We know barbells. The Home Fit Freak’s writers and editors are (you guessed it) fitness freaks who’ve filled their home and garage gyms with bars of all types and qualities. We’ve also used countless barbells and other fitness equipment at commercial gyms. We independently research and, where possible, test every product we recommend.
Top Barbells for CrossFit At a Glance
Best CrossFit Barbell Overall
Rogue Ohio Bar
Rogue’s Ohio bar is the flagship offering of this world-renowned brand. You’re getting top-tier build quality as well as top-tier materials all around. With 190k PSI of tensile strength, the Ohio bar will be a trusty companion in any CrossFit gym. They offer this bar in a new Cerakote finish, which greatly improves overall resistance to scratches and reduces maintenance.
Next Best Pick
Rogue C-70 Bar
The C-70 was apparently designed specifically for use in the CrossFit games. Its shorter length means more bars can be in use side-by-side. The C-70 is essentially a smaller version of the Ohio bar, making it suitable for those who want more control over their plates. Just keep in mind that at 69” long, it’s not rackable on standard squat racks.
Best Women’s CrossFit Barbell
Rogue Bella Bar 2.0
The Bella Bar 2.0 is Rogue’s flagship women’s barbell. The team behind this product took their successful Ohio bar and simply scaled it down to fit the women’s Olympic standards. The bar features the same 190k PSI of tensile strength, comes with smooth bronze bushings and Rogue’s F6-R durability rating. All of these features make it a perfect choice for serious CrossFit use.
CrossFit has become the largest, most popular, and rapidly expanding fitness trends of the 21st century. What started as one man’s vision quickly became a massive global movement with over 10,000 CrossFit affiliates opening all over the world.
While this rise in popularity has prompted a whole niche of specialized equipment made solely for CrossFit, the Olympic barbell still reigns supreme as the one piece that no CrossFitter can go without. This article details our recommendations for the best CrossFit barbells for both men and women.
Should You Get an Olympic Barbell for CrossFit?
If you’re serious about CrossFit and you train at home, then yes you should get one. CrossFit includes a lot of barbell exercises, with the whole idea being to combine high-intensity movements with as heavy weights as possible. That means plenty of squats, deads, snatches, and power cleans. All of these movements require the frequent and consistent use of a barbell.
If you train exclusively at a box, then getting your own bar isn’t necessary—just use the gym’s bars. If you do any substantial amount of training at home, then you simply can’t make significant progress without a bar of your own.
That being said, Not all barbells are suitable for CrossFit.
5 Best CrossFit Barbells for Men
|Rogue Ohio Bar||
|Rogue C-70 Bar||
|Rep Fitness Gladiator MX Barbell||
|Rogue Matt Chan Bar||
|American Barbell Training Bar||
|Rogue Ohio Bar|
|Rogue C-70 Bar|
|Rep Fitness Gladiator MX Barbell|
|Rogue Matt Chan Bar|
|American Barbell Training Bar|
Rogue’s Ohio Bar is about as good as it gets when it comes to CrossFit compatible barbells. Those familiar with the Rogue brand know that their products are bulletproof. The Ohio Bar shares that same pedigree and brings a few features that make it perfect for CrossFit. The bar is made in Rogue’s Ohio plant (hence the name) and represents their flagship 20 kg model.
It’s a full-length (7 foot, 86.75″) bar with standard knurling (not aggressive or passive), a 28.5 mm diameter shaft, smooth and durable composite bushings, 190k PSI tensile strength, and a range of finish options from sticky cerakote to premium stainless steel. The Ohio bar also has both Olympic and powerlifting knurl marks and no center knurl. The bushings used are decent though it’s debatable whether the move from bronze to composite bushings was for the better. In my experience, the sleeves’ spin is smooth and consistent, especially with good care (I put a drop of 3-in-1 oil into the sleeves about twice a year).
The Cerakote finish isn’t the only finish you can get, but it’s the one I got and recommend. It’s a relatively new addition to Rogue’s Ohio bar that brings plenty of durability. If you’re into firearms, you probably know all about this type of finish. It has been used for many years as a protective coating. Years of combat use have proven its worth. Needless to say, it works great on a barbell while it also gives you plenty of aesthetic options to choose from.
