in their bars. This explains why they offer a lifetime warranty on any deformation on the bar. Compared to most other companies, the attention to small details is what American Barbell does exceptionally well.
You should seriously consider this bar if you’d like a grippy but less aggressive knurl and want the best possible finish.
- Lifetime warranty- peace of mind and shows how confident AB is in the bar.
- 210K tensile strength- falls in the sweet spot for strength of steel of a bar, it could handle any weight you want to lift.
- 29mm diameter- more rigid and our preferred diameter for a power bar over the thinner 28.5mm options.
- Stainless steel with cerakote finish- the best quality steel with the best quality finish.
- Precise volcano style knurling- provides a lot of grip but isn’t sharp in your hands.
- Medium knurling- not as aggressive as the OPB or Kabuki bar, which makes heavy 1RM deadlifts harder to grip. This is a preference thing though as some people rather have a less aggressive knurl.
The Original Texas Power Bar is the third and final bar to score the perfect 12 out of 12 against our criteria.
This is probably the most popular bar in powerlifting circles. It’s been used to break more world records than any other bar and it does everything you would want a power bar to do.
There are two things that make this bar stand out to any other on this list:
- The 28.5mm diameter
- Aggressive “mountain” style knurling
Both of these things really help with grip for beating your deadlift personal best. This may explain why it’s helped so many people achieve world records with this bar!
However, the mountain style knurling is much more sharp in your hands than the volcano knurling of the OPB or Kabuki. If you are hard as nails, then this probably won’t matter for you! But if you would like to use this bar for training and use it for a wide range of lifts, it is sharp and can tear those calluses off if the bar twists in your hands.
The 28.5mm diameter used to be the standard dimension of a power bar. But the more common modern approach is a 29mm diameter which makes the bar more stiff and rigid, which is better for squats and pressing lifts.
To sum it up… the Texas Power Bar has aggressive mountain knurling and a thinner bar. If you are looking to achieve personal best lifts (especially deadlifts) this bar will be perfect for you.
- Aggressive knurling- helps to grip the bar better, especially on heavy deadlifts.
- 28.5mm diameter- slightly thinner than 29mm bars, which helps to grip it for deadlifts.
- 190k PSI tensile strength- strong enough to hold any weight you will throw on the bar.
- Price- it’s hard to find power bars of this quality for this price.
- Sharp mountain style knurling- can feel extra sharp especially compared to volcano style knurling.
- 28.5mm diameter- it can be a pro or a con. The thinner bar means it will have more whip, which is not ideal for squats and presses (but helps for deadlifts).
The Titan Olympic Power Bar is the best cheap power bar on the market that I found.
It comes with an impressive 165k PSI tensile strength, bronze bushings and is from a reputable company.
The other options for this price point have much lower tensile strength, the sleeves often have temperamental spin or are from companies that are not very well known. If you want to see what else is out there, check out our deep dive into the best budget barbells here.
The bronze bushings allow the sleeves optimal spin for lifts to allow you to lift the bar in a straight plane. Obviously the spin of the sleeves isn’t super important for powerlifting unlike Olympic lifts where you move the bar from the floor to above your head. But having a smooth spin of the sleeves allows you to focus your efforts on lifting the bar instead of controlling a twisting bar.
It actually has a stronger tensile strength than our budget pick, meaning it should in theory be more durable than the REP Sabre. However, the difference between 150k PSI and 165k is minimal. Neither one should deform unless you are lifting world record attempts regularly.
But the thing you will notice day to day is how thick the bar is.
With a 30mm diameter, this bar is the thickest on this list.
If you plan on competing at powerlifting events, you probably shouldn’t get this bar as you will have to lift 28-29mm diameter bars. But if you just want to workout from home to get stronger it could actually be beneficial for your squats and presses (bench or shoulder).
The thicker diameter makes the bar more rigid and reduces any flex or whip in the bar. This is ideal for those heavy squats as it distributes the weight more evenly over your back. Any whip for these lifts is detrimental as it is a waste of energy as the bar bends.
But a thicker bar will make gripping those heavy deadlifts much more challenging. The knurling is more passive than any other bar on this list too, which also makes grip for deadlifts harder. Buying some chalk would be a good idea if you want more grip for deadlifts.
Overall, the Titan Power bar will last you decades if you take care of it. It’s a great option if you are on a tight budget but want a power bar for squats and presses.
- Cheap- the lowest price on this page.
- 165k PSI tensile strength- will allow you to lift pretty much any weight on this bar.
- Bronze bushings- provides a smooth spin and won’t twist your wrists.
- Titan Fitness- reputable company with good customer service.
- Decorative chrome finish- the least resistant finish on this list to rust over time.
- 30mm diameter- thicker than the required 28-29mm bars needed for IPF competitions.
- Medium depth knurling- not as aggressive as most other options on this page, which makes it harder to grip heavy deadlifts.
Powerlifting barbell buying guide
Before you buy any Olympic barbell you should consider four things…
- What you will use the bar for
- Quality of the steel
- How versatile the bar is
- Your budget
But a powerlifting barbell is going to have slightly different characteristics than an Olympic weightlifting bar or a barbell used for CrossFit.
What to look for in powerlifting Olympic barbells
The five main physical characteristics of a power bar you should look for are:
- Aggressive knurling (to help grip the bar)
- Strong steel quality (so it won’t deform)
- A resistant finish (to avoid rust on the bar)
- Rotation system in the sleeves (so the bar won’t twist in your hands)
- Minimal whip (the thicker a bar, the less whip)
There are some pretty big differences between a barbell that you plan on using for the clean & jerk or snatches compared to powerlifting lifts (squat, bench press & deadlift).
