Review

The Best CrossFit Barbells, According to a CrossFit Athlete and Coach

May 13, 2022 by
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If you’ve ever been stuck with the ugly duckling barbell at your affiliate—whether for strength work, barbell cycling WODs, or percentage work—you know that a bad barbell can wreck your workout. 

And if you haven’t? Well, lucky lifter, that’s likely because you know intuitively that a bad barbell is a bad omen and therefore bee-line straight to the barbell rack as soon as your coach concludes the warmup! 

But what separates a bad barbell from a top-notch one, exactly? And how do you know if a barbell is worth dropping dough on? We answer these and other common barbell questions in our guide to the best CrossFit barbells. 

We Know CrossFit Barbells 

Just as you’d trust a sommelier to let you know what wine to buy, you should trust us to tell you what barbell is best. 

Our roster of product testers includes people who have been with the sport nearly as long as Annie Thorisdottir, CrossFit coaches, and long-time fitness journalists who test fitness equipment and write honest, unbiased reviews (#dreamjob). 

This guide will (ahem) guide you in the right direction. Read on to learn more about the five best CrossFit barbells on the market. 

The Best CrossFit Barbells In 2022

Editor’s Choice: Rogue Ohio Bar

a man kneeling and gripping a Rogue Fitness barbell
Testing Rogue barbells 
Credit: Nathan Hay/Garage Gym Reviews

Why CrossFit athletes will love this: Versatile, customizable, and durable, the Rogue Ohio Bar is the best option for everyone from Games athletes to newbies. 

Pros: 

  • Very versatile: Can be used for CrossFit, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, and general strength training 
  • Dual knurling marks
  • Bronze bushings
  • Multiple finish options, including Cerakote, zinc, oxide, stainless steel, and bare steel
  • Designed to be durable enough to be dropped over and over and over again
  • 190,000 PSI tensile strength steel (200,000 for stainless steel)

Cons:

  • Whip is minimal 
  • Not cheap—depending on finish, this bar can put you out anywhere from $305 to $465 
  • Specific model isn’t available in the 15-kg option (the Rogue Bella Bar is the 15-kg version)

If the Rogue Ohio Bar were a restaurant, it’d be a Michelin-starred establishment, garnering praise from even the pickiest eaters (er, lifters). Made by the brand that has outfitted the The CrossFit Games with spanking, sparkling equipment from the get-go, you can bet this bar is good (nay, great!). 

Truthfully, if you’ve ever stepped a trainer-clad toe into a CrossFit box, you’ve probably had your hands on this top-notch pick. After all, it’s the barbell that fills the racks of many affiliates. Most notable for affiliate and home gym owners is that this bar is built to last. 

Machined to precision, this 20-kilogram barbell can handle both heavy weights and high-rep workouts with ease. Thanks to the bronze bushings and dual knurl marks, the Ohio bar is a good choice for Oly lifters and powerlifters alike. (Looking for the 15-kilogram version of this bar? Check out the Rogue Bella Bar write-up below.)

The one potential downside is that compared to some of the other barbells on the list, this bar has little flex, which means you feel its full weight during each and every rep. Sure, that’s good practice if you intend to compete (since comps often use shorty bars). But it could impact your multi-rep maxes on movements like deadlifts and snatches. 

Runner Up: American Barbell Training Bar

a woman doing overhead barbell lunges
Testing barbells
Credit: Nathan Hay/Garage Gym Reviews

Why CrossFit athletes will love this: The James Dean of barbells, the American Barbell Training bar is a classic, no-frills barbell available in standard chrome coating and wrapped in aggressive knurls.

Pros: 

  • Corrosion-resistant hard chrome finish 
  • Sharp(er) knurl, which translates to better grip (even without chalk) 
  • Incredibly versatile—can be used, enjoyably, during any barbell movement 
  • Industry-standard 190,000 PSI tensile strength

Cons:

  • Not available in stronger finishes, such as Cerakote or stainless steel
  • Knurling might be hard on tender hands 
  • On the pricier side at $325 for a 15-kg bar and $355 for a 20-kg bar

Do you gravitate towards boxes built into old barn-houses or factories? Do you prefer a musty-dusty interior to that of a luxury, city studio gym? If so, you’ll love the no-frills American Barbell Training Bar. Available in just one finish and color (hard chrome, silver), this barbell isn’t here to be Instagrammed, it’s here to help you work. 

