One of the most common questions I get from someone who is just starting out on their weightlifting journey is, ‘How much does the bar weigh?’
If you’re a gym veteran, this is pretty common knowledge, but it makes sense for a beginner to ask. After all, weight plates have their weight literally etched directly on them. Barbells, on the hand, are more mysterious.
Standard Olympic barbells weigh either 20kg or 45lbs (which is only a fraction of a difference), depending on the audience they’re designed for/by.
These are the barbells that you’re going to typically find in most gyms, whether they’re for bench press, squats or even Olympic lifts. They are all going to weigh either 20kg or 45lbs.
What is an Olympic Barbell?
I feel like I need to go over exactly what is an Olympic barbell, because I think equipment companies (and us lifters too) make things sound way more complicated than it really is.
As a beginning lifter, you’re going to hear terms like “Olympic barbell”, “Standard barbell” and sometimes companies will even combine the terms and you’ll get “Standard Olympic barbells”.
Here’s the quick and dirty.
An Olympic barbell was initially the term used for 20kg bars that were the standard barbell used in competition for, you guessed it, the Olympics.
They were weightlifting bars, designed with rotating sleeves and paired with bumper plates so lifters could snatch and clean and jerk.
However, over the years, Olympic bars are now really just used to described any bar that weighs 20kg (or 45lbs).
These can be bars used for powerlifting as perhaps a deadlift bar or for a bodybuilder to hit an overhead press. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. (It gets even more confusing when people refer to cast iron plates as Olympic plates when those would never be used for Olympic lifts, but I digress)
There are different parts of a barbell that makes it designed to be better at certain lifts than others (which is part of the reason barbells can vary so much in price), but that’s an entirely different topic.
However, the next time you hear someone reference an Olympic barbell or a Standard barbell, know that they’re probably talking about the exact same thing.
What’s the Difference Between a 20kg bar and a 45lb bar?
In a few words – the metric system.
A 20kg Olympic barbell is the standard barbell used for international weightlifting competitions. They’re also the standard barbell used across most of the world, even here in the US.
However, some American gym equipment companies make barbells and weight plates in pounds instead of kilos. So, instead of 20kg, these bars will weigh 45 pounds.
Now, if you do the math, you’ll quickly realize that the difference in weight is less than a pound difference. Where you start to see a real difference between kilos and pounds is in 10kg and 15kg plates vs their American counterparts – 25lb and 35lb plates.
So, for the purposes of this article, I’m going to refer to standard barbells as weighing 45 pounds just to keep things simple and so I’m not having to keep repeating myself on the matter.
Are all Barbells 45 Pounds?
All Olympic barbells weigh 45 pounds, but, there are a host of training bars and specialty bars that weigh a range of different weights. Let’s go over a few.
There are multiple types of barbells outside of just standard barbells. Whereas Olympic bars all weigh the same, these bars can vary in weight from one company to the next. However, I’ll give you the range of what you can expect each bar to weigh.
Women’s Barbell and Training Barbell Weight
Many companies make smaller and lighter barbells, that work and function just like a regular Olympic barbell.
A Women’s Barbell weighs 15kg, which is roughly 33 pounds.
I honestly don’t know how common these bars are. I’ve never really come across them much through my career and in fact, I think I’ve only ever seen one once in person. All of the female athletes I’ve trained over the years used a regular Olympic bar.
Training bars are even smaller and lighter than a Women’s bar. They are typically 10kg bars (22 pounds), but I’ve also seen training bars as light as 5 pounds.
These are typically used for younger lifters, who are still learning to lift and doing so with a lighter barbell makes learning lifting techniques safer and easier.
Safety Squat Bar Weight
A Safety Squat Bar, if you’ve never seen one, looks like a giant yoke. The bar has a curve on it that shifts the weight more anteriorly and also has a giant U-shaped pad that sits on top of your traps and wraps around your head.
There are multiple uses for a safety squat bar. I’ve always primarily used them for athletes who had an injury that limited them from being able to comfortably place their hands on a regular squat bar.
But, the question is – how much does a safety squat bar weigh?
There is no standard weight for a safety squat bar, although they are typically heavier than a regular barbell and will often times weigh around 70 pounds.
Having said that, a quick internet search and you can find safety squat bars from popular companies weighing anywhere from 45 pounds up to the aforementioned 70.
Hex Bar Weight
A Hex Bar, also known as a Trap Bar, is an octagonal (don’t get to use that word very often) shaped bar that you stand inside and is most notably used for trap bar deadlift.
Being able to stand inside of the bar allows the lifter to be able to shift the weight slightly back towards the body’s center of mass allowing the lifter to lift more weight while also taking a bit of stress away from the low back as compared to a traditional barbell deadlift.
These bars, like safety squat bars, can vary widely with their actual weight.
Many common hex bars that you’ll find in local gyms will weigh about the same as an Olympic barbell, around 45 pounds.
However, at the last two schools that I worked at, we had Double Handle Hex Bars from Sorinex. These hex bars are behemoths! They are wider and much longer, allowing you to load on a lot more weight.
I’ve seen 600-pound deadlifts done on this bar without the slightest issue. (By the way, not an affiliate with Sorinex at all, just really love these trap bars.)
They weigh in at around 70 pounds each.
EZ Curl Bar
Ah, yes, if we’re talking about barbell weight, I can’t leave off the EZ Curl Bar, right?
These bars are the zig-zaggy looking bars that are used primarily for curls (obviously) and skull crushers.
Again, like the other specialty bars I’ve discussed curl bars also don’t really have a single standard size. However, most curl bars are going to be either 15 or 25 pounds.
Smith Machine Bar
Finally, let me very briefly address the smith machine.
Not to sound like a broken record here, but smith machine bars will also vary in weight. Typically though, they’ll weigh around 15 to 25 pounds.
The reason they may even feel lighter than a standard barbell, even if they do weigh 45 pounds, is because a smith machine puts the bar on a fixed plane. No need to worry about stabilizing anything, whether you’re doing squats, bench press or whatever – you’re always going to be able to do way more weight than you normally would.
Just please don’t go around telling people you “bench 315” if it happened on a smith machine. Please.
If you’re just wanting to know how much an Olympic barbell weighs – it’s 20kg, or 45lbs.
However, when it comes to specialty barbells, they come in all different sizes and weights. If you know the company that made the bar, a quick google search can usually give you the answer.
Finally, when in doubt, put the bar on the scale. I’ve actually done that more than once when a debate broke out over how much a particular curl bar weighed.