Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar – What Are The Differences?

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Deadlift bars and stiff bars are two of the most common types of barbells used.

While both of them serve similar purposes, there are multiple differences that make them unique.

So in this article, we’ll explore the differences between the deadlift bar vs stiff bar and help you determine which one is better suited for your needs.

Let’s get started!

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Key Takeaways

Main TopicKey Takeaways
What is a Deadlift Bar?Designed for deadlifting; longer, thinner, more flexible with aggressive knurling.
Why Use a Deadlift Bar?Enhances deadlifts with better grip and flexibility; ideal for heavy lifting and reducing shin discomfort.
What is a Stiff Bar?Versatile for various exercises; thicker shaft, moderate knurling, includes center knurl.
Why Use a Stiff Bar?Provides stability for squats, bench presses, overhead presses; suitable for controlled lifting.
When to Use Each BarDeadlift Bar for deadlift-focused training; Stiff Bar for general strength training and versatility.

What is a Deadlift Bar?

Ever wondered what makes a Deadlift Bar special? It’s tailored for deadlifting, offering unique features to enhance your lifts.

Unlike standard barbells, it’s longer, has a thinner shaft, and more aggressive knurling for a better grip.

eddie hall deadlifting over 1000 lbs

Its standout feature is the ‘whip’ or flexibility, allowing the bar to bend slightly under heavy weights.

This flexibility helps you start your lift with more power. Plus, no center knurling means fewer scrapes on your shins.

At about 90 inches, it’s longer than regular barbells, providing more space for your grip. In short, a Deadlift Bar is designed to optimize your deadlifting performance.

RELATED – Exploring the Different Types of Deadlift Bars – A Comprehensive Guide

Why is the Deadlift Bar Used?

The Deadlift Bar is a key tool for enhancing deadlifts. Its flexibility, or ‘whip’, helps lifters start the lift with more power and lift heavier weights.

The thinner shaft and aggressive knurling improve grip, while the absence of center knurling reduces shin discomfort.

It’s designed for efficiency, better form, and reduced injury risk in deadlifting.

What is a Stiff Bar?

man deadlifting heavy weights

A Stiff Bar, often known as a power or standard barbell, is the go-to equipment for a variety of weightlifting exercises.

It’s characterized by a thicker shaft, usually about 29mm, and a more moderate knurling compared to a Deadlift Bar.

This bar typically includes a center knurl, which is especially useful for exercises like squats.

Why is the Stiff Bar Used?

Its rigidity is key. With minimal flex, it provides stability and predictability for lifts like squats, bench presses, and overhead presses.

The center knurling helps keep the bar in place during squats, and the thicker shaft offers a comfortable grip for bench presses.

It’s versatile, reliable, and ideal for general strength training across multiple exercises.

Anatomy of a Barbell

When comparing Stiff Bars and Deadlift Bars, it’s important to understand their anatomy.

  • Shaft – The central part of the barbell where you grip. In Stiff Bars, it’s thicker for stability; in Deadlift Bars, it’s thinner for flexibility.
  • Sleeve – The ends of the barbell where weights are loaded. Deadlift Bars typically have longer sleeves to support the bar’s whip.
  • Sleeve Lip – The edge at the end of the sleeve, keeps weights in place. This feature is similar in both bar types.
  • Knurling The textured grip on the shaft. Deadlift Bars have more aggressive knurling for a secure grip during lifts, while Stiff Bars have a more moderate pattern for general use.

Each aspect plays a role in how the bar performs for specific exercises, guiding us to choose the right bar for our training needs.

Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar Comparison

When comparing Deadlift Bars and Stiff Bars, it’s essential to understand their distinct features and how they impact your lifting experience.