Especially helpful for barbell-cycling WODs is the fact that this bar offers sharp, precise knurl marks. The result? You get a really good grip on the bar, even during your sweatiest workouts. Chalk Monster be gone!

Best part? Thanks to the high-quality hard chrome finish, the knurling won’t dull even after months and years of use. Both the 15-kilogram and 20-kilogram versions of this Olympic bar meet IWF specifications: 25-millimeter and 28-millimeter diameter, respectively, with 2-inch sleeves.  

As much as we like this bar, we have to point out that it’s more expensive than the Rogue Ohio Bar (except for the stainless steel version),but it doesn’t have as many finish options.

Best Women’s CrossFit Barbell: Rogue Bella Bar 2.0

a woman receiving a barbell clean
Testing the Rogue Bella Bar 2.0
Credit: Nathan Hay/Garage Gym Reviews

Why CrossFit athletes will love this: By marrying durability and versatility, this bar proves you really can have it all. 

Pros: 

  • Versatile enough to be used for all sorts of WODs, as well as strength sports
  • Balances rigidity with whip 
  • Multiple finish options, including cerakote, zinc, oxide, stainless steel, and bare steel 
  • Snap-ring bronze bushings
  • 25-mm shaft is ideal for smaller hands, including youth athletes

Cons:

  • Knurling may be too light for some 
  • Not as great for Olympic or power lifts as a sport-specific bar would be 
  • Depending on finish, this bar can put you out anywhere from $235 to $330

The Rogue Bella Bar 2.0 is, put simply, the 15-kilogram version of the Rogue Ohio Bar. If we weren’t coining it as the best women’s CrossFit barbell, we’d dub it the most versatile barbell on the market. Why? Because it has both the rigidity required for heavy squats *and* enough spin for fast-as-Flash movements (read: the snatch and clean). 

This bar is even suitable for lifters at the top of the whiteboard. If you lift heavy weights, you want to look at the bar’s tensile strength, measured in PSI (pounds per square inch). Most bars fall somewhere between 150,000 and 170,000 PSI, but the Bella boasts 190,000 PSI. The stainless steel version of this bar boasts an impressive 200,000 PSI tensile strength. Ultimately, what this means is that the bar can withstand drops from overhead with heavy weights without suffering permanent damage.

Another perk of this barbell is the fact that it is available in a variety of finishes and colors. Finish options include: black zinc, Cerakote, stainless steel, and e-coat. The Cerakote option is available in red, pink, blue, green, and turquoise. In fact, several elite CrossFit athletes, including Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr and Katrin Davidsdottir, have inspired unique designs of the Bella Bar. Fun!

Bluntly, while this barbell is great for a CrossFitter and general lifting, it isn’t the best option for Olympic lifters. This barbell has bushings—not bearings, which are what’s usually preferred for Olympic lifting meets. So, if you see yourself switching sports anytime soon, either reconsider your pick or budget appropriately. 

Best Budget CrossFit Barbell: Bells of Steel Utility Barbell 

close-up of barbell knurl marks
Close-up of barbell knurling
Credit: Nathan Hay/Garage Gym Reviews

Why CrossFit athletes will love this: Considerably less expensive than other bars included on this list, the Bells of Steel Utility Barbell is the perfect option for anyone who needs to invest mindfully. 

Pros: 

  • High 190K PSI 
  • Affordable as far as barbells go (costs just $199!) 
  • Free shipping within the USA 
  • Available in blue or orange cerakote coating for $50 more
  • Dual knurl marks

Cons:

  • No 15-kilogram equivalent available 
  • The knurl isn’t super sharp, which you may notice on heavier lifts 
  • Black zinc coating will wear off over time

Finally! A barbell that costs less than a full stack of your favorite Games athletes’ supplements! Considering that those who purchase a barbell probably also have to purchase weight plates—which get pricey with shipping—cost is something most CrossFit enthusiasts should consider. 

To give it to you straight: the Bells of Steel Utility Barbell is the best multi-purpose bar for those on a budget, not the best barbell on the market. But unless you’ve already been lifting with one of the aforementioned barbells, you’ll be none the wiser. 

For starters, the tensile strength of this bar is the same of both of the Rogue bars on this list: 190K, meaning it can withstand whatever plates you slide onto it. This bar also offers equal-parts rigidity and whip, making it versatile enough to use during both power lifts (squats, deadlifts, bench press) and Olympic lifts (clean and snatch). 

