Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar: Which is Better for Your Strength Training?

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!

What is a Deadlift Bar?

A deadlift bar is a specialized type of barbell that is designed to make deadlifting easier.

It is longer and thinner than a standard barbell, with a diameter of around 27mm compared to 29mm for other stiff bars such as power or squat bars.

eddie hall world record with a deadlift bar

A Deadlift bar is also more flexible, with a tendency to bend or whip when under heavy loads.

This can make it easier to lift heavier weights off the floor as a deadlift bar can bend and allow you to get into a better starting position.

Deadlift bars are also known for their lack of center knurling, which can make it easier to grip the bar.

What is a Stiff Bar?

A stiff bar, on the other hand, is a standard powerlifting bar that is used for a variety of exercises, including deadlifts, squats, and bench presses.

Stiff bars have a thicker shaft diameter, usually around 28-29mm, and are stiffer and less flexible than a deadlift bar.

man from barbend using a stiff bar to deadlift

They also come with center knurling, which provides additional grip on your upper back for exercises like squats.

For the purposes of this article, whenever I refer to a stiff bar, I’m exclusively talking about power bars as squat bars are even thicker.

Main Differences Between A Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar

The differences between the two types of bars are subtle but important. Here are the main differences to consider:

Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar – Overall Length

Deadlift bars are longer at around 90″ compared to a power bar at close to 86″ on average.

They also have a longer distance between the collars at close to 56″, while stiff bars are close to 51″ or so.

Why do deadlift bars have a longer overall length though?

rogue ohio deadlift bar vs power bar specs

When performing a deadlift, breaking the initial weight off the floor is one of the hardest parts of the lift.

A longer deadlift bar can help distribute the weight more evenly and actually allow you to break each of the plates off the ground individually instead of simultaneously.

This allows you to generate more power from your starting position and gain leverage over the bar to lift more weight.

In contrast, stiff bars are designed to be more rigid and provide greater stability during exercises like squats and bench presses.

Having a slightly shorter and thicker bar is beneficial for these lifts as you don’t want the bar whipping around on your back or over your face.

Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar – Whip

Deadlift bars are known for having more “whip” than stiff bars. Whip refers to the amount of flex or bend that occurs in the bar when weight is added to it.

Deadlift bars are designed with a thinner diameter and longer length, which allows for more flex or whip during the lift.

woman deadlifting with a deadlift bar

This whip allows for a slightly higher start position to gain more leverage over heavy weights.

Stiff bars get their name from the fact that they have almost no whip even with maximal loads.

That’s why basic stiff bars are recommended for the squat and deadlift as they’re more stable overall.

Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar – Center Knurl

A deadlift bar has no center knurling as it can drag up against your shins, knees, and thighs which will slow down the lift and is known to cause bleeding with more aggressive knurling.

This is actually a negative aspect of traditional deadlift bars for sumo deadlifters as the knurling isn’t really built for it.

rogue ohio deadlift bar with no center knurling

That’s why the sumo deadlift bar by Strongarm is so nice as it has a longer center knurl and no outer knurl like regular barbells.

Stiff bars almost always have a center knurl that is primarily used for extra grip while squatting.

Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar – Loadable Sleeve Length

One of the main differences between deadlift bars and stiff bars is the length of their loadable sleeves. Loadable sleeves are the parts of the bar where weight plates are loaded onto for the lift.

Deadlift bars typically have shorter loadable sleeves compared to stiff bars. This causes the weights to be much further from the lifter compared to a stiff bar.

rogue ohio deadlift bar sleeve

This distance increases the whip even more while deadlifting but has the downside of needing special competition-style powerlifting plates to load it fully.

You can’t really use those super wide bumper plates with them but if you’re serious about getting stronger at the deadlift, you should use a deadlift bar.

For everybody else, the longer loadable sleeve length on a stiff bar is going to be plenty to get the job down and use whatever plates you like.

Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar – Usage In Competition

Deadlift bars are commonly used in powerlifting competitions, which consist of three main lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift.