Here are the most notable differences between these types of bars…
So, I broke down all of these main features of a power bar into 12 criteria to find the best power bars on the market…
How we assess power bars
I’ve personally used a range of power bars. But I didn’t want this to be solely based on my own opinion.
So I found over 40 power bars that exist on the market, from budget options to some of the most high-end bars. I then recorded all of the specs of the bars from the sales pages into a huge spreadsheet. If I couldn’t find the details I wanted from these pages I contacted the company to find this out.
The team at Strong Home Gym then decided the main buying factors for a power bar.
We ran this data against the 12 criteria below.
Size of a power bar
- Olympic power bar size- a basic construction scores a point. See below measurements (mens; womens)
- Length – 2.2 meters (7.2 feet / 86 in); 6.5 feet
- Weight – 20 kg / 44.1 lbs or 45 lbs; 15 kg or 33 lbs
- Sleeve diameter – 2″ / 50 mm; 2″ (this is important. “Standard barbells” have a 1” sleeve. 2” Olympic sleeves provide a lot more options and can take more weight).
Durability and quality of the power bar
- Tensile strength
- Over 165,000 PSI is more than strong enough for most people and scores a point on our tests. The Kabuki Power bar uses 258k PSI, which is more than any other bar I found.
- Weight capacity
- Anything that can take 1,000 lbs is usually strong enough for most people.
- Not all barbells will share their tensile strength (I asked the company if they don’t share this).
- A point is scored if the bar has zinc plated, e-coat, hard chrome or cerakote finish.
- A stainless steel bar is an alloy of steel that doesn’t require a coating to prevent corrosion so it also scores a point. Many people consider this the best possible “finish” to reduce corrosion and rust. The Mammoth bar uses stainless steel with a cerakote finish, just for added rust resistance!
- Bare steel, black oxide or decorative chrome is the least resistant type of finish and doesn’t score a point.
- 5 years or more is a good sign that the company rates their bars highly and will provide good quality bars. This scores a point. American Barbell’s Grizzly bar offers a lifetime warranty on the bar.
Versatility of the powerlifting barbell
- The cross hatched part of the bar that you grip.
- An aggressive knurl on a power bar scores a point. We either personally tested the bar or took reviews from trusted people in the Strong Home Gym community. Not every company’s “aggressive” knurl is the same. Our top pick the Rogue Ohio power bar uses volcano knurling.
- Center knurl
- If the bar has a center knurl it scores a point on our tests.
- It’s useful for squats as the bar grips to your back. Our budget pick, the REP Sabre uses a center knurl.
- The ends of the bar (sleeves) should spin.
- A power bar should have smooth spinning sleeves so your energy is spent on lifting the bar, not stabilizing it from twisting. The “Original” Power Bar uses “oil impregnated” Bronze Bushings, which allows a smooth spin.
- Bronze or composite “bushing” systems score a point for power bars.
- A multi-purpose or Oly weightlifting bar should have more spin. Needle bearings are better for this, but not necessary for power bars.
- How much the bar can “bend” (see 10 second video below).
- IPF competitions rules state lifters must use 28-29mm bars
- Diameter of the bar- between 28.5-29mm (or 25mm for a women’s bar) scores a point in our tests. A thinner bar tends to have more “whip”.
- 27mm- deadlift specialty bar as it’s easier to grip.
- 28mm- has more whip perfect for weightlifting or CrossFit.
- 28.5mm- the “old standard” power bar diameter.
- 29mm- more common these days for powerlifting.
- 30mm- some people prefer this for bench pressing as there is less “whip”. You may also find some cheaper barbells over 30mm diameter. It’s much harder to grip and not ideal for generic movements.
- 32mm- some powerlifters use this for heavy squats as there is even less “whip” and your grip is not as important.
- Powerlifters typically don’t want whip, which can disrupt heavy squats and bench presses. If you are performing heavy squats or bench presses by yourself make sure you check out our buyers guide on the best squat racks to make sure you stay safe.
Power bar pricing
- If the bar is over 165k PSI tensile strength and under $300 it scores a point.
- The average price out of over 40 powerlifting barbells is $385. Titan’s power bar is the cheapest bar on this list.
- (and 12) General users opinion
- If there are raving positive reviews from multiple sources online and users then the bar scores 2 points.
- The bar scores 1 point if there is a slight issue with the bar that pops up, but doesn’t affect the overall quality of the bar (it could be packaging, shipping, or customer service)
- 0 points are awarded here if there is a common complaint about the bar from different sources (scratches easily, poor grip, metal shavings etc.)
After this, I also asked the Strong Home Gym team, including certified personal trainers and gym owners, for their opinions about each bar.
I also asked friends that compete at powerlifting competitions and members of the home gym community. I got their opinions and thoughts of any barbells that I haven’t personally got my hands on.
This helped to provide an option for every budget and every level of training in the list you see above.
Power bar FAQs
Powerlifting barbells: The bottom line
There are 5 main factors to consider about a power bar before making a purchase.
- Tensile strength
- Diameter (which affects whip)
- Sleeves rotation system
After running over 40 power bars through our tests we found that the Rogue Ohio Power bar is the best bar for most people. The price for the 205k PSI steel and aggressive but not sharp volcano knurling makes this bar hard to beat!
However, the Kabuki Power bar is our recommended upgrade pick. The proprietary technology used to make the bars allows them to use an incredible 258k PSI without making the bar brittle. The knurling is a bit finer than the OPB, which gives it a bit more grip and it’s pretty much indestructible thanks to the manufacturing process.
Make sure you check our ultimate guide to building a home gym. You’ll find the best tips and tricks to save space and money, while creating a high quality gym that suits you.