In today’s olympic barbell review we will take a look at my first serious olympic barbell – the StrengthShop Original 2028 Olympic Bar. It is the bar that I’ve chosen for my home gym when I was looking for a replacement of my old standard barbell. There is a little story behind it:)
When I’ve started making good progress in my training I’ve set a goal for myself – when I’ll be able to lift all the plates I have, or the ones that will fit on the bar, I will reward myself with the olympic bar and plates. Since I’ve made that more than a year ago, you can read this review. If you’re interested to learn more about this inexpensive barbell, read on. In the first part, we’ll look at its features and specifications and then I will share my practical experience with this barbell.
Features and Specifications
Since it’s an olympic bar it has to adhere to certain specifications which are the same for all olympic bars:
- length: 220 cm (7.2 ft)
- weight: 20 kg (44 lbs)
- shaft diameter: 28 – 29 mm (1.1 inch)
- length between sleeves: 131 cm (4.3 ft)
- rotating sleeves with the diameter of 50 mm (2 inches)
- center knurling
Other features and specifications of this barbell:
- weight limit: 250 kg (550 lbs)
- shaft diameter: 28 mm (1.1 inches)
- length of the sleeves: 40 cm (15.7 inches)
- the spacing between rings: 81 cm (32 inches)
- sleeves rotate on steel bushings
- black oxide coating on the shaft and sleeves
- price (at the time of the review): $140
The bar is made from straight steel with tensile strength of 165K PSI. Most bars in this price don’t even state this number. Higher end bars, like these Rogue, start at a tensile strength of around 190K and go as high as 230K PSI. (note: tensile strength is force required to pull the material to the point of breaking, source)
As stated above, the weight limit is 250 kg (550 lbs) and is valid for static lifts such as squats, deadlifts and presses. According to the experiences of other users, you can use a bit more but you will increase the possibility of bending the bar. My maximum lift is 142.5 kg (315 lbs) deadlift so I can’t comment on that:) The manufacturer doesn’t state the limit for explosive lifts (clean etc.).
Just kidding:) You don’t have to assemble anything, the bar comes ready for training. Well, there was one thing that I had to do – wipe down the protective oil film and the bar was ready to rock!
When I was doing research on the cheaper bars, I’ve found that most bars in this price range have a thicker shaft. Most of them around 30 – 31 mm (1.22 inch). The diameter of 28 mm (1.1 inch) is an excellent value and is very rare in this price range. 2 mm doesn’t seem like a lot but every millimeter in diameter helps with the grip. This is especially true if you have smaller hands, like me. I can feel the difference for sure when I compare this barbell to my old 7ft standard bar (similar to this) which was 31 mm (1.22 inch).
As mentioned in features and specifications section, the barbell has black oxide coating. It protects the steel against oxidation but it’s just one step above the bare steel so it isn’t extremely protective and durable, it will wear down with use. You can see this in the first picture as those light/silver areas in the center of the bar and on the sleeves.
The grip is fantastic compared to my old bar. Knurling is a lot sharper but not to the point it will tear your skin. But there might be a period of adaptation if you’re used to the softer knurling. The other thing that helps with the grips is the black oxide coating. It feels really good, almost “sticky” compared to the chrome (most likely decorative chrome) coating of my old standard bar.
The bar has center knurling which helps with the grip of the bar on your back during squatting. It has the same sharpness as the rest of the knurling and I found it useful. But I have some scratch marks on my back if I train in a thin t-shirt.
Sleeves rotate on the steel bushings and the spin is excellent for the general purpose bar and static lifts like squats, deadlifts and presses. I dare to say that it’s also OK for explosive lifts, but it’s not recommended to drop the bar since it’s not made from spring steel and could be damaged. If you’re looking for a bar specifically for olympic lifts, look elsewhere.
Of, course when the bar is this cheap, it has to have some flaws. Most notable for me was that knurling on the inside of the ring markings is about 0,4 cm shorter on one side compared to other. This makes it a bit harder to set up your grip in relation to it. I’ve fixed this with some strips of adhesive tape to mark the equal distance from the rings. (see picture below)
Another one is that the bar isn’t completely balanced – the center of gravity isn’t in the center of the bar. I think it’s noticeable only when the bar is empty because I’ve found this only after about a year of consistent use when I’ve tried the balance test:) My solution to that was to use one spring collar at the end of the sleeve. It weighs around 250g (0.55 lbs) and is enough to balance the bar.
And the last one – grooves on the sleeves aren’t the same. More specifically, the grooves on one side are deeper and I can clearly feel them when I go over them with fingernails but they are barely noticeable on the other side. The grooves are there to help minimize the sliding of the plates so you don’t have to always use the collars. I personally use them only very rarely.
Let’s summarize the pros and cons of the bar:
As you’ve probably realized I really like my barbell! It’s an excellent bar especially if you consider the price. The flaws it has aren’t that serious and I can easily live with them. I don’t think I will ever need to buy something higher end. I seriously doubt I will ever reach its weight limit and it feels sturdy enough not the break anytime soon. So If I buy something better it will be purely out of vanity:)
One last thing I have to say is that I own an older version of this barbell. But the differences aren’t night and day – the new version has different endcaps and black zinc coating, which is more durable but a bit less “grippy”.
That’s all for today. If you like my olympic barbell review and find it useful, you’re more than welcome to share the post:) And if you have some suggestions or questions feel free to leave a comment below. Thank you!