The knurl is passive, which means it’s comfortable enough to hold onto for higher-rep workouts like Isabel or Grace. But fear not, it’s still adequately grippy for heavier weights. The only time the knurl might feel lacking is during heavy deadlifts and heavy pulls, where sharper knurls can be helpful. 

Bells of Steel only has one 15-kilogram bar available, and its specs are more impressive than the Utility Bar but the price is the same; check out the budget-friendly Women’s Barbell 2.0 for more.

Best CrossFit Barbell on Amazon: Synergee Games Cerakote Barbell

a woman's hand gripping a barbell in preparation for a lift
Testing barbells 
Credit: Nathan Hay/Garage Gym Reviews

Why CrossFit athletes will love this: Great for high-speed metcons, the Synergee Games Cerakote barbell is one of the best CrossFit barbells on the market—especially for its price. 

Pros: 

  • Looks as cool as Rogue Ohio Bar, for reduced price 
  • Affordable (less than $250 at the time of writing)
  • Free shipping with Amazon Prime 
  • Comes in 15-kg and 20-kg options
  • Available in multiple colors
  • 190,000 PSI tensile strength

Cons:

  • Knurling may be too aggressive for lifters with sensitive hands 
  • Only has 1-year manufacturer defect warranty, which is less than most bars (lots have lifetime warranties) 
  • Some reports of Cerakote coating chipping easily

Another affordable option that doesn’t flub you on quality is the Synergee Games Cerakote barbell. 

Despite being available on Amazon—which, yes, means free shipping for Prime members!—this barbell has the designer features we usually think of as being reserved for flashy brand name bars (like Rogue) .

The Synergee Games Cerakote has an impressive tensile strength rating of 190,000 PSI, which means it has the strength to handle even your low-rep, high-weight workouts. It also has bearing innards that allow the bar to spin optimally every (!) single (!) time (!) you whip your elbows under it. (Squat clean PR anyone?) 

Another benefit of this bar is that it’s available in many fun colors thanks to the Cerakote finish, including: red, pink, and an incredibly glamorous black-on-black. One thing we want to point out, though, is that several customer reviews report the Cerakote chipping easily. 

Other Great CrossFit Barbells 

a woman receiving a power clean in a crossfit gym
Credit: Nathan Hay/Garage Gym Reviews

Rogue Bar 2.0

If this were a list of the best Olympic weightlifting barbells, the Rogue Bar 2.0 would be included. After all, it features a 190,000 PSI, rings up at under $300, and sports moderate knurling that won’t wreck your hands. But alas, this is a round-up of the best CrossFit barbells, and the other Rogue options are simply better for that.

Eleiko XF Bar 

This bar offers everything that makes an Eleiko bar well, an Eleiko bar, including: wicked whip, chrome coating, and a combo of bearings and bushings. But because, as its name suggests, it’s built specifically for CrossFit, it has softer knurlings. We didn’t include it on our main list because it’ll put you out nearly 600 green ones. 

Fringe Sport Wonder Bar V2

This barbell may not have the name recognition of Rogue or Synergee, but you shouldn’t sleep on it. A workhorse of a barbell, the Wonder Bar rocks black zinc finish and is available with bronze bushings or needle bearings. Really, there’s no major downside, except that it’s only available in one finish. 

Get RXd Stealth Bar

Olympic weightlifters, this barbell is for you. Made specifically for the clean-and-jerk and snatch, this barbell has some sexy spin. It also sports an impressive 216,000 PSI, which means it can support your strongest numbers. The reason we didn’t include it in our top five is because the bar is a little too whippy and the knurling a little too aggressive for things like high-rep snatch cycling. 

Synergee Regional Barbell 

The Synergee Regional Barbell is the Cheesecake Factory of barbells. Reliably good and  affordable, this barbell is another excellent option for people on a budget. Notably, because it’s available on Amazon you can get it delivered to you without forking over an arm and a leg for shipping. Like the Synergy Games Barbell on our top list, the Regional version is available as a 15-kilogram bar and a 20-kilogram bar.

How We Chose The Best CrossFit Barbells

a woman grabbing a barbell in preparation for a lift
Credit: Nathan Hay/Garage Gym Reviews

Simply put, WODs on repeat. And I’m talking WODs of all kinds. Our team of CrossFit enthusiasts, multiple of whom are long-time CrossFitters and certified CrossFit coaches, have taken every barbell on this list through a countless number of workouts. 