Powerlifting competitions are held by various federations such as the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF), USA Powerlifting (USAPL), and the United States Powerlifting Association (USPA).

united states powerlifting association loves the deadlift bar

Whether you can use a deadlift bar or not in these competitions is determined by the federation’s rules and regulations.

For example, the IPF and USAPL only use a stiff bar for their competitions while the USPA has a deadlift event that uses a deadlift bar as well.

So while it might make sense to train with a Deadlift bar for your own training, you should also consider if you’ll be using one in competition.

Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar – Shaft Diameter

Deadlift bars have a thinner shaft diameter of 27mm, compared to 29mm power bars.

This makes it much easier to grip the barbell but is also the main contributor to deadlift bars’ increased whip and flex with heavy loads.

Deadlift Bar Vs Stiff Bar Specs

rogue ohio deadlift bar specs
  • Deadlift Bar
    • Weight – 20kg (44lbs)
    • Shaft Diameter – 27mm
    • Shaft Length – 56″
    • Total Length – 90.5″
    • Sleeve Length – 15.5″
    • Center Knurl – No
    • Tensile Strength – 190,000 PSI
rogue ohio power bar specs
  • Stiff Bar
    • Weight – 20.4kg (45lbs)
    • Shaft Diameter – 29mm
    • Shaft Length – 51.5″
    • Total Length – 86.5″
    • Sleeve Length – 16.25″
    • Center Knurl – Yes
    • Tensile Strength – 205,000 PSI

Deadlift Bar vs Stiff Bar – Which Bar Should You Use?

The choice between a deadlift bar vs a stiff bar ultimately comes down to personal preference and fitness goals.

Here are some factors to consider:

  • Deadlifts – If deadlifting is your primary focus, a deadlift bar may be the best option for you. The added whip and flexibility can make it easier to lift heavier weights off the floor and build the biggest Deadlift possible.
  • Squats/Bench Press – For lifters who primarily Squat and Bench Press, a stiff bar may be a better option as it provides greater stability and control with heavier lifts. Plus, the center knurl of a power bar is definitely a better option while squatting.
  • Grip Strength – Some of you might struggle with your grip and a deadlift bar may be a better option due to the thinner shaft diameter combined with aggressive knurling.
  • Powerlifting Competitions – If you plan on competing in powerlifting competitions, it’s important to know the rules and regulations of the specific federation you’ll be competing. Some federations may only allow the use of certain types of bars so it’s important to choose the appropriate barbell for your competition.
  • Overall Training Goals – Ultimately, the choice between a deadlift bar vs a stiff bar depends on your overall training goals. For lifters looking to improve their deadlift or grip strength, a deadlift bar may be the better option. If you’re looking for greater stability and control during exercises like squats or bench presses, a stiff bar may be the better choice.

Pros And Cons of Using a Deadlift Bar


  • Easier to lift heavier weights off the floor
  • Much better option for the sumo deadlift as the starting position is much harder than a conventional deadlift
  • Improved grip due to the thinner diameter of the barbell
  • Reduced risk of injury during deadlifts


  • Not meant for use with the squat/bench press
  • Not as versatile as a stiff bar for basic strength training purposes
  • Starting strength will be affected by the improved leverages you gain from a deadlift bar
  • Can’t be used in all powerlifting federations

Pros And Cons Of Using A Stiff Bar


  • Greater stability and control during exercises like squats and bench presses
  • Builds the starting position of the deadlift
  • Ability to handle heavier loads due to the higher tensile strength of the barbell as well as longer loadable sleeves
  • A much more versatile barbell that can be used for more movement variations


  • The center knurling can come in contact with your lower body while deadlifting, which can scrape you up and slow down the lift.
  • A stiff bar has a thicker shaft diameter which is harder to grip for pulling movements.

Frequently Asked Questions


Now I turn it over to you!

After comparing a deadlift bar vs stiff bars, which one is right for you?

Let me know in the comment section below, right now!

Until next time,


Leave a Comment