IFAST barbell bar


One of the common issues experienced by people who have a passion for fitness is that of barbell weight. This may seem like a simple question but it is more complicated than it seems. Understanding various aspects that influence barbell weight will help quench your curiosity and also enable you to make informed decisions when developing your exercise program.

Throughout this comprehensive guide, we will probe into the topic of barbell weights; we shall look at standard measurements, various types of barbells and how their weight differs depending on factors like material, design and intended use. Hence, let’s demystify it and get a hold on this crucial gym kit.

What is a Barbell?

IFAST barbell

A barbell is a long, straight metal bar used in weightlifting and strength training exercises. It consists of a central bar with sleeves on each end that can hold weight plates. Barbells are versatile tools that allow for a wide range of exercises targeting various muscle groups.The central bar of a barbell is typically made of steel and is designed to have a consistent diameter along its length. This provides stability and durability, allowing it to support heavy loads. The sleeves at each end of the bar are slightly thicker and have rotating mechanisms that enable weight plates to be easily added or removed.

For men's Olympic weightlifting competitions, the standard barbell weight is 20 kilograms or approximately 44 pounds. On the other hand, the standard barbell weight for women's Olympic weightlifting competitions is 15 kilograms or around 33 pounds.These standards are set by organizations like the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ensure consistency and fairness in competitive weightlifting events. 

It's important to note that these weights refer to the barbell alone, without any weight plates attached. The total weight you'll be lifting will depend on the combined weight of the barbell and the weight plates you add to each end.

Related: Barbell vs. Dumbbell

Types of Barbells and Their Weights

Olympic standards, nonetheless are a basis to go by. There is a wide array of barbell brands in the market that vary in design to suit various purposes and users.Here's a breakdown of some common barbell types and their typical weights:

Olympic Barbells

IFAST 20kg barbell


Olympic barbells are the gold standard for competitive weightlifting and serious strength training. They adhere to the IWF and IOC standards mentioned earlier, with men's barbells weighing 20 kg (44 lbs) and women's barbells weighing 15 kg (33 lbs). These barbells are made from high-quality materials like steel or chrome and are designed to support heavy loads while maintaining rigidity and durability.

Standard Barbells

IFAST 10KG pink barbell

Standard barbells, also known as multipurpose or general-purpose barbells, are commonly found in commercial and home gyms. They typically weigh between 6 kg (13 lbs) and 10 kg (22 lbs) and are suitable for a wide range of exercises, from strength training to general fitness routines.

EZ-Curl Barbells

EZ curl bar

As the name suggests, EZ-curl barbells are designed specifically for bicep curl exercises. They feature a zigzag or cambered pattern in the middle section, which allows for a more natural and comfortable grip position during curls. EZ-curl barbells usually weigh between 5 kg (11 lbs) and 10 kg (22 lbs), depending on their length and intended use.

Related: How to Do the EZ Bar Curl

Trap Bars (Hex Bars)

IFAST trap bar

Trap bars, also known as hex bars, are unique in their design. They feature a hexagonal or diamond shape with parallel handles, allowing you to stand inside the bar during exercises like deadlifts and shrugs. Trap bars typically weigh between 15 kg (33 lbs) and 25 kg (55 lbs), depending on their construction and intended load capacity.

Safety Squat Bars

Safety Squat Bars


Safety squat bars are designed to reduce stress on the shoulders and wrists during heavy squats. They feature built-in camber or padding to keep the barbell positioned slightly away from your body. These bars usually weigh between 10 kg (22 lbs) and 15 kg (33 lbs), depending on their specific design and materials used.

Barbell Weight Plate Variations

While understanding the weight of the barbell itself is crucial, it's equally important to consider the weight plates you'll be adding to create your desired resistance. Weight plates come in various sizes, weights, and materials, offering a range of options to customize your training experience.

Standard Plate Weights:

  • Measured in pounds (lbs) or kilograms (kg)
  • Common sizes: 2.5 lbs, 5 lbs, 10 lbs, 25 lbs, 35 lbs, 45 lbs

Plate Materials:

  • Cast iron (traditional, affordable)
  • Rubber coated (noise reducing)
  • Bumper plates (for dropping, Olympic lifts)
  • Competition plates (precise weights, smooth finish)
  • Technique plates (small increments, 0.5-5 lbs)

Plate Diameter:

  • Typically 17" for lighter plates, 20" for heavier plates

Hole Size:

  • Standard 1" or 2" holes
  • Olympic standard 2" hole, 50mm depth

By considering plate weight, material, diameter, and hole size, you can create the ideal resistance for your barbell training.