Personally, I’ve used several 15-kilogram women’s barbells out during barbell-cycling WODs like Isabel, but also during one-rep max workouts like The New CrossFit Total, as well as during percentage work EMOMs. By taking all of the above barbells through a diverse range of workouts, our team of testers was able to determine which barbells are best for CrossFit—a sport marked by variety. 

As a person with kindergarten-sized hands, I opted out of using the 20-kilogram bars during Metcons. But our team does include male product testers who review these products (and have been using some of them for years). 

Ultimately, I used the price, barbell specs, and user input to come up with this list of the best barbells for CrossFit. Thank me now, PR later!

The Importance Of A Good CrossFit Barbell

Hands down, if you want to convert your garage into a mini CrossFit box, an Olympic barbell should be your first purchase. Hell, assuming you have the space, this stands even if you’re looking to jimmy-rig your office into a make-shift box, too. A barbell, after all, is what you need to master movements like the snatch, clean, deadlift, front squat, sumo deadlift high pull, jerk, and more. 

Meanwhile, if you’re a member of a fully-equipped box, your own barbell shouldn’t be your first investment — a jump rope should be. But once you’ve got the basics, a barbell is an investment that will make you feel like the elite devotee you are. Better yet, you’ll notice a huge payoff. 

No shade at CrossFit affiliates intended, but when you get your own just-for-you bar, you’ll realize how much wear-and-tear the class barbells have endured. No, we’re not just talking about the visible effects like rusting. Over time, barbells accumulate dust and debris; oil and grease. 

While cleaning barbells from these elements is quite easy, it’s a task that often gets forgotten by box owners and managers. The result? Barbells lose their intended spin, become less grippy, and even corrode—not ideal for those looking to hit max lifts, cycle quickly, or beat the time cap. 

All in all, owning your own barbell is an excellent way to ensure that your tools are helping you reach, not interfere with, your CrossFit goals. 

How To Choose The Best CrossFit Barbell For You 

a woman receiving a barbell snatch with elbows locked out
Credit: Nathan Hay/Garage Gym Reviews

Maybe you want to understand exactly why we recommended the above bars. Maybe you want to do your own barbell research. Maybe you just want to up your CrossFit IQ. Whatever the reason, read on. Here, you’ll learn the most important features to keep in mind when purchasing a barbell. 

Weight

The weight you choose will depend on whether you plan to compete in the men’s division or women’s. Men use 20-kilogram (45-pound) barbells, while women use 15-kilogram (35-pound) barbells. 

Keep in mind that the weight of a CrossFit barbell also affects the loadable sleeve length and shaft diameter. 

A 15-kilogram bar has a sleeve length of about 12.6 inches and a diameter of 25 millimeters, while a 20-kilogram bar has 16.3-inch sleeves and a 28-millimeter diameter. Those sleeve lengths are standard, and it’s a good idea to get a bar within 0.5 inches of those for maximal loading.

What About Training Barbells?

There are also training, or technique, barbells. If you’re already a proficient CrossFit athlete, you may not find one of these bars worth the coin. However, there are a few reasons someone might want a training bar: 

  • They’re really great for refining Olympic lifting technique.
  • You can use them for accessory work wherein a standard bar is too heavy for you (for example, Sotts pressing). 
  • For those with kids, training bars are a great starting point for safe lifting. 

One of our favorite technique barbells is the 10-kilogram Wright Equipment Junior Bar. It features a needle bearing rotation system, bright zinc sleeves, a 25-millimeter diameter, and a 5.75-inch loadable sleeve length. 

Knurl

You know the textured parts of the barbell? That crosshatch texture along the bar is known as its knurl. 

Light knurl will be soft on your hands and more comfortable to hold onto. This is often marketed either as light, standard, or passive knurl.

Deeper, spikier knurling will be rough on the hand— especially during workouts with barbell cycling—but makes the bar easier to hold onto during heavy lifts. This is sold as “aggressive knurl.”

The type of knurling you opt for will come down to personal preference, as well as how delicate your hands are. If you’re often sidelined by rips on your palms, you probably want to invest in a bar with light-to-medium knurl marks. However, if your hands are as durable as a construction worker’s, you can handle a more aggressive knurl. 