While the Cerakote finish makes the knurl a little shallower than, say, a bare steel or stainless steel Power Bar, it has an almost waxy feel that makes it stick in the hands. When used with chalk, I never worry about it slipping.
Last but not least, the typical Rogue build quality and tensile strength of 190k PSI means that this bar can take an absolute beating while also holding far more than you’ll ever use in your WODs. That’s convenient since CrossFit is anything but light on equipment. This is a CrossFit barbell you can load up (relatively) heavy, snatch, and then drop without worrying if it will survive. Oh, and it comes with a lifetime warranty.
This bar is my go-to barbell for most strength exercises, especially the high-volume CrossFit lifts.
- Typical high-quality build from Rogue
- Comes in all possible finishes/coatings, including Cerakote, which is great; durable, sticky, and stylish
- Smooth and consistent spin, especially when the sleeves are cared for
- 190k tensile strength makes it more than strong enough for CrossFit
- A great all-round barbell; use it for high- and low-rep training
The Not So Good
- It’s fairly expensive, like most Rogue equipment
- As with all barbell coatings, Cerakote chips off from metal on metal impacts
Next up is another Rogue model: The C-70 Bar. For all intents and purposes, this is a “shorty” version of the Ohio bar that was apparently designed specifically for use in CrossFit competitions. The shorter length allows more athletes to work side-by-side, meaning this bar is not only a solid option for CrossFit-centric home gyms but also CrossFit affiliates.
The C-70 barbell has most of the same features as the Ohio bar, including the 190k PSI tensile strength, F8-R durability rating (which means it’s about as resistant to breaking from drops as possible), and standard knurling. It’s just on a bar that’s only 69″ long, and 35 lbs in weight (so, perfect for female CrossFitters).
It features both Olympic and Powerlifting knurl marks, making it generally suitable for all kinds of lifts, however you may find the shaft is too short for snatches if you use a relatively wide grip. The shorter length also means that you have shorter sleeves: They’re 12″ on this model compared to 16.4″ on the Ohio bar. So, you’ve obviously got much less room for plates, which means a lower ceiling to how heavy you can lift with this bar. That may not matter too much for most people because it will still hold far more than most people can lift. However, if you’re in the higher percentiles on your deadlift (e.g., more than 4 bumper plates), the C-70 won’t replace your full-length bar(s).
One final drawback about the shortness of this bar is that you can’t rack it on a standard rack. So, it’s not going to be your bench pressing or squat bar either.
All of that simply points to this bar being a high-volume, CrossFit barbell. And, in that regard, it can take a beating. Rogue offers a 3-year warranty on this model, which falls short compared to the usual lifetime warranty you get on most of their products.
One interesting thing about the C-70 is the use of bronze bushings instead of composite ones. This positively affects spin and gives you better feedback when you lift. Overall, this is an awesome competition bar for those who want something compact.
- Rock-solid Rogue build quality
- Comes with bronze bushings
- Features Olympic and powerlifting knurl patterns
- 190k PSI tensile strength combined with the F8-R durability rating
The Not So Good
- It’s too short to be racked on regular racks
- Short 3-year warranty
Rep Fitness has established itself as a strong competitor and threat to Rogue’s market supremacy. This is made obvious by the MX Gladiator barbell, which is a full-size bar that was specifically designed for CrossFit. It’s 87.4″ in length and features the standard 28.5 mm shaft diameter. Rep made sure to keep the MX Gladiator as simple as possible, while also making it durable enough for the needs of CrossFit.
As a result, this barbell features a 1500 lb static rating, a tensile strength of 240k PSI, and a simple hard chrome coating. While it isn’t as cool looking as our previous picks, this bar gets the job done and then some. The MX Gladiator bar comes with standard single knurl marks, 5 needle bearings, which deliver an exceptionally smooth and consistent spin for all of your cleans, jerks, and snatches.
Last but not least, Rep offers a 5-year warranty on the Gladiator bar, which is very competitive.
