OK, so not everyone has the space to use a barbell but we would really recommend that you try to find some. Whilst dumbbell are a great piece of kit in your home gym, the barbell will really take your workouts to another level. A really diverse piece of equipment, a barbell will allow you to exercise all the main muscle groups as well as giving you an all over workout with the stability and strength needed during the exercise that you just wouldn’t get with the alternative static machines.
Squatting with a barbell instead of on a Smith machine will engage your core and stabilisng muscles and really make you work all of your leg muscles as your body must provide the stability you would normally get from the machine. You will probably find that you can’t squat as much with a barbell as the Smith machine balances the bar for you and also has a pulley system which effectively makes the weight lighter. Drop the weight on your barbell, work on your technique and once you’ve mastered it, your squats will be stronger in the long run. Having a free moving barbell would also allow you to do moving exercises such as lunges and presses and, if it floats your boat, other Oly lifting techniques like cleans, jerks and snatches. If you haven’t attempted these before it is vital you get your posture and technique correct and we would strongly recommend you get guidance from a fitness instructor or other professional.
The same can be said for chest press as any static machine you use will help balance the weight and so isolate the muscles you need to use. Using a barbell for the same exercises will again engage your core muscles and force your body to stabilise the weight itself. This will give you a much more comprehensive workout as your will be engaging muscles that would be isolated when using static machines.
Spinlocks aren’t for everyone when it comes to barbells, mostly because it takes an age to spin the locks on and off in between weight changes. They do tend to be a bit cheaper though so for those on a budget we’ve chosen some of our preferred spin lock bars. Bear in mind that spinlock bars take plates with a 1″ diameter, as opposed to the olympic weights that are 2″.
Made from solid steel and taking a maximum load of 125kg this bar will meet the needs of most weight trainers. It comes with two spinlock collars which are also made from chrome plated steel to keep the weights securely in place. Whilst it won’t hold the weight an olympic bar would and you may find the spinlock collars come a little loose when you have heavy weights on there, for the price this really is a great bar.
Another solid steel chrome coated bar which comes in 4ft, 5ft or 6ft. The spinlock collars will hold the weights in place but you may find they loosen as you increase your weight. The selling point of this bar though is the price, especially when it is solid steel and not hollow like a lot of cheaper bars. If you are wanting to dip your toe in the weight lifting water but aren’t wanting to spend a lot of money, this is the bar for you.
Priced in between the JLL and the York barbells, this is another bar that comes in 4ft, 5ft or 6ft options. Still solid steel with chrome plating and coming with two spinlock collars this is another sound choice if you are not wanting to spend olympic bar money.
Unusually this is a barbell that has spring collars but is 1″ in diameter so would be great for those of you who have 1″ diameter plates that you would like to use. It is still made from solid steel and is available in 4ft, 5ft, 5.5ft, 6ft and 7ft and is around the price point of a spinlock bar so for those of you who know you wouldn’t get on with a spinlock but don’t have the money for an oly bar, you should definitely check this out.
A solid steel bar available in 4ft, 5ft, 6ft and 7ft lengths. It is supplied with two spring collars and has a diameter of 2″ so will need 2″ plates. This bar has really good knurling so you’ll get a strong grip, which is pretty important when you’re lifting heavy.
This 7 foot bar weighs in at 20kg and is rated at 1500lb so a great buy for those of you really wanting to throw some weight around. The bar is chromed and has central knurling so you’ll get great grip whether deadlifting or doing some chest press. A great price for a sturdy bar. Please note this bar doesn’t come with clips.