FeatureDeadlift BarStiff Bar
Flexibility and Tensile StrengthHigh flexibility with ‘whip’, lower tensile strength (around 190,000 PSI).Limited flexibility, higher tensile strength (about 205,000 PSI).
Weight, Length, and Shaft DiameterLighter (around 44 lbs), longer (about 90 inches), thinner shaft (27mm).Slightly heavier (around 45 lbs), shorter (approximately 86 inches), thicker shaft (29mm).
Purpose and Specific UseDesigned for deadlifting, maximizes performance in this lift.Versatile for squats, bench presses, overhead presses; stable with center knurling.
Knurling and Sleeve DesignAggressive knurling, longer sleeves for whip.Moderate knurling, standard sleeve length.
Sleeve Lip and Loadable Sleeve LengthLonger sleeve lip for wider sumo deadlift stance.Designed for standard weight plates, aligning with multi-exercise use.
Suitability in Powerlifting FederationsPreferred in federations allowing specialized bars for deadlifting.Used in federations requiring a single bar type for all lifts.

Overall Specs

rogue ohio deadlift bar vs power bar specs
FeatureDeadlift BarStiff Bar
Weight20kg (44lbs)20.4kg (45lbs)
Shaft Diameter27mm29mm
Shaft Length56″51.5″
Total Length90.5″86.5″
Sleeve Length15.5″16.25″
Center KnurlNoYes
Tensile Strength190,000 PSI205,000 PSI

Pros and Cons Of Each Bar

When it comes to choosing between a Deadlift Bar and a Stiff Bar, each has its own set of advantages and drawbacks that can impact your training.

Understanding these pros and cons is crucial for making an informed decision that aligns with your lifting goals.

Whether you’re aiming for maximum deadlift performance or seeking a versatile bar for various exercises, this section will guide you through the key benefits and potential limitations of both Deadlift Bars and Stiff Bars.

Deadlift Bars


  • Superior Grip – Specialty knurling and thinner diameter improve grip and reduce slipping.
  • Increased Whip – Enables more explosive lifts and higher PR potential.
  • Ideal for Powerlifting – Specifically designed for deadlift-specific training.
  • Heavier Lifts Possible – Construction allows lifting heavier loads off the floor.
  • Sumo Deadlifts – Wider space between shaft and sleeve for a sumo-style stance.
  • Higher Starting Point – Flex in the bar raises the starting position off the floor.
  • Less Shin Scrapes – No center knurling means fewer scrapes while lifting.


  • Too Flexible for Some – May feel unstable for those used to stiffer bars.
  • Limited Versatility – Specialty design may not suit a variety of exercises.
  • Challenging for Beginners – Extra whip can be hard to control for new lifters.
  • Specific Knurling Preference – The knurling pattern may not suit everyone’s grip.
  • Not for Back Squats – Lack of center knurling makes it less stable for squats.
  • Less Isolation of Deadlift Strength – Not ideal for isolating strength from the floor.
  • Stability Issues – More whip than stiff bars can cause instability at the top of the lift.
  • Limited Federation Use – Not used in some powerlifting federations.

Stiff Bars


  • Maximum Stability and Rigidity – Ideal for heavy compound lifts.
  • Consistent and Predictable Movement – Allows for precise technique.
  • Reliable Grip – Provides controlled lifting without excessive whip.
  • Versatile for All Levels – Beneficial for both beginners and advanced lifters.
  • Isolates Bottom Range Deadlift Strength – Less bend and whip for focused training.
  • More Stable During Squats – Stiffness and center knurling enhance squat stability.
  • Center Knurling for Bench Press – Helps in centering the barbell during lifts.
  • Less Flex – Better suited for squats, bench presses, and Olympic lifting.
  • More Forgiving Knurling – Gentler on hands compared to deadlift bars.


  • Less Whip – Reduced potential for explosive lifting or dynamic movements.
  • Varied Knurling Across Brands – Finding the right grip may require experimentation.
  • Less Specialized for Deadlifting – Not as effective as dedicated deadlift bars.
  • Overly Rigid for Some – May feel uncomfortable for those preferring more flex.
  • Challenges in Lifting Heavy Weights – Less whip means potentially lifting less weight.
  • Thicker Shaft – This can be harder to grip, especially for those with smaller hands.