This bar is a great choice for those who care more about performance than aesthetics. At the current price (~$299 + shipping at the time of writing) Rep Fitness has found a sweet spot with their MX Gladiator bar.
- Simple but robust build quality
- 230k PSI tensile strength
- 1500lb static rating
- Butter smooth 5 needle bearings
The Not So Good
- The knurling is pretty mild, which could be an issue for some users
- Only comes in hard chrome finish
What better barbell to get for CrossFit than one made by champion Matt Chan? Matt and Rogue came together to build a custom barbell that was 101% about CrossFit. They’ve essentially used the standard Ohio bar as the foundation for the new custom design. Matt stripped away anything that he thought was unnecessary. More importantly, he added a few key features that define this barbell.
Most of the improvements are centered around the increase in tensile strength. Matt has asked Rogue to use a new stainless steel shaft that bumped the original 190k PSI to 200k PSI. However, the bar is rated lower on Rogue’s F scale (meaning it’s more susceptible to damage from overhead drops).
As far as dimensions go, this barbell is pretty much identical to the Ohio bar. You’ve got 86.77″ of length, 28.5 mm diameter, and 16.5″ of loadable sleeve length.
Matt also wanted to change up the knurling on the Ohio bar. As a result, the Chan bar features dual knurl marks as well as a strip of passive, stainless steel knurl in the very center of the bar for heavy squats.
Chan also wanted to utilize the Cerakote protective coating, giving this bar a classy black/chrome finish or murdered out black/black finish. Cerakote is great and all, but the original version of this bar was available with a zinc plating that reduced the price by about 10% – 20%. Unfortunately, that’s no longer available.
Last but not least, the bushings are composite, just like on the Ohio bar, meaning the sleeves have that same smooth spin.
The only reason why this bar isn’t higher on our list is the price. Matt’s name is a brand, plus they made the bar more complex than most others (e.g., the stainless steel shaft and non-Cerakoted center knurl). And that’s almost certainly why Rogue went with a higher price tag. That being said, although this barbell is great, it’s just a bit too expensive to be further up the list.
- Designed in cooperation with CrossFit champion, Matt Chan
- Based on a standard Ohio bar
- Features 200k PSI tensile strength
- Comes with a passive knurl in the center for heavy squats
The Not So Good
- Lower F rating due to altered design
- Pretty costly for what it is
- No longer available with the cheaper zinc coating
American Barbell’s Training Bar is another well-rounded option on the market. This isn’t necessarily a CrossFit-centric bar, but it’s more than capable of surviving your average CrossFit training sessions. The barbell in question is about as traditional as they get. It’s a full-size model that features an alloy steel shaft paired with bushing sleeves, that offers 190k PSI tensile strength
The company behind this CrossFit barbell is known for testing their products under rigorous conditions. The same applies to the Training Bar. Both the shaft and the sleeves can take the abuse often encountered in a standard CrossFit gym.
The knurl patterns are standard, including Olympic and powerlifting patterns with no center knurl. The entire bar is coated in the more traditional hard chrome. That being said, the best thing about this particular model is the bushings. American Barbell went with a set of high-quality composite bushings, which results in sleeves that spin smoothly and whisper-quiet.
Overall, American Barbell’s Training Bar is a well-rounded, precision-engineered piece of kit. However, it’s expensive for a barbell lacking in uniqueness. Naturally, if you’re in a pinch and this bar is the only thing you can find, don’t think twice about getting it.
- Rock-solid Olympic bar that’s made of quality materials
- Features buttery smooth bushings
- An uncomplicated design that won’t disappoint
The Not So Good
- Definitely on the more expensive side of the scale
- No available aesthetic options
3 Best Women’s CrossFit Barbells
|Rogue Bella Bar 2.0||
|Fringe Sport Bomba V3 Women’s Barbell||
|REP Sabre Bar||
|Rogue Bella Bar 2.0|
|Fringe Sport Bomba V3 Women’s Barbell|
|REP Sabre Bar|
When it came time to create a flagship barbell for women, Rogue knew exactly what to do. They took the successful Ohio bar, shrunk it to size, and labeled it the Rogue Bella Bar. For all intents and purposes, this model brings the same features and performance as the Ohio bar.