In addition to the aggressiveness of the knurling, you’ll also want to pay attention to the type of knurling. Most CrossFit bars have dual knurl marks, so you get the best of a powerlifting bar and the best of a weightlifting bar all at once (in other words, you can use the markings to remember things like where to put your hands for a snatch). 

Typically, barbells used for CrossFit workouts don’t have center knurling, a feature of powerlifting barbells intended to prevent the bar from slipping during heavy back squats.

barbell knurl marks on the palm of a hand
Knurl impressions in the palm after using a barbell
Credit: Nathan Hay/Garage Gym Reviews

Bushing vs. Bearing

Barbells have either bushings or bearings, and you need to figure out which is best for you before investing. (Or if you want a barbell that has both.)

Never heard these terms before? These are the parts of the barbell you can’t see—they refer to the parts inside the barbell that allow the bar to spin a lot or a little. 

Bearings result in faster spin, which are ideal for Olympic lifts, while bushings, which are slightly less spinny, are better for powerlifting. 

It’s typical of CrossFit affiliates to outfit their gyms with bushing barbells instead of bearing barbells. This is because barbells with bushings spin enough to support the Olympic lifts, but not so quickly that they interfere with performance on movements where spin is not ideal, like deadlifts and squats. 

Tensile Strength

Measured in PSI, or pounds per square inch, tensile strength is a measure of how much weight the barbell can hold before being damaged. 

There are a number of 150,000 to 180,000 PSI bars on the market. And for just about everyone except the CrossFitter who tops the leaderboard on max clean-and-jerk day, that PSI range is completely acceptable

But if you want a barbell that can withstand heavy loads and frequent drops, consider one with 180K PSI tensile strength or more. (Yes, all the barbells on the list meet this requirement). 

Price

Fam, don’t break the bank on a barbell. While a barbell is a great investment for a CrossFit enthusiast, it’s important to find the best quality bar that works for you, not buy the most expensive bar just because of name recognition or cool aesthetics. 

That said, getting a cheap bar comes with consequences. Truly cheap bars will bend easily, or have markings that differ than the bars at your gym so your hand placement is off, or have funky, textured sleeves that screech when you change weights.

Assuming you’re buying your barbell from a retailer and not Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, you should expect to spend at least $200. Though, depending on coat, finish, and retailer, you could end up spending twice that, especially once you factor in shipping. 

(Also, if you love Rogue bars but not the price, check out the Rogue Boneyard. Our team has had excellent experiences getting Ohio and Bella bars at discounted prices.)

Finish 

Finally, you’ll want to pay attention to the finish when looking for a CrossFit barbell. Not only does the finish heavily influence the price you’ll pay, but it also pretty much dictates the longevity of your bar (at least as far as aesthetics go). 

Stainless steel bars are the most durable and resistant to corrosion and oxidation, but they’re generally the most expensive. Other common barbell finishes include: 

  • Black oxide 
  • Black zinc
  • Bright zinc 
  • Hard chrome 
  • Cerakote 

Many bars have two finishes; for example, a popular choice is a chrome finish on the sleeves and a chrome shaft.

FAQs About CrossFit Barbells 

What barbell does CrossFit use? 

Rogue Fitness has been supplying equipment to the CrossFit Games since 2009. So if you’re curious what the bars the athletes you’re watching on ESPN are slinging around, the answer is Rogue! 

But individual CrossFit athletes use all sorts of barbells, depending on factors like: what equipment companies they have relationships with, what barbells their local box has on tap, and more.  

How heavy is a CrossFit training bar? 

Most CrossFit boxes have bars that are three different weights. There’s the 20-kilogram bar, which is the thicker, longer bar that is often dubbed a “men’s” bar. There’s the 15-kilogram bar, which is slightly thinner and shorter and is often called the “women’s” bar. Finally, there is the 6-kilogram (15-pound) bar which is often called a training or technique barbell.

Are CrossFit barbells shorter? 

The majority of the barbells you’ll see in a CrossFit box are standard Olympic length: About 7 feet  for men and 6.5 feet for women. However, during competitions like Semifinals and The CrossFit Games, usually athletes are forced to use competition barbells, which are just 69 inches long. 

Why the change? Because the short barbells allow the athletes to be spaced closer together.  

What kind of weight plates do you use for CrossFit?

Whether working out in a garage gym or at an affiliate, you’ll see stacks on stacks of bumper plates. Bumper plates are rubber weight plates, and these are used in CrossFit because they protect gym flooring and the barbells.

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