When Should You Use Each

In the world of Powerlifting, the choice between a Deadlift Bar and a Stiff Bar can be pivotal in shaping your training and achieving your goals.

Each bar serves distinct purposes and excels in different scenarios.

woman deadlifting with a deadlift bar

Understanding when to harness the unique advantages of a Deadlift Bar and when to leverage the stability of a Stiff Bar can elevate your training significantly.

Let’s delve into the specific situations where each bar shines, helping you tailor your training to your needs and preferences.

When To Use A Deadlift Bar

  • Deadlift Specialists – If deadlifts are your bread and butter in powerlifting, this bar is your best buddy. It’s a must-have for routines that revolve around deadlifting.
  • Grip It Like a Pro – When you’re heaving up those heavyweights, the Deadlift Bar’s knurling ensures your grip stays solid. No more worrying about the bar slipping when you’re in the zone.
  • Federation-Ready – Competing in powerlifting? Many federations specify using a Deadlift Bar. It’s not just about preference; it’s about playing by the rules.
  • Maxing Out Your Lifts – When you’re aiming to hit new heights with your deadlift, this bar is your secret weapon. It’s built to help you lift the heaviest loads you can handle.

When To Use A Stiff Bar

  • For Heavy-Duty Stability – When you’re tackling those heavy compound lifts and need a bar that won’t budge, the Stiff Bar is your go-to. It’s all about rock-solid stability.
  • Precision is Key – If you’re all about nailing that technique with consistent and predictable bar movement, the Stiff Bar has got your back.
  • Versatility for Powerlifting – Squats, bench presses, deadlifts – you name it, the Stiff Bar handles it. It’s the Swiss Army knife for your powerlifting routine.
  • Controlled Lifting, Reliable Grip – Prefer a bar that stays true to your lift without the extra whip? The Stiff Bar offers a grip that won’t quit and a lift that won’t sway.
  • Strength Development for All Levels – Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been lifting for years, this bar is about building strength across the board.
  • Federation-Compliant – Competing in a powerlifting federation that swears by the Stiff Bar? This is your ticket to complying with those federation standards.
  • Boosting Deadlift Technique – Looking to amp up your deadlift game, especially at the start of the lift? The Stiff Bar helps you focus on strengthening that initial pull.

Best Deadlift Bars

If you’re interested in the best Deadlift bars overall, check out my full guide here.

Or, you can check out three of the most popular overall below.

Best Stiff Bars

Stiff bars, or powerlifting barbells, are much more widespread than Deadlift bars. So picking from the best of the best is much more difficult.

Luckily, I created a guide to make it much easier that you can find here.

You can also check out the best options for different price ranges below if you just want to pick one up and get lifting.

Which Is Better for a Home Gym?

Choosing the right barbell for your home gym can feel like a balancing act, here’s the overall consensus to make it simple.

If your training at home revolves heavily around deadlifting, and you’re all about refining this specific lift, then a Deadlift Bar could be a worthy addition to your arsenal.

It’s tailored for deadlifts, offering that extra whip and grip that can really push your performance.

But remember, it’s a bit of a one-trick pony – not the best for other exercises like squats or bench presses.

On the flip side, if you’re looking for a more versatile option that can handle a variety of exercises, the Stiff Bar is a solid bet.

It’s great for squats, bench presses, and yes, even deadlifts, albeit not with the same specialization as a Deadlift Bar.

Plus, it’s usually a bit more compact and budget-friendly, which can be a big plus in a home gym setting where space and cost are key considerations.

So, in a nutshell, it’s all about what fits your training style and goals. Are you a deadlift devotee or a jack-of-all-trades in your home workouts?

Your answer to that will point you to the right barbell for your home gym.

Frequently Asked Questions


The choice between a Deadlift Bar and a Stiff Bar hinges on your training focus.

Opt for a Deadlift Bar for specialized deadlifting and heavier lifts, and choose a Stiff Bar for its versatility in various exercises and overall stability.

Each bar serves distinct purposes, so select the one that aligns best with your training goals and preferences.

Until next time,


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