Rogue has used standardized dimensions with a 25 mm diameter, 79.13″ length, and 15 kg of net weight. There is no center knurl while the bar comes with both Olympic and Powerlifting knurl marks. More importantly, this bar offers that same 190k PSI of tensile strength which is why it’s a favorite in CrossFit gyms around the world.
One notable difference between the Bella and Ohio bars is that the Bella comes with Rogues original, smooth, and fast spinning bronze bushings (as opposed to composite bushings on the Ohio). This is almost certainly due to the fact that bronze bushings—while producing a smoother spin—can withstand less force than composite bushings. I’m making the assumption that because women tend to lift lighter than men, Rogue has opted for bronze in this bar.
Like the Ohio bar, the Bella Bar is available in almost all possible Rogue finishes/coatings (no bare steel):
- Black Zinc
- Stainless Steel
The new Cerakote option means that you can choose between some pretty awesome color combos. The Stainless Steel finish also has a 200k PSI rating.
Overall, if you’re looking for a CrossFit barbell for women, this is as good as it gets.
- Proven Rogue build quality
- 190k – 200k PSI tensile strength
- Comes with bronze bushings, which are very smooth
- Available in most of Rogue’s finishes/coatings
The Not So Good
- It’s not cheap
- Bronze bushings aren’t as strong as composite alternatives
Fringe Sport is another name that went all-in with their barbell design. The Bomba bar is Fringe’s response to the rest of the flagship models in the women’s section of the market. This bar pushes the average specs a step further with its 200k PSI of tensile strength and improved needle bearings.
Fringe had obviously built these from the inside out, making sure that the bar can handle the high-stress environment of an average gym. That’s exactly what makes it great for CrossFit. This US-made barbell is 79.5″ in length, features the standard 25 mm diameter, and comes with Olympic and powerlifting knurl marks with no center knurl.
The V3 Bomba also comes in a fearsome-looking black Cerakote shaft with black zinc sleeves. I would have preferred to see the Cerakote on the sleeves as well because zinc scratches more easily and scratches are much more visible. But, the Cerakote shaft ain’t bad, especially for supporting a solid grip.
- Great build quality
- Features advanced bronze bushings
- Cerakote finish on the shaft as standard
- 200k PSI tensile strength
The Not So Good
- Zinc sleeves are more susceptible to scratching and show scratches badly
- The most expensive of the three recommendations
All the bars we’ve listed above are awesome choices, but they fall within the premium category. What about budget bars? Is there a solid women’s CrossFit barbell that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? As it turns out, REP has just the thing.
REP Sabre bar is an awesome option for budget users who’d still like to get some of the flagship features. The bar features standard dimensions for this category, making it compatible with standard plates. REP offers these in chrome and zinc, both of which are solid in terms of quality and durability.
However, the considerably lower price tag is there for a reason. Sabre bar offers 150k PSI of tensile strength, meaning that you should be careful how you handle it in the gym. The bar offers a 1000lb rating, giving you plenty of room to load up, especially if you’re a beginner. As far as budget bars go, REP’s Sabre is a solid choice.
- Affordable price tag suitable for budget-conscious users
- Bearing sleeves for great spin
- Great knurling pattern
The Not So Good
- Only available in zinc coating
Choosing the Best CrossFit Barbell for Your Home Gym
CrossFit isn’t exactly gentle. It’s not gentle on the body and it’s not gentle on barbells. The main lifts done in training and competition are the Olympic lifts and their component parts or variants (e.g., hang clean, squat snatch, split jerk). Almost all lifts end overhead or at shoulder height, and dropping the bar is simply a necessity.
Some bars can take this form of abuse, but many can’t. This is why you will do well to find a CrossFit barbell that can withstand the stresses of being dropped, loaded, from height, on a daily basis.
Finding the best barbell for CrossFit comes down to checking several important boxes on the list of necessary features. Here’s what you want to look for:
Sufficient tensile and yield strength
The tensile and yield strength of a bar is measured in PSI, or pounds per square inch. Tensile strength is a metric that tells you how much a bar can be loaded with static weight before it snaps. Yield strength measures how much a bar can be loaded before it will bend permanently out of shape. CrossFit isn’t static though. Dumping the bar from height places tremendous amounts of stress through it. So, while tensile and yield strength are imperfect metrics for CrossFit, overall, the more PSI you can get for your money, the better.