Factors Affecting Barbell Weight

While the weights mentioned above provide general guidelines, it's essential to understand that several factors can influence the actual weight of a barbell.

  • Men's vs. Women's Barbell
  • Barbell Length
  • Barbell Material
  • Diameter
  • Knurling and Sleeves
  • Tensile Strength and Load Capacity

Men's vs. Women's Barbell

Barbell weights can differ based on gender. Women's barbells are generally lighter than men's barbells to accommodate the physiological differences and strength levels of individuals.

Barbell Length

The length of a barbell can vary, and longer barbells tend to be heavier. A standard Olympic barbell is typically 2.2 meters (7.2 feet) long, but there are shorter and specialty bars available for specific exercises.

Barbell Material

The material used in constructing the barbell can affect its weight. Most barbells are made of steel, but there are variations in the type and quality of steel used, which can impact the weight of the barbell.


The diameter of the barbell shaft can affect its weight as well. Thicker barbells, often used for powerlifting or heavy strength training, will naturally weigh more than thinner ones designed for general fitness or Olympic weightlifting.

Knurling and Sleeves

Knurling refers to the crosshatch pattern on the barbell shaft that provides a better grip. Barbells with deeper or more extensive knurling can add a small amount of extra weight. Additionally, the weight of the sleeves (the rotating ends where weight plates are loaded) can vary based on their design and materials.

Tensile Strength and Load Capacity

Barbells intended for heavier loads, such as those used in powerlifting or CrossFit, are often constructed with higher tensile strength materials and thicker diameters to support greater weights. As a result, these barbells tend to be heavier than those designed for lighter loads or general fitness.

Choosing the Best Weight for Your Barbell

flat barbell bench


In a time when barbells are too many to mention, the right weight is chosen based on goals and personal preferences. Here are some general rules of thumb that can guide you into making an informed choice:

Beginner Strength Training

If you want to start strength training, then a standard or multipurpose barbell weighing between 6 kg (13 lbs) and 10 kg (22 lbs) would be fine. It helps in ensuring that proper form is maintained as well as gradual addition of load with time.

General Fitness and Conditioning

For all-round fitness programs that involve various workouts, the recommended options would include using a multipurpose barbell weighing approximately ten kilograms (22 pounds), or rather going for an EZ-curl barbell which ranges between five and ten kilograms (11-22 pounds).

Olympic Weightlifting

In case one trains in Olympic weightlifting contests or wants to be good at performing power movements like snatch and clean & jerk, it is important to have IWF compliant Olympic barbells for ladies weighing 15kg/33 lb while men’s ones weigh 20kg/44 lb.

Powerlifting and Heavy Strength Training

As such, if you are into heavy lifting and powerlifting itself then the ideal weight plate will need to be able to accommodate significant weights. A good starting point is to look for bars made from high-tensile strength materials with thicker diameters possibly up to 25 kg (55 lbs) or more

Specific Exercise Needs

For exercises that require specialized bars, such as trap bar deadlifts or safety squat bar squats, choose the appropriate barbell designed specifically for those movements. These specialized bars often have unique weight characteristics tailored to their intended use.

Remember, the weight of the barbell alone is just one part of the equation. The total weight you'll be lifting will depend on the combination of the barbell weight and the weight plates you add to each end. Ultimately, the right barbell weight should align with your fitness goals, experience level, and the specific exercises you plan to perform.


By developing a solid understanding of barbell weights and their unique characteristics, you can make well-informed decisions when it comes to selecting the right equipment for your workout routine. Whether your focus is on Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, general fitness, or specialized training, choosing the appropriate barbell weight is crucial for optimizing your performance and ensuring a safe and effective workout.

Remember, knowledge is key, especially in the realm of fitness. By familiarizing yourself with the intricacies of barbell weights, you can significantly impact your ability to achieve your goals. So, embrace the nuances of barbell weight and let this comprehensive guide serve as your trusted companion on your journey towards a stronger, fitter, and more knowledgeable self.

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