Most of the bars on our list feature 190k PSI tensile strength, which should be more than enough for any kind of CrossFit application. However, we’ve also included a 150k PSI bar which is about the minimum you’d want in a good barbell.
Manufacturers don’t always specify the yield strength, but 130k is a good benchmark for those that do.
It’s important to note that tensile strength, yield strength, and whip (discussed a little later) are inversely related; the higher the tensile and yield strength, the less whip. Some whip is good for explosive barbell exercises, and so you don’t want the tensile and yield strengths to be too high otherwise the bar will be too stiff.
The finish of the barbell affects a range of properties that are important in CrossFit. Most notably, your grip on the bar, corrosion resistance, and hardness.
Finishes that use a coating or plating like zinc, chrome, and Cerakote are essentially adding an extra layer of material to the bar. This makes the knurl shallower, less aggressive, and more slippery (for lack of a better term). Cerakote is arguably the best coating as it has an almost waxy or tacky texture, which aids in grip, especially when using chalk. Either way, you typically won’t get as solid a grip on coated/plated bars as you will on uncoated bars (like bare steel and stainless steel).
All of that said, coated/plated bars have high corrosion resistance, which is extremely important in CrossFit where a bar will get a ton of sweat on it. Again, Cerakote offers exceptional corrosion resistance, second only to stainless steel.
Finally, coating and plating bars often require a process that ultimately weakens the steel. Until recently, Chrome plating has been the “gold standard” for barbell coatings, however Rogue Fitness claims that their analysis reveals that Chroming a barbell makes the steel less durable, and more likely to bend or break.
The takeaway? Get a stainless steel bar for CrossFit if you can afford it. If you can’t, get a Cerakote barbell.
A barbell’s durability is technically a function of multiple properties, including tensile and yield strength, and finish. So, obviously keep those things in mind. However, the point I want you to consider here is how long the sleeves are, and how many plates you’ll be putting on your bar when lifting.
Why? Because a barbell’s weakest point is at the junction of the shaft and sleeve. And it’s at its weakest when being dropped with a high proportion of the sleeve unsupported. That means that dropping it with less plates is more likely to do damage than dropping it with more plates on it.
This is why a barbell like the Rogue C-70, with it’s shorter sleeves, is a good option for people who aren’t ever going to be lifting very heavy. You’ll have fewer plates on the bar, but less unsupported sleeve, and therefore, less stress on the shaft-sleeve junction.
Barbell dimensions and weight
The size of a barbell can make a difference to the numbers you put up depending on your own dimensions, especially the size of your hands.
There are generally two barbell sizes out there:
|Men’s bars||~2200mm (86.6” or 7.2 ft)||20kg (~45lbs)||28-29mm|
|Women’s bars||~2010mm (78“, or 6.6 ft)||15kg (~35lbs)||25mm|
The smaller diameter of the women’s barbell shaft makes a big difference in the strength of your grip on the bar, and your ability to hook grip when you have smaller hands (as a man or woman). Due to their smaller shaft diameter, women’s barbells also tend to be more whippy, which, for some people, makes the Olympic lifts easier. This is why some men prefer to use women’s bars.
CrossFit HQ seem to be getting more strict on the use of non-regulation bars for competitions and qualifiers. So, to make things easy and avoid confusion, get a men’s bar if you’re a man and a women’s bar if you’re a woman.
Establishing a strong purchase on the barbell is essential for safe and effective lifting. If you can’t establish a strong grip, you’re risking injury. Knurling is there to help you find a good grip consistently every time you handle your barbell. While it’s true that not all knurling is the same, the reality is that, except for specialty powerlifting barbells, most modern bars have a pretty standard knurling. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I’ve never found too much difference between the knurling on bars other than Power bars, which have a deliberately very aggressive pattern. Suffice to say, don’t get a Powerlifting bar for CrossFit.
What you should consider, however, is whether to get a bar with a center knurl or not. Bars with a center knurl grip your shirt better when squatting. So, they’re more stable and less likely to slip. They’re also much less comfortable to catch when doing cleans. If you’re planning to do heavy(ish) squats with your bar, get one with center knurl if available. Otherwise, get one without.
This is another factor that I don’t consider all that important as long as you’re going with a reputable barbell brand. Yes, technically, barbells used for dynamic lifts such as snatching and cleaning require free spinning sleeves. Otherwise, you’ll be putting a lot of unnecessary force through the wrists, and doing more work than you should to keep the bar stable.
However, much like with knurling, most modern barbells have good spin, which is true whether they use bushings or bearings.
High-level Olympic weightlifters need bearing bars. They’re lifting so much that they need exceptional spin lest they lose that miniscule edge elite athletes need to win.
You need smooth and consistent spin for CrossFit. Bars like the Rogue and Fringe bars, with their bronze and composite bushings, will perform just as well for you as bars with needle bearings.
The whip is a property of a barbell that tells you how far the bar will temporarily bend out of shape when you load it with heavy weights. Plenty of factors affect whip. Tensile strength, bar diameter, materials used, length of the bar, etc. The real question is whether whip is important from the CrossFit standpoint?
And the answer is yes.
Having a bit of whip in the bar makes explosive movements easier to transition through, and can assist with transferring power fluidly between reps (thus helping you do more reps for less effort). You need to have very good technique and be using a sufficiently heavy weight to experience these benefits, but they are there nonetheless. As such, you want a bar with a good whip. Avoid particularly/deliberately stiff barbells.
Frequently Asked Questions About CrossFit Barbells
With the basics out of the way, let’s address some of the most frequently asked questions regarding CrossFit Barbells.
What’s the best barbell for CrossFit?
This is a tough question to answer, and possibly a wrong question to ask. You should be wondering which is the best CrossFit barbell for you. Following our short guide above, you can find that bar. Or, you could take a look at our picks and find one that fits your needs.
What size barbell does CrossFit use?
One of the best things about CrossFit is the fact that you don’t have to have proprietary equipment. You can do CrossFit with a whole range of gym accessories. Any barbell can be a CrossFit barbell as long as it allows you to safely lift the required weights. However, most CrossFit gyms use regulation-sized Olympic barbells (men’s 20kg bars and women’s 15kg bars).
How much will a good barbell cost?
It’s no secret that barbells aren’t cheap, especially top-tier ones. And your barbell really isn’t where you should be trying to save too much money (a set of budget bumper plates is the place to save money, FYI). You can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $500 for a really good bar. When you add a decent squat rack, plates, and other accessories, it’s clear that CrossFit at home can be expensive.
However, investing in a quality bar is often cheaper in the long run. Good CrossFit barbells will last you for years, especially if you maintain them right.
What are the fundamental barbell exercises done in CrossFit?
CrossFit became popular because it built a workout regimen around common body movements we (supposedly) use every day. As a result, these are the eight foundational barbell exercises that will prep you for any and every other barbell exercise you’ll find in a WOD:
- Front squat
- Overhead squat
- Shoulder press
- Push press
- Push jerk
- Sumo deadlift high pull
- Barbell thruster
What’s the difference between women’s and men’s CrossFit bars?
Men’s and women’s CrossFit barbells differ in size, the diameter of the bar as well as the bar weight. Standard Olympic bars have a 28.5 mm diameter, which can be a tall order for a person with smaller hands. Additionally, women’s bars are 5 kg lighter, which makes them easier to grip (especially with a hook grip).
It’s worth mentioning that both types of bars are used by both men and women. It’s all about finding a bar that you find most comfortable. The caveat here is that CrossFit HQ seems to be getting more strict with use of regulation bars for qualifiers and opens, so that’s something to consider when making a purchase.
Well, there you have it: The best barbells for CrossFit.
We hope that this guide answers some of the questions you might have had about CrossFit barbells. The models chosen for this guide were all handpicked for their quality, known track record of good performance, and overall compatibility with CrossFit. You can’t go wrong with any of these.